How The Keto Diet Affects Oral Health

keto dietStarting a new diet can be both exciting and difficult, and there are many different types of diets to choose from. One of the most common diets is the Keto Diet, and its followers often find weight loss success. But as with all diets, the Keto Diet does come with potential negative side effects. There’s one in particular that concerns your dentist in Sacramento — bad breath. 

How The Keto Diet Works

The Keto Diet helps people lose weight by forcing the body to burn fat instead of glucose. Dieters essentially cut their intake of carbohydrates, and the sugars that come along with them, and increase their consumption of high-fat foods. This causes the body to enter ketosis, which is when the body burns fat instead of glucose. The result is often successful weight loss. But there’s another thing that happens as a result of ketosis — the byproduct of three ketones called acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. The acetone is what may cause Keto Dieters to experience bad breath. 

Acetone & Bad Breath

Even though our bodies produce acetone, it can’t be used to store energy –  so our bodies release it through either urination or the lungs. Acetone has an unpleasant odor, so when it’s passed through the lungs, the smell can be transferred to our breath. Bad breath from the Keto Diet doesn’t necessarily happen to everyone, but those it does affect can find resolution by brushing and flossing daily and by seeing their dentist in Sacramento at least twice a year. Additionally, those who are on the Keto Diet long-term may become “keto-adapted,” which means the bad breath will go away. 

Keto Diet Benefits

Besides helping people lose weight, the Keto Diet may also benefit oral health. Carbohydrates contain a lot of sugar, and it’s no surprise that your dentist in Sacramento isn’t a big fan of sugar. But by eating fewer carbs, we’re also cutting back on the amount of sugar our teeth are exposed to, reducing the risk of decay and cavities. You see, when we eat sugary foods (including carbs), the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and release an acidic byproduct. This acid can cause tooth enamel to weaken and puts teeth at greater risk for decay. But when we limit sugary foods as Keto Dieters do, we can protect our teeth from these acids. In fact, some research shows that decreasing foods with a lot of carbs can lower the likelihood of cavities and even gum disease by 50% or more. 

Before You Start, Ask

As with any change to your eating habits, you should talk to your doctor prior to starting the Keto Diet or any diet. What works well for one person may not be appropriate for someone else, so make sure to discuss your plans with your physician. Additionally, we would also recommend talking with your dentist. The truth is, what we eat affects our oral health just as much as it affects our overall health. Your dentist can give you advice as to what you should expect with your oral health on a new diet. So before you start any diet, ask your medical team what would be best for you.

The Surprising Connection Between Gum Disease & Heart Disease

heart health monthEvery February, we celebrate Heart Health Month to raise awareness of how we can both evaluate our risk for heart disease as well as what we can do to reduce that risk. While it may seem out of character to hear your dentist in Sacramento talk about heart health, the truth is, there is a direct link between poor oral health and an increased risk of heart disease.  

Gum Disease & Heart Disease

The main concern between oral health and heart disease is gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues that, if left untreated, could lead to painful gums and even tooth loss. But that’s not all. Gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack. 

When infection infiltrates our gums, it also has a direct pathway to the bloodstream. And when infection enters the blood, your body reacts by producing an overabundance of C-Reactive Protein (CRP). Elevated levels of CRP can cause: 

  • inflamed arteries
  • blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • strokes 

Too much CRP may even be one of the top warning signs of a heart attack. In fact, according to The New England Journal of Medicine, elevated CRP levels can be more accurate at predicting a heart attack than high cholesterol.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Now that we know that gum disease can affect more than just your oral health, let’s take a closer look at what causes it in the first place. Gum disease is usually caused by a buildup of plaque brought on by poor oral hygiene. The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Quick intervention from your dentist in Sacramento can help the problem from becoming more serious, but if gingivitis isn’t treated it can quickly progress and put overall health at risk. 

Gum disease can come on suddenly, and sometimes without any symptoms. Other times, symptoms are mistaken as normal and treatment isn’t sought. This is one reason why seeing your dentist regularly is so important. Your dental team will be able to diagnose gum disease early if you visit every six months, making treatment more successful. 

