Holiday Tips for a Healthier Smile

Holiday Tips for a Healthier Smile

As a dentist in Hillsdale, our team at Burlingame Dental Arts understand that with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing your oral health may take a back seat to all of the merriment. Since the holidays generally mean plenty of snacking on sweet treats and a lot of heavy meals, this isn’t the time of year to start ignoring your oral health.

Snacking, especially on items like Christmas cookies, fruit cakes, and hot chocolate increases your risk of tooth decay. That’s because unlike larger meals where the mouth produces additional saliva to help flush food and bacteria from the surface of your teeth, the saliva flow in the mouth does not increase when snacking. This allows harmful oral bacteria and food particles to remain on the surface of your teeth where they can use the sugars you consume to create harmful substances that slowly erode away tooth enamel.

So to keep your teeth and gums healthy heading into the new year, here are a few holiday tips on how to protect the oral health of you and your family.

Stocking Stuffers to Smile About

Once your stocking is hung by the chimney with care, you’re very likely to find it stuffed with candy. In fact, the National Confectioners Association reports that 77 percent of people include candy in their holiday gifts. If you’re planning on handing out candy, consider chocolate the best option. Not only do most people love it, chocolate also washes off of teeth more easily when compared to sticker candies like peanut brittle, candy canes, and cakes that contain dried fruits. And while it might not make you the most popular Santa in the house, you should also consider throwing a new toothbrush and dental floss into the next stocking you stuff.

Hum a Holiday Tune

Your teeth feature a number of crevices and ravines that are hard to properly clean if you don’t pay enough attention and devote the right amount of time. After all, if you only spent 30 seconds – the average amount of time most people spend brushing a day – shaving, applying makeup, or combing your hair you’d probably notice a few spots missing the attention they deserved.

The American Dental Association recommends spending at least two minutes brushing each time you pick up your toothbrush. One way to help keep track of the amount of time your brushing is to hum a holiday tune in your head. As you “Jingle Bells” or recount the time you saw “Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” you not only keep on task, you help to distract and entertain yourself.

Save the Tearing for the Wrapping Paper

Gifts wrapped with care using holiday ribbon or string add a nice festive touch to what awaits opening under the tree. No matter how excited you are to see what Santa delivered never use your teeth for anything other than eating.

While your teeth rank as some of the strongest parts of the body, they are simply not designed to rip, tear, or open anything that you cannot eat. Tearing open a package with your teeth is a great way to add visiting a dentist in Hillsdale to your holiday schedule.

The Secret to a Stunning Smile

With all of the holiday photos being taken this time of year, it’s only natural to want a brilliantly bright smile. If you don’t have time to wait for Santa to bring you a teeth whitening kit for Christmas, try wearing a red or pink lipstick with a blue undertone. Thanks to how the eye processes color, your teeth will look instantly brighter and whiter in all of those family photos.

Stay on Schedule

Between holiday celebrations, travel, and family gatherings, it can be easy to find yourself falling out of your normal habits. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until 2018 to make your oral health a priority once again. If you scheduled an appointment to see our dentist in Hillsdale, keep it. And don’t forget to keep brushing twice a day and to always floss.

Teeth Grinding 101 – What You Need to Know

Teeth Grinding 101 – What You Need to Know

As a family dentist in SW Portland, our team at Burlingame Dental Arts know from experience just how much stress our patients’ teeth receive on a daily basis. From the foods we eat to the beverages we drink, it’s a truly amazing testament to evolution that are teeth can last a lifetime considering the excessive wear and stress the endure.

While our teeth are remarkably resilient, there are some daily oral problems that can seriously undermine their long-term health. One such condition is teeth grinding, an often unconscious habit that causes us to clench, grind, or excessively rub our teeth together. While this might not seem like a big deal, that additional stress and strain teeth grinding places on our chompers can take its toll over time.

Patients who suffer from teeth grinding have a significantly higher risk of experiencing cracked, broken, worn, and loose teeth. What makes teeth grinding especially problematic is that most patients never realize they even have a problem. That’s because teeth grinding typically occurs at night during sleep. Unless you receive regular dental care from a family dentist in SW Portland, there’s a good chance you might not even realize there’s a problem until too late.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent teeth grinding. If stress is the cause behind this harmful habit, ask one of our Burlingame dentists or your family physician about successful strategies for reducing stress. Attending counseling for stress, regular exercise, and seeing a physical therapist are all potential options for helping to lower your stress levels and prevent tooth grinding.

