Eating Disorders and Your Teeth

Some eating habits can wreak havoc on your body and your teeth. For example, snacking throughout the day can increase the risk of tooth decay. Sipping soda and frequent snacking on snack foods increase the rate of harmful acid attacks on tooth enamel. And repeated binge eating can do the same.

The eating disorder bulimia nervosa not only harms overall health but also is particularly destructive to teeth. It involves secret repeated binge eating followed by purging which is self-induced vomiting, fasting and use of laxatives or diet pills.

Binge eaters consume a large amount of food very quickly. Although this temporarily may ease hunger and other feelings, binge eating can create stomach pain and anxiety about weight gain.

The digestive system contains strong acids that break down food. When vomiting is used to purge food from the body, these acids attack tooth enamel. Repeated vomiting can erode tooth enamel severely. Over time, teeth exposed to stomach acids can become worn and translucent. The mouth, throat and salivary glands may become swollen and tender.

Anorexia nervosa is another serious eating disorder that is harmful to overall health and to teeth. It is characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, the desire to become thinner and an inability to maintain a minimally normal weight for height and age.

People who experience bulimia or anorexia do not receive adequate minerals, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients needed for good health. To keep your smile healthy, limit snacks and eat nutritious, well-balanced meals. As always, if you have any questions or concerns with your teeth, contact any of us at Hannon & Sandler. We will be more than happy to answer any of your questions!

Dental Hygiene As You Age

Good dental hygiene and oral care habits are important at any age. As you get older, it’s important to think about your dental routine and if it needs some tweaking – because certain life changes can cause changes in your mouth. Whether you have all of your original teeth, some of them, or a full set of dentures, caring for your mouth is just as important when you get older as it was when you were a kid.

Fluoride isn’t just for children. Even if you’re over 50, it’s still important to protect the surface of your teeth and prevent decay. It’s important to note that older individuals have an increased risk for cavities, making it especially important for you to make sure fluoride is a part of your daily routine. When brushing, twice a day, use a fluoride toothpaste. If you are particularly concerned about cavities or have had a few as you’ve aged, we encourage you to get an in-office fluoride varnish treatment for the added level of protection.

As you get older you may start to notice your mouth becoming dryer. Certain features of aging, such as more regular medications or a chronic condition, can increase your risk for dry mouth which also correlates with an increase in cavities or decay. If you suffer from dry mouth, there are a few improvements you can make to your dental hygiene to reduce your symptoms. You can use a moisturizing mouthwash or spray (Biotene), or chew sugar-free gum or gum sweetened with Xylitol, which encourages the production of saliva. You can also consult your doctor if your dry mouth is caused by medication. Adjusting your dose or trying a new medicine can help alleviate certain symptoms.

Whether or not you have all of your real teeth, gum disease remains a big concern among older individuals. A study published in the Journal of Dental Research found that nearly 64 percent of adults over age 65 had severe or moderate periodontitis in 2009 and 2010. Although it’s common, gum disease doesn’t have to be a cost of getting older. Maintaining good dental hygiene and seeing us at Hannon and Sandler regularly will help you prevent it or treat it quickly.

Your age does not have to show in your teeth! Be sure to see us regularly at Hannon and Sandler for all your check up needs, young and old!

What Parents Need To Know About Kids Losing Teeth

As a parent, every milestone our children go through is both exciting and educational. As a first-time parent, we learn everything we can, either deliberately or by experience. The same is true with baby teething and kids losing teeth. Here’s what you need to know about kids losing teeth.

Teeth usually start getting loose because the adult (or permanent) teeth are pushing on them and are ready to come in. Kids tend to lose teeth in the same order the got them, most commonly the front teeth, followed by the canines and working back to the molars.
Baby teeth (also called primary teeth) begin to wiggle as early as age 4 and you will see kids losing teeth between the ages of 5-15.
Baby teeth can also be lost due to injuries or dental issues such as gum disease or cavities. Some parents think that baby teeth don’t require the same care as adult teeth since they will be lost, but this isn’t the case. In a “premature loss”, it is critical to see a dentist to prevent more significant future issues.
If your child hasn’t lost any teeth by age 8, or if adult teeth erupt before the baby teeth have fallen out, talk to your dentist to make sure there are no problems.

It is best to let baby teeth fall out naturally to prevent trauma to the gums around the tooth, which may already be sore. Your child will likely play with the tooth, wiggling it with their tongue or fingers – this is natural and encouraged. Make sure you talk to your child about what will happen when they lose the tooth, especially if they are going to school.

