Posted by & filed under Dental Articles, Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry.

woman chewing gum

When it comes to candy it should come as no surprise that the team at our dental office in Memphis can be wary of the stuff. But there is a type of candy that we actually encourage our patients to eat. Well, at least chew on. Sugarless gum, or more specifically, gum containing Xylitol, can help keep your mouth healthy.

What is Xylitol?

There are plenty of sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners out there, but Xylitol is a little bit different than what you may put in your morning coffee. Xylitol is a natural compound found in many fruits and vegetables and tastes sweet. But what makes this sweetener a favorite for your dentist in Memphis is that it’s metabolized differently than regular sugar and sugar substitutes.

How Does Gum Protect Oral Health?

When we eat sugar, it first feeds the bacteria found in our mouths. After eating the sugars,  bacteria then release an acidic byproduct. This acid can eat away at tooth enamel and increase the chance for decay. But Xylitol doesn’t give bacteria the nutrients they need to survive. Therefore, teeth are protected from acid and you can still treat your sweet tooth without worrying about decay.

Besides starving bacteria from food, chewing sugarless gum can further reduce the acid levels in your mouth by stimulating saliva production. When we chew gum our salivary glands are working to keep the mouth moist. This surge of spit neutralizes any acids that may already be in your mouth and helps wash away dangerous bacteria. What’s more is saliva strengthens teeth by remineralizing them with calcium and phosphate.

Research has even shown that chewing Xylitol Gum can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Lower the risk for gum disease
  • Help the body absorb calcium better which builds strong teeth

A Word of Caution

Xylitol is naturally occurring and considered safe. It’s even used in some medicines. However, some people may experience negative side effects when they have too much. Common side effect include intestinal discomfort such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea. It’s also highly toxic for dogs so make sure to store anything containing Xylitol securely where your pets can’t get to it.

While Xylitol can give your dental health a boost, it’s not recommended as a replacement to brushing and flossing. Make sure to still follow a proper oral hygiene routine at home and visit our dental office in Memphis at least twice a year

Posted by & filed under Dental Emergency, Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry.

woman with toothache

Tooth pain can be unbearable and effect more than just the tooth alone. The whole mouth may feel the discomfort caused by a toothache, and some people also experience severe headaches. While relief may seem to be nowhere in sight, the team at our dental office in Memphis has a few tips that you can try to relieve tooth pain.

Top Toothache Tools

Toothaches are unpredictable, and there’s really no telling when one may hit. Be prepared by knowing a few tools and tricks you can use to ease the pain.

  • Floss. A piece of floss can work wonders in relieving pain if the toothache is caused by a piece of food lodged between teeth or under gums. Gently guide the floss between the affected tooth and up under the gum line to remove any debris. Do not floss too much or too hard as this can cause more pain.
  • Cold Compress. Use an ice pack, a bag of frozen veggies, or regular old bag of ice to help reduce swelling and ease pain. Wrap your cold pack of choice in a lightweight towel or shirt and apply it to the face near where the pain is coming from. Keep it there for about 15 minutes at a time, giving yourself breaks in between icings.
  • Anesthetic. Head over to your nearest pharmacy or grocery store and pick up an over-the-counter oral anesthetic product. These gels or liquids will numb the area of application for a short time allowing you a bit of a break from the pain.
  • Salt Water. Mix some salt into warm water and gently swish it around in your mouth a tiny sip at a time. The salt will help remove any fluid that may be putting pressure on the nerves. Don’t swallow the solution but rather spit it out after each rinse.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medicine. Many anti-inflammatories can also help reduce tooth pain by decreasing swelling and pressure on the nerves. Choose the best option for you and use as directed. Do not follow the old wives’ tale of placing a pill directly on the gums or tooth as this can be harmful.

It’s important to note that all of these tips are to be used for temporary relief. Don’t let a toothache fester for too long. Call your dentist in Memphis for an appointment as soon as possible.

Protect Yourself from Toothaches

Now that you know what to do if you get a toothache, we want to tell you two easy things you can do to help prevent one in the first place.

  • Visit our Memphis dental office at least twice a year so we can monitor your oral health and treat any problems before they lead to a surprise toothache.
  • Brush your teeth every morning and every night to wash away bacteria that can lead to decay, and floss once a day to remove anything that may be lurking under the gum line.

