“Why Does My Dentist Need to Know My Medical History?”

man filling out paperworkBefore your first visit with your dentist in Sacramento you’ll probably be asked to fill out a medical history form. But why does a doctor who’s looking at your oral health need to know all about your overall health? The truth is, there is a strong connection between the two and the more your dental team knows, the more customized your treatment can be.

Things You Should Share

When it comes to information about your health there’s no such thing as too much information. Knowing anything and everything we can about your overall health will only help our team help give you the best dental care possible. We encourage you to be honest about your health history even it you think it has absolutely nothing to do with your mouth because, in fact, many diseases can affect your oral health. Some things we should know about include:

  • Heart problems
  • Asthma
  • Pacemaker
  • Epilepsy
  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Joint replacements
  • Autoimmune conditions

Medications and Oral Health

Our dental office in Sacramento may also ask for a list of any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you’re currently taking. Many medications can cause dry mouth, which puts you at greater risk for cavities. While cavities are easily treated when they’re caught early, if they’re left alone they can lead to bigger problems such as the need for a root canal or even so much as losing the tooth. It’s also important for us to know about any medications you take in case we need to prescribe you anything, that way we can be sure it’s not going to negatively affect or interact with your existing medicine.

Keep it Current

While it’s normal and necessary to collect health history at your first visit to any doctor, you may never touch those forms again. But you should. Any time something changes with your health — if you have surgery, get diagnosed with a disease, are pregnant, or start a new medication — you should ask to update your medical history on file.

Privacy Matters

As with any medical information, your health history is also kept private and can’t be shared with anyone without your permission. Rest assured that any information regarding your health is protected by HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

At our Sacramento dental office, we believe that when it comes to your health, the more we know the better we can cater your care to your individual needs. If you have any questions about why we ask what we do or our privacy policy, we welcome you to ask us at any time.

A Closer Look at Sugary Snacks

yogurt with granolaMost of us know that sugar is bad for teeth. So it should come as no surprise that our dental office in Sacramento encourages our patients to limit their sugar intake in order to keep teeth healthy and decay-free. But sometimes it’s not so easy know just how much sugar is in the foods we eat. We’re here to help take a closer look…

How Much Sugar is Recommended?

Before we dive into some foods that are high in sugar we should talk about how much sugar we typically need every day. While sugar intake limits vary person to person, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following maximum of added sugars daily:

  • Men – 150 calories per day (or 9 teaspoons)
  • Women – 100 calories per day (or 6 teaspoons)

A Quick Note on Added Sugars

There two types of sugars found in food — natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars occur naturally in foods and added sugars are, well, added in. While both can negatively affect teeth, added sugars are worse for oral health and overall health.

Sugar-Packed Snacks

As we look at some snacks that are high in sugar, there may be some that surprise you. Remember, you don’t need to avoid these snacks entirely, but try to limit your intake of added sugars and do all you can to follow a well-balanced diet. To try to put the sugar content into better perspective, we’ll be using teaspoons for reference.

Yogurt

Yogurt is usually considered good for you, but certain types can contain loads of sugar. Varieties that have added fruit or flavors are particularly guilty. Some may even top out at more than 6.5 teaspoons of sugar in only a 6 ounce cup.

Granola Bars

Here’s another snack that normally finds its way onto the healthy list. Granola bars can be a quick and easy snack, but there can also be a lot of sugar hiding in these handheld treats. In fact, some may have nearly 3 teaspoons of it.

Soda

This one should come as no surprise. Certain types of soda can have as much as 11 teaspoons in a 12 ounce can!

Candy

Another pretty common sugary snack comes in the form of candy. And while different types of candy pack a different sugar punch, most of them contain at least 7 teaspoons and some have as much as 17 teaspoons!

When it comes to nutrition and snacking smart, read the labels on food carefully and pay attention to serving size to truly know how much sugar (and other stuff) you’ll be putting into your body. If it helps you to picture sugar content by the teaspoon, keep in mind that 4.2 grams is equal to 1 teaspoon.

As always, when it comes to keeping your smile healthy and your teeth in tip-top shape, make sure you brush them twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Sacramento biannually.

We’re always accepting new patients at our Sacramento dental office and welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.

