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Diabetic Oral Health Care

Nearly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. That’s 30 million people who have the added responsibility of working to maintain their blood glucose levels day in and day out. While it’s fairly well known that diabetes can lead to other health problems such as heart disease and kidney disease, it may be surprising to learn that diabetes can also affect oral health. In fact, the team at our dental office in Buckhead wants our patients to know that oral health can also, in turn, affect diabetes.

The Diabetes & Oral Health Connection

Research has suggested a connection between diabetes and gum disease, and vice versa. Studies have consistently shown that people who are diabetic are more likely to develop gum disease than those without diabetes. But that’s not all. If we look at the connection from the other direction, research supports that gum disease can also make it more difficult to manage blood sugar levels, leading to diabetic complications and perhaps a progression of the disease. To reduce the risk of gum disease and maintain proper blood glucose levels, consider trying the tips below…

Control Your Blood Sugar

This one is obvious for anyone with diabetes or for anyone whose loved one is diabetic. After all, keeping blood glucose levels within a healthy range is what diabetic maintenance is all about. Besides keeping your body healthy, controlled blood sugar levels reduce the risk of developing gum disease, which can lead to even more health problems such as heart disease.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Besides seeing your dentist in Buckhead regularly for a preventative exam and thorough dental cleaning, it’s also important to practice good oral hygiene at home. Regular, routine at-home care is a great way to ensure your teeth, gums, and even tongue stay healthy. To follow a proper oral hygiene routine, we recommend:

  • Using a fluoride toothpaste to protect against tooth decay
  • Brushing at least when you wake up and before you go to bed
  • Flossing at least once a day to clean all the areas that brushing can’t reach

Good Food is Good For You

Limiting how many sugar-packed foods you eat or drink is good practice for anyone, but especially for those living with diabetes. To help keep blood sugar regulated and support overall health, make sure to eat a well-balanced diet packed with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

The patients at our Buckhead dental office are our top priority and we’re committed to doing everything we can to keep not only their mouths healthy, but their bodies healthy, too. If you’re looking for a new dentist or have questions about your oral health, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our dedicated team today.

These Treats Are Worse for Teeth Than Candy

girl with jack-o-lantern

When it comes to candy-filled holidays like Halloween, we usually caution our patients to enjoy sweet snacks and candy in moderation. And with good reason. It should come as no surprise that sugar is one of those things that concerns the team at our dental office in Buckhead. After all, sugar is a dentist’s worst nightmare, right? Maybe not. It turns out that there are some snacks out there that can be worse for your smile than sugar-packed candies

What’s the Big Deal About Sugar Anyway?

Before we dive into some of the surprising snacks that are scarier to oral health than candy, it’s important to take a look at why sugar is such a concern. When we eat foods or drink beverages with high sugar content we essentially feed the bacteria that live in our mouths. This bacteria then releases an acid as a byproduct of their feasting. The acid is what contributes to decay and cavities as it wears away the protective tooth enamel, leaving teeth exposed to bacteria and more acid.

Other Spooky Snacks

While candy will always be one of those things that your dentist in Buckhead will encourage you to eat in moderation, there are other snacks that are also a concern.

Citrus & Dried Fruits

These are surprising treats that can be dangerous for your grin but usually fall under the healthy category. It is fruit, after all. But certain fruits are highly acidic, and as we know, acid is bad for teeth. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, if consumed in large quantities, can harm the enamel and leave teeth at risk. Dried fruit is also a healthy snack that’s not so great for your smile. These super sticky fruits can get stuck on teeth and are loaded with sugar. The longer the sugar is left around, the more the bacteria will eat it, and more acid is produced.

Crackers & Chips

Chips and crackers are perhaps more surprising that fruits as cavity-causing treats. Even though these foods aren’t sweet and don’t typically contain a lot of sugar, if any, they can still be a threat to oral health. Blame it on the high starch content. These starches affect your body similarly to the way sugar does. This is due to their high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index will increase blood glucose and will feed bacteria in the mouth, just like sugar. The result is more food for the bacteria, more acidic byproduct, and more risk for cavities.

