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13 May 2022
May 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Is Thumb Sucking Dangerous?

Thumb sucking is normal behavior for babies and young children. But just how normal? More than 75% of little ones suck their thumbs, fingers, hands, pacifiers, or other items such as the corner of a blanket during these early years. Most kids stop this behavior on their own between the ages of three and six. But how long is too long, and can it be problematic? Family Dental Health would like to share more information about this common childhood habit.

Why Do Babies Suck Their Thumbs?

Human babies come into the world hungry, and with hunger in mammals comes an instinct to suck. This urge usually becomes less intense naturally, beginning to taper off when babies reach about six months of age. However, many babies take a liking to the practice, continuing to suck their thumbs to self-soothe when hungry, anxious, sick, bored, tired, or just trying to adjust to changes in their environment. Thumb sucking may also help them fall asleep or lull themselves back to sleep. Since it is an age-appropriate way for kids to calm and comfort themselves, many experts recommend ignoring thumb sucking with children who are preschool age or younger. They should stop in their own time when they’re ready.

Can Thumb Sucking Cause Any Lasting Problems?

The American Dental Association says most kids can suck their thumbs safely without damaging teeth and jaw alignment until permanent teeth start to appear around age six. It should be noted that all thumb sucking is not created equal – kids passively resting their thumbs in their mouths are less likely to have dental problems than children who are vigorous thumb suckers. However, prolonged or intense thumb sucking can alter tooth and jaw alignment, so the longer the habit continues, the more likely that orthodontics will become necessary in the future – but if the child is able to kick the thumb habit between four and six, alignment issues may resolve themselves.

If your child is an aggressive thumb-sucker, consider starting to work with them to kick the habit around age four. If you notice changes in your child’s mouth or teeth, consult Family Dental Health, and if you observe evidence of speech problems, consider a consultation with your child’s pediatrician as well. 

How Can I Help My Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb?

A child should never be punished for thumb sucking. After all, it’s a habit formed from a human instinct they were born with – and shaming only hurts their self-esteem. Children usually give up thumb sucking when they find other ways to calm themselves. (For example, if a child tends to suck their thumb when hungry, eventually they will learn to ask for a snack or look in the fridge instead.)

  • Limit the times and places the child can suck their thumbs, such as only at naptime and bedtime.
  • Try distraction with a substitute activity, like a fidget spinner, stress ball, or finger puppets.
  • If your child turns to the thumb when frustrated, try to help them “use their words” to talk about how they are feeling instead.
  • Put stickers on a chart or calendar for positive reinforcement, and give lots of hugs and praise.
  • After an agreed-upon goal is reached, celebrate the victory so their good behavior is encouraged.

It can be a frustrating process, but most kids do stop on their own if given the opportunity – and once they are in school, peer pressure can work wonders.

When Should I Be Worried About Thumb Sucking?

Watch out for several specific symptoms in your child that may be cause for concern:

  • Changes in teeth or bite alignment
  • Problems with speech
  • Callused, chapped, or red thumbs
  • Over 5 years old with no sign of stopping the behavior

Thumb sucking can also be a symptom of anxiety and other emotional or developmental problems in kids five and older. If this seems to apply to your child and the at-home methods are just not taking root, treatment options ranging from speech therapy to behavioral therapy to devices that are attached to the thumb or the mouth do exist and have been shown to help. 

If you have any questions or concerns about thumb sucking, don’t hesitate to contact Family Dental Health for an appointment today! 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Apr 2022
April 27, 2022 by David CaseBlog

Dentistry in the Digital Age

Technology has changed nearly every aspect of human life and modern society. New tools, programs, and education can greatly improve your healthcare, too! Let’s say you need any kind of standard dental restoration for a cracked or missing tooth. From x-rays and impressions to surgery and installation, your whole treatment could be digital. We’re so used to digital tools these days, you may not even notice how much technology a dentist can utilize to best serve your oral health needs. Below are some of the ways your oral care may be digitized.

CAD/CAM Software

Short for computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacturing, this software brings you better-fitting crowns, veneers, inlays and onlays, and bridges. CAD/CAM technology comes out of industrial engineering and manufacturing and into the dental office to provide faster, superior products and services in oral health. Using computers to design oral appliances increases accuracy, efficiency, appearance, and function. 

