Oral Health Risks for Seniors

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

seniors take selfiesAs we get closer to Senior Citizens Day on August 21st, our dental office in Rocky Mount wanted to dedicate a blog to some of our most treasured and favorite patients — our seniors and their families. Today, we’ll focus on some of the most common oral health risks that tend to affect senior citizens most often, and how to protect your smile against them. 

  • Discolored Teeth – Yellowing or darkening of teeth can happen to anyone, but as we get older, we may start to see our teeth change color and lose their whiteness and brightness. While many things can contribute to tooth discoloration including smoking and tobacco use, the foods we eat, our morning coffee, or our evening glass of red wine, the reason we tend to see discoloration as we age is a bit different. Many times our tooth enamel, which is the white outer coating of our teeth, gets thinner as we get older. This can actually make the insides of your teeth visible, and since the color of the inner tooth is often dark and a bit yellow, the teeth also appear yellow or dark. 
  • Dry Mouth – Dry mouth may seem like a minor concern and nothing worth worrying over. However, if left untreated, dry mouth can increase the risk of decay, gum disease, or even tooth loss. Dry mouth can be caused by any number of things but most commonly it’s a result of medication. The truth is, many prescription medications and over-the-counter medications list dry mouth as a side effect. Why is this concerning? When the mouth dries out, it means there’s not enough saliva to rinse away dangerous bacteria, leaving your teeth exposed to the very thing that can easily create a cavity
  • Tooth Loss – One of the biggest fears we all have when it comes to our oral health is the misconception that we’re going to experience tooth loss at some point in our lives. But this isn’t necessarily the case. If you take good care of your teeth and see your dentist in Rocky Mount regularly, you very well may be able to keep your natural teeth for your entire life. In fact, the best thing you can do to protect yourself against tooth loss is to brush and floss every day, avoid tobacco products, and seek care early if you’re experiencing a problem. However, if you do happen to lose a tooth or need to have to one removed… don’t panic. There are many tooth replacement options available such as dental implants, a dental bridge, or dentures. 
  • Gum Disease – Gum disease is another condition that can affect anyone. But it’s very serious and tends to affect us more as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 70% of those over the age of 65 have gum disease. Gum disease is an infection that occurs under the gum line and can cause red, painful bleeding gums. But that’s not all. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and may even increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and as recent research suggests, Alzheimer’s disease. 

While there’s nothing we can do to keep ourselves from getting older, there are things we can do to protect our smiles even as we age including: 

  • Brush and floss every day 
  • See your dentist in Rocky Mount at least twice a year
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you have dry mouth 
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco

If it’s been longer than six months since you or a family member has been to the dentist, we welcome you to call our dental office in Rocky Mount to schedule an appointment with us today.

Summer Foods That Your Smile Will Love

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

summer foodAs you’re enjoying the sun this summer and the foods that tend to go along with long summer days and nights, the team at our Rocky Mount dental office wants to share a few snack ideas with you that your smile will love. 

Top 4 Summer Foods for Your Smile

When choosing what to eat this summer try this basic rule of thumb: if it’s good for your body, it’s good for your teeth. Try some of the following: 

  • Cheese – Cheese is a great snack for your teeth and your bones. It contains both calcium and vitamin D which work together to keep teeth and bones nice and strong. Cheese can also increase saliva production which will help rinse away bacteria and sugar. 
  • Chicken – Enjoying a piece of grilled chicken breast may sound perfect, after all, it’s healthy and delicious. But the drumsticks, thighs, and wing can be more beneficial for your smile since they contain collagen. Collagen is incredibly important for strong, healthy teeth and gums. 
  • Vegetables – Crispy, uncooked vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and celery are fantastic snack options for similar reasons as the other foods. Raw veggies rub away buildup on your teeth as you chew and protects your smile against decay. This quick cleaning may also help keep bad breath away. 
  • Water – So this one isn’t really food, but it is really important. Keeping your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water will help rinse away food particles and bacteria before they have a chance to settle in and cause damage. 

What to Avoid

The truth is, not all summer snacks are great for your teeth. There are some that can increase your risk of decay and cavities such as:

  • Condiments
  • Soda
  • Alcohol

These foods and drinks either have a lot of sugar, are acidic, or can dry out your mouth — all of which can increase the chance of decay and cavities. 

Choosing healthy snacks (and drinks!) this summer can go a long way in protecting your teeth against decay. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid some of your favorites if they’re on the “avoid” list. Just remember to enjoy those in moderation and of course, see your dentist in Rocky Mount regularly.

“What Do I Do If I Have a Dental Emergency?”

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

man with toothacheLike any type of emergency, a dental emergency can be serious, and you should act quickly. But not all dental emergencies require the same type of treatment. Knowing what to do if you have a dental emergency is key to successful treatment and easing any pain you have. At our dental office in Rocky Mount, we’d like to share some of the most common dental emergencies and how to handle each one.  

Broken/Chipped Tooth

What to Do: Clean your mouth and any pieces of the tooth you can find by rinsing with warm water. If you happen to be bleeding, apply a piece of gauze and pressure to the area to help stop it. A cold compress can reduce swelling and ease any pain that you may have.

Lost Filling

What to Do: Losing a filling will leave a hole in your tooth, which can be pretty painful. Get to the dentist as soon as you can. While you’re waiting, you can fill the hole with dental cement that you can buy at many pharmacies or grocery stores. Keep in mind this is a temporary solution.

Knocked Out Tooth

What to Do: One of the scarier dental emergencies is having a tooth knocked out. In this case, promptness is incredibly important. If you can get the tooth back into the socket within an hour, the chance of saving the tooth increases. There are a few things you should know when handling a knocked out tooth. First, only touch the tooth by the crown and do not touch the roots. Then try to place the tooth back into the socket. If this isn’t possible, store the tooth in a cup of milk or keep it under your tongue with some spit.

Toothache

What to Do: A toothache can come on suddenly but typically means a problem has been brewing for a little while. Reduce pain by rinsing with warm salt water, applying a cold compress against the cheek, or using a bit of clove oil to the sore spot.

See Your Dentist in Rocky Mount

Even though there are things you can do to help reduce pain related to a dental emergency, it’s still crucial to see your dentist quickly. Early intervention by a dental professional is the absolute best way to successfully treating dental injuries and should not be delayed.

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, we encourage you to call our Rocky Mount dental office as soon as you can. We’re here to help.

Explore The Power of Dental X-Rays (And All They Do For You)

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

dental x-raysIt’s very rare that a day goes by at our Rocky Mount dental office where we don’t rely on the power of x-rays to help us plan for or even complete a case. We’re able to get a good look at everything from your teeth and gums to your jaw bone and bite health. We can see things that aren’t always visible at first glance.

With the advancements in dental technology, there are many different types of x-rays available on both traditional film and digitally. Most dental offices have made the switch to digital x-rays, but it’s important to note that today’s dental x-rays are very safe and give off very little stray radiation. Dental x-rays are advanced thanks to changes in dentistry over the years relying on using:

  • Lower x-ray dosages
  • Higher quality film
  • Film holders
  • Well-designed, full-body lead aprons lined with lead

What Kind of Dental X-Rays Do I Need?

When it comes to dental x-rays, there are two types of ways your Rocky Mount dentist might go about getting the right images to help your smile. Besides having the option of having photos taken on traditional film or images that are stored digitally, dentists can choose either an intraoral or extraoral x-ray.

Intraoral means inside your mouth and extraoral means outside the mouth. Intraoral x-rays are the most common type of dental x-ray and provide an extremely high level of detail to help us diagnose cavities, examine your tooth roots, look over your bony areas, check the status of developing teeth, or monitor ones that have yet to erupt.

Extraoral x-rays are usually relied on to help dentists and orthodontists focus on the bones in your head, mainly your upper and lower jaw. We can see the bigger picture of what’s going on from your head to neck and how it’s all connected to your oral health and growth.

How Many Types of Dental X-Rays Are There?

If you combine both intraoral and extraoral radiographs, there are eight different kinds of x-rays that dentists can use to treat patients. Some of the most common ones include:

1) Panoramic X-Rays – Gives the dentist a full view of your nasal area, jaws, teeth, joints, and sinuses. Orthodontists love doing these x-rays before treatment, so they know how things are growing and coming together in younger patients.

2) Periapical X-Rays – Focusing on one tooth, we can see it in its entirety from crown to bone.

3) Bitewing X-Rays – These images are taken when we need a better look at your back teeth or molars. It helps in diagnosing wisdom teeth problems and shows the dentist how your teeth fit together.

