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13 Sep 2022
September 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

No Tradesies: Packing Mouth-Healthy Lunches for Kiddos

Breakfast is always being touted as the most important meal of the day—and for good reason! It’s important for families to kickstart their day with nutrients that will help them power through school, work, socializing, sports, homework… does anyone else feel exhausted just thinking about it all? 

The right foods in your child’s lunch can help boost their energy and keep those brains, bodies, and mouths going all day! Alternatively, lunches full of sugary, sticky, acidic foods and beverages can accelerate tooth decay and cause your child to feel sluggish both physically and mentally.

Dr. David Case of Family Dental Health loves to share ideas on what to include in your child’s lunch to keep their smile safe and their health optimal… and perhaps what to leave out and have as an occasional treat for good behavior. 

But First, Hydration

About 65% of a child’s body is made up of water (60% for adult men, 55% for adult women), and it’s important for this balance to be maintained. Water is the best choice for hydrating for the following reasons:

  • Water tends to be neutral instead of acidic or alkaline, which makes it safe for the teeth.
  • It helps prevent dry mouth (xerostomia), which creates a breeding ground for dangerous, decay and gum disease-causing bacteria.
  • Being adequately hydrated helps aid proper digestion.
  • Water regulates body temperature.
  • It helps deliver oxygen throughout the body.
  • Keeps joints lubricated and is a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord.
  • Flushes waste from the body, mostly through urine.

Encourage your child to keep their mouth and body healthy by sending them to school with a refillable water bottle rather than a bottle of juice or soda.

Now for the Flavor

You probably guessed that Family Dental Health would recommend fruits and veggies, right? There are so many tasty options, and their vitamin and mineral content makes them an excellent choice for both oral and overall health. Our favorites are:

  • Apples 
  • Oranges
  • Limes
  • Kiwis
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries

Each of these fruits contains vitamin C, which can help kill bacteria and promote a healthy supply of collagen in the gums. We do suggest your child waits for at least 30 minutes to brush their teeth after eating fruits because the citric acid combined with brushing can weaken tooth enamel and cause erosion. (Everyone should wait 30 minutes to brush their teeth after eating, but especially with highly sugary or acidic foods and drinks.)

Veggie Time

They may not be your child’s favorite, but veggies are full of goodness for mouth and body health. The following choices naturally scrape away plaque that can build up between meals or be missed when your child brushes:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Snap peas
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber

Sandwiches & Snacks

If you’ve been wondering: “What about protein?” we’ve got you covered. We recommend using whole grain wheat bread and enamel-building meats like chicken and turkey. Including cheese will help your child get calcium, vitamin D, and phosphate, too. You can also go with the classic PB & J! 

Hard-boiled eggs are another good source of protein. For more fiber, folic acid, iron, vitamin E, potassium, and zinc, add nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts, as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds!

We know it can be a bit more difficult if you have picky eaters at home, but these foundations are good to keep in mind. At Family Dental Health, we love to find recipes that some of these ingredients can hide in, ensuring our young ones get the health benefits without even knowing it!

A proper diet will go a long way toward keeping your child’s smile healthy, but it’s still important to bring them in for thorough, gentle cleanings and cavity prevention methods. We love seeing their smiling faces, too, so contact Family Dental Health today to schedule 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.

27 Aug 2022
August 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Dental Insurance Trends

Above any other medical need, people are more likely to skip seeing the dentist because they can’t afford it.

Many people choose not to buy dental insurance because it’s an added cost without a lot of perceived value. For some reason, people simply feel more comfortable taking this risk because they don’t fully understand the consequences of oral health problems. But it’s a risk indeed. You can develop a facial or oral injury just as easily as any other injury and oral infections and diseases are just as common—if not more common—as any other. 

Beyond the critical events of oral injury or infection, preventive dental care (aka your regular cleanings and check-ups) is crucial for catching problems before they become dangerous. Seeing the dentist regularly can help you address a surprising number of overall health and wellness issues.

Still, dentists understand that medical costs are rising, the world of insurance is often a mystery, and sometimes you’re just at a loss. Dr. Case, Portland dentist explains more below about the current trends in dental insurance and what they mean for you.

Forgoing Dental Insurance

Of all the reasons adults avoid the dentist, 40% say it’s because of cost, followed closely by the 33%  who don’t think they need dental care. You can see where this is going—there’s almost no reason someone would pay for a service they think is expensive and unnecessary.

A lot of people seek dental treatments without dental insurance to help cover it. In 2013, the numbers ranged from 12% of children to 61% of senior citizens. Insurance may seem like a luxury but when you need it, it becomes essential. If you can make any changes to your monthly budget to allow room for dental insurance, it might be one of the best ways you take care of yourself and your family. No one wants to be stuck with a cracked tooth, gum infection, or jaw pain while also wondering how you’re going to pay for treatment.

Children’s Dental Insurance

Government-mandated insurance through the Affordable Care Act does not include dental coverage, except in the case of children. This is for good reason—children are vulnerable and they’re growing at such a fast rate. Catching a health problem and treating it promptly is essential for a lifetime of health and wellness. 

It’s also important that children develop good oral health habits early that they’ll stick to the rest of their life. Search HealthCare.Gov, or talk with a caseworker if you have one, to learn about your options for enrolling children in free or discounted dental insurance.

Increased PPOs & Decreasing Payments

PPO plans (Preferred Provider Organization), which are more expensive, are becoming far and away more popular, making up 80% of all dental plans. But dental insurance plans are actually paying dentists slightly less per patient than they have in the past. 

Consumerism

With or without dental insurance, more people are shopping around for the best rate before making a dental appointment. Following the recession, people care more than ever about understanding what they are paying for when they buy any goods or services.

Dental Plans Need to Stay Current

Research shows that, over time, dental insurance is actually the best “bang for your buck.” To help patients get even more out of their dental coverage, some plans are offering a rollover of funds if you don’t use all of your yearly benefits. Some plans allow for important preventative and diagnostic services without it going against yearly maximums.

Flexible Payment Plans

Your dentist wants you to be healthy and will do whatever we can to increase your access to good oral health care. If you’re avoiding dental treatment because you don’t have insurance and/or you’re afraid of the cost, talk honestly with your Portland dentist. Dentists are humans, too, and we understand life circumstances especially in regards to health and finances. 

Some flexible payment options we can discuss together are:

  • Discounted services for paying upfront, before the treatment
  • Interest-free payment plans
  • Splitting up the treatment over time (when appropriate) so you don’t have to pay for it all at once
  • Cheaper alternatives: many dental procedures have cheaper (though sometimes less desirable) ways of treating a problem. Your doctor can tell you what the most affordable route of treatment is.

If you need dental care, whether you have insurance or not, come see us at Family Dental Health. We’re a contemporary practice that can meet you where you are and offer caring, professional services. 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.

19 Jul 2022
July 19, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

What Happens in Your Mouth While You Sleep?

Ah, nighttime… the end of the day, the ceasing of work, and hopefully a good night’s sleep. But did you know things are still happening in your mouth all night long, even if you’re blissfully unaware of it?  Portland dentist Dr. Case, sheds some light on the world of your mouth and everything going on inside of it while you catch some zzz’s.

Dry Mouth

You produce much less saliva overnight than you do during the day—your body’s way of minimizing the risk of choking. This leads to the common occurrence of dry mouth. Dry mouth can be a bit uncomfortable and lead to more cavities and bad breath. It’s perfectly fine and normal to have less saliva at night but to take care of your oral health, it’s important that you brush and floss before going to bed. 

Saliva usually rinses away the food debris that can stick around and cause plaque and bad breath, so it’s a good idea to head to bed with a blank canvas. Keeping a glass of water by your bed can relieve the pain in your mouth and throat from dry mouth.

Bruxism

If you wake up with a headache or jaw pain, or your teeth are noticeably ground down and fractured, you might have bruxism. Also known as teeth grinding, bruxism is an extremely common way that everyday stress gets expressed through the body. People grind their teeth for all sorts of reasons, such as:

You can prevent the side effects of bruxism by wearing a nightguard while you sleep.

Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Sleep apnea occurs when your breath is irregular or temporarily stops while you sleep. Sleep apnea can cause snoring, but not all cases are identical. Some cases of sleep apnea are a problem with your brain and its ability to regulate the vital function of breathing. 

Otherwise, sleep apnea can be caused by physical blockages of the airway such as:

  • Large tonsils
  • Collapsed soft tissues in your throat
  • Allergies clogging your sinuses

Being an older, overweight male increases your chances of developing sleep apnea. Whatever the cause of your sleep apnea, talk to your dentist or doctor. Sleep apnea can cause a host of other health issues such as fatigue, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, and depression.

Solutions for sleep apnea include:

  • Changing your sleep position
  • A Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) device
  • Oral appliances that keep the airway open
  • Surgery to fix oral tissues and aid airflow

Morning Breath

Sadly, not everyone wants to have that Hollywood-worthy morning kiss with their partner when they first wake up. Bad breath (or halitosis) tends to be worse in the morning and it can be really unpleasant. Normal oral bacteria become more active overnight, eating and digesting proteins found in your mouth. 

