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.

6 Things That Increase Your Risk of Cavities

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

woman looks at teeth in mirrorWhen we think of things that cause cavities, we typically imagine a diet packed full of sugary sweet treats. But our dental office in Rocky Mount wants you to know that eating a lot of sugar isn’t the only thing that increases your risk of developing cavities. In fact, there are plenty of things out there that can cause cavities that you may be unaware of.

Acidic Foods & Drinks

Sure, we all know that sugar is the most well known cause of cavities, but enjoying too many foods and drinks that are highly acidic is also likely to put you at risk. Acid wears down enamel and leaves teeth exposed to cavity-causing bacteria.

Inadequate Fluoride

Fluoride is a natural element that helps protect teeth. In growing children, it merges with the bone to build super strong teeth. For adults, fluoride hardens enamel which can protect teeth against acid, sugar, and bacteria.

Teeth with Deep Grooves

If you have teeth with a lot of deep grooves, chances are food gets wedged way in there and becomes difficult to remove. When this food isn’t removed, bacteria feed on it and produce an acidic byproduct. This leaves your teeth at risk for decay.

Tooth Grinding

Repeatedly rubbing teeth against teeth is a sure-fire way to chip away enamel and again leave teeth exposed. Grinding your teeth can also cause chips and cracks which create a snug little place for food to hide.

Dry Mouth

A healthy mouth produces a lot of saliva. This saliva neutralizes acid and rinses it away before it has a chance to affect enamel. If your mouth is dry, there isn’t enough saliva around to do this job properly and tends to result in cavities.

Cancer Treatments

Common cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy have saved many lives. However, these treatments don’t come without risks to your oral health. Radiation and chemotherapy tend to cause dry mouth, and as we know, dry mouth is bad news for teeth.

Of course, the best way to prevent cavities is to see your dentist in Rocky Mount every six months. These appointments help clean away any tartar or plaque buildup that your toothbrush at home can’t remove. They also aid us in catching any problems early while they’re still easy to treat.

If you’re due for your dental check up, call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment.

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Really Whiten Teeth?

Written by gpmadmin on . Posted in Cosmetic Dentistry

charcoal toothpasteThe charcoal toothpaste craze seems to be everywhere, and it also seems like everyone is using it to finally get the white smile they’ve always dreamed of. But can this messy black stuff that looks like it’s sure to stain teeth actually whiten them? The team at our dental office in Rocky Mount has the answer.

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Really Charcoal?

The stuff charcoal toothpaste is made out of is much different than what you may be imagining. And if you’re visualizing the gray rocks used to heat up the grill at a summer BBQ, you’re thinking of the wrong stuff. Charcoal toothpaste is made from something called activated charcoal, which is a treated form of carbon. The treating process makes the carbon porous. It’s these pores that are reasonable for the claim that charcoal toothpaste can whiten teeth. Essentially, it’s believed that these pores can pull stains, tartar, and bacteria away from teeth.

Is Putting Charcoal Toothpaste in Your Mouth Dangerous?

Activated charcoal has been used as a trusted medical treatment for over 2,000 years. In fact, the ancient Romans used a powder form to brush their teeth. Following the same thought that the porous nature of activated charcoal helps absorb anything it’s path, it’s also been used to help treat people who have been poisoned. This treatment may still be practiced at modern hospitals.

Will Using Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Your Smile?

We’re happy to report that charcoal toothpaste can effectively remove surface stains on teeth, allowing them to take on a brighter, whiter appearance. However, if your tooth discoloration is below the surface, you may not see a difference after using charcoal toothpaste. Additionally, the American Dental Association (ADA) has a few warnings about the stuff. Since charcoal toothpaste isn’t only porous but also pretty abrasive it can be damaging to teeth. Regularly brushing your teeth with a highly abrasive toothpaste can wear away tooth enamel and leave your teeth at risk for cavity-causing bacteria. A thinner enamel may also mean a duller discolored smile.

Other Whitening Options

Charcoal toothpaste is only one option when it comes to whitening your smile. Other things you can consider include:  

The best way to whiten your smile is to start by scheduling an appointment at our Rocky Mount dental office. Give us a call today!

“How Can I Improve My Smile?”

