Dental Articles for Individuals

Dental Articles for Individuals

Swollen Gums Are Your Mouth's "Check Engine" Light

Kids smiling in a classroom before eating lunch

You already know that when the check engine light in your car comes on, something is amiss. But did you know that swollen gums are basically your mouth’s own “check engine” light? It’s true! Check out the information below to see what we mean.

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What Causes Dry Eyes?

Lady rubbing eyes at her computer

Dry eye is surprisingly common. Basically, it can develop if the quantity or quality of your tears falls short, so your eyes aren’t as lubricated as they should be.

Symptoms include discomfort, soreness, burning, stinging, redness, blurry vision, and itchiness, to name a few. So you can imagine how important it is to have this condition properly diagnosed and treated ASAP.

While the risk of this condition increases with age, there are several other causes that lead to dry eyes, and we’ve outlined them below. If you have any symptoms or you’ve been diagnosed with dry eye but your treatment isn’t working, be sure to consult with your eye doctor to get the help that you need to feel relief.

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Risk Factors for Mouth Cancer

Doctor holding a cancer ribbon

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, can develop in any area of your mouth, such as the inside of your cheeks, the roof or floor of your mouth, your tongue or gums, and even your lips.

Having an understanding of what may cause mouth cancer is helpful, as you can then take steps to reduce your risk as much as possible. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the main risk factors for this type of cancer.

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How to Clean Contact Lens Case: Stop Putting Your Contacts in a Dirty Case

filling contact lens case with solution

At the end of the day, you take out your contact lenses, put them in their case with some contact lens solution, and head to bed. The next morning, you take them out of the case and put them in your eyes before heading off to start your day. But, in between, are you taking good care of your lens case? Are you cleaning it well enough? If you aren’t, there are some scary risks involved. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful guide to show you how to clean your contact lens case properly for the health of your eyes.

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Apple Cider Vinegar - Does it Have Oral Health Benefits?

Bottles of apple cider vinegar (ACV) on table with sliced apples.

Consuming apple cider vinegar might be a good idea, as it could help support your health in myriad ways. Some of the benefits that are associated with apple cider vinegar include its ability to fight bacteria, lower blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes, support cardiovascular health, protect against cancer, and aid in weight loss.

Those are some impressive benefits, right? But think twice before you start taking apple cider vinegar shots.

Why shouldn’t you take apple cider vinegar shots? Continue reading for the answer.

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You Chipped a Tooth - How Much Will Repairs Cost?

Man holding mouth after chipping tooth.

Chipping your tooth can be traumatic, but you can get it fixed so it looks like it never happened. Just be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible to help reduce the risk of infection and further damage to the tooth.

What are some of the procedures that can restore a chipped tooth to its former glory? And how much can you expect to pay to fix your broken chomper? We cover it all below.

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Is Beer Bad For Your Teeth? How Alcohol Affects Your Oral Health

Glasses of beer on bar.

Having a beer every now and then is fine, but what if you end up drinking it more regularly? Is beer bad for your teeth? And how does alcohol affect your oral health? These are all valid questions, and getting the answers is necessary if you’re hoping to improve your diet to better support the strength of your teeth and gums.

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Receding Gums Treatment Options

Man with receding gums in dentist chair getting checked.

You’ve heard a lot about gum disease, but have you heard about gum recession? This is a condition that needs to be treated properly to prevent it from getting worse, especially since it may lead to tooth loss. Yikes!

What is gum recession, and how can it be treated? We’ve got you covered with some helpful info below.

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The Causes of Bad Breath Are Signs of More Serious Issues

Photo of lady covering her mouth with her hand and looking to the side.

Oftentimes, bad breath is the result of poor oral hygiene or something that you ate. Even being under an ultra-stressful situation can cause it! And we all know what morning breath is like.

Bad breath happens to everyone, and there are several causes behind it. But did you know that unpleasant breath might be a sign that there’s a more serious underlying health issue to blame? It’s true!

