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You are currently browsing: Preventive Dentistry

Why You Should Pay Attention to Gum Health

examining gums with mirror

When many people think about their dental care they immediately think of teeth and smiles. But there’s another huge part of dentistry that can not only affect your oral health but your overall health, too — your gums. At our dental office in Buckhead, we take gum health seriously, and for good reason. Poor gum health can lead to gum disease which can be very serious.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, which can also be referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection in the gum tissue. There are different stages to gum disease that describe how severe the condition is. Gingivitis is early-stage gum disease and periodontitis is more severe, advanced gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems.

Gum Disease and Overall Health

Your gums can tell your dentist in Buckhead all sorts of information about your oral health and they just may indicate other potential problems throughout the body. In fact, symptoms affecting the gums have been linked to several serious health concerns such as strokes, heart attacks, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Signs of Gum Disease

Catching and treating gum disease early is the best way to keep it from affecting the rest of the body. That’s one reason seeing your dentist at least every six months is so important. You should also be on the lookout for some of the most common signs of gum disease in-between visits. Some potential signs of gum disease include:

  • Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your dentist as soon as possible. Your dental team will see exactly what’s going on and make the best gum disease treatment recommendation for you.

Protect Yourself

There are things you can do to keep your gums healthy and protect yourself against gum disease.

  • Floss every day
  • Brush your teeth twice daily
  • Quit smoking
  • See your dentist regularly

It’s important to know that gum disease may not always show symptoms, so make sure you visit our Buckhead dental office twice a year to keep yourself protected. If it’s been longer than six months since your last appointment, call us to schedule one today.

3 of the Top Concerns about Pregnancy and Dentistry

pregnant woman on couch

Finding out that you’re pregnant is one of life’s most joyous (and scary) events you can endure. Everyone at our dental office in Buckhead wants to send plenty of well wishes to all of the parents out there who are expecting a blessing of their own.

We wanted to set aside this blog to talk to the moms out there. Because whether you’re new to pregnancy and experiencing every special moment for the very first time, or a seasoned parental pro who knows exactly how this all goes, it’s essential not to put off your upcoming cleanings or treatments. We understand pregnancy brings up a lot of new concerns about your health and wellbeing, including taking care of your smile. Let’s talk about some of the most common concerns we hear from our patients about going to the dentist during pregnancy.

Common Concern #1: What if I need dental X-rays? Are they safe?

Most dental offices are equipped with state-of-the-art digital X-rays, eliminating the possibility of  overexposure to harmful radiation for you and your baby. If you’re experiencing a dental issue, it’s advisable to get the necessary X-rays to fix the problem before it poses any risk of harming your developing fetus.

Common Concern #2: My gums are really bleeding. Should I call my Buckhead dentist?

If you’re pregnant and reading this, there’s no doubt in our mind that you would agree that being pregnant can change your body, usually in part due to fluctuations in your hormones. The American Dental Association says that as many as 50 percent of pregnant women can develop “pregnancy gingivitis.”  It usually goes away after your child arrives, but it’s important to brush and clean your teeth regularly. If still concerned about bleeding in your gums, you can always reach out to us for help.

Common Concern #3: I’ve got morning, afternoon, and night sickness. Should I tell my dentist?

Sickness and vomiting during pregnancy are one of the most common side effects that most women tend to experience early on in their pregnancy. When you get sick, excess stomach acid can eat away at your tooth enamel leading to decay. Remember these helpful tips you can use at home to help protect your teeth from acid:

  • Wait to Brush. Brushing immediately after vomiting can lead to damage. Acid weakens the enamel, and if you brush while the acid is affecting the enamel, you can cause scratches that bacteria can hide in. So wait at least an hour after getting sick to brush.
  • Rinse with Water. While you’re waiting for the right time to brush, it’s a good idea to rinse your mouth out with water initially. Swishing water around in the mouth and spitting it out can remove a lot of acid.
  • Keep Drinking Water. You’re already drinking a lot of water, so keep on doing it. The more water you drink, the less acid will stick around in your mouth.
  • Scrape the Tongue. Don’t forget about your tongue. After vomiting, get a tongue scraper and gently run it down your tongue. You can successfully remove a lot of acid that would actually end up on your teeth.

