Do you think that missing the occasional dental checkup is no big deal? It may surprise you to know that every time your dentist takes a look at your mouth, he or she gets a glimpse of your level of overall health in addition to your oral health. In fact, dentists are often the first health professionals to spot certain medical conditions in their earliest stages. The following are just a few conditions that your dentist can discover during a routine checkup.
Diabetes, Heart Disease and Dementia
When previously healthy gum tissues suddenly begin to swell and bleed, your dentist sees this as a red flag for adult-onset diabetes. The high blood sugar levels, inflammation and impaired healing processes that are characteristic of diabetes make a patient more susceptible to infected gums. Patients with gum disease are also more likely to have heart disease and develop dementia, so the onset of this condition may prompt a visit to your physician.
You may not even realize everything your dentist is doing during a checkup, but one component of the examination is an oral cancer screening. Composed of a manual palpation of the soft tissues of the mouth, face and neck and a visual inspection of the oral cavity, an oral cancer screening can catch this disease in its infancy, which is a key factor in achieving a positive outcome.
Marked by a low red blood cell count or low hemoglobin, anemia shows up in the oral cavity in several ways. As with many health conditions, anemia often raises a person’s risk for developing gum disease. When hemoglobin, which is the substance that gives red blood cells their dark color, is low, the soft tissues of the mouth may take on a pale color. Lastly, patients with anemia sometimes present with an inflamed tongue.
Several oral health conditions can let your dentist know you are under stress. Bruxism, which is an unconscious grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw, is often caused by stress. TMJ disorder, which affects the jaw joints and often causes head and jaw pain, is also a common product of stress. Canker sores or ulcers in the mouth are another clue that the patient needs to look at ways to reduce stress.
The eating disorders anorexia and bulimia are easy to spot upon examining the teeth. Both disorders prevent the body from receiving essential nutrients to keep the teeth strong and healthy, and they will present themselves with rampant dental erosion and tooth decay. Because bulimics induce vomiting on a regular basis, their teeth, especially the back surfaces, are more vulnerable to erosion from frequent contact with stomach acids.
The Importance of Regular Dental Checkups
Your oral health and general health are not mutually exclusive, so you must attend to both regularly by keeping your dental and medical checkup appointments. Not only will seeing a cosmetic dentist near you every six months ensure that your teeth and gums are in great shape, but it can also help detect some health problems early in their development and prompt you to seek the appropriate treatment from your physician.
If you are worried about your dental hygiene, there is a good chance that you already devote a little time in your day to things like brushing, flossing and using mouthwash. While those three things are the cornerstone of great dental health, what you eat on a typical day can also have a big effect on the color, health and cleanliness of your teeth. Here are some of the worst foods for your teeth.
If you think that reaching for dried fruits like apricots or apples is a healthy choice, you’re not alone. While these snacks can be rich in vitamins and nutrients, they also have a lot of natural sugars. Unlike fresh fruit, however, dried fruits are sticky and hang around in your mouth longer than you would like. This sticky, sugary combination feeds bacteria and can even lead to dental erosion over time.
With its combination of acid and sugar, soda is a lethal combination for the health of your teeth. Plus, the prolonged way that most people consume sodas makes it even worse. If you have a sip of a soda every few minutes, you are essentially washing your mouth with a sugary syrup over and over again for an hour or longer. If you choose to drink a soda, drink it all at once to reduce the time that your teeth are exposed to the beverage.
Just like sodas, hard candies are so bad for your teeth because the sugar hangs around for a while. If you suck on a hard candy for 15 minutes, your teeth are exposed to the sugar for quite a while. If you chew it up, the odds are good that small, sticky pieces of the candy will stay on your teeth for even longer. Chewable candies and chocolates, even if they have the same amount of sugar, will almost always be better for your teeth than these hard counterparts.
There are plenty of medical benefits to enjoying a small glass of wine on occasion, but frequent alcohol consumption can bring with it problems for your teeth and mouth. Alcohol can corrode the gums, and those who consume alcohol in large amounts are more likely to have throat or mouth cancer. Since alcohol also slows saliva production, it can lead to bacteria particles building up in your mouth at a faster than normal rate.
When you think of acidic fruits, it is citrus like oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons and limes that probably come to mind. Add tomatoes to that list, and you have some of the most naturally acidic and sugary foods on the planet. Although these fruits have health benefits, they can eat away at your enamel and put you at a greater risk for cavities and tooth decay.
