Current Stress & Oral Health 

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

Over the past couple of months, you may have been feeling more stressed out than usual, and rightfully so. Our lives have changed, some dramatically, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future and a bigger focus on staying healthy than maybe ever before. But believe it or not, the stress we’re feeling about staying healthy may be having the exact opposite effect. In fact, stress is known to affect both overall and oral health. Take it from this New York Times article and your dentist in Rocky Mount when we say that lowering your current stress levels can go a long way in keeping your body and your mouth healthy. 

How Stress Relates to Oral Health

  • Teeth Clenching & Grinding – One of the most common ways stress affects our oral health is by clenching and grinding our teeth. Oftentimes, this response to stress is done while sleeping or completely subconsciously. Basically, a lot of times we don’t even know we’re doing it. But how can we stop something we don’t know is happening? Well, while we may not be aware of the habit while we’re doing it, the side effects of clenching and grinding are often obvious. Constantly clenching or grinding our teeth can result in chipped, broken, or cracked teeth. If this happens, your dentist in Rocky Mount will want to restore your tooth. Stressful clenching and grinding can also put unnatural and excessive stress on the jaw joint, known as your TMJ or temporomandibular joint. Over time, this can cause something called TMJ disorder or TMD which is a painful condition that can cause popping or clicking of the jaw or even a locked jaw. 
  • Gum Disease – Another way stress can affect oral health and, in turn, overall health is through gum disease. Gum disease is often caused by tobacco use or poor oral hygiene, but increased levels of stress can also increase the risk of developing gum disease. If not treated by your dentist in Rocky Mount, gum disease can lead to other whole-body health concerns such as the increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and some cancers. 
  • Canker Sores – Even though stress is not the only thing that can cause canker sores, research conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry suggests a possible correlation between stress and canker sore development. Canker sores are tiny red or white sores that resemble ulcers. They can be painful but are not contagious. 

Stay Healthy By Lowering Stress

Stress can affect not only your oral health but your overall health, too. And nowadays, it’s incredibly important to do everything you can to lower stress and stay healthy. Some stress-reduction techniques recommended by experts include:

  • Sleep. Our bodies recover as we sleep. This means our immune system is better prepared to fight off infections. It also means lower stress levels. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, avoid your phone or other sources of blue light at least an hour before bed, listen to relaxing music or calming sounds, and keep a regular sleep schedule even on days you don’t have to get up. 
  • Exercise. Scheduling time for some exercise every day not only helps your cardiovascular and muscular systems, but it can also reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins, the happy chemical, and can lower the feelings of stress. So dust off that treadmill or get your downward dog on, whatever you do, get some sort of exercise daily. 
  • Meditate. Some cultures have been using mediation as a way to relax and stay healthy for centuries. Focusing on your breath and clearing your mind has been proven to lower heart rate and stress levels.  Find an app that will guide you through mediation practices and set aside time each day to just breathe.

Just like the way stress affects everyone differently, stress reduction is different for everyone, too. Try a few techniques above, keep practicing, and find what works best for you.

Should You Get Dentures or Dental Implants?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Implant, Oral Health

Our teeth are designed to last a lifetime. However, tooth loss happens all too often as a result of either age, accident, or disease. In fact, according to the American College of Prosthodontists, about 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and about 40 million are missing all of their natural teeth. When someone is missing a tooth or several teeth, it can affect both oral and overall health. This is one reason why your dentist in Rocky Mount believes that everyone who is missing a tooth or teeth should find the best tooth replacement treatment for them. Oftentimes, this means either getting dentures or dental implants. Join us as we take a closer look at each of these restorative dentistry treatments in this blog. 

Dentures

Dentures, also sometimes known as false teeth, are a type of restorative dentistry that can replace a few missing teeth (often called a partial) or an entire mouth full. This tooth replacement option is removable and may be the preferred choice for people who are missing a series of teeth instead of just one or two here and there. Dentures are custom-crafted to fit comfortably in your mouth, and thanks to advancements in dental technology, dentures can now appear more realistic than they ever have before (so long, Chiclet teeth!). While dentures are usually more affordable than dental implants, they do require some maintenance. Both full dentures and partial dentures need to be removed, cleaned, and soaked every night to keep them in good shape and fitting properly. Dentures also require denture adhesive when putting them back in when you wake up, which can be cumbersome for some people and may cause dentures to slip while eating and talking. However, they may be the best tooth replacement option for you if you’ve been told you have bone loss in your jaws or that your jaws aren’t healthy enough for surgical dental implant treatment. 