CAD/CAM dental services start with 3D images. The computer takes the images and creates a model of whatever restorative appliance you need. Research shows that dental restorations made with CAD/CAM technology are stronger and less likely to break. This is great news if you’re already dealing with oral health issues and you just want everything to look natural and work well.

Same-Day Milling
Thanks to CAD/CAM technology, you can now get many dental restorations placed in just one visit to the dental office. This is good news for busy people! All crowns, veneers, and onlays need to actually be created and shaped out of porcelain or composite. After using digital images to get a picture of your mouth, the information will be sent to a machine that can automatically create a natural-looking restoration on the spot. 

The machine can usually make these in about 20 minutes. The milling machine may also glaze or stain the porcelain to best match your natural teeth. Like clay pottery, the porcelain or composite then needs to be fired. All of this should take anywhere from one to two hours. You can walk into the dentist toothless and walk out with a full, vibrant smile the same day. 

Guided Surgery
Surgical guides are 3D computer images that your dentist may use to improve the accuracy and safety of having dental implants placed. Not everyone is a good candidate for implants, but if your dentist believes you are, they may also use a surgical guide during your procedure. 

A surgical guide uses digital images to give us a realistic picture of your jawbones, gums, nerves, and more. A computer will help your Portland dentist plan the whole procedure so that each step and measurement is more accurate. With all of this important information, dentists can work faster so you’re in the chair less (as much as we love to see you).

Cone-Beam Imaging

When your doctor or dentist needs to see beyond the naked eye, they can use one of many different x-ray and imaging technologies. Cone-beam images are 3D scans that use cone-shaped laser beams to get a complete scan of your entire mouth. Cone beams use more radiation than a standard dental x-ray, but far less than a standard medical CT scan. Cone-beam images especially help with placement and installation of dental implants.  

Electronic Booking & Billing

Gone are the days of endless stacks of paper you need to keep track of and store. Gone are the days of being on hold with a receptionist. Many dental offices now make use of email and online programs to communicate with patients both for billing and making new appointments. 

Now, everything you need to know about your oral care can be kept in one place to easily see and understand. Nothing can replace the friendly and professional environment of a good dental office, but digital communication helps ensure that you, your dentist, and the insurance providers are all on the same page. So when you walk in for your appointment, things should flow seamlessly and with no surprises.

Finding a Digital Dentist

An everyday visit to the dentist looks a lot different today than it has in decades past. The services you need may require any or all of the above technology to provide quality care and favorable outcomes. 

At Family Dental Health, we are always learning more about how to use technology to better serve you. Make an appointment today to learn more about what we can do for you and your smile!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Apr 2022
April 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Pregnant Moms & Oral Health: Brushing & Flossing for Two

There are so many things to be concerned about when you find out you’re expecting. Eating right, taking enough vitamins, getting enough rest, telling your husband there is absolutely no way you are naming your firstborn son Bud Light… but what about your teeth? There’s an old saying—“you lose a tooth for every baby”—but those beliefs are outdated, thank goodness! Still, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health has some important information to share about pregnancy and oral health.


Taking Care of Yourself is Taking Care of Your Baby

Moms-to-be can become so focused on preparation for the new bundle of joy that they neglect their own health—but try to remember that taking care of yourself is taking care of your baby. If you are pregnant, remain proactive about your oral hygiene routine and don’t skip your regular dental visits. Your teeth and gums need special attention during this time, so be on the alert for symptoms like bleeding gums and dry mouth. 

 

Gingivitis & Gum Disease

Hormonal changes and diabetes during pregnancy can cause pregnancy gingivitis (inflamed, tender and irritated gums)—about 75% of pregnant women end up with it. Left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis, an even more severe form of gum disease that leads to actual bone loss. Older mothers have a higher risk of gum disease in general, and research has linked preterm delivery and low birth weight to gingivitis—sufferers were seven times more likely to have either or both conditions. Researchers also estimate that advanced gum disease could be linked to about 18% of premature births in the United States.

