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.

Calcium Builds Strong Bones… And Teeth!

We all know that calcium is an important ingredient when it comes to building and keeping strong bones. But your skeleton isn’t the only thing that relies on calcium. The truth is, each one of our teeth is made up of 70% calcium! That makes this mineral essential for a lifetime of good oral health. But how much calcium do you really need to reap all of its benefits? Why is it important to keep fueling our bodies with calcium? Our Hyde Park dental office is here to answer those questions and more…

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

Like most other nutritional guidelines, how much calcium you personally need depends on a few things including your age and gender. As you’ll see in the chart from the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) below, recommended calcium intake varies from age to age and fluctuates over time.

  • 0-6 months = 200 mg for both males and females
  • 7-12 months = 260 mg for both males and females
  • 1-3 years = 700 mg for both males and females
  • 4-8 years = 1,000 mg for both males and females
  • 9-18 years = 1,300 mg for both males and females
  • 19-50 years = 1,000 mg for both males and females
  • 51-70 years = 1,000 mg for males, 1,200 mg for females
  • 71+ years = 1,200 mg for both males and females

Exactly Why is Calcium Important?

Besides being crucial for strong bones and teeth, calcium is required in order for our bodies to function properly. Day to day, our bodies will extract the calcium it needs from what we have stored in our bones. Since our calcium supply is always being borrowed from, it’s really important that we replace what’s taken out. We do this through eating and drinking foods high in calcium.

Vitamin D is Important, too!

Even if you’re consuming your recommended amount of calcium daily, your Hyde Park dentist wants you to know that you may still not be replacing what your body uses up. In order for calcium to be properly absorbed by the body it needs the helping hand of vitamin D. So as you’re loading up on calcium-rich foods, make sure to also choose some options with a good amount of vitamin D to really replenish your body’s calcium levels.

What Foods Are High in Calcium?

Calcium is most commonly found in dairy food and drinks including milk, cheese, and yogurt. But dairy isn’t the only food group where you can find calcium-rich choices. Other foods that are high in calcium, and usually vitamin D too, include:

  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Soymilk
  • Orange juice
  • Calcium-fortified cereal

The team at our dental office in Hyde Park encourages all of our patients to eat not only their recommended daily intake of calcium, but an overall well-balanced diet to keep their bodies, and their smiles, healthy.

5 Important Facts About Oral Cancer

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and all month long is dedicated to educating the public on the seriousness of the disease. At our dental office in Hyde Park, we’d like to help our community by discussing some current oral cancer statistics, sharing the most common symptoms, and talking about some factors that can put you at increased risk.

Oral Cancer Cases Continue to Grow in America

According to the American Cancer Society, just over 51,500 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone. That’s an increase of over 1,750 from 2017.

Death Rates Have Remained the Same Over 10 Years

Even though the survival rate for oral cancer is 65%, it still takes the lives of thousands of Americans every year. In 2018, an estimated 10,000 will die. Advancements in treatment options helped reduced the mortality rates in the past, however they have remained steady over the past 10 years.

Catching Oral Cancer Early Can Save Your Life

One of the contributing factors to the 65% oral cancer survival rate is due to early diagnosis and treatment intervention. The best way you can help protect yourself is by recognizing the signs of oral cancer and seeing your dentist in Hyde Park as soon as possible if notice any of the common symptoms including:

  • A sore in the mouth that doesn’t go away and bleeds easily
  • A chronic white or red area
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue
  • A lump on the cheek, tongue, or throat
  • Coughing up blood
  • Ear pain

Tobacco Use Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer

It’s a well known fact that smoking causes lung cancer, but it can also cause other types of cancer including oral cancer. In fact, 80% of those who have oral cancer smoke or use other forms of tobacco. Quitting can help reduce your risk.

So Does Drinking Alcohol Excessively

Approximately 70% of all those diagnosed with oral cancer consume alcohol heavily. And if someone both drinks excessively and smokes, their risk for oral cancer may be as high as 100%.

Prevention

Avoiding known risk factors such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol can certainly help lower your chances of developing oral cancer. However, there are other factors that we can’t control. For example, men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women and those over the age of 55 are most commonly affected by the disease. While we can’t do much to change those risks, we can do our best to protect ourselves by practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining dental checkups every six months. These appointments can help in catching oral cancer early when chances of successful treatment and survival are highest.

We welcome all of our neighbors to call our Hyde Park dental office to schedule an appointment with us. We’re here to keep your smile, and your whole body, healthy.

What All Women Need to Know About Dental Health

We all know that men and women are built differently, and that affects what health problems each gender is more susceptible to. At our dental office in Hyde Park, we also know that even though women are more open to visiting us regularly, they’re actually at more risk for dental problems throughout their lives than men. This May, in celebration of Mother’s Day and also National Women’s Health Week, we’d like to share how different stages of women’s lives can affect their dental health.

Changes in Life Mean Changes in Health

Several times throughout a woman’s life, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, her hormone levels change and her body changes with it. But what many people may not know is that these hormonal fluctuations can affect oral health and, in turn, overall health.

Puberty

Puberty can begin as early as age 8 and typically occurs by age 14, although this can vary person to person. During this time, the body is going through many changes, including hormonal changes. These can certainly affect girls’ emotions and moods, but the changes in estrogen and progesterone can also cause an increased blood flow to the gums. Because of this boost of blood flow, girls going through puberty may experience red, swollen gums. They may even bleed when brushing their teeth. If this happens, it makes regular brushing and flossing even more important to keep bacteria from causing gum disease.

Menstruation

Throughout the next phase of a woman’s life, hormonal changes will continue to occur regularly and oral health will continue to be affected. During her menstrual cycle and a few days before her period, a woman may once again experience sore gums or even a canker sore. These should resolve themselves in a few days. The changes in hormones may also cause dry mouth, which increases the risk for cavities and bad breath.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, regular dental care is particularly important since many studies have linked poor dental health to premature births, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. About half of pregnant women will also get pregnancy gingivitis caused by, you guessed it, changes in hormones. Make sure to practice proper dental hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, and to visit your dentist in Hyde Park during the second trimester.

Menopause

During menopause, once again a substantial fluctuation in hormones occurs and estrogen decreases. This can lead to bone loss, osteoporosis, and weakening of the jaw bone. The jaw bone is responsible for holding teeth in place and if it’s lost or the density decreases too much, teeth may fall out. It’s recommended that if this happens, the teeth are replaced by either dentures or dental implants.

Brushing and flossing regularly can help protect all of our patients from cavities, gum disease, and countless other dental problems. But it’s also important to see a dentist at least every six months. If you’re in need of dental team that’s caring and comfortable, give our Hyde Park dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’d be happy to care for you.

Are Headaches and Dental Health Related?

All of us have experienced at least one headache throughout our lives. And while headaches are certainly uncomfortable, there are millions of Americans who suffer with regular headaches or more severe migraines regularly. During this National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, our dental office in Hyde Park wants to help do our part by educating our neighbors on how the links between debilitating migraines or headaches to dental health.

Is it a Migraine or a Headache?

Defining the difference between migraines and headaches can be tricky since both conditions have very similar symptoms. While of course both are marked by some sort of pain in the head, whether that be throbbing pain or dull pain, there are several symptomatic differences between the two that can help distinguish one from the other.

Headache Symptoms

  • Pain isn’t typically concentrated on only one side of the head
  • Pain doesn’t appear to worsen with activity
  • Usually has a more constant pressure sensation
  • Doesn’t result in symptoms in other parts of the body

Migraine Symptoms

  • One side of the head tends to hurt more, although not always
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea

The Link Between Dentistry, Migraines, and Headaches

Even though the symptoms of headaches and migraines are most noticeable in the head, they may be triggered by something in the mouth. As weird as that may sound, it actually makes a lot of sense when considering the complex anatomy that surrounds and links to the head, including the mouth and jaw joints. That’s where the problems can begin.

Research has shown a promising correlation between a bad bite and headaches or migraines. When the top and bottom jaw joints (TMJ) don’t line up in a harmonious way, too much pressure is placed on the muscles in this area. Since everything in our bodies is interconnected, and these muscles happen to connect to the head, the pain that may be caused by a tired, worn out jaw muscle can find its way into the head, causing a headache or migraine. Bruxism, or chronic tooth grinding/clenching can have a similar effect.

An appointment at our our Hyde Park dental office can help evaluate your bite and check for any signs that you may have bruxism, either of which may be related to headaches or migraines. We will then discuss the best treatment options to help. Give us a call today, we’ll be happy to help.

“Why Does My Dentist Need to Know My Medical History?”

Before your first visit with your dentist in Hyde Park you’ll probably be asked to fill out a medical history form. But why does a doctor who’s looking at your oral health need to know all about your overall health? The truth is, there is a strong connection between the two and the more your dental team knows, the more customized your treatment can be.

Things You Should Share

When it comes to information about your health there’s no such thing as too much information. Knowing anything and everything we can about your overall health will only help our team help give you the best dental care possible. We encourage you to be honest about your health history even it you think it has absolutely nothing to do with your mouth because, in fact, many diseases can affect your oral health. Some things we should know about include:

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

Medications and Oral Health

Our dental office in Hyde Park may also ask for a list of any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you’re currently taking. Many medications can cause dry mouth, which puts you at greater risk for cavities. While cavities are easily treated when they’re caught early, if they’re left alone they can lead to bigger problems such as the need for a root canal or even so much as losing the tooth. It’s also important for us to know about any medications you take in case we need to prescribe you anything, that way we can be sure it’s not going to negatively affect or interact with your existing medicine.

