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27 May 2021
May 27, 2021 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Hate Flossing? – 5 Flossing Alternatives

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health gives patients who hate to floss some simple flossing alternatives that are just as effective.There are two kinds of people in this world: those who floss, and those who don’t. Diligent flossers everywhere inspire those of us who live with them or know them. Flossing may not be a philosophical virtue but it’s certainly high on the list of qualities amongst people who “have it together.” Read more below about why flossing is so important and what alternatives you have if you don’t like traditional floss.

The Point of Flossing
After you eat, tiny pieces of food are left everywhere in your mouth. Even though your saliva does a good job of rinsing a lot of food debris away, some leftovers stay stuck on and between your teeth and gums and must be brushed and flossed to get rid of it. You do have tons of natural bacteria in your mouth that help break down food buildup, but the bacteria leave behind a sticky film on your teeth called plaque that needs to be removed.

Everyone (even young kids) should brush for two minutes, twice a day, and floss once a day to remove food buildup and plaque from the places that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. If you don’t stay on top of it, food buildup and plaque can quickly turn into bigger problems that cause tooth decay, gum disease, and inflammation in your mouth.

Flossing Alternatives

The American Dental Association (ADA) says it doesn’t matter if you floss before or after brushing your teeth, or if you floss in the morning or at night. What’s most important is that you do it every day. But what if traditional flossing is difficult for you, or you’re traveling, or if you have braces? Thankfully, you have some options that the ADA approves.

Here are some of the flossing alternatives and their uses:

  • Interdental Brushes: Like tiny toothbrushes, specially designed to clean between your teeth, these brushes are a great alternative to flossing. Interdental brushes are usually easier to use than a thread of floss, are just as effective as floss, and are probably your best option if you have braces.
  • Water Flossing: Approved by the ADA as a floss alternative, water flossing is just what it sounds like. Instead of a thread, water flossing uses a steady stream of water, aimed between the teeth, to clear away plaque. Water flossing uses a small, hand-held appliance that might be more physically comfortable for you.
  • Dental Pick: Made of plastic or wood, these tiny sticks can help remove plaque from your teeth and gums. If you use a wooden pick, the ADA recommends getting the pick wet first to soften it. Picks aren’t quite as effective as floss, and you risk moving bacteria around in your mouth unless you use a new pick for each tooth.
  • Pre-Threaded Floss: For some people, the hardest part of flossing is actually reaching the floss into the mouth and effectively moving it between the teeth. Thankfully, a pre-threaded flosser is the simple answer to this problem. You can buy these in packets and use one with one hand. Use pre-threaded floss to more easily reach in your mouth and (like regular floss) throw it away after each use.
  • Soft-Picks by GUM®: A favorite of the dental community, Soft-Picks are sort of an interdental brush/dental pick hybrid. Soft-Picks are small, disposable plastic picks with a soft tip and rubbery bristles that fit comfortably between teeth and do minimal damage to the gum tissue. 

A word about mouthwash: while it’s a great option for freshness and does help kill the bacteria that cause decay and gum disease in the rest of the mouth, mouthwash is not a good replacement for brushing or flossing. Mouthwash is best used in combination with these methods for optimum oral health.

Flossing & Your Health

Your daily brushing and flossing routine is the foundation of good oral hygiene and health. Remember also to see your dentist for a professional cleaning twice per year. Some plaque and buildup (like tartar) can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. Plus, proactive oral care goes a long way toward your overall health and seeing the dentist is just as important as seeing your doctor! 

If you’re looking for a Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health is always welcoming new patients. We’d love to see you for any and all of your dental health needs.

 

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 2021
April 13, 2021 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Do I Have Herpes? Cold Sores 101

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health tells patients about cold sores – what they are, why they happen, and how to treat them.Cold sore. Fever blister. Herpes Simplex Virus-1. These babies go by a lot of different names, but the experience is always the same:

  • Telltale burning or itching near the lip
  • A red bump appears a day or so later
  • The bump becomes a cluster of blisters
  • The blisters dry up and scab over
  • The scab falls off
  • The whole process usually takes two weeks or less. 

Infamous for irritating pain and ruining first dates everywhere, cold sores sure wreak a lot of havoc for something so small. 

A cold sore is a symptom of the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) in your system. HSV-1 is so common that most people are exposed to it in childhood. Many people can have and spread the virus without ever actually having a cold sore. 