Additionally, should the problem become severe, our dentists can fit you with a custom-made mouth guard to help protect your teeth during sleep. Mouth guards offer a layer of protection that keeps safe from grinding at night.

Other Successful Strategies for Preventing Teeth Grinding

Other techniques you can try to help prevent teeth grinding include:

  • Avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, chocolate, and sodas, especially in the evening or before bed.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Teeth grinding habits tend to intensify after drinking alcohol.
  • Don’t chew on anything that’s not a type of food, such as pens and pencils. You should even avoid chewing gum as it causes muscles in the jaw to become used to clenching, thereby making you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Make an effort to consciously avoid grinding. While grinding typically occurs at night, it can still happen during the day. If you notice your jaw becoming tight, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This will help to train your jaw muscles to relax.

Visit Your Family Dentist in SW Portland

It can be easy to miss the signs of nightly teeth grinding if you don’t know what to look for. Patients who suffer from nightly grinding often wake up with:

  • Headaches
  • Sore jaw
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Facial muscle cramps

If you experience these types of symptoms in the morning or if you notice a change in the shape or position of your teeth, you need to schedule an appointment with our team at Burlingame Dental Arts. Our dentist will be able to diagnosis teeth grinding and recommend a successful treatment plan for improving your long-term oral health.

Don’t take a risk when it comes to protecting your oral health. Understand the signs and symptoms of teeth grindings and get the help you need.

Study Finds Adults with Diabetes Likely to Avoid Visiting the Dentist

Study Finds Adults with Diabetes Likely to Avoid Visiting the Dentist

For adults dealing with diabetes, receiving regular dental care is vital to ensure the long-term health of their teeth and gums. At Burlingame Dental Arts, our doctors try to stress to patients the cyclical relationship diabetes has with gum disease.

Studies have shown that individuals with gum disease have a harder time maintaining their blood sugar levels, making it difficult to manage their diabetes. Conversely, patients with diabetes have a harder time fighting off infections, which makes it easier for them to contract gum disease. Because these two diseases play off each other in such complicated ways, patients with diabetes must receive regular dental care to ensure their teeth and gums remain healthy.

Unfortunately, adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist when compared to those without diabetes or who have prediabetes, according to the results of a new study.

Conducted by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, the study found an overall decline in dental visits among adults with and without diabetes, but individuals with the disease were consistently less likely to obtain dental care.

The results of the study were recently published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

The Link Between Diabetes and Gum Disease

As we mentioned earlier, studies have found a two-way relationship between diabetes and an individual’s oral health. People with diabetes have a higher risk for developing gum disease, while gum disease has an adverse effect on controlling blood sugar levels. This relationship is so prevalent that gum disease has actually been called the “sixth complication” of diabetes after more serious issues that include heart disease, deterioration of the retina, and kidney disease.

“For people living with diabetes, regular dental checkups, paired with proactive dental and diabetes self-care… are important to maintaining good oral health,” wrote researchers involved in the study. “Regular dental visits provide opportunities for prevention, early detection, and treatment of periodontal disease, which can potentially help with blood glucose control and preventing complications from diabetes.”

An Established Link

Previous studies have found that individuals with diabetes scheduled less dental visits when compared to those without the disease. In order to gain a better understanding of dental care habits for people with diabetes, researchers assessed the trends of annual dental visits between 2004 and 2014 in adults with prediabetes, diabetes, and without diabetes.

To conduct their study, researchers used data collected as part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey conducted each year in the U.S. where participants are asked whether they have diabetes and whether they’ve received any dental care over the past 12 months.

The study sample collected by researchers include 2.5 million participants 21 and older, including over 248,000 individuals with diabetes, over 30,000 with prediabetes, and more than 2 million without diabetes.

Researchers discovered that individuals with diabetes were less likely to visit a dentist among all of the study participant groups. From 2004 to 2014, the number of annual dental visits dropped from 66 percent to 61 percent among individuals with diabetes. The number of dental visits also dropped for participants with prediabetes – 66 percent to 65 percent – and those without the disease – 72 percent to 66 percent.