4) Occlusal X-Rays – This is helpful for younger patients because these images give us a clear view of what’s going on underneath the gum line and how teeth are placed. We get a perfect view of both your upper and lower arch. We can also see if you have extra teeth that never broke through your gums.

If you’re interested in learning more about x-rays or want to know if you’re due for a set or two, please call your dentist in Rocky Mount. (If you’re looking for a new dentist and need some x-rays, we’re happy to help with that too!)

Your Smile Loves Calcium. Do You?

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

foods with calciumWe all know the old advertising slogan – “Milk. It does a body good.” This is mainly in part because it’s rich in calcium, a nutrient that’s vital to helping your teeth and bones stay strong enough to last a lifetime. At our Rocky Mount  dental office, we always want you and your family to make the healthiest, best decisions to fit your lifestyle. Millions of Americans choose to follow diets that restrict or don’t include dairy, such as vegetarians or vegans. There are also millions of other Americans who are known as lactose intolerant and can’t do dairy either.

There are plenty of ways you can get calcium without strictly relying on cheese, yogurt, and milk. (Although, if you do enjoy them make sure they’re part of your regular diet to help boost your calcium intake.) Let’s take a look at how a diet rich in calcium affects your teeth and your bones.

Getting Calcium Without The Cow

There are a variety of health or personal reasons that some people choose to avoid dairy products. There’s no reason to worry, because there are plenty of delicious, nutritious foods out there that can supply your body’s demand for calcium.

Fortified products: Orange juice, waffles, tofu

Veggies, Nuts, and Beans: Leafy greens, almonds, soybeans, soy milk, spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Teeth & Calcium: A Love Story

Your teeth, gums, and jaw bone are all affected by the amount of calcium you have in your daily diet. Your dentist in Rocky Mount will tell you that calcium will help your teeth stay healthy and protected against cavities, decay, and tooth loss. It’s a match made in dental heaven.

FUN FACT: 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your teeth and bones. – Institute of Medicine

Your gums appreciate calcium too because it helps them stay healthy free from damaging bacteria and disease. Calcium also helps your muscles and blood vessels work more effectively.

Bones & Calcium: Another Love Story

Why should your Rocky Mount dentist care so much about calcium and your bones? Well, obviously we want the best for your overall health, but in terms of your oral health, we know how important calcium is for your jaw bone. Your jaw bone serves as the anchor for your teeth, so you’ll want to keep it healthy for as long as possible to avoid tooth loss down the road. It’s also super important to remember that the other bones in your body also need calcium to help prevent damaging osteoporosis later in life.

Getting the right amount of calcium in your diet, no matter what your age, is very important to help keep your smile and your gums healthy. It’s really a benefit that your whole body will thank you for. We thank you for reading your blog. If you have questions or concerns about your smile, you know who to call. We’re always happy to help in any way we can!

The Signs of Oral Cancer

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

oral cancer awareness ribbonApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our dental office in Rocky Mount, we know just how serious and scary oral cancer can be. To do our part to help raise awareness, we’re here to share facts, signs, and risk factors of oral cancer with our patients and neighbors.

Facts About Oral Cancer

  • More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year
  • Oral cancer kills more than 8,500 people annually
  • Nearly 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users
  • Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women
  • Patients who have had oral cancer once are up to 20 times more likely to develop another form of cancer

The Importance of a Fast Diagnosis

Oral cancer can be treated, however, treatment is much more successful when the disease is caught early. This is one reason why bi-annual visits to your dentist in Rocky Mount are so important. You see, unlike other types of cancer, there are no official timing guidelines for screening for oral cancer like there is for, say, colon or breast cancer. Your regular dental visits essentially act as regular oral cancer screenings. These checkups allow your dental team to identify any potential signs of oral cancer early so that you can get treatment fast.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

One thing that can make oral cancer difficult to diagnose is that its signs and symptoms can disguise themselves as common oral health problems that don’t seem like a big deal. However, you’re better safe than sorry… so if you notice any of the signs below, call your dentist as soon as you can.

  • A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck
  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • Chronic bad breath

Risk Factors

Even though oral cancer can happen to anyone, there are some people who may be at increased risk including:

  • Those over 55
  • Current or former tobacco users
  • Heavy drinkers

Oral cancer is a very serious disease. Reduce your risk by changing any risky habits and commit to seeing your dentist every six months. Of course, if you suspect you’re at risk for oral cancer, or are concerned by any potential signs, we welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office.

What Are Signs That I Grind My Teeth?