Catching & Spreading a Cold Sore

Sadly, once you catch HSV-1, there is no permanent cure. Thankfully, it won’t do much harm. If you have HSV-1, you might occasionally experience cold sores with long periods between each outbreak. This is because HSV-1 has the habit of “sleeping” or being inactive for bouts of time before circumstances cause it to flare up.

If you get cold sores, anything that compromises your immune system will make you susceptible to an outbreak. This includes drinking too much alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, or being sick. Even overexposure to the sun can cause a cold sore flare.

HSV-1 is related to the same virus that causes the herpes STD: HSV-2. Both viruses can be passed via bodily fluids, but HSV-1 cold sores usually only appear around the mouth.  

HSV-1 is extremely contagious and can be spread even without a visible cold sore. Washing hands and a large personal bubble are important to prevent spreading or catching cold sores. Don’t share cups, utensils, lip balm, or razors if you or someone you know has a cold sore.

Don’t worry about catching cold sores from the dentist. All rooms and equipment are thoroughly sanitized between each patient.

Cold Sores vs. Canker Sores

If you have a mouth sore, you might be wondering if it’s a cold sore or a canker sore (which is not contagious). There are two main ways you can tell the difference between the two: location and appearance.

Cold sores are mostly outside the mouth on the lips or nose, and canker sores are mostly inside the mouth. Cold sores are usually a group of red blisters. Canker sores are round, open sores with a yellow or gray center.

Cold sores might also cause fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.

Treating Cold Sores

Skin creams and gels can help ease the pain of cold sores and make them go away faster. Talk with your dentist and doctor if you want help fighting the effects of a cold sore. Long-term treatment may also help reduce the frequency and severity of your outbreaks.

Dr. David Case, your Portland dentist is taking new patients and would love to help you love your smile! Make an appointment with us today if you have questions about cold sores or any other oral health issue. 

 

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 2021
March 13, 2021 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Can Gum Disease Cause Birth Defects?

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health tells patients how gum disease in pregnant women is linked to birth defects and pregnancy complications.What is Gum Disease?

The short answer: gum disease is a common gum infection that can become very problematic, but you can prevent it! The long answer: all the tissues in your body have a self-defense mechanism called “inflammation.” When bacteria build up in your mouth, your gum tissue will inflame to try and kill it. Gum inflammation is called gingivitis and looks like red, soft, and sore gum tissue.

Over time, gingivitis can lead to more troublesome gum disease (called periodontitis) that can grow even deeper and start to harm the bones of your teeth and jaw. Severe gum disease can wreak havoc in your mouth. Pregnant women need to be especially careful because gum disease is linked with pre-term births and babies with low birth weight. 

Every mom and mom-to-be wants the best start for their baby on their journey into parenthood. Read on to learn more from Dr. David Case of Family Dental Health about gum disease and pregnancy.

 

Gum Disease, Pregnancy, and Birth Defects

Here are the facts:

  • Up to 75% of pregnant women get gingivitis. About 50% of those women will see it worsen during pregnancy.
  • Hormonal changes and diabetes – conditions common to pregnancy – can increase the risk of gum disease.
  • Studies show higher maternal age and lower socioeconomic status are both risk factors for gum disease during pregnancy.
  • Though we don’t yet fully understand the reasons, gum disease is proven to increase your risk of preterm birth and having a baby with low birth weight.


Why is this important?

Babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds have an increased risk of slower development (physically, socially, emotionally) for the rest of their lives. Babies born too early can have those same complications as well as problems with their vision, breathing, hearing, and digestion. Talk to your doctor to learn more about preterm birth and low birth weight.

 

How You Can Prevent Gum Disease

There’s no hall pass for brushing your teeth while pregnant. Preventive oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, professional dental cleanings) is both safe and necessary, especially for pregnant women. Not to mention your pregnancy cravings may have you enjoying an extra sweet treat or two these days – ice cream for breakfast, anyone?

Stay ahead of the game and prevent gum disease by eating tooth-friendly foods and keeping your mouth clean. If gingivitis crops up, don’t hesitate to get a professional cleaning at the dentist. You can also ask for prescription-strength mouthwash if you need the extra help.

Talk to both your primary doctor and your dentist about your overall health, including the state of your gums. If you’re looking for a Portland dentist, we’d love to care for you during this special time. Contact us today to make an appointment!