Gum disease may also contribute to preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition that affects about 5% of pregnant women, leading to a sharp increase in blood pressure. The only cure for preeclampsia is giving birth, which can put the baby at risk if it happens prematurely. Additional potential complications of preeclampsia include hemorrhage, stroke, and kidney failure. A handful of studies have linked gum disease with preeclampsia, but more research is needed to show a true cause-and-effect relationship.

 

Acidity & Dry Mouth

Not every pregnant woman has morning sickness, but if you are one of the unlucky ones, keep in mind that along with nausea, stomach acid can make its way into the mouth and erode your teeth. Try rinsing your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash to help control the acidity level. This is not only a protective measure for your teeth but may help with nausea a bit as well.

Dry mouth during pregnancy can put pregnant women at higher risk for tooth decay and dental infections. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and chewing sugarless gum to enhance saliva production—try to find sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol, which has been shown to be effective in preventing cavities.

If you’re hungry a lot—which is not unheard of while pregnant—frequent snacking keeps teeth in constant contact with sugars. Bacteria feed on these sugars, speeding up acid production which creates more opportunities to weaken a pregnant mom’s tooth enamel. Be aware of your snacking habits and be sure to rinse your mouth frequently with water after eating or drinking.


How Does Mom’s Oral Health Affect Her Baby?

It’s quite simple: the bacteria in Mom’s mouth is the link to the baby’s health. When a pregnant woman has excessive oral bacteria, pathogens can enter the bloodstream via the gums, travel to the uterus, and trigger the production of chemicals suspected to induce preterm labor. After the baby is born, a mom in poor oral health can still pass harmful bacteria to her newborn in a process known as vertical transmission. This can lead to negative dental consequences down the road for the baby—no one wants to see an active toddler with cavities. 

Good oral hygiene—brushing at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and flossing at least once each day—is your own insurance policy to reduce the risk of dental infection in your newborn baby. Good nutrition and balanced meals limiting acidity and sugar have the most benefits for both Mom and baby

Most important of all, don’t forget that when you’re brushing and flossing during pregnancy, you’re doing it for two! If you have any questions or concerns about pregnancy and your dental health, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Mar 2022
March 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental Health

What Are Those Bumps? Oral Tori

Unusual shapes and growths can be alarming anywhere in the body. If you’ve noticed hard bumps growing in your mouth, you might have oral tori

What are Oral Tori?
Tori (or a single torus) are bumps in the mouth made of bone tissue covered by gum tissue. They grow slowly and some people have them without ever noticing them! There are three kinds of tori, each named differently based on their location:

  • Buccal exostoses: tori on the back, upper gums, on the cheek side
  • Maxillary/palatal tori: on the roof of the mouth
  • Mandibular lingual tori: on the lower jaw, under the tongue

Tori are more common among males than females. (Although palatal tori are twice as likely to occur in women than men.) They appear to be genetic. Tori can appear in groups of various shapes and sizes, or you can have just one torus. If you have a torus on one side of your mouth, it’s likely that you’ll also have another one on the other side.

Tori have been referenced and studied for at least 100 years, but truth be told, we don’t totally understand what causes them. Some dentists believe that people who grind their teeth and clench their jaw are more likely to develop tori. Others believe that tori result from facial or jaw injuries or trauma. 

Are Tori Dangerous?

Tori are considered normal and harmless. Phew! Tori may, however, get in the way of dentures or orthodontics in some cases. Or they may grow to a point and touch in the middle of the mouth. In these cases, your dentist may recommend treatment and removal to ensure optimum comfort and function. So long as they don’t interfere with your daily life and ability to eat, speak, or care for your oral health, tori are not a problem.

Tori should not hurt but they can get injured if you accidentally scrape them while eating. If this happens, keep the wound clean with mouthwash or a saline rinse to prevent infection.

Although they are extra growths, tori are not cancerous. Signs of oral cancer include sores, thickening oral tissues, unexplained bleeding or numbness, trouble swallowing, and a change in how your dentures fit. If you have any concerns about oral cancer, you should see us today for an oral cancer screening.

Treating Tori

Your Portland dentist will monitor the tori shape and size and how they affect your general health. In the rare case that you do need the tori to be removed, your dentist or oral surgeon will perform an oral surgery procedure. The oral surgeon will expose the bone tissue, remove it, and level the mouth surface. As with any surgery, you’ll be sore for a while afterward, and you’ll see the dentist about a week later for a post-op checkup.