Dental Implants

Another tooth replacement option highly recommended by dentists in Rocky Mount is dental implants. Unlike dentures, dental implants are a permanent, non-removable restorative dentistry treatment that can replace either one or several missing teeth. While dental implants are initially more expensive than dentures, the treatment is often superior and can end up saving you money in the long run. Dental implants are surgically inserted into the jaw bone and allowed to heal. Afterward, a custom-created crown tops the implant. Dental implants can also be inserted into the jaw bone and topped with a custom full set of prosthetic teeth. This allows your dentist to replace all of your teeth without the hassle of removable dentures. Since dental implants are permanent, there’s no worry about slippage while eating or talking, and they function just like your natural teeth. Additionally, implants can continue to stimulate the jaw bone-  which can help in appearance as well as function. 

As with any dental treatment or medical treatment, there is no absolute right choice for every single person as everyone is different. It’s best to speak with your dentist in Rocky Mount to find the best tooth replacement option for your specific situation. 

Is Cow’s Milk Really The Best Milk For Teeth?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

In the past few years, many people have been ditching cow’s milk for other often plant-based alternatives such as soy milk. While your dentist in Rocky Mount certainly understands the appeal of this lower-calorie milk option, we do want to make sure that we examine the potential effects from an oral health standpoint. So what do you say? Join us in taking a closer look at the impact of soy milk on oral health. 

Up First — Cow’s Milk 

Before we dive into some of the potential oral health side effects of soy milk, it’s important to understand why your dentist in Rocky Mount is such a big fan of cow’s milk. Essentially, this staple go-to for many families provides our teeth with some of the most important things we can ever give them — calcium and vitamin D. The powerhouse combination of calcium and vitamin D is crucial to not only building and maintaining strong teeth but bones, too. Calcium and vitamin D help bones and teeth replenish minerals they lose over time. In terms of oral health, this replenishment helps keep teeth tough, strong, and protected against bacteria and acids. Without them, teeth are at increased risk of decay and cavities. 

A Closer Look at Soy Milk

While there are many different types of cow milk alternatives, we’re going to take a closer look at one of the more common choices of soy milk. Soy milk is a popular choice because it’s lower in calories and contains less saturated fat than cow’s milk. It even still has our powerhouse duo of calcium and vitamin D. So from a dietary perspective, soy milk is a great choice. However, your dentist in Rocky Mount wants you to know that the amount of calcium and vitamin D is often lower in soy milk when compared to cow’s milk, and there’s also an interesting thing that happens after we drink soy milk. According to recent studies, when introduced to soy milk, mouth bacteria produce six times more acid than they do with cow’s milk. Why is this concerning? Well, more acid means a bigger chance of enamel erosion as well as an increased chance of decay and cavities. An important thing to note: As with any type of research, more studies are needed in order to develop a strong correlation between soy milk and acid production in the mouth, but this is a good place to start and we’re comfortable saying when in doubt, drink cow’s milk.

What If You Can’t Drink Cow’s Milk? 

We understand that many people can’t drink cow’s milk due to dietary restrictions such as lactose intolerance or religious reasons. When this is the case, it’s important to get calcium and vitamin from other sources such as soy milk or other foods and drinks such as: 

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Calcium-fortified coconut or almond milk

Now, even though diet is an important part of maintaining a healthy mouth, it’s still crucial to take care of your teeth at home and see your dentist in Rocky Mount every six months. So make sure you brush and floss regularly and schedule (and keep!) your appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist twice a year. 

What Causes Dry Mouth? 

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

Nobody enjoys the feeling of a dry mouth or all of the side effects that go along with it. The desert-dry feeling, the stickiness of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and of course the bad breath are all related to a dry mouth. But dry mouth is more than simple discomfort. In fact, your dentist in Rocky Mount wants you to know that dry mouth can also lead to some serious oral health problems.  

Dry Mouth & Oral Health Problems
Yes, dry mouth is annoying and uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous if left untreated. You see, a dry mouth means there’s not enough saliva in the mouth to neutralize acid and rinse away bacteria. When this happens, the bacteria and acid can attack teeth, wear down the enamel, and cause cavities. While everyone experiences dry mouth occasionally, when dry mouth doesn’t go away on its own, you should see your dentist in Rocky Mount to figure out what’s causing it and how to treat it. 