 

The content on 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 2021
January 13, 2021 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

The Ultimate Toothpaste Guide

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health provides all you need to know about toothpaste with this ultimate guide.Fresh breath sets the tone for every moment of your day: first thing in the morning, before an important meeting, after working out, or just before bed. Whether you prefer cool mint, invigorating cinnamon, or herbal anise, it’s your favorite trusty toothpaste that delivers that fresh, clean feeling.

So, what’s the scoop on toothpaste? What knowledge is essential to get the most out of your toothpaste? You might be surprised as you learn more about this common product. Dr. Case in Portland gives you the full story on toothpaste to empower you to take oral health into your own hands.

What is Toothpaste?

Toothpaste is an important preventive product. It can prevent tartar (hardened plaque) and gum disease if used regularly. Toothpaste comes in a variety of forms – paste, gels, powders. But all toothpaste has similar ingredients that allow it to work, and work well.

  • Abrasives — The most important thing toothpaste does is remove unwanted stuff from the surface of your teeth. Long ago, people used gritty materials like brick dust, charcoal, tree bark, and animal hooves to wash away unwanted gunk from their teeth. Thanks to technology and modern science, we now have much gentler ingredients proven to be safe and effective.

    • Detergent — An ingredient more often associated with dishes or laundry, detergent makes toothpaste foam. This foam helps move particles off your teeth that water alone cannot.

    • Fluoride — This mineral strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to decay. Some parents of small children are concerned about fluoride in children’s toothpaste because kids swallow a lot of paste as they are learning to brush (and too much fluoride is not good to ingest). Toothpaste follows regulations for safe use, but talk with your dentist if you become concerned.

    • Humectants — These substances keep the paste from drying out, which is very helpful since you open and close the toothpaste tube multiple times each day.

    • Flavor — Thanks to modern science, our toothpaste has amazing flavors like peppermint, cinnamon, and bubblegum without any sugar or components that would cause tooth decay.

Can You Use Toothpaste Wrong?

Dish soap doesn’t work unless you scrub the dirty dishes, and no toothpaste would be effective without the actual brushing motion.  Be sure you’ve got your brushing technique down to get the most out of your paste.

To start, you only need a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. The size of a pea is just enough. Commercials show toothbrushes overloaded with paste, which encourages you to use more than you need and use up that tube (and spend money) faster than necessary!

For the healthiest smile, take your time. You want more than just a quick brush for fresh breath. Hold your brush perpendicular (at a 45-degree angle) to your teeth and gums and brush gently for a whole 2 minutes. Be mindful of brushing each tooth and near your gum line. Be sure not to swallow any excess toothpaste.

Which Toothpaste is Right for Me?

When it comes to different kinds of toothpaste, you have no shortage of options. The most important thing is that you buy toothpaste that will make you excited to brush your teeth!

  • Sensitive — If you have sensitive teeth, that painful zing is caused by dentin (the bone at the core of your teeth) being exposed.  Kinds of toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth have ingredients that work hard to protect teeth and alleviate pain related to hot or cold temperatures.
  • Holistic — If you’re into natural health and wellness, there are plenty of toothpaste brands that use fewer chemicals. These products are not always studied or proven effective, but will still work if you maintain good brushing techniques.
  • Whitening — All toothpaste removes some stains, but whitening toothpaste uses more abrasives to scrub harder at those stains and provide more dramatic results.  Be mindful of the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste, as it may lead to increased tooth sensitivity.  If you want whiter teeth without that risk, consider getting a professional whitening treatment.

When shopping for toothpaste in stores, look for seals of approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA). The FDA tests toothpaste for safety and the ADA makes sure that toothpaste does what its labels claim.

Toothpaste is good at preventing plaque buildup on your teeth and infection in your gums, but cannot replace the effect of a professional dental cleaning. Only dentists can remove tartar, which is buildup from food or other materials that have hardened and cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone.

Your teeth and gums serve you every day, it’s only fair to treat them well in return. Get in touch with Family Dental Health today for a hygiene appointment!

 

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 Nov 2020
November 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

“Buy-Up” Dental Insurance: A Little Extra Protection

Family Dental Health discuss how Buy-Up dental insurance worksWhen it comes to dental insurance, it seems like there can be as many (or more) questions as there are answers. Even when you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, navigating its use can still be very confusing. Many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought – until the day comes when they need to use it.  Today, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health would like to talk to you about an option not everyone knows about – “buy-up” dental insurance.

What is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance?

