The Spirit Dental Blog | Stay In The Know

The Cost of Dental Implants Broken Down

a guy calculating of costs of dental implants on a calculator.

Dental implants are really popular, and for good reason. Not only do they look and function just like real teeth but they’re also designed to last a long time too. So if you have a tooth that is beyond repair or you lost a tooth in an accident, your dentist might recommend getting an implant to restore your beautiful smile.

But, wait, how much is a dental implant going to cost you? After all, this is a pretty intensive procedure that takes time and a skilled expert to get the job done right. To help answer this common question, we’ve broken down the cost of dental implants below to give you an idea of what you can expect when you take the plunge.

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Medical and Dental - Bridging the Gap

bridging the gap

As we move into 2018 and start a new year, we have an opportunity to embrace a fresh start when it comes to our health and wellness. But if you choose a health insurance plan to help cover your medical expenses for the next 12 months, what you might have noticed is that it doesn’t include coverage for dental care. And, unfortunately, that’s the norm.

Whether your insurance provider does not offer dental insurance at all, or they do but you can’t afford their plans, there are other options. Keep reading to learn about how you can bridge the gap between your medical and dental insurance needs.

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Nutrition Labels: What's to Come and What We Should Focus On

nutrition labels

Do you make it a point to read nutrition labels when you’re shopping for your groceries? Smart strategy! Knowing the ingredients in packaged food, as well as other important tidbits like the number of calories and the amount of fat and cholesterol in a serving, will help you make the best choices for your health.

But did you know that nutrition labels are set to change? We’ve gathered some info on what you can expect, as well as when you can expect these changes to take effect.

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Maintaining Dental Health with Diabetes

diabetes

Did you know that if you have diabetes, your risk of oral health problems might be higher? But don’t worry; there are some easy steps you can take daily to support the strength of your teeth and gums. With the right strategy, you’ll be able to maintain that lovely smile for years to come, so check out the tips below to get started.

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5 Tips For A Brighter Smile This Holiday Season

holiday smile

The holiday season is here again, which means it’s time to celebrate with delicious feasts and tasty treats. But before you overindulge, consider the health of your teeth and gums, which might take a hit as you focus on having fun at all of those holiday parties.

To help you maintain a brighter, healthier smile throughout this holiday season, we’ve compiled five tips that are easy to follow. Check them out below and get ready to impress your dentist at your next checkup.


  1. Choose Holiday Foods Wisely

Eating right throughout the holiday season won’t only help you maintain your waistline; it could also help you maintain your lovely smile. Try to follow these guidelines whether you’re at a family gathering or your annual office party:

  • Try and limit the amount of candy that you indulge in so you can keep all of that sugar off of your teeth in hopes of preventing cavities. Also consider choosing chocolate instead of other sugary, sticky sweets. Chocolate tends to wash off the teeth with greater ease than, say, a candy cane.
  • Help undo some of the damage of all of the sweet treats you eat by having a variety of crunchy vegetables and fruits. Also choose whole grains over refined carbs, and opt for water rather than sugary beverages.
  • When you don’t want to drink plain water, stick with beverages that are clear or light in color, rather than dark drinks like red wine. Doing so may help prevent stains and keep your teeth whiter.
  1.  Stick to Your Routine

The hectic holiday season could make it easy for anyone to feel too tired or distracted to stick to an oral hygiene routine. But going to bed without brushing your teeth or failing to floss at least once a day could be a recipe for new cavities in the new year. So no matter how many parties you have to attend or how much traveling you have to do, it’s highly recommended that you do your best to keep your mouth-cleaning routine the same. In other words, your daily schedule might change, but your brushing and flossing schedule shouldn’t.

  1. Take Your Toothbrush with You

Yep, that’s right, it’s a good idea to take your toothbrush with you when you head off to a holiday party. Just buy a mini toothbrush, mini toothpaste, and a mini package of floss that will easily fit into your purse or pocket. Then, when you’re done eating, you could head to the bathroom and freshen up your mouth. This may not work if you’re at a fancy party, but it could work just fine if you’re at a family gathering. Plus, if you’re too tired to brush when you get home, it’ll already be done!