Causes
Dry mouth isn’t one of those conditions where there’s one underlying cause. In fact, there are numerous things that can cause dry mouth. Some of the most common explanations behind dry mouth include: 

  • Dehydration. One of the most common explanations for dry mouth, and also the easiest to fix, is dehydration. Our mouths need to stay properly hydrated in order to continue to produce saliva. However, most people don’t drink enough water every day and may experience dry mouth as a result. Try your best to drink plenty of water throughout the day, every day. 
  • Disease. As you may already know, there’s a strong correlation between oral health and overall health, and many times when disease or an ailment affects one, the other also experiences some sort of change. This is especially true for dry mouth. Dry mouth is a known side effect of some diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS, Sjögren’s syndrome, and others.
  • Medications. Hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of prescription and over-the-counter medications include dry mouth as a side effect. To help find out if your medicine may be causing your dry mouth, make sure you read the packet or warning labels of all medicines and always share your complete list of medications with your dentist in Rocky Mount. Even if you think medication may be to blame, never stop taking medicine without first discussing it with your physician. 
  • Alcohol and Tobacco. Both alcohol and tobacco are naturally drying, especially when they’re consumed often. To help fight off dry mouth caused by alcohol or tobacco, use them sparingly or try to quit altogether. 

Dry Mouth Treatment
Each person’s case of dry mouth is different, and treatment depends on the individual and the cause behind it. Talking with your dentist in Rocky Mount is the best way to find the best dry mouth treatment for you. But there are other things you can do on your own to help combat dry mouth such as: 

  • Drinking at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day
  • Avoiding tobacco and drinking alcohol
  • Limiting caffeinated beverages
  • Chewing sugarless gum

Nobody should have to live day after day with the discomfort of dry mouth. We can help. Call our dental office to schedule an appointment and start getting relief.

Is Sunshine Good For Your Teeth?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health, Overall Health

sunshineWe all know that getting out into the sunshine can benefit our overall health by boosting mood and increasing vitamin D levels. But can sunshine also be good for oral health? While this may seem like an odd question to ask, your dentist in Rocky Mount wants you to know that it’s actually not that far fetched –  as the benefits of sunshine, especially the added dose of vitamin D, can in fact benefit your oral health. 

The Benefits of Sunshine & Vitamin D

There are countless benefits of sunshine and vitamin D. Research has shown that sunshine, in particular, helps us sleep better, feel better, and may even help us lose weight. But it’s the power of vitamin D that we get from the sunshine that truly makes your dentist in Rocky Mount happy. Some ways that vitamin D helps our teeth and our bodies include: 

  • Stronger Teeth – Without vitamin D, our bodies aren’t able to absorb calcium properly, and without calcium, we aren’t able to build strong bones or teeth. This makes both calcium and vitamin D an essential duo for the health of our smiles and our bodies.  
  • Less Tooth Decay – Stronger teeth tends to mean less tooth decay, at least that was the thought behind all of the research that studied the connection between vitamin D and decay. The results of these studies suggest that those who get an adequate amount of vitamin D have a reduced risk of tooth decay. One study even found that getting enough vitamin D can lower the risk of decay by 50%. 
  • Better Immune System – Study after study shows a positive correlation between vitamin D and a strong, more effective immune system. While this connection between vitamin D and the immune system is complicated and complex, there’s really only one thing you need to know. Vitamin D helps regulate and balance the immune system so it’s prepared to fight off germs.

Where to Get Vitamin D

The best way to get enough vitamin D is to get outside and soak up the sun. But this isn’t always an option. When the sun is out of reach, supplement your vitamin D intake through the foods you eat such as: 

  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fortified cereal, orange juice, or yogurt 

Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D, and when our levels are too low, our bodies are at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency that could lead to osteoporosis, increased risk for type 1 diabetes, and even breast, colon, or prostate cancer.

Take some time this summer to enjoy the sun and get outside. Aim to get between 5 and 30 minutes of sunshine every day, but also make sure you know your limits. Recommended sun exposure varies based on age, health history, skin tone, and other factors. Wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside for a prolonged period of time. 

While vitamin D is a great way to help protect your teeth and your body, it doesn’t replace regular visits to your dentist in Rocky Mount. Be sure to schedule dental appointments every six months. 

3 Risks Associated With Oral Piercings

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

woman with facial piercingsOral piercings have been popular for years and are a way that many people choose to express themselves. Most commonly, oral piercings are found on the tongue, lip, or cheeks. While many may consider these piercings cool or trendy, there are several reasons why your dentist in Rocky Mount is wary of oral piercings. Join us as we share the three most common risks associated with oral piercings.  