Do Your Part to Limit Your Risk of Decay

We’re not here to tell you to completely avoid candy this Halloween, or to quit eating certain fruits, chips, and crackers forever. Like anything, these things can be enjoyed in moderation. But our Buckhead dental office does encourage you to also drink plenty of water when snacking on foods that are known to increase the risk of decay. Also brushing and flossing after eating will help prevent any harmful effects.  Most of all, have a happy and safe Halloween!

Is Chewing Gum Good for Teeth?

woman chewing gum

We do not recommend chewing gum on a regular basis as it can be damaging to your jaw joints long term, just as running can affect one’s knees over the long haul.  But if gum may be your go-to fix to temporarily get rid of bad breath or if it is unfortunately a habit, is this sweet treat good for your teeth and overall oral health? Our dental office in Buckhead has the answer.

Gum Can Be Good, But Not All Gum is Good Gum

The truth is, chewing gum after a meal when you can’t brush or floss can help remove plaque or food particles that stick around after lunch. It can even help stimulate saliva to neutralize acids and wash away bacteria. But some gum may do more harm than good.

If your chewing gum of choice contains sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or saccharine, chances are that it’s contributing more to the problem of bacteria and acid than helping it. But gum containing Xylitol is a different story.

Why is Xylitol Beneficial?

Xylitol looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, but doesn’t act like sugar once it’s in the body. It doesn’t increase blood sugar levels and doesn’t affect oral health the same way traditional sugar does. Regular sugar and many of the sugar substitutes will feed bacteria in the mouth with a delicious meal, making these bacteria happy and more than willing to stick around. After bacteria feed on sugars they give off an acid byproduct. This acid puts tooth enamel at risk of erosion and increases the chance of decay. But Xylitol functions differently.

Even though bacteria will still feed on Xylitol in the mouth, they aren’t getting any nutrients from it. This starves bacteria and it can die off. This also means that bacteria aren’t excreting the damaging acids that contribute to decay. That’s not all.

Xylitol gum can:

  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Starve bacteria
  • Prevent oral inflammation
  • Reduce your risk for gum disease

Is Xylitol Safe?

Xylitol isn’t only found in gum but actually occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It is safe for humans but occasionally, some people have experienced negative, yet not serious, side effects when they ingest too much. Some of these common side effects include gas, bloating, diarrhea, or other discomfort.

The next time you’re looking for a piece of gum to cover up the lingering smells of lunch, choose a brand that includes Xylitol. It can not only freshen your breath, but protect your oral health in the process. However, nothing is as good for oral health as brushing and flossing regularly and maintaining biannual visits to your dentist in Buckhead.  And again, habitual gum chewing can be detrimental to the health of your jaw joints.  

Are Gum Disease and Gingivitis the Same Thing?

concerned woman

At our dental office in Buckhead we’re often asked if gum disease and gingivitis are the same thing. It’s a common misconception regarding a serious disease that can have serious consequences if left untreated, and we’d like to clarify the difference.

Defining Gum Disease

Gum disease at its core is an infection in the gums that may also affect the bones and tissues that are holding your teeth in place. But gum disease has three different stages that are all treated a different way.

Gingivitis

The earliest form of gum disease is known as gingivitis and occurs when plaque build up creeps under the gum line and causes an infection. However, if gum disease is caught during this earliest stage it’s often successfully treated and any damage that may have occurred can even be reversed.

Periodontitis

If gingivitis isn’t treated quickly it can progress to the next stage of gum disease — periodontitis. During this stage of gum disease the body’s immune system response to the plaque build up and bacteria involved can damage the bones and the tissues that keep teeth secure. Treatment in this stage is focused more on reducing additional damage as the damage that’s already been done can’t be reversed.

Advanced Periodontitis

If plaque build up is still left alone the bone and tissues will continue to be damaged and  teeth may be lost. It’s also not uncommon to experience loose teeth or a shift in bite. Damage at this level is irreversible.

Recognizing Gum Disease

When gum disease is in its early stages, you might not even be aware that there’s a problem. In that case, your gum disease may go untreated and get progressively worse. Be aware of the most common signs of gum disease including:

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

If gum disease is not treated it can not only lead to tooth loss but also some very serious whole-body diseases and concerns such as an increased risk for lung disease, cancer, heart attacks, and stroke.

Maintaining good gum health is an important part of keeping mouths and bodies in their best shape. You can help protect your oral health by quitting smoking, eating well, and brushing and flossing every day. Visiting your dentist in Buckhead can also go a long way in catching any oral health problems, including gum disease, early and while still treatable.

If you’re due for a regular visit, or have any questions or concerns, give us a call at our Buckhead dental office.

Why Does Dr. Davis Use a Microscope?

microscope

I want to answer a question that one of our patients at our Buckhead dental office asked the other day.  I had just taken an impression and was headed to the lab to check it under the microscope and the patient asked why I used a microscope.  I helped the patient understand that we use a microscope to make sure our restorations (crowns, veneers, onlays) fit the way our patients deserve them to. Unfortunately we see many crowns and veneers that do not fit as well as they should.  This can lead to problems such as recurrent decay, inflammation in the gums around the tooth, tooth sensitivity, unsightly staining around the restoration, de-cementation and loosening of the restoration or even having the restoration come out.  If a restoration does not fit the way it should, bacteria in your saliva can get up under the restoration and cause havoc.  This leads to the restoration having to be replaced prematurely.  Not only is there the financial cost involved in having to redo the restoration but also the biologic cost of lost tooth structure, increased chance of needing a root canal, and damage to the gums and possibly bone around the tooth.

We check each step of the process using magnification to ensure the restorations we place fit the way you deserve them to.  We prepare the teeth with magnification, check the impressions under the microscope to make sure they are accurate, trim the die that the restoration is being fabricated on under the microscope as well as check the fit and contour of the restoration before your appointment to place it in your mouth.  We know your crown or veneer fits before it is tried in your mouth.  So when you come in to have your restoration placed, we fine tune the bite and admire the esthetics.  No one but you and us should know you had any work done.

If you are having any problems with your restorations or want to make sure your dental work fits and looks the way you deserve it to, call our Buckhead dental office.

The Importance of Sharing Your Medical History with Your Dentist

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 Buckhead, 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 Buckhead 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? One reason is having a record of medications available will help us in the event that we need to prescribe you something so that nothing interacts. Also, 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.  There are also certain medications that have increased clenching and grinding of your teeth as a side effect. This will be important for us to know as we access your oral health and function.

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, new medication, or any new health condition, share them with your entire medical team.

Our Buckhead 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.  

A Closer Look at Sugary Snacks

glasses of soda

Most of us know that sugar is bad for teeth. So it should come as no surprise that our dental office in Buckhead encourages our patients to limit their sugar intake in order to keep teeth healthy and decay-free. But sometimes it’s not so easy know just how much sugar is in the foods we eat. We’re here to help take a closer look…

How Much Sugar is Recommended?

Before we dive into some foods that are high in sugar we should talk about how much sugar we typically need every day. While sugar intake limits vary person to person, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following maximum of added sugars daily:

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

A Quick Note on Added Sugars

There two types of sugars found in food — natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars occur naturally in foods and added sugars are, well, added in. While both can negatively affect teeth, added sugars are worse for oral health and overall health.

Sugar-Packed Snacks

As we look at some snacks that are high in sugar, there may be some that surprise you. Remember, you don’t need to avoid these snacks entirely, but try to limit your intake of added sugars and do all you can to follow a well-balanced diet. To try to put the sugar content into better perspective, we’ll be using teaspoons for reference.