“This pattern is concerning, given that timely dental care is essential for good oral health, especially in individuals with diabetes,” wrote researchers. “Those who need dental care the most seem to be the least likely to have it.”

The Dangers of Less Dental Care

Researchers identified a number of factors that may account for why individuals with diabetes receive less dental care. They believe that individuals with the disease may not be aware of the impact it can have on their oral health and vice versa. Additionally, the results of a previous study found that individuals with diabetes reported that high dental costs were the primary barrier for whether they received care.

While researchers didn’t take into account whether individuals had dental insurance, they found substantial financial barriers to dental care for individuals with diabetes based on comparing the number of visits and income levels. Researchers believe that by reducing these barriers and improving access to dental care providers, such as our team at Burlingame Dental Arts, individuals with diabetes may be able to receive the dental care they so desperately need.

What Would Happen if You Stopped Brushing?

What Would Happen if You Stopped Brushing?

Unless you enjoy scheduling repeated visits to see your SW Portland dentist, brushing daily ranks as a pretty high priority if you want to help protect the long-term health of your teeth and gums. Or at least that’s what you’ve always been told.

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you probably don’t follow the American Dental Association’s recommendation on how long you should brush a day. The ADA recommends spending at least two minutes brushing once in the morning and again at night. However, despite that recommendation, studies have found that the average adult brushes for a total of one minute a day.

Now if you’re already only brushing for about a quarter of the amount of time recommended by dentists, how bad could things really get if you stopped brushing entirely? After all, the enamel that surrounds your teeth is one of the strongest and most resilient parts of your body. Surely with the exception of a few cavities it would keep your teeth in good enough condition, right?

Well let’s take a look at what would happen if you stopped brushing entirely.

The First Week

With your toothbrush in the trash, you start off the first week liberated from the constraints of feeling the pressure to spend time staring at yourself in the mirror while cleaning your teeth. You now have an extra minute a day to do with whatever you want. Perhaps you finally find time to write the next great American novel, click “like” on a few more Instagram photos or just spend a little more “me” time.

During the first few days you won’t notice anything different. Heck, there’s probably a time or two in recent months where you’ve forgotten to or didn’t have the time brush for one or more days, so not brushing for one or two days won’t seem like that big a deal. Of course, as the week goes on, subtle changes begin to occur.

For starters, all of the food particles that remained stuck between and to the surface of your teeth that would have normally been brushed away begin to decay. If you’ve ever walked by a dumpster during the hottest days of summer, you probably have a good idea about the type of smell decaying food starts to make.

By day four or so, your breath is going to start smelling less than its best. But that’s okay. You can always use those extra minutes you’ve been accumulating by not brushing to pick up some breath mints on your way to work or school. Problem solved.

With the real smell of your breath masked like a child on Halloween, you no longer need to worry about not brushing. While you might notice your teeth feeling a little gritty and things tasting just a little different, that’s something you’ll get used to in no time.

One week down.

The First Three Months

Three months have gone by and you don’t miss brushing one bit. You’ve now saved over 90 minutes by not brushing, and we’re sure you’ve made the most of the time. Even if you had to get a CostCo membership to make it easier to buy the bulk quantity of mints needed to keep your breath slightly tolerable to anyone who gets within arm’s reach, you at least have plenty to share should anyone else need a breath freshener after lunch.

By now, plaque has had plenty of time to fully build up on the surface of your teeth and along the gum line. A sticky biofilm made of harmful oral bacteria, plaque uses the sugars and protein we consume as fuel to produce a corrosive acid that slowly destroys tooth enamel.

Normally, the removal of plaque occurs daily when you brush. But after three months of having skipped brushing, plaque has had a chance to grow uninhibited. This could cause several notable results.

When plaque remains in place on the surface of your teeth it hardens into tartar, which appears as a yellowish discoloration on tooth enamel. Tartar also irritates your gum tissue, causing inflammation to develop. Inflammation is the root cause of early stage gum disease, commonly called gingivitis.

So after three months of not brushing, you can reasonable expect three things to have occurred: Your breath consistently stinks. Your teeth now appear more yellow than before. You’ve probably developed early stage gum disease. Not great.

Fortunately, each of these issues can be easily correct by visiting your SW Portland dentist for a checkup and cleaning, and by making a renewed commitment to brush daily. Unfortunately, you already threw away your toothbrush, so there’s no going back now.

