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Healthy Summer Foods

June 5th, 2019

It’s summer—that wonderful time of year when fresh and delicious produce abounds. Dr. Charles Stetler will tell you that your teeth, gums, and tissues all rely on an appropriate mix of vitamins and minerals to maintain good oral health no matter what time of year. In previous studies, nutrients in fruits and vegetables such as dietary fiber, potassium, and antioxidants have all been associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and cancers, including oral cancer.

Here are four foods we want you to enjoy this summer to ensure a healthy mouth:

Watermelons and Strawberries

Watermelons have high water content, which dilutes the affects of the sugars they contain and stimulates the flow of saliva. In addition, research shows that eating foods full of water (watermelon is 92 percent water) helps keep you satiated on fewer calories. Finally, in addition to containing skin-protecting lycopene, eating watermelon can help you stay hydrated during the summer months, which not only keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable, but also helps keep your body cool.

Strawberries are juicy and delicious, and they’re also considered a superfood. Nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants (such as vitamin C, which can help with cancer prevention), strawberries also promote eye health, help fight bad cholesterol, and regulate blood pressure.

Apples

Did you know consuming apples can help you attain whiter, healthier teeth? It’s true. Biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, and in the process, lowers the levels of bacteria and other harmful acids, leading to a lower likelihood of tooth decay. Apple consumption can also boost your immune system, reducing cholesterol and helping you avoid Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's diseases. Finally, eating an apple a day has been linked to heart health, including a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a delicious and healthy snack and can help you ward off cancer. The yummy red fruit contains lycopene, which helps protect your skin from sunburn. Tomatoes can also help you fight heart disease due to the niacin, folate, and vitamin B6 nutrients they contain. They’re high in crucial antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin A, which work to prevent DNA damage.

Gum Removal

June 1st, 2019

Gum Removal: Going to Great Lengths for Your Smile

Unless you were blessed with a perfect smile, something's usually got to give in order to improve it...even your gums! Dentists call it "crown lengthening", but if you're worried this means you'll walk away with receded gums, it's not what you think. In certain cases, less gums are actually a GOOD thing – and if your dentist has confirmed you are a candidate for such a procedure, here's why.

Cosmetic vs. Restorative Crown Lengthening

From an aesthetic standpoint, some may find their smiles to look "too gummy", and wish for a more balanced look. Treatment varies based on the severity of the problem, but a gum lift, even if it's just to one or a few teeth suffering from excess gum lining or unevenness, can help the smile appear more symmetrical. In general, this type of procedure usually focuses on the upper front gums, since they are the most visible when you smile.

Beyond appearances alone, there may also be health reasons a dentist would recommend crown lengthening. If, for example, he or she discovers tooth decay below the visible surface of the tooth, gum removal or contouring may be the only way to ensure the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and filled. On a similar note, accidents or injuries that cause a tooth to fracture may require exposing more of the tooth's surface in order for it to be fully restored.

Regardless of whether you undergo this treatment for cosmetic or restorative purposes, however, crown lengthening can benefit your oral health by exposing more of the tooth's surface for thorough and easy cleaning.

What to Expect

While crown lengthening is considered a form of oral surgery, and may come at an additional cost above what your insurance covers, it is a relatively short, one-time procedure. Afterwards, there is no special maintenance required other than good at-home hygiene and regular dentist checkups.

During the surgery, little if any pain is felt thanks to anesthesia, but sedation is an option for those who may feel anxious about the work involved with gum removal. The dentist will make small incisions and gradually remove gum tissue, and if necessary, also remove some bone close to the root area of the tooth. Gums are then stitched up, and patients can expect a healing time of 1-2 weeks before stitches are removed. A total healing period of up to three months is normally required before any crowns or fillings are put in place.

Risks of Crown Lengthening

A special mouth rinse is typically prescribed for recovering patients, and a water irrigator may also be recommended to gently remove food particles, but it is still possible to encounter the following risks:

  • Infection, if bacteria from food gets stuck and inflames the raw gum area
  • Excessive bleeding due to medications or existing health conditions
  • Tooth sensitivity, especially if bone was removed close to the root of a tooth
  • Loose teeth, if too much gum or bone was removed

If you experience any of the above, contact your dentist and/or periodontist immediately.