Okay, we know it might be a little weird to take your teeth cleaning kit with you when you’re off celebrating the holidays. So if that’s not really your thing, consider just chewing on some sugarless gum instead. Chewing gum, including spicy cinnamon gum, helps freshen breath while stimulating the production of saliva, which helps flush away food particles.

  1. Try Not To Use Your Teeth As Gift Openers

If you find yourself having trouble opening up a present, you might be tempted to use your teeth, but don’t do it. If you try to use your teeth as tools, you increase the risk of injuring your gums or your jaw, and you might even crack a tooth. Now that’s a recipe for disaster, especially when your dentist’s office is closed for the holiday! So whether you’re having trouble with a package or a bottle, grab the appropriate tool to get it open, and only use your teeth for chewing food.

  1. Don’t Be Naughty – Keep Your Dental Appointments!

Despite the hustle and bustle of this busy time of year, try your best to stick to your dental appointments. If you have a checkup or a cleaning coming up, it’s best to go rather than to reschedule. In this way, if there are problems brewing in your teeth or gums, you can catch them so they won’t get in the way of your holiday fun. And if you know that you should see your dentist shortly after New Year’s, this is a great time to schedule your appointment so you won’t forget.

The end of the year is also a good time to evaluate your dental insurance needs. You can look for a plan that will be affordable and give you the coverage you need for the next 12 months so you’ll have peace of mind that your smile will remain bright and beautiful until the next holiday season rolls around.

See? We told you that our five tips would be easy to implement. Now go ahead and take in everything that this special time of year has to offer!

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What Are We Thankful For? Dental Benefits!

thankful

With Thanksgiving and all of the end-of-the-year holidays approaching, it’s a perfect time to reflect on everything that we’re grateful for. And one thing that we are definitely thankful for is dental insurance.

If you have dental insurance, you already know about the peace of mind that this type of coverage can provide, and it may have already helped you save a lot of money too. If don’t yet have dental insurance, below are a few of the reasons why so many people love it.


Preventive Care: Keeping Major Problems at Bay

When it comes to your dental health, preventive care can go a long way towards—you guessed it—preventing expensive, major problems that would otherwise occur later on. Want to avoid the dreaded root canal, as an example? Seeing your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup, x-rays, and cleanings will help him or her spot minor problems and fix them before they escalate. And that could save you a lot of time, money, and pain in the long run.

The great thing about dental insurance is that it could cover most or all of those routine checkups and necessary procedures that your dentist uses to keep your mouth in tip-top shape. And every time you see your dentist, he or she can give you even more tips on how to keep your teeth and gums super clean. Trust us, that personalized information is invaluable.

Basic Procedures: Get Your Teeth and Gums Back to a Healthy State

Sometimes, even when you see your dentist on schedule and you do your best to keep your teeth and gums clean at home, problems still arise. For example, you might have a cavity in between your teeth caused by debris that flossing missed, or your enamel might wear down over time. Thankfully, your dentist knows how to fix those problems in the most efficient and pain-free ways.

Receiving basic care in the form of dental fillings for cavities, as one example, can be pricey. But if you have the right dental insurance plan already in place, you could rest assured that at least part of your bill will be covered on your behalf. After all, getting your teeth filled shouldn’t drill a hole in your wallet too, right?

Major Services: When Decay Has Gone Too Far

While a basic filling might suffice sometimes, other times, it isn’t enough. Sometimes the decay in a tooth is so bad that your dentist will have to perform a more intense procedure. And he or she might recommend getting a crown, implant, or bridge to make your teeth look their best.

The more advanced the dental procedure, and the more visits that are required to complete it, the more expensive it will all be. Once again, though, dental insurance can come to your rescue. Choosing a plan that covers major services and that comes with the added perk of a whopping $5,000 annual maximum* could help you get the treatment you need without breaking the bank.

Emergencies: You Can’t Predict What’s Going to Happen

Whether it’s due to a sports injury or an accident, a dental emergency could happen at any time. A chipped tooth or a tooth that has been pushed right out of its socket needs to be treated as soon as possible in order to salvage it.

