All About Dental Hygienists

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health, Our Team

hygienist and patientThis month we’re taking some time to thank our dental hygienists, and with good reason. Every October is recognized at National Dental Hygiene Month. It’s 31 days dedicated to not only recognizing the important role dental hygienists have at our dental office in Rocky Mount, but also to educate patients on just what our hygiene team does during their appointments.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Dental Hygienist?

Many people know that dental hygienists are responsible for giving each and every patient a thorough, in-depth cleaning at their appointments. But the responsibilities of hygienists go far beyond dental cleanings. These team members also help educate patients on any oral health concerns and proper at-home care, identify any problems early, and are focused on preventing these problems in the first place in order to keep patients healthy. After all, according to the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), there is a link between oral health and several problems that can affect the entire body such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

What’s Required to Become a Dental Hygienist?

The first step to becoming a dental hygienist is to get an associates degree. As of 2017, there were more than 300 accredited dental hygiene programs available in the United States. These programs can be found at local community colleges, technical schools, and universities. To earn a degree in dental hygiene it takes about three years of schooling, including labs, clinical work, and classroom lectures. An interest in the sciences including biology, chemistry, and anatomy would make the coursework and a dental hygiene career more enjoyable. Once a degree is earned, dental hygienists are usually required to pass a licensing test.

Top Tips for Patients

When you visit your dentist in Rocky Mount, you will most likely have some time with a dental hygienist. Besides preventing any dental problems from popping up, this hygienist is also responsible for passing along information on how you can keep your teeth healthy in between visits. Some of the most helpful tips are below.

  • Brush for Two Minutes

Brushing every day is great, but brushing twice a day using correct technique and for the recommended two minutes is even better. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and small, gentle circles instead of scrubbing back and forth.

  • Floss Regularly

When you don’t floss regularly, you’re leaving about 35% of each tooth uncleaned. That greatly increases the likelihood that bacteria will wear away enamel and cause decay. Flossing in between every tooth and up under the gum line can minimize this risk.

  • Use Mouthwash, But Choose Wisely

Many times mouthwash is used as a breath freshener, but if you’re using the wrong mouthwash for you it can actually make bad breath worse. If you choose to use mouthwash, choose one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance or talk with your hygienist about what’s right for you.

This October, and at every visit, we hope that you will thank your dental hygienist for doing their part in keeping your smile healthy. If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental cleaning, we welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment today.

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

embarrassed womanHaving bad breath can be embarrassing. But the team at our Rocky Mount dental office is here to help. In fact, we help patients everyday find out what’s causing their bad breath and work with them to fix it. Today, we’re going beyond the help that we can provide in our office and providing you some tips on what you can do to help get rid of bad breath at home.

Watch What You Eat

Of course if you eat a pasta dish packed with garlic or a hot dog loaded up with diced onions your breath is going to tell everyone you talk to what you had for lunch. But your diet can affect your breath long-term, too. Eating enough fresh and crunchy fruits and veggies such as apples, carrots, or celery regularly will help rub off any bad breath bacteria that may be sticking around on teeth.

Brush, Brush, Brush

Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day not only protects your pearly whites from decay and cavities, it also helps remove any bacteria that’s built up throughout the day (or night!). Besides brushing, flossing helps get rid of the more stubborn bacteria that have wiggled their way up under gums. Don’t forget about your tongue either. A gentle brush or a swipe of a tongue scraper will take care of any bacteria that’s left over.

Fight Off Dry Mouth

There are many things that can cause dry mouth including smoking, mouth breathing, and even certain medications. While dry mouth is uncomfortable, it may also a contribute to bad breath. When a mouth is dried out there’s not enough saliva to clean away bad breath bacteria, which builds up and gives off an unpleasant smell. To protect yourself from dry mouth and bad breath drink a lot of water, talk to your doctor about possibly using a different medication, and make a plan to quit smoking.

Stop Smoking

Speaking of quitting smoking, smokers tend to suffer from something known as smokers’ breath. This unique smell is caused by the tobacco itself and also from the chemicals found in cigarettes. These chemicals bring a stench all their own which lingers around even after someone is done smoking. Quitting can help your health in more than ways than helping freshen your breath. It can reduce your risk for heart disease and several types of cancer.