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

man grinds teethDo you or someone in your family grind their teeth? Did you know you could be grinding your teeth and not even know it? At our dental office in Rocky Mount, we see so many side effects of teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) on teeth of patients of all ages. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about grinding your teeth and what we can do to stop the damage to your smile.

What You Need to Know About Bruxism

Your Rocky Mount dentist can tell if you grind your teeth just by looking at them. Grinding usually wears teeth down, causing cracks and chips that can lead to further damaged or broken teeth. That’s why it’s important to address any bruxism issues you may have as soon as possible so your smile stays healthy for a lifetime.

Some additional signs that your grinding or clenching your teeth can also include:

Jaw joint pain or discomfort

– Facial pain

– Headaches or migraines

– Jaw muscle contractions

– Broken restorations

– Tooth sensitivity

– Enamel loss

– Damaged gums

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, there could be a good chance that you’re one of the nearly 30 million people who grind their teeth either during sleep or even subconsciously as you go about your day.

Is there something not right about your smile? Are you concerned that you’re grinding your teeth? The best way to help yourself is to call our Rocky Mount dental office right away. We can give you a comprehensive, thorough exam and learn more about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. From there, we’ll be able to see what kind of shape your teeth are in, address the severity of your teeth grinding, and put together a personalized treatment plan for you.

Don’t put your teeth at risk for damage. Talk to the talented team at our dental office in Rocky Mount today! Our job isn’t just to do fillings and clean teeth, we’re here to provide you with complete oral health care you can always rely on. Whatever the outcome of your consultation or what your needs may be, we’ll take the time to diagnose your condition so you can get the right kind of treatment to help you and your smile stay pain-free.

Healthy Foods. Healthy Smile. Healthy Body. Healthy Life.

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

nutrition monthWe always like to take a moment this time of year to dedicate a special blog to eating healthy in honor of National Nutrition Month. Ask anyone of our team members at our dental office in Rocky Mount, and they’re going to tell you how important it is to make sure you’re only putting good foods into your body. This will help ensure that your smile (and the rest of you) stays healthy so that you can live a long, happy life.

How Do I Know What to Eat?

The first thing your dentist in Rocky Mount is going to recommend is that you limit the amount of sugar, fats, and processed foods in your diet. Let’s take a look at some helpful, healthy replacements you can easily incorporate in both your personal diet and the foods you feed your family.

  1. Replace sugary sodas and sports drinks with: Water. It’s just that simple. Water is the best way for your mouth and your body to stay hydrated which is essential to your overall health. Think of water like a superhero when it comes to protecting your body. By drinking plenty of water every day, you’re going to wash away food and debris that can get stuck in your teeth, as well as stimulate your body to produce more saliva– which is your best defense against smile deterioration because it’s rich with minerals and proteins.
  2. Replace acidic foods with: Foods that are high in calcium and phosphorus. Both calcium and phosphorus aren’t going erode your teeth like foods that cause the formation of harmful acid in your mouth. These elements can help keep your enamel and gums going strong.
  • To get more calcium: Try cheese (aged, hard), plain yogurt, low-fat milk, fish, almonds, and tofu
  • To get more phosphorus: Try nuts, red meat, eggs, pumpkin seeds, and fish
  1. Replace unhealthy snacks with: Hard, crunchy foods that contain large amounts of water. Again, crunching and munching on these foods is going to signal your mouth to create more saliva, which is beneficial to keeping your smile free from cavity-causing bacteria. Crunchy foods can even act like a toothbrush, helping to remove excess plaque and unwanted food particles. Try raw celery, cucumbers, apples, and carrots to add an extra, healthy bite to your diet.

Do I Really Need to Avoid Sugar?

The simple answer is yes. We know it can be hard, especially when sugars are hidden everywhere. Carbohydrate-loaded foods, even though they’re not overtly overflowing with sugars, will break down into simple sugars in your body, and this is just as dangerous as eating sweets and drinking sugary beverages. Try to be more mindful of what the labels say when you’re shopping at the store for you and your family in order to reduce or even eliminate the number of carbs your family regularly intakes.

Our Rocky Mount dental office knows hows challenging it can be to change your diet, especially when you’ve got a hungry, picky family to feed. If you find that you’re not eating as healthy as you should be, try taking small steps to get your diet back on track. You won’t regret making the change for your smile and yourself.

What Causes Bad Breath?