It’s certainly helpful to be prepared by knowing what you can do during a dental emergency to increase the odds that a tooth can be saved. The other step that you can take in advance involves simply shopping for a dental insurance plan that will help pay for the cost of expensive emergency treatments. Ahh, what a relief!

Think Dental Insurance Is Expensive? Think Again!

In terms of price, dental insurance is probably more affordable than you think. There are a variety of individual and family plans available that will cover what you need at a price that you’re comfortable with. You can even choose from plans that have networks or that give you more freedom to choose your dentist. And there are plans that have no waiting periods, which means you don’t have to wait to receive the care that you need to make your mouth healthy again. Aren’t you glad dental insurance providers have your back?

Ultimately, a dental benefits package is all about giving you peace of mind and helping you save money, which is why we’re so thankful for it. Like other forms of insurance, this is an investment into your health, so it’s definitely worthwhile. Start shopping for your ideal plan today!

*The $5,000 annual maximum plan(s) may not be available in all states.

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Oral Health and Genetics

oral health and genetics

Have you ever wondered if your genes play a role in how resistant your teeth are to decay and how healthy your gums are? Well, it turns out that, yes, like other medical conditions, oral health problems could be genetic. So if your family has a history of conditions that affect the teeth and gums, you might be at an increased risk of developing those problems as well, regardless of how strict you are with your oral hygiene routine. Check out the information below to learn more.

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Open Enrollment: Time To Start Planning

open enrollment

It’s that time of year again; open enrollment is here! That means it’s your chance to shop for the right health insurance plan, especially if you aren’t currently covered or you aren’t happy with your existing coverage for any reason.

What should you know about open enrollment in order to make the most of it? Check out the information below to learn the ins and outs.

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Preparation for Wisdom Teeth Removal

preparing for wisdom teeth

Oh boy, your dentist has told you that you need to have your wisdom tooth—or teeth—removed. First, take a deep breath, and rest assured that this is a common procedure that is performed countless times every day by professionals all over the country. To get you prepared for the operation, here are a few helpful tips on what to do as well as what you can expect throughout the process.


First, Ask Lots of Questions

To begin preparing for your oral surgery, you should ask plenty of questions (and you probably have a ton of them, right?). Don’t hesitate, don’t be afraid, and don’t be embarrassed to ask these questions, as any good provider will be happy to talk with you to put your mind at ease.

You might want to know what the recovery will be like, how many wisdom teeth are being removed, how your teeth will be removed, and how difficult the surgery will be. You might also want to know if there is the possibility that nerve damage will occur as a result of the extractions, and you could also ask for an estimate of how long the procedure will take.

Basically, by asking all of these questions, you can get specific answers about your teeth and the procedure that you will be going through. Asking questions is the best way to get all of the facts as you prepare for what’s ahead.

Prepping for the Day of the Surgery

The good thing about wisdom tooth removal is that it’s almost always going to be an outpatient procedure. This means that you will be able to go in for the procedure and then leave once it’s over and you have recovered. That’s good news!

Has your dentist told you that he or she will use general anesthesia to remove your wisdom teeth? In the days leading up to the procedure, it will be necessary to get in touch with a friend or family member who will be able to drive you to the oral surgeon and back home. You don’t want to be driving while woozy from the anesthesia!

Also, if general anesthesia will be used, there will likely be restrictions set upon what you can eat and when you can eat prior to the procedure. For example, the dentist may tell you that you need to start fasting the night before your appointment, as the anesthesia might make you feel nauseous and cause you to vomit. Be sure to follow these instructions closely.

Keep in mind, too, that prescription medications may not be safe to take prior to your surgery, so ask your dentist about what you should do if you take medicine daily for any reason. And even if you take over-the-counter medications that you can get without a prescription, it’s best to ask your dentist about taking them the day of your surgery, just to be sure it’s safe.

You might also be given antibiotics prior to and after your procedure, so it’s important to remember to take those according to your dentist’s instructions, as they could help prevent infection.

Here’s What You Can Expect

Not all wisdom tooth removals will be the same, as some are more complicated than others, especially if the teeth are impacted or infected.

Generally, though, in order to remove a wisdom tooth, the oral surgeon will start by making an incision in your gums in order to properly expose the wisdom tooth. Then he or she will remove bone in order to get to the root and remove the tooth in its entirety.

After the extraction is complete, it’s time to clean the area, stitch up the wound, if necessary, and put a piece of gauze over the extraction so that a blood clot can form and bleeding can stop.

What About After the Surgery?

Your dentist will be able to give you instructions on how to take care of your mouth following the extraction of one or more wisdom teeth. You may be advised to keep your head up and use a cold compress to help reduce swelling—there might be quite a bit of swelling and maybe some bruising.

Your dentist will also give you pain medications that you can take, and will likely advise that you get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal. Also, you might not be able to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth for at least a day after the procedure.

It’s a good idea to stick with soft foods and liquids, such as lukewarm soup, applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes, pasta, smoothies, yogurt, and ice cream (yay!) so that you don’t irritate the area where a tooth was removed in the days following the surgery.

Try to Remain Calm—We Know It’s Hard!

It’s totally normal to feel nervous about having your wisdom teeth removed, but experts recommend getting as much rest as possible the night before your procedure. It might be hard to get some sleep, but resting will help your body and mind remain as alert as possible the day of your surgery, and it could help prepare your body for healing afterwards.

Get the Support of a Great Dental Insurance

The info above will hopefully help when it comes to reducing your fears as you prepare for wisdom tooth removal. But to ease your mind regarding the financial burden of having this procedure done, consider signing up for a dental insurance plan that will cover the cost of major services.

Once your problematic wisdom teeth are removed successfully, you should start feeling better within a few days if you follow your dentist’s instructions closely. So if your wisdom teeth are causing you problems and your dentist has recommended extraction, view this as a positive step towards having a healthy, pain-free mouth again.

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Time For An Appointment: Overcoming Dental Visit Anxiety

overcoming dental anxiety

It’s totally normal to be nervous when you have to see the dentist. Ask around and you’re sure to find that a good percentage of people will tell you that they dread trips to the dentist, and they may even postpone making appointments because they get so anxious. But the truth is that you do need to see your dentist regularly to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy for many years to come.

Dental appointments are a part of life, but they don’t need to be terrifying, and you can rest assured that you don’t have to feel anxiety when you go to the dentist. With the tips below, you could overcome your fear and receive the care necessary to maintain that gorgeous smile.

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Spirit Extras - Beyond the Plan

spirit extras

There’s more to Spirit than the dental plans that we offer. In fact, there are quite a few extra perks and benefits that you may not be aware of, so we thought we’d outline them below so that you can get to know Spirit a little better.

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Teeth Whitening Strips OR Professional Whitening

teeth whitening strips

Everyone loves a big, bright, white smile. And everyone can have a brilliant smile, thanks to the many whitening products and treatments that are on the market today. But what’s better: your typical over-the-counter whitening strips, or the professional whitening treatment that your dentist offers? We break down the pros and cons of each of these popular options below so that you can make the right choice for your teeth.

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Porcelain Crowns & Veneers: What You Should Know

porcelain crowns

Are you unhappy with the appearance of your smile because of the condition of your teeth? Well, thanks to modern cosmetic dentistry, you don’t have to be anymore!

Both porcelain crowns and veneers are designed to give you a perfect, attractive smile. Check out the information below to learn more about what these options are and what they have to offer.

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Millennials and Dental Care - Why They Need It and First Steps

millenials

Millennials are now the largest generation, so you’d think that there would be a lot of dental patients to take care of. But experts are finding that the opposite is true.

Are you a millennial who has been putting off seeing your dentist? Well, you certainly aren’t alone.

Keep reading to learn more about millennials and dental care, including why they need it and how they can take the first steps towards a cleaner, healthier, and more beautiful smile.


Millennials Are Likely to Have Tooth Decay, and Not Even Know It!

According to a study by the American Dental Association (ADA), just 30% of millennials visit their dentist annually. As a result, over 30% of millennials have tooth decay that’s gone untreated. That is the highest percentage for any age group.1 Whoa!

On top of that, 35% of millennials have trouble chewing and biting, while 38% of them have oral problems that make life less satisfying. And tooth pain is the most common complaint amongst individuals in this age group.1

Why are millennials reluctant to go to the dentist regularly? It could be because:

  • Millennials who have dealt with a difficult economy may not be able to find employment and get the income that they need to afford dental care. Of those who are employed and who have health insurance, many do not have a separate dental insurance plan. Therefore, financial concerns are part of the reason why millennials avoid dental appointments.
  • Millennials might be under the impression that, if you don’t feel any mouth pain, you don’t have any oral health issues. However, this is not always the case, as dental problems could advance without causing pain. Regular checkups would pick up on problems in their early stages so that less expensive and less invasive treatments can be provided.
  • Tech-savvy millennials are more likely to look up health issues online and self-diagnose. They may think that they don’t have any oral problems to worry about, even though this may not be the case because those problems could exist without symptoms.
  • The Millennial Generation is more likely to consume beverages that are bad for oral health, such as energy drinks, citrus drinks, and sugary sodas. The acids in these drinks could weaken tooth enamel, while the sugars could lead to cavities.
  • Millennials may not have a clear understanding of the link between overall health and oral health, so they put off taking care of their mouth.

Millennials: You’re Getting Older…

During your 20s and 30s, oral health problems may begin to arise, even if you never had to deal with those issues before. These ailments could include sensitivity to foods and drinks, teeth grinding as a result of stress, TMD (also known as TMJ) that could be the result of teeth grinding, and gum disease.

We know you don’t want to hear it, millennials, but you’re getting older and your body is changing with age, so stepping up your dental care game could help ensure you retain that lovely smile for many years to come.

A Millennial’s First Steps Towards Better Oral Health

Here are some more interesting stats: According to the American Dental Association, one in every three adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are actually reluctant to smile. And one in five millennials have even reduced the amount of time that they spend socializing with others. Why? Because they are already experiencing symptoms, such as tooth pain or inflamed gums, and they are self-conscious. But it gets more serious: 28% of these adults have stated that the way their mouth and teeth look has actually adversely affected their ability to go on job interviews!1 That’s not cool.  

What can you do? Well, in addition to brushing and flossing at home, simply seeing a dentist every six months, or at least every year, will allow you to get the x-rays and exams that you need to pick up on problems and resolve them sooner rather than later. And millennials who don’t have dental insurance can purchase affordable plans to get the care and cleanings that they need to keep their teeth strong and their gums free of disease.

Once millennials realize just how important dental exams are, and once they access the affordable dental insurance that they need, they’ll be on their way to having a pain-free smile that they’ll be ready to show off while socializing with friends or while landing their dream job.

Sources:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianahembree/2017/03/28/why-some-millennials-arent-smiling-bad-teeth-hinder-28-in-job-search/#4fe9ab4a59c6
  2. http://www.firstchoicedental.com/news/first-choice-dental-group-says-millennials-who-avoid-dentist-face-increased-dental-health-risks  
  3. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/article/ada-06-specific-oral-health-concerns-may-pester-millennials  
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Do Your Teeth Really Need a Lot of Calcium?

calcium

Calcium: you know you need it for strong bones, but do you also need it to keep your teeth strong and clean? It turns out that, yes, you do!

Here’s some information on why your teeth crave calcium, and how this vital nutrient can help you maintain that beautiful smile.

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Sedation Dentistry: A New Remedy for Anxiety

sedation

It’s totally normal to feel anxious when you need to see the dentist. In fact, anxiety in the dentist’s chair is so common that experts have come up with a solution that may be just what you need to feel more at ease, and it’s referred to as sedation dentistry.

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What You Need to Know About Your Wisdom Teeth

wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth: they’re hard to keep clean, they can grow in at an improper angle and require removal, and they aren’t really necessary. What else should you know about these particular teeth? A few quick facts are waiting for you below.


Why Are They Called “Wisdom” Teeth?