It Could Be More Than Just Bad Breath

Bad breath doesn’t only affect oral health. The truth is it can also be a sign of a problem somewhere else in the body. Not all bad breath smells the same, and different smells can indicate various health concerns. For example, a slight stench of ammonia may be a symptom of liver cirrhosis. Bad breath has been tied to many systemic diseases including kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, and respiratory infections.

Bad breath should be taken seriously. If it’s a chronic problem, you should see your dentist in Rocky Mount as soon as possible.

Nobody should have to live with the embarrassment of bad breath or the fear that it’s a sign of something serious. Our dental office in Rocky Mount can help. We encourage you to give us a call to schedule an appointment with our trusted team today. We’ll talk with you about your health history, habits, and discuss the best solutions to get rid of your bad breath.

Whole Grains Month

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

bowl of whole grain riceEach September is recognized as Whole Grains Month and serves to raise awareness of the multitude of health benefits that come along with eating foods made from whole grains. The most discussed health benefits of whole grains are usually related to heart health, but as our dental office in Rocky Mount knows, the benefits of eating a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains goes beyond the heart.

Whole Grains Protect Teeth, Too

Whole grains can be great for our hearts and may even help reduce the risk of obesity and cancer. But recent research shows that eating the recommended daily dose of whole grains can protect oral health, too. Foods rich with whole grains are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that work to keep mouths healthy.

  • Magnesium – Magnesium works with calcium to build strong teeth and strengthen enamel to protect them against bacteria and decay.
  • Vitamin E – One of the main functions of vitamin E is to reduce inflammation. This is important in the fight against gum disease. Research shows a positive correlation between high inflammation levels and the risk for developing gum disease, a vitamin E can help keep inflammation levels low.
  • B Vitamins – A variety of B vitamins found in whole grains are beneficial to oral health by lowering the risk of developing mouth sores or canker sores and fighting off bad breath. Some studies also show a positive correlation that certain B vitamins can protect against cavities.

Recommended Daily Whole Grain Servings

The table below shows the recommended daily servings by age range and gender according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Age Female Male
1-3 2 2
4-8 2.5 2.5
9-13 3 3.5
14-18 3.5 4
19-30 3.5 4.5
31+ 3 4

Best Sources of Whole Grain

Eating enough whole grains doesn’t need to be difficult, and you don’t need to give up delicious foods like some people think. In fact, making small changes can go a long way in helping you and your family get your daily dose of whole grains.  

  • Swap your morning cereal for a whole grain option
  • Use whole grain bread or wraps for sandwiches
  • Try a dinner loaded with whole grains by buying whole grain pasta
  • Instead of a side of potatoes, eat brown rice
  • Choose whole wheat hamburger or hot dog buns instead of white bread

When shopping for foods high in whole grains look for the gold and black Whole Grain Stamp.

Eat Well, See Your Dentist

What we choose to eat has an effect on not only our overall health, but our oral health too. Your dentist in Rocky Mount urges you to follow a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water.

Eating well and seeing your dentist twice year can keep your smile healthy. Don’t put off your bi-annual dental checkup, call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment.

6 Ways to a Whiter Smile

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Cosmetic Dentistry, General & Preventive Dentistry

woman smiling in sunshineWhether it’s due to your daily morning cup of coffee, your nightly glass of red wine, or time itself, there are plenty of things that can make our smiles appear dull, discolored, or simply just not as white as we’d like them to be. However, at our dental office in Rocky Mount, we want everyone to know that just because a smile may have become a little less vibrant, doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. There are plenty of things you can do to help get (and keep!) your smile your ideal shade of white.

Smile Whitening

Many times tooth discoloration can be easily fixed by getting professional smile whitening from your dentist in Rocky Mount. The whitening solution offered by dental professionals is different than what you can buy in the store and tends to result in more drastic results. Some dental offices offer the option of in-office whitening or take-home whitening, both of which can transform your pearly whites.

Dental Veneers

If your teeth are stained below the surface and a professional smile whitening won’t give you the results you’re looking for, you can talk to your dentist about dental veneers. Dental veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that cover your natural tooth and can help whiten a smile or even repair small chips or cracks.