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Some of the most common signs of gum disease include: 

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffiness or tenderness of the gums
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose-feeling teeth

If you do notice any of those symptoms, contact your Sacramento dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as you can. 

Gum disease can more than double your risk of suffering a fatal heart attack or stroke. Reduce your risk by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and of course, seeing your dentist every six months or as recommended. Other steps you can take to protect yourself include not smoking and eating a well-balanced diet. 

Cough Medicine & Oral Health

cough syrupEveryone knows how miserable the common cold can be. When we come down with a case of the sniffles or an annoying cough, we’re willing to do almost anything to make it stop. While medications to treat the symptoms of a cold can help suppress a cough or ease a stuffy nose, your dentist in Sacramento knows that they don’t come without risks to oral health. 

The Danger is in The Ingredients

Many medications that we take to help us feel just a little bit better when we’re battling a cold contain ingredients that can put our oral health at risk for decay and cavities. The main two culprits that concern your dentist in Sacramento are sugar, which is used for flavor, and alcohol. Let’s take a closer look as to why this duo is dangerous for our teeth. 

Sugars

The truth is, most medicines don’t taste great, but the addition of sugar can help make them a little more tolerable. However, even though these sugars may make the medicine go down, they can contribute to tooth decay. The two most concerning medications that are used often when treating a cough are liquid cough syrup and cough drops — both of which typically contain a nice dose of sugar. The dangers are made even worse when we suck on cough drops throughout the day since our teeth are essentially bathing in the sugars all day long. As we all know, dentists don’t like sugar, mostly because bacteria love it. Bacteria in our mouths will feed on sugars and release acid as a byproduct. This acid is what wears away tooth enamel and leaves teeth at increased risk for decay

Alcohol

The other dangerous ingredient in many cough medicines is alcohol. Alcohol is known to cause dry mouth which may not sound like such a big deal, but in reality, it can cause a whole host of problems. Normally, our mouths produce a lot of saliva throughout the day which helps wash away sugar and bacteria and neutralize acids. However, when the mouth is too dry to produce enough saliva to protect the mouth, it’s easier for bacteria and acid to attack teeth. 

Protect Yourself

By no means are we suggesting that you have to forego cough medicine or cough drops altogether. But we do want you to be aware of some ways you can reduce their potential side effects on your oral health. Some things you can do to protect yourself while you’re treating your cold include: 

  • Brushing your teeth after you take cough medicine. This can help remove the sugar and alcohol instead of allowing it to hang around in your mouth all night long. 
  • Taking medicine while you eat. As we chew our food we produce more saliva to help with digestion. This extra boost in saliva can reduce the dangers of sugar and alcohol.
  • Using a pill medication instead of a liquid. A capsule of cough medicine removes the risk of sugars and alcohol. 

During this cold and flu season, if you do happen to get sick, try these tips above to help reduce the risk of oral health concerns caused by cough medicine. 

Is Biting Your Lip Bad For You?

woman biting lipWhen we accidentally bite our lip, the pain that follows can be concerning. The zing of pain, and maybe even some blood, can certainly cause us to think that we may have just done some serious damage. But is lip-biting actually bad for you? Let’s check in with your dentist in Sacramento to see just how big of a deal biting our lip (or cheek or tongue!) is. 

Biting Is Bad — Sometimes

The truth is, there are really two answers to whether biting the soft tissues in our mouths is bad for us. On one hand, occasional bites typically heal on their own and usually aren’t something to worry over. On the other hand, when biting becomes a habit or you find yourself accidentally biting your lips, cheeks, or tongue a lot, it can cause inflammation, swelling, and sores. These sores can become infected if not treated or if they’re constantly being reopened by more biting. 

Why Do We Bite?

We’ve all experienced those accidental bites we talked about above while chewing or perhaps during a big sneeze. While these one-off biting incidents sure can hurt, even for a few days, they’re often not something to be concerned about. 

