Plaque vs. Tartar: What’s The Difference?

WE OFTEN GET THE QUESTION from our patients, “What’s the difference between plaque and tartar?” Many people think they are the same thing. There is an important difference between the two, however, and it can help explain just why a daily oral hygiene routine is so crucial, as well as twice-yearly visits to your dentist.

What Is Plaque?

Dental plaque is that soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and under your gums throughout the day. And guess what? It contains millions of bacteria! When you eat—especially carbohydrates or sugar—you’re not the only one getting a meal, so are the bacteria on your teeth. After “eating,” these bacteria produce acids that erode your tooth enamel and cause cavities.

That’s why good daily oral hygiene is essential to preventing tooth decay and protecting your smile from the bacteria in plaque. To prevent plaque buildup, remember to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks can also help!

What Is Tartar?

So if that’s plaque, what’s tartar? Tartar is what accumulates on your teeth when plaque is not removed. If plaque is left on your teeth for too long, it will harden into tartar and is much more difficult to remove. In fact, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional–you can’t get rid of it with regular brushing and flossing. Tartar removal is one of the reasons that visiting your dentist every six months is so important!

Plaque buildup that hardens into tartar can cause more than just cavities. It can cause tooth discoloration and sensitivity as well as gum recession and periodontal disease. To reduce plaque buildup and tartar from forming, make sure you are brushing and flossing daily.

Come And See Us Every Six Months

No matter how great your oral hygiene is, plaque and tartar formation are inevitable. So come in to see us every six months! Our job is to help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile that’s plaque- and tarter-free!

Thank you for your trust and loyalty.

 

The content on 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.

 

Photo Credit:  Top image by Flickr user Melissa Wiese used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Smoking Puts Your Oral Health At Risk

DID YOU KNOW that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States? It’s well known that smoking can lead to a number of lung-related diseases but in reality, the negative effects of smoking can be seen in almost every part of the body, especially the mouth.

Smoking Compromises Your Oral Health

Among other cancers, smoking puts you at a much higher risk of developing oral cancer. In fact, approximately eight out of 10 patients with oral cancer are smokers. Smoking remains the biggest controllable risk factor for this deadly disease.

Tobacco use is also related to severe gum disease. Becausesmoking weakens your body’s ability to fight infection, bacteria build up more easily in your mouth in the form of plaque and tartar. Bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and cause them to pull away from your teeth, resulting in bleeding and sensitivity. This can ultimately lead to tooth and bone loss. Those who smoke are two times more likely to develop gum disease than a nonsmoker.

Other dental problems that can be caused by smoking include:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Coated or black hairy tongue
  • Tooth decay
  • Dulled sense of taste and smell
  • Dry mouth
  • Slowed healing after tooth extraction or other surgery
  • Lower success rate of cosmetic dental procedures

Watch the video below to see how smoking affected Brett’s smile:

A Note About Electronic Cigarettes

Within the past couple of years, electronic cigarettes have gained popularity, especially as a “safer” alternative to smoking. Since e-cigarettes are relatively new, not much research has yet been published about their long-term health effects. What we do know is that while e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, most contain nicotine, which is known to cause damage to the mouth.

Because nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, it reduces the amount of blood that can flow to your gums. This means that the gums don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need, causing gum recession and tooth sensitivity as well as putting you at a higher risk of cavities. The reduced blood flow to the gums caused by nicotine use can also mask the signs of gum disease, making it harder to detect and diagnose. This delays treatment and allows the disease to progress.

Until further research is done, we can’t really know how safe e-cigarettes are. As health care professionals, we advise you to avoid them until their long-term effects are known.

Count Us As A Part Of Your Support System

Our patients are more than just patients–they are friends. We care about your health and well-being and want you to count us as a part of your support system to help you quit smoking. If you aren’t quite ready to quit, continue to see us regularly as recommended so we can help you maintain your oral health as best as possible. Talk to us about quitting today and how we can help you!

Thank you for your friendship and loyalty!

 

The content on 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.

Diabetes And Your Oral Health

DIABETES IS ONE OF THE MOST prevalent chronic diseases today. In fact, 29.1 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and millions more living with the condition don’t even know they have it.

You may know that diabetes can result in other health complications such as vision loss, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. But many are surprised to learn of the impact diabetes can have on your mouth.

Diabetes Is Linked To Oral Infection And Disease

Periodontal, or gum, disease affects 22 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes. What’s more, one in five cases of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes. These statistics can be distressing, but a proper understanding of the association between these two diseases is the first step in preventing complications.

So, first and foremost, why does diabetes affect oral health?

We have billions of bacteria living in our mouths. If that bacteria is allowed to build up, it can lead to gum disease–swollen, bleeding gums as well as bone and tooth loss. Because people with diabetes have a decreased ability to fight off harmful bacteria, they are more susceptible to gum disease. Poor blood glucose control also increases the likelihood of gum problems.

The relationship between diabetes and gum disease, however, is two-way. Because infected gums are an easy access point for bacteria to enter the bloodstream, bacteria from the mouth can cause blood sugar spike and fluctuate, making diabetes harder to manage.

Beyond gum disease, there are other oral infections and problems associated with diabetes including thrush, dry mouth, cavities and ulcers.

Keep Your Dentist Involved

Keeping us involved is the most important thing you can do to prevent gum disease and other oral complications linked to diabetes. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or if there are changes in your condition, let us know. Keep us informed of your medications and your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Come in to see us regularly–every six months or more if deemed necessary.

Other things you can do to manage your oral health and diabetes include:

  • Develop good oral hygiene habits
  • Quit smoking
  • Control your blood sugar

Your Health Matters To Us

Every aspect of your health is important to us, not just your the health of your mouth. If you have questions about how your dentist can help you manage your diabetes, contact us. We are your partners in ensuring both your oral and overall health.

Thank you for being our valued patients and friends!

The content on 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.

How Your Oral And Overall Health Are Linked

WE’VE SAID IT BEFORE AND WE’LL SAY IT AGAIN… taking care of your teeth and mouth is more than just about cosmetics, it’s about your health! When you think of being healthy, your mouth probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But your oral and overall health are more intertwined than you think.

Your Mouth Is The Gateway To The Rest Of Your Body

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2000 report, “Oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities. … As the gateway of the body, the mouth senses and responds to the external world and at the same time reflects what is happening deep inside the body. … You cannot be healthy without oral health.”

Periodontal Disease And Its Connection To Chronic Diseases

Not only can many illnesses and medications have a direct effect on your mouth, your oral health can also affect your body. This is especially true of periodontal or “gum” disease.

Diabetes

Did you know that gum disease affects 22 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes? People with diabetes have a decreased ability to fight off harmful bacteria and are thus more susceptible to gum disease. In like manner, bacteria from the mouth can cause blood sugar to spike and fluctuate, making diabetes harder to manage.

Heart Disease

While health care professionals aren’t completely sure as to why, heart and gum disease often go hand in hand. In fact, up to 91 percent of patients with heart disease have gum disease. It is believed that the link between these two conditions is inflammation.

Cancer

These statistics may surprise you, but researchers have found that men with gum disease were 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, 49 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.

What’s more, cancer treatments often have oral manifestations. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause sores in the mouth, sensitive gums, jaw and facial pain and dry mouth.

Other Complications

Gum disease has also been linked with stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, certain lung conditions and rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have preterm births and low birth-weight babies.

The Health Of Your Mouth Is In Your Hands

As you can see, there is a strong connection between oral and overall health. That’s why it’s important to make your dentist a part of your health care team by going to your regular dental appointments and updating them on your medical history. We care about your whole body health!

The good news is that, for the most part, dental disease is entirely preventable. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily can keep gum disease at bay and protect you from cavities. Your oral health is in your hands, so choose to be mouth-healthy!

Thank you for supporting our practice!

 

The content on 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.

 

Photo Credit:  Top image by Flickr user Björn Söderqvist used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Common Misconceptions About Gum Disease

WE BELIEVE the more educated our patients are about dental health issues, the better they’ll be able to prevent them. We often warn of periodontal disease and the detrimental effects it has on the mouth and body. But there are also many common misconceptions about gum disease. To help you better understand it, we’ve decided to bust some myths today!

Myth #1: Bleeding Gums Are Normal

This is probably one of the most perpetuated dental health myths. The truth is, bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. Gums swell, bleed and become tender when plaque accumulates on the teeth and around the gum line. Keep your gums healthy by removing plaque and food debris with daily brushing and flossing.

Myth #2: People Get Gum Disease Because They Don’t Clean Their Teeth

While poor oral hygiene definitely contributes to the development of gum disease, there can be many other factors involved. Tobacco use, stress, a bad diet, genetics, and certain illnesses such as diabetes can all increase your risk of developing gum disease. And as we’ve explained before, even being pregnant makes you more susceptible!

We also don’t want our patients to think that if they are cavity-free they couldn’t possibly have gum disease. Gum disease is painless in its beginning stages and many people don’t know they have it. That’s why proper oral hygiene and twice-yearly visits to your dentist are essential for your oral health, even if you don’t have a cavity!

Myth #3: Gum Disease Is Irreversible

What we really want our patients to understand is that gum disease is reversible in its earliest stage: gingivitis! The earlier gingivitis is caught, the easier it is to eliminate it before it advances to full-blown periodontitis. Finding out you have gingivitis can be worrisome but here’s the good news: good oral hygiene habits and professional cleanings can, in most cases, rid you of gingivitis and stop gum disease in its tracks.

To learn more about periodontal screenings, check out the video below!

Myth #4: Only Adults Can Get Gum Disease

Gum disease is much more prevalent in adults, but that doesn’t mean that our children are invulnerable. Children can be more susceptible to gum disease if they are genetically predisposed or have certain illnesses such as autoimmune disorders or diabetes. Even puberty, with all its hormonal changes, can put your child more at risk. Their best defense against any dental disease–gum disease and tooth decay included–is to take care of their teeth at home and visit the dentist on a regular basis.

Myth #5: Everyone With Diabetes Has Gum Disease

If you have diabetes, developing gum disease is not inevitable, although you are certainly at a higher risk. Now more than ever you’ll need a good relationship with and frequent visits to your dentist. A rigorous oral hygiene regimen as well as frequent cleanings can help stave off the onset of gum disease. Proper blood glucose control can also help you lower your risk.

Gum Disease Myths… Busted!

Now that you know more about gum disease, keep up the good work avoiding it! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

As always, thank you for supporting our practice!  Keep smiling!

 

 

The content on 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.

How Eating Disorders Can Affect Oral Health

DO YOU OR DOES SOMEONE you love have an eating disorder? This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. To help spread awareness about eating disorders and their effect on oral and overall health, share this post with your friends and family who may benefit from it.

Be Aware Of The Dental Complications

We all know that eating disorders can result in various health complications. You may be surprised to hear, however, that they are often first diagnosed during a dental exam. In fact, changes in the mouth are many times the first physical signs of an eating disorder.

 

A nutritious diet is crucial for healthy teeth and gums. And as those with anorexia and bulimia are often undernourished, they can experience a number of oral health issues. Poor nutrition can cause sores in the mouth, swollen salivary glands and periodontal disease. Gums and other soft tissues in the mouth may bleed more easily. People who have eating disorders are also more prone to chronic dry mouth and bad breath.

Frequent vomiting can also result in dental problems. Exposure to acid, especially strong stomach acid, on a regular basis is bad news for teeth. Tooth sensitivity, discoloration and decay can be the result. Because of the damage to tooth enamel, the shape and length of teeth can also be affected. In addition, teeth may become more brittle and chip or break more easily.

Reduce The Damage

As you or your loved one seek treatment for an eating disorder, follow these steps to reduce the damage to the oral cavity and teeth in the meantime:

  • Continue a rigorous oral hygiene routine–brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day.
  • Instead of brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, rinse your mouth out with water or water with baking soda to neutralize stomach acids. Don’t brush your teeth for at least an hour after purging.
  • Be open and honest with your dentist, and see them on a regular basis.

We Are Here For You

As your trusted oral healthcare providers, we are here to give advice without passing judgment, and as always, maintain full patient confidentiality. We care about your health and well-being! If you have any questions regarding this blog post, call us or come in today. You can also send us a private message on our Facebook page. For more information and resources to help those you love get the help they need, visit http://nedawareness.org/.

Thank you for trusting us with your oral health.11

 

Top image by Flickr user Joe Szilagyi used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

 

The content on 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.