Does Drinking Water Benefit Oral Health?

drink glass of waterEveryone knows that it’s important to drink plenty of water every day to keep our bodies well hydrated. In fact, this small step of drinking enough water can greatly benefit overall health. Proper hydration is important to help organs function properly, help fight off infections, and may even assist with weight loss. However, your dentist in Sacramento wants to share a few more reasons why you should choose water — and plenty of it. 

Better Breath

Believe it or not, drinking water and keeping your mouth properly hydrated is one of the best ways to combat bad breath. Bad breath can often be a side effect of dry mouth, an oral health problem whose name describes it perfectly. Dry mouth may be caused by certain medications, mouth breathing, or simply not drinking enough water. While dry mouth may seem like no big deal, it’s especially concerning for your dentist in Sacramento, You see, our mouths need water to produce saliva, but when we’re dehydrated and experiencing dry mouth, saliva production slows or stops completely. That’s when problems arise. Without saliva, there is nothing to help rinse away leftover food particles or mouth bacteria that can contribute to bad breath. 

Cleaner Mouth

When we choose to drink water over sugary beverages such as soda, juice, or sports drinks, we’re not only hydrating our bodies, we’re also helping our mouths stay clean in between brushings. Drinking water, especially when we’re eating, helps to rinse away food particles before they have a chance to linger around and attract bacteria. If not, bacteria will feed on the food particles and release a dangerous acidic byproduct. This acid will attack tooth enamel and leave teeth at increased risk for decay and cavities. Additionally, water is the ideal beverage of choice because it doesn’t contain any sugars. Other sugary drinks may seem to quench our thirst, but the sugars only continue to feed bacteria as opposed to removing their food source.  

Stronger Teeth

Whether you drink bottled water or water from the tap, H2O is always the preferred choice for your dentist in Sacramento. However, while bottled water may provide all of the benefits of hydration, it may be missing one key ingredient that you can typically get from tap water — fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps rebuild and remineralize tooth enamel. The process of remineralization strengthens the enamel, making it super strong and super protective against bacteria, acids, and plaque. 

Overall Healthier You

Water is one of the most important things that we can give our bodies, yet an estimated 75% of adult Americans don’t drink enough water daily. Consequently, this can lead to negative overall and oral health effects. We need to reverse this habit in order to fuel and protect our bodies. But where do you start? A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, more if you exercise or sweat, and more especially during these summer months.

How Long Should You Keep a Toothbrush?

toothbrushMost people look for long-term relationships, both with a spouse and with a group of friends. But your dentist in Sacramento wants you to know that there’s one relationship that should never last longer than three months — your relationship with your toothbrush. We’re not saying that you should stop brushing, we’d never suggest that. But we do recommend replacing your toothbrush four times a year. However, there are times when you should consider replacing it sooner than that. 

Bacteria Buildup

We all know that our toothbrushes are responsible for removing plaque, bacteria, and lingering food particles from our teeth. But think about it: if you never replace your toothbrush, just how much bacteria buildup would be on those bristles? Too much. This is one reason why your dentist in Sacramento and the American Dental Association encourages patients to swap out their toothbrushes (or toothbrush head if you’re using an electronic one) every three to maybe four months. However, bacteria buildup isn’t the only reason why a new toothbrush is needed every so often. As the bristles begin to wear down over time, the toothbrush also becomes less effective at cleaning your teeth, putting you at risk of decay, cavities, and other oral health problems. In fact, there are times when you should replace your brush even earlier than 3-4 months.

What to Look For

How do you know it’s time to get a new toothbrush even if you’re technically not due for one yet? It’s easy, and there are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to trash your toothbrush. You should look for signs in the bristles such as:  

  • Fraying
  • Discoloration
  • Flattening

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to break up with your toothbrush and upgrade to a new one. 

An Important Note

It’s worth noting that even if your toothbrush is in great condition and not showing signs of wear and tear, you should always replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick to lower the risk of reintroducing the illness back into your system. 

Proper Care is Key

To get the most out of your toothbrush and to help make it last the full three or possibly four months, you need to take care of it properly. Follow these tips to get the most out of your short, three-month relationship with your toothbrush. 

  • Don’t Share. Our parents always taught us that it’s polite to share. But they forgot one exception to that rule — your toothbrush. You should never share your toothbrush with anyone, even a family member or child. Sharing your toothbrush is also a great way to swap bacteria. 
  • Always Rinse It. Every time after you brush, it’s crucial that you thoroughly rinse away any extra toothpaste from between your bristles. This also helps wash germs and bacteria down the sink. 
  • Keep It Upright. In between brushings, make sure to properly store your toothbrush with the bristles up. This allows anything lingering around to fall off the bristles as they dry. Speaking of drying, we also recommend keeping your toothbrush uncovered and away from other household toothbrushes.  

Replacing your toothbrush every three months or after a cold is the best way to make sure that it’s in the best condition possible to properly care for your oral health. Additionally, making sure to take care of your toothbrush can extend its life for the full three months. As always, pairing a great oral hygiene routine at home with visits to your dentist in Sacramento twice a year is the best combination to keep your smile healthy. 

What’s It Mean When Your Tongue is Black?

closeup of tongueWe all know that dentists are responsible for overseeing the health of our teeth. But the truth is, your dentist in Sacramento is actually responsible for much more than teeth alone. Your dental team is dedicated to protecting your overall health, and one area that’s of particular interest to your dentist is your tongue. Believe it or not, your tongue can say a lot about your overall health and can show early warning of signs of some serious health conditions. 

What We Look For 

At your bi-annual dental checkups, your dentist and hygienist will take a close look at your tongue. But what exactly are they looking for? First, your dental team will look for any changes in your tongue’s texture since your last appointment, paying particular attention to any bumps or lumps. Next, your dentist in Sacramento will look for any tongue discoloration. A healthy tongue will be pink and covered in teeny tiny bumps called papillae. An unhealthy tongue or one that may be showing signs of a bigger problem may have any of the following:  

1) Black and Hairy – Looking into the mirror and seeing a black, hairy tongue can certainly cause someone to panic. But, however scary and gross this may seem, chances are that a black, hairy tongue is nothing to fear and is usually temporary. It may also help to know that the hairy appearance isn’t actually hair. It’s often a buildup of dead skin cells on the papillae, which causes the normally tiny bumps to take on a long, stringy appearance. 

  • Causes: Poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, dry mouth, changes in the number of bacteria or yeast in the mouth. 
  • Symptoms: Bad breath, change in taste or a metallic taste, hairy or furry appearance, black, yellow, brown, or green coloration. 

2) A Sore, Bumpy Tongue – Every tongue naturally has a bumpy texture, and not every bump is worrisome. However, when a new bump appears and lasts for more than two weeks, or is accompanied by pain or soreness, it may be time to see your dentist in Sacramento. A lump or bump that doesn’t go away may be an early warning sign of oral cancer, and it’s best to get it checked sooner rather than later.

  • Causes: While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are some things that increase the risk including tobacco use, alcohol, too much sun on the lips without protection, or HPV. 
  • Symptoms: Lumps, bumps, or painful sores that don’t go away, chronic bad breath, changes in voice, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness of the tongue. 

3) Ridges – Changes in tongue texture may initially be concerning, but ridges or a scalloped appearance on the edges of the tongue are typically harmless. 

  • Causes: Teeth grinding, pushing the tongue against teeth either during periods of stress or even during sleep, sleep apnea, smoking, nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B-12, riboflavin, niacin, or iron. 
  • Symptoms: Ridges, ripples, indents, or scalloped edges on the sides of the tongue.  

4) White Spots – When your tongue appears to be coated in white spots, you may be experiencing oral thrush or leukoplakia. Oral thrush is an infection caused by Candida yeast while leukoplakia is a result of tobacco use or alcohol use. Sometimes, leukoplakia can develop into oral cancer. 

  • Causes: Poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, alcohol use, dehydration, dry mouth, mouth breathing. 
  • Symptoms: White patches or spots or a white coating on the tongue. The white spots or coating can show up either on the entire tongue or just in select places.  

We always recommend that you keep a close eye on your tongue’s health in between your visits, too. If you notice any changes in texture or color or develop sores, contact your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can. 

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.

3 Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

woman with bad breathWe’ve all experienced the embarrassment of bad breath at some point in our lives. Maybe it was after a hearty dish of garlicky pasta or your morning cup of coffee. Or perhaps it’s something you deal with every day. Either way, we think it’s pretty fair to say that nobody wants to live with bad breath. That’s especially true for your dentist in Sacramento. In fact, for us, chronic bad breath goes beyond embarrassment and may actually be a sign of a serious oral health condition. 

What’s So Bad About Bad Breath?

To some, bad breath may seem like no big deal, and sometimes that’s true. Temporary bad breath that’s caused by something we ate or drank is usually nothing to concern yourself with. However, when bad breath doesn’t go away even after brushing your teeth, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sacramento. Bad breath is one of the top signs of a serious oral health condition called gum disease. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, which brings on a whole other set of problems. But it doesn’t only put your oral health at risk. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease, respiratory problems, and increased risk for stroke among other serious whole-body concerns. 

Causes of Bad Breath

There are numerous things that can cause us to have less than fresh breath outside of the foods and drinks we consume. However, the common, underlying cause of bad breath is attributed to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. If these bacteria are not removed by properly brushing and flossing daily, they will feed on plaque buildup and produce a stinky byproduct called hydrogen sulfide. This is what we smell when we get a whiff of bad breath. 

How to Avoid Bad Breath

The best way to treat bad breath is to prevent it in the first place. Here are a few things you can do that will help keep your breath kissably fresh.  

  1. Brush and Floss. You’re probably tired of hearing your dentist in Sacramento talk about how important it is to brush and floss regularly. But the truth is this is the best way to not only prevent bad breath, but also protect your overall oral health. Brush your teeth every day for about two minutes, and make sure you gently brush your tongue, too. Floss at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria that found their way deep in between teeth.
  2. Drink Plenty of Water. Many health experts will recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day to help our bodies function optimally, and we agree. Staying properly hydrated helps neutralize acid and wash away bacteria that could otherwise lead to bad breath. When a mouth is too dry, bacteria can take over and the chance of bad breath increases. 
  3. Maintain Dental Visits. Seeing your dentist at least every six months will do several things for your oral health. First, these visits give your dental hygienist the chance to perform a professional dental cleaning that can remove plaque and tartar that at-home brushing alone just won’t touch. If it’s not removed, plaque and tartar can cause bad breath as well as decay, cavities, and other concerns. Also, bi-annual dental visits make sure that your oral health is being monitored regularly so if any problem does pop up your dentist can treat it quickly, easily, and often prevent other problems. 

Chronic bad breath isn’t something that will go away on its own, and it can lead to more serious and costly dental treatment down the road. If you have bad breath that you can’t quite seem to fix, schedule an appointment with your dentist. 

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!

How to Pick the Best Dental Floss

dental flossWhen you walk down the oral health care aisle at your local supermarket, it can quickly become overwhelming. There are just so many different types of toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, bottles of mouthwashes, and packets of floss to pick from. How in the world are you supposed to pick the best products for you? Don’t worry, today the team at our Sacramento dental office is here to help narrow your options for one of the most important tools in your oral hygiene toolbox — floss. 

Flossing can sometimes be overlooked as a crucial part of your oral health, but the truth is, flossing every day is incredibly effective at lowering your risk for cavities and gum disease. This means that you need to choose a type of floss that you will use regularly and properly. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common types of floss recommended by your dentist in Sacramento

Traditional Floss

The most common type of floss is the traditional string floss found in those little, compact containers. This time-tested original can work really well for many people as it’s what they first learned to floss with, so it’s comfortable to use. However, those who may have trouble using their hands or fingers may not be able to reach around each tooth or back into the molars. This is when an alternative option should be considered.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are those little plastic tools that have a small piece of floss threaded between two posts. They’re pretty inexpensive and can be just as effective as traditional floss if used properly. However, while some people may find floss picks easier to use, others find just the opposite. So essentially, there’s no real right or wrong answer when it comes to which is better. The best way to decide is to try both options and see which is easier for you to use. Keep in mind, floss picks only use a small section of floss so you may need to use a few flossers each and every time you floss. 

Water Flosser

A newer and more high-tech flossing option that’s making its way into bathrooms across the country is electric water flossers. These tools are highly effective at removing plaque and bacteria, and many studies suggest that they may be the most effective of any flossing device. But they don’t come without a few potential cons. Water flossers need to either be plugged in or charged, so they aren’t incredibly convenient. They’re also larger in size so storage and traveling may pose a few complications. Lastly, they can be pricey, although they do last a long time and reduce waste.   

What matters most to your dentist in Sacramento isn’t necessarily which type of floss you use, but rather that you floss regularly and properly. If you’re finding that flossing is challenging and you’re looking for a better solution, we welcome you to call our dental office in Sacramento. We’re always happy to help find the best tools for each one of our patients.