If you need help living with tori, or you have any other oral health need, make an appointment to come in and see us today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

13 Mar 2022
March 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Biofilm: The Most Important Film of the Year

Biofilm is quite literally a “film” or layer of biological matter that forms on teeth, in sink pipes, on river rocks, and more. Biofilm is made of many different things. Think of it as concrete, which contains cement as well as a slew of other materials. It’s likely you’ve been aware of biofilm on your teeth when they feel slimy or fuzzy instead of smooth and clean. Dr. David Case, Portland dentist explains more below about biofilm and the role it plays in your oral wellness.

My Teeth Aren’t Cold, Why Do They Need Sweaters?

It’s true; the texture of biofilm can feel like fuzzy little sweaters on your teeth. Biofilm occurs when bacteria stick to a wet environment, creating a slimy layer of microorganisms and random debris. Biofilm is a diverse and highly organized group of biological matter all webbed together. Some of the microorganisms are neutral but some are pathogenic and cause a lot of problems for your oral and overall health.

This slimy layer includes multiple kinds of bacteria, fungi, and anything else that gets stuck in the stickiness such as plaque or leftover food particles. Usually, bacteria start off floating around on their own, but if they stick to a wet surface they can cause a microcolony and produce a lot of gunk. This can happen on your teeth as easily as down a water pipe.

The Effects of Biofilm

It’s proven that not all microorganisms in biofilm cause harm to your oral health. But the ones that do can cause inflammation and deterioration in the bones and tissues of your mouth and have a direct pathway through the gums and into the bloodstream.

Biofilm in your mouth can cause:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Tooth loss

Dental plaque is a dangerous kind of biofilm. Without properly cleaning your teeth (brushing and flossing every day), the material can corrode your teeth and the bacteria can make you sick.

Gingivitis is a common and mild irritation of the gums. But even 30-40% of the population will have severe gum disease called periodontitis. A dentist can help you look for signs of gum disease or diagnose it.

Biofilm allowed to travel through the bloodstream to other parts of your body cause:

  • Ear infections
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cystic fibrosis (lung infection)
  • Legionnaire’s Disease

Treating Biofilm & Tooth Decay

The formation of biofilm actually protects the bacteria in it by keeping it attached to teeth and other debris. This makes the bacteria hard to clear and kill. Regular brushing and flossing are essential for your oral health to prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from building up on your teeth.

However, some buildup of plaque and tartar is common and can only be treated by a dental professional. This is why getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist twice a year is so important. Biofilm can also grow on oral appliances. So, if you use dentures, a mouthguard, or a removable bridge, ask your dentist how to best keep the appliance clean.

If biofilm causes excessive tartar buildup, your dentist may recommend special treatment to remove it and kill the bacteria such as prescription mouthwash or more advanced periodontal treatments. Unfortunately, oral infections are chronic because the bacteria can’t be completely killed by antibiotics. Oral infections must be inspected and treated on an ongoing basis. As always—prevention is the best medicine.

If you’re looking for a dental professional to keep your mouth and overall health in tiptop shape, Family Dental Health is accepting new patients. Contact us to make an appointment today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Feb 2022
February 27, 2022 by David CaseBlog

Can I Recycle My Toothbrush?

Take a look around your bathroom and you’re likely to see a lot of products in plastic packaging. Paper boxes and toilet paper rolls are easily recycled in your bin at home, but what about the tricky stuff like toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes? Your Portland dentist Dr. David Case has the answers!

Toothbrush Recycling

That’s right, you CAN recycle your toothbrush! (As well as old tubes of toothpaste.) The plastic in toothbrushes can be reused in nearly anything from lawn furniture to plastic containers. The hard part is separating the different materials in the toothbrush – plastic handles, nylon bristles, and metal to hold the bristles in place.

Why Recycle?

We recommend you switch out your old toothbrush every three months or after an illness. This ensures your toothbrush is clean and bacteria free, and that the bristles are in the best shape to actually clean your teeth.

