Monday, October 24, 2016

Halloween Candy: Your Dental Health Survival Guide

With Halloween comes ghosts, goblins and goodies—and the sugar in those treats can play some unwanted tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful.

Here’s why: The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are. When the bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is what can contribute to cavities.

But don’t hang up your costume just yet. “Halloween is about candy, dressing up and having fun,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween as a splurge as long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day all year long.”

To help you sort through the trick-or-treat bag loot, we have a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth:



Chocolate is probably your best bet, which is good because it’s also the most popular kind of candy handed out on Halloween. “Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”

Sticky and Gummy Candies

Be picky if it’s sticky. These are some of the worst candies for your teeth. “This candy is harder to remove and may stay longer on your teeth, which gives that cavity-causing bacteria more time to work,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.

Hard Candy

Hard candies are also ones to watch on Halloween. “They can actually break your teeth if you’re not careful,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “You also tend to keep these kinds of candies in your mouth for longer periods of time so the sugar is getting in your saliva and washing over your teeth.”

Sour Candy

You might want to pass on things that make you pucker – especially if they are sticky and coated in sugar. “Sour candy can be very acidic,” says Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty. “And that acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.”

Popcorn Balls

Have some floss handy if you’re enjoying one of these fall favorites. “Kernels can get stuck in-between your teeth," Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. "They are also sticky, sugary and can be hard.”

More from MouthHealthy

Source: Mouth Healthy

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Friday, October 21, 2016

Two-minute warning: Should you use an electric or manual toothbrush?

Is a manual toothbrush good enough to keep the dentist away, or at least happy with the state of your teeth? Or should you upgrade to an electric model? The answer seems obvious, right? How can a stick with bristles measure up to a vibrating, rotating, digitally enhanced, time-tracking, modern marvel of dentistry?
American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Alice Boghosian spoke to Digital Trends about this gummy conundrum and told us that while there are certainly advantages to using an electric toothbrush, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will give you cleaner teeth.

The Electric brush-aloo

An electric toothbrush does a lot more than just vibrate. The Oral-B Genius, for instance, combines motion sensors and a video feed to determine what areas of your mouth need more cleaning, and the Onvi Prophix actually has a camera in its handle, which allows you to see inside your mouth during your daily teeth cleaning session. While these smart toothbrushes come packed with a variety of features, they all have the same goal in mind: to make you brush better.
Throughout our conversation, Dr. Boghosian repeatedly said how important it was to brush for a full two minutes. Unfortunately, most people don’t even make it passed 60 seconds. Electric toothbrushes fix this problem with built-in timers. Some devices will shut off automatically after two minutes, while others use “quadpacers” that beep every 30 seconds, notifying us to brush a new quadrant of our mouths.
“If an electric toothbrush is going to get someone to brush for the full two minutes,” Dr. Boghosian told Digital Trends. “I’m all for it.” Electric toothbrushes are also great for people who have arthritis or lack the dexterity to give themselves a thorough brushing.
In addition to changing our brushing habits, electric toothbrushes may also do a more efficient job. The international, evidence-based research organization Cochrane analyzed dozens of studies and found that electric toothbrushes reduced dental plaque by 21 percent and gingivitis by 11 percent. However, Consumer Reports dental adviser Jay W. Friedman, D.D.S., M.P.H., said that the different was negligible.
“It really doesn’t matter which brush you use,” said Friedman. “We really don’t know that it matters if a little more or less plaque is removed.”

An inconvenient tooth

Electric toothbrushes certainly have some advantages over manual brushes, but they also have several drawbacks. For one, they are much more expensive. While basic models sell for about $30, high-end models like the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush are listed at nearly $200. That’s a hefty price to pay for a device that only cleans marginally better than a manual toothbrush. There’s an ongoing cost for the toothbrush, too: A pack of three replacement heads will also set you back nearly $40.
Electrics are also tied to docking stations, batteries, or power chords. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be a hassle if you have multiple electric toothbrushes in one bathroom. These peripherals also make it more difficult to use electric toothbrushes while traveling.
Of course, the biggest drawback to electric toothbrushes is that they don’t guarantee a better cleaning. While some studies have found that electric toothbrushes remove a little more plaque, most dentists will tell you that you can achieve similar results with proper brushing technique, a fluoride toothpaste, and a manual toothbrush.
“I also think that if you use a manual toothbrush properly, you can get the same results,” Dr. Boghosian said. “I think the key message is that one isn’t better than the other. They are both very effective at cleaning teeth, including a manual toothbrush when used properly.”