However, when the accidental bites happen often, you should see your dentist in Sacramento. Those who tend to bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue a lot while they’re eating or even talking may have something known as malocclusion or a bad bite. A bad bite means that our top teeth don’t line up well with our bottom teeth, and that makes it really easy for a piece of the tongue, lip, or cheek to get stuck in between them (ouch!). Additionally, malocclusion can lead to its own set of problems like headaches, jaw pain, TMJ (temporomandibular disorder), and shifting teeth. 

There are also cases where people habitually bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue. Usually, this is a response to high-stress situations or even when they’re concentrating. Constant biting on the tissues, whether caused by psychological or physical factors, should be stopped before it leads to sores or painful swelling. 

How To Stop

Depending on what’s causing you to bite in the first place, there are things you can do to help yourself stop. 

  • If biting is caused by stress… If you’re one of the people who constantly chew on your lips, cheeks, or tongue, it can be difficult to stop. However, if you’re able to recognize when you bite, you can work to consciously stop. There are also times when a type of behavior therapy can help break the habit. 
  • If biting is caused by a bad bite… Those who don’t purposely bite but find themselves accidentally nipping their lips, cheek, or tongue often can benefit from a trip to their Sacramento dentist. The best way to prevent additional problems is to seek dental help to determine if a bad bite is to blame. Your dental team can help you find the best treatment for your individual case so you can stop biting.

Why Crooked Teeth Are Worrisome

smiling girl with crooked teethMany people, both children, and adults alike, have crooked teeth. Occasionally, crooked teeth can contribute to poor self-esteem and loss of confidence. But even if crooked teeth don’t bother someone mentally, your dentist in Sacramento may still be worried. The truth is, crooked teeth can lead to some oral health (and overall health) complications, some of which can be serious.

Health Problems Caused by Crooked Teeth

Gum Disease – Straight teeth are often healthier teeth because they’re easier to take care of. When teeth aren’t straight or overlap, they can be very difficult to clean thoroughly and properly. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause a whole host of oral health problems such as cavities and gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can progress into periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss and damaged bone. 

Jaw Pain & Chipped Teeth – Those with crooked teeth may also be at greater risk for damaging their teeth because crooked teeth often cause too much wear and tear on teeth. What’s more, is that this increased wear and tear can also put unnecessary stress on the jaw joint, which can lead to jaw pain or even TMJ/TMD.  

Sleep Apnea – Crooked teeth don’t only contribute to problems with oral health, but overall health, too. One of the lesser-known side effects of crooked or overlapping teeth is sleep apnea. Oftentimes patients with a small jaw also have overcrowded teeth, and this combination can make it hard to breathe. When the jaw is too narrow we tend to push our tongues into our teeth or rest the tongue in an unnatural place, which can put unnecessary pressure on teeth and cause them to shift. This lack of tongue space can also cause the tongue to fall back and cover the throat while sleeping, thus causing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that can cause people to stop breathing several times a night and increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.

The Problem with a Bad Bite

Many times, the solution to overcoming a crooked smile is some sort of orthodontic treatment. But there are times when a visually straight smile can also benefit from orthodontics. You see, if someone’s teeth appear straight, they can still have an underlying problem of a bad bite, also known as malocclusion. If not treated, a bad bite could be painful and contribute to long-term complications. Such as: 

  • Increased risk for chipped teeth
  • Speech impairment in kids
  • Severe headaches
  • Damage to tooth enamel

Your dentist in Sacramento can help determine if you have a bad bite even if you have straight teeth and recommend the best treatment. 

Causes of Crooked Teeth

There’s no one, concrete thing that causes crooked teeth. In fact, there are many causes of crooked teeth, some of which may be unavoidable. Crooked teeth can be caused by: 

  • Poor habits as a child such as thumb sucking
  • Early tooth loss before an adult tooth is ready to erupt
  • A small jaw
  • Facial injury
  • Genetics
  • Mouth breathing
  • Incorrect tongue posture 

If you’re curious about whether your teeth could benefit from some form of orthodontia, we encourage you to call your Sacramento dentist to schedule a consultation to talk about your concerns and options.

National Dental Hygiene Month is Here!

gentleman in dental chair with hygienist standing behind himThere’s a lot to be thankful for as we move into this part of 2019, but October is also a time when the entire nation comes together to observe National Dental Hygiene Month. This is a special part of the year when you, along with your dentist is Sacramento, can take some time out to talk about all of the wonderful things dental hygienists bring to dentistry. 