Yogurt

Yogurt is usually considered good for you, but certain types can contain loads of sugar. Varieties that have added fruit or flavors are particularly guilty. Some may even top out at more than 6.5 teaspoons of sugar in only a 6 ounce cup.

Granola Bars

Here’s another snack that normally finds its way onto the healthy list. Granola bars can be a quick and easy snack, but there can also be a lot of sugar hiding in these handheld treats. In fact, some may have nearly 3 teaspoons of it.

Soda

This one should come as no surprise. Certain types of soda can have as much as 11 teaspoons in a 12 ounce can!

Candy

Another pretty common sugary snack comes in the form of candy. And while different types of candy pack a different sugar punch, most of them contain at least 7 teaspoons and some have as much as 17 teaspoons!

When it comes to nutrition and snacking smart, read the labels on food carefully and pay attention to serving size to truly know how much sugar (and other stuff) you’ll be putting into your body. If it helps you to picture sugar content by the teaspoon, keep in mind that 4.2 grams is equal to 1 teaspoon.

As always, when it comes to keeping your smile beautiful and teeth healthy, make sure you brush them twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Buckhead biannually.

We’re always accepting new patients at our Buckhead dental office and welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.

Oral Health Risks for Seniors

older gentleman

Our Buckhead dental office cares for patients throughout all stages of life and understands that patients of different ages have different needs. We also want our patients to know that oral health risks change with every birthday. Today, we focus on those risks that can affect the senior population.

  • Discolored Teeth – Teeth can begin to lose a bit of luster and take on a darkened appearance. This typically happens because the top protective layer of tooth enamel can become thinner as we age. With this layer gone, the insides of teeth become more visible. Since the color of the inner tooth is often dark and a bit yellow in color, teeth also look yellow or dark.
  • Dry Mouth – There are numerous things that can cause dry mouth, but the most common culprit for seniors is medication. Many medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, list dry mouth as a potential side effect. When the mouth becomes dry there isn’t enough saliva to wash away decay-causing bacteria leaving teeth at risk for cavities, the need for a root canal, or even tooth loss if left untreated.  
  • Tooth Loss – It’s a common misconception that it’s inevitable that we’re all going to lose our teeth, or at least some of them, due to aging. But this doesn’t have to be the case. The best way to protect teeth and keep them strong and healthy is to brush and floss regularly and see the dentist in Buckhead twice a year.  
  • Gum Disease – Gum disease is basically an infection below the gum line that results in red, inflamed gums and can lead to tooth loss. However, gum disease can also increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and as recent research suggests, Alzheimer’s disease. While there’s still more work to be done before scientists can truly say if gum disease is related to Alzheimer’s, one study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy strongly correlates diseases with levels of inflammation, including gum disease, to Alzheimer’s.  

Protect Your Teeth, Lower the Risk

Even though there’s still nothing you can do to keep from getting older, there are ways you can protect your oral health and reduce the risk of developing some of the most common oral health problems that affect seniors.

  • Brush and floss every day
  • See your dentist at least bi-annually
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you have dry mouth
  • Talk with your dental team about any changes in your mouth

If it’s time to make your oral health a priority so you can have a strong, healthy smile for a lifetime, we welcome you to call our dental office in Buckhead to schedule an appointment.

Looking for Migraine Relief? Consider Seeing Your Dentist

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 Buckhead 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. Commonly headaches that are referred to as migraines are often muscle tension headaches that are not true migraines.  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 headaches. 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 muscle pain. 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 headache.

Many headache 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 Buckhead. 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 headaches. From there, we will discuss your treatment options and recommend the best solution for you. Don’t keep suffering from headache pain, give us a call today.

Does Asthma Affect Dental Health?

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 Buckhead 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.
  • Tell Your Dentist. Your dentist in Buckhead 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.  If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to the dentist, we welcome you to call our Buckhead dental office to schedule your appointment today.

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