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.

How Your Allergies May Be Affecting Your Oral Health

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

woman with allergiesNobody enjoys the annoying symptoms of allergies. The stuffy nose, watery eyes, and constant nasal drip are enough to make some people do anything they can to avoid their allergens. At our dental office in Rocky Mount, we’d like to give you just one more reason to hate your allergies. The truth is, the symptoms related to allergies can also affect your oral health.

Dry Mouth: A Bigger Problem Than You Might Think

Perhaps the biggest way allergies affect oral health is by causing dry mouth. When our noses are too stuffy to breathe out of them properly, we resort to the next best thing: breathing out of our mouths. Mouth breathing really slows down saliva production and leaves your mouth feeling uncomfortably dry. And when the mouth is dry with no saliva to help wash away bacteria and neutralize acids, your teeth are left exposed. This can make you more likely to have tooth decay, chronically bad breath, or can even lead to gum disease. Gum disease, if left untreated, can affect the rest of your body by increasing the risk for stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.

More on Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing is such a concern for your dentist in Rocky Mount that it’s worth talking about the other ways it can affect your dental health. Whether mouth breathing is caused by allergies or not, the truth is it can even cause changes in appearance and developmental problems in children. When kids habitually have to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses, it can influence how their teeth develop. Children who suffer from allergies also tend to suffer from crooked teeth which may require braces or other orthodontic treatment.

Medicine Can Make Dry Mouth Worse

To help ease allergy symptoms and clear out sinuses so we can breathe out of our noses easier, many of us turn to medicine. Most allergy medicines available list dry mouth as a potential side effect. So while you may be solving one problem by reducing sinus stuffiness, you may be creating another by the very thing that helped you get relief. To combat dry mouth caused by medicine, talk to your doctor for other solutions or try:

  • Chewing sugar-free gum
  • Using mouthwash made to help lubricate the mouth
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Putting a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep

Don’t stop any medicines without first discussing it with your healthcare provider.

If you are suffering from allergies or dry mouth perhaps caused by them, it’s evermore important to maintain regular visits to our Rocky Mount dental office. Appointments every six months can help catch any potential dental issues caused by dry mouth and treat them before they lead to the need for advanced treatment or cause pain.

“Why Do I Need to Have Dental X-Rays Taken?”

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

dental x-rayWhen we typically think of x-rays, we may immediately think of a huge machine that’s checking for a broken bone. Dental x-rays are a little bit different. They’re an important part of diagnosing disease or other problems. In fact, at our dental office in Rocky Mount, we use dental x-rays as a crucial aspect to our approach to preventive dentistry so we can catch any issues early while they’re still easy to treat. This month, we examine a few things that dental x-rays can help us diagnose as well as some different types of x-rays you may have.

What Do Dental X-Rays Help Diagnose?

At your bi-annual dental appointments, you’ll receive an in-depth exam and thorough cleaning. During these procedures, we’re taking close look at your overall oral health. But there are a lot of places in your mouth where problems can hide. Dental x-rays help us see and diagnose these issues that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Dental x-rays can help us see:

  • Decay below the surface or in between teeth
  • Bone loss caused by gum disease or other issues
  • Impacted wisdom teeth
  • Damaged bone
  • Abscesses or cysts

Imagery obtained through x-rays give your dentist in Rocky Mount the ability to diagnose disease or problems early and oftentimes before you experience any signs or painful symptoms.

What Are the Different Types of Dental X-Rays?

Dental x-rays can be classified as either intraoral or extraoral, both of which show different views of the mouth. Intraoral x-rays are more detailed images of individual teeth while extraoral x-rays show a more comprehensive look at the overall mouth including all of the teeth and the jaw. Each type of x-ray helps your dental team identify different things. Let’s take a closer look.

Intraoral X-Rays

Since intraoral x-rays show close-up details of each tooth, they’re helpful in diagnosing

  • Decay between teeth or fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Bone deterioration

Extraoral X-Rays

With a broader view of the entire mouth, extraoral x-rays can help get an up-close-and-personal look at:

  • Tooth development
  • Potential Issues with the jaw joint (TMJ)
  • Impacted teeth

Having dental x-rays taken can help save you from experiencing painful dental problems that may require complex treatment and are a necessary part of a proper preventive approach to dental care. These x-rays emit a low amount of radiation and, along with the additional safety precautions our Rocky Mount dental office take, are incredibly safe.