Does Asthma Affect Dental Health?

woman reaching for asthma inhalerIt’s well known that asthma causes a narrowing of the airways, reduces oxygen flow, and makes it difficult to breathe. It’s a chronic, scary disease that affects the lungs and entire respiratory system. But can it be true that asthma may also affect dental health? The team at our dental office in Sacramento has the surprising answer in this week’s blog.

Asthma By The Numbers

More than 20 million adults and over 6 million children in the United States alone suffer from asthma. There is no cure for this disease that takes the lives of an estimated 3,600 people every year. Even more suffer asthma attacks, become sick, or are even hospitalized. Asthma is not a disease to take lightly and patients should take their medication as prescribed. However, there are some lesser known side effects of asthma that should be talked about.

Asthma & Cavities

It’s incredibly common for asthma sufferers to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses – simply because it’s easier and they can get more oxygen that way. But mouth breathing is a known contributor to dry mouth and cavities. Constantly exposing the inside of the mouth to air really reduces saliva production. Typically, saliva would rinse away damaging bacteria and acid, but without it, they’re left behind to do some serious damage. Both bacteria and acid will attack enamel, removing the teeth’s protective barrier and increasing the likelihood for cavities. What’s more is that common asthma treatments may also cause dry mouth, which doubles the risk of inadequate saliva production and decay.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Asthma patients are more likely to develop cavities, but following the steps below can help minimize the risk of dental problems.

  • Stay Hydrated. Water is a dry mouth sufferer’s best weapon of defense. Water can help pick up the slack of reduced saliva flow and rinse away bad bacteria and acid. Drinking water throughout the day may even help saliva production increase and further protect your teeth. Choose water as often as possible and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Rinse. Since we know that many asthma medications contain drying ingredients, it’s important to rinse your mouth out with water soon after taking them. The sooner you can rinse, the less time the drying ingredients are in your mouth.  
  • Tell Your Dentist. Your dentist in Sacramento will ask about your health history and any medications you’re taking. It’s important to tell them the truth. Many diseases and medicines can affect oral health, not just asthma, and the more your dentist knows the better care they’ll be able to give.

Besides following the tips above, you should always brush and floss your teeth regularly. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day will help keep your mouth protected in between dental appointments. If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to the dentist, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office to schedule your appointment today.

What All Women Need to Know About Dental Health

group of women laughingWe all know that men and women are built differently, and that affects what health problems each gender is more susceptible to. At our dental office in Sacramento, we also know that even though women are more open to visiting us regularly, they’re actually at more risk for dental problems throughout their lives than men. This May, in celebration of Mother’s Day and also National Women’s Health Week, we’d like to share how different stages of women’s lives can affect their oral health.

Changes in Life Mean Changes in Health

Several times throughout a woman’s life, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, her hormone levels change and her body changes with it. But what many people may not know is that these hormonal fluctuations can affect oral health and, in turn, overall health.

Puberty

Puberty can begin as early as age 8 and typically occurs by age 14, although this can vary person to person. During this time, the body is going through many changes, including hormonal changes. These can certainly affect girls’ emotions and moods, but the changes in estrogen and progesterone can also cause an increased blood flow to the gums. Because of this boost of blood flow, girls going through puberty may experience red, swollen gums. They may even bleed when brushing their teeth. If this happens, it makes regular brushing and flossing even more important to keep bacteria from causing gum disease.

Menstruation

Throughout the next phase of a woman’s life, hormonal changes will continue to occur regularly and oral health will continue to be affected. During her menstrual cycle and a few days before her period, a woman may once again experience sore gums or even a canker sore. These should resolve themselves in a few days. The changes in hormones may also cause dry mouth, which increases the risk for cavities and bad breath.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, regular dental care is particularly important since many studies have linked poor dental health to premature births, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. About half of pregnant women will also get pregnancy gingivitis caused by, you guessed it, changes in hormones. Make sure to practice proper dental hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, and to visit a dentist in Sacramento during the second trimester.  

Menopause

During menopause, once again a substantial fluctuation in hormones occurs and estrogen decreases. This can lead to bone loss, osteoporosis, and weakening of the jaw bone. The jaw bone is responsible for holding teeth in place and if it’s lost or the density decreases too much, teeth may fall out. It’s recommended that if this happens, the teeth are replaced by either dentures or dental implants.