“Buy-up” dental insurance allows enrollees with group insurance to “buy-up” to more generous benefits by paying higher monthly premiums and receiving more comprehensive dental coverage in return. The differences between “regular” and “buy-up” dental coverages are easy to pinpoint when benefit summaries of the plans are viewed side by side: “buy-up” dental calendar year maximums are higher, annual deductibles are lower, and a percentage of more extensive restorations like bridges, crowns, dental implants, and sometimes even orthodontics are covered, while regular group dental insurance plans often provide little to coverage for these procedures. As with any other insurance plan, whether dental providers are in-network also factors into the level of coverage when considering “buy-up” dental.

Is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance Worth the Added Cost?

When the only factor under consideration is economics, one recent study would likely call it a draw. The sample showed the average insured household spent $978 in out-of-pocket dental costs – including premiums – while the average uninsured household spent $1,007 – a mere $29 difference. If “buy-up” dental insurance becomes an option for you, the specific pros and cons of your individual and family situation will need to be weighed when you choose your insurance plan.  

If you are a weekend hockey player, have kids that need orthodontia, or just tend to be unlucky when it comes to your teeth, it’s hard to put a price tag on your peace of mind. Dental insurance can be a saving grace for those with unusually high dental expenses from serious financial hardship, and better-than-average coverage would only ease the burden. 

It may seem like a gamble to dig into your pockets and invest more money in a higher-priced dental plan when the extra coverage may never be needed. However, to reiterate – many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought until the time comes when they NEED it – and when you need your dental insurance, you really need it. Some of the most expensive dental procedures are also the most unexpected and in many cases, they are true medical emergencies that require treatment. 

One way to think about “buy-up” dental insurance is to compare it to enhanced towing coverage for your vehicle, such as the type offered by AAA. You can pay one nominal annual fee that covers unlimited towing costs, so no matter where your vehicle breaks down within a certain geographical radius, there will be no additional cost to you for your car to be towed. If you carry this coverage, your vehicle may not break down during that coverage year and your benefits may never be used, but if your vehicle does break down and you do require towing, the annual premium price is about the same or less than one tow, and the coverage has paid for itself with just one use.

Dr. Case and our team are always happy to discuss your insurance coverage, as well as your other financing options if you need additional help working dental care into your budget. Contact us anytime – we’d love to help!

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 Oct 2020
October 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental TechnologyPatient Care

The Buzz on Electric Toothbrushes: Are They Really Worth the Investment?

Family Dental Health discuss what an electric toothbrush has to offerElectric toothbrushes have been on the market for years now, and whether you’re a devout user or a critical skeptic, you may still be wondering: do they really work better, or have we all been duped? Dr. Case is here to break down some of the myths and separate fact from fiction to give us the spin on electric versus manual toothbrushes.

What’s Wrong with Ol’ Trusty?

Well, nothing… really. People have been brushing manually since the Middle Ages and continue to use manual toothbrushes effectively today. So why reinvent the wheel if it already rolls? Simple—technology and innovation drive us forward. Wheels today aren’t made of stone, they’re made from high-tech metals and rubber because we’ve discovered better materials and designs that fit our modern needs. Yes, they both accomplish the same end goal, but one is clearly more efficient than the other. 

So, the question becomes not what is wrong with manual toothbrushes, but what’s wrong with how we’re using them? With the proper technique and routine, manual toothbrushes and floss are usually all that’s needed to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. The problem is, most of us slack off with “drive-by brushing”—we don’t brush long enough or use the proper technique to clean our teeth and gums effectively. 

Don’t Fight the Power

Standing up and speaking out for social justice causes is encouraged, and the power of electric toothbrushes is one movement you may want to jump on board with. Electric toothbrushes clean at up to 30,000 strokes per minute, while manual brushes only produce up to 200 strokes. More brush strokes equal more plaque removed, so that figure alone should tell you an electric brush is well worth the extra cost.

Compared to manual toothbrushes, electric models reduce 21% more plaque and 11% more gingivitis after three months of use according to an analysis of 56 studies published in 2014 by the international evidence-based research organization, Cochrane.

Quit Working So Hard

Do you ever struggle to find the energy to brush and floss right before bedtime? No… just us? Ok. Well if you did, you might be interested to know that electric toothbrushes are not only more effective, but they require less effort than a manual. As the name implies, manual brushes require your own energy to move the brush in small circles (not up and down). With electric models, however, you can sit back and let the brush do the work for you. That is not to say you don’t have to do anything—you still need to move the brush along each tooth surface and get the bristles between teeth and under the gum line—but the brush does most of the heavy lifting. So, if your technique isn’t perfect (like most of us), you can rest assured you’re still getting a quality clean each time. 