If you’re suffering from a toothache or it’s just time for you to visit a dentist, we welcome you to call us to schedule an appointment today.

Posted by & filed under Oral Health, Periodontal Disease, Preventive Dentistry.

worrying woman

When it comes to gum disease and gingivitis, there’s often a bit of confusion between the two. Are they the same thing or are they different? Can they be treated the same way or not? What does it mean if you’re told you have one or the other? Not to worry, our dental office in Memphis is here to help answer your questions.

A Closer Look a Gum Disease

Gum disease is ultimately a term used to describe an infection in the gums caused by a buildup of plaque that wiggled its way under the gum line. But gum disease itself has three stages that are all still commonly referred to as gum disease — gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest and most mild form of gum disease. When caught early gingivitis can be treated successfully and any damage that may have occurred can be reversed.

Periodontitis

The second stage of gum disease occurs if gingivitis is not caught and treated quickly. Known as periodontitis, this more severe stage of gum disease not only affects the gums but also the bones and tissues that hold teeth in place. Treatment may not reverse any damage already done but can help it from progressing any further.

Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis is more severe yet and can’t be reversed. In this stage, the plaque buildup has caused substantial damage to the bone and tissues. Teeth may feel loose or appear to have shifted position and they may even fall out.

How to Know if You Have Gum Disease

In its early stages gum disease may not show any signs or symptoms, or at least not any that might raise concern. That’s one reason knowing all the symptoms of gum disease is important.

  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Receding gums
  • Swollen, red gums

How Gum Disease Affects the Body

We already know that gum disease may lead to tooth loss if not caught and treated early, but gum disease has also been linked to several serious systemic concerns including:

  • Lung disease
  • Cancers
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes

There’s a lot you can do to help protect yourself against gum disease including avoiding some of the known factors that increase the risk of developing it, such as using tobacco. You should also brush and floss everyday and maintain appointments with your dentist in Memphis every six months.

We’re always welcoming new patients at our Memphis dental office and would love to see you! We welcome you to call us today to schedule an appointment.  

Posted by & filed under Dental Articles, Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry.

Labor Day Picnic

One of the best parts about Labor Day is the picnics and the foods we get to enjoy at them. And while all of the treats are delicious, they may not all be great for your smile. At our dental office in Memphis, we’re here to help by giving you a list of the worst Labor Day snacks for your smile as well as healthier options.

The Bad

Condiments

Sauces, dips, and dressings such as BBQ sauce and ketchup seem harmless enough. After all, we usually only use this as a little something extra. But these condiments are packed with acid and sugar, both of which can damage teeth.

Soda

This one should come as no surprise since it’s a well-known fact that dentists really don’t like soda. That’s because it’s loaded with sugar and is really bad for teeth. The sugar content in even one soda can contain as much as 11 teaspoons!

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can greatly increase the risk for gum disease and decay. Certain types of alcohol can also lead to tooth discoloration. Lastly, alcohol can cause dry mouth, further putting teeth in danger of decay.

The Good

Veggies

Crunchy, raw vegetables are great for gums and overall oral health. As we chew foods like broccoli or carrots they’re working to rub away plaque buildup on teeth. This helps protect teeth from decay and may even help fight off bad breath.

Fruits

Fresh fruits such as crisp apples can also actually help scrub away plaque buildup. Other fruits including kiwi contain calcium which, when mixed with vitamin D, can strengthen teeth (and bones!)

Cheese

Speaking of calcium and vitamin D, cheese and other forms of dairy can contain quite a bit of both. What’s more is cheese can stimulate saliva production which will help rinse away bacteria, sugar, and acids left behind.  

Just like any type of foods, those that aren’t so great for your oral health are fine if enjoyed in moderation. We also recommend drinking water to help remove sugars and acids from your mouth. If you can, brushing after you eat is best but we understand that it’s not always doable. Instead, a quick swish and spit with water can help.

This Labor Day and every day, try to follow a well-balanced diet for both the health of your smile and your body. Our team at our Memphis dental office wishes you a happy, relaxing, and delicious holiday.