Brushing and flossing regularly can help protect all of our patients from cavities, gum disease, and countless other dental problems. But it’s also important to see a dentist at least every six months. If you’re in need of dental team that’s caring and comfortable, give our Sacramento dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’d be happy to care for you.

Why You Should Always Wear a Mouthguard When Playing Sports

girls playing field hockeyApril is recognized as National Facial Protection Month and serves to promote the importance of wearing proper mouth protection during sports. At our dental office in Sacramento, this is a topic we want to talk about in hopes that we can help guard our patients’ smiles from the dangers of contact sports. Join us as we cover some of the most important reasons you should always wear a mouthguard when hitting the court or field.

Sport Injuries by the Numbers

Participating in sports can benefit us in a lot of ways. Sports help keep us active and healthy, and they build strong team and communication skills. But there’s always the risk of injury. While injuries can affect even the best, most experienced athletes, an alarming amount of sports injuries happen to children. In fact, a study published by Johns Hopkins concluded that over 3.5 million kids under age 15 sustain an injury while playing a sport or participating in a similar activity. Of course a lot of sport injuries result in a sprain, strain, or even broken bones, but what’s most concerning to your dentist in Sacramento is that many of these injuries are to the face or head.

Who Has the Biggest Risk?

Even though any athlete can get hurt, there are some sports that put you at increased risk for a mouth injury. Any contact sport such as football, soccer, or basketball poses the biggest chance for a mouth injury, but which sport sees the most? The answer may surprise you. According to a study published by dentalcare.com and two research dentists, basketball has the highest mouth injury rate in both men and women. This could be in part to the fact that a mouthguard is not always required. However, the American Dental Association recommends wearing a mouthguard, even if it’s not in the rulebook. Besides protecting teeth against chips, breaks, or being totally knocked out, mouthguards can help reduce the risk of concussion, too.

Different Types of Mouthguards

There are typically two types of mouthguards — the boil-and-bite variety found in sporting goods stores and custom-made mouthguards created by a dentist. The stock mouthguards you can buy at stores are better than nothing, but they’re usually uncomfortable, don’t fit as snugly as they should, and oftentimes spend more time being chewed on than protecting teeth. The best way to protect teeth while playing sports is by getting a custom-made mouthguard. These professional-grade sports mouthguards are molded to fit around each and every tooth and are really comfortable. Speaking with them in is easier than a boil-and-bite guard, too.

Before you or your child gears up for a sporting event, make sure you have a well fitting mouthguard and be committed to wearing it every time for the whole game. If you want the ultimate in mouth protection, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office to discuss the best sports mouthguard for you.

4 Things You Need to Know About Calcium

foods with calciumWhen most people think of calcium, they often associate it with building super strong bones. While that’s certainly part of its benefits, the team at our dental office in Sacramento also knows that calcium is crucial for a strong smile, too. But before you start diving in to a calcium-rich diet, consider some important facts to keep your body, and mouth, healthy.

Know How Much Calcium You Need

Your recommended level of calcium intake depends on your age and your gender. The following chart from the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) shows just how much calcium each age group needs each and every day.

  • 0-6 months = 200 mg for both males and females
  • 7-12 months = 260 mg for both males and females
  • 1-3 years = 700 mg for both males and females
  • 4-8 years = 1,000 mg for both males and females
  • 9-18 years = 1,300 mg for both males and females
  • 19-50 years = 1,000 mg for both males and females
  • 51-70 years = 1,000 mg for males, 1,200 mg for females
  • 71+ years = 1,200 mg for both males and females

Too Much Calcium Is a Real Thing

While you should always try your best to get your recommended daily intake of calcium, there’s no need to go overboard. In fact, your Sacramento dentist wants you to know that ingesting too much calcium can have adverse effects on your oral and overall health. Excess calcium can lead to gum disease, plaque deposits, and has even been studied to potentially increase the risk for heart disease. Just like most things in life, calcium is best in moderation. Make sure to follow the recommended amount for your age and gender.  

Mix in Some Vitamin D

Even if you’re getting your recommended intake of calcium daily, it may not be enough to keep your bones and teeth strong. In order for calcium to be absorbed into the body properly, it needs an adequate amount of vitamin D, too. Your body needs both vitamin D and calcium to function, so read the nutrition labels on your food and provide yourself with a nice mix of the two.

