Celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month with Your Hyde Park Dentist

Every October the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program (WOHP) sponsor National Dental Hygiene Month to both recognize talented dental hygienists everywhere and to drive awareness to the importance of practicing proper oral hygiene. Of course this is a celebration our Hyde Park dental office can certainly get behind.

The Daily 4

Each year there’s a new theme surrounding National Dental Hygiene Month and for 2017, the focus is on the four crucial parts to a healthy oral health routine. Recognized as The Daily 4, the activities to build a foundation for great oral health include:

  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • Rinsing
  • Chewing

In this blog, we break down each component of The Daily 4 and its benefits to oral health…

Brushing

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brushing is actually a delicate undertaking and you should use soft, gentle circles with your brush to effectively remove bacteria and plaque but not do harm to your teeth.

Flossing

When we brush our teeth and pass on the floss, we miss cleaning about 35% of each tooth’s surface. That leaves a lot of surface area free to bacteria that can cause decay. To make sure you’re getting the best clean possible, make sure to floss in between each and every tooth and up under the gum line every day.

Rinsing

Using mouthwash can also be an important part of your oral hygiene routine. Therapeutic mouthwashes contain ingredients that help protect or fight off bad breath, gingivitis, decay, and plaque. But not all mouthwashes are created equal. Look for one that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance, this means the rinse you’re buying has scientific evidence that supports the claim made on the label.

Chewing

After meals, it would ideal if you could escape to the bathroom and brush your teeth. But we understand that’s not always an option. Instead, carry sugar-free gum on you at all times and pop a piece in your mouth after eating. Chewing sugar-free gum causes you to produce more saliva. This increased saliva helps neutralize food bacteria that tends to linger around in the mouth after eating. Again, look for a gum that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Following The Daily 4 every day can really help keep your mouth healthy. But that doesn’t mean you can skip your dental cleanings at our dental office in Hyde Park. Make sure you maintain bi-annual visits with your hygienist to protect your smile.

Find Relief From Your Dental Fear

Dental fear is incredibly common among adult Americans. In fact, an estimated 80 million Americans have some level of dental fear. While the team at our dental office in Hyde Park certainly understands that being afraid of the dentist is a very real thing, we also always want to try our best to help our patients and neighbors understand how they can overcome that fear and, dare we say, start to enjoy visits to the dentist.

Top Causes of Dental Fear

Dental fear can be brought on by a number of different things, but some of the most common reasons include fear of pain, embarrassment, losing control, or a negative past experience. It’s important for you and your dental team to work together to try to identify the source behind your fear so you can work better together to overcome it.

4 Ways to Ease Dental Fear

  • Talk About It. Perhaps the most important way to combat dental fear is to establish trust with your dentist in Hyde Park. It may help if your dentist talks you through the appointment, letting you know exactly what is going to happen next and what you should expect. Discuss your concerns with your dental team to find what works best for you.
  • Distract Yourself. We understand that lying down in a dental chair while we poke around in your mouth can cause some people to feel uneasy, and that’s ok. Instead of focusing on what we’re doing, it may help to have a distraction handy. Consider bringing some music and headphones to your next visit or talk with your dental team to see if they have any amenities you can take advantage of.
  • Just Breathe. Practicing breathing techniques and focusing on breathing patterns has been proven to lower anxiety levels. There are numerous instructional videos online and even some courses you can take to help you. But essentially, close your eyes, take deep breaths, filling the lower part of your belly, and steadily release.
  • Bring a Friend. If it’s your first dental visit in awhile, have a trusted friend tag along with you. The presence of a trusted person can go a long way in helping you feel relaxed. Make a date out of it and treat them to lunch afterwards.

We Know You Can Do It

Maintaining regular dental cleanings and checkups every six months can be especially hard for those with dental fear. But keeping up with these visits is crucial for good oral health and to avoid more in-depth treatment in the future. Bi-yearly dental appointments help identify and treat any potential problems early and are key to keeping your mouth pain-free and cavity-free. Whether it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist due to dental fear, or even if you’re just searching for a new dental home, we welcome you to call our Hyde Park dental office to schedule an appointment. Our entire team is dedicated to treating each and every patient with the gentle care they deserve and we’d be happy to work with you on easing any fears you may have.

Kick the Habit: Tips to Help You Quit Smoking for Good

Everyone is most likely aware of the countless health problems that can result from a smoking habit. But quitting isn’t always easy. This month, as we help recognize the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, held every year on the third Thursday in November, the team at our Hyde Park dental office is here to help provide some of the most helpful tips to quit smoking for good.

6 Tips To Help You Quit

  • Have A Support System

Getting your friends and family on board to help you quit can go a long way in making sure you succeed. Let people know you’re trying to quit and instruct them on how they can help. There are also tons of online sources you can refer to for an added boost of support.

  • Know Your Triggers

Write down when you have the strongest urge to light up. Putting your triggers down on paper will assist you in recognizing small ways you can change your lifestyle to either avoid them or find alternative coping mechanisms.

  • Toss Out Smoking Accessories

Gather up your ashtrays and lighters and toss them in the garbage. Removing things associated with smoking can help keep your mind off of the habit. Take it one step farther and freshen up your car or your house to remove the smokey smell.

  • Utilize Healthy Alternatives

Some smokers who are trying to quit find that having snacks available to occupy both the mouth and hands can really make a difference. Keep sugar-free gum handy, nibble on some carrots, and drink lots of water. These healthier options will make your dentist in Hyde Park happy, too.

  • Consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Going through nicotine withdrawal is one of the main reasons smokers find it so difficult to quit. Do some research on the various nicotine replacement therapy options available to you and give it a try.

  • Keep a List of Reasons to Quit

Knowing your motivations for quitting can also go a long way in keeping you on track. Whether it’s to save money, for health concerns, or for your family, remind yourself of the reasons you’re trying to quit as often as needed. If you or someone you know needs a little more motivation to stop smoking, or are concerned about oral health, we always welcome you to call our dental office in Hyde Park to schedule a visit with us. We’re happy to help our neighbors stay as healthy as possible.

Don’t Let Holiday Stress Affect Your Oral Health

Late November is when we gear up for a few weeks of feasts, family, fun, shopping, and all that the holiday season brings. Between arranging schedules to see everyone you need to see, fitting in all the parties you’ve been invited to, cooking large meals, and everything in between, it’s no wonder that stress levels tend to soar this time of year. As we all know, stress can affect our overall wellbeing. But at our dental office in Hyde Park, we also know stress can jeopardize oral health, too.

What’s With The Jaw Pain?

Our bodies react to stress differently, and we aren’t even aware of some of the things it does when stressed. Clenching and grinding our teeth tends to be one of those things. When we grind our teeth against each other, the forces put on the teeth can cause them to chip, crack, or break. Clenching can do the same thing, but it also affects the jaw. Habitually clenching our teeth may cause serious jaw pain and, if left untreated, long-term TMJ problems. If you’re experiencing clicking or popping in the jaw joint, jaw pain, or occasional jaw locking give your Hyde Park dentist a call.

Gum Disease

The main causes of gum disease usually include improper oral hygiene, dry mouth, or smoking. But one of the lesser known risk factors to developing this serious oral health problem is stress. Research has shown a strong link between prolonged stress and a higher risk of gum disease. Gum disease is a health problem that originates in the mouth but also can affect the entire body. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, heart disease, and other serious health problems.

Stay Calm, Stay Healthy

At our Hyde Park dental office, we know that life can be super stressful, especially during the holidays. If you find your blood pressure increasing and your anxiety levels rising, try a few of these tips to relax and keep yourself healthy.

  • Eat Well. Fueling your body with the nutrients it needs can keep energy levels high and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
  • Sleep Often. During the holidays we try to shove so many things into our schedules that sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice. However, getting enough sleep every night can help ensure your body will stay healthy enough to enjoy all the holiday festivities you have planned.
  • Exercise Regularly. Hit the treadmill, go for a walk, attend a class — whatever you choose to do, make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise is naturally stress reducing, so don’t skip your workouts

The team at our Hyde Park dental office wish you and your family a happy, healthy holiday season!

Is Chocolate Bad for Your Teeth?

