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4 common oral health problems and how to avoid them!

Your smile is your best chance at making a great first impression. It’s the first thing people see, and it can be the key to opening a conversation, making a new friend, or even brightening someone’s day. So, if oral health issues are keeping your smile hidden, it’s time to do something about it! Here are some ways to address 4 of the more common oral health problems to get you smiling again:

  • Let’s begin with one of the most-dreaded: bad breath! Bad breath, also called halitosis, can keep people from feeling confident in social situations and engaging in friendly conversation. In the vast majority of cases (over 60%), bad breath is caused by improper dental hygiene. If you’re having this problem, you can start by doing whatever you can to keep your teeth clear of bacteria and food particles—that means brushing and flossing thoroughly, especially after meals. Changing your diet to limit junk food can also help. After eating, try non-alcoholic mouthwashes or ADA-approved, sugar-free gum to combat bad breath and help clear lingering food particles stuck in your teeth. If you do these things and find you still suffer from chronic bad breath, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist to see if there’s something else contributing to the problem.
  • Tooth decay is the enemy of a bright smile, as it can leave you with discolored or even missing teeth. Tooth decay is most often caused by a bacterial buildup and can be prevented by proper brushing and flossing regimens (2-3 times a day) and regular trips to the dentist for cleanings. Also, avoiding acidic foods such as juices, pickles, soda, and sports drinks will help to decrease erosion and decay. If you or your dentist notice the onset of tooth decay, getting it treated as early as possible will help preserve your smile.
  • Receding gum lines can cause serious discomfort, causing the gums to become red, swollen and bloody. Plus, if allowed to progress to gingivitis, receding gums can eventually lead to tooth loss. Inflamed gums and missing teeth are not exactly going make you feel like smiling! Try an ultra-soft toothbrush and go gentle on your gums. Wearing a nighttime mouth guard to keep yourself from grinding your teeth and causing pain can also help with gum recession. As always, your dentist can assist you in addressing your receding gums and provide you with advice and treatment options.
  • Mouth sores, or canker sores, can cause extreme pain on the inside of your mouth on your cheek, tongue, or inside of your lip. That’s more than enough to keep you from smiling. These type of sores—not to be confused with cold sores, which are bacterial—are caused by a variety of factors, some simple (stress, food allergies, hormones), some less so (vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune issues), They generally recede on their own after several days, but in the meantime, you can manage the discomfort by avoiding spicy and acidic foods, rinsing your mouth with salt water, or using over-the-counter pain medicines. If they are frequently recurring, however, they may be a symptom of a larger issue and you should seek advice from a health care professional.

It’s our job to keep you smiling…so, if you have concerns about any of these issues, let your doctor know so you can work together to keep your smile radiant for years to come.

How Heartburn Can Ruin Your Teeth


At first it may seem that heartburn has nothing to do with your teeth. After all, the burning sensation is in your chest, not your mouth. But repeated instances of heartburn can actually cause erosion and staining of the teeth.

When your stomach produces a large amount of acid in order to digest a hard-to-digest meal it can sometimes make its way up the esophagus and into the mouth. The stomach acids are powerful and cause a burning sensation in the esophagus, which is felt as pain in the chest.

This rising of the stomach acid up the esophagus is a condition known as acid reflux. When this condition is chronic it’s called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD for short).

Once the condition is chronic it can cause damage to the teeth. The constant acid rising into the mouth from the stomach erodes the tooth enamel at an alarming rate.

In addition to getting treated for GERD, people suffering from the disease should consider avoiding brushing the teeth right after an episode of heartburn. Brushing while the enamel is weakened from the acid will wear it away even worse than just the acid would.

Additionally, chewing sugarless gum has shown to reduce the chance of heartburn, as well as stimulate the production of saliva to neutralize the acid in the mouth and remineralize the tooth enamel.

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Could 3D Printing Be the Future of Root Canals?

Root canals are one of the most common dental procedures in the United States. Annually, approximately 15 million are conducted. If you do the math, that’s around 41,000 a day! Despite their status as a mainstay in dentistry, as well as the best way to save a tooth, root canals can occasionally have adverse effect on teeth, leaving them brittle and more susceptible to problems later on.

Thanks to modern technology, however, Luiz Bertassoni, DDS, PhD and his team of researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University (OSHU) have begun development on creating artificial capillaries and blood vessels, which can have more lasting results after a root canal and prevent complications further on.

Because the 3D printed material that would replace infected tissue in a root canal procedure is more durable than the synthetic that would normally be used in the surgery, the tooth is less likely to become delicate and fracture later on, meaning less recovery time and fewer trips to the dentist’s office, which is always something to smile about.

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Saliva: The Original Mouth Guard

Saliva is a surprisingly big deal, especially when it comes to oral health. Saliva serves as a neutralizing agent in your mouth, it quiets enamel-eroding acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. It is your best line of defense against acids, sugars, and bacteria that aim to wear away your enamel.

What you might not have known about saliva is that there are two types. The first type of saliva is stimulated saliva. This is the kind that appears in your mouth when you smell French fries, or when you bite into a delicious cheeseburger. It makes up 70-90 percent of the two to three pints (!!!) of saliva that we each generate daily. It looks like water, helps to break down starches and balances the pH in your mouth.

The second type of saliva is unstimulated saliva. It is the saliva that is always in your mouth, keeping it from drying out and wrapping itself protectively around the surfaces of teeth. It is necessary for our mouths, and while it may be less glamorous that the saliva that arrives when our favorite dinner is headed our way, it is just as important.

Saliva is vital to keeping teeth and gums happy and healthy. Lack of saliva could result in tooth decay and loss of taste. Talk to your dentist about a treatment plan if you experience dry mouth.

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5 Vitamin C Rich Foods to Improve Your Dental Health

We all know that vitamin C is useful for our overall health. From beating the common cold to promoting good eyesight, it’s known as something of a cure-all vitamin. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that increasing your vitamin C intake can be beneficial for your oral health as well. Vitamin C helps to strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation, both of which are key ingredients in the recipe for healthy gums. Furthermore, vitamin C increases collagen production, which keeps gums strong, elastic, and less susceptible to periodontal disease. So, which foods should you be eating more of to gain the full benefits? Here are 5 to get you started.

Bell peppers

Many people believe that when it comes to bell peppers, all colors are created equal. In terms of their flavor this might be true, but if you’re looking for the highest vitamin C content, pick red bell peppers over their green or yellow counterparts. Feel free to eat as many as you like, too. A full cup of bell peppers is only worth about 45 calories, so you can snack guilt-free!

Kiwi

Did you know that in addition to being significantly less acidic (and therefore better for your teeth) kiwi fruit has about twice the vitamin C content of lemons and oranges? Kiwi is also high in fiber and an enzyme called actinidain which helps to break down protein, easing digestion and overall intestinal function.

Strawberries

In addition to being a delicious summer treat, strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. But that’s not all! Strawberries are also rich in flavonoids, which can counteract bad (or LDL) cholesterol in the blood and help unclog plaque from the arteries. Sweet!

Broccoli

Turns out your mother was telling you to eat your broccoli for a reason! Besides their high concentration of vitamin C, they could also help you fend off cancer due to a high sulfur content found in most cruciferous vegetables.

Kale

Finally, this trendy superfood has received quite a bit of press in the last few years, and for good reason. It’s high in vitamins C, A, and K, as well as fiber and iron. Don’t like the taste? Stick it in a fruity smoothie and drink the benefits!

Filling your diet with these vitamin rich foods will not only help your teeth and gums, but your overall health. As with everything, however, practice moderation; there can be too much of a good thing! Consult your dentist for advice on how much vitamin C you should be getting, or for more dietary tips for a healthy smile.

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A Breakdown of Dental Insurance

Why doesn’t my dental insurance pay for this? This is a frequently asked question when it comes to dental coverage. It is common for patients to be unsure of what their coverage actually covers and why they have certain limitations.

Dental insurance can be very confusing, so, here are a few basics to help you better understand dental insurance.

UCR (Usual, Customary, and Reasonable)

There are different dental insurance plans that you might have. One plan is the UCR plan. UCR stands for, usual, customary, and reasonable. This means a couple of different things for your coverage.

Under a UCR plan, patients get to pick which dentist they see and the plan pays for an established percentage of the dentist’s fee or they pay the plan sponsor’s “customary” or “reasonable” fee limit. These plans do not necessarily reflect the prices of dental procedures. Often times the limits in place do not take into account the price of dentistry in that area or region. Dental insurance companies do not have any regulations on reimbursement levels, which means that there is a lot of room for fluctuations.

Annual Maximums

Whoever provides your plan for you, whether it is through your job or a private company, they are the ones who set the annual maximums. Annual maximums are the final set of reimbursement that is part of your plan. That number is how much your insurance will cover.

Preferred Providers

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to dental insurance is that some insurance plans will request that you pick a dentist from their list of preferred providers. This usually means that if your previous or current dentist is not on the list, then you will have to switch to a different dentist.

Least Expensive Alternative

Dental insurance also has something called, “least expensive alternative treatment.” This phrase means that, your plan may not offer any coverage for expensive treatments or procedures, but they will cover the least expensive alternative. It may not be the best option for your oral health, but the cheaper option is what they will cover. It is best to discuss with your dentist the best option for you.

Preexisting Conditions

Some dental insurance plans may not cover any preexisting conditions that you had previous to joining that plan. This can be difficult because they may still require treatment. Try to find a plan that allows you to still receive treatment for a preexisting condition or talk to your dentist about what other options you have.

Treatment Exclusions

Your dentist might recommend a preventative treatment, like sealants, and your insurance may not cover it. While these sorts of procedures can save you money in the long run, your insurance may not cover them because they are not necessary. The same may go for certain procedures that your insurance does not deem as necessary.