Damage 

Oral piercings can do more than simply change the way you look. When you first get an oral piercing, it can affect the way you speak and how you chew until you get used to it. However, there are times when these unexpected and unwanted changes don’t go away. You see, there is a complex system of nerves in our mouths and all around our faces. If your piercer accidentally hits one of these nerves, it can cause temporary numbness or even long-term nerve damage, which can permanently affect your taste as well as speech. 

Tooth damage is also a common risk factor for anyone with an oral piercing. As you’ve probably noticed, oral piercings are hard to ignore, and you’ll often find those with an oral piercing playing with it all the time. Now while this may seem like just a habit, the truth is, constantly hitting your teeth with a piece of metal can cause chipped or broken teeth. This damage will need to be repaired by your dentist in Rocky Mount before it leads to bigger, more complicated treatment or pain. 

Gum Disease

Just like playing with a piercing can damage teeth, this repetitive behavior can also damage gums. When the gum tissue is damaged, it makes it very easy for mouth bacteria to wiggle their way up under the gums, settle in, and cause gum disease. Gum disease brings on a whole host of other concerns for your dentist in Rocky Mount and can even affect the entire body. Gum disease can cause chronic bad breath, tooth loss, heart disease, and has been linked to certain types of cancer. 

Infection

Whenever a hole is made in the body, such as with a piercing, infection is always a concern. Piercing infections can be minor, but if left untreated can become serious or even life-threatening. However, piercing infections in the mouth are of particular concern for a few reasons. First, the mouth provides an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply and thrive. This means that a minor infection can quickly become a serious infection. Additionally, infections tend to come with a series of symptoms such as swelling. When swelling occurs in the mouth, it can block the airway and make it difficult to breathe. If you notice any of these signs of an infection, get medical attention right away:

  • Redness
  • Heat or warmth
  • Discharge
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Lower the Risk

If you do decide to get an oral piercing, take the following steps to lower your risk of complications. 

Do your research. Before committing to getting a piercing from just anyone, do your research. Make sure your chosen piercer has a good reputation and is able to answer questions about sanitization standards. 

Clean the area. Our mouths naturally contain tons of bacteria, which we know aren’t ideal for a healing piercing. To help protect yourself from this bacteria and any infection that may come along with them, clean your piercing regularly. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of rinsing your mouth with water after you eat to get rid of any food particles that may be lingering around. 

Leave it alone. Not playing with your new piercing is key to protecting your teeth and gums. 

See your dentist. Oral hygiene and regular dental appointments are important for everyone, but perhaps more so for those with an oral piercing. Make sure you brush and floss every day and see your dentist in Rocky Mount twice a year to further protect your oral health. 

Of course, if you’re still unsure if the risks outweigh your desires for an oral piercing, talk with your dentist.

4 Causes of Gum Pain

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Gum Disease, Oral Cancer, Oral Health

man examines his gumsMany people think that it’s normal for gums to hurt or bleed during brushing or flossing. However, that’s a pretty big misconception. Whenever your gums bleed or are painful, whether this occurs while brushing or not, it’s usually a sign that you should see your dentist in Rocky Mount. Even though gum pain may be nothing more than a temporary minor issue, there is a chance that it may be a sign of something more serious. Let’s take a look at some causes of gum pain. 

Canker Sores

Canker sores can pop up in various places in your mouth, including your gum tissue. They can seem to come out of nowhere and can be painful, as well as annoying. A canker sore can appear either red or red with a white coating. They’re different from a cold sore in that they aren’t contagious, but they can raise concern. Not to worry, canker sores are usually no big deal and should go away on their own within 7-14 days. However, if a canker sore doesn’t disappear, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Rocky Mount

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious health condition that, if left untreated, can lead to death. However, oftentimes oral cancer treatment is very successful, but it’s key that you catch it early. Remember when we said that if you have a canker sore that doesn’t go away you should call your dentist in Rocky Mount? Oral cancer is why we highly recommend that. Oral cancer can initially appear as a tiny sore, but unlike a canker sore, oral cancer doesn’t go away. Oral cancer can affect any of the soft tissues in the mouth, including the gums, so if you’re experiencing gum pain along with a sore, see your dentist. 