Look Past the Dairy Aisle

The most common way to get calcium is to eat or drink dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese. And while those are excellent sources of calcium, and usually vitamin D too, there are plenty of other non-dairy options to explore including:

  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Soymilk
  • Orange juice
  • Calcium-fortified cereal

Our Sacramento dental office strives to keep our patients as healthy as possible, and not just their smiles. That’s why we encourage each and every one of them to eat well balanced meals and get enough calcium and vitamin D. That, along with maintaining bi-annual dental visits and brushing and flossing regularly, will help keep their smiles and bodies strong, for life.

Good for the Body, Good for the Mouth

nutrition monthWhat we put into our bodies can certainly affect how we feel and how healthy we are. But eating the right foods to fuel your body goes beyond enhancing overall health. During this National Nutrition Month, your Sacramento dentist wants to let all of our patients know how proper nutrition can also benefit your oral health.

What Exactly is Proper Nutrition?

The basics of eating right include reducing your fat and sugar intake while upping the amount of nutrient rich foods. But how much of what things should you be eating? That’s where things aren’t so simple. Ever since the original Food Pyramid Guide was published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992, nutritional recommendations have shifted two more times. The current standards are reflected in MyPlate and vary depending on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. However, most of the common rules of thumb remain the same including focusing on eating plenty of:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean Proteins
  • Dairy

How Does Good Nutrition Relate to Oral Health?

The body’s response to eating “bad” foods and drinks increases the likelihood of someone experiencing oral health issues and diseases. Let’s look at foods that are high in sugar, for example. Sweets and beverages like soda and even juices packed with sugar attack tooth enamel. If they’re not rinsed away or are left exposed to the teeth for long periods of time, they will work away at and erode the protective tooth layer. Without this barrier, teeth are more susceptible to cavities and sensitivity. Although almost every food contains some amount of sugar, even the good foods we’re supposed to eat, try your best to stay away from items that have added sugars and remember to read nutritional labels.

Beware of the Hidden Sugars

Sugar content in the sweeter foods that you choose for you and your family isn’t the only thing your dentist in Sacramento is wary of. There are hidden sugars everywhere, even in places that don’t taste sweet. Foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates can actually raise blood glucose levels and effect the body the very same way actual sugar does. Since these carbs end up breaking down into simple sugars, they put teeth at the same risk for decay as eating a sweet treat.

Eat Well, Protect Your Smile

At our dental office in Sacramento, we strive to keep our patients healthy by being a key member of their health care team. Encouraging a healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to ensure not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mouth. If you’re looking to become a healthier version of yourself and get your smile in its best shape yet, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.  

National Pet Dental Health Month

dog with toothbrushEvery February, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness of the importance of proper dental care for our furry best friends. While our Sacramento dental office doesn’t treat these cuddly critters, we know a lot of our patients have pets, and we’d like to provide them tips on how to care for the furrier members of their families.

Brushing is Important for Pets Too

You know your dentist in Sacramento encourages each and every patient to brush their teeth twice a day, every day. Now while it’s not necessary to brush your pet’s teeth that often, it is important that you do it occasionally. Typically brushing two to three times a week will do wonders in keeping their mouths healthy. While brushing your pet’s teeth may be a challenge at first, doing it regularly can help make it a routine. When you start, take a piece of gauze and a pet-friendly toothpaste to gently massage your pet’s teeth in tight circles. This small step can really help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. But good brushing doesn’t end there. You should take your pet to get a professional dental cleaning once a year for a thorough job.

Encourage Chewing

We don’t necessarily mean that you let your pet take control of the house and nibble on anything he wants. But most vets do encourage you to let him chew on toys or treats specifically designed to help scrub away plaque. While bones may seem like the obvious choice, these tough treats can actually do more harm than good. In fact, chewing a hard bone increases the risk for dental damage. Instead, consider buying toys or treats that strengthen teeth, stimulate gums, and remove plaque and tartar. Whatever you and your vet choose, remember that brushing is still crucial for optimal oral health (this applies to you too!).

Know What to Look For

Just like humans, knowing the signs of a potential problem and seeking treatment sooner rather than later is key to successful treatment. What’s also similar between humans and animals are the signs of a dental concern. Keep an eye out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bleeding

If you notice any of the above in your pet, call your vet. If you notice any in yourself, call your Sacramento dentist.