Whatever works

If you want white teeth, a clean mouth, and fresh breath, you’re going to have to brush twice a day, for two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste. There’s no way around it. Whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric one, you still need to devote a little time every day to brushing.
While an electric toothbrush can make this task a little easier, don’t expect a cleaner mouth simply because your toothbrush has batteries.
“The electric toothbrushes have really gained popularity over the past several years and I think they are just a wonderful thing,” Dr. Boghosian told Digital Trends. “If, for whatever reason, somebody thinks that an electric toothbrush is better in their mind… Whatever is going to get somebody to brush for the proper amount of time and clean their teeth, I’m all for it. It’s a motivational thing.”
If you are physically capable of (and motivated for) brushing your teeth for two straight minutes with a regular old toothbrush, you probably don’t need to spend extra cash on an electric model. However, if you have a hard time gripping a toothbrush or if you need help staying focused for two minutes, an electric toothbrush might be a great option for you.
“There’s a proper way to brush your teeth and that’s a conversation you should have with your dentist,” Dr. Boghosian said. “You have to brush for two minutes. Getting an adult to brush for two minutes is difficult. Getting a child to do it is really difficult.”
While an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer may help children and adults brush their teeth for two minutes, there is another option. Dr. Boghosian directed us to the website, where you can watch two-minute videos to keep yourself entertained while you brush.

Read more: Dan Evon,
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Monday, October 17, 2016

According to the American Heart Association, more than 70 million Americans live with some form of heart disease. The Center for Disease Control states that heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women.
So, if there was more you could do to prevent your chance of getting heart disease, wouldn’t you try it? Research suggests that good oral hygiene can impact your overall health, including the health of your heart.

Bacteria live everywhere, so it is no surprise to find germs in our mouth. That’s why we brush and floss our teeth, every day. Bacteria are also flushed away by our own cleansing mechanism, saliva, during the day. That’s why your dentist suggests you drink your sugary beverages in one setting instead of lingering them throughout the day (so your saliva can wash it away).

For those with poor oral hygiene, gingivitis or periodontitis (an infection that erodes the tissue and bone that support the teeth), the bacteria that normally would be flushed away through brushing or chewing, can actually enter the bloodstream through the devastated gums. Some of these bacteria have even been found in cholesterol plaques that form in the walls of coronary arteries, leading researchers to speculate that the bacteria may attach to the arterial wall, causing inflammation and contributing to cholesterol blockages. These blockages can eventually lead to poor blood flow to the heart muscle and even heart attacks. The American Academy of Periodontology states that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those without the disease.

Dentists may be the first to notice a situation that may require medical attention, just through a simple dental examination. The beginning stages of Osteoporosis, certain cancers, eating disorder and other diseases may show their first signs through bad breath and unhealthy gums and teeth.
Healthy teeth and gums may one day be linked to preventing coronary artery disease (cholesterol buildup in the arteries), but there are several other things you can do now, that are proven to help you keep a healthy heart:

• If you smoke, STOP.
• Keep your blood pressure down, even if it takes a prescription from your physician.
• Maintain good cholesterol levels with routine visits and medication if needed.
• Avoid diabetes by exercising and eating right.
• If you are overweight, get started on a plan to lose it.
• And, if you have put off going to your routine dental exam, you may want to reconsider. You may be protecting more than just your gums and teeth.

Consult with your physician or dentist if you notice:
• Red, swollen or bleeding gums
• Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
• Changes in the color of your tooth enamel
• Sensitivity to hot or cold
• Loose teeth
And don’t forget to always start early with your little ones! Begin cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears to start a healthy routine for life!

By: Dr. Robert Schwab, Momaha

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Friday, October 14, 2016

5 Dental Health Tips On How To Protect Your Teeth From The Cold

It is a fact that the healthy teeth are the factor with the greatest influence on anyone’s confidence. This is why we pay so much attention to our teeth. As we are slowly entering autumn the weather is gradually changing for the worse. Also, the temperature is dropping slowly and in couple of months it is going to be freezing outside.
Did you know that cold weather may leave you prone to some of the dental problems?
Some of us have sensitive teeth which certainly becomes annoying during winter season. This is the time of the year when sudden change in temperature is pretty common. It can cause either sharp, unsettling pain or mild discomfort in your teeth.
Here are some dental health tips that could help you protect your teeth from cold.

Visit the Expert

If you haven’t checked your teeth recently, you might consider visiting an expert. This type of dental medical center offers all kinds of services to their patients, kind of like a Perfect Smile Spa. Your teeth may be simply sensitive to cold weather because they are cracked or have enamel which is either weakened or thin. Other reasons for cold weather sensitivity may be gum recession, brushing too hard, infection, gingivitis and clenching or grinding teeth.
A professional at perfect smile spa will be able to determine what course of action will have the best result for your teeth, after they have previously examined you. This is the only way to ensure that you have strong and healthy teeth. After you have taken care of this, you can try the following tips on how to reduce your teeth’s cold sensitivity.

Practice Proper Oral Hygiene

Cold tooth sensitivity can be fixed at home fairly easily. You just have to step up your oral hygiene game. Make sure to brush your teeth after meals and don’t forget to floss. If you are still experiencing pain after rapid temperature changes, you might want to try changing your toothpaste.
For instance, potassium based desensitizing toothpaste is a great way to help reduce the sensitivity in your teeth. If you know that you have this problem you should use this toothpaste at least a month before the temperature drops, because it takes time for it to work. It depolarizes areas of exposed dentin or root, which is why it takes time to reach full effect, but when it does, trust me, you can say goodbye to cold sensitivity.
Another great choice is calcium based desensitizing toothpaste. It provides immediate relief by plugging open pores encasing the tooth calcium. It mimics the body’s natural ways of remineralization, thus protecting the sensitive nerve endings in your teeth. Also, make sure that you are using a toothbrush with soft bristles.

Maintain your Water Intake

Staying hydrated during winter is as important as it is during the hot summer months. Don’t forget this! The experts recommend at least 2 liters of water per day. This will not only keep your brain and body healthy but also your teeth. Proper water intake will ensure that your gums and teeth are moist. Also, by drinking enough water, you will produce more saliva. This is important, especially during cold months since it is known that saliva is more prone to drying up in cold weather. Without enough saliva, bacteria build up exponentially in our mouth.
Try to avoid sugary beverages as they are not a good way to stay hydrated and sugar helps bacteria reproduce. Stick to water, and of course your favorite tea. Furthermore, if your teeth are sensitive to cold you should avoid consuming acidic foods as this can also contribute to or aggravate their sensitivity.

Limit Time Spent Outdoor

If it is freezing outside and you know that your teeth are sensitive to cold, you have to limit your time spent outdoors. The ability to see your own breath is a sign that you should be heading to a cozy warm room as soon as you can.
Like any other material, the material our teeth are made of expands and contracts when temperature rises or drops. This is why sudden changes of temperature can cause small surface hairline fractures on our teeth. These lead to teeth that are hyper sensitive to temperature change.
In case you have to go outside to do your errand make sure to wear some sort of scarf, so that it can trap warmth around your mouth.

Adjust your Diet

Your diet has everything to do with your dental health, as it has to do with your overall health. I have already mentioned that you should avoid acidic foods, but let’s dive into some more specifics.
It is not only important to look after what you eat, but also when you eat it. Getting onto a healthy diet will help you straighten your defenses against cold weather. Before you decide to go onto any dieting regime, make sure to consult a physician. Keep his advice in mind when you are choosing your foods.
In general, you can pick meals and snacks from the following food groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean beef, skinless poultry and fish, dry beans and peas, fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
It is of great importance that you limit the number of snacks. This is because having snacks can be far more dangerous for your teeth than regular meals. You may wonder why? Well, because there is more saliva during regular meals, and it successfully washes away foods from the mouth and reduces the effects of the acids.
While enjoying snacks, there is far less saliva. The acidic environment in your mouth can harm your teeth and cause cavities.
I really hope these tips will help you protect your teeth from the cold. Expanding your knowledge on this topic through some additional online research is a great way for covering all of your bases. In the end, remember this little gem of wisdom: “Dentistry is not expensive, neglect is.”

By: Rhais Saifi, Huffigton Post
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nine Things You Should Know About Looking After Your Own Oral Health

The Dental Helpline takes more than 10,000 calls every year from those who have questions or concerns about their mouth and oral health.  The free-to-call helpline, run by the British Dental Health Foundation, has seen a steady upsurge in calls over the last two years and answers questions on a wealth of oral health related issues.
In a new three-part series, the charity has taken a look at some of the most frequently asked questions to the Dental Helpline, so that we can learn what it takes to keep our mouth healthy.
In the first part of the series the British Dental Health Foundation address some of the most common questions they get asked about what you can do to look after your own oral health.
There are many aspects to looking after our oral health and it can often be confusing what advice we should listen to and what to ignore. Looking after our mouth doesn't have to be difficult, expensive or time-consuming, in fact it can be very easy.
So to make things a little clearer here is some advice to help you keep your smile healthy:

1) How often should I visit the dentist?

How often you need to visit the dentist depends on your own oral health. You may need to visit at different intervals depending on aspects such as if you have any existing oral health problems, your age and other health issues.
As a rule of thumb you should visit the dentist as often as they recommend so discuss this with your dentist.

2) When is the best time to brush my teeth?

Did you know that there are times when you shouldn't brush your teeth? For example, you should not brush your tooth within an hour of eating or drinking anything acidic.
You should brush your teeth before you go to bed and at least one other time each day with a fluoride toothpaste.

3) What toothbrush should I be using?

Choosing the best toothbrush for you can be a potential minefield, everybody will have their own requirements. Adults should look to use a small to medium-sized brush head with soft to rounded nylon bristles and there are bushes which are specifically designed for children and the elderly.
Electric toothbrushes, those with the oscillating and rotating heads, can also be very effective and are helpful for people with mobility problems.
Your dentist will know exactly what you need and be able to help you make the right decision.

4) Which toothpaste is best for me?

There are many types of toothpaste on the market, choosing the best one for you can sometimes be confusing.
The most important thing is that your toothpaste contains the correct amount of fluoride, 1350 parts per million for children over three and adults,1000 parts per million under three. But you may have other specific needs due to tooth sensitivity, gum health or your age. Your dentist will be able to advise what is best for you based on your individual requirements.

5) How does my diet affect my oral health?

What you eat and drink can have a huge impact upon your oral health.
Sugary and acidic food can cause damage including tooth decay and dental erosion if you don't look after your oral health properly. Try to keep sugary foods or drinks just to mealtimes, limiting the amount of time your mouth is at risk. Each time you have sugar it takes your teeth an hour to recover from the acid attack caused.
A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease so make sure you keep an eye on what you are eating.

6) How often should I clean between my teeth?

Ideally you should clean between your teeth at least once a day, only brushing your teeth cleans just two thirds of the tooth surface so you need to do a little extra to make sure you are reaching all of the tooth. Cleaning in between your teeth removes plaque and bits of food from areas a toothbrush simply can't reach.
You can clean between your teeth with an ‘interdental' brush or dental floss. You can also use dental tape which is thicker than floss and many people find easier to use. Your dental team can show you proper interdental cleaning techniques and products to ensure you're doing it effectively.

7) Should I use mouthwash?

Mouthwash offers many benefits to your oral health if used properly; some contain anti-bacterial ingredients which help reduce plaque and prevent gum disease. Some mouthwashes contain fluoride which is important in the helping to prevent tooth decay.
Do not use mouthwash too close to brushing your teeth as it can wash away the fluoride from brushing.
If you find that you have to keep using mouthwash to hide bad breath you should see your dentist. Persistent bad breath can be a sign of unhealthy teeth and gums or of poor general health.

8) How bad is smoking for my oral health?

Most people are very aware that smoking is bad for their health. It can cause huge medical problems and, in some cases, fatal diseases.
However, many people don't realize the full extent to which smoking damages their mouth, gums and teeth.
Smoking can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer. Smokers lose more teeth than non smokers.
If you are a smoker it is likely that you will have to visit your dentist and hygienists more often to keep a close check on the health of your mouth.

9) Where can I find information about how to look after my oral health?

Your oral health does not stop the moment you step out of the dentist, be sure you understand what you can do every day to make sure you keep your oral health in tip top condition. Your dental team can offer guidance and support from many other services and can refer you if you need extra help.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Monday, October 10, 2016

12 Things Your Dentist Knows About You Just By Looking In Your Mouth

While cavities and plaque build-up may be what's on your mind before a teeth cleaning, your dentist is looking for a whole lot more. "The mouth is the window to the body," says David Silverstrom, DDS, of The Silverstone Group in Livingston, NJ. "Often, diseases like cancer, anemia and diabetes will first be identified by the dentist in a regular examination, and this saves lives." And it's not just diseases- dentist can discover everything from your bad habits to your favorite beverages simply by asking you to say, "Ahh!"

1. You flossed right before your appointment—and that's the only time.
Sorry, but you can't fool your dentist into thinking you floss daily by doing so the night before or morning of your visit. "The gums of people who only floss right before a visit are bleeding or look damaged," says Timothy Stirneman, DDS, of All Smiles Dental in Algonquin, IL, "whereas, healthy gums are nice and tight and pink," he says. Kenneth Wong, DDS, of Santa Monica adds, "When patients floss right before coming for a cleaning, I can see the slices where the floss cut at the gum because they were overzealous."
2. You're pregnant.
"Nearly 40% of women will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy," says Glen Stephenson, DMD, of Prevention Dental in Boise, ID. "This is caused by increased progesterone, which facilitates the growth of bacteria, causing gingivitis. Some women will develop a deep red lump on their gums called a pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma." (This type of tumor is completely benign and will go away after the pregnancy is over.) Stirneman adds that most women are typically pretty far along before their gums start bleeding, so it's not as though a dentist will magically "discover" that a patient is pregnant.

3. You bite your nails.
Without looking at your hands, a dentist may be able to detect this habit. "Signs include chips and cracking of the teeth, plus wear and tear on the teeth from the constant stress on them," says Keith Arbeitman, DDS, of Arbeitman & Shein in New York City. "This can cause your teeth to become uneven and lead to jaw pain and discomfort." Kyle Stanley, DDS, of Helm, Nejad, Stanley in Beverly Hills adds, "Patients that bite their nails using their front teeth usually have leveled off, flat front teeth. The nails themselves are not what cause the damage, but rather the contact that occurs between the top and bottom teeth," he says.
4. You used to suck your thumb.
"Most children that suck their thumbs or a finger have no long-term effects from the habit," says Stephenson. "However, those who did so past the age of seven or eight may show significant changes to their bite or the position of their teeth. Much of that can be corrected through orthodontic treatment, but some telltale signs can remain." Alice Lee, DDS, of Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY, adds, "We can sometimes see protruding front teeth, and this can impact how kids' jaws are coming together and growing and can also impact their speech."
5. Your bad breath may mean something.
"General bad breath can be categorized as halitosis," says Arbeitman. But dentists are also trained to identify "fruity" smells and "fishy" smells, which can mean numerous things. " 'Fruity' breath could indicate uncontrolled diabetes or a dietary fast that has gone too far, while 'fishy' breath could be a sign of kidney or liver failure," he explains. If the smell is "very foul," says Arbeitman, it could be anything from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) to an underlying lung abscess and bronchitis to a tonsil stone. Timothy Chase, DMD, of SmilesNY in New York City, adds, "The first thing the dentist should do is rule out the odor coming from the teeth and gums. After that, he should recommend that the patient see an ENT to rule out sinus issues, and a GI doc to rule out reflux issues."
6. You may have an eating disorder.
"Many patients are surprised that their dentist is the first one to ask about eating disorders," says Chase, "but bulimia exhibits a very distinct pattern of tooth wear that your dentist can easily identify." Stephenson notes that, "This erosion happens almost exclusively on the tongue-side of the front teeth and can contribute to increased cavities." But Silverstrom is quick to point out that acid erosion on the back of a patient's teeth does not always indicate an eating disorder. He says other possibilities include acid reflux and the use of antidepressants or mood-elevating drugs, both of which reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, thereby upping the odds of acid damage.
7. You have a sinus infection.
"Often patients will call saying that they need a root canal," explains Ira Handschuh, DDS, of The Dental Design Center in NY, "when in fact it's actually a sinus infection and not a tooth problem at all." The reason, he explains, is because the roots of the top teeth are positioned in the same area as the floor of the sinuses. And both sinus infections and toothaches can show symptoms of pressure. "A simple home test is to have a patient bend over to touch their toes. If the pressure or pain increases just by doing this, the pain is most likely not tooth-related and he should see his ENT or primary care physician before coming to the dentist," he advises.

8. You have a vitamin deficiency. "A deficiency of vitamins and minerals can cause many oral conditions, like burning tongue syndrome, tissue sloughing off, increased infections, delayed healing, bone infections, and easy-to-bleed gums," explains John P. Dougherty, DDS, MAGD, of Artistic Dental at the Biltmore in Phoenix, AZ. Stephenson adds, "Surprisingly, iron deficiencies show up in many ways in your mouth. It can give some patients severe sores in the corners of their mouth while others have changes in their tongues. Some may experience a painful burning sensation, or all the small papillae fall off their tongue leaving it glossy and smooth. Getting more iron will solve these problems.
9. You have diabetes. "Many times, imbalances in sugar will show a rapid change in the health of your gums, including increased swelling, bleeding, and sensitivity," says Handschuh. "In conjunction, the consistency of saliva may change, and there may be increased decay. These may all be signs of sugar levels that are out of control, so dentists can alert patients to see their doctor to check for diabetes."
10. You have a drinking problem. "Alcoholic patients are cavity-prone because alcohol tends to dry the mouth out," says David Tarica, DMD, of 34th Street Dental in New York City. "A dry mouth will lead to cavities, because saliva neutralizes the damage-causing acid in our mouths. In addition, alcoholics have 'chipmunk red cheeks,' and the smell alone is usually a giveaway."
11. You have oral cancer. "The first signs of oral cancer can be seen from the following: unexplained bleeding in the mouth, white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth, a change in the way your teeth fit together, swellings, thickenings, lumps or bumps or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth," explains Michael Apa, DDS, of Rosenthal Apa Group in New York City. "An oral surgeon should be consulted for a biopsy of any suspicious tissue."
12. You love Gatorade. You may know why you chipped your tooth, but Hugh Flax, DDS, of Flax Dental in Atlanta says that even though the cause may be apparent, "there could be underlying factors that weakened the tooth and made it susceptible to being chipped in the first place." He explains that teeth can be softened by sodas and other sugary beverages over time, which may make a tooth more susceptible to chipping. Energy drinks, which tend to be even more acidic than soft drinks, may cause even more damage to tooth enamel, he says.

By: Elizabeth Jenkins, Prevention
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Friday, October 7, 2016

Make Eyes at Your Dentist- It's Normal!

Few people come as close to the average face as a dentist does. Ophthalmologists hide behind those steampunk-y binocular machines; makeup artists have long-handled brushes; and dermatologists get to worry about other parts of the body for hours at a time. But dentists and dental hygienists have no way around it: They spend most of their days inside the faces of people who aren’t their sexual or romantic partners. Lying helpless in a reclining chair, the best a patient can do to make the too-intimate experience less awkward is close her eyes until it’s over. Shutting your lids until the rinse-and-spit command is the normal thing to do.
Or is it? Some dentists make active small talk, and it seems rude to zone out or avoid eye contact when you’re meant to grunt in assent or smize at a joke. Dentists who install iPads or TVs overhead seem to invite an open-eyed approach to their open-mouthed examinations. Then again, unprotected eyes may get flecked with water, spit, and whatever particles the dentist’s tools dislodge. How are we supposed to know which way our eyelids should go?
An unscientific anonymous poll of 114 of my friends and acquaintances suggests that nobody knows. “It literally never occurred to me to close my eyes,” one person responded. “It's weird to look into the dentist's eyes! It feels like I'm seeking intimacy, when really I just want my teeth cleaned,” wrote another. There were many strong opinions in the responses, but no clear consensus on right and wrong. When it comes to eyes at the mouth office, it’s “I feel awkward AF looking into my dentist’s face” versus “Closed feels weird, right? I feel like closed is the weird one here.”
I’d never thought to be concerned about my behavior in the dentist’s chair until my last dental cleaning. Halfway through the appointment, I realized that my eyes weren’t just closed—they were clenched shut, with quivering eyelashes and a furrowed brow to boot. I relaxed my face, not wanting my dentist to think I was in pain or stressed out about a simple cleaning. Then, a horrifying thought entered my mind: What if my eyes aren’t supposed to be closed at all? I’ve never seen anyone else get their teeth cleaned—it’s totally possible that everyone else watches the entire procedure, and my dentist thinks I either have an intense phobia of flossing assistance (I don’t) or an intense fetish for latex gloves, closing my eyes to fully savor the experience of her hands in my mouth (not true).
So it gives me great pleasure and relief to report that there seems to be no weird way to get your teeth cleaned. My poll responses show a healthy split: About 56 percent keep their eyes open, 37 percent close them, and 7 percent do a little of both.
But what do the professionals think? Eileen Danaher, a Rhode Island dentist who’s been practicing for three years, says about 60 percent of her patients keep their eyes open for cleanings, though she attributes that majority in part to her talkative chairside manner. Pennsylvania-based dentist Gulia Omene thinks most of her patients keep them open, especially during cleanings—that’s when they’re looking for “feedback on their gum tissue” and are more receptive to chatter, she says—though her assistant thinks it’s closer to 50-50. For more involved procedures, the ratio flips. Danaher estimates that 95 of her patients shut their eyes for an injection in their mouths; about 53 percent of my poll participants said they close their eyes for anything more complex than a simple cleaning.
Danaher believes her patients decide what to do with their eyes based on their least favorite part of the dental experience: Those most bothered by the sight of sharp instruments or the bright light overhead close their eyes, and those unnerved by the sounds of drills and whirring brushes keep them open to have some sensory distraction. Meditators and deep breathers close their eyes; people who distrust dental professionals—like my survey participant who prefers an open-eyed exam “to make sure no funny business is going down while a stranger's hands are in my mouth”—watch the whole procedure as it happens.
Dental workers have come up with all sorts of visual stimuli to make the time go by for open-eyed patients. I used to visit a dental office with comic strips taped to the ceiling; a colleague’s dentist has decorative panel that look like calm, puffy clouds on the fluorescent overhead lights. Bougier locales have mounted televisions or iPads within view of the chair, and some offer dark glasses to shield a patient’s eyes from flying debris and the exam light. Danaher’s dream is to get a giant “Where’s Waldo?” panel for her ceiling if she ever opens her own practice.
If so many dentists provide so many forms of in-chair entertainment, open eyes must be the norm—right? For some, taking the hint still feels inconsiderate. “I feel [like closing my eyes is] polite to the dentist/technician. If I were in their shoes, I'd be able to focus better if I didn't have a pair of scared eyes in my face,” wrote one poll participant. Another guessed that open eyes would seem “creepy-like” to a dentist at work. The dentists I spoke with roundly dismissed that fear. “It’s never awkward if your eyes are open,” Danaher told me. “You’d think being in that close proximity to somebody, it would be—but we’re two feet away from people all day long, so that doesn’t bother me. Now, if somebody was staring me dead in the eyes and not blinking, that might be a different story.” Danaher’s father, Gerald, a Syracuse-based dentist who’s been in the field for 30 years, says about 70 percent of his patients keep their eyes open, which helps him keep tabs on their experience. “Usually the eyes will tell me how they’re doing,” Gerald told me. “The look in their eye—if they’re darting back and forth, I’ll ask, ‘Are you feeling something?’”
Usually, dental patients in pain or the throes of anxiety will close their eyes. That’s not a problem, dentists say, unless they’re tensing up the rest of their faces, too. Jack Greenspan, a Connecticut dentist (and my partner’s dad) who’s had his hands in people’s mouths for 49 years and counting, says the only strict command he ever gave as a captain and dentist in the Air Force was to a terrified lieutenant who’d scrunched up his eyes and cheeks too tight to accommodate dental instruments. “This is a direct order, lieutenant,” Greenspan said. “Relax your face now.”
But for a lucky few, closed eyes mean the ultimate form of relaxation: a nap. Yes, reader! Some people—some magical, super-Zen, rubber-jawed people—actually conk out while a stranger takes a drill to their molars. Dentists say they love it when their patients fall asleep in the chair. “People will sometimes walk in and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m so nervous,’” Danaher says. “When those people fall asleep, it’s a giant win. It’s the biggest compliment you can give your dentist.” This perception can work in a nervous patient’s favor. One of my survey respondents wrote that, at the dentist’s, “I pretend I am taking a nap since it's weird to be in a room with someone for half an hour and not speak to them.
Faking sleep is extreme; most people who close their eyes at the dentist’s are just relaxing or spiriting their minds away from the physical discomfort and forced intimacy of a dental exam. They are also not normal. Open is the favored eye position of a small majority of dental patients, and dentists seem to be molding their exam rooms, with their fancy TVs and elaborate ceiling decorations, to that norm. Keeping your eyes open will put you in the company of the majority of your peers, so dentists will be ever so slightly less likely to consider you abnormal. Whether normalcy is worth the occasional fleck of plaque to the eyeball is your call.

By: Christina Cauterucci

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

5 Sneaky Dental Issues That Might Mean Big Trouble

You know all about the importance of brushing your teeth, as well as your kids' teeth. But the benefits aren't limited to your pearly whites. "Many physicians and dentists consider the mouth to be a window into the general health of the patient," says Scott Froum, D.D.S., a board-certified periodontist based in New York City. Our experts Dr. Froum and Sally Cram, D.D.S., a dentist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association, broke down five tooth-, gum- and tongue-related issues that could mean you've got a much bigger problem on your hands:

1. Consistent bad breath

Aside from scaring away friends and family, your not-so-minty-fresh breath could be an early sign of gum disease, says Dr. Cram. Gum disease is particularly sneaky because it doesn't cause pain in its early stages, so most people who have it may not realize it until lots o' damage has already been done. Luckily, it doesn't involve some torturous procedure to reverse. Just put a little more time and effort into brushing and flossing daily.

2. Red, swollen or bleeding gums

If your gums continue to swell or bleed despite your best brushing and flossing efforts, our experts say there's a possibility you could be dealing with diabetes. So, if your pesky gum problems persist and you're noticing other diabetes symptoms like extreme thirst or hunger, fatigue or blurry vision, go see your doc ASAP.

3. Stubborn tongue pain

Obviously if you down hot soup too fast or bite your tongue it's going to be a little sore, but prolonged pain in the tongue or throat (more than two weeks) is one of the most common early signs of oral cancer, says Dr. Cram. Next steps: Monitor those symptoms and look out for any sores, lumps or lesions that won't disappear. Pass that two week mark and to the doctor you go.

4. Spots or sores out of the blue

If clusters of tiny white spots have started popping up around your lower molars — womp, womp — you might have a viral infection in your near future, Dr. Froum says. Called "Koplik spots," these little sores have developed a reputation as a highly predictive sign of measles. Tack on other symptoms like a fever, cough or runny nose, and you may be a few days away from that itchy measles rash. (Alas, you guessed it, a doctor's visit is required.)

5. Hefty tooth discoloration

As tempted as you might be to blame yellow teeth on your coffee addiction, you might be looking at the wrong culprit: If your teeth have turned a shade of black or brown, it could mean you're dealing with some deep-rooted tooth decay, Dr. Froum says. The solve: You might need to get a cavity filled — or (shudder) undergo a root canal treatment.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811