September 27, 2016

How Does Smoking Affect Your Gums?

If you’re a smoker, you know you should stop. Family, friends, medical professionals, and strangers, there’s no shortage of people that tell you that you’re killing yourself, wasting time and money, and that you know that you shouldn’t smoke. Those are just some of the many phrases that you might hear as you are trying to enjoy your cigarette at work or in other limited public places where smoking is still allowed.

The truth is that nothing good happens from smoking. No one has ever been told to keep using tobacco because it is helping them instead of harming.

On the flip side, if you’re a tobacco user, you probably want to quit. It was a bad choice you made earlier in life and now it is difficult to stop. You can watch commercials and read the side of a box of cigarettes, and find out about the side effects of this dirty habit. Maybe you need one more reason to quit.

Did you know that using tobacco of any kind is terrible for your oral health? It doesn’t matter if you smoke tobacco in cigarettes, cigars or chew tobacco, smoking puts you at risk for permanent oral damage, especially to your gums. How does smoking affect your gums? Let’s take a look.

Some of the dental problems that result from smoking include:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
  • Increased build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth
  • Increased loss of bone within the jaw
  • Increased risk of leukoplakia, white patches inside the mouth
  • Increased risk of developing gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss
  • Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery
  • Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
  • Increased risk of developing oral cancer

When you think about it, your mouth gets the worst hit from tobacco use. All of the chemicals are entering your mouth first, without any filtration. As it’s processes through your body, it tries to break down the thousands of chemicals ingested, but your mouth has no defense. Tobacco affects how the gum tissue cells regenerate and can lead to infections including periodontal disease and decreases blood flow to the gums, which affects wound healing.

There is no safe tobacco when it comes to oral health. Cigarettes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco can all lead to issues with your mouth and throat. There’s no question now, as we have more than 50 years of clinical study proving how damaging tobacco is for your body, and particularly your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth.

Take steps now to quit smoking. If you would like to stop smoking, but don’t know what to do, try setting a quit date and make it known to your family and friends. Then, when the quit date arrives, have your plan of action prepared (nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges; carrot sticks; avoiding caffeine, etc.) and be read to for urges. The first week is tough, but it does get easier. If you have urges you can’t fight, remember: this is a small price to pay for a long-term payoff. Being an ex-tobacco user is a great feeling of accomplishment and completely worth the struggle.

September 19, 2016

Taking Care of Gums That Are Swollen and Bleeding

If your child has swollen and bleeding gums, it's time to schedule a trip to the dentist. These symptoms could be a sign of gum disease or gingivitis, which is the less severe form of gum disease.

Dentists can recommend the correct treatment. They can also teach your kid the proper teeth cleaning habits that help prevent swollen and bleeding gums.

Causes of Swollen and Bleeding Gums

Some very common causes for your child's gum problems include:

  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Allergic reaction to toothpaste, mouthwashes or food
  • New medications
  • Poor nutrition, especially if your child has low vitamin C
  • Gum disease

There are many different reasons why your child's gums could be swollen and bleeding. Your child's dentist will examine your kid's gums and should be able to identify the issues.

 Dentists Can Help Your Kid's Gums

If your child is having issues with gum swelling and bleeding, your local dentist can help! Highly trained dentists will try to find the cause of the your child's symptoms. From there, treatment is possible. 

Dentists can also teach you and your child how to prevent these problems. With the right dental care, your kid can have a healthy smile for years to come.

Good Oral Care Prevents Gum Disease

When your children are young, it is important to teach them good dental hygiene habits. Your dentist will happily teach them all about good brushing and flossing habits. Healthy eating habits and proper teeth cleaning can help prevent swollen and bleeding gums.

September 17, 2016

5 Tips on Keeping Your Gums Healthy

Many people wake up in the morning, brush their teeth, and head off to work. While they may think this is a great way to keep your gums healthy, they are sadly mistaken. Many people follow the rule of brushing their teeth twice a day but forget that a toothbrush cannot clean every single crevice in their mouths. Their teeth may look healthy, but eventually the entire mouth will pay for the lack of gum care.

Not only should you be brushing twice a day but you should be flossing once a day as well. If you think that brushing enough to prevent gum disease, you would also be wrong. Keep reading to learn about 5 ways you can keep your gums and mouth healthy for years to come.

Tip 1: Brush Teeth, Gums, and Tongue Twice a Day

It is important to remember to brush your teeth once in the morning and once in the evening. Make sure that you are brushing for 2 minutes every single time you brush. It is also extremely important to brush along the gum line as well as your tongue. This helps to reduce the amount of bacteria that live on the surface of the gums. If you are just brushing your teeth and not your gums and tongue, then this is not the proper way to brush.

Tip 2: Floss Once a Day

Even though brushing is extremely important, you must not forget to floss regularly. A toothbrush is not able to get in between your teeth and clean the crevices. Plaque and food get lodged into these crevices which causes bacteria to form in between the teeth and gums. Sticky film gets stuck onto the gums and teeth which causes the bacteria to form which puts you at a higher risk for gum disease. Make sure you are flossing once a day with dental floss or a soft pick brush.

Tip 3: Rinse with Antiseptic Mouthwash

After you are done brushing your teeth you need to make sure you are rinsing your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash. Generally, the mouthwash you purchase will say antibacterial or anti-plaque. Using mouthwash helps to flush away any bacteria that is loose and reduces this harmful bacteria that could eventually cause plaque to form and lead to gum disease. Make sure you choose a mouthwash that is alcohol free because alcohol can dry out your mouth and make it hard for the bacteria to be flushed away.

Tip 4: Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year

One of the most important things you can do in order to keep your gums healthy is to visit a dentist at least twice a year. The dentist will be able to perform a checkup in order to determine the health of your gums. You could very well be doing everything you are supposed to but could still develop gum disease. Your dentist will check your medical history, check for bleeding, as well as pockets. They will also perform a cleaning which helps eliminate the bacteria on your teeth before it travels to your gums.

Tip 5: Watch for Signs of Gum Disease

Even if you take every precaution, it is still very important to check for signs of gum disease. For starters, you must check to see if you have any tender or swollen gums. If you are experiencing any kind of pain or swelling, you should see your dentist as soon as possible. Watch for loose or separating teeth as this could be sign of a serious problem.

Taking care of your mouth means not just taking care of your teeth but also taking care of your gums. Less problems will occur if you follow these steps and care for both your teeth and your gums. Your next dental visit will be a lot less stressful if you do.

September 16, 2016

6 Ways to Celebrate National Gum Care Month

September is National Gum Care Month, and it is a great time to brush up on the habits that can keep your mouth healthy and clean. Make each of the following activities part of your daily oral care routine to protect yourself from the ravages of gum disease.


national gum care month 

1.       Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Sticky plaque builds up on the teeth continually, and if left there it quickly develops into tartar, a hard substance that can only be removed by a professional. Both plaque and tartar contribute to gum disease.
2.       Floss regularly. Regularly, in this instance, should be interpreted as “every day”. Brushing removes plaque from your teeth, but only floss can clean below the gumline.
3.       Use mouthwash to remove small particles and reduce plaque. Mouthwash is no substitute for brushing and flossing, but when used alongside other healthy habits it can freshen breath, eliminate bacteria and keep teeth strong.
4.       Floss with water. A water irrigator, also known as an oral irrigator or a dental water jet, is a device that shoots a stream of water between the teeth to remove plaque and bacteria. Add it to your morning routine for a really fresh, deep cleaning.
5.       Eat a nutritious diet.  A healthy, balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients and low in sugar can boost the immune system and help your body fight off harmful bacteria, inflammation and infection. If you want to keep your teeth white, don’t forget to eat your greens!
6.       Make friends with your dentist. See your dentist every six months for a good cleaning. He or she can also assess the health of your teeth and gums and refer you to a periodontist if you are experiencing any problems. Early treatment of gum disease is important. Left unchecked, it can destroy teeth, gums, bones and connective tissue, and contribute a variety of health problems.  

September 14, 2016

By gum! September is National Oral Health Month

September is national Oral Health Month – time to pay extra attention to your dental routine, particularly as two of the world’s most common health problems affect the mouth - cavities (dental caries) and gum disease.

You may be surprised to learn that gum disease ranks second only to the common cold in terms of prevalence, with an estimated 90% of South Africans experiencing the problem at some point. Although you may not know you have gum disease, it can be extremely serious, having been linked to coronary heart disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes and diabetes. New research from Australia shows that women with gum disease find it harder to conceive.