While good for your oral health, consuming four toothbrushes every year is not great for our limited resources on this beautiful planet we call Earth. You don’t have to be a total hippie to care about reducing waste, and thoughtfully getting rid of ANYTHING, including old toothbrushes or toothpaste tubes, can be really simple and make an impact on sustainability.

How to Recycle

There are a number of ways you can go green with your oral hygiene routine. First and foremost, consider buying toothbrushes already made of recycled materials. Buying products made from recycled materials is an important part of the recycling cycle. You can easily recycle the simple stuff like cardboard boxes and plastic mouthwash bottles right from home.

As for recycling your toothbrush or tricky toothpaste tubes, you either need to disassemble and clean them yourself before dropping them off at a center, or you can mail them to a company that will prepare them for you. Be sure to check the packaging to see what kind of plastic they are made of. You can find recycling centers by searching online, Earth911.com is a helpful resource. Call your local center to make sure they accept the kind of plastic you have.

Companies that take toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes in the mail include Colgate, Tom’s of Maine, and Preserve (though Preserve only accepts their own toothbrushes). Both Colgate and Tom’s of Maine partner with a larger company called TerraCycle which recycles nearly everything.

Your Portland dentist, Dr. Case believes in caring for your oral health as well as the environment. Contact Family Dental Health today for an appointment if you’re looking for a professional local dentist to take care of your smile!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Feb 2022
February 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Gingivitis: Are Your Gums Trying to Tell You Something?

Gingivitis, very simply, is an inflammation of your gums. (Any time a medical term ends with “itis” it means inflammation.) Gingivitis varies in severity and can look a few different ways. Very bad gingivitis leads to periodontal (gum) disease

Gingivitis is common and affects many, rather, most adults. But with good oral hygiene and the care of Portland dentist Dr. David Case, you should be able to avoid any major problems and even prevent gingivitis before it begins! Family Dental Health shares some information below about what causes gingivitis, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if it happens to you!

Causes of Gingivitis
Plaque forms on your teeth and near your gums after you eat and drink. Regular brushing and flossing cleans your teeth and removes this plaque. But if you go too long without brushing and flossing, or you don’t do it well enough, the plaque can build up and harden in your mouth. At this point, the plaque becomes tartar that can only be removed by a dental professional. 

Gingivitis happens because:

  • Tartar builds up on the line where your teeth and gums meet, it sticks and hardens to your soft gum tissue. 
  • Tartar irritates your gums and makes them more sensitive to oral bacteria that normally aren’t a problem.
  • Your gums inflame in order to fight the bacteria and tartar. 
  • Inflammation causes gums to bleed easily during brushing and flossing.


Effects of Gingivitis

In most cases, gingivitis just means slightly swollen and sore gums. If this happens, call your dentist and definitely keep brushing and flossing your teeth. Try brushing lightly and using a soft toothbrush if your mouth is very sensitive. 

If your symptoms don’t go away, gingivitis can cause:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Gums bleed easily
  • Bad breath or taste
  • Sensitive or painful gums
  • Gums pull away from teeth and form pockets around teeth
  • Tooth loss caused by periodontitis


Preventing Gingivitis

Good oral hygiene is important for everyone and can do a lot to keep you and your mouth healthy. Still, some risk factors make you more likely to develop gingivitis:

  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes in women (pregnancy)
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases that lower your immune system
  • Dry mouth (sometimes caused by prescription medication)
  • Genetics
  • Being a male over 30 years old


Treating Gingivitis

As always, brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is the best way to care for your teeth and gums. Flossing or cleaning between your teeth once a day is also very important. Make sure you curve the floss in a C-shape, around the tooth, and under the gumline. 

Next, be sure to get regular dental care from our team at Family Dental Health—about two visits per year is recommended. If you have gingivitis or gum disease, Dr. David Case will help remove tartar, control the infection, and might advise you to change some personal hygiene habits.  More advanced cases of gum disease may require more extensive treatment methods. 

If you’re looking for a Portland dentist to help you feel your best, Dr. David Case is taking new patients. Contact us to make an appointment at Family Dental Health today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Jan 2022
January 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Oral Health & Alzheimer’s

Did you know that unhealthy gums might put your brain at risk

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, which harms your memory, ability to think, and can cause changes in your personality. It’s very common and usually affects people aged 60 and over. And, Alzheimer’s might be significantly more likely to happen if your mouth and gums aren’t healthy.