Eat Well

Besides having dental treatment done to give your smile a brighter look, keeping an eye on what you eat and drink can help keep teeth white. Some common foods that can cause staining include berries, wine, tea, coffee, and pasta sauce. If you can, try to rinse your mouth out with water immediately after enjoying any staining foods and then brush about 20 minutes later.

Stop Smoking

Smoking or using any type of tobacco not only puts your oral health and your overall health at risk for some serious health concerns, it can also cause your teeth to appear yellow or have a spotty brown look. Tooth stains caused by tobacco are also more difficult to reverse.

Brush Often

Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day will help keep your teeth white and healthy. Maintaining proper oral hygiene keeps plaque off of teeth which, if left alone, could make stains harder to remove.

Visit Your Dentist

We always recommend that our patients see us at least every six months. These regular appointments not only help us keep an eye on your overall oral health, but also allow us remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth that could contribute to staining.

If you’re unhappy with the color of your smile, we welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment today. We’ll talk with about what you don’t like and what you’d like to change so we can put together the best treatment plan for you.

“Why Is My Mouth Watering So Much?”

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

man wondersTalking about spit isn’t incredibly glamorous, but it sure is important. Especially for those who produce too much of it. When someone has too much saliva, they may be embarrassed and uncomfortable by the common side effects of something called hypersalivation. At our dental office Rocky Mount, we want these patients to know that while it is uncomfortable, excessive salivation may also be a sign of an underlying problem.

Spit Is Important

Believe it or not, spit plays a crucial role in our overall bodily function. It helps break down food as we chew, making it easier to swallow and for the stomach to digest it. Saliva also rinses away bacteria in the mouth and neutralizes acids that otherwise could eat away at tooth enamel and cause cavities. We typically produce about 1.5 quarts of spit every day. However, when more is produced, we’ll experience mouth watering.

What Causes Mouth Watering?

There could be any number of possible explanations to excessive saliva production and mouth watering. While some may not seem serious, the best thing you can do is to call your dentist in Rocky Mount to better understand your underlying cause. Some possible causes of hypersalivation may include:

  • A diet high in starches
  • Medications
  • Acid reflux
  • Infections such as gum disease
  • Neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease
  • Poisoning

What are The Signs of Hypersalivation?

There are some obvious signs of hypersalivation including drooling, spitting, or constantly swallowing. But there are also other symptoms that aren’t always so noticeable, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Changes in speech
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Chapped lips
  • Dehydration

Even though many of the causes of hypersalivation aren’t serious, it’s still something that shouldn’t be ignored. Getting answers to what’s causing your mouth to water is the first step to treating it successfully.

We welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment. At your visit we’ll dive into your symptoms, talk about how long you’ve been experiencing them, and review your medical history and medication use. All of this will help us get a thorough picture of what may be going on so we can determine the best way to treat it.

Cosmetic Dental Veneers

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Cosmetic Dentistry

dental veneersAt our dental office in Rocky Mount, we want everyone to be confident with their smiles. But we know that sometimes that’s just not the case. Instead of living with a smile you’re unhappy with, there are tons of cosmetic dentistry treatments that can help give you a smile you’re proud to show off. In today’s blog we’re going to highlight one of the most common forms of cosmetic dentistry, dental veneers.

What Are Veneers?

Dental veneers are custom-created thin pieces of porcelain that can change the appearance of your smile. Each one is designed to blend into your natural look, taking size, shape, color, and even translucency into consideration. This incredibly versatile cosmetic dentistry option can be used to treat several cosmetic concerns that would otherwise require multiple different treatments including:

  • Worn teeth
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Crookedness
  • Unevenness or shape irregularities
  • Teeth discolored that couldn’t be brightened through whitening
  • Gaps

Treatment

The process to get dental veneers typically takes one or two treatment appointments as well as a consultation, which is the first step in pursuing veneers. During the consultation, you and your dentist in Rocky Mount will talk about your smile, what you’d like to change, and your personal treatment plan. At the next visit, treatment will begin.

Your first treatment appointment usually includes preparing the teeth by removing a thin layer of enamel. This gives the veneer space to seamlessly blend into the rest of your smile. Temporary veneers will usually be fitted at this appointment while the permanent ones are being created to your dentist’s detailed specifications in a lab. When the permanent veneers are ready, you’ll return to the office to have them bonded. After that, you’ll have a new smile that you’re proud of.

