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Can Poor Oral Health Increase the Risk for Heart Problems?

heart health month

When it comes to dentistry and oral health, many people think of only the mouth itself. While dentistry is certainly about keeping teeth healthy and cavity-free, it’s also about caring for your gums and protecting your whole body. At our dental office in Buckhead, we not only focus on treating the mouth, but also understand that what happens in the mouth can affect the rest of the body. This February, in honor of American Heart Month, we want to talk about how poor oral health can increase your risk for heart disease.

Heart Disease Risks You May Not Know About

Everyone knows about the typical things that can increase our risk for heart disease such as a poor diet, smoking, obesity, and even genetics. While those risk factors are absolutely factors that can lead to heart problems, there’s another little-known culprit that many may never even consider — gum disease.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Many studies conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) have shown a positive link between gum disease and an increased risk for heart disease. In fact, researchers concluded that those with gum disease are more likely to have a heart attack than those without it. But how does something in the mouth affect the heart?

Bacteria that live up under the gum line and cause gum disease have a direct pathway into the bloodstream. When these bacteria enter our blood supply, they can cause our bodies to increase the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP). When CRP levels are elevated it can cause:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Inflamed arteries
  • Heart attack

How to Know if You Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease needs to be diagnosed by your dentist in Buckhead. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye out for some early warning signs at home. Some signs of gum disease include:

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Consistently bad breath
  • Chronic bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, we recommend scheduling an appointment at our Buckhead dental office as soon as possible so we can check out what’s going on and treat anything that we find quickly.

The best way to protect yourself from gum disease and the heart problems that can come with it is to see your Buckhead dentist regularly. Your dental team will not only remove any bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup that can increase your chances of developing gum disease if left alone, they’ll also be able to catch any potential problems early when treatment is often easier and more successful.

Protect your heart and schedule an appointment with your dentist today.

What Vitamins Are Good for Oral Health?

vitamins in palm

Our bodies rely on the vitamins and minerals obtained through what we eat in order to function properly. Our mouth and teeth are no different. The truth is, in order to keep our oral health in good shape we need to make sure we’re getting enough of the right vitamins. In this blog, the team at our dental office in Buckhead cover the most important vitamins you need to maintain good oral health and protect your smile.

Calcium

We all know that bones need calcium in order to grow and remain strong. But getting enough calcium is also crucial for building strong teeth. Calcium helps strengthen enamel which protects teeth from bacteria and lowers the risk of decay. Some foods that are packed with calcium include:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important to oral health for several reasons, such as lowering the risk of infection and keeping enamel strong. Your body also needs vitamin D in order to properly absorb calcium. Find vitamin D in:

  • Canned tuna
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Egg yolks

Phosphorus

Similarly to vitamin D, phosphorus is also needed in order to give your body the biggest benefit from calcium. Calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus are a strong triangle of needed vitamins that all work together. You can get phosphorus from:

  • Salmon
  • Lentil beans
  • Beef

Vitamin C

Besides boosting your immune system so you can more effectively fight off germs, vitamin C also protects your gums and reduces the risk of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection in the gum tissues that can lead to tooth loss. Protect your gums by eating:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower

The best way to make sure you’re getting enough of the vitamins that keep you healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet and include all food groups. However, if it’s tough to get vitamins through your diet, you can consider a supplement or multivitamin if appropriate.

Fueling your body with the proper mix of vitamins is a great way to protect your oral health. Of course, you still need to brush and floss daily and maintain regular dental cleanings at our Buckhead dental office.  

3 Ways Stress Can Harm Your Oral Health

woman with stress

It’s no secret that high stress can negatively affect our health. Prolonged periods of too much stress has been linked to heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, obesity, and difficulty in managing diabetes. But at our dental office in Buckhead, we know that increased stress can also harm your oral health.

Gum Disease

Since increased stress levels can actually make our immune systems less effective, it can greatly affect our health, including our mouths. An ineffective immune system means your body cannot deal appropriately with the bacteria in your mouth.  When this happens, the chance for developing gum disease increases. If not treated by a dentist in Buckhead, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bad breath, and a whole host of other health problems such as heart disease.   

TMJ

Everyone reacts to stress in different ways. Some people bite their nails, others sweat a lot, and many people clench their jaws. Oftentimes these responses to stress are done automatically and without thought or awareness. But when someone habitually clenches their jaw over and over it can lead to some serious problems. Not only can repeated clenching damage teeth, but it can also cause severe jaw pain. Occasionally the pain is temporary, but other times it gets worse and is partnered with clicking, popping, or a locked jaw. If this occurs, it could be a sign of TMJ (or TMD) and treatment will be recommended.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are a potential oral health side effect of too much stress. While they aren’t necessarily dangerous, they can certainly be annoying and often painful. Like stated previously, stress affects your immune system which allows for the virus that causes  canker sores to express itself. Treatment isn’t usually needed as canker sores should go away on their own and aren’t contagious.