6 Months to 1 Year

Congrats! You’ve gone an entire year without brushing. A true accomplishment. Gross for sure, but still something not many people can say they’ve ever successfully accomplished.

After a full year of not brushing, plaque has undoubtedly done some permanent damage to your teeth in the form of cavities. Your gingivitis has begun to progress into the far more destructive periodontitis, a late stage of gum disease, while your gums have started to recede from the base of your teeth.

So what can you expect? Well your gums probably appear red, swollen, and bleed easily after eating certain types of tough textured foods like steak, corn on the cob or chips. Receding gums have exposed the delicate roots of your teeth, which could cause you to experience sharp pains whenever you consume hot or cold foods and drinks. And depending on the severity of the cavities you’ve developed, eating in general could cause some serious discomfort.

At this point, the damage done to your teeth by cavities is permanent but still easily treatable with fillings. Early stage gum recession can be reversed by making a renewed commitment to brushing, but that’s off the table so the condition will only get more pronounced over time. Finally, if your gingivitis hasn’t yet progressed into periodontitis, it will soon. So something to look forward to there.

One year down and your oral health is in serious jeopardy of suffering permanent damage that will forever change how you enjoy life. But you’ve saved 365 minutes (over 6 hours!) of time you would have spent preventing these issues, so you’ve got that going for you.

1 Year and Beyond

After a year of not brushing, you’ve probably forgotten how at this point so there’s no turning back. So what can you expect? Nothing good.

Your gingivitis has now fully developed into periodontitis. This advanced stage of gum disease physically destroys the gum tissue and underlying bone structure that hold your teeth into position. When those support structure become weakened, your teeth start to move, shift and become unstable. Fortunately, you won’t have to deal with this problem forever as they will eventually fall out.

Shifting teeth make eating all but the softest of foods difficult, so expect your diet to change substantially. Unless you’re very careful about what you eat, a limited diet of soft foods can make you susceptible to malnutrition. This in turn presents a whole host of other problems we won’t go into here.

Once your teeth start falling out, you will require expensive dental care treatment like dentures to restore your smile. Dentures aren’t cheap, so it’s a good thing you’ve saved all that money on not having to buy toothpaste.

Other issue will also pop up, such as an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer, but we think you get the point by now. While brushing may often seem like a pain, the habit really does serve an invaluable purpose. So even if brushing doesn’t rank high on your to-do list, just remember the difference brushing and visiting your SW Portland dentist can make.

Better Brushing Habits Could Help to Treat Lupus

Better Brushing Habits Could Help to Treat Lupus

You don’t need to be the best dentist in SW Portland to know that impact poor oral hygiene has on the health of our teeth and gums. Since childhood most of us have heard that eating too much sugar can rot our teeth, and that brushing and flossing everyday was the best way of preventing cavities. What you might not realize, however, is the surprising connection researchers have found that link our oral health with our overall health.

Patients who regularly read our Burlingame Dental Arts blog know that a growing amount of research has found connections linking common dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease to a growing number of chronic health problems. Studies have found that patients suffering from decay, periodontitis (an advanced form of gum disease) and tooth loss have a higher risk for developing such chronic conditions as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and cancer.

One recent study even found that gum disease could even interfere with the effectiveness of blood pressure medication, making it hard for patients to manage their hypertension.

The opposite also appears true, as a number of studies have recently found that by taking better care of our oral health we can actually help to improve or better manage certain medical conditions. Another recent study found that better brushing habits could help patients lower their risk for heart disease, while a lot of research has shown that diabetes patients who regularly take care of their oral health have a much easier time managing their blood sugar levels.

Now, a new study suggests that better brushing habits may also help to prevent and manage lupus and other diseases.

Researchers from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have found a link between gum disease and lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues and organs.

“Our findings suggest a simple message: If there is good dental care, patients have a good chance of experiencing less severe disease,” wrote researchers. “With further research, we might be able to help prevent these diseases altogether.”

Better Brushing Means Better Health

As part of their study, researchers elected to study the impact of oral health on lupus, a disease that impacts the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Americans. The focus of this latest research project was on bacteria commonly found in the mouth that’s been previously linked with gum disease.