Keep it Current

While it’s normal and necessary to collect health history at your first visit to any doctor, you may never touch those forms again. But you should. Any time something changes with your health — if you have surgery, get diagnosed with a disease, are pregnant, or start a new medication — you should ask to update your medical history on file.

Privacy Matters

As with any medical information, your health history is also kept private and can’t be shared with anyone without your permission. Rest assured that any information regarding your health is protected by HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

At our Hyde Park dental office, we believe that when it comes to your health, the more we know the better we can cater your care to your individual needs. If you have any questions about why we ask what we do or our privacy policy, we welcome you to ask us at any time.

Smile-Friendly Labor Day Foods

The team at our dental office in Hyde Park is pretty sure that the last thing on your mind when you’re enjoying food at a Labor Day picnic is your oral health. However, we can’t help ourselves when it comes to protecting our patients’ smiles. So in preparation for this year’s Labor Day celebration we’d like to provide a list of some of the best summer treats for your smile as well as some of the worst.

What’s Good?

A good way to determine if a certain food is good for your oral health is to think about whether it’s good for your body. Chances are what’s healthy for one is healthy for the other. Try to select foods that contain calcium and phosphorus as these two minerals help build strong teeth and protect enamel. Some foods high in calcium and phosphorus that you may find at your local Labor Day picnic include:

  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Leafy Vegetables

Additionally, pack your plate with fresh veggies such as raw carrots, apples, celery to help remove plaque buildup and stimulate saliva flow.

What’s Not So Good?

Some of the typical picnic foods that fall under the not-so-good category may be obvious, and others may a bit surprising. Let’s take a look at some of the worst foods for oral health.

  • Condiments – Condiments including ketchup and barbeque sauce are loaded with acid and sugar, both of which can damage tooth enamel and cause decay.
  • Soda – This is one treat that your dentist in Hyde Park will always put on the bad list. Soda is packed with sugar and greatly increases the risk for cavities.
  • Alcohol – Besides causing dry mouth, alcohol can seriously affect oral health if consumed in excess. In fact, drinking too much alcohol greatly increases the risk of developing gum disease.

Besides brushing and flossing regularly, following a well-balanced diet can really help keep teeth and gums healthy. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t indulge every once and awhile, especially at a celebration like Labor Day. However, we recommend drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, help neutralize acids, and rinse away sugars. Our Hyde Park dental office team hopes you and your loved ones have a fun, safe, and delicious Labor Day!

Home Remedys for Toothaches

There’s no telling when a toothache may strike. You could be on vacation far away from your dentist in Hyde Park. Or perhaps you woke up on Sunday morning with a tooth throbbing in pain when no dental office is open. What can you do if these situations occur? We’re happy to help by providing you some easy things to try right in your own home.

Best Ways to Relieve Tooth Pain

Before we dive into the ways you can treat a toothache from home, we need to make sure all of our neighbors and patients know that these are short-term solutions. It’s still crucial to get to our dental office in Hyde Park as soon as possible so we can treat the pain at the source.

Oral Anesthetic. Keeping some over-the-counter oral anesthetic in your medicine cabinet is a great way to be ready for any toothache that comes your way. These gels or liquids contain benzocaine and will temporarily numb your pain. Just apply it to the painful area and follow the usage instructions.

Oil of Cloves. Acting very much like an over-the-counter anesthetic, oil of cloves is a natural way to ease tooth pain. Just apply some to the painful tooth or hold a soaked cotton ball to the area.

Salt Water. Swishing warm salt water in your mouth, focusing on the painful area, can help reduce pressure on the nerves and allow you some relief. You can do this a few times a day, just don’t swallow the solution.

Ice. Some good old fashioned ice may be just want you need to get relief from your tooth pain. Wrap a cold compress in a cloth and apply it to your face. You can keep it there for about 15 minutes at a time, but make sure to take breaks.

Anti-inflammatories. If your health allows, taking an anti-inflammatory medication can reduce swelling and ease discomfort. Take as directed… and don’t apply the pill directly to the tooth or gums. This will burn and may cause even more pain.

Keep Toothaches Away

There are ways you can help protect yourself from the discomfort of toothache pain by preventing one in the first place. Start by seeing your dentist twice a year to significantly lower your risk of an unpredictable toothache. Your bi-annual dental cleaning and exam help catch any problems before they have a chance to develop into a bigger, painful problem. Also, make sure you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to remove any food debris, bacteria, or plaque that can contribute to the development of cavities.

