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Poor Oral Health Can Affect Your Entire Body

Over the past decade, doctors and dentists have worked together to understand exactly what the connection is between oral health problems and the rest of the body. Research has proven significantly that gum disease has a serious effect on several diseases and other health concerns. Our dentist, Dr. Shelley A. Sigur, and her hygienists study these links between the mouth and the body and strongly believe poor oral health affects your whole body. We have experienced this connection with some of our patients, and we stress to all of our patients to always practice good dental habits to not only protect their mouths, but to also prevent further damage to their entire bodies. Gum disease has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and other health issues, and the reason is the inflammation and infection in the gums puts the entire body at risk for health problems. We would like to tell you more about the links between poor oral health and certain diseases.

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DIABETES

The strongest connection between gum disease and the body, diabetes develops complications because inflammation that begins in the mouth weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar, according to WebMD. Since diabetic people lack the hormone insulin, they have a difficult time converting sugar into energy. As inflammation from gum disease worsens diabetes, high blood sugar from diabetes creates a favorable environment for infection to thrive within the body, including in the mouth. Often, fortunately, managing one of these diseases helps control the other.

HEART DISEASE

Around 91% of heart disease patients have gum disease, compared to 61% of people with no heart disease. Both conditions have the same risk factors, like smoking, eating poorly, and being overweight, but some medical experts believe inflammation in the mouth causes inflamed blood vessels. This raises blood pressure because less blood is able to flow between the heart and the rest of the body. Fatty plaque also adds a risk factor for a heart attack or a stroke because a piece of plaque could break off the wall of a blood vessel and travel to the heart or to the brain.

OSTEOPOROSIS

The link between these two conditions is controversial as it has not been well-established; however, bone loss is suffered as a result of both conditions. Medical researchers are working on proving a theory that inflammation from gum disease also weakens bones in other parts of the body. Studies have shown that women with osteoporosis have gum disease more often than women who do not.

OTHER CONDITIONS

As studying the mouth-body connection is fairly new, researchers are just beginning to look at more conditions affected by poor oral health. Because it increases the amount of bacteria in the lungs, gum disease worsens bronchial disorders like pneumonia and COPD. People with rheumatoid arthritis have reported a reduction in pain after being treated for gum disease. As medical and dental experts continue to study how gum disease affects the body, you can expect to see more health problems become linked to poor oral health.

Taking good care of your teeth and gums can improve the health of your entire body. Contact West Meade Dental to make an appointment to have your teeth cleaned and examined to promote overall health.

By Shelley Sigur | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

A Kid-friendly Dental Visit

At West Meade Dental, one of our specialties is children’s dentistry, and we take care to cater to kids to keep them from being afraid of the dentist. The fear of the dentist can be difficult to conquer, and children who are scared to go to the dentist can grow up to be adults who fear the dentist. Learning good dental hygiene is a very important lesson for a child, and regular dental visits is the best way to learn how to properly take care of your teeth. While we do all we can to make your child as comfortable as possible, Parents Magazine has some tips of things you can do to encourage your child to go to the dentist, and we would like to share these tips with you.

Tips on Making Your Child Comfortable at the Dentist

Most children are afraid to visit the dentist. Make your child as comfortable as possible so that their trip to the dentist would be a wonderful experience.

Most children are afraid to visit the dentist. Make your child as comfortable as possible so that their trip to the dentist would be a wonderful experience.

● Start dental visits at a young age.

The earlier your child goes to the dentist, the better. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first visit should be when your child receives his or her first tooth.

● Keep it simple when preparing for a dental visit.

The more information you give your child, the more questions he or she will ask. Telling your child about the possibility of getting a filling will give your child more anxiety. Keep a positive attitude, but do not give your child false hope because if an additional treatment is needed, your child will be likely to mistrust the dentist and you.

● Watch the words you use.

It is best to let the dental staff introduce new dental vocabulary to your child as they know what words to use. Tell your child the dentist will be looking for “sugarbugs” when cleaning teeth, or just tell your child the dentist wants to count his or her teeth and check his or her smile. Positive phrases like “clean, strong, healthy teeth” go a long way in making your child more comfortable about the visit.

● Try a pretend visit.

All you need is a toothbrush to play Let’s Pretend with your child as you as the dentist. Count your child’s teeth using numbers or letters of the alphabet. You can also let your child role-play with a toothbrush and a stuffed animal. Reading your child books about the dentist like Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist is another good idea.

● Do not try to relate your own experiences.

It is a mistake to take your child with you to your own dental appointments, say experts. Your child could sense your own anxiety, causing him or her to mistrust the dentist. Telling your child about fillings and root canals you have had creates more anxiety, and your child may never even have to have these procedures. Taking a child to an adult dental appointment can give the wrong impression as a kid’s dental visit usually involves fun things like video games and movies or TV shows to watch during the visit.