Minor Burns

You know that feeling when you’re so hungry you just can’t wait for that delicious pizza to cool off before taking a bite? Do you know the feeling that comes after that, the “oh, hot, hot, hot” feeling? Well, those impatient bites of super-hot food can cause minor burns to the roof of the mouth, as well as the gums. These burns can result in temporary gum pain. This type of gum pain usually isn’t something to worry about and will heal on its own. But in the future, we recommend taking it slowly and letting your food cool a bit before eating it. 

Gum Disease

Perhaps the most common explanation to gum pain is gum disease. Gum disease is usually categorized by red, swollen, painful gums that bleed while brushing and flossing. If not treated, gum disease will progress to more severe stages and cause the gums to pull away from the teeth. This can eventually cause teeth to fall out. But that’s not all. Gum disease has also been linked to other problems throughout the body including an increased risk for heart disease, kidney disease, and certain cancers. 

Gum pain may be no cause for concern, but if it doesn’t go away or is chronic, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Rocky Mount as soon as you can so that we can find the underlying cause behind your pain and recommend the best treatment for you. 

What Causes Migraines?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

man with migraineThere’s a medical condition that affects over 39 million Americans. It has no known cause, no known cure, and treatment can vary in success from person to person. We’re talking about migraines and for a good reason. June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, a time for medical professionals, including your dentist in Rocky Mount, to come together and raise awareness about this very real, often debilitating, and always frustrating condition. 

Do You Have a Migraine or a Headache?

There are a lot of commonalities between migraines and headaches — both of which can be painful, sometimes extremely so. However, there are also several differences between migraines and headaches, and knowing the symptoms of each can help you identify whether you have a migraine or a headache and guide into treating it effectively. 

Headaches vs. Migraines

HeadachesMigraines
  • Pain typically affects the entire head
  • Pain tends to affect one side of the head, although not always
  • Pain doesn’t get worse with activity
  • Pain increases in intensity when doing anything physical 
  • Pain usually feels like there’s constant pressure in your head 
  • Pain appears as more of a throbbing sensation than pressure
  • There are no other symptoms in other areas of the body
  • May also experience nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, blurry vision, and visual auras such as blind spots, lines, or glowing patches

What Causes Migraines?

Unfortunately, there is no known cause of migraines. That’s one reason why this neurological condition can be so frustrating and equally difficult to treat. There are several theories as to what may cause or trigger migraines, but it appears that they may differ from person to person. Some commonly supported cause or triggers of migraines include: 

  • Stress and a surge in serotonin
  • Hormones, particularly in women
  • Certain foods or skipping meals
  • Drinks such as alcohol or caffeine
  • Weather
  • Not enough sleep

Another area of interest to researchers as well as your dentist, in Rocky Mount, is the jaw and, specifically, the bite.

A Bad Bite & Migraines

Again, it’s worth noting that no one thing causes migraines, and everybody’s situation is unique. However, recent research has suggested a possible connection between a bad bite and migraines. You see, your jaw muscles are directly impacted by your bite, and when you have a poor, it can place constant, unnecessary stress on the muscles and cause pain. Additionally, since the jaw is so close to the head and actually shares several muscle groups as well as some large nerves, this pain can also be translated into the head and neck. The result may just be an intense headache or even a full-blown migraine. Studies also suggest that chronically clenching or grinding your teeth has a similar effect on jaw muscles and may also increase the risk of migraines. 

Even though migraines are incredibly painful and may even inhibit someone’s ability to get out of bed, there are treatments available. Migraine research continues to expand which results in better, more effective medications and treatments. The best way to find out what may be causing your migraines and find the best treatment for you is to talk with both your primary care doctor and your dentist in Rocky Mount.  

Xylitol: A Mouth’s Best Friend?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

sweetenerHaving a serious sweet tooth can mean bad news for your dental health. But your dentist in Rocky Mount has a little secret that can allow you to satisfy your desire for something sweet and benefit your oral health at the same time. It’s true! This special sugar substitute is called xylitol, and it’s pretty powerful.    

A Closer Look at Xylitol

While you may be familiar with the name xylitol, it’s benefits are far and plenty, and not many people know exactly what it can do for our bodies and oral health. First, xylitol is a sugar substitute, but unlike other sugar substitutes, xylitol is natural. It’s found in both vegetables and fruits as well as in our bodies. Second, xylitol tastes like sugar and looks like sugar, but it certainly doesn’t act like sugar. Xylitol has fewer calories than sugar, which can help maintain weight or assist in weight loss. Xylitol also has a low glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t cause spikes in blood glucose the way that sugar does. These two things alone make xylitol a pretty solid substitute for sugar. But your dentist in Rocky Mount wants you to know that while xylitol can certainly help overall health, it can protect teeth, too.  

