Five Unexpected Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

As a kid you probably learned all about good oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a fluoride-containing mouthwash can help prevent cavities. But our knowledgeable dentists at Snow Family Dentistry want you to know that good oral hygiene has many other benefits beyond cavity prevention.

Here are five of the unexpected benefits of good oral hygiene:

Healthy Gums

Your mouth contains a wide variety of bacteria species. Some are good bacteria that help you digest food; others are potentially harmful bacteria that can cause illness and infection. Brushing and flossing reduce the harmful bacteria in your mouth and helps remove the food particles that feed these bacteria.

Lower Risk of Heart Attack

When gums bleed due to gum disease, bacteria from your mouth can enter your bloodstream and spread throughout your body. If it travels to your heart, it could contribute to your risk of heart attack. In fact, having gum disease can increase your risk for heart attack by nearly 50%, according to the American College of Cardiology.

Lower Risk of Infertility

If you’re a woman, a spread of inflammation from your mouth to your reproductive organs could affect your ability to conceive a baby. In fact, one study found that women with gum disease took two months longer to get pregnant than those without it.

Lower Risk of Diabetes

Research has found that people with gum disease are up to 50%  more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those with healthy gums. What’s the connection? Inflammation caused by gum disease can make it harder for your body to use insulin properly, a condition known as insulin resistance.

Lower Risk of Cancer

Having gum disease could contribute to certain kinds of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Although researchers don’t fully understand the connection, it may be that substances from bacteria in the mouth might help boost the growth of cancer cells. There may be links to other kinds of cancer, too.

So remember, when you take great care of your teeth, you’re doing much more than just helping to prevent cavities….You’re taking care of your overall health!

10 Things to Know About Your Baby’s Teeth

Being a new parent is hard! There are so many firsts that it can be overwhelming. Here at Snow Family Dentistry, we want to help you and your little one! Continue reading to learn 10 things about the development of your baby’s teeth!

When Teeth Erupt

Your baby is born with 20 teeth below the gums, and they usually start coming through between 6 months and a year. Most children have their full set of teeth by 3 years old.

Teething Signs

Teething can be a rite of passage for babies and parents alike. As their teeth come in, some babies may become fussy, sleepless and irritable. They might also lose their appetite or drool more than usual.

When to Start Brushing with Toothpaste

Decay can happen as soon as teeth first appear. If you see some pearly whites peeking out when your little one smiles, it’s time to pick up a tube of toothpaste.

How Much Toothpaste to Use

It doesn’t take much to clean your child’s teeth. Until you’re confident that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush. If your child is 3 or younger, use a smear of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). For children 3 or older, a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste will do.

First Dental Visit

It’s another milestone in a year of exciting firsts. Your child’s first dental visit should take place after their first tooth appears, but no later than the first birthday. Why so early? As soon as your baby has teeth, they can get cavities.

When to Floss

It doesn’t matter if you clean between your child’s teeth before or after they brush as long as you clean between any teeth that touch. You can use child-friendly plastic flossing tools to more easily clean between your child’s teeth until your child learns to do it.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth. Frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar can cause tooth decay. This can happen when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.

Don’t Spread Germs

The next time your child’s pacifier goes flying, don’t pick it up and put it in your mouth because you think that makes it cleaner. Cavity-causing bacteria can be passed through saliva, so you could actually be introducing germs to your child instead of protecting him or her from them. The same goes for mealtime. It can be second nature to offer a bite of your food to your baby from your fork or use their spoon to make sure their food is ready to eat. Keep your utensils, and your germs, separate for healthy mouth and body.

Hydrate with Water

When your child has worked up a thirst, water is the best beverage to offer—especially if it has fluoride! Drinking water with fluoride has been shown to reduce cavities by 25%. While sweetened drinks like fruit juice (even those labeled 100% natural), soda and sports drinks can cause cavities. Sugary drinks also contribute to weight gain, and water is calorie-free.

How to Keep Cavities at Bay

Brushing and flossing go a long way to protecting your teeth against cavities, but sealants form an extra barrier between cavity-causing bacteria and your child’s teeth. School-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and ADA’s Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars.

Need some more information? Please visit our website or give us a call at 480-982-7289 to schedule an appointment!

Does Sugar Really Cause Cavities?

You’ve probably heard it all your life: Eating sweets will rot your teeth. But while a diet high in sugar certainly promotes the formation of cavities, sugar itself isn’t the real culprit behind tooth decay. Continue reading to learn what does!

What Causes Cavities?

Dental cavities are formed when bacteria living in the mouth digest carbohydrate debris left on the teeth after you eat. Such debris might include the refined sugars found in cookies, candy and other treats, but can also come from healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits.

