healthy mouth

Posted by & filed under Dental Articles, Periodontal Disease.

At our Memphis dental office, we talk a lot about how important regular visits to us are for a healthy mouth, and even about how we can help boost the appearance of your smile with cosmetic dentistry. But there’s another, more important reason you should visit us at least twice a year.

A Healthy Mouth is Key for a Healthy Body

Oral health can actually mirror overall health. In fact, many whole-body concerns have oral manifestations, and the signs of certain diseases can first show in the mouth, sometimes before there are any other clues that something is wrong. Many of the overall health issues that commonly have oral symptoms are incredibly serious and can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia
  • Oral Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Heart Disease

What to Look For

In between appointments, it’s important to keep an eye on your mouth and monitor it for any changes. Some symptoms that should trigger a call to your dentist include:

  • Red, swollen, bleeding, or receding gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Ulcers
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus in the pockets between your teeth and gums

What You Can Do For a Healthier Life

You can help keep your body healthy by keeping your mouth in tip-top shape with a proper at-home hygiene routine of brushing twice a day and flossing at least once, maintaining regular visits to your dentist in Memphis, and following these tips:

  • Eat well-balanced meals
  • Limit snacking throughout the day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid tobacco and excessive amounts of alcohol

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of a potential problem, contact our Memphis dental office. We’ll work with you to determine the cause, discuss any potential whole-body concerns, and get you on the path towards a customized treatment plan. We’re here not only to keep your mouth healthy, but your body too.

Serving patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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Everyone wants a good night’s rest. But not everyone gets it. In fact, some people have nighttime habits and disorders that harm both their health and their teeth! Two of the primary sleep disorders we see at our Memphis dental practice are snoring or sleep apnea and bruxism (clenching and grinding).

Protect your health by keeping an eye on yourself for these signs and symptoms:

Bruxism (Grinding and Clenching)

  • Sore jaws or teeth, especially during times of stress
  • Headache or facial soreness
  • Worn, flattened, or shortened teeth
  • Chips, cracks, or hairline fractures
  • Chips at the gumline that may look and feel like gum recession
  • Increased sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet food and drink
  • Unexplained earaches
  • Sores on the inside of your cheek or ridges on the sides of your tongue
  • Gum disease

Snoring/ Sleep Apnea

  • Frequent silences during sleep due to breaks in breathing (apnea)
  • Choking or gasping during sleep to get air into the lungs
  • Loud snoring
  • Sudden awakenings to restart breathing or waking up in a sweat
  • Daytime sleepiness and feeling unrefreshed by a night’s sleep, including falling asleep at inappropriate times

If you have any of these symptoms, contact our dental practice in Memphis or your physician right away.

Neither of these disorders are to be taken lightly. Bruxism can lead to expensive tooth damage, premature aging of the facial features, migraines, gum disease, and TMJ disorder.

Sleep apnea has been associated with everything from memory loss to strokes and sudden death. In addition, snoring and sleep apnea can cause dry mouth, and that can have severe effects on your teeth as well. People who suffer from dry mouth are more prone to cavities and tooth and other oral infections. Why? Your saliva is an important part of your dental health and works to cleanse, rinse, and neutralize acids!

For more information about bruxism, sleep apnea, or snoring, and what we can do to help solve these issues, please give us a call. We’ll talk to you about your options to correct snoring, sleep apnea, or bruxism because we believe our friends and neighbors deserve a restful –and safe–night’s sleep.

Accepting patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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At our dental office in Memphis, we’re always sure to stay up to date on technology and advancements in dental care. And our patients are pretty lucky to be living in a time when dentists have access to this kind of training. Did you know that there were no dental schools in the United states until 1840? And that in the middle ages, your “dentist” was just as likely to cut your hair as pull your teeth?

Here’s a quick look back:

Dentistry in the Middle Ages

People in the middle ages might have had healthier teeth than ours. But not because of quality professional care! The reason people actually had good teeth came from a combination of a diet very low in sugar and refined foods and high in calcium, and pretty decent personal oral hygiene. There were all kinds of tooth powders and pastes and even whitening rinses! When it came to routine dental care, things were quite different.

A dental practitioner was most likely a barber surgeon who performed all sorts of procedures including cutting hair, bloodletting, pulling teeth, and performing various surgeries. They may have also dispensed dental advice such as kissing a donkey to relieve a toothache or cleaning your ears to prevent one. Tooth decay was sometime thought to be caused by a toothworm and remedies included this doozie: “Take a candle of sheep’ suet, some eringo seed being mixed therewith, and burn it as near the tooth as possible, some cold water being held under the candle. The worms (destroying the tooth) will drop into the water, in order to escape from the heat of the candle.”

Dentistry in the 19th Century

The dental profession didn’t change much until the early 18th century. Barber surgeons were the norm and they performed the majority of personal and medical care. By the 19th century, though, dentistry began to seem quite modern. European surgeons were experimenting with dental implants; porcelain dentures were becoming more popular; and nitrous oxide, the same laughing gas we sometimes use today, was introduced by Humphry Davy. Dental training even began to become what we know today with education moving from apprenticeships to formal training in colleges and universities. In fact, the first dental college, the Baltimore College of Dentistry, was founded by Chapin Harris and Horace Hayden in 1840.

If you’d like to learn more about dentistry throughout history, or would like to learn more about the history of our Memphis dental practice, please give us a call. We promise we won’t ask you to kiss any donkeys.

Accepting patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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Flossing. It’s one of America’s least favorite necessities. In fact, a study from the American Academy of Periodontology found that more than a third of people would rather do a sink load full of dishes, scrub the toilet, wait in a super long checkout line, or sit in standstill traffic than floss. What’s the deal? Why is flossing so despised?

With more than half Americans not flossing regularly, and 20% who don’t floss at all, our Memphis dental office wanted to look at some common reasons people forgo the floss.

  1. Flossing hurts.

If flossing hurts or makes your gums bleed, it’s actually a sign that you should floss more, not less. When gums are healthy, flossing is painless and no bleeding occurs. Bleeding gums is one of the key signs of gum disease and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Gum disease can lead to whole-body concerns like increased risk for stroke and heart attack. If you experience pain or bleeding while flossing, make sure you get into the habit of flossing daily. If the pain or bleeding doesn’t go away, see your dentist in Memphis as soon as possible.

  1. It’s difficult to do.

Flossing requires dexterity to reach in between each and every tooth – especially the ones way in the back. Some people have trouble maneuvering their hands to accommodate a proper flossing, especially those who have had a stroke, injury, or arthritis. However, there are other ways to floss successfully besides traditional floss. Y-shaped plastic, disposable, flossers; water flossers; electric flossers; and even old-fashioned toothpicks are all easier to use and provide many of the benefits of regular floss.

  1.  Am I doing it right?

Flossing seems like it should be easy, but the truth is, there is a proper technique. If you aren’t sure if you’re flossing correctly, it may be uncomfortable and you may stop doing it. Stick with it, follow these directions, and flossing will become much easier.

o      Start with 18 inches or so of floss and wrap the ends around each middle finger.

o      Pull it tight and gently wiggle back and forth between teeth until it reaches the gum line.

o      Form the floss into a “U” shape and curve it around the tooth.

o      Apply gentle pressure and slide the floss up and down.

o      Slide it out and repeat between each tooth using a clean section of floss

At our dental office in Memphis, we encourage all of our patients to pair proper brushing with a thorough flossing for optimal oral health. If you’re having trouble finding a flossing technique that’s comfortable, are experiencing pain or bleeding when you do floss, or want to know if you’re doing it correctly, give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to help.

Welcoming patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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Sept3BadBreath

Bad breath affects everyone at least once in a lifetime and it’s completely normal. But it doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or worrisome. At our Memphis dental office, we hear a lot of questions about bad breath – what causes it? How do you cure it? Is it serious? – so we’d like to talk about some common causes of bad breath and ways to cure it.

Cause #1: Dry Mouth.

Some medications, mouth breathing, or lack of proper water intake can cause dry mouth, and a dry mouth is a great place for bacteria to hide. Dry mouth creates the perfect situation for bacteria to create bad odors..

Cure: One of the easiest ways to avoid bad breath caused by a dry mouth is to drink plenty of water every day. A well-hydrated mouth keeps saliva flowing and removes lingering bacteria. The water itself can also neutralize acid the mouth and flush out even more bacteria.

Cause #2: Delicious, Yet Oh So Stinky, Food.

Garlic, spicy dishes, onions, oh my! Plenty of our favorite foods taste so good, but leave an unpleasant odor in their wake. Most of the time, this isn’t a medical concern, but may cause insecurity. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to squash the stench and replace it with a little freshness. Here’s how.

Cure: Following such a meal, a quick and easy way to relieve bad breath is by chewing a piece of sugarless gum. Not only does the sticky texture pull lingering food particles off your teeth, it typically has a nice, minty, fresh smell. No gum handy? Fruits and veggies high in fiber and that require a lot of chewing, like apples, can help clean teeth and the vitamin C kills bacteria.

Cause #3: Gum Disease.

Bad breath that doesn’t go away is one of the earliest and most common signs of gum disease, which is a serious problem that has been shown to cause oral health, and whole-body health, concerns. If untreated, gum disease may lead to tooth loss, sensitivity, and receding gums. It may also increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. That’s the bad news.

Cure: The good news is, it’s treatable. There isn’t  a one-size-fits-all cure for gum disease, but we strongly encourage you to visit your dentist in Memphis as soon as you can. Gum disease is serious and the earlier we catch it, the better. Each gum disease treatment is different, so work with your dentist to determine which is best for you.

If your bad breath lingers day after day, or if you notice it more often than just after a meal or post-coffee, call our dental office in Memphis. We will help find the cause of your bad breath and work with you to cure it. We don’t judge our patients and are here to help get their mouths, and bodies, healthy. Call for your appointment today.

Welcoming patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova

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Aug2Osteoperosis

As we get older, our bodies go through a lot of changes. Some of them don’t directly affect our health, but one in particular may. We’re talking about osteoporosis. At our dental office in Memphis, many of our patients are over the age of 50 and, therefore, at increased risk for osteoporosis. Believe it or not, seeing us regularly is a great way to first spot signs of osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disorder that affects and weakens the bones, making them more likely to break. With an estimated 10 million Americans already suffering with the disease, an additional 34 million are at risk. This bone disorder doesn’t plague all genders and ages equally. Although it can happen at any age or gender, typically, women over 50 are at the greatest risk.

How Dental Care Can Help

Many times osteoporosis isn’t diagnosed until the bone density is already diminished considerably. Usually, an injury that results in a broken bone is what leads to a proper osteoporosis diagnosis. However, there are a few ways to catch osteoporosis before this happens. And it all starts with your dentist.

Individuals with low bone density may have a higher incidence of oral health problems, and many times, these issues allow your dentist to catch osteoporosis early. Following an in-depth exam and set of x-rays, we may be able to link what we’re seeing in your mouth and on your x-rays to osteoporosis. Some of the things we’re looking for include:

  • Bone loss in the jaw
  • Tooth loss
  • Gum disease
  • Poor fitting dentures that weren’t always so uncomfortable

If we find any symptoms of osteoporosis, we’ll discuss your options with you and work on getting your mouth, and your body, strong and healthy.

Prevention

Besides keeping up with recommended dental appointments, there are several other ways you can prevent osteoporosis.

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Minimize alcohol consumption
  • Exercise

If you’re concerned about osteoporosis, or if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen the dentist, give our Memphis dental office a call. We’ll be sure to screen you for any potential problems and are happy to work with you to treat anything we happen to find.

Welcoming patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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AugFAQAs with any health care, dentistry comes with its fair share of confusing recommendations, nonsensical terminology, and overall general questions about the whats, whys, and hows. At our dental office in Memphis, we strive to ensure all our patients have their questions answered completely and accurately, so we’ve dedicated this blog to some of the more common questions we get asked.

“What is Morning Breath?”

We’ve all experienced the stale stench of a mouth closed for the past eight hours or so , the odor assaults the nostrils and we wince in disgust. But why does breath insist on smelling so darn gross in the morning? The answer is this: there’s not as much saliva in your mouth while you sleep as when you’re awake. Saliva is the natural way to rinse away bad breath bacteria, and when the supply decreases, bacteria are left to multiply and we’re left with morning breath. Usually a proper brushing and flossing will diminish the smell. If it doesn’t and your breath is chronically a little on the sour side, it may be a sign of something serious. Get to your dentist as soon as possible.

“How Often do I REALLY Need to see a dentist?”

We didn’t make up the twice a year rule simply because we enjoy seeing you, even though that’s still true. Biannual visits are important to both your oral health and your overall health for several reasons. First, regular visits allow us to catch any small problems before they have a chance to become huge, possibly painful problems. Second, many dental diseases are linked with whole-body health, so the sooner we catch an issue and begin to treat it, the healthier your mouth and your body will be. There are times when we recommend more than two visits a year, which is pretty common if you’re at risk for oral cancer, gum disease, or have an extended treatment plan. If we recommend it, you should follow it. Your smile will thank you.

“Do I Need to Floss?”

If you want to keep your smile healthy, and we assume you do, then yes, you absolutely need to floss. Flossing removes plaque and bacteria between teeth that a toothbrush alone can’t reach. In fact, if you don’t floss, 35% of your teeth surfaces aren’t getting cleaned and your chance for decay increases. We recommend brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.

We’ve only touched on a few of the many dental questions we’ve heard. If you have any others, give our dental office in Memphis a call. We’re here to help make dentistry easy and comfortable, and we’d be happy to have you.

 
Welcoming patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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JulyToothbrushHow’s your relationship with your toothbrush? Is it working for you? Is it getting the job done well? At our dental office in Memphis, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your toothbrush relationship should never be long-term. Is it time you moved on to something better?

Toothbrushes are specifically designed to gently and effectively remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris from teeth. But they aren’t designed to last forever. In fact, the American Dental Association strongly advises against keeping a toothbrush any longer. At three-to-four months, toothbrushes begin to show signs that it’s just not working out, and nobody wants to stay in a relationship that’s not working.

Signs It’s Over

There are some obvious signs that it’s time to toss your current toothbrush and look for a newer model. Most clues of an old toothbrush are found in the bristles, so keep an eye out for:

  • Fraying
  • Discoloration
  • Flattening

If you notice any of these signs, head to the store and treat yourself to a newer, better toothbrush. You deserve it.

How to Care for Your New Toothbrush

Like any relationship, you should treat your toothbrush with care for a healthy, three-month commitment. Follow the tips below to get the most out of your time together.

  • Sharing is NOT Caring. One of the main things you can do to keep your toothbrush in tip-top shape is keep it for yourself. Sharing toothbrushes means sharing bacteria, and that’s pretty gross.
  • Rinse it Well. Following each and every cleaning, it’s important to thoroughly rinse your toothbrush. A good rinsing farther removes any bacteria that may be lingering around.
  • Store it Correctly. Keeping your toothbrush out to air dry is the ideal storage solution. Avoid trapping it in a container. Containers encourage bacteria growth.

Not only should you always take care of your toothbrush and use it twice a day, you should also maintain regular appointments at our Memphis dental office. Pairing a healthy at-home oral health routine with professional cleanings is the best way to maintain a healthy, problem-free smile. If you’re in need of a new dentist, give us a call today. We’ll be happy to have you.

Welcoming patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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July3DentalEmergencyAny emergency is serious and should be treated as such. Dental emergencies, which include any injury to the teeth, gums, or mouth, are no exception. At our Memphis dental office, we understand that a dental emergency can be scary, so we’re here to help give you a few tips on how to handle several types.

Abscess

An abscess is a very serious dental problem and should not be ignored. An abscess is an infection that affects the root or the space in between teeth and may feel like a painful pimple-like protrusion on the gums. If left untreated, an abscess might damage surrounding teeth, tissue, and the infection can even spread to other parts of your body. Because of these very serious concerns, it’s extremely important to get to your dentist as soon as possible. Prior to your appointment, try rinsing with warm salt water several times a day. This should ease the pain and encourage the bacteria inside to come to the surface.

Lost Filling

If you lose a filling, sugarless gum can be a temporary fix. Just make super sure it’s sugarless or you’ll experience some serious pain. Take a piece of the gum and place it into the cavity. Then call your dentist to get a permanent fix.

Chipped/Broken Tooth

A chipped or broken tooth might result from anything like a popcorn kernel, opening packaging with your teeth, or a fall. When a tooth is chipped, the first thing to do is rinse your mouth out with warm water and find any pieces, if possible, and rinse them off, too. Then apply gauze and slight pressure if there is any bleeding, and a cold compress to the cheek to ease pain. Get to your dentist to fix the chip.

Toothache

A toothache is your mouth’s way of letting you know that something is not right. Ease the pain and help keep other problems away by first rinsing with warm salt water. Salt water can help decrease swelling and keep dangerous bacteria from attacking. If the pain is severe, try placing a cold compress against your cheek or apply a bit of clove oil to the sore spot. Again, get to your dentist as soon as you can.

One of the best ways to avoid a dental emergency in the first place is to maintain regular visits to our dental office in Memphis. Regular checkups and cleanings allow us to catch and treat any potential problems before they can turn into an unexpected dental emergency. However, anything can happen at any time, so if you do experience an emergency, give us a call right away.

Welcoming patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.

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forgot toothbrushNow that summer is officially here, we’re all starting to plan those well-deserved vacations or long weekends away. Naturally, you also need to pack. So you load up on clothes, snacks, medications, and everything you may possibly need. Yet you forget your toothbrush. What do you do when you’ve reached your destination and it’s time to brush those pearly whites? Take some advice from our dental office in Memphis.

Solution #1

Even if you’re without a toothbrush, you should still do something to rid your mouth of the bacteria that accumulates over time and after meals. But how? With a paper towel!

A clean, sturdy paper towel can go a long way toward getting your teeth clean until you have a chance to get to the store and buy another toothbrush. Simply find the thickest paper towel you can, wet it, dab on some toothpaste, and wrap it around your finger. Place your towel-wrapped finger along the gum line and gently scrub outwards. Then follow the same technique on the backs and chewing surfaces of each individual tooth. Don’t forget about the tongue! Scrub it as best as you can. When you’re done, rinse well.

Solution #2

If you forget both a toothbrush and toothpaste, this tip is for you.

Start by washing your hands with soap and warm water, but don’t dry them. While fingers are still wet, take your index finger and begin to scrub it over each individual tooth, the backs, and chewing surfaces. If a paper towel or soft wash cloth is handy, wet it and follow up your finger cleaning with a gentle brush of the cloth. Rinse, swish, spit, and repeat if necessary.

Solution #3

If you have no toothbrush and no toothpaste, but have some handy ingredients, you can make your own temporary paste to use with the above tip. All it takes is some water, salt, or baking soda. One or two teaspoons of salt or baking soda dissolved into warm water act as a gentle abrasive for your teeth, and can be an adequate replacement to toothpaste if needed.

This summer, or any time you’re away from home and find yourself without a toothbrush or toothpaste, follow the tips above. While these aren’t long-term solutions and a proper toothbrush and toothpaste should be found as soon as possible, they can go a long way in getting dangerous bacteria off your teeth. And as always, keeping up with appointments at our dental office in Memphis are crucial to maintaining a healthy smile for a lifetime.

Accepting patients from Memphis, Germantown, Cordova, and nearby neighborhoods.