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

woman hides smileAre you unhappy with the way your smile looks? You’re not alone. According to the American Association of Orthodontics, more than one third of U.S. residents don’t like their smiles. But our dental office in Rocky Mount has some good news: you don’t need to live with a smile you don’t like! Thanks to advancements in dental technology, there are easy ways to improve your smile with cosmetic dentistry.

Smile Whitening

One of the most common complaints people have about their smiles is that it’s just not white enough. Smile whitening is an easy, affordable solution that can help whiten your smile by several shades. There are both in-office and take-home whitening options available, and even over-the-counter products. Before you choose a whitening product, we encourage you to look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance and talk with your dentist in Rocky Mount about the best solution for you.

Veneers

Dental veneers are another popular cosmetic dentistry treatment that can transform the appearance of your smile. These thin pieces of ceramic are custom-shaped to match your specific needs and appear natural. Your dentist will bond the veneers to the front of your teeth, essentially covering up anything you don’t like including discoloration or chips and cracks.

Bonding

If your tooth trouble is more focused on dark, decayed, or chipped teeth, dental bonding may just be the solution you need. Dental bonding is a super simple, yet often incredibly effective, treatment that will quickly create a smile you’re proud of. First, your dentist will remove any decay. Next, the area of concern will be covered with a safe composite material. Your dentist will then use an artistic eye to sculpt the material into a natural shape and even color. The composite material is then hardened, or bonded, to the tooth surface for a strong new look.

Complete Smile Makeover

If you’re someone who can’t seem to narrow down your concerns to just one or two, you may be an ideal candidate for a smile makeover. During a smile makeover process, you and your dentist will work closely together to identify all of your concerns and determine a treatment plan to fix them. A complete smile makeover usually includes several types of cosmetic dentistry treatments, but is a life-changing procedure that will certainly give you a beautiful smile you’re proud of.

If you’re unhappy with any aspect of your smile, we encourage you to give our Rocky Mount dental office a call to schedule a consultation. You deserve a smile you love, and we’re happy to help.

Drinking Wine: Good for the Heart, Bad for Teeth?

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

holiday dinner with wineMost of us have heard that drinking red wine may have heart-healthy benefits. And while there’s still some debate on just how true that is, you may find it surprising that there may just be some oral health benefits to partaking in glass every now and then. Our dental office in Rocky Mount explores these potential smile benefits as well as some not-so-good side effects in this week’s blog.

The Good

Studies conducted in several areas throughout the world have suggested a positive link between drinking red wine and a decrease in tooth decay. One of these studies published by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry took bacteria rich biofilm from the mouths of several volunteers, which they then dipped into wine. What they found was that the wine was effective at getting rid of the bacteria. With less bacteria around to weaken enamel and cause decay, one could also assume a lower risk for cavities. However, it might not be all good news.

The Bad

In most of the studies surrounding the positive correlation between red wine and dental health the researchers removed the alcohol content prior to testing. This is important to note since we know alcohol tends to dry out the mouth. A dry mouth has the opposite effect of fighting off decay and actually supports a decay-friendly environment. Red wine also has a tendency to transform teeth from a bright white to a dull or discolored appearance. While that can usually be reversed through whitening or cosmetic dentistry from your dentist in Rocky Mount, it’s still a negative in our book. Finally, the acidity of wine can wear down tooth enamel and leave teeth exposed to, you guessed it, decay.

The Final Verdict

We don’t really have a definite conclusion on whether the potential positives of red wine outweigh the negatives. Essentially, more research is needed for us to get on board with supporting the claim that red wine is a good way to fight decay. But in the meantime, we’re not here to tell anyone to stop enjoying their occasional glass of wine, of course. Just enjoy responsibly, keep an eye out for any tooth discoloration, and follow the tips below.

  • Alternate drinking wine with water. If you can, it wouldn’t hurt to rinse your mouth out with water occasionally, too.
  • Hold off on brushing immediately after drinking wine to keep the acid from being spread throughout your entire mouth and all over your teeth.

If you’re a red wine lover and happen to notice some tooth discoloration, call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule a professional whitening or cosmetic dentistry treatment to get your smile back to a vibrant white. Or if you’re just looking for a new place to call your dental home, we’re always welcoming new patients and would love to see you. Schedule a visit with us today!