Having an understanding of the reasons for bad breath that are cause for alarm is one step that you can take towards maintaining your health. So keep reading to learn about some of the main bad breath causes that may indicate something serious is going on.

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For the Sake of Your Teeth, Don’t Eat Ice!

Photo of ice cubes on white background

Do you have a habit of chewing on ice? It turns out that what seems like a totally harmless thing is actually quite harmful for your teeth.

What’s wrong with eating ice? We cover the basics below so you can make smarter choices to protect your pearly whites.

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Why Brushing Your Teeth Should Be Part of Your Nighttime Routine

Photo of a pink and a white toothbrush

Do you tend to hit the sack without brushing your teeth first? Uh oh, that’s a big no-no if you want to keep your teeth and gums clean and strong. Even if you’re feeling really tired, taking just a couple of minutes (literally two minutes is all it takes!) to brush your chompers is important, as it can make a big difference in the health of your mouth.

Skeptical about the importance of brushing your teeth before bed? Then keep reading to learn about why this needs to become a part of your nighttime routine.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Proper Teeth Brushing

Photo of family brushing their teeth together

Are you brushing your teeth the right way? You might think so, but you might actually be missing a few key pointers to ensure you thoroughly clean every surface of every tooth as best as possible.

Brushing the correct way is important, so it’s always wise to refine your technique. After all, the better you can brush your teeth at home, the more impressed your dental hygienist will be—and the less work she’ll have to do when you go for a cleaning!

Ready to start brushing your teeth like a pro? Follow our easy step-by-step guide below to take your oral hygiene routine to the next level.

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Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Young man holding jaw in pain from impacted tooth

Wisdom teeth, the last ones to grow in when you’re an adult, are notorious for causing problems. Many people end up with impacted wisdom teeth that require treatment or removal to avoid oral health complications.

How can you know if you have one or more impacted wisdom teeth? Check out this list of some of the main symptoms to learn more about the issues that these teeth might cause.

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You Have Gingivitis. Now What?

Lady dentist looking at x-ray of teeth

Let’s say your dentist has diagnosed you with gingivitis. Uh-oh! What do you do now? Well, the good news is that this condition is treatable and reversible, so there are some steps that you can take to get your gum health back on track and prevent further damage.

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Love Sour Candy? It Could Be Wreaking Havoc on Your Teeth

Photo of sour orange peel sour candy

Sometimes, it’s that combo of sour and sweet that we all crave. And what better place to get it than some yummy sour candy? Unfortunately, though, while you might delight in this treat, it could be wreaking havoc on your teeth.

That’s right: in terms of what foods are good for your teeth and which ones aren’t, sour candy falls into the “bad for your pearly whites” category. But why are these candies so damaging? We’ve got you covered with the answer below.

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How Does Smoking Affect Your Teeth?

smoking 2019

You’ve seen the various ads warning you about the adverse health effects of smoking—some of them are pretty disturbing, aren’t they? And you likely already know that smoking can do damage to your teeth and gums. But what, exactly, are smokers teeth, anyway? What will smoking do to your pearly whites and your gums if you don’t quit the addiction?

Smoking Takes a Major Toll on Your Gums

Smoking doesn’t only give you bad breath. In fact, bad breath is a small side effect compared to the serious effects of this unhealthy habit.

First off, when you smoke, your immune system is weakened. How does this affect your mouth, specifically? Well, it becomes more challenging for your body to fight infections in your gums. Your gums become increasingly more damaged every time you smoke, and they become less and less capable of healing as well.

What are some of the symptoms of gum disease? They include pain when you chew, as well as gums that are red, tender, swollen, or bleeding. You might notice that your gums are beginning to pull away from your teeth, too. And teeth typically become sensitive or loose as gum disease progresses. Yikes!

Your risk of developing gum disease only increases the more you smoke. In fact, your risk for this oral health problem doubles when you smoke. And, if you do develop it, the usual treatments that would work for other patients might not be as effective on you because of your smoking addiction. So, the sooner you quit, the better it’ll be for your gum health.

Side note: No, e-cigarettes aren’t any better arguably!

Your Teeth Suffer, Too!

Smoking stains teeth—hence, the term, “smokers teeth.” So, if you smoke, you might find yourself splurging on over-the-counter whitening treatments or asking your dentist for a professional whitening session. Basically, your chompers can become pretty unsightly, with yellow stains that may develop more quickly than you might expect. And the more you smoke, the darker the stains. Over time, your white teeth will turn into an unattractive shade of dark yellow or brown. Yuck!

As if the stains weren’t bad enough, smoking does even more to further damage your teeth: it can boost the risk of tooth decay through a rise in the buildup of plaque and tartar. And when your dentist fills your teeth, the smoking will continue to discolor your once pearly whites, as well as the fillings themselves, so even restorative treatments might leave you disappointed with the results.

Speaking of fillings—composite fillings, in particular—smoking won’t only stain them; it will also cause them to wear out before they should. So if you want your composite fillings to continue looking good, and you want them to last as long as possible, quitting smoking is the way to go.

Remember when we mentioned above that smoking reduces the strength of your immune system? This also means that, if you have to undergo oral surgery or a dental procedure like a tooth extraction, your mouth will take longer to heal. And if you need to get a dental implant to replace a lost or damaged tooth, the success rate might also be lower for you if you’re a smoker.

This Is Super Serious: Smoking Increases Your Risk of Oral Cancer!

When you smoke, you aren’t just doing harm to your teeth and gums; you’re also harming your entire mouth, increasing your risk of oral cancer. If that isn’t frightening, we don’t know what is.

To put things in perspective, and to illustrate the severity of a smoking addiction: the risk of developing cancer in the mouth, tongue, throat, and lips is six times higher compared to people who don’t smoke. Wow! It’s clear that the effects of smoking extend far beyond stained teeth and swollen gums.

Need Extra Advice? Have a Chat with Your Dentist!

If you’re a smoker, your dentist can point out the damage that your habit is doing to your mouth. Beyond that, however, you can also ask your dentist for advice on how to quit. Perhaps talking to a dental pro and learning about the risks to your teeth and gums will give you the motivation that you need to take your first step towards quitting this addiction for good.

Although you might immediately think of “smokers teeth” as the negative effect on the appearance of your chompers, smoking does much more damage than you might realize at first. From being one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults, to contributing to the risk of mouth cancer, there’s no denying that smoking is a nasty habit that’s worth quitting.  

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Early Symptoms of Gum Disease

gum disease 2019

Do you know what the early signs of gum disease are?

What’s particularly scary about gum disease is that it doesn’t just affect your gums. As the disease progresses and worsens, your teeth can become loose and fall out! So it’s really important to take this seriously and to be aware of what the early signs are. With this information, you’ll be able to take action right away if symptoms do develop, and you could regain the health of your gums with the right treatment from your dentist.  

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Do You Have Mercury Fillings? Here Are Some Things to Be Aware Of

amalgams 2019

Amalgam fillings go by other names, such as silver fillings and mercury fillings. This material has been used by dentists around the world for more than 150 years to help people keep their teeth when a cavity develops. Rather than having to yank a tooth because of decay, dentists can fill it and restore its strength.

You or someone you love might even have a mercury filling in one or more of your teeth already. Unfortunately, despite their long history and widespread use, there is quite a bit of controversy and concern surrounding the use of mercury fillings. So, what are some of the things that you should be aware of so that you can make more informed decisions when you’re at the dentist and told that you have a cavity? Check out the info below to learn more.

What Are Amalgam Fillings?

Do amalgam fillings contain mercury? The answer is yes, they do. But there’s more to it.

Beyond mercury, which makes up roughly half of the filling, other metals are used to create a durable material that will last a long time and withstand pressure from chewing. Those metals include copper, silver, and tin.

Because these fillings are visible, thanks to their silvery appearance, many people today opt for composite fillings instead because they’re tooth-colored and, therefore, not obvious when you open your mouth. But newer fillings can be more expensive, and they may not be appropriate in all cases, so amalgam is still commonly used.   