Many parents want to help celebrate this milestone using the tooth fairy tradition. There are loads of cute ideas floating around the internet – everything from notes to the tooth fairy, special pillows or boxes, cute picture ideas and more. A long-standing part of the tooth fairy tradition is the financial reward for the child! And while this amount varies widely by family, Delta Dental tracks the going rate on their Tooth Fairy Poll – currently $4.13 per tooth in the United States!

Have more questions about kids losing teeth? All of us here at Hannon & Sandler are here to help answer those questions and keep your entire family’s teeth healthy.

Pool Water and Your Teeth

Minnesota summers are hot and go by quickly, so it’s important to get some good swimming time in to cool off and have some fun! Swimming is a great way to enjoy the summer sun, but how do your teeth feel about it? Here are some of the effects that pool water can have on your smile.

Did you realize chlorinated pool water can be a threat to your teeth? Exposing teeth to improperly chlorinated pools (those with a pH level below seven) can erode enamel and cause tooth sensitivity. It can also lead to staining and a condition called swimmer’s calculus. When exposed to chlorine for more than six hours a week, teeth can turn yellow or brown and develop hard deposits as the plaque on your teeth reacts with chlorine. If you swim in chlorinated pools often, talk to us at Hannon & Sandler about preventing staining, swimmer’s calculus and enamel erosion. We will be able to provide treatment if you’ve already begun experiencing symptoms.

These are other important reminders when visiting your favorite swimming pool:

• If you wear a dental appliance, like a retainer, be sure to take it out before you take a dip! These items can be easily lost while swimming.
• Remember – Walk, don’t run!! The lifeguard telling you not to run at the pool may be saving you from the slip and fall that knocks a tooth out. Summer can be just as much of a hazard to your teeth as hockey season. So do your mouth a favor, and be careful!

What to Expect With Your Oral Health When You’re Expecting

May is Pregnancy Awareness Month. At first glance, it may not seem like oral health has much to do with pregnancy, but it’s actually a critical part of it. A mother’s oral health can be correlated with the baby’s overall health, so it’s important to pay close attention to your dental care and any changes that may arise while you’re pregnant.

It seems like everything about your health and body is different during pregnancy, and your mouth is no exception. An abundance of hormones like estrogen and progesterone are the culprits behind many of those changes, including sensitive gum tissue. Some women can be affected by pregnancy gingivitis, characterized by redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding. Fight plaque build-up by brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily, paying special attention to the gum line.

Some dental plans may provide enhanced benefits for pregnant women, like extra cleanings, which help prevent and treat conditions like pregnancy gingivitis. Check to see if your plan offers these types of benefits.

If you have other questions or concerns about dental care or treatment while you’re expecting, be sure to talk with us at your next appointment. It’s also a great time to ask any questions you may have about your baby’s oral health care. We look forward to taking care of you and your baby!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Did you know that Dr. Bob and Dr. Jerry, along with your hygienist, screen you for cancer at every dental visit? Oral cancers can be deadly diseases. Roughly 45,000 new cases of mouth and throat cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States. Treatment may be more successful when diagnosis is early, so this is one more reason to see your dentist regularly.

Below is a list of mouth and throat cancer signs and symptoms. Check your mouth in the mirror each day when you brush and floss. If there are any changes in your mouth or neck, or if you notice any of these signs or symptoms, please be sure to contact us as soon as you can.

  • A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
  • Lump or growth in the throat or neck area
  • Cough or sore throat that doesn’t go away
  • Earache
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Hoarseness or other changes in your voice
  • Anyone can get cancer. There are some factors that if controlled, can decrease your risk of developing oral cancer: smoking cigarettes/chewing tobacco, heavy or frequent consumption of alcohol, and exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV).

    Amazingly, when you quit using tobacco, your risk of developing oral cancer immediately decreases. After staying tobacco free for ten years, your risk of developing oral cancer is approximately the same as someone who NEVER smoked or chewed.

    Remember: as the summer months approach, and we begin spending more time in the sun, wear sunscreen and lip balm with adequate SPF daily to decrease your risk of skin and lip cancers, and schedule your checkup with the team at Hannon & Sandler today!

    Diabetes and Your Oral Health

    Oral health and overall health are connected in many ways. Several health issues have oral health complications, and on the flip side, poor oral health can indicate overall health problems.

    Though diabetes doesn’t cause gum disease, and gum disease doesn’t cause diabetes, people who have one of them are more likely to have the other when compared to people who are not affected by either condition.

    Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. Because gum disease is a type of infection in the gums and the bone surrounding gums, people with diabetes can have a harder time getting rid of gum disease than people without diabetes. People who have their diabetes in control tend to have less gum disease than those who aren’t managing the disease well.

    If you have diabetes, it’s important to make us at Hannon & Sandler aware of your condition so we know you have an increased risk for gum disease. You should also pay close attention to your oral health, making sure to brush twice a day, floss daily and visit us regularly for check-ups. People with diabetes or gum disease may also be eligible for enhanced benefits through your dental plan, which may cover extra cleanings and exams. Some studies have shown that people with diabetes who receive regular oral health care may even lower their overall medical costs from diabetes. So, please, check with dental insurance carrier to see if they have this added benefit for you!

    How Much is Too Much Radiation?

    It’s a concern that many people have. And a valid concern while being at the dentist as many people come to expect some sort of dental radiographs to evaluate their teeth. The benefit of radiographs are that they help us diagnose common problems such as cavities, gum disease and some types of oral infections. Dental radiographs allow the dentist to see inside a tooth and beneath the gums. Without necessary radiographs, more disease would go unnoticed, treatment would begin later and as a result, people would have more pain and lose more teeth. But how much is too much?

    Digital dental radiographs have very low doses of radiation, producing just a fraction of what you are exposed to in other imaging procedures. The use of digital radiography has reduced the amount of radiation by 75-80%! The human body is used to getting bombarded with x-ray radiation from the general environment we live in (*click on chart below*), so our bodies are used to repairing the damage caused by low amounts of radiation. Dental radiographs have always been considered safer than other forms of medical radiation because they are directed to areas of the body that are not so radiosensitive. The x-ray machine at a dental office is quite large, but the actual x-rays come out of a very small cone. This limits the x-rays the exposure area of the actual x-ray. Very little radiation exposure occurs beyond the diameter of the beam. Also, our x-ray equipment goes under regular inspections by the state to ensure they are accurate and safe.

    Radiation from dental radiographs is quite minimal and very safe for healthy patients to be exposed to. We understand you may have concerns regarding dental radiographs and we would be glad to answer them during your next appointment with us. Your need for dental radiographs depends on your age, your medical and dental history and the current condition of your mouth. The chart below shows the amount of radiations a person receives from various activities (select image to enlarge).

    Wisdom Teeth: Do I Need Them?

    Do I have to have my wisdom teeth taken out?

    It’s a question we get almost every day. The roots of wisdom teeth are usually not fully developed until age 21 or later, so it is common to have the teeth removed as a teenager or young adult while the roots are still forming. Once fully formed, wisdom teeth roots continue to grow and are more likely to become tangled with sensory nerves in the lower jaw and/or sinuses. Regular dental visits are important during your teens and early 20s. If you visit your dentist regularly, they can use x-rays to follow the progress of your wisdom teeth and any problems will be seen early.

    What kind of problems could there be?

    Impaction. One of the most common justifications for wisdom tooth removal is impaction. Impaction is when the teeth do not have enough room to erupt fully and are therefore impacted in the gums and/or bone.

    Infection. When our wisdom teeth can’t come in all the way, part of the tooth may be covered by a flap of gum. Bits of food and bacteria can get trapped under the flap. This can cause swelling and a low-grade infection called pericoronitis. This usually happens with lower wisdom teeth.

    Altered Bite. This is due to wisdom teeth pushing adjacent teeth out of alignment. When wisdom teeth are not coming in straight, they will put pressure on the teeth directly in front of them.

    Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. But if there’s a chance your wisdom teeth will cause problems, it’s easier to take them out when you’re young. As always, schedule an appointment and talk with us about any dental concerns you have, including whether removing your wisdom teeth makes sense for you.

    The Oral Health Benefits of Pumpkin

    Tis the season for pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes and pumpkin everything! Chances are that your favorite fall dishes include pumpkin as an ingredient ­– or feature it as the star of the plate. In addition to being delicious, pumpkin also provides a variety of oral health benefits that may help balance the sugary excess of Halloween candy.

    Pumpkin contains vitamins and minerals that help keep your mouth in shape for fall dinners and desserts, including:

    Iron: Found in pumpkin seeds, iron keeps your tongue and gums healthy and helps prevent anemia, which can also affect the tissues in the mouth.

    Magnesium: Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to help strengthen bones and teeth. Just 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds fulfills 35 percent of your daily magnesium needs.

    Vitamin A: This vitamin helps with maintaining gums. A single cup of pumpkin will satisfy over 200 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A.

    Zinc: Zinc helps replenish the lining of the gums, especially in areas right next to teeth. 

    Vitamin C: Vitamin C fights off infection and inflammation of your gums. You can find 20 percent of your daily vitamin C needs in 1 cup of pumpkin.

    It’s especially easy to get all of these essential vitamins and minerals into your diet during the autumn months. You’re probably familiar with classic pumpkin munchies like pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and roasted pumpkin seeds. This season try to include some pumpkin in your fall recipes!

    Blog Credit: Delta Dental of Minnesota