Proper brushing technique requires a certain level of dexterity, which can make it difficult for children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. Electric brushes are great for everyone, of course, but these particular demographics that may otherwise struggle to brush effectively can have a trusty tool on their side to get the job done better.

But They’re So Expensive

Not compared to a dental crown or gum disease treatment! We know, the cost of an electric brush can be more than three times that of a manual (and often you get a manual brush for free after seeing the dentist), but if you look at the lifetime value and return on your investment, electric is the way to go. Electric brushes can range anywhere from $30-$200+ dollars, but with up to 150x the cleaning power, the investment is well worth it. 

If you’re an expert brusher and flosser with perfect technique and you’ve never had any issues with tooth decay or gingivitis, then a manual toothbrush is probably just fine—but if you’re like the rest of us, an electric toothbrush is the way to go. Dr. Case would be happy to recommend one that suits your individual needs and budget. Whatever brush you use, be sure to use light pressure, a 45-degree angle, and small circular motions for at least two minutes, twice per day for the best results.

If you’d like to talk toothbrushes with Dr. Case, contact your Portland dentist at Family Dental Health today! And remember, when it comes to choosing a toothbrush—you gotta feel it… it’s electric! Boogie woogie woogie woogie!

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 Oct 2020
October 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental ServicesPatient Care

How are Dental Savings Plans Different from Insurance?

Family Dental Health discuss financial options for Portland patients without insuranceUnderstanding any type of medical or dental insurance can be a challenge, especially for uninsured folks trying to find a plan on their own. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, about 74 million Americans had no dental insurance coverage at the end of 2016. One possible solution is dental savings plans (also called dental discount plans). 

Dr. Case would like to talk about plans like these and their potential to reduce out-of-pocket dental costs for patients (who doesn’t like to save money?).

How Do Dental Savings Plans Work?

With a dental discount plan, the consumer pays an annual fee, just as they would pay for a buyer’s club membership to Costco or Sam’s Club or for emergency roadside assistance insurance like AAA. In return, they get access to a dental network that offers special savings to plan members, usually in the form of percentage-off discounts. For example, if a participating provider offers a 40% discount on crowns, that crown will cost $600 rather than $1,000 for the dental savings plan holder.

There are no exclusions for preexisting conditions and no annual cap on costs under a dental discount plan. A patient is free to choose the plan offering them the most savings, pay the plan’s annual fee with the full knowledge they need extensive work done, and be in the participating dentist’s chair as soon as they can book an appointment for the procedures they need!

When Do Dental Discount Plans Make Sense?

If you already have traditional dental insurance and know you’ll need a lot of work done this calendar year that won’t exceed your policy’s annual limits, a discount dental plan is probably not necessary for you. However, if you are postponing a costly procedure until the next calendar year, or you have a child or teen that needs braces soon, a discount dental plan might be just the thing.  Before you sign up, do your research—find out what providers in your area are on the plan, which procedures the plan covers, and whether the discount the plan has the potential to actually save you money.

Differences Between Dental Savings Plans & Dental Insurance

  • Discount plans generally cost less than dental insurance.
  • Dental discount plans require services paid upfront (or a payment plan is negotiated at the time of service if the provider allows). There will be no reimbursement from the plan later—and as a result, there is no claim paperwork to complete. While paying for services upfront can present a hardship, there are also no surprises.
  • There are no annual maximums, deductibles, copays, premiums, or preexisting conditions with a dental discount plan.
  • Some dental discount plans cover elective services such as teeth whitening, orthodontics or other cosmetic dentistry procedures.
  • Some dental discount plans throw in bonus savings on chiropractic, vision, or hearing, particularly those plans that are geared toward seniors.

Family Dental Health loves to help our patients get the care they need in a way that will work for them. Contact your Portland dentist, Dr. Case today to learn more or schedule a visit!

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 Sep 2020
September 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Dry Mouth: Nothing to Spit At

Dry Mouth: nothing to spit atCan you imagine a 2-liter bottle of your favorite soda? Now imagine that same bottle filled with spit. That’s approximately how much saliva the average adult produces in their mouth every day! It may be gross, but it’s definitely important. Saliva is a normal body fluid that’s crucial for oral health and overall wellness. 

