What is Dry Mouth, And Why is it Bad For You?

What is Dry Mouth, And Why is it Bad For You?

Dry mouth is a condition that an estimated 1 in 4 adults suffer from. Not only is it sometimes a symptom of a greater health problem, it can cause many oral health issues. So what exactly is dry mouth, what causes it, and what are its effects?

 

What is dry mouth?

It’s what it sounds like: the sufferer’s mouth is dry. This is because the salivary glands are not producing enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Dry mouth can have the following symptoms

  • Sticky or dry feeling in mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Thick, stringy saliva
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Altered sense of taste
  • Grooved or dry tongue
  • Difficulty keeping dentures in place
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing

 

Why is dry mouth a problem?

Dry mouth can cause a number of oral health issues because saliva neutralizes acids and washes away other harmful substances. Saliva also has protein and other components that help with tooth remineralization, which keeps teeth strong. A dry mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which lead to cavities, thrush (oral yeast infection), increased plaque, mouth sores, and gum disease. Because it causes difficulty with chewing and swallowing food, sufferers may also suffer from malnutrition, if unable to eat certain types of food.

 

What causes dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications or chemotherapy treatments – if you’re taking any medications and are experiencing dry mouth, check to see if this is a listed side effect. It can also occur with age or can be a hereditary condition. Dry mouth can also be symptomatic of a serious health concern, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disorders, nerve damage, or strokes.  

Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use (particularly methamphetamine) can cause or increase dry mouth symptoms, as can more benign conditions such as thrush, mouth-breathing, and snoring. Temporary feelings of dry mouth, which can result from dehydration or stress, can also occur.

 

Dry mouth is more than just uncomfortable or inconvenient – it can be a sign of a serious condition and can cause oral health problems all on its own. Suffering in silence could lead to tooth decay, oral infections, gum disease, and more, and could be caused by a number of things. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, discuss your symptoms with a dentist to determine the cause of your dry mouth, and how best to treat it in order to avoid future oral health problems.

If you’re suffering from dry mouth, talk to a dentist today! Drs. Creason, Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski would be happy to help you out.

 

How Bad Teeth Can Negatively Affect Your Mental State

How Bad Teeth Can Negatively Affect Your Mental State

“Bad teeth” could mean teeth that are damaged, decayed, or missing, which can be serious physical health problems, but it could also mean that your teeth are stained, yellow, or not perfectly straight – a cosmetic issue. While it’s obvious why you should have dental problems like tooth decay fixed immediately, there is also a huge benefit to cosmetic dental work. Cosmetic dental problems can often take a toll on your mental state.

 

They can contribute to poor self-esteem

 

If you’re unhappy with the way you look, your negative feelings can affect your mental well-being. Feeling like your teeth look bad can make you feel inadequate. This can result in feelings of depression and isolation, which can cause you to withdraw from other people and from activities that you enjoy because you feel that other people will see and judge the appearance of your teeth.

 

They can make you feel self-conscious

 

If you are concerned about the way your teeth look, you might spend a lot of mental energy worrying about their appearance. You might try to hide your teeth and avoid smiling. Smiling is an important way that we communicate or show emotions to other people. Refusing to smile might make you seem unconfident, unhappy, and unapproachable; these things might reinforce feelings of isolation and increase your feelings of self-consciousness about your teeth.

 

You could miss out on the benefits of smiling

 

Smiling is good for you! Studies have shown that smiling can increase feelings of happiness, amusement, and joy. Forcing a smile when you’re not happy can even trick your brain into feeling happier. When you smile, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins (all feel-good chemicals) are released in the brain. For the same reason, smiling also reduces stress.

 

Numerous studies have also shown that smiling makes us look better. Smiling people are perceived as more likable and attractive than those who don’t smile. It also helps us communicate with others (most communication is actually nonverbal), and can even be contagious! When you smile, the people who see you are more likely to smile, too. That’s like giving away a little dose of happiness.

 

If you think you have “bad teeth,” you shouldn’t let them get in the way of your mental health. Self-esteem, confidence, and happiness are powerful components of well-being, and your teeth shouldn’t be keeping you from them. If you’re self-conscious about the way your teeth look, having some cosmetic dental work could make all the difference.

 

If it’s time to get your teeth whitened, get fitted for dentures or veneers, or otherwise improve your smile give us a call!

 

Can Going to the Dentist Save Your Life?

Can Going to the Dentist Save Your Life?

We all know that going to the dentist is important, but it’s possible that we don’t appreciate just how important it is. While regular dental checkups are crucial for healthy teeth and gums, they can also be the first step to preventing or treating numerous conditions. A trip to the dentist might even save your life. How?

 

Since your dentist will be closely examining your mouth, they will likely be the first person to observe oral symptoms of a health condition. Serious and possibly life-threatening conditions including diabetes, oral cancer, heart disease, acid reflux, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis all have oral symptoms that you dentist may observe during a regular dental cleaning.

 

Condition Symptoms
Diabetes Reduced saliva production, dry mouth, chronic bad breath
Oral cancer Discoloration of the mouth or throat
Heart disease Periodontal disease (gum disease) in patients with good oral hygiene
Acid reflux Tooth erosion
Osteoporosis Bone loss in the jaw and bone structures surrounding the teeth and mouth
Crohn’s disease Small, painless bumps on the gums, near teeth
Rheumatoid arthritis TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) including pain and limited jaw movement
Periodontal disease Swelling or bleeding gums, bad breath and taste, bone loss, loose or drifting teeth, tooth sensitivity, formation of abscesses

 

If your dentist observes any of these symptoms during an oral check-up or cleaning, he or she can alert you to the possibility and severity of the condition, and refer you to specialists or to your doctor for further examination and possible treatment. Oral symptoms, such as dry mouth in diabetic patients, may often be one of the first warning signs of a condition, and so the mouth is the first line of defense when it comes to early detection and treatment for these ailments.

 

If it’s been awhile since you’ve made it to the dentist, it might be a good time to schedule an appointment. At Creason, Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry we’re taking new patients, so make sure to call our office or schedule your appointment online.

Everything You Need For Your Next Dental Appointment

Everything You Need For Your Next Dental Appointment

Unknowns can be scary. Going into situations that are inconsistent with your day-to-day routine can cramp your style, causing extra stress that we know you don’t need. We all know that going to your dentist frequently is a great investment in your oral health and your general well-being, but what can you expect from the time you get to the office to the time you leave? Here is our quick guide and checklist with everything you need to know and bring to your next dental appointment.

How Often You Should Go

For most, it’s recommended that people visit their dentist twice a year. However, if you’re in what’s known as the “high risk” group—smokers, diabetics, people with gum disease or immune system issues—should be seeing their dentist more frequently. After your checkup, ask your dentist when they think you should come in again for a cleaning.

First Things First: Check-In

Try to give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of time between your scheduled appointment and when you arrive. That way, when you get to the office, you will have enough time to fill out any forms from the dental receptionist. Remember to bring with you any necessary medical information you may need, such as any prescriptions you are currently taking or your dental insurance information. After all of the necessary forms are filled out, it will be time for you to head to your examination room.

Meet the Dental Hygienist

Once you’re brought back into the examination room, your dental hygienist will begin scraping and cleaning your teeth. When scraping, hygienists will use tools to remove plaque and tartar that’s built up on your teeth, which if left untreated can cause gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. Next, the hygienist will rinse out your mouth before beginning to polish and floss your teeth, making them sparkly and clean for your dentist to look at.

Finishing the Check-Up

The last part of your check-up will involve the dentist coming in to thoroughly examining your teeth. Often, at this point, the dentist will also take X-Rays. These x-rays can show problems that are otherwise hard to detect, such as abscesses, decay, cysts or tumors. As the dentist is waiting for the x-ray results, they will also be examining your teeth and gums, often doing some extra cleaning and asking some follow-up questions about your oral health and cleaning habits. When the x-ray results have been evaluated and the examination is finished, the dentist will offer suggestions on how you can keep your mouth healthy, and will suggest when you should come to see them again.

Last But Not Least, Check-Out

With your pearly whites cleaned, now it’s up to you to keep them that way. Before leaving the office, talk to the receptionist about when you should make your next dental appointment. He or she will help you find a date that’s convenient with your schedule and will give you an appointment card or follow up with you via email or text.

If it’s been a long time since your last appointment and you know you need to schedule a dental check-up, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford office a call at (616) 842-0822, we’d love to meet you! We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!

10 Steps For Better Oral Hygiene in the New Year

10 Steps For Better Oral Hygiene in the New Year

New Year’s Resolutions. Even if you don’t make them, the ringing in of the New Year does have a fresh-start feeling. This could be the year that you stop scrolling through Facebook before bed every night. Or maybe this is the year where you start focusing on your health.

Whatever resolution you may be trying to stick to, we’ve got a suggestion: Make 2017 your year for healthier, stronger teeth. Maintaining good dental health is crucial to your personal well-being, with poor habits causing cavities, tooth loss, and gum infections. To help you start forming better hygiene habits, here are 10 steps to take better care of your pearly whites.

STEP 1: Brush Your Teeth AT LEAST Twice a Day

The American Dental Association suggests that you brush your teeth in the morning when you wake up and again before you head to bed. Over the course of your day, bacteria within your mouth begins breaking down the food you’ve eaten throughout the day. As the bacteria is munching away on what’s left over from your lunch, it releases acids that can start damaging your tooth enamel. If you are only brushing once a day, it’s likely that the bacteria will begin to spread to different parts of the mouth which are often what causes the onset of gingivitis. It’s important to brush twice a day to keep all of the bacteria at bay.

STEP 2: When Brushing, Use a Fluoride Toothpaste

You’ve probably heard of fluoride as something that’s added to your water, or maybe as a child, your doctor prescribed fluoride tablets to help keep your teeth strong. But what is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in the Earth’s crust, water, and in foods. When fluoride is added to your toothpaste it can be absorbed into your tooth enamel where it can help strengthen the tooth by replenishing the phosphorus and calcium that has been lost. Although you may have fluoride in your water already, you should still consider giving your teeth the extra fighting power that’s provided by fluoride. (However, do not use fluoridated toothpaste with children under the age of two unless you’ve first consulted your pediatrician.)

STEP 3: When You Brush, Floss

Although you may be an avid brusher, the odds are that you are one of the 32% of Americans who never flosses. In a report from US News in May of 2016, a study found that over a third of Americans, a whopping 37%, floss their teeth “less than daily.”

The importance of flossing regularly is related to those pesky bacteria we mentioned earlier. When you brush, many parts of your teeth, like the cracks and crevices in between, are out of reach for the bristles to scrub clean. That’s where flossing comes in. By reaching in between your teeth, flossing is stripping away the bacteria that could continue eating away at your enamel or that could irritate your gums. By linking your flossing habits to your twice-a-day brushing routine, you have a much lower chance of enamel loss or tooth irritation and decay.

STEP 4: Start Using a Rinse or Mouthwash

You may think that mouthwash is simply an instant breath freshener, but it does a lot more than take away your bad breath. If brushing takes away most bacteria and flossing takes another swing at it, mouthwash is the knock-out punch. Mouthrinses can reach and clean within every nook and cranny your mouth has bacteria hiding within. But buyer beware, not all mouthwashes are going to break down the bacterial compounds that can lead to tooth decay.

When shopping in the mouthrinse aisle, look for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This seal is given to manufacturers whose products have shown statistical significance providing the health benefit they claim. Don’t just look for something to mask bad breath, look for a product that can fight and kill the bacteria. You can even find some mouthwashes that have the bacteria killing power and added fluoride to help keep your teeth strong.

STEP 5: Replace Your Toothbrush More Often

If you’ve had your toothbrush for more than five months, do yourself a favor and toss it. Your toothbrush can house lingering toothpaste and saliva, even if it’s been rinsed after you’re done brushing. To keep your teeth as clean as possible, you should be replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. Consider buying a toothbrush sooner if you notice that your bristles are beginning to fray.

STEP 6: Drink More Water

Most people don’t want to bring their toothbrushes and toothpaste with them to use after every meal. With our busy lives, that solution is impractical. Instead, try drinking more water throughout the day, especially during and after meals. The water helps wash off foods and bacteria clinging to your teeth. Also, staying hydrated will help your mouth’s production of saliva and give your body the water it needs to distribute nutrients and keep you functioning at full capacity all day long.

STEP 7: Avoid Acidic Foods and Drinks

One of the reasons fluoride is such a good addition to your dental hygiene routine is because of the damage acidic drinks and food can cause. When drinks like soda, coffee, and wine are introduced to your teeth, their acidity breaks down your tooth enamel. In addition to some of these drinks, many of our favorite fruits also contain a high acid content. Limiting how much acidic foods you eat and drink can help you keep your enamel strong to ward off tooth sensitivity and decay.

STEP 8: Curb Your Sweet Tooth

Candies and sugary drinks are just two culprits that affect your dental hygiene. When you eat sugary foods, the starches from them get stuck in your teeth’s cracks and crevices. These sugars are great food sources for your mouth’s bacteria. By cutting down on some of your favorite sweet treats, you are doing your teeth a favor and giving your mouth’s bacteria only a sliver of a chance. If possible, try to eat sweet and acidic snacks when you’re home so you can brush up right afterward.

STEP 9: Stop Using Tobacco

Whether you are using chewing tobacco or have a habit of smoking, the use of tobacco products causes serious damage to your teeth and mouth. In addition to the yellowing of your teeth and gums, tobacco use is linked to the onset of gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth and throat cancers. If you are seriously wanting to take better care of your teeth this year, kicking these habits to the curb is a huge victory.

STEP 10: See A Dentist

The most important step is the one we saved for last. Although all of these steps improve your oral hygiene, there’s no substitute for the expertise and care that comes with visiting a dental office. Understanding your teeth’s strengths and weaknesses are the key to having good health overall, and dentists are trained to help you find a care plan that will keep your smile healthy for years to come.

If it has been awhile since you’ve been to a dentist, we’d love to meet you! If you would like to set up an appointment to meet the staff or for a check-up, give the Creason & Weber office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!

Why College Students Need To Go To the Dentist

Why College Students Need To Go To the Dentist

From high school to college, students have a lot of new things to learn. The independence that comes with moving away from home can be exciting and terrifying, and can be the start of a lot of phone calls home asking “how do I do this?” While students are focused on their academic performance and new social lives, it’s not surprising that dental health gets pushed to the wayside. However, college is the last place you want to be saying “maybe later” to your dental hygiene.

You may not know it, but your mouth is a reflection of your body’s overall health. Lack of proper dental care can lead to more than just changes to your smile. Poor dental hygiene can result in tooth decay, tooth loss, and even gum disease. But studies show that once students have left the nest and entered college, the visits to a dentist’s office declined significantly. For some, the reasons may be economical ones. If individuals know that they have a lot of work that needs to be done, it’s possible that they’re avoiding the dentist to avoid paying out the cost of correcting their teeth. Another common reason for shying away from the dentist is related to students’ anxiety about finding a professional on their own, especially if their new college or university town is unfamiliar to them. Whatever the case may be, there are many reasons why college students should be seeing a dentist on a regular basis.

Diet Changes

Changes in eating habits are one of the biggest transitions for students when they come to college. They no longer can depend on parents or guardians for meal planning, and suddenly, quick, low-cost meals become a dietary staple. Some of those diet changes may also include more caffeine intake from coffee, soda, or energy drinks (all highly acidic), tobacco use (increased plaque build-up and heightened chance of gum disease), and greater sugar intake. These changes in how you eat can affect teeth directly, while over time the lack of nutrients in the diet may begin to cause additional problems to the health and well-being of the gums and inner tooth tissue.

Time Saver

Maintaining good dental health is a preventive measure students should be taking to avoid the need for more intrusive and more expensive treatment down the road. Although taking the time go to the dentist may seem daunting with classes, extracurriculars, and jobs, it’s important. A regular check-up may last about 45 minutes to an hour. However, infrequent visits and long stints of zero check-ups can result in longer appointment times. If there is a problem such as a cavity or severe tooth decay, fixing the problem may require making one or two more appointments to resolve the issue. Instead, students can be proactive with their dental health by seeing a dentist frequently to identify and stop issues before they start.

Save Money

Finally, the last big reason we wanted to share with you was the fact that taking care of yourself now means saving money for yourself later. Fillings, root canals, tooth replacements, or endodontic procedures can all be costly to fix differing issues related to tooth decay and poor dental hygiene. Understanding how to take care of your teeth and having them regularly cleaned is an important investment students should be making in themselves. The results may not be apparent now, but down the road after graduation when real life starts to happen, knowing that you’ve done everything you could to keep your teeth healthy and strong will be a relief to you and your wallet. (Especially when those student loans kick in.)

Been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist? We’d love to meet you! If you would like to set up an appointment to meet the staff or for a check-up, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!