Wellness Blog

Posts for: October, 2017

October 25, 2017
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HALLOWEEN IS OUR favorite spooky time of year, but when it comes to sugar’s effects on teeth, all that candy can be downright scary. The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that it feeds harmful oral bacteria that excrete acid, and the acid erodes enamel and leads to tooth decay. So how can we keep our costumed Halloween adventures clear of tooth decay?

Ranking Candy Based On Dental Health

Very few houses give away treats like sugar-free xylitol gum to trick-or-treaters, so the chances are slim that the candy will actually be healthy. However, some types of sugary candy are worse than others or present different problems.

  • Hard candy is a problem because there is a risk of breaking our teeth if we chew it, but sucking on it is not safe either because that means holding a sugar source in our mouths for an extended period of time.

  • Sour candies are like a double attack against dental health. Not only do they contain a lot of sugar to feed the bacteria, but they are also highly acidic and can harm our enamel directly.

  • Sticky or gummy candy is especially bad because it remains stuck in the grooves of teeth, feeding the bacteria for longer and giving them more of an opportunity to attack the enamel.

  • The good news is that the least harmful sugary candy is chocolate It does not stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar will be in it, so aim for dark chocolate.

Reducing Candy Quantity

Being picky about which types of candy we eat is one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but an even better way to do so is by eating less candy. Parents can help their children with this by coming up with a plan before trick-or-treating time. For example, they can let them trade the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize or limit the number of houses they visit. Be sure to discuss the plan in advance so that everyone is in agreement.

More Tooth-Healthy Strategies

There are a few other simple things you can do to reduce the dental effects of all that Halloween candy. Drinking more water to rinse out the sugar, limiting the frequency of candy consumption more than the quantity, and waiting thirty minutes to brush your teeth after eating candy will all be beneficial. The reason for that last one is that it takes your saliva about half an hour to stabilize the pH of your mouth after eating sugar.

Keeping Teeth Healthy Year-Round

The Halloween season will come to an end, but the job of keeping our teeth healthy is never done! Make sure you are always brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, keeping those sugary treats to a minimum, and scheduling regular dental visits! Call (217)698-9300 to schedule an appointment today.

Have a spooky Halloween!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

By Link Baines Dental
October 19, 2017
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TRENDS IMPACT JUST about every aspect of life, from slang, fashion, fad diets to which toys are collectibles this year. Most trends are harmless symptoms of an ever-evolving society and culture, but when they affect how we care for ourselves, they can become serious. In recent years, do-it-yourself teeth whitening has become a “trendy” topic. Let’s take a look at a few of the more popular at-home methods.

October 13, 2017
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Dry Mouth: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

NO ONE LOOKS FORWARD to getting “long in the tooth” because of gum recession.

While tooth length might be an accurate yardstick for judging the age of a horse, age is not the culprit behind receding gums in humans.  Gum recession is such a gradual process that it can take decades before the effects are noticeable.

Not All Gum Recession Is Avoidable

There are many contributing factors to gum recession.  Unfortunately, some of these factors include genetics, while some people simply have fragile gums or don’t have enough jaw bone covering the front of their tooth roots to support gums up to the crowns of their teeth.  The good news is that many of the other contributing factors can be controlled, and even if you’re predisposed to gum recession, there are ways to minimize its effects.

Bruxism Versus Your Gums

Chronic teeth-grinding, or bruxism, causes a whole host of problems for your oral health.  One of these side effects is an increased risk for gum recession.  The forces from grinding put too much pressure on the gums, causing them to retreat.  Bruxism can be a difficult habit to break, especially if you’re doing it in your sleep.  Wearing a custom made night appliance is one way to minimize damage to the jaw bones, gums and teeth.

Overbrushing Damages Gum Tissue

It might sound counterintuitive, but you can actually brush your teeth too much or, at least, too hard.  Brushing teeth isn’t like scrubbing the grime out of tile grout; gums are not built to withstand the abrasive assault of hard-bristled brushes, and neither is the enamel on our teeth.  Soft bristles are actually ideal for scrubbing away plaque and massaging the gums without causing damage.  The same principle applies to flossing; you should definitely floss once a day, but be gentle to your gums.