● Be prepared for fussing and a possible tantrum.

It is completely normal for a young child to cry on his or her first visit to the dentist. Luckily our staff is used to working with children and have seen all sorts of fits and tantrums. Let our staff guide you on how to support your child. Sometimes all you need to do is hold your child’s hand.

● Emphasize the importance of good dental hygiene.

Teaching your child that going to the dentist is a necessity to keep his or her teeth clean and strong goes a long way in promoting the importance of good oral health. Staying positive about dental visits helps your child to actually want to go see the dentist.

If your child needs a dental visit, contact West Meade Dental today to schedule an appointment. Our experienced staff knows how to take care of kids, and your attitude helps us greatly.

Ways to Improve the Look of Your Teeth

When people hear cosmetic surgery they often think of the stars that have additions in some places, and removal in others.  However, when it comes to your teeth you can have all kinds of additional enhancements to make your smile even more straight and white.  The trained professionals at West Meade Dental can answer any of the questions you may have and explain which procedures would benefit you the most.

You can regain confidence in your teeth. It is one way to improve your well-being.

You can regain confidence in your teeth. It is one way to improve your well-being.

Crowns and Bridges

Crowns and bridges are helpful to both the appearance of your teeth, but also the health.  A crown is similar to a cap and will straighten and align the tooth.  However, it will also reinforce a weak tooth.  A bridge is usually suggested when you are have teeth missing.  This will keep the remaining teeth from shifting.  They will also help protect from diseases that are caused by missing teeth.

Teeth Whitening

Over a period of time, our pearly white teeth will become discolored.  The more we use our teeth, the easier it is for them to lose their color from loss of enamel.  People will then have their teeth whitened to remove some of the stains and debris that are present.  It is important to know the risks of teeth whitening.  Some patients may experience sensitivity, gum irritation, and technicolor teeth.  This is why you should always check with a dentist before using any product you are unfamiliar with.

Implants

When you have a tooth missing, your dentist might also recommend you having an implant.  It looks more natural and functions like an original tooth, all without harming other teeth around it.  These implants actually grow to your jaw to better protect the bone.  To place the implant, they will need to place a small screw into your jaw.  Over the next few months, the implant and the bone will grow together.  Some implants will require a second step to install an extension.  Some patients are able to have different methods where multiple steps are unnecessary.  Your dentist will be able to advise you on which procedure is best for you.

Dentures

It is very important that dentures are kept clean and well protected.  You should clean your dentures everyday with a brush designed for dentures, and no toothpaste as it can harm the dentures.  Also, you can buy special cleaners for soaking.  Since dentures are fragile you should always handle with care to prevent them from breaking.  Lastly, remove them from your mouth every night to give your gums time to breathe.  For more info on denture care, click here.

 

 

Bad Habits that Affect Oral Health

You might not know it, but a lot of the things you do each day  can affect your oral health. Here's what you should know:

You might not know it, but a lot of the things you do each day can affect your oral health. Here’s what you should know:

We worry about keeping our teeth bright and shiny, but what about their actual health? There are many habits that we do in our daily life that could be weakening our teeth. It is critical for your overall well-being that you address these issues. Also, make sure you are having your checkups. To schedule call the professionals at West Meade Dental.

How do you drink your drink?

Believe it or not, the way you drink your drink can affect your teeth. It is actually better to drink your drinks through a straw so it has less exposure to your teeth. Also, sipping them throughout the day only makes the sugar and acids more exposed to the teeth. And what do you do with the ice afterwards? Most people will chew their ice after they finish their drink. However, this should be avoided as it puts strain on the teeth and could cause fractures.

Teeth are bones, not tools!

Many people will use their teeth when they do not have another object around. Aside from this just being unsanitary, you can chip or fracture your tooth. Next time try using scissors, nail clippers, or pliers.

Hey you! Stop grinding your teeth!

Almost as annoying as smacking your gum, grinding your teeth cannot only put stress on your teeth, but the others around you. This is usually a nervous habit that is triggered by some sort of anxiety. If you grind your teeth at night, you should look into getting a mouth guard to wear while you sleep.

What are you using to brush your teeth and how well are you doing it?

Many think that a brush with harder bristles is the way to go. This can instead cause more sensitivity to the teeth, especially when roots begin to show. Every individual is different, so ask your dentist what type of brush will be best for you. Also, you want to make sure that you are brushing and flossing properly. You should be brushing at least twice a day and changing out your toothbrush in no longer than four months. For more information on proper brushing from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, click here.

About Cavities and Fillings

A cavity can be a pain - literally! Make sure you practice proper oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups to avoid cavities.

A cavity can be a pain – literally! Make sure you practice proper oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups to avoid cavities.