If you’re really having a hard time and are worried about your smile, contact our dental office in Buckhead as soon as you’re feeling up to it. Seeing your dentist is crucial during your pregnancy, so let us work with you to determine what your needs are and how to proceed with your care during this special time in your life. We’re always here to help!

Recognizing the Signs of Oral Cancer

oral cancer awareness

Oral cancer is a scary disease that takes the lives of over 8,500 Americans every year. It’s a widespread problem that can be treated, often very successfully, if caught early. The problem is, many people don’t know the signs of oral cancer and may never realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. So in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, our dental office in Buckhead is here to help spread awareness of not only the common signs of oral cancer, but also several risk factors.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can be crucial in catching and diagnosing the disease early when treatment is most successful. Some of the more common signs of oral cancer include:

  • A chronic sore that doesn’t go away
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • A lump on the cheek or tongue
  • Change in voice

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist in Buckhead as soon as possible.

Risk Factors

It’s important to note that anyone can get oral cancer. However, there are some things that can put us at more risk of the disease including:

Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.

Age: People over 50 are the most affected by oral cancer.

Tobacco Use: Nearly 80% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking often leads to throat or mouth cancer, and smokeless tobacco usually results in gum, cheek, or lip cancer.

Alcohol: Approximately 70% of all those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.

Limiting your alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products are great ways to reduce your risk of getting oral cancer.  Also one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from the dangers of oral cancer is to see your dentist every six months. These visits can help catch any problems early while the chance for successful treatment is greatest.

Every year, over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. Of those, 40% won’t survive more than five years. Early detection greatly increases the chance of successful treatment and survival. Schedule a visit with your dentist in Buckhead today.

Is Snoring Bad for My Smile?

snoring couple

At our Buckhead dental office, we always go out of our way to make sure your mouth and your body are as healthy as possible – even if it goes beyond simply treating or cleaning your teeth. Sometimes patients are concerned about how snoring might be affecting their smile, so we thought we’d dedicate this blog to looking at how snoring can be damaging to both your oral and overall health.

What Should I Know About Snoring?

If snoring is causing problems in your life (both for you and your bed partner), maybe it’s time to consider learning more about sleep apnea. Snoring is not only annoying but it also poses dangers to both your teeth and the rest of your body.

Here are signs and symptoms that your loud snoring could be related to sleep apnea:

  • Sudden awakenings causing you to restart breathing
  • Waking up in a sweat
  • Frequent silences throughout the night when you stop breathing
  • Choking or gasping for air
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Falling asleep at unwanted times

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your Buckhead dentist. The side effects of snoring can cause issues for your oral health and we’ll want to monitor you so we can best protect your teeth.

Are My Teeth Suffering Because of My Snoring?

Snoring or breathing with your mouth open during sleep can cause you to develop something called dry mouth. This can cause problems for your smile that include:

  • The decreased ability to wash away particles left over after meals
  • Having enough saliva to keep teeth free from harmful acids and plaque build-up
  • An increased risk for sores, infections, and halitosis (bad breath)
  • An increased risk for breakdown of your tooth enamel

Does Snoring Mean I Have Sleep Apnea?

The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates nearly 90 million Americans are snoring away every night while thinking they’re enjoying a deep, healthy rest. Sometimes snoring has nothing to do with sleep apnea. This is generally true for about 45 million of the 90 million people who saw logs in their sleep each night. But the others can be suffering from sleep apnea.

Who’s at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that knows no limits when it comes to age, race, or ethnic background  – everyone is at risk. That’s why it’s so important to determine if your snoring issues are sleep apnea related or not. The American Dental Association says your sleep apnea risk is increased if you’re:

  • Overweight
  • Older than 40
  • Predisposed to snoring in your family medical history
  • Struggling with a deviated septum, sinus conditions, or allergies

If snoring has been causing issues with you, your bed partner, or even your family, please don’t hesitate to call our dental office in Buckhead. We can take a look at your teeth to make sure there are no immediate issues with your smile that need to be addressed and discuss what steps you can take to treat your sleep apnea so you can avoid future health problems such as deteriorating teeth, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

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.  

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.  

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