Following the tips above and being open with your vet can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy for life. The same applies to you. Make sure to practice a proper oral health care routine and maintain regular visits at our dental office in Sacramento.

How Do You Know When it’s Time to Go to a Dentist in Sacramento?

man with tooth painYou should go to the dentist at least every six months, but it’s something that’s so often foregone. Whether you miss your dental checkups due to a crazy schedule or perhaps a fear of the dentist, the team at our Sacramento dental office is here to both encourage you to keep up with your bi-yearly appointments and to tell you a few instances when you should absolutely schedule a visit right away….

Tooth Pain

Perhaps the most obvious sign that it’s time to see a dentist in Sacramento is a toothache. A toothache can be a sign of several oral health problems, and a fast appointment can go a long way in not only relieving the pain, but also avoiding more advanced issues.  

Swollen, Red Gums

Sometimes we tend to ignore the gums and put all of our focus on the teeth. But our gums are an important part of oral health too. If gums are red or swollen, or they bleed during brushing or flossing, it can be an indication of a potentially serious problem such as gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can affect the entire body and has been linked to stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

Increased Sensitivity

Whether you notice the sharp shoots of pain through your teeth when eating something cold or drinking something hot, the truth is tooth sensitivity hurts. This sensitivity can be caused by a number of things including brushing too hard, using too much smile whitening products, or even enamel erosion or receding gums. See your dentist to determine the best way to relieve tooth sensitivity.

Bad Breath

Bad breath may seem like simply an unpleasant thing that we have to deal with. The truth, however, is that chronic bad breath may be an early sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease, and if left untreated, it may lead to tooth loss and other serious oral health and whole body health problems.  

Dry Mouth

Occasional dry mouth typically isn’t something to worry yourself over. But if dry mouth doesn’t get better you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Dry mouth can be a result of aging or certain medications. But it can also be a sign of disease. If not treated properly dry mouth can increase the risk of cavities and other problems.

The best way to prevent any of these problems from occurring the first place is to maintain regular dental appointments and follow a solid oral hygiene routine at home. However, if you do notice any of the signs above, we welcome you to call our dental office in Sacramento to schedule a visit.

What You Need to Know About Your Teeth and The Common Cold

young man with coldIt’s official: We’re in the peak of cold and flu season. While we all try our best to avoid the stuffiness, coughs, and sore throats that tend to accompany the flu or common cold, there are times when germs take hold and make us sick, no matter what we do. At our dental office in Sacramento, we never want our patients or neighbors to get sick, but we know the inevitable happens. And when it does, we want to educate everyone on some ways your go-to medicine of choice can damage your smile.  

Hidden Dangers

Medicines designed to help ease symptoms of the common cold such as cough syrups or cough drops are great at making you feel a bit better. But they tend to come with hidden dangers that can affect your oral health. Ultimately, the ingredients in many popular over-the-counter medications can lead to tooth decay and cavities.

Sugary Sweetness

Medicines usually contain some sugars to mask the bad taste. But these sugars are dangerous to teeth. When sugar enters the mouth, bacteria begin feeding on them and release acid as a byproduct. This acid wears away tooth enamel, which is meant to protect teeth against decay. Without their protective coating, teeth are at increased risk for decay and cavities.

Alcohol

Another common ingredient in many cough medicines is alcohol. However, alcohol reduces saliva production and may cause dry mouth. This is concerning for your dentist in Sacramento. Saliva is needed to rinse away sugars in the mouth and the acid produced by feeding bacteria. Without it, these sugars and acids are left behind to damage smiles by decaying teeth.  

Tips to Help

Does this mean we’re suggestions that you should tough out a cold and not take any medicine? Definitely not. But we are suggesting a few ways you can help limit the potential of your medicine causing oral health problems.

  • Trying taking the medication as a pill instead of a liquid. This will decrease or eliminate your teeth’s exposure to the dangerous ingredients.
  • Don’t take cough syrup right before bed. If you take your medicine after you brush your teeth, the sugar is left in the mouth all night long, greatly increasing your risk for decay
  • Take liquid medicine with food. Saliva production increases as we eat. So if you take your medicine when saliva production is highest, it can help rinse away the sugar and alcohol.

The team at our Sacramento dental office hopes you can avoid getting sick this season. But if you do get sick, follow our tips above to protect your smile as you work on feeling better.