Posted by & filed under Dental Emergency, Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry.

embarrassed woman

Dental fillings are an incredibly common type of dental restoration used to treat cavities and decay. In fact, nearly 91% of Americans between 20 and 64 have at least one dental filling. While dental fillings are strong and can last for many, many years, there are still some things that can cause a dental filling to become loose or fall out. Here’s what to do if that happens.

Don’t Wait, Call

Before you do anything else you should call your dentist in Memphis. Many times our dental office will be able to see you the same day or the next day. At the appointment, you can expect to have a thorough exam of the area so your dental team can assess the damage. This allows us the opportunity to determine the best way to fix it.

What to Expect

Sometimes your dentist may recommend replacing the filling with another one. This is typically what happens if the filling was small and the damage didn’t really affect the tooth. Other times a filling just won’t get the job done and a dental crown may be recommended. Dental crowns cap the entire tooth and provide greater protection.  

Do Your Part

If you lose a filling there are important steps you should take in order to protect your tooth and ease any discomfort.

  • Clean the area. When a filling falls out, your tooth is left with a small hole that food and bacteria can get wedged into. If left there, it could lead to more damage. Rinse with salt water or gently brush the area after eating.
  • Reduce the pain. Using pain reliever can help minimize any sensitivity and increase comfort. There are also temporary fillers available at many pharmacies. Look for one that contains zinc oxide and place it in the gap, but only temporarily.

Avoid the Problem in the First Place

While very common, there are ways you can avoid losing a filling… including choosing your snacks wisely. Many lost or loose fillings are the result of sticky foods or hidden popcorn kernels, so be sure to eat these in moderation and use caution. Tooth grinding or clenching is also a common cause of lost fillings. Make sure to use a nightguard if you grind your teeth in your sleep to protect both your dental restorations as well as your jaw health. Lastly, seeing your Memphis dentist every six months can help catch any loose fillings before they have a chance to fall out when you least expect it.

We’re always welcoming new patients at our dental office in Memphis and are here to help with any dental concern. If you’ve lost a filling or suspect you may need one, we welcome you to give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

Posted by & filed under Dental Articles, Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry.

man fills out paperwork

We know that the paperwork you’re required to fill out when you visit a new healthcare provider can be a hassle. We also understand that it may be tempting to rush through these forms. However, there’s a reason all of your doctors, including your dentist in Memphis, ask for all of that information. Because when it comes to your health, the more information we have, the better your care will be.

Important Information to Share

Having access to your current and previous health conditions can only help our dental office in Memphis provide you with the best care that we can. Since there is such a strong connection between overall health and oral health, it’s important to provide us with as much information as possible, even it doesn’t appear to affect your mouth. Some things we should definitely be aware of include:

  • Heart problems
  • Asthma
  • Pacemaker
  • Epilepsy
  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Joint replacements
  • Autoimmune conditions

About Medications

We will also ask about what medications you take regularly, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as herbal supplements. Why is this important? First, having a record of medications available will help us in the event that we need to prescribe you something so that nothing interacts. Second, many medications list dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth not only increases the risk for cavities, it can also lead to gum disease. Even though both conditions are treated easily in the early stages, they can lead to bigger problems in the future such as a root canal or even tooth loss if left untreated.

Health Changes, So Should Your Medical History Forms

Your health isn’t the same now as is it was five years ago, and it won’t be the same five years from now. But if you don’t update your medical history with your healthcare providers there’s no way of them knowing about these important changes. If you have any changes to your health including surgery, pregnancy, or any new health condition, share them with your entire medical team.

Our Memphis dental office collects health history of each and every patient so that we can provide individualized care. We also make sure that all medical information is kept secure and private. If you have questions about our privacy policy or why we ask for certain information, don’t hesitate to ask one of our team members. We’re happy to help.  

Posted by & filed under Dental Articles, Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry.

glasses of soda

When it comes to sugar and dentists, it’s a well known fact that the two really don’t work well together. At our dental office in Memphis, we always encourage our patients to limit their sugar intake in order to keep their teeth protected. But sometimes knowing how much sugar is really in some of our favorite treats is confusing. So today, we want to share the sugar content of a few popular snacks in an easy to understand way.

Candy

The first thing most people think about when we talk about sugar-packed snacks is candy. And rightfully so. Sugar content varies between different kinds of candy, but some of the biggest culprits have 17 teaspoons of the sweet stuff.  