How Does It Work? 

In short, xylitol helps eliminate bad bacteria from the mouth, thus decreasing the chances of the bacteria wreaking havoc and causing decay. Let’s take a closer look at how xylitol does this. 

One of the most common “bad bacteria” found in the mouth is something called Streptococcus mutans. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria responsible for plaque buildup and decay. Now, these bacteria love to feed on sugar. In turn, sugar gives the bacteria energy and allows them to multiply. Basically, the more sugar we eat, the more powerful we make Streptococcus mutans, and the more likely it is that we’ll suffer from tooth decay. However, what makes xylitol so great is that while the bacteria will still eat it, it doesn’t fuel them. Instead, xylitol actually starves the bacteria. In fact, xylitol can effectively lower bacteria levels, sometimes by up to 75%. 

Xylitol Gum

Perhaps the most common place to find xylitol is in certain chewing gums. This is great news for your oral health because not only does the act of chewing gum help stimulate saliva production (more on that in a bit), but chewing xylitol gum also provides all benefits offered by xylitol.  

As we mentioned, chewing gum produces more saliva. But is more spit actually a good thing? Yes! You see, saliva helps wash away bacteria and neutralize acids in the mouth. This further protects teeth from enamel erosion and decay. Additionally, saliva helps remineralize teeth with calcium and phosphate, making them stronger over time.

Now, even though xylitol is beneficial to oral health, it doesn’t replace good oral hygiene. It’s still (and forever will be) important to brush and floss your teeth every day. That, along with maintaining regular visits to your dentist in Rocky Mount, is a recipe for a happy, healthy smile.  

Does Asthma Cause Cavities?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

asthma inhalerAsthma is one of the most common diseases in America and affects approximately 25 million Americans. While asthma mainly affects the lungs and respiratory system, your dentist in Rocky Mount knows that there is also a lesser-known connection between asthma and problems with oral health.   

A Look at the Research

The hypothesis that asthma sufferers also have an increased risk of cavities and other oral health problems has been around for quite some time. In fact, this theory was so strong and has been around for so long that there is now substantial research on the connection between the two. Let’s take a look at what scientists have found. 

Mouth Breathing

One of the most common symptoms of asthma is difficulty breathing. This occurs as a result of airway inflammation. To try and breathe deeper, many asthma sufferers will breathe through their mouths instead of their noses. While mouth breathing in and of itself isn’t a problem, what happens as a result of it is. Many mouth breathers experience dry mouth because the constant exposure to air dries out saliva, and production can’t keep up. That’s what’s concerning to your dentist in Rocky Mount. When there’s not enough saliva in the mouth, bacteria and acids that are usually rinsed away with it are left lingering around. These bacteria and acids can wear away tooth enamel, and the result is often decay and cavities. 

Medications

Even if an asthma patient doesn’t breathe out of their mouth, their medications, such as an inhaler, can also result in dry mouth. However, this definitely does not mean an asthma patient should stop using their medication as prescribed- as the benefits outweigh the risks. Plus, there are ways to decrease the effects of dry mouth caused by either medication or mouth breathing. 

Lower the Risk

Since much of the research ties dry mouth to the potential increased risk of developing tooth decay or cavities, the best thing to do is combat the dry mouth. The good news is that there are easy ways to do this including: 

Drinking A Lot of Water. Our bodies need water to function properly, and our oral health needs to stay hydrated to continue to produce protective saliva. Those who suffer from dry mouth may need more water than those who do not. When in doubt, or whenever the mouth feels dry, drink water. 

More About Water. If the mouth feels particularly dry after using an asthma treatment or taking asthma medication, a quick rinse of water can help remove any of the drying ingredients from the mouth, which can then keep the mouth from feeling too dry for too long.  

Chewing Gum. Chomping on a piece of sugar-free gum can also help the body produce more saliva. It’s a natural process that occurs whenever we chew to help digestion. 

Telling Your Dentist in Rocky Mount. As with any piece of health history, it’s important that your dentist knows about any asthma diagnosis as well as any medication used. This will help customize treatment and allow the dental team to keep a close eye on any potential oral health side effects.

Remember, everyone, including asthma sufferers and non-asthma sufferers, can benefit from proper dental care. To fully protect your teeth against decay and to lower the risk of cavities, make sure to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and maintain checkups with your dentist in Rocky Mount