Without further ado, let’s give dental hygienists everywhere the respect they deserve for a job well done in dental offices across America. Let’s learn a little more about what they do and how you can even help make their life a little easier when you come in for your regular cleanings.

A Little Hygiene History

According to Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine, a new type of dental “nurse” began to help with teeth cleanings to prevent decay and disease dating all the way back to the 1880s. Dr. Albert C. Fones trained his assistant Irene Newman to act as an apprentice. Her early duties mainly involved scaling and polishing teeth, much like modern hygienists. Fones could not wrap his head around the term “dental nurse,” so he started calling his students dental hygienists instead. A whole new, exciting, and vital part of the dental field was born. (What would we do without them?)

National Dental Hygiene Month first started being recognized in October back in 2009 courtesy of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and Wrigley gum. Together, both organizations saw the need for more Americans to put a heavier emphasis on keeping their teeth healthy.

This year, there’s even more to celebrate as the ADHA is partnering with Walgreens and LISTERINE® to promote further the benefits of good oral health and the incredible, life-changing work done by dental hygienists across the nation. There’s even a new, #DoTheSwish campaign happening at participating stores where you can snap a selfie with specially-marked LISTERINE® mouthwash displays for a chance to win some sweet prizes!

How Can I Observe National Dental Hygiene Month?

The best way to show your dental hygienist some love is to come into our Sacramento dental office for a cleaning. While you’re there, be sure to share how much you appreciate the kind of care your hygienist provides for your smile. 

When you’re at home, you can do these things to help maintain all of the hard work dental hygienists and dentists do to keep your teeth healthy.

1) Brush Twice a Day

Remember, the golden rule to brushing is doing it twice a day for two minutes. Make sure you’re using a soft brush where the bristles are free from wear and tear. Regular brushing is going to keep bad breath away, help keep teeth free from decay, and make your dental hygienist’s day the next time your due for a cleaning. 

2) Floss Once a Day

As funny as it seems, flossing made headlines a while back when there was a debate about whether or not it’s necessary. Your Sacramento dentist (and dental hygienist) will tell you that it’s OK to floss every day. Flossing can reach up to 30 percent more of your tooth surfaces where brushing can’t reach. You’ll be able to get rid of nasty food particles that can lead to decay and disease down the road.

3) Rinse Your Mouth

Mouthwash is a great way to seal the deal on your at-home oral health routine so that you know your teeth are protected and healthy. It also helps to keep your breath fresh. Aim to make rinsing with mouthwash something you do each day after you finish flossing and brushing. An excellent antimicrobial rinse can work wonders for your mouth and breath!

We hope you learned a little something about dental hygienists and what they do. We also hope you reach out to us either by phone or online to learn more about taking care of your smile. If you’re scheduled to see your dental hygienist this month for a cleaning, share a big smile and thank you with them for all that they do for you!

Think You Can Straighten Your Smile Through the Mail? Think Again!

woman with clear dental alignerEvery time you turn on the TV these days or read something online, there seems to be an ad for do-it-yourself or DIY teeth aligners. They promise a straighter smile without a trip to see a trained professional. Your dentist in Sacramento will tell you to be cautious about mail-order aligners for a few reasons. After all, this is your smile we’re talking about. If it doesn’t work correctly, you run the risk of a bad bite, poor alignment, and adverse effects on your overall health. 

The Biggest Risks to Your Bite

No matter what kind of treatment or procedure you want for your smile, it’s always best to work with a professional. Other than keeping up with your at-home brushing and flossing like a champ, there’s not too much else you should be doing to your smile yourself. These mail-order, or direct-to-consumer orthodontic options are often not monitored by a dental health professional. So, who’s there to check in on your progress? 

The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that every type of straightening treatment plan be monitored by a dental health professional like your Sacramento dentist. This regular interaction allows you to communicate any concerns you may have. It also gives the doctor an idea of how well your treatment is progressing. Orthodontic treatment without supervision could lead to issues that are painful and irreversible down the road. 