Oral Cancer Risks, Signs, and Prevention

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

oral cancer riskEvery year, we dedicate one of our April blogs to help do our part for Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Oral cancer may not be talked about as much as other forms of the disease, but it’s still a very serious form of cancer that affects thousands of Americans every year. This April, our dental office in Rocky Mount wants to raise awareness by educating our community on the risks and signs of oral cancer, as well as what you can do to reduce your risk of getting it.

Just the Facts

Even though it’s not one of the more discussed cancers, oral cancer is in fact one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. And the number of those affected continues to grow each and every year. The American Cancer Society estimates that in this year alone, just over 51,500 people will be diagnosed. Additionally, over 10,000 people will lose their lives to the disease. But even though oral cancer is serious and can be fatal, early detection and proactive treatment greatly increases the chance of survival.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Since detecting oral cancer early is key to treating it successfully, we need to be able to recognize the signs. Some of the common early warning signs of oral cancer may 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 Rocky Mount as soon as possible.

Risk Factors

Ideally we would all be able to avoid the factors that increase the risk of oral cancer. However, it’s not that simple. Some of the risk factors are uncontrollable, including genetics, age, and gender. However, there are other lifestyle factors that we can control in order to reduce our risk. A short list of both controllable and uncontrollable risks include:

  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
  • Age: People over 55 are the most affected by oral cancer with the average age of diagnosis being 62.
  • 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 drink alcohol often. And if you’re a heavy drinker and use tobacco, your risk may be as high as 100%.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

The best way to protect yourself against oral cancer is to avoid the lifestyle habits that put you at increased risk. Additionally, it’s important to maintain regular dental cleanings and checkups to help catch any problems as early as possible while the chance for successful treatment is greatest. If you haven’t seen a dentist in six months or more, we encourage you to call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment today. It could save your life.

What Does a Dream About Losing Your Teeth Really Mean?

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

woman wakes from nightmareWhile dreaming about losing your teeth can certainly scare anyone into thinking their pearly whites are at risk of falling out, that’s probably not the case. At our dental office in Rocky Mount, we understand how unsettling it can be to imagine a sudden loss of your teeth, so we’re here to help and try to explain why you may be dreaming about a toothless grin.

It’s Common

We’re all aware of the popular dream of showing up to school in your underwear, but dreaming about losing your teeth may be even more common than that. But the way the teeth appear to fall out in these dreams can take on many different scenarios. Sometimes one tooth becomes extremely loose and simply pops out. Other times it’s all the teeth slowing falling out one by one. Scarier still are the dreams where your teeth crumble into tiny particles until there’s nothing left. But what’s all this mean?

High Anxiety

While there are several accepted interpretations to the true meaning behind why we dream about our teeth falling out, the most common explanation is related to anxiety. While this type of dream can be brought on by a stressful life event where you feel as if you’ve lost control, it’s more often found in those with insecurities about their appearance, who are excessively anxious, or even depressed.  

A Stressful Decision

Maybe you’re considering leaving your job, ending a long-term relationship, or agreeing to taking on responsibilities that will certainly change your life as you currently know it. Weighing the pros and cons and determining just what you’re going to do can make you incapable of choosing and make you feel helpless. When this happens, we’re more likely to experience a dream about losing our teeth.

A More Positive Outlook

The common interpretations we’ve looked at so far are all a bit depressing. But there is one belief that indicates something more cheery. Losing teeth in a dream has been linked to the positive and rewarding meaning of birth — and not necessarily that of a child. Perhaps you’re starting a new job, a promising relationship, or are entering a part of life that feels a little like a rebirth of its own. Psychologist Carl Jung says that these positive life moments can also trigger a dream where you lose your teeth.

Even though your dreams may trick you into being worried about your dental health, the truth is there isn’t a connection between the two. If you have all of your teeth and take proper care of them, you’re probably in good shape. But if you are missing a tooth or a couple teeth in real life, there are solutions to replace them. Schedule a consultation at our Rocky Mount dental office to see if dental implants, a dental bridge, or dentures are right for you.