This may first appear as a silly question to ask your dentist in Hyde Park. Popular opinion would answer it with a resounding, “Yes, chocolate is bad for your teeth. Obviously.” However, our Hyde Park dental office has a slightly different position when it comes to chocolate and your oral health.

Chocolate’s Secret Benefit for Happy Teeth

For years you’ve been hearing dentists talk about avoiding sweets or enjoying them in moderation since they tend to wreak havoc on your teeth. While still mostly true, recent research has suggested that dark chocolate, specifically, may defy this outdated rule. In fact, studies conducted in the United States, England, and Japan are changing the way the world views dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate: A Serious Cavity Fighter

When we eat anything that has a high sugar content, including dark chocolate’s counterpart milk chocolate, that sugar is left to hang around on teeth. The bacteria in the mouth love this and start to feed on the sugars. What happens next is where the trouble begins. The feeding bacteria produce an acidic byproduct. This acid, if not neutralized or removed, is what causes tooth enamel to break down and leaves teeth at risk for decay and cavities. However, ingredients and compounds found in dark chocolate don’t allow this to occur, which makes it an a-ok treat in our book.

How Does it All Work?

If we eat a piece of dark chocolate, we’re still exposing our teeth to the sugar content. However, the compounds found in the cocoa bean husk, which is a primary ingredient in dark chocolate, help counteract the damaging effects of sugar. These special compounds fight off both the bacteria that would normally feed on the sugar and produce acid as well as any plaque. In fact, some studies suggest that the compounds found in dark chocolate may be more efficient at defending against decay than fluoride. However, more research is needed to test this theory.

Remember, Dark Chocolate is Good Chocolate

While we’d love to be able to tell you eating all types of chocolate is beneficial for your oral health, it’s just not true. These studies that support the health benefits of chocolate are dedicated specifically to dark chocolate. So before you load up on your favorite candy bars, try to make the switch to organic, dark chocolate for the best protection.

Following a well balanced diet of fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy is also important for not only oral health, but whole body health too. But the good news is that we now have a delicious and healthy option for dessert or quick sweet tooth fixes.

To maintain optimal oral health, don’t forget to visit our dental office in Hyde Park twice a year and properly brush and floss your teeth at home.

The Effects of the Common Cold on Your Teeth

‘Tis the season of stuffy noses, persistent coughs, and sore throats. It’s officially cold and flu season. And even though the team at our dental office in Hyde Park is committed to keeping our patients and neighbors healthy, there are just some things we can’t fix. The common cold being one of them. But while we may not have a cure, we do have some tips on how to keep your teeth healthy as you treat that pesky cough.

The Secret Dangers of Cough Medicine

Many cough syrups and lozenges do wonders in easing the effects of the common cold. However, their ingredients can be damaging to teeth and oral health. Some of the most popular over-the-counter medicines contain sugar and alcohol — both of which can leave your teeth at risk for decay and damage.

Sugars

Even though the sugars found in many cough syrups and cough drops don’t necessarily have medicinal benefits, they do still have a purpose. Many medicines add sugar to make them taste better so that people can tolerate drinking or sucking on them. But these sugars give the bacteria in the mouth something to feed on, and that’s concerning for your Hyde Park dentist. As bacteria feed on sugars they release an acidic byproduct. This acid wears away the protective layer of tooth enamel and leaves teeth exposed to decay.

Alcohol

Normally our mouths produce enough saliva to rinse away sugar and the acid caused by bacteria that feed on it. However, alcohol is known to cause dry mouth. When a mouth is dry, there is not enough saliva to wash away the damaging sugars and acids that lead to tooth decay and cavities.

Ease the Effects

We’re certainly not suggesting that you don’t take any medicine to help you cope with your cold, but there are ways you can reduce the effects of the damaging ingredients found in most cough medicines and cough drops. First, avoid taking medicine after your nightly brushing before bed. This will help keep the sugar and alcohol from hanging around damaging your teeth all night long. Next, try taking medication with meals. Our mouths produce more saliva as we eat, and that extra surge in saliva will help rinse away any dangerous ingredients. Lastly, consider a pill form of cough medicine to keep the sugars and alcohol away from teeth altogether.