It’s news we never like to hear during a dental visit: “You have a cavity.” But while we always want to do everything we can to prevent cavities, there’s a lot we can do to restore your teeth today if one develops, and that goes well beyond the metal fillings of yesteryear.

What is a Cavity?

The simplest explanation is that a cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth, opening it up to further damage and decay. But to understand cavities, it’s helpful to know how and why they develop.

We talk a lot about brushing and flossing to get rid of bacteria in your mouth, and it’s because that bacteria, when allowed to stay and multiply, can cause significant damage to your teeth and your gums. Bacteria can irritate and inflame gums, potentially leading to periodontal disease, and the acids produced by those bacteria can damage the enamel on your teeth as well, slowly wearing their way to a cavity. Once a cavity develops, it can’t heal on its own, and if it isn’t treated it will continue to worsen. That can lead to nerve damage, and the need for a root canal.

What We Can Do to Repair a Tooth with a Cavity

If West Meade Dental finds a cavity during a checkup, we’ll recommend immediate treatment to halt the damage. Depending on how significant your tooth decay is, that can range from a filling to a porcelain crown.

In most cases, if you’re keeping up with regular dental visits, we’ll be able to catch a cavity before more involved treatment is necessary, and we’ll recommend a filling that repairs the tooth aesthetically and functionally.

At West Meade Dental, we use tooth-colored fillings that restore your bite and protect the tooth’s nerves from further damage, but also look and feel just like the rest of your teeth. It’s a big difference from the highly noticeable gold alloy we were stuck with in decades past.

Preventing Cavities

If you do develop a cavity, West Meade Dental can help — but preventing a cavity in the first place is always our first hope. That’s why we recommend diligent oral care at home and regular visits to our office for cleanings and checkups (the frequency of recommended visits depends on your individual oral health, but in most cases, it’s every six months).

In between cleanings and checkups, you can do a lot to prevent cavities. Eating a balanced diet is important, as is following good oral health practices between meals. Rinsing with water after eating and drinking — particularly if you’ve having acidic or sugary food and drink — is always a good practice. And your daily tooth care routine should include flossing once a day, and brushing twice, using a soft-bristled brush and ADA-approved toothpaste.

To take a step further toward prevention, West Meade Dental can apply a dental sealant to coat your molars, which acts as a long-term barrier to keep bacteria from lodging and multiplying between your teeth and leading to tooth decay.

Do you have any questions about cavities or general oral health? We’re always glad to help our patients. Just give West Meade Dental a call!

Toothbrush: A Dental Care Innovation

Imagine what life would be like without this to brighten our smiles and keep our mouths healthy?

Imagine what life would be like without this to brighten our smiles and keep our mouths healthy?

Arguably, no dental innovation has had a more far-reaching impact than the toothbrush. The toothbrush is an essential tool that is used for the care of our teeth. Have you ever missed brushing your teeth for one day? Have you ever considered what it would be like without the toothbrush? Like many common household items, we give little thought about the origins or the trials and tribulations these products went through to arrive in the form we see in store’s today. The toothbrush is certainly no exception.

The Origins of the Toothbrush

Unlike the majority of other common household items, there is no single person credited as being the sole inventor of the toothbrush. It would seem as though the toothbrush actually evolved over time and mainly out of necessity. Traces of the first toothbrush have been dated back to the Egyptians and Babylonians, making the toothbrush one of the oldest devices still used by man. This particular version was nothing more than a stick, upon which the individual would chew until the fibers of the wood formed a brush; the sticks were believed to have healing and antiseptic qualities.

The Bristles Make All the Difference

The Chinese are credited with inventing the first bristle toothbrush, similar to the type used today. They took the hairs of Siberian wild boar and manipulated them onto bamboo sticks, one of the most common plants from that region. The sticks were then used just like a modern manual toothbrush to clean the teeth. The biggest drawback to the boar hairs was the fact that it was extremely rough on the gums. Once this iteration of the toothbrush made its way to Europe, some people began to use hair from the backs of horses, as it was much gentler on the gums.

Bristles Come Full Circle

Animal hair bristles remained in use until 1937, when Wallace Carothers created nylon in the DuPont laboratories. One year later, the first nylon toothbrush — the Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush — was created. After World War II, Americans began to become more concerned about oral hygiene. Brushing teeth regularly became popular in the U.S. after soldiers returned home and brought with them their strict habits of brushing their teeth. This influence prompted the development of more advanced toothbrushes and helped bring oral hygiene into the mainstream.

Over the centuries, the toothbrush has seen many changes in designs and materials used. The brands, styles and colors of toothbrushes are virtually endless. Now the toothbrush is a scientific instrument, which comes in diverse colors, shapes and sizes. It’s a tool with modern ergonomic designs and safe hygienic materials. The toothbrush has stood the test of time, thus earning the title of being the cornerstone of proper oral hygiene.