Tartar Buildup And Gum Disease

When plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, it will eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed by dental professionals.  This means that the longer you go without a routine dental cleaning, the more tartar builds up along your gum lines, putting you at risk for gum disease.

In the early stages of gum disease, also called gingivitis, the health of your jaw bones is not yet at risk.  If your gums are tender, swollen, and bleed easily, it is likely gingivitis, which means gum recession may still be avoidable.  You can combat gingivitis with healthy brushing and flossing habits, and it is also wise to see us for routine care.

If untreated, gingivitis advances to become periodontitis.  This is when gums start pulling away from the teeth and the integrity of the jaw bones is compromised.  At this point, better oral hygiene habits are not enough and professional treatment is absolutely necessary.  There are many risk factors for gum disease, including smoking, hormonal changes (like during pregnancy), diabetes, and dry mouth.

Help Us Help You Keep Those Gums Healthy!

If you’re worried about the structure and health of your gums, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us!  We can help you get your gum health back on track and discuss treatment options that fit your individual needs.  Please call (217) 698-9300 to schedule an appointment.

We’re rooting for you!

Top image by Flickr user Lachlan Hardy used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Dry Mouth: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

HAVE YOU EVER woken up with your mouth feeling like a barren desert?  If so, you’ve experienced xerostomia, more commonly referred to as dry mouth. Dry mouth affects a tenth of the population and can be severe enough that it affects your speech and eating habits.  So why is it such a problem, why does it happen, and what can we do about it?


In The Absence Of Saliva…

Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria, bad breath, and tooth decay.  It washes away leftover food particles and neutralizes acids, protecting our teeth and gums.  Consequently, when there isn’t enough saliva to perform all of these important tasks, the result is much more serious than just an unpleasant sandpaper feeling.


What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth has numerous causes, including smoking, drinking, dehydration, aging, and sometimes the salivary glands can be damaged by chemotherapy or radiation treatment.  However, the most common cause is ordinary medication.  In fact, over 400 medications include dry mouth on their lists of side effects! If you have been suffering medication-related dry mouth, please talk to us about palliative treatment options.

Good Habits To Prevent Or Reduce Dry Mouth

For particularly severe dry mouth, artificial saliva could provide relief and protect your teeth from decay, but there are also a few good habits that can minimize the problem.

Nose Breathing

Avoid breathing through your mouth, whether you are awake or asleep.  Even for people with fully functioning salivary glands, mouth breathing can result in a much dryer mouth than nose breathing.  For that, and many other health reasons, it is important to breathe through your nose whenever possible, especially during sleep.

Stay Hydrated

Your salivary glands can’t produce saliva if you’re not drinking enough water.  Even if saliva production is impeded for other reasons, regularly sipping water can help eliminate the dry mouth feeling.

Stimulate Saliva Production

Sugar-free gum and candy encourage your salivary glands to up their production, particularly if the flavor is citrus, mint, or cinnamon.  (Bonus points: sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol is also good for your teeth because it starves the bacteria that feed on sugar!)

Choose Your Mouthwash Carefully

Mouthwash containing alcohol may undo its own positive germ-killing effects by drying out your mouth.  Just like drinking alcoholic beverages has a dehydrating effect on the body, swishing alcoholic liquid around will specifically dehydrate the mouth.  Look for a non-alcoholic option when choosing a mouthwash.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking is one of the common causes of dry mouth, and not smoking is an obvious solution.  The same goes for dry mouth caused by alcohol intake.

We Can Beat Dry Mouth Together!

Dry mouth can pose a serious threat to your oral health.  Aside from following these good habits, one of the best things you can do if you experience dry mouth symptoms is to schedule an appointment with us.  That way we can help you identify the cause(s) and develop a plan to put an end to that sandpaper feeling!  Please call (217) 698-9300 to schedule an appointment today!

At Link Baines Dental, we love to fight for your dental health!



Top image by Flickr user someone10x used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.