People have been asserting that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” since the 19th century. While it may not necessarily be true that those who eat apples never have to see a doctor, apples certainly have great health benefits for our bodies! Did you know they can even be good for our teeth? Let’s take a look at what the research says…
It’s widely thought that chewing a crisp, fresh apple can help brush away plaque on our teeth. We’re not too sure on this one, as some studies show a higher plaque content on teeth after eating an apple. At the same time, there is evidence to suggest some polyphenols in apples can lower the ability of cavity-causing bacteria to adhere to teeth. Further, some studies have shown that the antioxidants in apples can help prevent periodontal disease.
Apples even contain a (very) small amount of fluoride. This is worth noting, as fluoride is so important in helping prevent cavities.
Lastly, the act of chewing an apple stimulates saliva production. Saliva helps wash away food debris and bacteria. Remember, though, apples contain sugar and acid so it’s best not to go overboard with them. You can even swish with water after eating one to wash away some of the sugar left behind.
As the science continues to look into how apples affect our teeth, one thing we know is true: regular dental visits to see your favorite hygienist at Park Crossing Dentistry, along with daily tooth brushing and flossing, is your best defense against tooth decay!
If there was a quick and painless way to identify pre-cancerous cells in the mouth of someone you loved, would you want them to try it? What if that person were you? The truth is, as uncomfortable as it may be to even think of the word “cancer,” thinking about it, and thus detecting it early, is key. That’s why, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit, because while the oral exam that accompanies your cleaning may not be noticeable to you, it’s often your earliest line of defense in the detection of oral cancer.
Let's take a quick look at a few of the risk factors and symptoms, and consider a few options you may have to help reduce risk. Keep in mind that no list is exhaustive, and to always share with each of your health care providers your concerns and strategies regarding your oral health.
Those at Risk for Oral Cancer
Passing certain age thresholds and engaging in certain lifestyle habits can place you at increased risk for oral cancer. For example, men tend to have higher rates of oral cancers than women.
Here is the short list:
· Patients age 40 and older (95% of all oral cancer cases)
· Patients age 18-39 who use tobacco, are heavy drinkers, or may have a previously diagnosed oral HPV infection.
If you experience any of the below symptoms lasting more than 7-10 days, please seek the advice of your doctor. Also, keep in mind that aside from an obviously sore throat, the below symptoms can present themselves in the absence of pain. Look out for changes that can be detected on the lips, inside the cheeks, palate, and gum tissue surrounding your teeth and tongue. At Park Crossing Dentistry, we run across such concerns a few times a year, and are able to help patients get treatment early.
• Reddish or whitish patches in the mouth
• A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
• A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
• Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing
If you do not visit the dentist regularly, you could be missing out on the benefits of early cancer detection. Currently, just over half of all those diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years – a statistic driven by late diagnosis – so please visit your dentist and get an oral exam at least once a year. If you are considered “high risk,” (see list above) you should be receiving an oral exam at least every six months, if not more frequently.
Below is a short list of healthy habits you can start doing now, which may reduce your risk.
• Avoid all tobacco products
• Avoid or reduce your consumption of alcohol
• Consume more fruits and vegetables (good for everything, of course)
• Avoid excessive sun exposure that can result in cancer of the lip (using lip balm with an SPF of at least 30 can be helpful)
• Avoid exposure to environmental hazards (wood dust, formaldehyde, printing chemicals)
• Conduct a self-exam monthly so you can catch any of the symptoms listed above. Use a small hand-held mirror so you can see the back of your mouth and tongue. Our hygienists are great professionals to ask for instructions on this sort of home exam. If you haven’t been in to see us in a while, give us a ring at 704-541-5059, and we’ll tell you how to perform this exam in between visits.
• Consider coffee. While the jury is still out, some research suggests coffee may help protect the mouth from oral cancer.
Oral cancer is serious business. Yet, it can be managed when caught early. So, do the right thing and visit your dentist regularly, and get that screening.
While the current percentage of Americans who smoke cigarettes is the lowest it’s been in decades, those who continue the habit remain at risk for heart and lung disease. Additionally, while we know smoking is also bad for our oral health, most don’t understand just how bad it is…
More Than Just Stained Teeth
From its seemingly mild side effects (bad breath, tooth discoloration, buildup of plaque and tartar), to the more sinister (increased risk of oral cancer, loss of bone within the jaw, gum disease and any number of resulting complications) – tobacco is indeed an oral health risk. Tobacco can cause serious health issues by breaking down the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. Because of this breakdown, the use of tobacco makes smokers much more susceptible to infection and diseases. In fact, 90% of people who have cancer of the mouth, throat, or gums admit to using tobacco in some form.
Cigarettes, cigars and pipes aren’t the only culprits; smokeless tobacco can be just as detrimental to oral health, if not worse. In fact, there are twenty-eight chemicals found in chewing tobacco alone that are proven to increase the risk of cancer in the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Chewing tobacco and snuff contain higher levels of nicotine than those found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Use of these products can expose the root surfaces and ultimately make teeth more susceptible to decay. Signs of smokeless tobacco use that we see in our patients include increased tooth decay in the chew area, changes in soft tissue, and redness with white patchy irritated skin in the cheek area.