Although some of the foods on this list have health benefits, all can have negative effects on your teeth. You don’t have to skip them entirely, but make sure to brush or drink water after consuming things like soda, acidic fruits, alcohol, dried fruits and hard candies.
How can you tell if you have bad breath? In many cases, it’s obvious when a friend backs away during a conversation or your spouse avoids kissing you. However, if the people in your life are too nice to tell you that your breath stinks, all you need to do is floss and take a whiff of the debris you collected from between your teeth. If the smell makes you recoil, chances are you have a problem.
What’s Causing Your Bad Breath?
Also called halitosis, this condition can stem from the mouth or other parts of the body. The most common causes of foul breath include the following:
Improper Oral Care: The mouth is teeming with bacteria, and food debris and plaque that are not brushed and flossed away on a regular basis promote the growth of even more bacteria. The result is the foul stench of rotting food and bacterial overgrowth.
Diet: Garlic and onions are known to cause bad breath, but they don’t just coat the inside of the mouth with their strong odors. When they are digested and make their way into the bloodstream, their smells are emitted from the lungs when you breathe.
Tobacco Use: Cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco contain numerous toxins that not only increase your risk of developing gum disease and cancer but also dry out the mouth and promote bacterial growth.
Oral Health Problems: Bad breath can be a warning sign of several oral health problems, including oral thrush, gum disease and tooth decay. Halitosis also occurs with xerostomia, a condition in which a sufficient amount of saliva is not produced to cleanse the mouth of dead cells.
Medical Problems: A host of medical issues can lead to bad breath, including respiratory infections, acid reflux disease, sinus issues, diabetes and diseases of the liver and kidneys. Some medications used to treat these and other conditions, especially chemotherapy drugs for cancer, can also lead to xerostomia and bad breath.
What Steps Can You Take to Eliminate Bad Breath?
Depending on the cause of your halitosis, methods of freshening your breath can range from merely improving your flossing technique to seeking treatment from your dentist:
1. Brush and Floss Regularly: To keep food particles and oral bacteria at bay, brush at least every morning and night , and floss at least once daily. You may want to throw an antiseptic mouthwash into the mix as well.
2. Keep Your Dental Appointments: Receiving checkups and cleanings can help prevent oral health issues that cause bad breath as well as detect periodontal disease and cavities so that they can be treated promptly.
3. Evaluate Your Diet: Garlic and onions are not the only foods that cause bad breath. Keep a log of what you eat and how it affects your breath to determine what offending foods you may want to avoid in mixed company.
4. Give up Smoking: Add bad breath to the long list of reasons why using tobacco products is a bad idea.
5. Keep Your Mouth Moist: If your halitosis stems from chronic dry mouth, drinking plenty of water and sucking on sugarless candies can help induce more saliva production.
What If Bad Breath Persists?
If self-care methods and dental treatment do not fix your problem, your dentist will recommend that you see your physician for a checkup. Your bad breath may be caused by an undiagnosed health problem or a medication that you are taking.
Gum disease is a chronic condition—once you’ve got it, you can manage the symptoms, but the damage to the structures that support your teeth cannot be reversed. That is why it is so important to be vigilant with preventive measures. Not only can this incurable condition lead to tooth loss, but it is also linked with several major health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disease and diabetes. Fortunately, this condition, which is also called periodontal disease, is easy to prevent if you take proper oral care measures at home and see your dentist every six months for a checkup and thorough professional cleaning.
Best Practices for Oral Care at Home
The following five elements can help you take control of your periodontal health:
1. Flossing: You should floss at least once a day, gently sliding it against each tooth and under the gumline several times to ensure that the plaque is effectively removed.
2. Brushing: At least twice a day, brush all tooth surfaces, the gums and the tongue with a fluoride toothpaste.
3. Using Mouth Rinse: While brushing and flossing alone are usually enough to keep plaque under control, your dentist may recommend that you add an antiseptic or plaque-reducing mouth rinse to your cleaning routine.
4. Eating a Healthy Diet: A diet that is low in sugar and saturated fat and high in antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits can support the immune system and keep gum tissues healthy.
5. Avoiding Tobacco Products: Over 60 percent of smokers develop gum disease. The harmful chemicals in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products interfere with the functioning of gum tissue cells, decrease the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the gums and weaken the immune system.
Preventive Dental Visits
Seeing your dentist every six months is important for two reasons: prevention and early detection of oral health problems.
1. Teeth Cleaning: You love the look and feel of your teeth after the dental hygienist removes tartar and polishes the enamel, but there’s more at stake than aesthetics when you have your teeth cleaned. Removing plaque and tartar along the gumline helps prevent the inflammation and formation of pockets between the gums and teeth that are characteristic of gum disease.