All of us at our Hyde Park dental office hope you can avoid catching a cold or the flu this season. But if you happen to come down with a sickness, follow the tips above to help you feel better and protect your smile at the same time.

Does Whitening Toothpaste Really Work?

Whether due to aging, smoking, or drinking too much tooth-staining tea, there are plenty of things that can cause our pearly whites to be, well… not so white. If you’re one of the many people who are trying to score a whiter smile by using whitening toothpastes, our dental office in Hyde Park wants you to read on…

3 Pros of Whitening Toothpaste

There can be some benefits using whitening toothpaste. Some of these positives may include:

Effective Removal of Surface Stains. Most whitening toothpastes can effectively scrub away surface stains. So far, the stuff looks pretty good.

Easy to Use. If you can use regular toothpaste, you can use a whitening toothpaste. Just dab a little on your toothbrush and gently brush twice a day.

Most Affordable Option. At just a few bucks a tube, whitening toothpaste is appealing to many who are trying to get a whiter smile.

3 Cons of Whitening Toothpaste

However, using a whitening toothpaste isn’t all positive. While it may be effective, easy to use, and fairly cheap, there are also some disadvantages including:

It Takes a Long Time to See Results. A key part of making whitening toothpaste work is using it regularly. This means brushing with it twice a day, every day. Even then it could take weeks to see a change in color.

Could Cause More Harm Than Good. Whitening toothpastes are packed with abrasive ingredients. That’s another part of what makes it work. But it’s also what can cause damage. The abrasive texture of whitening toothpastes can wear away enamel, leaving teeth at risk for decay and sensitivity. Thinner enamel can also cause teeth to appear darker, which really isn’t the look we were going for.

It May Not Work for You. Sometimes tooth staining goes deeper than the surface, making whitening toothpastes essentially ineffective. But don’t panic. Cosmetic dentistry such as dental veneers can still transform your smile.

Alternatives to Whitening Toothpaste

Even though whitening toothpaste tends to be the go-to option for getting a whiter smile, there are other things you can do to help get, and keep, your teeth pearly white.

  • After drinking tea or coffee, rinse your mouth out with water.
  • Stop smoking or using chewing tobacco.
  • Eat more apples, cheese, or celery to gently rub away potential stains.
  • Consider a professional smile whitening from your dentist in Hyde Park.

The best way to whiten your smile depends on several things, and there is no one solution that’s right for everyone. To find out what will help get you a whiter smile, we welcome you to schedule an appointment our Hyde Park dental office.

When Should You See a Dentist in Hyde Park?

Regular dental cleanings and exams can go a long way in keeping your mouth healthy. But when we miss these bi-annual appointments, the likelihood that a dental problem will pop up increases. These dental problems, like bleeding while brushing teeth or tooth sensitive to hot and cold, can be painful and even lead to more serious complications if left untreated. The team at our Hyde Park dental office encourages you to call to schedule an appointment with us if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

Bleeding While Brushing or Flossing

Some may say that seeing some blood while brushing or flossing is normal. We’re here to tell you that it’s not. In fact, blood is never normal and may even be a sign of gum disease. Gum disease a serious oral health problem that requires professional treatment. If it’s not treated quickly and effectively gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other whole-body problems including stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

Any Tooth Pain

Experiencing any form of tooth pain is your mouth’s way of telling you that something isn’t right in there and that you should get help. While the reasons behind toothaches can vary from anything from a cavity to a damaged dental restoration, the best way to get to the bottom of it and get relief is to schedule an appointment with your dentist in Hyde Park as soon as you can.

Hot/Cold Sensitivity

Having sensitive teeth could be a result of something as simple as brushing too hard or whitening your teeth too much. Other times, however, tooth sensitivity can also be caused by more serious things such as eroding enamel or receding gums. Both of these issues require a professional diagnosis and treatment plan in order to relieve the painful zingers of sensitivity.