Many things can cause toothaches, but most commonly they’re a result of a cavity or perhaps an infection. But no matter what is causing the toothache, it’s important to have it checked sooner rather than later so you can get permanent relief. We welcome anyone with any dental need to schedule an appointment at our Hyde Park dental office. We’re here to help get, and keep, our patients and neighbors healthy and pain free.

The Oral Health Benefits of Chewing Gum

It may come as a surprise to hear our dental office in Hyde Park supporting something found in the candy aisle. But when it comes to gum, we actually recommend that our patients consider chewing it occasionally, as there is various benefits of chewing gum. However, not just any gum will get our seal of approval. Gum containing sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or saccharine just won’t do. Instead, look for a gum containing Xylitol and your mouth may thank you.

All About Xylitol

Xylitol is a natural sweetener that gives you the satisfaction of sweet without the damaging effects of regular sugar or many sugar substitutes. Traditional sugar can not only spike blood glucose levels throughout the body, but puts your teeth at increased risk for decay too. Xylitol is different and can actually boost oral health by:

  • Protecting teeth against decay
  • Preventing inflammation
  • Reducing the risk of gum disease
  • Building strong teeth

Why is Xylitol Good for Teeth?

Unlike traditional sugar that feeds the bacteria in our mouths, Xylitol technically starves it. You see, when regular sugar is ingested it provides the bacteria a feast of nutrients. But just like any living thing, what goes in must come out. It just so happens that the byproduct of feeding bacteria is a dangerous acid that can eat away at tooth enamel leaving them at risk for decay. Xylitol is different. While bacteria may still feed on Xylitol, it doesn’t provide bacteria with any nutrients and essentially starves it. In fact, chewing Xylitol gum can decrease oral bacteria levels, sometimes by up to 75%. This also means there is no acid production from feeding bacteria and teeth are more protected.

Chewing Xylitol gum does even more for your oral health than decreasing bacteria and acid. The act of chewing in general produces more saliva. This saliva neutralizes acid and rinses away harmful bacteria in the mouth. It also helps keep teeth strong by helping remineralize them with phosphate and calcium.

Gum can be a great way to protect teeth when you don’t have an opportunity to brush or floss your teeth, but it shouldn’t be a replacement to proper oral hygiene. We recommend continuing to brush and floss everyday and maintain visits to your dentist in Hyde Park every six months.

At our Hyde Park dental office we’re always accepting new patients and welcome you to call us to schedule an appointment today. We’re here to help our neighbors smile!

How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

When it comes to all of the health complications that can go hand-in-hand with diabetes, oral health is often overlooked. At our Hyde Park dental office, we want our patients and neighbors to know just how drastically diabetes can affect oral health, and precautions that those with diabetes should take to keep their mouths healthy.

The Diabetic and Oral Health Connection

All diabetics know that diabetes directly affects blood sugar, also known as glucose. Glucose is important for our bodies as it fuels our brains and provides muscles with energy. But when someone has diabetes, their body is unable to properly regulate insulin, causing glucose levels to rise. If left untreated or if blood glucose levels aren’t managed properly, diabetes can raise the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other whole body health problems. Diabetes can also increase the likelihood of developing gum disease, infections, and dry mouth. To help reduce the risk of these additional health problems, follow the tips below.

Keep Blood Sugar Numbers Stable

Even though diabetics are at more risk for serious health problems, proper management of glucose levels can minimize that risk. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and they all need to work hard to keep their blood sugar numbers within a healthy range. In fact, it’s one of the best ways that diabetics can lower their chances of developing other health complications as a result of diabetes.

Eat Well

Everyone, whether diabetic or not, should do everything they can to eat a well-balanced diet. Fueling your body with fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and proteins can do wonders in protecting overall health and keeping glucose levels in check. Limiting sugary foods and drinks is great for managing your diabetes and is something your dentist in Hyde Park recommends.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day not only helps protect teeth, but can also help protect against increased blood sugar. Without a good hygiene routine, oral health is put at risk for decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. This is concerning for anyone but particularly for diabetics. Gum disease is an infection that affects the gums, and like any type of infection, it can cause blood sugar to rise and make diabetes difficult to manage.

At our dental office in Hyde Park, we’re here to help our community get healthy and stay healthy, even when patients have health concerns that may not appear at first to have any effect on oral health. The truth is that many diseases, including diabetes, have a connection to the mouth. If you have diabetes and notice anything unusual about your oral health, do not hesitate to give us a call. We’re always happy to help or answer any questions you may have.