How do you know if you are at risk? Although diabetics, pregnant women, the elderly and smokers are more likely to have gum disease, everyone is at risk, particularly those who don’t pay proper attention to their oral care. The most obvious sign is bleeding gums but often there are no symptoms.

“Good oral health is vital for all of us, especially if we wish to avoid the perils of gum disease, tooth loss and extensive dental work. Yet getting people to adhere to a thorough, twice daily, oral health regime, is no easy task,” said Professor Robin Seymour, a leading UK periodontologist and speaker at the 2011 South African Dental Association congress.

Dental professionals recommend a daily three-step oral care routine as the most effective option, incorporating brushing, flossing and rinsing with alcohol-free mouthwash. “Brushing is not enough as it only removes about fifty percent of bacteria and plaque in the mouth,” warns local oral hygienist Vicky Gowar.

Three steps to keep your teeth and gums in tip-top condition:

1) Brush: Brush twice a day, after breakfast and before going to bed at night. It should take at least two minutes to brush properly, cleaning each tooth with a circular motion. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to clean gently under the gum line. Don’t brush too hard as this can damage gums. Use a soft, small toothbrush and replace it at least every 3 months.

2) Clean in-between the teeth: It is absolutely essential to remove plaque from in-between the teeth where brushing does not reach, as many dental problems, especially gum disease, start in this area. Flossing is one method, but according to the 2008 Dentyl Fresh Breath Survey, more than a third of South Africans admitted to never having flossed their teeth. Dirna Grobbelaar, Ivohealth’s Oral Health Expert explains that when you don't floss, you're not cleaning 40 percent of the tooth and she deems flossing even more crucial for preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease than brushing.

3) Rinse: “Using an alcohol-free mouthwash after brushing and flossing is an excellent final step in a three-part oral health routine," says Professor Seymour. Gowar recommends using a mouthwash that contains fluoride and is the same pH balance as saliva. 

In the following clip, Dirna simplifies the quickest, most effective oral health routine to protect against gum disease and demonstrates the most effective flossing technique:

“It has been estimated that anyone with extensive periodontal (gum) disease could be at a 20% increased risk of developing coronary heart disease,” said Professor Seymour. “Caring for your teeth and gums is about far more than a sparkling smile, it’s an investment in your long-term well-being.”

September 07, 2016

September is National Gum Care Month

At the Mouthwatchers, we know that gingivitis – the early stage of periodontal disease – can be difficult to recognize. Many people don’t recognize the warning signs – bleeding and swollen gums, as a precursor to gum disease. This month, a national campaign is under way to raise awareness about gum health and periodontal disease, and we wanted to help do our part to spread the word! Your will tell you early recognition and action are the most important steps to health gums, and ultimately a health body, too! Studies are published every year linking oral health, including the gums, to the health of other areas of the body, such as your heart. One of the most important steps to improving the care of your gums is recognizing the warning signs for gum disease.

National Gum Care Month

We know these can include:

• Gums that appear red or swollen

• Gums that feel tender

• Gums that bleed easily (during brushing or flossing)

• Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth

Persistent halitosis, or bad breath

• Loose teeth

 Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position; if you happen to notice any of these signs, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your dentist. Your doctors and staff can take proactive steps to prevent gingivitis and gum disease, while showing you how to improve gum care in your daily oral hygiene habits.

September 04, 2016

Can Brushing Your Teeth Ward Off Heart Disease?

We all know what to do — and what not to do — to prevent heart disease. Don’t overeat salty or fatty foods. Get exercise and rest. Eat your vegetables. Take medications to prevent worsening of an existing condition.

In addition, your dentist will tell you that heart disease can also be managed if you remember one very important part of the daily regimen: brushing your teeth.

Studies show that regular brushing — a vital part of any oral care routine — can help to prevent heart disease. Here’s how it works: the heart requires its own constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. If one of the two large, branching coronary arteries delivering oxygenated blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked, a portion of the heart is starved of oxygen, a condition called ‘cardiac ischemia.’ If cardiac ischemia lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies — otherwise known as a heart attack.

Studies are beginning to show that oral health and gum disease are related to serious conditions like heart disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (also called heart disease). And one study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were good at predicting heart disease.
So, listen to the advice of dentists everywhere — give your heart a break and brush your teeth and floss daily — and avoid from acidic, sugary foods. It’s one of the only ways your mouth can actually talk to your heart.

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