Why the Big Fuss Over Mercury Fillings?

According to the FDA, if you get an amalgam filling, the great thing about it is that there’s a lower chance of it breaking compared to other materials. Plus, it’s the most affordable of the options available. But experts do admit that there are some potential risks to consider before you and your dentist decide to go with amalgam.

So, here’s the thing: because these fillings have elemental mercury in them, a low level of mercury vapor is released. And that vapor can, indeed, be absorbed by your lungs when you inhale. Okay, that’s kind of scary, right? But it gets worse: if your body is exposed to high levels of this vapor, the kidneys and brain might also be affected. It’s no wonder that there are so many concerns about mercury fillings!

Then there’s a little something known as bioaccumulation, which is the term used for the buildup of a chemical within the body. You guessed it—mercury, even from a filling, is considered bioaccumulative. Basically, the vapor from these fillings can build up in certain tissues, including those in the brain and kidneys, even though the vapor is absorbed mostly by the lungs.  

But, Wait, You Can Rest Easy About Amalgam Fillings After All

That’s a lot of bad news about amalgam fillings, huh? But there’s something else that you should know: the FDA has stated that they’ve reviewed available evidence in an effort to figure out if a low amount of mercury vapor from a filling would really be harmful to human health.

Bottom line: experts have concluded that these fillings are safe after all. In fact, children from age 6 and above, as well as adults, of course, can get a mercury filling without having to worry about it having an adverse effect on their health.

On top of that, clinical studies in kids and adults haven’t been able to find any link between health problems and the mercury in dental fillings. Phew!

And you know how it could bioaccumulate? Well, studies haven’t been able to prove that this causes any actual damage to the body’s organs. That’s a relief, right?

Allergies to Mercury? Yep, It Can Happen

It’s worth noting that some people may be sensitive to mercury, or they might even be allergic to it. Beyond that, some individuals might not be the right candidates for an amalgam filling because they’re allergic to the other metals within it.

Symptoms of an adverse reaction to an amalgam filling include contact reactions and oral lesions. Ouch!

The best way to avoid these reactions is to let your dentist know if you’re allergic to any of the components in the fillings. Don’t worry, modern dentistry offers so many great alternatives that will help you get your teeth strong and healthy again.

Should You Bother Having Your Mercury Fillings Replaced?

With newer filling materials available, you might be thinking, “Should I just replace my old amalgam fillings?” According to experts, the short answer is, no, you don’t really have to, unless you’re sensitive or allergic to the mercury or the other metals in the amalgam.

Also, if your fillings aren’t holding up anymore, or if there is decay under a filling, you can have an old filling removed and replaced with a different material, such as a composite filling. But if your fillings are still in good shape and your teeth are fine, there’s likely no need to go through the trouble—and expense—of having them replaced.

Plus, when you have an amalgam filling removed, more vapor will be released in the process. And your dentist will have to remove more healthy tooth, too. So, as you can see, it might not be worth it. But, ultimately, this important decision will be up to you and your dentist.

Still Have Questions About Mercury in Dental Fillings?

If you’re still concerned about mercury in fillings, or if you’re pregnant and you need to have dental work done, it’s best to consult with your dentist to learn about the pros and cons of amalgam. You can even let your dentist know that you’re interested in learning about other, newer filling materials that contain less mercury or no mercury at all. No matter what, you have options, whether you choose to go with good old amalgam or an alternative filling material to restore the health of your teeth.

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Food for Healthy Teeth: How Nutrition Impacts Your Dental Health

food and healthy 2019

They say you are what you eat, but did you know about the impact that nutrition has on your pearly whites, in particular? A lot of people don’t realize that food not only promotes the health of your skin, bones, and organs, but also the health of your teeth and gums.  

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Waterpik vs. Floss: Which Is Better

waterpick vs floss

Flossing is an integral component to any great oral hygiene routine. If you are brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day, you’re on the right track towards maintaining healthy gums, strong teeth, and fresh breath.

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