Avoiding Temptations is Hard

When the commercial comes across the screen featuring beautiful people and their straight smiles, it’s easy to be sucked in. Couple that with clever marketing and the guarantee of a straighter smile and it becomes even harder to ignore. What it comes down to is cost. 

When you’re promised a straighter smile at half the price, you’re instantly attracted and may be ready to buy. But how do you know what you’re getting? Normally with the DIY products, you make an at-home dental impression… and you had better cross your fingers that everything was done right. Then a series of clear aligners are created and mailed to you. You wear them without ever seeing a doctor to make sure you’re not damaging your bite or smile. 

Know What’s Right

What the ads don’t tell you is that not everyone or every smile is fit for clear aligner orthodontic treatment. Sometimes these aligners aren’t enough to get your teeth to move into a more desirable, healthy position. Chances are, to get the results you want, you’re going to need some serious tooth movement. If your case is complicated, wasting your money on mail-order, DIY aligners will NOT give you the straight, confident smile you desire. 

The moral of the story? Be careful about choosing convenience over expertise. 

Are you or someone in your family ready for a straighter, healthier smile? Then forget about the TV ads and call our Sacramento dental office today for a consultation. We have the cutting-edge technology to be able to assess your smile and your bite to find out what orthodontic treatment is right for you. Better yet, if we find something that’s going to work for you, we’ll be there with you every step of the way. We can answer questions, make sure your treatment is progressing normally, and help you with aftercare needs, like a custom retainer.

What You Need to Know About DIY Dental Veneers

dental veneersYou may have seen recent ads for do-it-yourself dental veneers pop up on your social media news feed, or stumbled across veneers that you can purchase online through various retailers. While DIY dental veneers may sound like a quick and cheap fix, there are several concerns your dentist in Sacramento wants you to know about.

What Are DIY Veneers?

DIY dental veneers are inexpensive alternatives to a professional and custom-made solution from your dentist in Sacramento. They typically come in two varieties — one that uses molds of your teeth and one that does not. Unlike their professional counterparts, DIY veneers are temporary, removable, and are held in place only using dental adhesive. 

Concerns About DIY Veneers

Those looking to enhance the appearance of their smile may be first attracted to the low cost of DIY veneers. But these temporary fixtures do not come without concerns. 

  • Temporary – DIY veneers are designed to only be worn occasionally and for short periods of time. This really only allows someone to have a brighter, straighter, more attractive smile for a few hours. Professional cosmetic dentistry and veneers from our dental office in Sacramento give you a permanent smile every day of your life.  
  • Longevity – The materials used to create these cheap alternatives to custom veneers are typically low quality. This means you may need to replace temporary DIY veneers several times. 
  • Not Custom – Even the DIY veneers that require you to take molds of your teeth and send them off to the manufacturer aren’t incredibly custom. The final result can be uncomfortable and may look unrealistic. 
  • Bite Problems – One of the larger concerns of DIY veneers is that the manufacturer is not taking your bite into consideration when making the fixture. This means you may accidentally shift your bite or put unnecessary pressure on your teeth and jaw. This can create pain, discomfort, and, if not treated, more problems down the road. 
  • Decay – When a dental appliance does not fit well (and DIY veneers often don’t), there’s often a space between the appliance and the teeth or gums. This space gives food and bacteria a great place to hide which can easily lead to decay, cavities, and again, more problems such as the need for a root canal or crown. 

Every patient’s mouth is unique, as are their goals and concerns. The only way to make sure you’re investing your money into something that you will be happy with long-term is to talk with your dentist in Sacramento. There are many cosmetic dentistry treatments available, including veneers, that can improve your smile safely and permanently. Ensure that your results are truly custom and truly what you’re looking for. Schedule an appointment today.

Fluoride For a Healthy Smile

fluorideWhen it comes to the oral health of you and your family, you may have heard about the importance of fluoride. You may have also heard a few arguments against it. At our dental office in Sacramento, we want to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about fluoride, what it is, why it’s crucial for our smiles, and yes, even discuss a few risks. 

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that’s found in nature, specifically in soil, water, plants, and the air we breathe. In the world of dentistry, fluoride is used to help strengthen tooth enamel and protect teeth against decay and cavities. It can also help repair early decay caused by demineralization. 

Demineralization occurs when acids from bacteria and foods linger around and actually begin to eat away at the protective layer of enamel. But enamel isn’t the only thing affected during demineralization. Our teeth can also lose minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. These minerals are essential to keeping our teeth tough and strong to fight off decay…  so it’s important to replace them either through the foods we eat or from fluoride treatments from your Sacramento dentist

Who Should Get Fluoride?

When you think of fluoride, you may assume that it’s only important for kids. But nearly everyone’s smile can benefit from fluoride. Your dentist in Sacramento will most likely recommend that both you and your children receive a fluoride treatment at every dental appointment to help build strong teeth and protect against cavities. These treatments are typically either a varnish, foam, or gel that are applied in the dental office. 

Where to Get Fluoride?

Besides having your dental team apply a fluoride treatment, there are other ways you can help your teeth get enough fluoride. Most public water supplies have added fluoride, and it can be found in some foods you eat. There’s also fluoride in many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride supplements are also available and may be recommended if you don’t have fluoridated water or if you need an extra boost of fluoride. 

Is Fluoride Safe?

Fluoride is safe for children and adults in recommended amounts, which will vary based on things such as risk, need, and age. However, fluoride can be hazardous if it’s used too much. This risk is extremely low as it’s extremely difficult to expose yourself to dangerous levels of fluoride through fluoridated water, toothpaste, and fluoride treatments from your dentist. A good rule of thumb is to remember to always follow your dentist’s recommendations, don’t swallow toothpaste or mouthwash, and monitor children’s brushing habits at home. 

If you’re unsure if fluoride is right for you or your family, or if you have questions about fluoride, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office and schedule a visit. We’re here to help!

The Surprising Summer Activity That Can Harm Your Teeth

kids swimmingSwimming is a popular summertime activity, and it’s good for you too! It’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise, it’s easy on the joints, and it’s a sweet way to cool off on those hot days. But the team at our Sacramento dental office knows that there could be some harm lurking in your pool water that you probably don’t know about. 

Swimming Pools & Your Teeth

Many pools use chlorine to keep pool water free of dangerous bacteria that could be harmful to humans. But this chlorine may also put another part of your body at risk for damage — your teeth. 

Research dating back to the 1980’s studied the negative effects of chlorine on your oral health, particularly your tooth enamel. Part of what chlorine does is help level out the pH balance of pool water, so it’s safe for families. For most situations, pool water should have a pH between 7.2 and 7.8. But when this drops below this ideal range, the water actually becomes acidic. If this happens and you spend a lot of time in the pool, or a lot of water gets into your mouth, the acid can wear away tooth enamel and even cause tooth discoloration. 

Why Is Tooth Enamel Important?

Tooth enamel is the super-strong protective layer of our teeth. It helps keep dangerous plaque and bacteria from eating away at the teeth and causing cavities. If tooth enamel erodes, whether it’s from an improperly chlorinated pool, drinking too many acidic drinks like lemonade, or brushing too hard, teeth are at increased risk for decay, wearing down, and sensitivity. 

Who Is At Risk?

While anyone’s teeth can suffer from enamel erosion, the cases in which the erosion is caused by chlorine is often found in competitive swimmers or those who spend a lot of time in pools. The truth is if you only swim occasionally, you’re probably not at risk. 

Signs of a Problem

Two of the first signs that a pool’s pH is too low are irritated skin or burning eyes while swimming. Over time, you may start to notice brown spots on your teeth (known as swimmer’s calculus) or experience increased tooth sensitivity. If you notice any of these changes, visit your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can.

Protecting Your Tooth Enamel

Besides proper brushing and flossing, there are steps you can take to help protect your enamel against erosion — and no, you don’t need to give up swimming. Just make sure you test the water for proper pH levels regularly and try to keep pool water out of your mouth as much as possible. Of course, it’s also important to see your Sacramento dentist at least every six months for regular checkups and professional cleanings.