Don’t continue to live with a smile that affects your confidence or that you simply don’t like. There are treatments available that can help. Call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule a consultation with us today. We’ll be happy to talk with you and determine the best cosmetic dentistry option for you.

Manual Toothbrush vs. Electric Toothbrush

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry

toothbrushesElectric toothbrushes have been gaining popularity over recent years, and many claim to remove more plaque, tartar, and bacteria than traditional manual toothbrushes. But the team at our dental office in Rocky Mount wanted to find out if these promises are actually true. Here’s what we know…

According to the ADA

The American Dental Association (ADA) releases studies every so often on whether electric toothbrushes really clean better than regular ones. Essentially, researchers say that the trick to getting teeth clean is less about the tool used and more about the technique. However, some people may benefit more from using an electric toothbrush over a manual one than others.

Who Benefits Most From Electric Toothbrushes

Those who have difficulty reaching every tooth, especially the ones in the way back, or can’t quite grip a toothbrush and follow a proper brushing motion may benefit from using an electric toothbrush. For example, people with arthritis may find it difficult to maintain a proper brushing technique or hold a manual toothbrush firmly. In this case, an electric toothbrush can simulate the motion otherwise achieved by a gentle manual scrubbing.  

But Are Electric Toothbrushes Better?

It seem as if the jury is still out on whether or not a powered toothbrush actually cleans better. However, several companies that make electric toothbrushes regularly conduct their own research to test their products’ effectiveness. One study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association surveyed 16,000 patients that used an electric toothbrush. At the end of the study, 80% of participants reported better oral health.

Time is Important, Too

One feature that may help make electric toothbrushes more effective may not necessarily be because of their automatic brush heads. Instead, many electric toothbrushes also contain a timer and will shut off after a solid two minutes of brushing. This feature can help ensure that users are brushing long enough to hit each side of every tooth for a thorough clean.

What’s the Best Toothbrush for You?

When it comes to choosing your next toothbrush (which should happen every three to four months), you should select one that fits your needs and that you’re comfortable with. If you have some trouble cleaning your teeth properly, you may want to consider investing in an electric option. Your dentist in Rocky Mount can also suggest which toothbrush is the best choice for you.

In short, any toothbrush, whether it’s manual or electric, is better than no toothbrush at all. And using it properly can help keep your teeth healthy. Of course, you’ll still want to maintain regular dental checkups. If you’re overdue for you visit, schedule an appointment at our Rocky Mount dental office.

All About Sedation Dentistry

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health, Sedation Dentistry, Why Patients Choose Us

smiling woman in dental chairA healthy, strong smile is one of the best assets you can have. But sometimes getting the dental care you need can be difficult, especially if you have a fear of the dentist. We understand, and you’re not alone. As many as 30 to 40 million Americans avoid the dentist out of fear or anxiety. But the team at our Rocky Mount dental office wants you to know that a fear of the dentist doesn’t mean you can’t get the dental care you need. By using sedation dentistry, you can visit the dentist without stress, fear, or anxiety.  

Sedation Dentistry Options

  1. Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a mild form of sedation dentistry yet is still incredibly effective. Administered through a mask, it produces a calm, euphoric feeling that reduces stress. There is no pain involved and it wears off quickly so there’s minimal recovery time.
  2. Oral sedation is the next level of sedation that provides an even deeper relaxation than nitrous oxide. It requires patients to take a pill prior to their appointment, as it takes a little while for the medication to take effect. But once the medicine kicks in, patients are so relaxed that some may even fall into a light sleep. Oral sedation may have a few side effects including feeling sleepy after it wears off.
  3. IV sedation, or intravenous sedation, provides the deepest state of sedation, and since the medication is administered directly into the bloodstream there’s no waiting for it to take effect. However, the side effects can stick around for up to 24 hours post-treatment and may include nausea, dizziness, or excessive tiredness.

Is Sedation Right for You?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my stress level increase at the thought of a dental appointment?
  • Do I need treatment that will take a long time?
  • Do I get so worried that my appointment will be painful or uncomfortable that I get physically sick?
  • Does my anxiety spike just sitting the reception area or even while scheduling an appointment?  

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we encourage you to talk to your dentist in Rocky Mount about sedation dentistry and which option may be best for you.