Yogurt

Not all snacks that are high in sugar fall on the junk food list. Yogurt, for example, is usually viewed as a healthy snack high in calcium and vitamin D. While some types of yogurt are good for us and don’t have a lot of sugar, there are others that are packed with it. Yogurt that contains fruit or flavorings such as chocolate or caramel can have more than than 6.5 teaspoons of sugar in one 6 ounce cup.

Granola, Cereal, and Protein Bars

Here’s another group of snacks that are typically considered healthy. And again, some of them are. But others are not. Many times these types of bars have sweet ingredients like honey or added sugars and can contain anywhere from 6 to 7 teaspoons of sugar, sometimes even more.

Soda

Snacks and treats with high sugar content may not be limited to things we eat, but rather things we drink. Soda in particular is loaded with tons of sugar in one 12 ounce can. Some brands can even contain 11 teaspoons!

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

All of the information above is only helpful if you know how much added sugar is usually considered too much. Daily recommendations can vary from person to person based on a variety of factors, but the American Heart Association (AHA) has provided some maximum intake guidelines to follow.

  • Men – 150 calories per day (or 9 teaspoons)
  • Women – 100 calories per day (or 6 teaspoons)

Limit Sugar Intake to Stay Healthy

Sugar isn’t only concerning for dental health, but whole-body health as well. Staying below the maximum daily recommendations set by the AHA can help protect teeth from decay and cavities as well as the body from dangerous diseases such as diabetes.

Besides limiting how much sugar you consume, you should also make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. Removing any lingering bacteria and plaque through brushing and flossing will reduce your risk of decay. Additionally, make sure to visit your dentist in Memphis every six months for an even deeper clean and to catch any problems early when they’re still easily treatable.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental checkup, give our Memphis dental office a call to schedule an appointment today.

Posted by & filed under Oral Health, Periodontal Disease, Preventive Dentistry.

older gentleman

Getting older is a natural part of life, and as we age our healthcare needs tend to change. Oral health is no different. Our dental office in Memphis is committed to protecting smiles through every stage of life, and this month we want to dedicate our blog to the seniors of our community by providing them information on just how their dental care may affect their overall health.

Losing Teeth Isn’t a Guarantee

One of the most common misconceptions about our teeth is that as we get older… they’re going to fall out. We’re here to tell you that’s not necessarily a guarantee. In fact, many people can keep their natural teeth throughout their entire lives — if they take good care of them. Of course regular brushings and flossings go a long way in sustaining oral health, but bi-annual visits to the dentist in Memphis are more important now perhaps more than ever.

Since the nerves inside our teeth shrink as we age, we may not feel a cavity coming on like we used to and we may never suspect a problem. However, seeing the dentist every six months can catch and treat decay before it has a chance to cause some real damage. It’s when this decay isn’t treated in time that people tend to need a crown or perhaps an extraction.

Missing Teeth Affects Overall Health

While missing a tooth, or several teeth, can certainly affect oral health and any remaining natural teeth, it can also have a direct effect on overall health. Missing teeth inhibits what we can eat, making it difficult to get all of the nutrients our bodies need. Teeth also play an important role in gum health and jaw bone health. Without them, bone density diminishes and gums tend to recede. This recession provides little gaps where bacteria can hide. If left there, this bacteria build up can lead to gum disease, which brings on a whole host of other problems.

Alzheimer’s & Gum Disease

Recent research has not only suggested a link between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes and stroke, but also Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, according to one study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, people over 50 who have had gum disease for ten or more years were 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s than those without any gum disease or inflammation. Even though the researchers did state that this doesn’t prove an absolute connection between the two, it does support the idea that diseases that have some sort of inflammation such as gum disease may be directly related to the development of Alzheimer’s.

Protecting Seniors’ Smiles

Caring for your teeth by properly brushing and flossing them every day and maintaining regular visits with your dentist are crucial steps you can take to both keep teeth healthy for life and protect the mouth and body from the dangers of gum disease. At our Memphis dental office, we’re always accepting patients, young and old. If you or someone in your family hasn’t seen a dentist in over six months, we welcome you to call our office to schedule a visit. We’re always happy to see you!