Common Oral Care Mistakes

Common Oral Care Mistakes

ToothbrushHey, we all make mistakes, don’t we? That’s usually how we learn valuable life lessons. But what about the mistakes you don’t know you’re making? We’ve pulled together a list of common mistakes people make with their mouth—not the foot-in-mouth kind, though. Sorry, we can’t do anything about that.

It’s all about what you eat—and don’t eat. We all know that sweets are bad for us, but come on—how can we possibly avoid that delicious looking treat? It’s probably impossible to entirely avoid sugary foods, so if you have to indulge, try doing so after a meal. This reduces acid producing bacteria in the mouth that wears away enamel. And while we’re on the subject of food—eat your fruits and veggies. They have vitamins and minerals that help strengthen your teeth.

A few more food-related tips:

  • DO: Chew sugar-free gum
  • DON’T: Avoid chewing hard things like ice or popcorn kernels
  • DO: Swish with water after every meal

Dehydration. Foods aren’t the only thing that can give your teeth a hard time. Make sure you avoid drinking high-acid or sugary liquids, and instead drink plenty of water. Your body isn’t the only thing that needs water—your teeth do, too. Drink water after a meal to clean the mouth and wash away bacteria.

Bad brushing habits. Bad habits are hard to break, but it’s worth the extra effort to break these habits.

  • Brushing too soon. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush – food acids weaken enamel. Brushing immediately after eating doesn’t allow the enamel enough time to harden back up.
  • Brushing too hard or too often. This can expose and irritate the roots of your teeth and cause dental problems and tooth sensitivity. We recommend using soft bristle toothbrushes only, to help avoid scraping the enamel off of your teeth.
  • Not brushing long enough. Ok, so maybe this sounds like the opposite of what we just said, but quality and quantity go hand in hand here. We all hurry from one thing to the next in life, especially getting ready for work in the morning, but this is one area of your life you really don’t want to rush. Using a soft-bristle toothbrush, be sure to brush thoroughly for at least 2 minutes.
  • Boring brushing. Spice up that brushing experience and don’t make every brushing session the same. Start in different places of the mouth to provide a more balanced teeth cleaning. 
  • And one more thing: don’t ignore the Pink. Your tongue doesn’t just get this party started—it’s also a nice warm bed for bacteria growth. Make sure your tongue is getting its fair share of attention during routine brushing.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention floss. Do it. Every day. Now don’t get all carried away and be aggressive about it, either. Be gentle, but diligent.

And last, the thing you’ve been avoiding—DON’T put off that dental cleaning. Neglecting to have your teeth taken care of by a dentist is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to oral health. So get busy, and schedule that cleaning.

By Shelley Sigur | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Brighten Your Smile

Time to Flash That Radiant White Smile

Do you dream of having perfectly white and sparkling teeth? We all want that radiant smile that can truly change the mood of every individual that catches a glimpse of it. But the truth is, no one can ever have white teeth on their own. There are many things that we put in our mouths that causes the discoloration of our teeth—something we cannot avoid. The only way we can have those pearl-like teeth is if we seek the assistance of cosmetic dentists; experts at making our teeth white. That’s what our mission is here at West Meade Dental Services. We offer the best technology for you to confidently flash that oh-so-beautiful pearly whites.

There are many teeth whitening over-the-counter products...but none of them work as effectively as the process we use at West Meade Dental.

There are many teeth whitening over-the-counter products…but none of them work as effectively as the process we use at West Meade Dental.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Basically, teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter. It is impossible to do star-bright white teeth but it’s absolutely possible to brighten it up to several shades.

Because of the technology available today, there are whitening kits that are a Do-It-Yourself thing which look very convincing and may leave you thinking that they truly work. Let me tell you this before any advertisement will fool you—it will not work. Making teeth seem lighter uses a special kind of equipment only licensed dentists, like us, can use. Anything else is ineffective, useless and a waste of your hard-earned money. There are also beauty salons that perform teeth whitening methods but this is actually illegal.

The Procedure

This procedure can be long-term and can also be a one-time thing. In most cases, you will have a number of appointments with the dentist for months at a time. What we usually do for your first meet-up is to check your teeth if they are in good condition for teeth whitening right away. Some need to go through other dental procedures because of a defect on the tooth or the gums. In any case, we have to make sure that your teeth are in excellent condition. Then, we will make an impression of your teeth and give you bleaching gel that you can take home and which you can apply yourself (because it needs to stay there for hours at a time for the procedure to become effective)

On the other hand, we also offer laser teeth whitening, commonly known as power whitening. This just usually takes an hour. What happens in this procedure is that we apply a stronger version of bleaching gel, apply it on your teeth then followed by our laser equipment to activate the solution in your teeth.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call and we can talk about your dental care needs especially your desire of getting beautifully white teeth. Here at West Meade Dental Services, we offer only the best for you.

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