When digesting these carbohydrates, bacteria in your mouth produce an acid that combines with saliva to form plaque.

It’s plaque — not sugar — that leads to tooth decay. Plaque starts building up after every meal, and if it isn’t brushed away frequently, it can erode the hard, outer enamel of a tooth, resulting in tiny holes in the tooth’s surface. These holes mark the first stage of cavity formation.
Those tiny holes can do a lot of damage if left untreated. Eventually, the acid and bacteria in plaque can eat through the other layers of your teeth, as well — from the softer layer of teeth under the enamel, known as dentin, to the third layer (the pulp), which contains your teeth’s blood vessels and nerves. Cavities affecting the pulp of a tooth, as well as the bone supporting the tooth, can cause severe toothaches, sensitivity, pain when eating and abscesses in the mouth.

Need to Schedule an Appointment?

Do you think you may have a cavity? Schedule an appointment on our website or give us a call!

Can Flying Give You a Toothache?

Yes, flying can give you a toothache! Continue reading to find out why and how to manage this type of pain.

Why Flying Can Give You a Toothache

Flying can cause toothaches because your body experiences a pressure change with an increase in altitude, a condition known as aerodontalgia. You may notice a pain in your ears or get a headache for the same reason. However, you should only encounter pain in problem teeth; the changes in pressure throughout a flight shouldn’t affect your healthy teeth. Also note that though flying may bring your attention to a new issue or make pre-existing pain worse, it doesn’t have an effect on your tooth health. Flying doesn’t make issues such as cavities, loose fillings, and gingivitis worse.

You may also experience toothaches on a plane because of sinus pressure. If the discomfort you experience while flying is across all your upper back teeth, it’s likely a problem related to the sinus nerves near your jaw rather than an individual tooth problem.

Managing Tooth Pain While Traveling

It’s difficult to address tooth pain in the middle of a flight if you don’t come prepared. Follow these tips to help manage your pain before and during a flight.

Before Your Flight

Have you been struggling with some tooth pain? If so, try to see a dentist before your flight.

The altitude changes will exacerbate any problems you’ve been dealing with. A dentist can curb these issues, whether you need to have a cavity filled or a new mouth guard made. Moreover, he or she can give you some advice for managing your pain while flying. Ask your dentist about painkillers if you’ll be flying soon after an appointment, and take such medications roughly a half-hour before your plane is in the air.

It’s also worth checking in with a dentist if you have a history of tooth problems. Cracks, cavities, and issues with fillings can develop before you experience any pain, but they will lead to some discomfort while flying.

During Your Flight

If you came prepared with your dentist-approved pain meds, remember to take them before you leave and to take more when you can during your flight. Also note that your teeth will still be extra sensitive during this time. Avoid cold beverages and foods, and go for water instead of coffee, tea, and other acidic or sugary drinks. If you’re still recovering from dental surgery, bring extra gauze to handle any additional bleeding from your gums that may occur during the flight.

When to Take Extra Care of Your Teeth Before Flying

The building pressure while flying can cause air bubbles to develop in your teeth. You’ll notice a growing pain that mirrors the altitude changes if any of the following apply to your teeth:

  • Recent dental work: You should be fine to fly even if you’ve recently had dental work, including surgeries, done. However, if your teeth are still feeling sensitive, you may struggle with some discomfort while flying. Consult with your dentist about your flight before departing if possible.
  • Fillings: Older fillings and fillings that need to be refilled are causes for concern during a flight. Air can enter the space between the tooth and the filling. If the pressure changes faster than that air can equalize, then the air in the tooth will expand and cause some pain.
  • Cracked teeth: Similar to the problem with fillings, cracks are especially vulnerable to pressure-related pain. Air can enter these small spaces and then expand as you change altitude, causing some discomfort during your flight.
  • Early tooth decay: Your teeth may have felt fine on the ground, but if you’ve got tooth decay that you haven’t noticed, flying may lead to some new pains.
  • Already-sensitive teeth: There are several causes of sensitive teeth, including poor dietary habits (e.g., drinking too many acidic beverages) and a receding gum line. If you’re struggling with these problems before you get on a plane, you can expect an increase in tooth pain and sensitivity during your flight.

When You Should See a Dentist About Sensitive Teeth While Flying

It’s worth checking in with your dentist if you experience any pain in your teeth while flying — even if the pain disappears once you land. This is because healthy teeth shouldn’t become sensitive because of altitude changes. Here at Snow Family Dentistry, we can check for early signs of tooth decay and correct whatever caused your sensitivity before it gets worse. Give us a call or schedule an appointment on our website!