If you struggle to make enough saliva, your mouth will feel very dry and you will have trouble with daily activities like speaking, eating, and swallowing. This condition is commonly known as dry mouth, but the clinical name is xerostomia. A chronically dry mouth is uncomfortable and unhealthy. 

You have three salivary glands in different parts of your jaw that make and secrete saliva. Saliva is mostly made of water, but it also contains important molecules called enzymes that help keep your mouth clean and fight infection.

Dry mouth is common and can usually be fixed with the help of your Portland dentist and primary care doctor. Dr. Case shares more below about what causes dry mouth and how to treat it.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

When your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, there’s not enough moisture in your mouth and it becomes overly dry. Dry mouth can be a random side effect of prescription medicine or a sign that there’s something actually wrong with your salivary glands. 

Common causes of dry mouth are:

  • Prescription medication
  • Nerve damage in your mouth from an impact or injury
  • Smoking
  • Chemotherapy and radiation 
  • Extreme dehydration
  • Other health conditions 

It’s important to talk with your primary care provider to determine what exactly is causing your dry mouth. Your body is a complex machine with many interconnected parts that all work together to keep you healthy.

What Are the Side Effects of Dry Mouth?

The importance of saliva goes beyond just your mouth. The water and enzymes in saliva are necessary for good breathing, digestion, immunity, and oral health. 

Common side effects of dry mouth include:

  • Dry (scratchy, painful) nasal passages and throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Increased risk of infection in the mouth
  • Increased risk of tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • Trouble tasting food

How Do I Treat Dry Mouth?

Talk with your doctor to figure out what’s causing your dry mouth. There are prescription and over-the-counter medicines and mouth rinses that might be able to ease your symptoms.

If you have dry mouth, it’s very important you maintain good oral hygiene to protect yourself against tooth decay and gum disease. Talk with your dentist about prescription fluoride or more regular cleanings to keep your mouth clean and healthy.

Some easy ways to keep yourself comfortable with dry mouth include:

  • Drink more water
  • Chew sugar-free gum (with xylitol) to help produce saliva and keep your teeth clean
  • Breathe out of your nose instead of your mouth
  • Use a humidifier at home
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink caffeinated beverages
  • Don’t take antihistamines or decongestants

If you have concerns about dry mouth or any other oral health questions, we’d love to be your partner in health. Make an appointment with your Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health today and we will see you soon!

 

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 Sep 2020
September 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental ServicesPatient Care

Types for All Stripes: Teeth Whitening

Teeth whiteningWhiter, brighter teeth are on the top of everyone’s smile wish list – and for good reason! White teeth look young and healthy. The good news is that teeth whitening is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve your smile, and the results are almost immediate. If you’re already taking good care of your oral health, whitening your teeth will truly put the polish on all of your efforts.

Teeth Staining 101

Your unique smile and lifestyle determine the color of your teeth. The hard, outer surface of every tooth is called enamel. Enamel is usually white or off-white, but health and environmental factors can make it turn yellow, brown, or gray. Your mouth may do the talking, but your teeth can say a lot about your habits and health.

  • Coffee, tea, red wine, soda, sports drinks, and tobacco are the biggest causes of stains in healthy teeth. Limit these to preserve your natural pearly whites.
  • One dark or discolored tooth may be the sign of a more serious problem. It’s important to see a dentist that can get an accurate diagnosis for a single discolored tooth.
  • Aging causes your enamel to thin. This causes yellowing and sensitivity in teeth.

Bleach & Brush

All teeth whitening involves either bleaching out stains or rubbing them away. Light abrasives can scrape surface-level stains off your enamel, but bleach moves through the layers of the teeth to remove deeper stains that give teeth their true color. Both options work by breaking down stains to make them less visible. 

Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are the two dental bleaching options. Carbamide peroxide may be preferred because it’s less acidic and works longer. Small amounts of these chemicals have been approved for teeth whitening without harming your teeth.

Yellow teeth respond best to whitening procedures and can be brightened many shades. Brown or gray teeth may not respond at all and you should speak with a dentist first before attempting to whiten them.