Bacteria produce a sulfur gas while they digest that can smell like rotten eggs. Normally, saliva washes bacteria away and neutralizes the smell, but you make less saliva overnight, so the smell can really build up. This is why it’s essential that you brush, floss, and only drink water right before falling asleep.

Oral Health & Sleep

Did you know that regular visits to the dentist will improve your overall health and well-being, and can even improve your quality of sleep? If you’re looking for a medical professional to help you feel better across the board—with a beautiful smile to boot—come see us at Family Dental Health! Make an appointment to address any concerns and start taking care of your oral 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 Jun 2022
June 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Are Baby Bottles Bad for Baby Teeth?

Tooth decay in infants and very young children is often called baby bottle tooth decay. This happens when liquids with natural or artificial sugars remain in an infant’s mouth for extended periods of time. Bacteria in the baby’s mouth thrive on these sugars, using them to produce acids that attack the teeth and gums. Today, Family Dental Health would like to share some information about baby bottle tooth decay and how to prevent it.

What Not to Do

Children whose pacifiers are dipped in sugar, honey, or syrup and those who are given bottles of sugary concoctions for naptime or bedtime comfort are at increased risk of tooth decay due to the decrease in natural saliva flow during sleep. Even fruit juice, milk, and formula contain natural sugars that can wreak havoc on tiny teeth while your little one slumbers. Here are some helpful “don’ts” for avoiding baby bottle tooth decay:

  • Don’t fill bottles with sugar water or soda. Bottles should only be for milk, water, formula, and pediatric electrolyte solutions.
  • Don’t allow them to go to sleep without wiping or brushing their gums and teeth.
  • Never give your child pacifiers dipped in anything sweet.
  • Reduce the sugar in your baby’s diet, especially between meals.

Baby Teeth Are Important

Although baby bottle tooth decay usually affects the upper front teeth the most, other teeth can be affected as well. Some folks underestimate the importance of baby teeth, but they are actually very important for children’s health and development. Not only are baby teeth necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling, they serve as placeholders for permanent teeth that come later. Left untreated, baby bottle tooth decay can result in pain, infection, and premature tooth loss.

When children lose teeth prematurely because of baby bottle tooth decay, they may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged permanent teeth. The chances that the permanent adult teeth will also be crooked and unhealthy are greatly increased by the presence of baby bottle tooth decay.

What to Do

Starting a good oral hygiene routine early can help keep baby bottle tooth decay at bay:

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, warm washcloth after each feeding.
  • Begin brushing your baby’s teeth with a baby-sized toothbrush, without toothpaste as soon as they come in.
  • Clean and massage the gums in areas of your child’s mouth that do not have teeth.
  • Once baby teeth have come in, begin flossing between them.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride. You can begin using fluoridated toothpaste around age three. If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist or doctor if a supplement would be appropriate.
  • Start regular dental visits by your baby’s first birthday. If it seems necessary, ask about sealants, which can help prevent tooth decay.

How Do I Break Bad Habits?

It’s never too late to change those bad habits. Start today by:

  • Gradually diluting the contents of bottles with water over a period of 2-3 weeks.
  • After 2-3 weeks have passed, fill bottles with only water.
  • Switching from a bottle to a pacifier at night before bedtime.
  • Establishing a nightly oral hygiene routine so they never go to sleep with a sugary mouth.


Remember, the healthier your child’s baby teeth are, the more likely their permanent teeth will be healthy, too. If you have any questions about baby bottle tooth decay or would like to schedule a visit for your little bundle of joy, contact 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 Jun 2022
June 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Sugar Rush: When Sweet Turns Bitter

You’ve heard it before: too much sugar is not good for little bodies. Or, more precisely, added sugar is not good for people, big or small. The more we learn about how sugar affects the body, the more we realize that additional sugars have many downsides for health. This is particularly true of dental health. Sugar can cause serious problems for tiny teeth.

The Rise & Fall

A sugar rush is a real thing, and it can be no joke. Sugar is a simple source of energy that the body can use very quickly to make energy. Because the body uses it so quickly, the sugar rush is generally followed by a sugar crash when the body runs out of the high-energy sugar. 

The human body isn’t the only thing that feeds quickly on the simple sugar. The bacteria in your child’s mouth also like to feed on sugars. When they eat sugary foods or drink high-sugar drinks, the bacteria in their mouth begin to feast. This lets the cavity-causing bacteria grow quickly, making lots more bacteria.