Help is Just Next Door
The only way to help eliminate these risks is to never start using tobacco products, or to quit if you do. In fact, simply reducing tobacco use is proven to help lower your risks. If you feel that now is time to reduce your risk of cancer, gum disease, infection and other oral complications, your doctor can help you create a plan to help you quit using tobacco, along with prescribing certain medicines or programs to help you kick the habit. For patients who have quit using tobacco products, our team at Park Crossing Dentistry has noticed great improvements in their oral health, including a decreased rate of decay and dry mouth, less straining of teeth, healthier gum tissue, and fresher breath. Here at Park Crossing Dentistry, the information we have shared with patients has helped make a difference in their lives, while helping protect their health at the same time.
Remember, it is never too late to quit!
Your Charlotte Dentist Shares Why Proper Nutrition Goes Hand in Hand with Your Smile
When you brush your teeth every morning and night, you know that this is an integral part of your oral and dental health. Skipping this step can be dangerous and can allow bacteria to form, causing cavities, decay, and other potential issues. As you’re ensuring that your dental routine is up to par, your Charlotte dentist urges you to do the same with your daily diet!
The nutrition you consume plays a huge part in your dental health and can start to show negative side effects if your diet doesn’t include enough healthy and beneficial foods. A balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, protein-rich foods, calcium-rich foods, and other beneficial factors will give you the right nutrients that can only make your teeth stronger, your smile wider, and your overall health simply better!
With the help of these calcium rich-foods, you’ll be able to both strengthen your teeth and bones:
- Low-fat/fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Soy drinks/tofu
Vitamin C Foods and Drinks
To better your gum health, integrate some of these naturally sweet and tasty items:
- Citrus fruits and natural citrus beverages
Remember, too much of a good thing can also be dangerous, so don’t hesitate to ask us how to enjoy these things moderately to get the most out of their helpful ingredients and resources. For example, while citrus fruits have plenty of natural Vitamin C, they’re also extremely abrasive and can weaken and erode your enamel. Without the protective surface of your tooth, you’re exposing the root of the tooth, which holds the nerves and can cause sharp pains when in contact with foods and drinks of varying temperatures and ingredients.
What to Know about Snacking
We know that there are countless snacks out there that promote healthy living, but not all these snacks apply to the healthiness of your teeth and gums. The act of snacking in between meals can be extremely harmful by itself – the more often you eat, especially in between your major meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the more likely you are to expose your teeth to acidic, damaging ingredients that weaken your smile.
If you do choose to snack, be careful about what you pick! Fresh produce is some of the best options, like celery, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers. Dried fruit, while convenient, is packed with sugary ingredients for longevity and sucked of their natural, truly beneficial aspects. Many naturally grown fruits already contain water, a beneficial factor for your smile, and dried fruit removes this to preserve the snack for longer periods of time. Trust us – still to the natural stuff!
Looking for more ways to maintain a healthy smile? Give your Charlotte dentist a call at (704) 541-5059 and schedule a consultation with our office. Every smile is unique, and our goal is to give you the best treatment that’s right for your teeth!
Nobody’s perfect. We all pick up bad habits along the way. Even our oral health isn’t immune. Try as you may, odds are you’ve picked up a habit or two in the name of convenience. That’s totally okay! We get it. And that’s why we’re here: to ensure your oral health is in fantastic shape. Here are a few less-than-stellar dental habits that we often see, with some tips on how to break them.
1. Putting Off a Dental Visit
You knew we had to start here! If you don’t visit the dentist every six months, or if it’s been a while since we’ve seen your smile, schedule an appointment today! You can call us at 704-541-5059 or request an appointment online. Staying on top of your dental health today can save yourself a lot of time and money down the road.
2. Not Flossing
Again, you probably figured this would be on here. And you know what, it’s for good reason. Flossing helps prevent decay and gum disease. It’s super important! So how can you remember to floss more? Put a post-it note on your mirror as a reminder. Invest in a flossing stick — some people find it much easier than the traditional method. Floss at the same time each day to build up a routine. You can also start small, setting a goal of once per week. After that settles in you may find yourself craving a good floss after brushing.
3. Brushing Too Vigorously
One of the top causes of worn enamel is brushing too hard. If your arm is sore after brushing, or your toothbrush bristles start to flare out in a few weeks time, or you look like a cartoon sawing at your teeth, pull back on the reins. Along with your enamel, over time this friction will also wear away your gum tissue. Keep your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the base of the gums, and move the brush in a gentle, circular motion. We highly recommend getting an electric toothbrush, which will apply the correct amount of pressure to your teeth and gums.
4. Using an Old Toothbrush
When was the last time you changed your toothbrush? It’s not something you often think of, right? The problem with using an old toothbrush is that its frayed bristles can end up damaging your teeth rather than cleaning them properly. You should change your toothbrush every three to four months. A good way to remember is to change your toothbrush on the first day of every new season. That way you’ll never have an old brush!
5. Letting the Water Run
This one is self-explanatory, and it’s an easy fix. After you wet your tooth brush turn off the tap. That initial wetting is all the water you’ll need. Turning off the water is good for your bill and great for Mother Earth.
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