Is Drinking Green Beer on St. Patrick’s Day Bad for Teeth?

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

green beerSt. Patrick’s Day is often celebrated by wearing a bunch of green, maybe going to a parade, and oftentimes, drinking beer. Sometimes bars and restaurants even go the extra mile by dyeing their beer green to enhance the festive feeling. While the team at our dental office in Rocky Mount is all for enjoying the day responsibly, there are a few things about beer and your dental health that you should know about.

Acid Attack

It may surprise you to know that beer is quite acidic. While different types of beer have varying levels of acidity –  darker brews having more than their lighter counterparts – it’s all potentially dangerous to your grin. When large amounts of acid are introduced into the mouth, it begins to wear away the protective layer of tooth enamel. Without this barrier, teeth may become increasingly sensitive and even appear less vibrant and white.

Dingy Discoloration

Enamel erosion is only one potential reason your teeth may be looking a bit discolored. Drinking excessively may also cause your teeth to yellow over time. Dark stouts and porters, along with fruity beers, are the biggest culprits to beer related tooth discoloration. However, the food coloring used in beer on St. Patrick’s Day can also temporarily stain your smile a not-so-lovely shade of green.

Gum Disease

You’ll typically hear us talk about the main causes of gum disease being poor dental hygiene or tobacco use, but those aren’t the only contributors. Drinking alcohol in excess, beer included, leaves your mouth exposed to the loads of sugar found in these types of beverages. When sugar and bacteria unite they form a super sticky film known as plaque. This plaque can be removed through regular brushing, but if you forego brushing, it will harden into tartar. Tartar can block your toothbrush from cleaning all the nooks and crannies, especially along the gum line. This means bacteria is free to do as it pleases, including damaging gums and causing gum disease.   

Reduce The Risk

You can help protect your smile from the side effects of drinking beer by first enjoying it in moderation. Alternating a cup beer with a glass of water will rinse away excess sugars and acid that would otherwise be free to damage teeth. Of course, we also recommend seeing your dentist in Rocky Mount twice a year and brushing and flossing every day.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist, or you see some leftover green tint on your teeth following your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, give our dental office in Rocky Mount a call to schedule an appointment today.

Can Oral Health Affect Your Heart?

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

February is recognized as American Heart Health Month and is designed to raise awareness of the widespread problem of heart disease in the United States. While this is certainly a valuable promotion, what does it have to do with our Rocky Mount dental office? We’re glad you asked. Join us as we do our part in raising awareness on the lesser known contributor to heart disease, your oral health.

Oral Health Link to Overall Wellness

heart health monthWhile it may appear as your oral health is independent of the rest of your body, quite the opposite is true. Years of research has found a positive correlation between oral health and overall health. There have even been reports of certain oral health problems being linked to diabetic complications, certain cancers, and yes, heart disease.

Take a Good Look at the Gums

The oral health and systemic health connection is all about gum health. Gums are often a forgotten crucial piece to a healthy mouth, but not for your dentist in Rocky Mount. At every visit, we pay close attention to your gums. Why? We’re looking for any sign of gum disease – which is a serious infection that can progress into gingivitis or periodontitis and lead to tooth loss. But what’s perhaps even more concerning is the link between gum disease and heart disease.

Gum Disease & Heart Disease

When gum disease isn’t treated, it not only puts your teeth in danger, it increases your risk of heart disease as well. An untreated infection will advance in nature and even transfer into different parts of the body. In this situation, gum disease can easily move into the bloodstream. If this occurs, your body will produce an excess of C-reactive protein (CRP). Too much CRP can lead to:

  • Inflamed arteries
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes  

Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease

We know that it’s important to get gum disease treated. But it’s also important to get it treated quickly. Since gum disease can begin rapidly, knowing the signs is a great first step to an early diagnosis and successful treatment. Keep an eye out for:

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffy, tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth that feel loose

If you notice any signs of gum disease, we welcome you to call our dental office in Rocky Mount to schedule an appointment. We’ll work with you to protect your smile, and your heart.