Your wisdom teeth are nothing more than the third molars found on both the upper and lower jaws. They grow in all the way at the back of your mouth and they look like your other molars. So why are they referred to as “wisdom” teeth? Well, it’s for no other reason than the fact that they will typically grow in between the ages of 17 and 21, when you’re supposed to be older and wiser. Would you say that you were wise at that age?

What Can You Expect When Your Wisdom Teeth Grow In?

Growing up, you lost all of your baby teeth and you watched your permanent teeth grow in. Most of the time, you probably didn’t have any discomfort. But this might not be the case with your wisdom teeth, which could end up causing discomfort as they break through the gum line.

Why Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Problems?

Wisdom teeth have certainly earned their bad reputation. For many individuals, the wisdom teeth could be impacted to varying degrees, and they could end up causing pain and other complications. But not everyone will experience problems with their wisdom teeth. For some people, these molars will grow in perfectly fine and straight, and they will serve as an extra set of teeth for chewing.

Hold on, though, don’t get too excited. Even individuals who have straight wisdom teeth could experience problems associated with getting to the back of the mouth and keeping those teeth clean, and that might increase the risk of tooth decay. Not good!

So what’s the point of wisdom teeth if they have such a high potential of causing problems? Experts believe that these extra teeth were more useful to our ancestors, who had larger jaws that could accommodate the teeth more comfortably, and who could use the extra teeth for chewing foods that were tough and raw. Others believe that the wisdom teeth might have also come in handy when our ancestors’ other teeth would decay and fall out. Thankfully, we have modern dental care to take care of our chompers today!

Fun fact: some people will never develop any wisdom teeth, while others may have fewer than four. Perhaps evolution is working on slowly removing them so humans eventually won’t have to deal with them at all anymore? Only time will tell.

What Happens When Wisdom Teeth Don’t Grow in Straight?

If wisdom teeth don’t grow in straight, there is a higher risk of complications, as these molars might end up adversely affecting nearby teeth. Some of the problems that may occur include nerve damage, jaw damage, damage to the adjacent teeth, and crowding of the teeth. A dental x-ray will be able to tell your dentist how your wisdom teeth could be affecting your other teeth, and whether or not removing the wisdom teeth would be the best choice.

What Does It Mean When Wisdom Teeth Are Impacted?

Impacted wisdom teeth aren’t able to completely erupt through your gum line. They could be blocked by other teeth, there might not be enough room for them, or they might be stuck in the jawbone.

Symptoms that may result from impacted wisdom teeth include severe pain and discomfort, as well as infection and inflammation. Impactions might also increase the risk of damage to nearby teeth, as well as damage to the gums and jaw. Wisdom teeth could push your other teeth out of alignment (so much for the braces you endured for years!), and cysts could form around impacted teeth, damaging the nerves within the jaw and causing sinus congestion, pressure, and pain. Yikes!

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of wisdom tooth impactions:

  • Mesioangular Impaction: A mesioangular impaction means that the wisdom tooth is angled forward, facing the front of the mouth. This tooth could potentially end up pushing other teeth out of alignment.
  • Distoangular Impaction: This type of impaction will cause the wisdom tooth to be angled away from the second molar, so it will be tilted towards the back of the mouth.
  • Horizontal Impaction: A horizontal impaction will have the wisdom tooth lying on its side at a 90° angle.
  • Vertical Impaction: When a wisdom tooth is angled correctly but it has not erupted through the gum line appropriately, it is considered a vertical impaction.  

What Are Your Wisdom Teeth Up To?

The best way to know what your wisdom teeth look like, whether they have erupted completely or they haven’t shown up at all, is by seeing your dentist. He or she will be able to take dental x-rays that will reveal everything you need to know about these molars and whether or not you need to have surgery to remove them.

If your wisdom tooth, or teeth, need to be removed, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced oral surgeon. The level of difficulty and the risks associated with the surgery will depend upon the type of impaction and the problems that it is causing.

There’s no doubt that wisdom teeth can be a pain—literally—but seeing your dentist regularly and keeping an eye on those molars will help ensure you tackle problems at their earliest stages. And, who knows, you might be one of the lucky people who never have any problems with their wisdom teeth!  

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How to Be Prepared for a Dental Emergency

dental emergency

Have you ever had dreams involving your teeth breaking or falling out? They’re pretty terrifying, right? But what if that happened to you in real life? Would you know what to do?

Being prepared for a dental emergency will help you maintain a clear head throughout the ordeal. You’ll know what steps to take to salvage your tooth (or teeth), and you can act quickly without wasting precious time. So keep reading to learn a few tips on how to be ready if a dental emergency were ever to occur.

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Gum Facts - The Sticky Truth

gum facts

Do you like to chew gum just about every day? Before you grab that next piece, keep reading for a few sticky truths about chewing gum and whether or not it is actually a good thing for your pearly whites.


Chewing and Your Jaw Health

TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is a painful condition that can be brought about by a wide range of factors. Chewing gum happens to be one of them.

Basically, when you chew gum, you could be putting stress on your jaw, and that might increase your risk of jaw problems. If you have symptoms like discomfort in your jaw, or you hear clicking or popping sounds when you open and close your mouth, it’s probably best to avoid chewing gum, as it may make the problem worse. Also consider consulting your dentist, who can help you find the cause of your jaw ailments and provide you with treatment options.

Gum and Fillings Don’t Always Mix

So this one is pretty scary. If you chew gum a lot, and you have dental fillings, you may want to ditch the habit. Researchers have determined that individuals who have amalgam (mercury) fillings and chew gum for hours every day also have greater amounts of mercury in their urine and blood. Whoa!

How you ask? Chewing gum could cause mercury vapor from the fillings to be released, allowing it to get into your blood. Considering the toxicity of mercury, you certainly don’t want it coming out of your fillings and getting into the rest of your body.

Sugary Gums Are a Big No-No

If you are chewing gum that contains sugar, you might be putting the health of your teeth and gums at risk. Why? Because bacteria can thrive on the sugar, and that could lead to the formation of yucky, sticky plaque, which can then harden into damaging tartar.

Here’s what else might happen when you chew sugary gum too often: the enamel of your teeth may become damaged, you may develop cavities, and your risk of gum disease may increase as well. In other words, if you are chewing on sugar-loaded gum, you are basically feeding the bacteria that can be detrimental to your overall oral health.

Minty Gum to Freshen Breath? Think Again

A lot of people reach for a piece of minty gum when they want to freshen their breath. But, again, if the gum contains a lot of sugar, you could actually be doing more harm than good. Plus, because that sugar could feed the bacteria in your mouth, it might cause your bad breath to become even worse! Consider putting the gum down and picking up a sugar-free mint instead.

If You Must Chew Gum…

Occasionally chewing sugar-free gum may actually be beneficial to your teeth and gums because it could help boost saliva production, which could help remove food particles from throughout the mouth while neutralizing acid. The ADA has recommended chewing sugar-free gum for about 20 minutes after a meal, as studies indicate that doing so might help reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Some research has indicated that chewing gum that contains xylitol may help to reduce bacteria that could lead to cavities. But the jury is still out on whether this natural sugar substitute provides any extra benefits compared with your regular sugar-free varieties, so dental experts recommend sticking with sugarless gums instead. You can even find products that have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, making shopping for your gum a no-brainer.

Now You’re Armed with the Truth!

Simply being aware of the potentially harmful effects of gum, as well as how to avoid them, could help you keep your teeth strong and healthy. Knowledge is power! But nothing can replace a trip to the dentist, so be sure to schedule your annual checkups and cleanings (you get three cleanings per year with every Spirit dental plan!) to be sure your entire mouth is in tiptop shape.

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Just the Facts: TMJ Syndrome

tmj syndrome

TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint disorder, which is also referred to as TMD (but what’s in a name, right?). This disorder affects the—you guessed it—temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge that connects the bones of the skull with the jaw. You can locate this joint in the front of each of your ears, as it allows you to move the jaw side to side, forward and backward, and up and down with ease when you open your mouth to speak and chew.

Below are a few of the main facts about TMJ syndrome so you can develop a better understanding of it.

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