“Our study shows that patients who might have been exposed to gum disease-causing bacteria show higher lupus activity. Therefore, we expect that a seemingly small change, like brushing and flossing regularly, could benefit patients who are already on a host of powerful medications by allowing them to modify their treatment with fewer drugs,” wrote researchers. “Importantly, fewer drugs can mean fewer side effects.”

Based on their findings, the research team believe that a strong argument can now be made for using improved dental care as an additional therapy option for patients with lupus. Researchers are also hopeful that their findings could also lead to new methods of disease detection.

“Poor oral health can contribute to a variety of diseases,” wrote researchers. “Taking care of your teeth now could help you avoid type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Protecting Your Oral Health

Once again, maintaining and improving our oral health proves to be vitally important when it comes to protecting our long-term health. What this and other research has shown is that brushing and flossing and scheduling regular visits to see the team at Burlingame Dental Arts can no longer be considered optional or something we do when we remember.

Scheduling regular visits to see the best dentist in SW Portland allows our team to spot the early signs of decay and gum disease before they problem has a chance to progress. Frequent cleanings give our team of gentle dental hygienists the chance to remove plaque deposits from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line before the bacteria has a chance to contribute to the development of gum disease.

Maintaining a healthy smile is no longer just a point of pride, it’s necessary for enjoying better overall health, now and into the future.

Study Finds Gum Disease Treatments Helpful to Diabetes Patients

Study Finds Gum Disease Treatments Helpful to Diabetes Patients

In our Burlingame Dental Arts blog, we have continued to highlight the surprising connections that exists between our oral and overall health. New studies continue to shine a light on how common oral health problems – such as gum disease, tooth loss and tooth decay – increase our risk for a variety of chronic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

While previous research has shown connections that suggest gum disease often co-exists with diabetes, a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal has gone a step further to suggest that treating gum disease could actually help patients with type 2 diabetes better manage their blood glucose levels, and could reduce their risk of complications developing due to their diabetes.

Conducted by a team at the Eastman Dental Institute at University College London, researchers said their findings were the first to link intensive gum disease treatments to a reduction in systemic inflammation, and improvements in blood vessel and kidney function.

While researchers cautioned that further study was needed before a clear cause and effect relationship could be established, they were cautiously optimistic about what the results of their study suggested. “The improvement in blood glucose control we observed, in people who received intensive treatment, is similar to the effect that’s seen when people with type 2 diabetes are prescribed a second blood glucose lowering drug,” wrote lead researcher Professor Francesco D’Aiuto.

Researchers now believe the next step of their study should focus on whether the improvements they noted can be maintained over the long-term and if they apply to all patients with type 2 diabetes.

Study Finds New Potential for Treating Diabetes Patients

As part of their study, researchers created a 12 month, single-center, parallel-group, randomized trial that involved 264 participants with type 2 diabetes and moderate to severe gum disease. Each of the participants had at least 15 remaining teeth and were patients at one of four hospitals in London.

Roughly half of the participants received intensive treatment for gum disease that involved a subgingival scaling and surgical periodontal therapy. The other part of the study group received standard care that included supra-gingival scaling and polishing. All of the treatments took place along with taking any medication the participants were prescribed to help manage their diabetes.

When compared to the participants in the control group, patients who received intensive periodontal treatment showed a reduction in their blood sugar levels after 12 months.

Helping to Reduce Inflammation

When commenting on the results of their study, researchers said that intensive periodontal treatment “improves metabolic control in patients with type 2 diabetes after 12 months when compared with usual care.” Additionally, researchers also noted that improved blood sugar control also resulted in “improved vascular and kidney function, reduced system inflammation and improved quality of life.”

Researchers pointed out that gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that often coexists alongside of diabetes. The buildup of bacteria on the surface of a patient’s teeth is not limited to only the mouth, as an association exists where the more severe a patient’s gum disease the higher their risk becomes for a range of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.

What the results of this study suggest is the continuing notion that a connection exists between the mouth and body. While dental care is often viewed by patients as only relating to the health of their teeth and gums, further evidence continues to reinforce the idea that better oral health directly leads to better overall health.

This means that scheduling regular exams and cleanings with the team at Burlingame Dental Arts is not only an important preventative tool, but also one of the easiest ways to help lower the risk of a more serious underlying health problem from developing in the future.