A Balancing Act

Sugar doesn’t just feed decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. It also changes the pH balance of the mouth. The pH is a way to measure if an environment is acidic, basic (the opposite of acidic), or neutral. Sugar tips the balance of the mouth toward acidic. This is a problem, since the bacteria that cause cavities to grow and thrive in an acidic environment. 

The acid, in addition to helping the bacteria overgrow, softens the minerals in the tooth enamel. If the acidic environment sticks around instead of returning to neutral soon, the minerals can be washed away instead of reabsorbed. The loss of minerals causes serious damage to the teeth. The demineralized areas are more susceptible to cavities, particularly since the cavity-causing bacteria are present and thriving.

Cavities are Only Part of the Damage

It’s important to remember that the damage sugar can do to your children’s health goes beyond cavities. Too much sugar can contribute to obesity and diabetes, both of which bring additional risks for oral health. A diet high in refined and added sugars contributes to fat accumulation in the body. 

Worse still, sugar causes the brain to release dopamine, the feel-good chemical that causes sugar to be addictive. The more sugar your children eat, the more sugar they will want. The more they want, the more damage it can do, both to their overall health and their dental health. Do your children (and yourself) a favor, and limit added sugars in their diet. Their improved health will thank you, even if they aren’t likely to do so themselves.

The Side Effect

Sugar itself does not directly cause the tooth to fail. Rather, it starts a cascade that causes cavities. In that sense, cavities are like a side effect of sugar. Avoid the sugar roller coaster of energy rushes and dives, the acid spikes, and teach your children healthy habits that will serve them well their whole lives.

If you have any questions about sugar or anything related to oral health, or would like to schedule a visit with your Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health, please contact us today to make an appointment. We would be more than happy to help your little one learn the importance of a healthy smile and body. Isn’t that sweet!?

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 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.

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 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.

 

13 Nov 2021
November 13, 2021 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Brushing Your Teeth – Are You Doing It Wrong?

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health shares one common tooth brushing mistake that’s doing more harm than good.Did you know that certain times of day might be better for brushing than others? While it’s always recommended to brush your teeth twice per day, and floss once per day, your timing is also important. 

If you love your pearly whites and want to keep them around as long as possible (because face it, life would be pretty difficult without your teeth), read more to improve your tooth brushing game. 

The Acid in Your Mouth
Some level of acid in your mouth is normal, especially after you eat. After you eat, the healthy bacteria in your mouth go to work to break down microscopic bits of food leftover (yum!) and they produce acid as a result. However, consuming too much sugar increases acid production beyond a healthy level. Snacking all day also keeps those bacteria working and producing more acid than your teeth can handle. 

Why does this matter? Because long-term exposure to acid can erode your enamel, causing your teeth to become weak and decayed. Enamel is the hard, white, outer layer of your teeth and it’s essential for keeping your teeth strong, healthy, and decay- and pain-free. It’s important to understand the effects of acid on your teeth so that you can brush your teeth at the healthiest time of day.

Brushing After Eating

Highly acidic foods like citrus fruits can really take a toll on your tooth enamel even without the help of bacteria, and brushing too soon after eating can make matters worse. You want to protect your tooth enamel because it can’t ever be replaced once it’s gone.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you eat something highly acidic, you should wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. It’s best to rinse out your mouth with water after eating instead. Be sure to spit the water out, don’t swallow it, and you can chew sugarless gum with xylitol if you really need to freshen your breath (hello, 2 o’clock meeting).

We know people have their preferences and routines, and people are usually firmly in one camp or the other when it comes to the habit of brushing either before breakfast or after. This information might make the case for brushing your teeth first thing in the morning (before breakfast), instead of after—especially if you’re going to have oranges, lemons, grapefruit, or coffee with breakfast.

Brushing does a world of good for your teeth in the morning, even before you’ve eaten. This is because you produce less saliva overnight, and saliva is very important for keeping your teeth clean and healthy!

The one time this rule doesn’t apply is right before bed. Having a midnight snack without brushing after is linked to increased tooth loss and tooth decay. No matter what you ate, you should always brush your teeth right before bed, just be sure to rinse your mouth with water first to minimize acidity and enamel damage.

The Importance of Brushing

Brushing your teeth properly is the foundation for oral health. Anything else you do would be pointless without brushing. Use fluoride toothpaste, a toothbrush that’s no more than three months old, and brush for two whole minutes twice a day. Brushing and flossing gently clean your teeth and prevents many potential problems that can develop if your oral care isn’t managed.

If you have questions about acid, enamel, or how to brush properly, make an appointment at Family Dental Health in Portland today! Dr. David Case is a professional dentist who can help your smile look and feel its best.

 

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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