The Link is Inflammation 

A New York University College of Dentistry study found, “long-term evidence that periodontal (gum) disease may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s.” 

Gum disease is a case of inflammation in your mouth. Inflammation is a natural and appropriate response in your body to fight invaders and infection. Gum disease and oral inflammation can be a minor problem or become very serious. But chronic inflammation causes a variety of health concerns that can affect everything from your oral health to your brain. Unfortunately, inflammation problems are increasingly common in the US.

The study at NYU found that gum inflammation might actually contribute to brain inflammation, which leads to neurodegeneration (the breakdown and decline in the health of brain cells and neurons) and Alzheimer’s. This was the case both for people in good health and people with existing cognitive impairment. Sometimes studies only show that two conditions are correlated, but the researchers at NYU believe gum disease is actually one of the causes of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s & Gum Disease

In the NYU study, people with Alzheimer’s had significantly more antibodies and inflammatory molecules in their blood if they had gum disease.

In addition, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that a certain kind of oral bacteria could travel through your bloodstream and cause harm in other parts of your body, including the brain. Some oral bacteria are good and necessary. But keeping your mouth clean and healthy is the foundation for oral health and to prevent gum disease.

Signs of gum disease include:

  • swollen gums
  • bleeding gums
  • discolored gums
  • gums pulling away from teeth
  • loose teeth
  • persistent bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth

If this is what inflamed gums look like, can you imagine if a brain was inflamed?

Prevention 

If you could maintain a few simple habits that supported your oral wellness and brain health, why wouldn’t you? The benefits of daily oral hygiene are both immediate and long-term. You can make it a “mental habit.”

The most important and basic routines for oral wellness and overall health are:

  • brushing teeth for two whole minutes, twice per day
  • flossing or cleaning between teeth once per day
  • regularly visiting your dentist
  • eating a balanced diet low in acid, sugar, and avoiding snacks

If you have more questions about the oral health link to Alzheimer’s, or you want to become a part of a dental family, come see Dr. David Case in Portland. Make an appointment at Family Dental Health today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Jan 2022
January 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Destination Dentistry – Are the Savings Worth the Risk?

Ah, vacation. The sun, the sand, the… gauze in your mouth? Dental work and recovery might not be your preferred use of your precious vacation days, but some people are packing their bags and heading to exotic locations for dental work in hopes of saving money. As medical education and technology improve all around the world, destination dentistry or dental tourism is becoming an attractive option for many. Dental tourism is a kind of medical tourism and can reportedly save up to 70% of costs compared to getting dental work done in the US. 

Who Gets Destination Dentistry? 

You might have to be a little adventurous to leave your home country for something as vulnerable as dental work, but healthcare costs in the US prevent many people from getting dental work they might really need or want. Due to cheaper education, licensing, materials, and less bureaucracy in other countries, dentists abroad are able to charge a fraction of those in the US. The most common treatments for patients seeking dental care abroad include dental implants, crowns and dentures.

If you’re already flying out of the country anyway, you’ll have the opportunity to spend a few extra days somewhere exciting. But dental tourism may not be all it’s cracked up to be, and there are some issues to consider before renewing your passport. Those licensing and bureaucracy standards in the US do serve an important purpose for your safety and well-being.

Top Destinations

The most popular destinations for dental tourism include:

  • Mexico
  • Thailand
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • Czech Republic
  • Dubai
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Costa Rica
  • Hungary

Destination Dentistry Pros & Cons

The potential benefits of dental tourism include:

  • Your dental work is likely to be a lot cheaper.
  • You can visit an exciting or relaxing foreign location.
  • You can find quality care in many places outside the US.
  • In Europe, dentists have similar education, training, and oversight as dentists in the US, and dental practices are held to the same standards.

However, reasons not to travel for dental work include:

  • The practices and conditions might not be to a standard that you’re used to or comfortable with. National standards in the US ensure clean facilities to prevent infection, and drugs and equipment are regulated for safety. This may not be the case for dentists outside the US.
  • It will be very hard to get follow-up care from the same dentist who did your work.
  • You probably can’t get an exact quote for your total costs until the dentist sees you in person for a consultation.
  • Some dental treatments (like dental implants) require two visits, which means more time away from home.
  • Costs of airfare, hotels, car rental, and food add up quickly.