Posted by & filed under Oral Health, TMJ Treatment.

woman with headache

Over 39 million Americans, including both adults and children, are affected by chronic migraines, and currently there is no cure. In order to help educate the public on the reality of this painful condition, our Memphis dental office observes National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month every June. But why is a dentist talking about migraines? What do they have to do with dentistry? Let’s find out…

Identifying a Migraine

Even though migraines are often be referred to as headaches, or headaches referred to as migraines, there is a difference between the two. Although both share the common symptom of an uncomfortable, painful sensation in the head, there are several things to look for that can help differentiate the two.

Headaches Migraines
  • Pain isn’t usually on only one side of the head, but can be
  • Pain tends to affect one side of the head, although not always
  • Pain doesn’t get worse with activity
  • Pain gets more intense when doing anything physical
  • Pain is typically a constant pressure sensation
  • Pain appears more throbbing than a consistent pressure
  • Has no other symptoms in other areas
  • Common to experience nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, blurry vision

The Connection Between Migraines & Dentistry

Although there is no one, absolute cause of migraines, studies have shown a connection between a poor bite and chronic migraines. How is this possible? When we look at the anatomy of the head as a whole, we can see that there is a complex weave of muscles between the head and the jaw. So when the top jaw doesn’t align well with the bottom jaw, too much pressure is put on the muscles in that area and they can become strained. When this happens, the pain may not necessarily be felt in the jaw itself (although it can be), but rather in the head as a migraine. If you clench or grind your teeth often your jaw muscles will again be put under abnormal pressure and, you guessed, you can get a migraine.

Many migraine sufferers have found relief through dental intervention. To see if that may be an option for you, start by scheduling an appointment at our dental office in Memphis. This appointment will allow us to check for any signs or a poor bite or bruxism to determine if this may be the cause of your migraines. From there, we will discuss your treatment options and recommend the best solution for you. Don’t keep suffering from migraine pain, give us a call today.

Posted by & filed under Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry.

woman reaches for asthma inhaler

It’s well known that asthma causes a narrowing of the airways, reduces oxygen flow, and makes it difficult to breathe. It’s a chronic, scary disease that affects the lungs and entire respiratory system. But can it be true that asthma may also affect dental health? The team at our dental office in Memphis has the surprising answer in this week’s blog.

Asthma By The Numbers

More than 20 million adults and over 6 million children in the United States alone suffer from asthma. There is no cure for this disease that takes the lives of an estimated 3,600 people every year. Even more suffer asthma attacks, become sick, or are even hospitalized. Asthma is not a disease to take lightly and patients should take their medication as prescribed. However, there are some lesser known side effects of asthma that should be talked about.

Asthma & Cavities

It’s incredibly common for asthma sufferers to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses – simply because it’s easier and they can get more oxygen that way. But mouth breathing is a known contributor to dry mouth and cavities. Constantly exposing the inside of the mouth to air really reduces saliva production. Typically, saliva would rinse away damaging bacteria and acid, but without it, they’re left behind to do some serious damage. Both bacteria and acid will attack enamel, removing the teeth’s protective barrier and increasing the likelihood for cavities. What’s more is that common asthma treatments may also cause dry mouth, which doubles the risk of inadequate saliva production and decay.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Asthma patients are more likely to develop cavities, but following the steps below can help minimize the risk of dental problems.

  • Stay Hydrated. Water is a dry mouth sufferer’s best weapon of defense. Water can help pick up the slack of reduced saliva flow and rinse away bad bacteria and acid. Drinking water throughout the day may even help saliva production increase and further protect your teeth. Choose water as often as possible and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Rinse. Since we know that many asthma medications contain drying ingredients, it’s important to rinse your mouth out with water soon after taking them. The sooner you can rinse, the less time the drying ingredients are in your mouth.  
  • Tell Your Dentist. Your dentist in Memphis will ask about your health history and any medications you’re taking. It’s important to tell them the truth. Many diseases and medicines can affect oral health, not just asthma, and the more your dentist knows the better care they’ll be able to give.

Besides following the tips above, you should always brush and floss your teeth regularly. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day will help keep your mouth protected in between dental appointments. If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to the dentist, we welcome you to call our Memphis dental office to schedule your appointment today.