Reduce Stress

To protect your overall health and oral health from the dangers of too much stress, practice lowering stress and anxiety by following a few key tips such as:

  • Eating Well. Following a well-balanced diet fuels our bodies to function properly, and when our bodies are working as they should, it may be easier to keep stress levels low.
  • Working Out. Being active releases “feel good” chemicals in our bodies that make us feel happier and less stressed. Find an exercise program that you enjoy and stick with it!
  • Sleeping Enough. Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night can help your body relax and replenish, thus decreasing stress and preparing you to tackle another day.

If you feel that stress may be affecting your oral health, we welcome you to call our Buckhead dental office to schedule an appointment with us today. We promise that a visit with us will be anything but stressful.

5 Dental Myths That You Shouldn’t Believe

frustrated woman

There are plenty of places to get oral health advice — our dental office in Buckhead, friends or family members, and perhaps even the internet. But not all dental advice is created equal. In fact, there are several tips that we’ve heard that are just not true, some of which can actually be harmful to your oral health. This month we take a look at some of the common dental myths that you shouldn’t believe, let alone try.

Chewing Gum or Using Mouthwash is Just as Good as Brushing

Even though chewing a piece of gum or taking a quick swish of mouthwash can quickly freshen breath, they’re not solid replacements for proper brushing and flossing. If you can’t brush right away, let’s say after eating at a restaurant, go ahead and chew some gum (make sure it’s sugar-free!) or rinse with mouthwash. But don’t go too long without brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste or flossing. You should at least brush twice and floss once daily.

Putting Aspirin on a Toothache Can Relieve Pain

This myth is especially concerning for your dentist in Buckhead. It started as an old wives tale that promised easy and quick toothache relief. But the truth is, chewing or placing an aspirin tablet on your gums can cause damage. Since aspirin is acidic it can easily burn the gums and make the pain worse. Instead, use over-the-counter pain medicine as directed and schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Root Canals Hurt

Root canals have a reputation of being incredibly painful, and that’s just not true. A root canal is needed when decay has progressed so much that it begins to infect the inside of the tooth. This is where all of the tooth’s nerves live, which makes decay this severe very painful. Root canal treatment actually removes the infection and the pain. The procedure itself is done when the mouth is numb, so it’s completely painless.

Brushing Harder Removes More Plaque

Logically, it makes sense that brushing harder will mean a cleaner mouth. But in fact, brushing too hard can cause damage. A rough scrubbing with a hard toothbrush can damage tooth enamel, leaving teeth exposed to bacteria and at risk for decay. It can also damage gums, cause them to recede, and increase sensitivity. Use a soft toothbrush and get the bristles underneath your gums.

Seeing a Dentist Isn’t Necessary Unless You Have a Problem

Even though it’s recommended that everyone visit the dentist twice a year, only about 64% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 have seen their dentist in the past year. However, regular checkups and cleanings are the best way to prevent a problem from ever occurring.

In order to maintain good oral health, it’s crucial to practice good habits such as brushing and flossing every day and seeing the dentist regularly. If it’s time for your dental checkup, schedule an appointment with our Buckhead dental office today.

Acid Reflux & Dental Health

man wondering

Even though acid reflux is a condition that originates in the stomach, it can affect other areas of the body, including the mouth. The truth is, people who suffer from acid reflux can be at greater risk for oral health concerns than those who don’t. Our dental office in Buckhead is here to help anyone dealing with acid reflux understand how it can negatively affect dental health and what you can do to reduce your risk.  

How Acid Reflux Affects the Mouth

A natural and important part of proper digestion includes the production of stomach acids. These acids help break down food so the body can digest what we eat. But these acids don’t always stay in the stomach. They can creep up the throat and into the mouth. Normally saliva in the mouth helps neutralize the acid and wash it away before it has a chance to cause damage. But when someone has acid reflux, which may also be referred to as GERD, stomach acids make their way up into mouth repeatedly. This leaves the mouth and teeth exposed to the acid. It’s this consistent exposure to the acid that causes damage to teeth.

Acid Leads to Tooth Damage

Acid is one of the worst things for teeth as it eats away at the protective enamel and leaves teeth at increased risk for decay, cavities, and other problems. As this erosion occurs and teeth are damaged, the need for dental treatment such as fillings, a root canal, or a dental crown may be required to help restore the tooth’s structure. Some signs that your teeth may have some level of acid erosion include:

Reduce Your Risk

Many times acid reflux can be treated or the symptoms can be minimized through the use of a doctor-recommended medication. Additionally, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of damage caused by acid reflux including:

  • Getting tested for sleep apnea as people with sleep apnea are more likely to have GERD
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste designed to strengthen enamel
  • Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol to reduce acid reflux episodes
  • Seeing your dentist in Buckhead every six months to catch any problems early.

If you suffer from acid reflux and are worried about your dental health, we welcome you to call our Buckhead dental office to schedule an appointment today. We will take a close look at your overall oral health and talk with you about the best way to protect your teeth against the dangers of acid reflux.

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.

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