Professional Whitening Treatments

  • Your Portland dentist can use the highest concentration of dental bleach in our office. To get professional whitening results in one visit, simply make an appointment and prepare to be amazed.
  • Your dentist can also make you a custom bleaching system to use at home over a couple of weeks. The kit includes a lower concentration of bleach and trays made to fit your mouth.
  • Some professional whitening treatments use lasers to enhance or speed up whitening results.
  • Veneers may be the best option for severely discolored teeth with the added benefit of being able to better shape or fill in your smile’s imperfections.

At-Home Whitening Treatments

  • Most toothpaste helps whiten teeth, though the results will take longer and not be as noticeable as professional bleaching. All toothpaste uses gentle abrasives to rub off surface stains. For bleaching toothpaste, look for the key ingredients: carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Whitening strips and gels are similar. Your results won’t be as dramatic, but these options cost much less than professional treatments and can be found right on your drugstore shelf.
  • Natural remedies for whitening teeth include oil pulling and activated charcoal. You can learn about these DIY options online, but nothing will replace the important role of your dentist who cares about your oral health. Find a holistic dentist if you’re interested in learning more about more natural teeth whitening.

Lasting Results

Teeth whitening results should last at least six months and can last much longer depending on each individual person and their oral hygiene habits. You can really prevent new stains by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and limiting teeth-staining habits and substances. Talk with your dentist if your teeth feel sensitive after whitening. 

If you’re interested in achieving your brightest smile, call Family Dental Health today to make an appointment!

 

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 Aug 2020
August 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Sugar: Teeth’s Worst Nightmare

What sugar does to your teethPeople in the United States eat more sugar than any other country in the world. (Fortunately, we also have some of the best dentists in the world.) You hear it all the time: “sugar rots your teeth.” But is it true? What exactly does sugar do to your teeth and why is it so bad? You might want to learn more about this substance that is added to nearly every edible item in the grocery store. Portland, Oregon dentist Dr. Case tells us more below.

Sugar 101

All food causes some buildup on your teeth. After eating and drinking, little bits of food are left behind in your mouth. Out of all the food we eat, sugar does the worst damage to your teeth.

Even healthy foods like milk, bread, and produce contain some natural sugar, but these foods also contain necessary vitamins and nutrients. Eaten in healthy amounts, your body has no problem breaking down the natural sugars with the other food bits on your teeth.

The problems begin when you eat food that has more sugar than nutritional value. Without proper nutrition, your body may be unable to fight the bacteria and decay excessive sugar consumption causes in your mouth.

Sugar is sneaky: it’s in almost everything! Read your regular grocery labels carefully just to estimate your actual sugar consumption levels. This is not an all-inclusive list, but here are some examples of these common and misleading names for sugar that are added where you least expect it:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Barley malt
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Rice syrup

The American Heart Association recommends you have no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. However, in the U.S. the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons and the average child consumes 32 teaspoons…every single day!

Plaque 

Why is sugar so bad for your teeth? Because it causes plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Certain bacteria are normal and fine in your mouth. But sugar left on your teeth attracts bad bacteria that create plaque, which breaks down your teeth. Think of how the wind sweeps away bits of sand off a dune little by little, until eventually there is no dune left. That’s what plaque does to your teeth. It causes an acidic reaction that weakens enamel, your tooth’s outer layer.

Snacking all day means your teeth are exposed to food buildup, bacteria, and plaque over an extended period of time. Drinking sugary beverages is especially harmful because that liquid gets into all the grooves and hard-to-reach parts of your mouth. The average American consumes 53 gallons of soft drinks per year – do you see where this is going?

Decay

When plaque ruins your enamel, you get a hole in your tooth called a cavity. The hole allows more bacteria and plaque to move deeper into the inside of your tooth. This is known as tooth decay. Your enamel is the shiny white surface of your teeth and its purpose is to protect the inner layers of each tooth. Each individual tooth has a blood source and a nerve keeping that tooth alive. If decay reaches to the inner layers, your tooth may die and fall out. And all of that can happen much more quickly than you realize.

Next Steps

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, and many adults struggle with it as well. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable with healthy eating habits and proper oral hygiene. Here are some tips if you want to protect your teeth from the negative effects of sugar:

  • Don’t snack all day
  • Avoid sugar in any beverage
  • Enjoy sweets in moderation
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste
  • Try natural forms of licorice and cinnamon which taste sweet without any sugar
  • Beware of sugar alternatives (those little yellow, blue, and pink packets) that can still have negative effects on your health
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once

Last but not least, contact Portland dentist Family Dental Health today to make an appointment and be sure to get your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year by our amazing hygienists.

 

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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