Chronic Dry Mouth

Dry mouth may be no big deal, but if doesn’t go away it could be a sign of serious problem. Bad breath is often a sign of gingivitis, which is an early stage of gum disease. If not treated quickly the gingivitis can easily progress into gum disease and may eventually lead to tooth loss and the other whole-body concerns we mentioned earlier. Whether dry mouth is caused by medication you’re taking, is a byproduct of aging, or is a symptom of gingivitis, see your dentist to fix the problem once and for all.

These dental problems aren’t something to ignore and won’t go away on their own. The best way to diagnose and treat any of the issues above is to call our dental office in Hyde Park as soon as you notice something isn’t quite right. After all, many oral health complications are treated successfully and easily if caught early.

How Your Oral Health Can Affect Your Heart

February is nationally recognized as Heart Health Month. Every year the American Heart Association and medical professionals across the country join together to publicize the seriousness of heart disease and educate the population on how to reduce your risk. At our dental office in Hyde Park, we want to help do our part and bring awareness to how your oral health is directly linked to your heart health.

The Oral Health, Heart Health Connection

It’s been said that your eyes are the window to the soul. While that may be true, another phrase we should be promoting is that your mouth is the window to your overall health. Throughout the years, researchers have discovered a strong correlation between oral health and overall health, including its link to heart disease.

It’s All About the Gums

When you come to see your dentist in Hyde Park, your dental team is looking at more than just your teeth. We’re also taking an incredibly close look at the health of your gums. Your gums play an important role not only in your oral health and keeping your teeth in place, but also in the health of your heart. If gum disease is present and left untreated, the infection can transfer into the bloodstream. When this happens, your body responds by producing more C-reactive protein (CRP). Higher than normal levels of CRP can cause some serious health issues including:

  • Inflamed arteries
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes

Signs of Gum Disease

Since gum disease can develop quickly, it’s important to be aware of the most common signs so that you can get it treated immediately. Early intervention is the key to a easier and more successful treatment. If you notice any of the signs below, contact your Hyde Park dentist as soon as possible.

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffy, tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth

Protect Your Gums, Protect Your Heart

Prevention of gum disease is one way you can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Make sure you brush your teeth, floss every day, and maintain visits to our Hyde Park dental office at least twice a year. These bi-annual appointments help remove buildup on teeth that, if left alone, could develop into gum disease or other oral health problems. Don’t put yourself at risk to the seriousness of heart disease. Schedule an appointment with us today.

National Pet Dental Health Month

Every February, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness of the importance of proper dental care for our furry best friends. While our Hyde Park dental office doesn’t treat these cuddly critters, we know a lot of our patients have pets, and we’d like to provide them tips on how to care for the furrier members of their families.

Brushing Your Pets Teeth is Important

You know your dentist in Hyde Park encourages each and every patient to brush their teeth twice a day, every day. Now while it’s not necessary to brush your pet’s teeth that often, it is important that you do it occasionally. Typically brushing two to three times a week will do wonders in keeping their mouths healthy. While brushing your pet’s teeth may be a challenge at first, doing it regularly can help make it a routine. When you start, take a piece of gauze and a pet-friendly toothpaste to gently massage your pet’s teeth in tight circles. This small step can really help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. But good brushing doesn’t end there. You should take your pet to get a professional dental cleaning once a year for a thorough job.

Encourage Chewing

We don’t necessarily mean that you let your pet take control of the house and nibble on anything he wants. But most vets do encourage you to let him chew on toys or treats specifically designed to help scrub away plaque. While bones may seem like the obvious choice, these tough treats can actually do more harm than good. In fact, chewing a hard bone increases the risk for dental damage. Instead, consider buying toys or treats that strengthen teeth, stimulate gums, and remove plaque and tartar. Whatever you and your vet choose, remember that brushing is still crucial for optimal oral health (this applies to you too!).

Know What to Look For

Just like humans, knowing the signs of a potential problem and seeking treatment sooner rather than later is key to successful treatment. What’s also similar between humans and animals are the signs of a dental concern. Keep an eye out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bleeding

If you notice any of the above in your pet, call your vet. If you notice any in yourself, call your Hyde Park dentist. Following the tips above and being open with your vet can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy for life. The same applies to you. Make sure to practice a proper oral health care routine and maintain regular visits at our dental office in Hyde Park.