Considerations

Weigh all of the pros and cons of traveling far away for dental work, and consider your current lifestyle and well-being. If you’re already very busy and tired from the responsibilities of life, you might want a real vacation and not a medical one. Any health complications could also seriously hurt your chances of having successful treatment in a foreign country. Talk to your primary care doctor to get their opinion. 

If you’re interested in destination dentistry, talk with your Portland dentist first. Even if your dentist isn’t a fan of this idea (they probably won’t be), the decision is ultimately yours, and it’s still important to keep your dentist (who knows your medical history) in the loop. We will probably need to send x-rays and files to the dentist abroad and will want a way to contact the dentist in case of questions about follow-up and recovery.

If you decide dental tourism is right for you, do your research to find the highest quality of care possible. The Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP) has a checklist that can help you determine if you are making a safe choice for dentistry abroad. And the World Dental Federation is a good place to check for qualified dentists around the world.

Your oral health is crucial to your overall health and long-term well-being. Only you can decide if the gamble on safety and quality is worth the potential monetary savings. If it’s just a matter of saving money, many dentists offer payment plans and flexible financing options to help you afford the dental care you need. Or, you might qualify for state support to cover costs.

If you have any dental needs or concerns, before you pack your bags, make an appointment with your Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health today and let us be your partners in health!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

27 Dec 2021
December 27, 2021 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Heart

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health explains how oral health can impact your heart health.We all know that it’s important to take care of our health, but that’s often easier said than done. Health and hygiene routines are an investment of your time every day. So, wouldn’t it be great if you could accomplish more by actually doing less? 

As it turns out, when it comes to oral health and heart health, you can! Taking care of one is actually taking care of the other. Count that as one less thing you have to do each day. Dr. David Case explains how oral health and heart health are closely connected.

 

How Your Mouth Affects Your Heart
There are a number of ways that your oral health is directly related to your heart health. What we know for sure is: 

  • If you have gum disease, you have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation, and it ranges in severity. Inflammation is a normal immune response in your body, but too much of it (like gum disease) is not good. Bacteria in your mouth enter your bloodstream through your gums and can cause a number of heart problems. Bacteria in your mouth can also cause your liver to overproduce certain proteins, which inflame your blood vessels. 
  • Signs of gum disease include red, swollen, bleeding, and receding gums. Treating gum disease can help lower inflammation in other parts of your body. See your Portland dentist immediately if you think you have any problems with your gums.
  • If you have a lot of plaque buildup on your teeth, it can be a sign that you have similar build up in your blood vessels and arteries, which is very dangerous. A number of other diagnostic tests use samples from your mouth to look for any signs of pathogens throughout your body. 
  • Heart conditions might affect how you receive dental care, so it’s important that your dentist knows your full health history. If you have any history of pacemakers, antibiotics, blood thinners, heart attacks, or stroke, tell your dentist before going into any cleaning or treatment.

 

The Big Picture

Dentists, medical doctors, and researchers are working hard to better understand these links between oral health and overall health. Gum disease isn’t yet proven to directly cause heart disease, but they are proven to be very closely connected and frequently happen at the same time.

Your mouth may feel far away from your heart in the whole scope of your body, but because your mouth is full of blood vessels, bacteria and germs can quickly travel from your mouth to anywhere else in the body! Seeing the dentist and taking good care of your mouth sets the foundation for good oral health and overall health.

Of course, diet is a major link between your oral health and heart health. Diets high in fat, sugar, salt, and acids will negatively affect both your mouth and your heart. So eat a balanced diet full of unprocessed foods that prevent health problems and support overall wellness.

You can protect your heart by keeping your mouth clean!

The American Dental Association says that the best ways to maintain oral health are:

  • Brush your teeth twice per day
  • Floss or clean between your teeth once per day
  • Eat a balanced diet with limited snacking
  • See a dental professional regularly

Get Healthy! 

If you’re serious about improving both your oral health and heart health, make an appointment with your Portland dentist at Family Dental Health soon. We can be your partners in total health and wellness.

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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