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

bad breathWhile bad breath can be embarrassing, there may be a bigger cause for concern if it’s something that affects you every day. The team at our dental office in Rocky Mount knows that bad breath can be a temporary problem… or… even a sign of something more serious. Join us as we look at some of the main things that cause bad breath and also some ways that you can help get rid of it.

Cause #1: Dry Mouth.

Dry mouth is something that can initially appear as a minor problem that comes along with some discomfort. But the truth is, when there isn’t enough saliva in the mouth to rinse away bacteria, they can build up and cause some seriously bad breath and other oral health problems such as decay.

What You Can Do: Dry mouth can be caused by medications, or it could also be hereditary. Treatment would vary depending on the cause of your dry mouth, but the easiest way to help is to make sure to drink plenty of water every day. Keeping your mouth hydrated is an important step in keeping it healthy. If you suspect medications are causing dry mouth and bad breath, talk with your doctor about other potential solutions.

Cause #2: Foods

Perhaps the leading cause of temporary bad breath is the foods we eat. Potent foods such as garlic, onions, or fish can pack a heavy odor that can linger on our breath even after we’re done eating. Many times this type of bad breath will go away over time and isn’t cause for concern.

What You Can Do: To help make the stench caused by food disappear faster, try chewing a piece of sugarless gum. Not only will the minty flavor help mask any lingering food smells, but gum can also help stimulate saliva production and help rinse away bacteria or food particles. If you don’t have gum, swishing with water or snacking on apples or carrots can help.  

Cause #3: Gum Disease.

If your bad breath stays around long after you’ve eaten and it’s become an everyday thing for you, we recommend seeing your dentist in Rocky Mount as soon as possible. Chronic bad breath can be an early warning sign of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious oral health problem that can lead to tooth loss and other concerns throughout the body such as heart disease.

What You Can Do: The best way to prevent gum disease and the bad breath that tends to go with it is to brush and floss daily and to see your dentist regularly for professional cleanings. However, if you already have gum disease, it’s crucial to get help sooner rather than later while treatment in reversing the disease is still highly successful.

Bad breath isn’t something that you have to live with. In fact, you shouldn’t take bad breath lightly. If you’re concerned about your bad breath and are looking for a solution, we welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment with us today. We will help find the cause of your bad breath and work with you to cure it.

What Can You Do to Make a Toothache Go Away?

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

woman with toothacheThere’s nothing quite like the discomfort of a toothache, and yet, there’s actually an entire day dedicated to them. February 9th is recognized as National Toothache Day, and in honor of this strange holiday, our dental office in Rocky Mount is sharing some of the best ways you can make an annoying and painful toothache go away.

Toothache Remedies

  • Floss. Something as simple as a piece of floss can be the difference between continuing to experience toothache pain and finally getting some relief. If you believe your aches and pains are coming from a piece of food that got stuck in between teeth or up into the gums, gently floss the area. Make sure to get up under the gum line and don’t use too much pressure, this can cause bleeding and increased pain.
  • Cold Compress. Using an ice pack or anything you have that’s cold will help make the swelling go down and release any pressure that may be on the nerves. However, don’t apply an ice pack or anything similar to it directly on your skin. Instead, wrap your cold pack in a cloth or t-shirt then apply it to the face for about 15 minutes. You can repeat this process throughout the day but make sure to take breaks in between icings.
  • Oral Anesthetic. If you’re looking for temporary relief through numbing, pick up an oral anesthetic at your local pharmacy. Apply the gel or liquid directly to the painful area and get immediately numb. Keep in mind, oral anesthetics are for short-term use only and are not a permanent solution.  
  • Salt Water. Rinsing your mouth out with a mixture of warm water and salt a few times daily may also reduce toothache pain. The drying nature of the salt will help pull away and dry out any fluid that may be putting pressure on the nerves and causing you pain. Just remember not to swallow.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medicine. If you’re experiencing a toothache, there’s a good chance that you also have some swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help. Use whichever anti-inflammatory medication is best for you and follow the directions on the packaging. Never place a pill directly on the gums or tooth — this will only cause more pain and can lead to damage.

There are numerous things you can do to help ease the pain associated with a toothache, but all of these remedies are only temporary solutions. In order to completely make a toothache go away, we always recommend scheduling a visit with your dentist in Rocky Mount as soon as you can for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

If you’re suffering from a toothache, we welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office to schedule an appointment today.