2. Examination: Along with inspecting your teeth for decay and screening you for oral cancer, your dentist looks for signs of gum disease at each checkup. Because the earliest stage of gum disease can be reversed with proper treatment, you can’t afford to miss your routine dental appointments.
Signs of Periodontal Disease
The precursor to gum disease is gingivitis, which occurs when a buildup of plaque irritates the gums, causing inflammation and bleeding. If you notice tender, swollen or bleeding gums after you brush and floss, make an appointment with a dentist near you immediately. In most cases, gingivitis can be reversed by stepping up your oral hygiene routine at home and obtaining a deep cleaning of your teeth and gums at your dentist’s office. With proper treatment, gingivitis need not progress to full-blown gum disease.
Every time you head to the dentist, you are probably reminded to brush your teeth and floss on a regular basis. Although most people consider brushing their teeth to be a non-negotiable part of their daily routine, far fewer individuals remember to make flossing a priority. Flossing can dislodge pieces of food stuck in your teeth, sure, but it does a lot more. Here are five of the surprising benefits of flossing your teeth on a daily basis.
1. Flossing Prevents Gingivitis
Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, can be a painful condition that includes symptoms like bleeding or swollen gums. One of the simplest ways to prevent gingivitis is by flossing regularly, which can remove the plaque buildup on the gum line that leads to the disease.
2. Flossing Helps Control Diabetes
Most people are shocked to hear that diabetes and flossing are related in any way at all. Yet, flossing can have a major positive impact on diabetes in both children and adults. When you don’t floss, bacteria in your mouth builds up at a fast rate. This oral bacteria can affect the glucose levels of your blood, which is a major problem if you have diabetes. To help stabilize blood glucose levels, make sure to floss at least once each day and remove as much bacteria from the mouth as possible.
3. Flossing Reduces Bad Breath
If you have bad breath, you might have already tried some of the common tricks to get rid of it. Brushing your teeth two or three times a day and using mouthwash can certainly help, but it is the buildup of tartar that causes the strongest smells. You can remove the tartar on your teeth by brushing, but flossing can help remove tartar from your gums and in between your teeth. Those with bad breath who begin flossing regularly typically note improvements in their breath within a week.
4. Flossing Reduces the Risk of Respiratory Disease
Your mouth is a direct channel to the organs of your body. While this is a good thing in terms of food making it to your digestive system, it can be a problem when bacteria from the mouth travels down your throat to the respiratory system. Flossing can eliminate some of the oral bacteria that causes bronchitis and even pneumonia.
5. Flossing Can Prevent Heart Disease
Without regular flossing, you might notice that your gums bleed, which is a sign of gingivitis. One of the problems associated with this is that it allows bacteria to enter your bloodstream and attack your organs. Eventually, this can result in heart disease or blood clots. To significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, especially in men, daily flossing is a simple but effective solution.
Flossing can be a handy way to get rid of food stuck between your teeth, but the benefits don’t stop there. Regular flossing can play a role in reducing heart disease, respiratory ailments, bad breath, diabetes regulation and even gingivitis. With so many positive benefits, everyone should make a habit of flossing daily.
Most of us already know that brushing twice a day can reduce cavities, visiting a dentist near you regularly is important and fluoride is vital for dental health. However, there are also plenty of facts about oral health and hygiene that might surprise you. Here are the top five:
1. Your Spit Could Fill 2 Swimming Pools
The next time you find yourself salivating over a particularly tasty dish, remember that you’re contributing to the incredible amount of saliva produced over your lifetime. The average adult will produce just over 25,000 quarts over the course of their life, which is enough to fill up two whole swimming pools.
2. You Miss One-Third of the Surface When Brushing Your Teeth
Even if you’re careful to brush after every meal, replace your toothbrush often and pick a soft-bristled brush, you might still only be cleaning only two-thirds of your teeth. That’s because one-third of the total surface area of your teeth is unreachable by a toothbrush. Thankfully, flossing can tackle that remaining third and help you achieve complete dental hygiene.
3. Your Toothbrush Can Get You Sick
The general rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush at least once every three months. After catching a cold or having the flu, however, you should change your toothbrush right away. The bacteria left behind from when you were ill could re-infect you after the fact and get you sick all over again.
4. 80% of Americans Have Gum Disease
Shockingly, a whopping 80 percent of Americans have some kind of gum disease. Sore gums, gums that bleed when you brush or gums that are painful to floss are all signs of gum disease. Frequent brushing and flossing can help reduce your chance of gum disease in the future.
5. Enamel is the Strongest Part of Your Body
No matter how much time you spend working out at the gym, your muscles still aren’t the strongest part of your body. You might be surprised to learn that it’s the enamel on your teeth that’s the toughest substance in the human body.
Although most people think they know all about the basics of dental health, there are still plenty of surprising facts out there. From your impressive saliva production to the potential health hazard of a toothbrush, share these facts with your friends to enjoy some shocked faces.
August 10, 2016, New York, New York – Each year, nationally renowned cosmetic dentistry firm Linhart Dentistry awards a dental scholarship to an exceptional student. Jared Ellinger is the latest to win this $1500 scholarship. The Ohio State University College of Dentistry student impressed the team at Linhart Dentistry with his drive, compassion and desire to benefit others through his skills and learning. “My dream has always been to return to this area with the highest degree of training and expertise, and to raise the standard of care within this community,” Jared said in his application essay.
“We were overwhelmed by the response to the scholarship program, and the decision was certainly not an easy one,” says Dr. Zachary Linhart. “Jared Ellinger’s submission was compelling and inspiring. He really put effort into working his way up to be a dentist and seems to have a real drive to improve not only himself, but the profession as a whole. We couldn’t be more proud to support his impressive academic goals.”
Jared Ellinger’s submission was chosen out of more than 40 that came from across the country. Ellinger is a D.D.S. Candidate, Class of 2018 Veler Scholar, Class of 2018 Treasurer and DACS Vice President, and the Linhart Dentistry team is confident that he will be a valuable asset to his community and the dental profession as a whole.
The following are requirements for those interested in applying for Linhart Dentistry’s dental scholarship:
- Students must be entering the second to fourth year of dentistry school.
- Applicants should answer the question, “How has the time you have spent in dental school altered or reinforced your personal vision of dentistry and how you want to practice?”
- The essay should be no longer than 500 words and should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous winners may not reapply. Interested parties can learn more by visiting www.drlinhart.com.
About Linhart Dentistry
Linhart Dentistry is an internationally renowned cosmetic dental practice in New York, NY, and was founded by Dr. Jan Linhart. A graduate of the New York University College of Dentistry with over 30 years of experience, Dr. Linhart developed his own laser whitening system, PearlinBrite. Together with his son, Dr. Zachary Linhart, he leads a dynamic team of experts who offer a full spectrum of cosmetic and restorative dental services.
230 Park Ave. #1664
New York, NY 10169
Even if you’re careful to eat foods that are good for your overall health, you could still be doing damage to your teeth. Certain foods and beverages, especially those that are particularly sweet or sticky, have the potential to cause cavities and even damage the enamel on your teeth. However, even some healthy food items can be bad for your dental health. Here are the most surprising food and drink culprits that you should do your best to avoid.
Although dried fruit can contain lots of vitamins and minerals, it is not a smart food choice for your oral health. Since most dried fruits are incredibly high in sugar as well as very sticky, they get stuck between your teeth until the next time that you floss. This constant stream of sugar feeds bacteria in the mouth and can lead to bad breath as well as cavities. If you enjoy eating dried fruit, be sure to brush and floss immediately after eating.
Since pickles are low in both calories and sugar, they might seem like a naturally healthy snack to enjoy at any time of the day. Unfortunately, however, pickles contain large amounts of vinegar. Eating pickles on a regular basis can contribute to the erosion of your enamel, which leads to staining and tooth discoloration.
It is not at all uncommon to read about the heart-healthy benefits of red wine, but there are also some dental drawbacks that might surprise you. The tannins that cause red wine to taste dry also reduce saliva production, which can be bad for dental health. Plus, those same tannins soften tooth enamel and can lead to stains.
After a hot day outside or an hour of physical activity, you might reach for a re-hydrating sports drink rather than a soda. What you might not realize is that many sports drinks are packed with sugar, which can be just as bad for your teeth as a cola. If you enjoy sports drinks, just make sure that you drink them all at once. The worst thing to do is slowly sip the drink over several hours, which gives bacteria a steady stream of sugar.
Any local dentist in your area would tell you to avoid sugary and sticky foods. However, these surprising dental culprits should also be avoided whenever possible.
Most people think of oral care as visiting the dentist frequently, flossing and brushing their teeth. You might be surprised to learn, however, that what you eat can actually play a big role in the health of your teeth. Certain natural foods can strengthen the enamel of your teeth as well as the structural integrity of your teeth over time. Here are some of the foods you will want to include in your diet in order to enjoy stronger, whiter and healthier teeth in the future.
Dairy Products Like Milk, Yogurt and Cheese
You might already know that dairy products are good for you because of the calcium and protein that they offer the body. What you might not know is that the calcium found in dairy can have a big part in how healthy your teeth are. Calcium, which is found in milk, cheese, yogurt and even ice-cream, is a key player in strengthening the enamel of the teeth. When you add in how important calcium is for jaw bone strength, it is clear to see why dentists recommend dairy products to their patients.
Celery: A Natural Toothbrush
Celery has long been a dieter’s friend, but now it is also a great food to include in your diet for your dental hygiene. The high fiber content of celery acts as a type of broom on your teeth, sweeping away anything clinging to the surface of each tooth. In addition, celery takes a long time to chew, which results in extra saliva and a perfect pH balance in the chewer’s mouth.
Strawberries for Whiter Teeth
Eating a handful of strawberries can lead to some red and sticky fingers, but these sweet berries won’t have the same effect on your teeth. In fact, strawberries can actually help to whiten your teeth and keep them strong. Their Vitamin C works to keep the whole mouth healthy, and their malic acid removes tartar as you chew. Just incorporating a few strawberries into your daily diet could result in noticeably whiter teeth over time.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Doctors in every area of health would probably recommend that their patients consume leafy green vegetable as often as possible, but you might be surprised to hear your dentist say it. The reason that foods like broccoli, kale and spinach are so great for your teeth has to do with their high Vitamin K content, which can help maintain strong bones and teeth. In fact, some dentists argue that Vitamin K is just as important as calcium when it comes to healthy teeth.
Fish Rich in Vitamin D
One of the best foods for your teeth are sardines, but any type of fish will be a good choice. Sardines are packed with Vitamin D and calcium, which are both necessary for healthy teeth. Plus, their edible bones are full of fluoride to protect your teeth from cavities.
Dental hygiene goes way beyond just caring for your teeth with a toothbrush and floss. Incorporating key foods like the ones on this list can go a long way in strengthening and even whitening your teeth naturally.
If you were to poll 100 people and ask them what their oral hygiene routine consists of, the chances are good that most people would simply mention brushing their teeth twice a day. Although brushing your teeth is obviously an important part of any dental hygiene routine, there is a lot more involved. Taking care of your teeth can go more than just give you pearly whites. It can help reduce your chance of respiratory disease, heart problems and even diabetes. Here are the key things that you should always do in order to enjoy great dental health and hygiene.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
One of the things that people often avoid in terms of dental health is visiting the dentist. The reasons for visiting your dentist are numerous, and they include getting a thorough cleaning, checking your mouth for potentially cancerous lesions and reminding you about proper procedure for brushing and flossing. In addition, dentists can point out any dental problems before they become serious issues. Most people would much rather go in for a cleaning than a cavity drilling, for example.
Brush With a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
Everyone should make a habit of brushing their teeth at least twice each day. Although some people think that brushing with vigor and a hard-bristled toothbrush will get rid of plaque best, that is a common misconception. Choose a soft-bristled brush instead, and select a toothpaste that contains fluoride. You will want to brush for two to three minutes at a time, and you do not want to forget about your cheeks. Bacteria often lives on the inside of your cheeks, and giving them a quick brush can help improve breath.
Eat a Tooth-Healthy Diet
Oral health and hygiene do not stop when you leave the bathroom. The food that you eat throughout the day can either help or harm your mouth health, and you should try to make great choices at every meal and snack. Instead of hard candies or sodas, which feed the bacteria that causes bad breath and leads to plaque buildup, opt for fiber-rich veggies that can clean the surfaces of your teeth with every bite. Calcium, protein and Vitamin K are other key nutrients to include in your diet.
If you do not floss, you may only be cleaning two-thirds of your teeth on a regular basis. Flossing can dislodge any small pieces of food between your teeth, and it also reduces bad breath and helps reduce the risk of gum disease. You want to use the floss to clean the gum line, but it should not be painful. If it feels uncomfortable, then look for thin floss that is better able to clean between teeth without any discomfort.
Along with flossing daily, brushing your teeth twice a day, eating a healthy diet and visiting the dentist regularly, you should be observant. Keep an eye out for swollen gums, lesions in the mouth or bleeding when you floss, all of which can be a sign of serious dental problems in the future.