We always strive to keep our patients comfortable and stress free every time they visit, but we are always happy to talk to you about your sedation dentistry options or answer any questions you may have. Give our dental office in Rocky Mount a call to schedule an appointment.

Oral Health for Men

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Gum Disease, Oral Health

men's health monthThe team at our dental office in Rocky Mount encourages all of our patients to see us for a checkup twice a year. But research shows that the American male population doesn’t typically tend to follow that rule of thumb. So this month, in honor of Men’s Health Month, we want to help men understand why these bi-annual dental appointments are so important.

It’s All About Prevention

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many men skip or totally forego the recommendation to see their dentist in Rocky Mount every six months. Instead, they only schedule an appointment when they have a problem. However, keeping up with regular dental care can help them avoid these problems in the first place. Dental visits play an important part in prevention of larger, more serious issues before they have a chance to develop. Additionally, while these appointments are important for everyone, they’re particularly more important to men since they are at greater risk for:

Gum Disease. The American Dental Association estimates that 34% of men ages 30-54 have gum disease as compared to 23% of women in the same age range. Gum disease is a serious infection that can affect the rest of the body if not treated. Research has shown a correlation between gum disease and heart disease, certain cancers, and respiratory problems. In men, the concern goes even farther as recent studies also suggests a connection between gum disease and prostate health.

Oral Cancer. Men are two times more likely to get oral cancer than women. Some researchers suggest that this is because men tend to use tobacco and drink alcohol more often than woman, both of which are known risk factors of oral cancer. Oral cancer can be treated, often successfully, when caught early. This makes keeping those bi-annual dental appointments even more important. If oral cancer isn’t caught or treated in the early stages it can spread to other areas of the body and may even lead to death.

More Dental Care. Since men are less likely to see their dentist regularly it leaves them at risk for needing more advanced, complex treatment when things go wrong. What may have once been a small cavity that could have been treated in a matter of minutes may now require a root canal and crown. If the decay progresses further, the tooth may fall out and need to be replaced with a dental implant or bridge.

Men and women can benefit by seeing the dentist regularly to decrease the risk of these serious oral health problems. Preventive dental care goes a long way in protecting smiles and overall health. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist, give our Rocky Mount dental office a call to schedule an appointment.

How Brushing Your Teeth Affects Overall Health

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health, Overall Health

young woman brushing teethIt probably comes as no surprise that the team at our dental office in Rocky Mount is all for you brushing your teeth regularly. After all, we are dedicated to protecting our patients’ smiles, and brushing properly is an important step to help accomplish that goal. But we also know that brushing your teeth benefits more than just your dental health. The truth is, it can affect your overall health, too.

Removing Bacteria

One of the most important reasons for brushing your teeth regularly is so you can effectively remove dangerous bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria will feed off of food particles that linger around long after you eat. It then gives off an acidic byproduct. This acid can eat away the teeth’s protective enamel, leaving them at risk for decay and cavities. A buildup of bacteria can also begin to affect gum health. If bacteria is not removed by brushing and starts to creep up under the gum line, you may quickly develop gum disease. Gum disease is a serious problem that affects the rest of your body.

A Closer Look at Gum Disease

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that can eventually lead to tooth loss if not treated by your dentist in Rocky Mount. Nearly half of American adults have some type of gum disease, some may not even know it. Common signs of gum disease include:

  • Red, painful gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums

While gum disease has unpleasant symptoms and may cause teeth to fall out, it’s even more concerning than that. In fact, research has shown a potential link between gum disease and other serious whole-body problems.

Gum Disease & Whole-Body Health

There have been several studies that have shown a strong connection between oral health and overall health. The U.S. Surgeon General has even referred to the mouth as a mirror to health throughout the body. Even though researchers continue to study exactly the cause of this connection, many of them have found that gum disease in particular may lead or contribute to:

  • Respiratory Problems
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetic Complications
  • Some Cancers

Brushing your teeth twice a day, every day does a great job at removing the buildup of dangerous bacteria that could lead to gum disease and perhaps even more serious health concerns. But that’s not all. You also need to maintain regular visits to your dentist twice a year for a deep cleaning that removes plaque and bacteria that only a trained hygienist can remove safely and effectively.

If it’s time for your dental cleaning, we welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment.