The Dentists at Houston Westchase
Dry January sees people all around the world giving their liver a break by abstaining from alcohol. What many of us may not realize is that our mouth is also going to appreciate the respite.
Drinking too much alcohol can have a substantial impact on our oral health. It can lead to a range of diseases from tooth decay to mouth cancer. Studies have found that compared to non-drinkers, those who had one or more alcoholic drinks per day saw a reduction of healthy bacteria in the mouth, with a significant increase of harmful bacteria also detected.
Such changes could lead to the development of diseases such as gum disease and tooth decay, as well as mouth and throat cancers. It is estimated that almost one in five of us that drink occasionally display signs of severe gum disease.
Why is alcohol bad for our mouth?
Alcoholic drinks such as white wine, beer and cider can be very acidic. This can cause erosion of the enamel on our teeth, possibly leading to pain and sensitivity.
Spirits such as vodka and whiskey are very high in alcohol and may give us dry mouth. On the other hand, ciders and lagers, as well as many mixers and alcopops, often contain high amounts of sugar. The latter can cause tooth decay.
As little as one pint of larger can contain a quarter of our recommended daily sugar intake, as does two large glasses of white wine.
Drinking alcohol to excess is also linked to one in three mouth cancers.
Alcohol also encourages more bad bacteria to develop in our mouth. Studies have found that wine drinkers produce more bacteria responsible for gum disease when compared to non-drinkers while those who consume beer produce an increase in bacteria that are linked to dental decay.
Good bacteria however are bacteria that can help us avoid dental diseases. Specifically, the good bacteria inside our mouth will regulate the effects of bad bacteria by reducing the acidity and pH levels in the mouth. Good bacteria can also help with digestion because they will start breaking food down as soon as we start eating.
Probiotics keep good bacteria in the mouth. We can get probiotics through several foods like soft cheeses and natural yogurt. But make sure there’s no added sugar in the latter.
How big is the problem?
While having the odd drink is okay, it is those that drink regularly or in large amounts that are putting themselves more at risk. The latest figures estimate that around 40 million adults regularly consume alcoholic drinks and while many do so moderately, some do not.
A recent study found that among those who drink alcohol, more than one in four are classed as binge drinkers.
Mouth cancer diagnoses have risen dramatically over the last two decades and are predicted to continue rising. If people cut down on their alcohol consumption it could make a big difference in reducing cases of the disease.
Top tips on how to reduce the effects of alcohol on the teeth and mouth
While abstaining from alcohol will go far in improving our oral health, there are ways to find a balance between drinking and a healthy mouth. That being said, here are some tips on how to do just that:
Drink water after an alcoholic drink: It helps to balance pH levels in our mouth and wash some of the sugar away.
Try and keep the alcohol confined to mealtimes: By drinking at meal times it will help to reduce the intensity of the acid “attack” on our teeth and weaken its effects.
Use mouthwash: Mouthwash has a similar effect to water in that it will help wash away acidic substances such as alcoholic drinks from our teeth. The added benefit of mouthwash is that it will also go some way in protecting the teeth from further attack. Certain mouthwashes can coat our teeth in a protective shield and may help protect us against problems like gum disease or sensitive teeth. To check the benefits of each mouthwash, it is important to read the packaging prior to purchase.
You already know you need to protect your skin in the summer, but teeth also require extra attention when the seasons change. From chlorine damage to sweet seasonal food, summer staples and activities can be tough on teeth.
Foods and Drinks to Avoid This Summer (or enjoy in moderation)
• Sports Drinks
When the mercury rises, many people get outdoors and get active. Because warmer weather leaves quite the thirst to quench, exercisers often reach for sports drinks. The problem? Many of those drinks contain three times the tooth-eroding citric acid of soda, not to mention the excessive sugar found in non-diet versions. Your best bet is to stick to water or milk and, at the very least, switch to zero-calorie sports drinks.
• Summer Sangria
The fruity mixture is delicious and refreshing, but the red wine base can leave teeth looking less than sparkling. To combat stains, wipe teeth with a tissue, swirl water or seltzer between glasses, or snack on veggies that serve as natural tooth scrubs (such as cauliflower). The fruity additions to many sangria recipes also add sugar and acids to the mix, so swirling with water after drinking is also a good way to rinse these substances off your teeth until your next brushing.
• Ice Pops
Most are packed with sugar but not nutrition. The occasional icy pop won’t hurt, but do your teeth a favor and try some frozen treats without added sugars and artificial dyes. Frozen grapes are tasty, or make “ice cream” by freezing a banana and throwing it into a food processor. If you do indulge in a brightly colored pop, following up with a glass of water can help rinse away the dye and sugars until you can brush again.
The same swimming pool chemical that can make eyes burn and turn hair green also contains high amounts of acid that can erode teeth over time. For daily swims consider buying a mouth guard to limit the amount of chlorine that comes into contact with your teeth, and reduce the side effects of chlorine.
Approximately 53,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year with oral cancer (cancer of the mouth).
One hundred forty-five new people every day will be diagnosed with oral cancer, and one person every hour of the day will die from it — that’s nearly 9,000 deaths from oral cancer every year.
Of the people newly diagnosed with oral cancer, only about 60% will live longer than five years.
Moreover, many who do survive, suffer long-term problems such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties eating and speaking. The death rate associated with oral cancer remains high because cancer tends to be discovered late in its development.
Oral cancer awareness in the American public is low.
While smoking and tobacco use are major risk factors, the fastest-growing segment of oral cancer patients is young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals due to the connection to the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The only hope to save lives is public awareness.
Oral cancer can be treated when detected early. People can learn how to examine themselves for possible signs and symptoms. If one is detected, they should see their dentist, oral and facial surgeon, or other healthcare professionals immediately.
Some of the most common oral cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A persistent mouth sore: a sore in the mouth that does not heal is the most common symptom of oral cancer
- Pain: Persistent mouth pain is another common oral cancer sign
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth
- Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly
- Loosening of the teeth
- Pain in the teeth or jaw
- Voice changes
- A lump in the neck
- Weight loss
- Persistent bad breath
If any of these oral cancer signs or symptoms are present for days or weeks, your doctor may recommend tests to check for oral cancer. As with any cancer, having your cancer diagnosed as soon as possible will help ensure that any treatment is as effective as possible.
Oral cancer screenings are offered at our office. They are a part of your routine checkup and should be done, at a minimum, once a year. If you are due for your screening, call our Houston office at 832 830-8226 to schedule a visit, or use the “Book Now” button above.
Irish or not, most Americans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in some form. St. Patrick’s Day is often celebrated by wearing a bunch of green, maybe attending a nearby parade, and oftentimes, drinking beer that is dyed green – it’s no surprise St. Patty’s Day is the nation’s biggest drinking holiday.
While we are all for enjoying the day responsibly, there are a few things about drinking green beer and your dental health that you should know about.
If you aren’t already aware, beer, in general, is quite acidic. While different types of brews have different acidity levels – darker beers, such as Guinness (a St. Patrick’s Day favorite), have more than their lighter counterparts – all beer puts your smile at risk. When large amounts of acid are introduced into the mouth, the protective layer of tooth enamel can potentially begin to wear away. Without this protective barrier, teeth may become increasingly sensitive and even appear less bright, clean, and white.
Not-So-Lucky Tooth Discoloration
In addition to enamel erosion, excessive drinking can cause your teeth to become yellow over time. Dark Irish stouts, porters, and even fruity drinks can increase the risk of tooth discoloration. And as you can imagine, that green dye put in beer doesn’t make it any better – anyone up for a smile that is temporarily stained green?
Every year, dentists across the country see a spike in emergency visits following St. Patrick’s Day. Emergencies, like missing or broken teeth, have patients all over rushing to the nearest dentist. In fact, a study revealed that the average increase in emergency dental visits is 64 percent on the first business day after St. Patrick’s Day. The cause of these dental emergencies? Perhaps a little too much green beer…
In addition to smoking and poor dental hygiene, drinking alcohol excessively, beer included, leaves your mouth exposed to loads of sugar that these types of adult beverages contain. When sugar and bacteria combine they form a sticky film known as plaque. While plaque can be removed through regular brushing, poor dental care will cause the plaque to harden into tartar. Tartar can block your toothbrush from properly cleaning your teeth and mouth, especially along the gum line. Tatar leads to an increase in bacteria, which will damage gums and increase the chance of gum disease.
Protect Your Smile On St. Patty’s Day
You can help protect your smile from the side effects of drinking beer on the largest drinking holiday by first enjoying it in moderation. Alternating a beer with a glass of water will help rinse away excess sugars and acid that would otherwise be free to cause damage to the teeth. Additionally, even though it’s festive, try to stay away from the green-dyed stuff. Even though it is temporary, a green stained smile is no fun.
If your smile is feeling in rough shape after a day of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, we have remedies to whiten your teeth! With dental cleanings and teeth whitening, we help many patients revitalize their smiles. We use a professional teeth whitening system in which a powerful gel and bleaching light are used to whiten teeth quickly. Not only can teeth be whitened in-office, but we also provide customized trays and bleaching gel to use at home.
If it’s been a while since your last dental appointment, or if you notice some leftover green tint on your teeth following your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, give our dental office a call to schedule an appointment today or use the “Book Now” button above.
Taking care of your teeth isn’t a proven way to prevent heart disease, but there does appear to be some connection between oral health and heart disease.
Poor oral health has been debated as a possible cause of heart disease for many years. Studies have shown:
- Gum disease (periodontitis) is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which can affect the heart valves.
- Oral health may be particularly important if you have artificial heart valves.
- Tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.
There is a strong connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from periodontal treatment.
Even though oral health isn’t a key to heart disease prevention, it’s important to take care of your teeth and gums:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss daily.
Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings, give us a call at 832 830-8226, or click the “Book Now” button above!
One hardly ever hears resolutions for improving oral hygiene… So here are 4 realistic and obtainable New Year’s Resolutions that you can easily implement to increase your health and happiness this year.
Did you know that even after brushing, there sometimes is extra gunk that sticks around in your mouth? Using mouthwash is a perfect way to give your mouth a rinse, loosen up and repel that gunk, and freshen up!
2) Pick Up An Electric Toothbrush
The key to effective oral hygiene is the effective use of the right toothbrush. Teeth are almost always cleaner with the use of an electric toothbrush! An electric toothbrush is not only more fun to use, it’s easier and can minimize or eliminate staining of teeth. We recommend the Oral B toothbrush. Come by the office to see it in person. We even have a rebate offer you can take advantage of!
3) Brush Your Tongue
You’re already in your mouth brushing your teeth anyway… why not brush your tongue too? Brushing your tongue can save you from awkward bad breath encounters and get rid of the bacteria that builds up on it. Step it up a bit and use a tongue scraper. You’d be amazed at what comes off your tongue!
4) Avoid Certain Food & Drinks
Okay, so this one might be a little harder than the others— we all have our favorite foods and staying away from them can be hard! Avoiding these foods though can be the difference between a minor and a major dental visit.
- Ice is for chilling, not for chewing – your teeth are vulnerable. Chewing ice can chip your teeth!
- Too much coffee can stain your teeth, dry your mouth, and that sugar can eat away at your teeth.
- Limit your sugary drinks — soda, alcohol, and sports drinks all contain incredible amounts of sugar. If you want to drink them, be sure to brush your teeth afterward!
Let’s see how long these new year resolutions stick this year… hopefully its a permanent change for the better 🙂
Happy New Year Everyone!!!
Dental Insurance Benefits are Running Out Soon! Use Your Benefits Now.
Did you know you can save possibly thousands of dollars by using your dental insurance benefits before the end of the year? Deductibles are often met, annual maximums won’t roll over, and premiums may increase. So, it’s more important than ever to use your dental insurance benefits to the maximum now. Call and make your appointments today to get on the books before the holiday season begins and schedules get busier!
Maximize your dental insurance benefits … Learn More: Use it or Lose it
Dental Insurance Benefits: Preventative Care
A simple cavity today can turn into a nasty root canal later on, so make sure you’re staying up to date on your routine visits and preventative care. Preventative Dentistry is all about maintaining oral care and preventing oral health problems down the line. This often includes regular cleanings, regular oral exams, and routine x-rays. Dental insurance plans often fully cover preventative care services and appointments. You can also help maintain your oral health at home by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.
Dental Insurance Benefits: Elective Care
Elective dental services often fall under the cosmetic category. They are services you often elect to have done, rather than routine services or preventative services that maintain oral health. Veneers, teeth whitening, and other smile-enhancing services are often elective services, and insurance coverage rarely covers these services, but sales and discounts could be available! Call us to see what your fee would be for whitening or other elective services.
How Many Appointments Should I Make?
More than likely, a routine cleaning is an appointment almost everyone can make before the end of the year – this is a preventive care appointment. If you need larger dental treatments and you’ve met your deductible, the end of the year is the perfect time to get these treatments completed! Once you reach your deductible, out-of-pocket expenses drop, so treatments are easier to get done and less expensive for your wallet.
Check over your insurance plan to learn if your insurance covers multiple cleanings every year. If so, make the most of your benefits by getting your cleaning in before the holiday craziness begins and schedules tighten. Not sure how to read your benefits? Call us! We are more than happy to look into your coverage and see what is available. Also, if you have questions for your dentist or are curious about the status of your oral health, a routine check-up is the perfect way to learn about your teeth’s health and ask questions.
Feel free to call us 832 830-8226 or schedule an appointment online by clicking the “Book Now” button above.
Thanksgiving Day is a favorite holiday. Enjoying that scrumptious dinner with family, watching football and taking the day to remember all of the things we are most thankful for. It’s a day to gain perspective on what’s really important to each one of us. It’s also a day to consume 7,000 calories in an 8 hour day. A few dental tips could come into play to keep your teeth healthy during this glorious day!
Drink water throughout the day: One of the worst things we can do is just munch on food all day long. Your saliva does not have a chance to get your teeth clean, therefore the bacteria will just continue to breed. If you drink water during and in between meals the water will wash away many of the food that is left on your teeth.
Brush, Floss and Rinse: Whether you’re enjoying your meal at home or at a loved one’s home, remember to bring your brush & floss. Try to brush at least three times a day on Thanksgiving. It will help rid some of the food particles throughout the day.
Stay away from staining foods: Some of your typical Thanksgiving Day foods can be some of the worst staining foods ever. Cranberries and pies can cause dark staining on your pearly whites. Also, sweet and sticky foods such as a slice of pecan pie can also leave sticky food particles that will munch away at your teeth throughout the day.
Please take these few tips with you to your Thanksgiving Day feast to help keep your teeth healthy for life. We are very Thankful for our dental family and all our patients! We want to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day from all of us at DHW!
Halloween is around the corner, and it can be scary for parents to think about the amount of sugar that can creep in between their children’s teeth. Fortunately, there are ways to ward off the evil cavity spirits with these easy tricks for healthier teeth!
1) Trick-or-Treat On A Full Stomach
Before heading out, make sure your kids fill up on a healthy dinner. This will ensure they don’t overindulge and eat their candy while trick-or-treating.
2) Avoid Certain Types of Candies
Hard candy such as lollipops and sticky candies such as taffy or gummy bears are the worse for kids’ teeth. They are quite challenging to remove completely with brushing and can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay.
3) Limit The Amount of Candy
While it is hard to deny your kids candy after they have spent the whole night filling their bags with goodies, it is OK to set limits on how many pieces of candy they’re allowed to eat per day.
4) Floss Regularly
In addition to regular brushing, dental floss can really help clean in between the teeth where bacteria typically form.
5) Drink Fluoridated Water
Most drinkable tap water contains fluoride which is very safe and effective at preventing tooth decay. It is also usually free!
Most important… Schedule and maintain those routine dental exams and cleanings with your favorite dental office 🙂
Laser Bacterial Reduction Therapy
Periodontal disease is one of the quickest growing oral health concerns. More than 80% of adults in the United States suffer from some level of periodontal disease. It’s become increasingly important to find alternative and effective ways of treating bacterial growth and infection in the mouth and gums. Making this even more critical is the increasing understanding of the links between periodontal disease with other more serious conditions including heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and stroke. The next level of care for periodontal disease is Laser Bacterial Reduction (LBR) therapy. A gentler, yet effective way of reducing bacterial infections and periodontal disease, LBR is becoming a standard procedure for treating periodontal disease.
What is Laser Bacterial Reduction Therapy?
Laser Bacterial Reduction therapy is a non-invasive method of killing bacteria in the mouth. This procedure is done during a routine cleaning visit. LBR is accomplished using a non-cutting dental laser. The high-intensity light is focused around the teeth, especially at the gum line, and is used to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. This treatment is highly effective for ridding difficult to treat bacteria from the mouth.
What Are the Benefits of LBR?
Almost all patients can benefit from LBR. Even healthy mouths will experience some bleeding and irritation from normal cleanings, using LBR as a routine part of a regular dental visit can protect the mouth from potential infections. LBR is a great companion to plaque scaling and planning. Removing plaque from the teeth is a great place to start caring for periodontal disease. Combine that with intense, focused bacteria reduction, and the effectiveness of treatments for periodontal disease increases, and has a better chance of lasting longer. Over the long term, the use of LBR in dental cleanings and as a supplement to other treatments for periodontal disease, can improve the overall health of teeth and gums and give the immune system a boost.
***Is LBR Just for Periodontal Disease?
No! We are so excited to let you know laser therapy can be used for a variety of other dental treatments! This may include treatments for cold sores and herpetic lesions, providing sensitivity relief for the root surfaces of your teeth and can be used at regular hygiene appointments to reduce bacteria and support healthy gums!
Give us a call at 832 830-8226 if you would like to schedule a visit, or mention LBR at your next appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon!