Water: The Best Beverage for Your Health

2020-06-11T13:20:37+00:00February 24th, 2020|General, Oral Health|

It is remarkable the role water plays in our lives when you stop and think about it. Hydrating ourselves has become so habitual it’s second nature to fill a glass of water and chug it down. But do you ever stop and think about the importance water plays in our lives? And as it turns out, more and more people are thinking about the importance of hydration these days, and rightly so since our bodies are made up of 60% water and it is a necessary component to our survival.

 

In a recent episode of “Man vs Wild” host and survivalist, Bear Grylls mentioned what he called “The Rule of 3s,” which is this: humans can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter, and three minutes without oxygen.

One of the most famous football players to ever play the game, Tom Brady, claims to drink anywhere from 14 to 37 glasses of water a day! Of course, he is a professional athlete, and this could be highly dangerous for a non-athlete to drink this much, but Brady’s water intake is just another indication of the importance of drinking water.

Despite what we know about the important relationship we, humans, have with H20 there are still those who fail to see the necessity for regular hydration. Even those of us who do drink water every day, we are probably not drinking enough. Part of the problem is most people know water is important, but they don’t really know why. Sure, it hydrates—but what does that even mean? How much water does it take to be hydrated? And is that all water does—are there other benefits?

What role, more specifically than, “important!” does water play in our lives? In particular, what is its effect on our oral health?

 

The Basics

Here are just a few of the important things water does when we drink it:

  1. Creates Saliva. Saliva is mostly water mixed with electrolytes, enzymes, and mucus and it helps breakdown food particles and keeps your mouth healthy. By drinking water, on a regular basis, you are able to maintain the correct amounts of saliva in the mouth. As we get older, however, the amount of saliva in our mouths begins to reduce, which is all the more reason to drink water—even more of it as we get older.
  2. Regulates Body Temperature. When we get hot, either from weather conditions or physical excursion, our bodies begin to sweat as a method of cooling the body temperature down. The sweat produced is from the water in our bodies, and if we do not replenish that water we become dehydrated. This is why it’s so important to drink plenty of water when you find yourself sweating.
  3. Helps Protect Your Body. Water actually lubricates your cushions your joints, spinal cord, and body tissues. This, in turn, helps to keep your body young and spry and helps keep you from becoming injured during physical activity.
  4. Aids in Ridding Your Body of Waste. Our bodies need water in order to sweat, urinate, and have bowel movements. By drinking plenty of water, your kidneys are better able to break down waste so that it can be properly excreted.
  5. Allows for Maximum Physical Performance. While performing in physical activity, it is common for the body to perspire up to six to ten percent of body weight. Drinking water during these times keeps your body regulated. Water also keeps up your strength and endurance while performing.

Exercising without hydrating can be fatal. Blood pressure can decrease, hyperthermia can set in, and in extreme cases, extreme dehydration can cause seizures.

  1. Keeps You Regular. A healthy intake of fiber helps prevent constipation, but drinking plenty of water is important as well. Bowel movements need to contain a certain amount of water in order for the movement to work successfully (that is, ridding your body of waste left over from what has been taken in). Without enough H20, constipation can set in.

*(Tip: if you are experiencing constipation, drinking carbonated water can help.)

  1. Aids in Digestion. Experts have recently confirmed that drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down food more easily, which helps your body successfully pull out the most nutrients.
  2. Helps You Lose Weight. Studies show that, particularly for young girls and women, drinking plenty of water helps the body rid itself of extra fat cells. So drinking water while dieting is even more powerful, which is why it’s so important to have a glass of water before, during, and after every meal—even if that meal is a healthy one.

 

The list of benefits to staying hydrated goes on and on, and as experts pay more attention to the effects of water on our health, even more revelations come to light. Let’s take a closer look at the effects water has on our teeth.

 

Water and Your Teeth

Drinking water, on a regular basis, actually strengthens your teeth. What’s more, drinking water with fluoride is one of the easiest ways to prevent cavities (but more on fluoride in a bit).

By keeping your mouth hydrated, you are able to strengthen the teeth by keeping them clean and clear from leftover food particles, which can cause decay and disease. Water will also wash away excess sugar left over from meals or drinks. This sugar, when left in the mouth, can combine with other chemicals to create a dangerous acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth. But a quick glass of water can keep this from happening—remember, water before, during, and after each meal!

The same goes for the gums inside your mouth as well. Food and the chemicals from the food we eat love to attach themselves to our gums. This is why it’s a good idea to swish the water around in your mouth when you drink, especially after meals.

 

 

Fluoride: A Dangerous Chemical, or A helpful Agent?

It’s tasteless, odorless, and it prevents tooth decay—it even has whitening agents to help keep your smile nice and bright. So why would anyone want to remove fluoride from water? Well, ever since the mass introduction of fluoride into our pubic water systems back in the 1940s, there just hasn’t been much hubbub about it. Sure, there have been the naysayers since the beginning, but they never got loud enough to cause any real question. But now, in 2020, new findings are being revealed about the effects of fluoride, and the information coming to light may be worth your time.

What really seems to have gotten people to start questioning the benefits of fluoride is the popularity of home water filtration systems. People are becoming much smarter about their health these days, and the foundation for any healthy human being is a pure water source. At the same time we want to keep healthy, we also want to reduce our use of plastics, which has caused many to look elsewhere for freshwater, besides buying plastic bottles every week.

 

What Studies Show Us About Fluoride

According to the Harvard Public Health Magazine, a study done shows that fluoride does indeed help prevent tooth decay from children; however, there was absolutely no evidence that it had any positive effects on adults. The study also indicated that the research done back when fluoride was first introduced (the 1940s) is quite flawed, which indicates we don’t have clear evidence for the overall effectiveness of this (natural) chemical added to our water.

The Harvard article goes on to question that just because we have superficial evidence of fluoride helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities—for youngsters, at least—why are we drinking it? By ingesting fluoride we are allowing it into our bloodstreams, our brains! We are, and have been for some time, drinking a chemical of which we do not know everything about. Could there be negative side effects we’ve been living with for years?

 

The Good and the Bad

The truth is we just don’t know enough about the effects of fluoride—which does seem a bit ridiculous, as we have been incorporating it into our diets for decades. But, we can give a quick breakdown of what we do know. Here’s what is good about using fluoride:

  • As mentioned above, it has been proven to help prevent tooth decay.
  • It protects from cavities.
  • Even though we do not know a lot about the effects of fluoride, in the past seventy years of its implementation, it has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • It saves money and trips to the dentist.
  • Fluoride, in and of itself, is a natural chemical found in groundwater and the ocean.

 

Now, here’s the bad:

  • Excessive intake can cause Dental Fluorosis. This can visibly show as white spots on the teeth, or in more serious cases, as brown spots that can weaken the teeth.
  • Ingesting excess amounts of fluoride can also cause skeletal Fluorosis. This type of fluorosis is actually a bone disease created by an accumulation of fluoride in the bone and is known to be very painful.
  • In some cases, taking in excess amounts of fluoride has caused major thyroid problems.

 

The Result

Research on the effects of fluoride seems to be a bit shaky. But even though reports conflict—some say it’s useful for children but of no use for adults, while others say it’s good for all—Carolina’s Dental Choice does have some advice for you:

  1. Don’t overdo it. If you have fluoride in your water, maybe get toothpaste that doesn’t have it.
  2. Try incorporating fluoride-free water into your diet as a change and see if you notice any differences.
  3. Since this is a topic growing in popularity, it’s a good idea to keep up on what research has been, and continues to be, done.
  4. See your dentist. The most important thing to do is see a professional who can look at your teeth and their reaction with fluoride and then advise on what to do moving forward.

 

If you have any questions regarding your water intake, or the effects fluoride is having on your oral health, don’t hesitate to contact us at Carolina’s Dental Choice. And in the meantime, keep drinking water!

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TMJ Issues – What You Need to Know

2020-06-11T13:21:55+00:00October 22nd, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, General, Oral Health|

If you’ve ever experienced acute jaw pain, you’re not alone. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is a common issue that currently affects over 10 million Americans. Women tend to be more prone to this disorder than men although researchers don’t yet fully understand why. The good news is that the majority of TMJ disorders do not indicate serious, long term issues and the associated pain is typically temporary in nature. Understanding what TMJ disorder is can help those suffering to better treat and manage any discomfort that might arise.

 

What is TMJ

Your temporomandibular joint is a complicated joint that works to connect your lower jaw to your skull. It acts like a sliding hinge and allows your mouth to move in various directions which, in turn, supports your ability to eat, yawn, smile and more. Due to its design and location within the body, the TMJ is one of the more difficult joints to access and treat. Disorders of the temporomandibular joint typically present in one of three ways:

  1. Pain or discomfort occurring in the tissues that control jaw function
  2. Injury or dislocation within the area of the jaw
  3. Arthritis or inflammation within the joint

Individual causes of TMJ disorder can be difficult to diagnose as there can be a mixture of reasons why a person experiences jaw pain.

 

Causes and Symptoms

While some cases of TMJ disorder can be initiated by injury, most causes are less evident and the origin unknown. Because the disorder is found to be more prevalent in women versus men, researchers are currently studying whether female hormones might play a potential role.

While teeth grinding and jaw clenching can potentially trigger TMJ pain, it isn’t considered to be a definitive cause. Braces and other methods of alignment have also not been proven to bring about TMJ disorder.

People who experience TMJ pain commonly suffer from one or more symptoms including:

  • Pain or discomfort when eating/chewing food
  • Pain in or around your ear (sometimes feels like a dull earache)
  • Inability to fully open and close your mouth
  • Pain traveling in and around the area of the face

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

As of today, there are no set methods for diagnosing TMJ disorder. When assessing the problem, your dentist will observe your jaw, feel in the area of the temporomandibular joint for any clicking or popping, and potentially order an x-ray if he/she feels additional observation is needed. It’s also a good idea to visit your family doctor in addition to your dentist to rule out alternative reasons you might be experiencing craniofacial pain.

Often times, the pain associated with TMJ disorder will go away on its own. However, if treatment is needed, there are a handful of options typically available to most patients.

  • Over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Common medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol will go a long way toward providing relief for most occurrences of TMJ disorder. However, if your case is more serious, your dentist may prescribe a clinical dose to help alleviate the pain.
  • Stabilization splints (Bite Guards). A bite guard is one of the more common solutions that a dentist can provide to help with the pain of TMJ disorder. This appliance fits over either the upper or lower teeth and is typically worn full-time for a short period followed by a short stint of wearing while eating and/or sleeping. While it is not fully understood why this appliance helps it is believed that stabilizing the muscles in the mouth can help to repair any potential damage that might have occurred over time within the temporomandibular joint.

There are also a number of ways that you can control the discomfort of TMJ disorder through specific methods of self-care.

  • Practice facial relaxation techniques. Tightness and pulling of the jaw muscles can aggravate and increase discomfort in your temporomandibular joint. When you begin to feel pain, be aware of whether or not you’re clenching. Practice releasing the tension in your jaw.
  • Avoid exaggerated or repetitive movements of the jaw. Activities such as gum chewing or excessive yawning/yelling can exacerbate TMJ pain and should be avoided if possible.
  • Stay away from hard food. Focusing on eating soft foods when experiencing TMJ pain can help to keep discomfort to a minimum.

 

While there is currently no hard and fast solution to the issues associated with TMJ, there are several ways that you can manage and control the discomforts associated with it. If you are concerned you might have TMJ disorder, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for more information.

At Carolina’s Dental Choice, our dentists are experts in the management of TMJ disorder and are ready to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to call our office to learn more about the ways we can help.

 

Works Cited

“TMJ Disorders.” National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Health, Sept. 2017, https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-12/tmj-disorders.pdf.

“TMJ Disorders.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Dec. 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350945.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Managing Pain and Anxiety During Dental Visits

2020-06-11T13:38:58+00:00October 9th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, General|

It’s no secret that regular dental visits are an important tool for maintaining good oral health. Despite this, as much as 36% of the population fears a visit to the dentist and 1 in 25 suffers from dentophobia (extreme fear of dental visits). While there are many reasons people might have anxiety around a trip to the dentist, there are also a number of ways that both you and your dentist can help to alleviate those fears.

 

Pain and Anxiety Management

Fear of pain is the number one reason people are afraid to visit the dentist. And while having your teeth worked on won’t necessarily be something you look forward to, it also doesn’t have to be something you fear. Technology has come a long way when it comes to anxiety and pain management. Here is a list of some of the tools you and your dentist have at your disposal to combat any fears that might arise.

 

Pain-Free Shots –  Let’s just say it. Shots are scary. For all of us. No one likes to be poked with needles, especially in their mouths. However, dentists have multiple options at their disposal to help make the experience of getting a shot much easier and a whole lot less scary. If they aren’t already, ask your dentist to use an anesthetic gel or rinse to help numb your mouth before administering the shot. This will desensitize the area and lessen pain significantly.

Studies have also shown that the speed at which a shot is administered can affect the level of discomfort a person experiences. The general rule of thumb is “the slower the better” when it comes to administering numbing medication. If your doctor gives you novocaine, expect it to take approximately 60-90 minutes to wear off after the procedure depending on the amount given.

 

Providing distraction – Oftentimes dentists will offer various forms of distraction that can help to lessen a person’s anxiety and make it easier to get through a procedure. Some of these distractions include tv’s on the ceiling, movie headsets that immerse you in a world outside of your current situation and soothing aromatherapy scents such as orange and lavender. Some dentists even go so far as to have a spa-like atmosphere that provides perks such as a manicurist and reflexologist to be available during procedures.

 

Oral Pain Relief – If an alternative to a shot is needed, there are various oral solutions that can be considered. The first option is the use of nitrous oxide (N2O). We all know nitrous oxide from our childhood by its informal name of “laughing gas”. N2O works to relax you and provide you with a more pleasurable emotional feeling. Pain is intensified when we are stressed or anxious so allowing yourself to relax can be an effective method of management. In addition, N2O is considered safe and effective because it begins to work quickly and the effect is completely reversible with no long-lasting effects. When used for a dental procedure, you will recover quickly enough afterward to be able to drive yourself home.

Another oral method used to help people alleviate the fear of a trip to the dentist is a pill called Halcion. Halcion is a member of the Valium family and is usually administered an hour or two before work is done. Some dentists will also provide a pill the night before to ensure the patient has a full night’s sleep. When this pill is used, patients can feel sleepy and relaxed but are still able to communicate with the dentist.

 

Electronically Delivered Pain Relief – An alternative to injection, this type of pain relief is commonly known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS for short. TENS uses low voltage electricity to help alleviate pain. Your dentist will place adhesive pads on your face in the area where they are working and send a low current through in order to achieve numbness. TENS can help to relax your jaw and facial muscles, a commonly tense area when people experience anxiety.

 

Laser Drills – While not yet formally approved by the American Dental Association, the organization says that they are cautiously optimistic about how this technology can influence the future of dentistry. Laser drills provide an alternative to traditional drills by using the energy from light to cut or vaporize infected tissues. This form of treatment is less invasive and less painful than traditional methods currently being used. A few examples of how lasers can be used in dentistry include treating tooth decay, remedying issues associated with gum disease, performing biopsies and whitening teeth.

 

IV Sedation – If more moderate sedation is needed, a dentist will sometimes use IV sedation. One advantage to this form of sedation is that the dentist has direct control over the levels you are given and can quickly adjust to meet your individual needs.

 

Additional Sedation Options – While family dentists don’t perform deep sedation or general anesthesia, sometimes when you are referred to a specialist, you may encounter these options. In order to administer deep sedation, providers need to complete a program through CODA (Commission on Dental Accreditation) focusing on deep sedation and general anesthesia. Typically this accreditation is completed by oral surgeons and dental anesthesiologists.

 

Post Dental Pain – What to Expect

While pain management during dental treatment is important, understanding pain post-treatment is equally as important. Having the ability to discern between what type of pain is normal versus when it is necessary to contact a professional can be a huge advantage for someone who is anxious about their recovery. Here are a few examples of different types of pain you might experience after a visit to the dentist.

 

Jaw Soreness/Tenderness – This type of pain is one of the more common types experienced after a dental procedure. It occurs because of your mouth being held open for an extended period of time. The muscles in your mouth are no different from the muscles in any other part of your body. Use them more than they’re used to being used and they’ll become sore and tired. One way to remedy the pain is to ask your dentist if he has a bite block available for you to use. A bite block will allow your jaw to rest while still allowing the dentist to perform dental work. If you do experience this type of pain, it will typically clear up after a day or two depending on the procedure. For people who grind their teeth, it may take slightly longer as grinding is also a major cause of jaw soreness.

 

Pulpitis – Pulpitis is caused by an inflammation of the pulp within the tooth. It can feel like the sudden onset of a toothache. Pulpitis can also cause hot and cold temperature sensitivity within a tooth. This type of pain can occur after any dental procedure where a tooth has been worked on from a filling to the repair of a cracked or chipped tooth. There is both reversible and irreversible pulpitis. With reversible pulpitis, you won’t feel pain unless something comes in contact with the tooth to affect its sensitivity. However, irreversible pulpitis is a constant pain that typically requires a root canal to remedy. Irreversible pulpitis is not a common side effect of performed dental work, rather, it is typically a sign that dental work may be necessary.

 

Referred Pain – Referred pain is when you feel pain in other areas of your body than where the pain originated. So, for example, while you might have had a root canal on your molar, your eye sockets or ears may experience pain as a result. Referred pain can be experienced from any traumatic event and can sometimes be a sign of something more serious. If you experience referred pain that doesn’t go away within a week of your procedure, be sure to check in with your dentist and let him know about the symptoms you are experiencing.

 

Methods for Addressing Post Dental Pain

While there may be no sure-fire method to completely escape the discomfort that comes after a dental procedure, there are ways to lessen the pain and make recovery a more pleasant experience. A few suggestions for improved recovery time are listed below.

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet before you go to the dentist. Focusing on foods that help combat inflammation will improve your overall recovery time.
  • For those with TMJ/TMD, focus on relaxing your jaw before your procedure. Consciously working to relax and stretch your jaw muscles will help reduce pain post-procedure.
  • Check for a bite block. As stated above, asking if your dentist has a bite block available can lead to a lot less pain and discomfort after the work is over.
  • Relax! While this tactic is obviously easier said than done, it’s a known fact that stress will tense your muscles and cause a longer recovery as a result. Practicing mindfulness and focusing on your breathing can go a long way towards bringing down the levels of stress associated with a dental procedure.

Of course, taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen is also a perfectly acceptable way to deal with pain after a procedure. If your dentist prescribes medication, be sure to follow all the directions associated with it and never share a prescription with someone else. If for any reason, your pain doesn’t diminish or feels like it’s getting worse, call your dentist and set up an appointment to check and make sure everything is healing the way it should.

 

Pain isn’t fun for anyone. The good news is that there are several tools at your dentist’s disposal that they can use to help you through a procedure with a minimal level of discomfort. While the dentist’s chair can sometimes seem like a scary place, remember that first and foremost, they are there to help you maintain a strong, healthy smile. They have their teeth worked on the same as you and, like you, they also desire an outcome that doesn’t leave pain in its wake.

 

Our dentists are sensitive to your needs and are always happy to speak with you about the options we provide when it comes to pain control. Please feel free to call anytime during office hours and we’ll be happy to set up a consultation for you to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Boge, Emily. “Dental Phobia, Fear of Dentist & Anxiety: Colgate Oral Care.” Dental Phobia, Fear of Dentist & Anxiety | Colgate Oral Care, https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/how-dental-phobia-develops-and-what-offices-do-to-help-0515.

Collins, Sonya. “Do You Dread the Dentist?” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/dentist-anxiety#1.

“Controlling Anxiety and Pain at the Dentist’s Office.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/controlling-dental-pain#1.

DDS, Mark Burhenne. “Pain After a Dental Visit: What’s Normal, and What’s Not.” Ask the Dentist, 30 Aug. 2019, https://askthedentist.com/pain-dental-visit/.

Garret-Bernardin, Annelyse, et al. “Pain Experience and Behavior Management in Pediatric Dentistry: A Comparison between Traditional Local Anesthesia and the Wand Computerized Delivery System.” Pain Research & Management, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28293129.

Kasat, Vikrant, et al. “Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS) in Dentistry- A Review.” Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, Medicina Oral S.L., 1 Dec. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4312687/.

“Laser Use in Dentistry.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/laser-use-dentistry.

“Sedation Dentistry: Can You Really Relax in the Dentist’s Chair?” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/sedation-dentistry-can-you-really-relax-in-the-dentists-chair#1.

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The ABC’s of Whitening Toothpaste

2020-07-16T16:54:54+00:00July 8th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, General, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

Teeth whitening is on the rise across the country. In 2018 alone, over 40.5 million people used some form of bleaching product to improve their smiles. Whitening toothpaste, in particular, is marketed as an affordable way to brighten your smile, but is it actually doing more harm than good?


    

A Brief History of Tooth Whitening

Despite its recent rise in popularity, you might be surprised to learn that the process of teeth whitening has been around for over 4,000 years. Egyptians were some of the first known people to follow the practice. They used ground pumice stone soaked in vinegar to improve their overall smiles. As time progressed, so did the methods. During the 1600’s people actually relied on their barbers to whiten their teeth in addition to cutting their hair. The barber would file the teeth down and then soak them in nitric acid as a way to whiten someone’s smile. Fluoride was discovered as a way to protect teeth in the early 19th century and toothpaste as we currently know it began to make its way to the public around 1945. Finally, in 1989, Rembrandt officially launched the first whitening toothpaste into the grocery market effectively empowering the general public to whiten their teeth with an affordable over-the-counter product.

Today there are hundreds of different brands of whitening toothpaste to choose from and not all are created equal. With everything from big names to natural alternatives vying for space on the shelves, it’s hard to know which path to take.

     

Understanding Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Tooth Whitening

In order to understand how whitening toothpaste affects your smile, it’s helpful to first understand how the process of whitening works. When we observe stains on our teeth, we are generally seeing two types, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are considered surface stains whereas intrinsic stains run deeper inside the tooth and are more difficult to remedy.

 

Causes of extrinsic stains include: Causes of intrinsic stains include:
Coffee or tea Tooth decay
Dark fruits such as blueberries and cherries Overuse of fluoride
Red wines Cracks/Scratches in enamel
Dark vegetables such as carrots and beets Genetics
Smoking or Chewing Tobacco Certain Antibiotics (Tetracycline based)
   

Over the counter products such as whitening toothpaste and strips are only strong enough to handle extrinsic stains. For intrinsic stains, it is recommended that you see a cosmetic dentist to learn more about safe, professional procedures that may be available to you.

 

How Whitening Toothpaste Works

Contrary to its name, one of the main ways whitening toothpaste works to remove stains is through abrasion. Tiny silica particles are added to the paste and are used to essentially “scratch” the stains off of your teeth. While this method may initially remove some of the discolorations, overuse can actually cause staining to become worse. This is because the abrasive material doesn’t just eliminate the tinge, it also scratches through the protective enamel. Loss of enamel can eventually lead to deeper, more permanent intrinsic staining. As the unprotected dentin becomes increasingly exposed to everyday food and drink, discoloration is able to penetrate past the surface and into the underlying layers of the tooth below.

In addition to abrasive particles, whitening toothpaste can also contain bleaching agents. The two most common bleaching agents used to whiten teeth in toothpaste include hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. While these ingredients are shown to be effective at whitening teeth, they should always be used in moderation as overuse can lead to demineralization of your teeth and if swallowed, can potentially inflame your internal organs or cause internal bleeding.

 

Common Dental Issues that Arise From the Use of Whitening Toothpaste

Some common dental issues that arise when using whitening toothpaste include sensitivity, retracting gum lines, and even increased discoloration as the enamel breaks down and stains are able to penetrate to deeper levels inside the tooth.

Sensitivity – sensitivity can occur for a number of reasons. Some of these include overuse of whitening toothpaste, keeping the paste on your teeth for an extended period of time, and allowing the toothpaste to penetrate through cracks or openings that are exposing the inner dentin. It should be noted that it’s never a good thing to feel sensitivity from the use of whitening toothpaste. If you have this issue, stop using the toothpaste and consult with your dentist for alternative options.

Receding Gums – if whitening products aren’t used properly and in moderation, they can irritate the gums and cause them to recede. Receding gum lines are harmful for a number of reasons. Healthy oral tissue is important not only to help prevent your teeth from getting infected but also to protect the internal area of the tooth from negative exposure to bacteria and germs. When whitening toothpaste isn’t used properly, it can cause permanent damage to gum lines, causing them to recede, and eventually exposing the vulnerable dentin and root below.

Loss of Enamel both abrasive particles and bleaching agents can lead to a loss of enamel over time. It’s important to understand that enamel does not grow back so great care should be taken any time you choose to use a whitening product. Always consult with your dentist before using over-the-counter products so they can instruct on the safest way to achieve the results you want.

 

The Dangers of Children Using Whitening Toothpaste

While whitening toothpaste is problematic for adults, it can be even more detrimental to children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children under the age of 15 refrain from teeth whitening.  This is because a child’s enamel is thinner than an adult’s and the nerve and dentin on the inside of the tooth are still developing. Tooth enamel isn’t fully calcified until approximately two years after the permanent teeth finish emerging. The Pediatric Safety Organization warns of teenage use of whitening products in particular. Teenagers are at a greater risk for misuse and/or overuse because they tend to want to hasten or intensify the process without fully understanding the consequences. This can cause the developing teeth to become over-oxidized, resulting in a permanent breakdown of the teeth’s structure.

In general, improper use of these types of whitening products before a child’s smile is fully developed can result in increased sensitivity, demineralization of the enamel, and variations in tooth color. Children with braces or other mouth hardware are also at risk of uneven coloring to their teeth, as the portion of the tooth that is covered will not be affected by the whitener and will end up showing as a different shade from the exposed portions of the teeth.

 

Natural Alternatives to Traditional Teeth Whitening

Having whiter teeth doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthier smile. However, if you decide you want to brighten your smile using safer, more natural methods, you have a handful of options at your disposal.

Oil Pulling – oil pulling has been shown to have numerous benefits for oral health. In addition to killing the bacteria in your mouth that is responsible for plaque and gum disease, it also helps to reduce inflammation. Currently, there is no definitive evidence showing that oil pulling whitens teeth, however, many people who use the practice claim they notice a visible whitening of their teeth. Add to the fact that it’s a safe and beneficial method overall, and there’s really no reason not to give it a try to see if it works for you.

To try oil pulling, simply choose an oil of your choice (recommended options include coconut, olive, and sesame) and swish it around in your mouth for 5 to 20 minutes. You can also use a soft toothbrush to apply the oil or wipe it over your teeth with a washcloth.

Baking Soda – Sodium Bicarbonate, or baking soda as it is commonly called, is another natural product that can help to whiten your teeth. When used properly, it can reduce plaque, fight bad breath, help maintain a healthy pH inside your mouth, and assist in the overall whitening of your teeth. For the safest use with regards to oral health, it is recommended that you mix a teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Gently apply the mixture using either your finger or a soft toothbrush and let it sit on your teeth for approximately two minutes followed by a thorough rinse. You can apply this tincture multiple times per week for best results. Just be careful to apply gently as baking soda is abrasive and can harm your enamel if applied too strongly and too often.

Apple Cider Vinegar – apple cider vinegar is another effective way to help whiten your teeth. The reason vinegar works as a whitener is because it contains acetic acid which helps to remove the plaque and clean teeth. To use vinegar effectively as a whitener, mix one part vinegar with three parts water and swish in your mouth for about a minute. Be sure to spit it out once you’re finished. A couple of tips to remember when using Apple Cider Vinegar include:

 

  1. Always dilute the vinegar with water before swishing. Straight vinegar has a highly acidic pH and will damage the enamel on your teeth if overused.
  1. Only use organic brands of apple cider vinegar. This is because non-organic brands are typically pasteurized, which removes the majority of the beneficial properties contained in the vinegar.
  1. Be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after use. Residual vinegar remains on your teeth and can harm your enamel if you brush while it’s still present.

 

Brush and Rinse After Eating and Drinking – being vigilant about your teeth after eating and drinking can really make a difference in the amount of staining you accumulate over time. Make an effort, when possible, to brush your teeth after eating food and drink so that you can alleviate stains before they happen. If you drink coffee or other staining drinks, try to follow it up with a glass of water to help mitigate the effects. Regular coffee drinkers or smokers may also want to consider a visit to the dentist every three months instead of six to help keep their smile bright and healthy.

Naturally, one of the best ways to keep a sparkling, white smile is to take care of your teeth on a daily basis. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time, floss regularly, and visit your dentist every six months. If you are interested in learning more about professional teeth whitening, please feel free to call our office. We’ll be happy to help answer any questions you might have and discuss how we can safely and effectively help you to achieve a brighter, whiter smile.

 

– Julie Mastbrook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

“Apple Cider Vinegar Teeth Whitening: Can You Safely Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Whiten Teeth?” Emergency Dentists USA, www.emergencydentistsusa.com/apple-cider-vinegar-teeth-whitening/.

 

“Apple Cider Vinegar vs. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/107959-apple-cider-vinegar-vs.-organic/.

 

Axe, Josh. “6 Ways to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth.” Dr. Axe, 9 Mar. 2018, draxe.com/6-ways-to-naturally-whiten-your-teeth/.

 

“History of Toothpaste – Toothbrush History.” History of Toothpaste – Toothbrush History, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/brushing-and-flossing/history-of-toothbrushes-and-toothpastes.

 

“Is Teeth Whitening Safe For Children?” Kids Dental Online – Plano & Carrollton, www.kidsdentalonline.com/dental-topics/teeth-whitening-safe-children/.

 

Lee, Sean S., et al. “Tooth Whitening in Children and Adolescents: A Literature Review.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry, 17 Aug. 2005, www.aapd.org/globalassets/media/publications/archives/lee-27-5.pdf.

 

Pesce, Nicole Lyn. “The Dark Side of Teeth-Whitening Strips.” MarketWatch, 10 Apr. 2019, www.marketwatch.com/story/the-dark-side-of-teeth-whitening-strips-2019-04-10.

“The Risks of Tooth Whitening Toothpastes | Winston Salem Dentist.” Distinctive Dental, 30 Nov. 2017, www.distinctivelydental.com/can-whitening-toothpastes-damage-teeth/.

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Finding an Experienced Dentist in Monroe, North Carolina

2020-07-16T16:55:10+00:00June 17th, 2019|Adam Brown DDS, Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Crowns, Dental Insurance, Dental Trends, General, Oral Health, Teeth Whitening|

There are fewer things more stressful than finding a new health provider, much less finding an office and staff to trust you and your family’s smile with. Whether you’re searching for the right dentist to advise your oral health regimen, or are simply in the market for a new dentist, Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to equip you with the right knowledge to find an experienced dentist suited for your treatment needs.

 

Find an Experienced Dentist—Don’t Get Unnecessary Treatments

In need of a second opinion after getting a hefty price estimate for a procedure, you’re not sure you really need? Had a bad experience with a previous dentist and searching for a new practice to rebuild trust with? Waited so long for a dental visit that you’re just ready for a fresh start and motivation? No judgments and no worries! Finding an experienced dentist does not have to be an ordeal.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by your search for the right dentist. From Google searches, Yelp reviews, to scouring websites and seeking out word of mouth recommendations, there are many ways in which we try to find a great dentist. If you’ve moved recently or switched insurance companies, it can also be difficult to move on from a long-time dentist and find another that meets all of your expectations.

Where should you even start? We have laid out the most important considerations in your search for the right experienced dentist.

 

Question 1: What makes a good dental practice?

You have probably asked yourself this before. What makes a good dentist? Is it a staff of gentle hygienists? A dentist who spends time in the room with the patient? The cheapest treatment options around? Let’s discuss it!

 

Expectations should be met with every point of contact, including staff

Whether you are making your first call to inquire about services, scheduling an appointment, or entering the practice, the staff should be welcoming to patients. Practices that leave patients in the waiting room without greeting and without respect for patients’ time are red flags that the dental practice does not respect the time of their clients. A friendly, punctual staff ensures that the visit is great from start to finish.

 

Active listening

Between the hygienists and the dentist, you need a practice that listens to what you say. As the patient, you are the best advocate and knowledge base of your own health, and a good dental practice values that. By listening to your concerns and requests, and acting on what they hear, rather than talking over the patient or not spending and giving the time to the patient to speak their concerns, the patient will collaborate with the dental practice to ensure they are receiving the best treatment options.

 

Attempts to know the patient

In a larger practice, we do not expect our dentists to know the patient’s entire history, but no patient wants to feel like another file on the shelf. A dentist taking the time to know you can affect the level of care that the patient gets. Whether that’s making friendly conversation or taking a few minutes to read your chart, attempting to know the patient can make all the difference in your dental care.

 

Question 2: What are the warning signs of a bad dentist?

Fraudulent dentists certainly are not the norm, but more often than you would think, dishonest practices have impacted patients in their long-term trust in dentistry and their own oral health. The wrong dentist is more concerned with his pocketbook rather than the overall health of your mouth, meaning he may recommend and perform unnecessary treatments. Procedures that aren’t necessary can wreak havoc on your mouth and lead to further problems down the road.

 

Signs of Fraudulent Practice

  1. Urgency without explanation:

If your dentist identifies an issue that is not a dental emergency and tells you a procedure needs to be done immediately, you should start by asking why and for full disclosure on the procedure itself. If you are in a new dentist’s chair for a regular cleaning and suddenly you’re bombarded with procedures of a type you’ve never needed before, or that you did not enter the practice asking for help with, then it may be a red flag. When the dentist is vague on the reasoning for procedures, he may be pressuring you into going forward without understanding all of your options.

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is:

Some dentists offer very discounted, or even free cleanings as a way to get patients in the door. Once in the chair, they may either hit you with fees that were never mentioned as part of the deal or as mentioned before, pressure you into procedures with intensity.

  1. Lack of Patient Education:

As we mentioned before, the sign of a great dentist is one who educates patients and ensures that decisions are made collectively between the patient and dentist. It is not good practice when dentists and hygienists are not willing to take time and explain the dental issues and recommended procedures to the patient. Even the act of not showing patients their x-rays can be a red flag. Your dentist should take the time to discuss what is shown in your x-rays, point out any lesions or unhealthy teeth, and talk through the treatment plan with the findings.

 

Question 3: How does dentistry become susceptible to fraud, and how can I determine if I am part of fraudulent dentistry?

We know that for the majority of dentists out there, it took years of hard work and building trust among their patients to make a successful dental practice. But, as in any profession, there are a small number of professionals out there who turn to taking shortcuts for financial gain. For the medical profession in general, medical diagnoses can be subjective. Because of this, we have a number of suggestions to improve patient advocacy.

 

Understand how your insurance works with the dental practice.

Beyond having a sense of your general dental coverage, you may not know how the dental practices interact before and after your dental visit. After scheduling your appointment, the staff at the dental practice will reach out to your dental insurance company to find out everything that is covered under your provider. So before you even enter the office, the experienced dentist will know everything that can be billed to you during your dental visit. Unfortunately, this can leave the patient vulnerable to receiving treatments that are more likely to be reimbursed by the insurance company, rather than what’s truly right for the teeth.

 

For example, a dentist may be choosing between a filling and a root canal for a patient. Taking the path with the root canal and crown is more lucrative for the dental practice. This is because it is common knowledge that root canals are easier to pass through an insurance company than a filling, and by receiving a root canal, you’re automatically approved for a crown. Root canals are easier to pass simply because the dentist can justify the root canal by claiming that the patient was in pain. The problem here is that the dentist may have just been able to perform a filling, which is a cheaper procedure and less invasive for the patient.

 

Now that there are some ways of identifying fraud, let’s talk about active ways to prevent getting in those situations in the first place.

 

  1. Choose your dentist based on referrals

Your insurance company may be telling you which dentists to see, but take time to do your own research. Seek out others with the same insurance and ask for a recommendation. Or, if you have a current dentist in the same area but you have switched insurance policies, ask your dentist for a recommendation, or ask for a recommendation from a local dentist society or health professional. Just because the insurance company covers a dentist does not make it a suitable referral. Plus, seeking out opinions from family, friends, and co-workers can give recommendations backed by real experiences.

  1. Consider going family-owned rather than corporate

Chain-dentistry practices drive patients through the door with heavy advertising and discounts, quick cleanings, free exams, and of course, hundreds or thousands of dollars in unnecessary dental work. Corporate dental chains can run on a quota-based model that can sometimes lead to practices working on the side of pushing unnecessary treatments.

  1. Ask for the appointment time

Generally, a new patient appointment should take around an hour and a half. If the office tells you that appointment should only last about a half hour, they may be trying to rush you through what should be a thorough cleaning and appointment, rather than give you the time you deserve as a patient. If you’re an established patient, appointment time can vary, but a cleaning should take at least 45 minutes. If it lasts only 15 minutes, it’s time to start asking questions.

  1. Always check your bill

In a true dental scam, a dentist might inflate claims or bill insurers for procedures that the patient didn’t receive. The best way to avoid this from happening is to ensure communication with your dentist, ask for an estimated price upfront (prior to sitting in the dental chair), and always checking your bill at checkout. According to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, it is estimated that Americans lose about $68 billion dollars each year to healthcare fraud. Don’t be a victim of dental fraud; know the signs and do not be afraid to advocate for yourself as a patient.

  1. Check the market rate for common procedures.

There are common procedures you have had before that you know the price for, but when dental pain strikes, sometimes you are willing to pay anything for it to get fixed. It’s at these times when it is most important to ensure that you are being offered a fair, market-rate price, and not just being offered the most expensive procedure that your insurance may or may not cover.

  1. Seek other opinions.

If you have ever had a major dental procedure, it is likely that you might have sought out another opinion. One dentist may recommend that you need it, while another may not. This is totally normal, and encouraged, especially if you feel that any of the signs above are occurring.

  1. Feel out the culture of the office.

While how you feel as a patient is important, seeing how the experienced dentist treats the staff can also impact the care you receive. The best doctors are attentive to patients and staff. If you have a bad feeling with your interaction from the front desk to the dental chair, how can you trust your oral health to the practice? You should feel safe and welcome at the dentist from the moment you walk in the door. 

 

Find a dental provider who’s right for you and your family

Carolina’s Dental Choice is here to make you feel right at home, whether you’re new to the area or a longtime resident. Give us a call today if you’re in need of a welcoming, friendly face in the dental practice world at 704-289-9519.

 

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Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?

2020-07-16T16:55:40+00:00May 20th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dentist Office Monroe NC, General, Oral Health|

There has been a lot of buzz lately about sparkling water, with many people touting it as an alternative to regular or diet sodas. Also, with the many flavorings out there now, sparkling and seltzer waters have become far more attractive as a choice for a soft drink. In fact, sales of sparkling water have doubled since 2011. That said, some have questioned whether sparkling water is bad for your teeth and, if so, how?

It is important to understand the impact of the trend in sparkling water consumption and its impact on your teeth. We want to delve into this controversy, clear up some misconceptions, and give you a few pointers so you can continue to take care of your oral health.

Firstly, it is important to understand that carbonated water has CO2 in it, which gives the bubbly effervescence to carbonated water. But when you drink the fizzy carbonated water, a chemical reaction transpires in your mouth, which turns the Co2 into carbonic acid. But know this: this is a relatively weak acid on its own, so unless you choose sparkling or seltzer waters flavored with citrus (and thus a more acidic sparkling water), the acidic levels are quite low.

In 2016 the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) released a study of the acidity of various beverages. As a baseline, spring water was used (it has a neutral acidity level of pH 7.4) to assess the acidity of sparkling waters. Sparkling water was found to have an average of pH 5 or 5.5 (for example, Perrier is 5.5), making them definitely acidic in nature. The ADA concluded that, on the whole, sparkling water exceeds the acidity of regular tap or spring water. Thus, our attitudes toward sparkling water need to be adjusted slightly, for sparkling water is not the same as any old, regular water.

However, the ADA has not found conclusive evidence of any kind that suggests drinking sparkling water is harmful to your tooth enamel. In fact, the acidity level of coffee is far higher, and thus worse, for your teeth than is sparkling water. Compare coffee’s pH level of up to 6 (depending on the coffee), in contrast to sparkling water’s pH 5 level, and you can see that coffee is a bigger culprit in tooth enamel’s loss.

 

Helpful Strategies

  1. Don’t sip sparkling waters throughout the day, like you would spring or tap water. Rather, drink them in one sitting (in a short span of time), in order to decrease the length of exposure of your tooth enamel to the acidity levels.
  2. If you have dry mouth, which is decreased salivation production due to other illnesses like diabetes, it is best to avoid acidic drinks of any kind.
  3. Brush your teeth after consuming these drinks (and coffee, too, for that matter!). So many of us tend to think we should only brush after eating, forgetting that sugary or acidic elements in drinks we imbibe can be just as harmful to our oral health. So, carry a small toothbrush and toothpaste tube with you to take on the go, and brush after both eating and drinking anything (other than plain water).
  4. Use a mouthwash twice a day, morning and evening. If you are a real enthusiast, you can certainly take a swish-and-spit moment after lunch, following a good tooth brushing. Mouthwash can clear away bacteria and harmful sugars from your teeth. Remember, acidity breaks down tooth enamel and then it is the bacteria, feeding on sugar in your mouth, that creates the problem. Mouthwash can eliminate the bacteria and wash away the sugar—this will preserve your tooth enamel as well.

On the whole, choosing seltzers and sparkling waters is a far better choice for your teeth than drinking regular or diet sodas. The pH levels of most seltzers and sparkling waters are better for your teeth than the average soda. However, from a basic health standpoint (which will always be the best choice for your teeth), drink eight glasses of tap or spring water a day. Plain, pH neutral water is the best choice for your health at every level. And, if you are apt to drink seltzers or sparkling waters, a single swig of plain water after you finish the can, with a bit of a swish of that plain water about your mouth, can help to wash away some of the acidic build-up.

 

Have more questions? Talk to your oral hygienist or one of our dentists at Carolinas Dental Choice.

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Diabetes & Dental Health

2020-07-16T17:22:42+00:00November 27th, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, General, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning|

One in 10 Americans — or more than 30 million people — have diabetes, according to the Office of Disease Prevent and Health Promotion (healthfinder.gov). People with diabetes have an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums. These bacteria are what cause periodontal disease, a chronic, inflammatory condition that can destroy your gums, all the tissues holding your teeth, and even your bones. The American Dental Association states that periodontal disease is the most common dental disease among those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22 percent of those diagnosed. In fact, one in five cases of total tooth loss is related to diabetes. 

Dental complications due to diabetes also include oral burning — a burning sensation inside the mouth that may include a bitter taste and dry mouth that is caused by uncontrolled blood glucose levels — and thrush — the growth of a naturally occurring fungus that the body is unable to control and may cause sore, white — or sometimes red — patches on your gums, tongue, cheeks, or the roof of your mouth.

November is American Diabetes Month, and Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to help you ensure that your efforts to manage the condition include your oral health.

Even if you don’t have diabetes now, that doesn’t mean that you never will. Or, if you’re not someone who regularly goes to the doctor, you could even have diabetes and not know it yet. Approximately 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year — and 8.1 million people living with diabetes don’t even know they have it. Another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

HOW DIABETES WORKS

There are common misconceptions about diabetes. Diabetes is not simply caused by eating too much sugar. It is not a disease only seen in people who are overweight.

Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas, a gland situated behind and below the stomach, does not properly produce the hormone insulin. What is supposed to happen is that when you eat food that food is digested in the stomach and broken down and converted into glucose, a type of sugar. That sugar is required for your body to function. The stomach and small intestines absorb the glucose and then release it into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, glucose can be used immediately for energy or stored in our bodies, to be used later. However, in order to store the glucose for later, the body must have insulin. Think of it almost as if food is like going to work, cash is glucose, and your savings account and ability to retire is insulin. Without the savings account, all the cash gets spent!

HOW DIABETES DEVELOPS

It is thought a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors cause type 1 diabetes though exactly what those factors are is still unclear. What’s known is that in type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leaving you with little or no insulin. Consequently, diabetes can be thought of as an autoimmune disease. You may be familiar with other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, or lupus.

It’s believed that genetic and environmental factors also play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes — although being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. 

RISK FACTORS FOR DIABETES

The Mayo Clinic outlines certain risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Weight. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
  • Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Family history. Your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
  • Race. Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including black people, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are at higher risk.
  • Age. Your risk increases as you get older. This may be because you tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as you age. But type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children, adolescents and younger adults.
  • Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later increases. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you’re also at risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome — a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — increases the risk of diabetes.
  • High blood pressure. Having blood pressure over 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high levels of triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can let you know what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are.

SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES

According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, though it often appears during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, can develop at any age, though it’s more common in people older than 40.

Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections

In addition to gum infections, you can look for other symptoms to show up in your mouth, if diabetes is left untreated, explains the American Dental Association.

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry.
  • Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities.
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often, which is called gingivitis.
  • You may have problems tasting food.
  • You may experience delayed wound healing (such as when you bite the inside of your cheek or have a tooth pulled).
  • You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

Note that dry mouth isn’t just an annoyance. It can impact your oral health. Certain medications and other conditions can cause dry mouth, but symptoms include:

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
  • A burning feeling in the mouth
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Cracked lips
  • A dry, rough tongue
  • Mouth sores
  • An infection in the mouth
  • Bad breath

EFFECTS OF DIABETES

Most people have felt the short term effects of their blood sugar getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) such as when eating too much, being sick, experiencing a lot of stress, exercising too much, or not eating enough.

Early hyperglycemia may result in frequent urination, increased thirst, blurred vision, fatigue, and headaches. More severe hyperglycemia may include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain.

Mild hypoglycemia can make you feel hungry or like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat. Or your skin might turn cold and clammy. Moderate hypoglycemia often makes people feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking. Severe hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out. You could have seizures. It could even cause a coma or death. If you’ve had hypoglycemia during the night, you may wake up tired or with a headache. And you may have nightmares. Or you may sweat so much during the night that your pajamas or sheets are damp when you wake up.

With diabetes it is not simply a matter of a person having only too much or only too little blood sugar, its that the body can not regulate blood sugar levels. Wild swings in blood sugar can have profound physical effects.

  • Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward.
    Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves related to digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Eye damage (retinopathy). Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections, which often heal poorly. These infections may ultimately require toe, foot or leg amputation.
  • Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Hearing impairment. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. Although there are theories as to how these disorders might be connected, none has yet been proved.
  • Depression. Depression symptoms are common in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Depression can affect diabetes management.

MANAGING & PREVENTING DIABETES

For a person with diabetes, the main focus of treatment is to control the amount of glucose in the body so that blood sugar levels stay as close to normal as possible.

Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented. However, healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight, and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of your current weight.1 For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
  • Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, at least 5 days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional about which activities are best. Start slowly and build up to your goal.
  • Eat healthy foods. Eat smaller portions to reduce the amount of calories you eat each day and help you lose weight. Choosing foods with less fat is another way to reduce calories. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages.

For tips on living with diabetes and caring for your oral health, you can also download tips from the National Institute of Oral and Craniofacial Research:

Talk to your dental hygienist and dentist at Carolina’s Dental Choice, if you have diabetes or have been experiencing any of the oral symptoms of diabetes such as dry mouth, gingivitis, or trouble tasting food. We can make recommendations to help you best manage your oral health now and in the future.

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