Weighing Your Options

As rewarding to your smile as crown lengthening can be, the decision of whether or not to undergo the procedure should not be made lightly. Cost, time and other factors should be carefully considered, and being aware of all the pros and cons is critical. If you are curious about crown lengthening, or if your dentist has recommended it, schedule a consultation with him or her for further information specific to your dental needs and overall health situation.

Sources:

Crown Lengthening. (2013, March 4). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/Periodontal-Disease/article/Crown-Lengthening.cvsp

Sheehan, Jan. (2009, August, 19). Crown Lengthening for a Prettier Smile. Retrieved July 26, 2015, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/cosmetic-dentistry/crown-lengthening.aspx

 

HPV and Oral Cancer

May 29th, 2019

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country. There are over 100 strains of HPV, and, while most of these infections leave our systems on their own with no long-term ill effects, some cancers have been linked to certain “high risk” strains of the virus. One of these strains, HPV16, increases the risk of oral cancer.

HPV-related oral cancer most often appears in the oropharynx. This area of the mouth includes:

  • The base, or back, of the tongue
  • The soft palate
  • The tonsils
  • The back and sides of the throat

While HPV-related oral cancers can appear in other parts of the oral cavity, they most typically occur at the back of the throat and tongue and near the folds of the tonsils. Because of this location, oropharyngeal cancer can be difficult to detect. This is one more important reason to maintain a regular schedule of dental exams. Our examination doesn’t focus only on your teeth and gums. We are trained to look for cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions in the mouth, head, and neck to make sure you have the earliest treatment options should they be needed.

If you discover any potential symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer, call us for a check-up. These symptoms can include:

  • Trouble moving the tongue
  • Trouble swallowing, speaking, or chewing
  • Trouble opening the mouth completely
  • A red or white patch on the tongue or the lining of the mouth
  • A lump in the throat, neck, or tongue
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Ear pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing up blood

Not every symptom is caused by cancer, but it is always best to be proactive. HPV-related oral cancer is rare, but it is on the increase. While HPV-positive oral cancers generally have a better prognosis than HPV-negative oral cancers, early diagnosis and treatment are still essential for the best possible outcome.

Finally, if you are a young adult or have an adolescent child, talk to Dr. Charles Stetler and to your doctor about the HPV vaccine, which is effective before exposure to the virus occurs. Most HPV vaccines, while not designed specifically to prevent oral cancer, prevent the HPV16 strain from infecting the body—the very same strain that causes the majority of HPV-related oral cancers.  Although no studies have shown definitive proof yet, there is strong feeling in the scientific community that these immunizations might protect against HPV-positive oral cancer as well as cervical, vaginal, and other cancers. It’s a discussion worth having at your next visit to our Dallas office.

5 Smart Questions for thew Dentist

May 25th, 2019

5 Smart Questions to Ask Your Dentist

Have a dental appointment scheduled sometime soon? Sit back, relax and get ready to open your mouth – but not just to have it examined! Taking your smile to the next level involves more than just a routine checkup and cleaning; for truly noticeable changes, you'll need to start off by having an in-depth chat with your dentist. Make the most out of your next visit by asking these important questions:

  1. What more could I be doing to help preserve my oral health?

You'd be surprised by the information your dentist can glean by looking inside your mouth. Damaged enamel, for instance, can point to an overly acidic diet, and/or unnecessary pressure on your teeth. Gingivitis and tartar can indicate improper brushing or flossing. Even your breath can speak volumes; a foul odor can signify decay, dry mouth or an underlying health condition. Whatever your dentist discovers, have him or her spell it out, along with helpful tips and recommendations, of course. Walking away with a plan of attack for your diet, hygiene and other habits can help you avoid future dental problems.

  1. What dental products would you recommend for me?

Just as your dentist can steer you against harmful habits, he or she can also help ensure you are using the right dental products. From the most effective toothbrush and paste, to the best flosser and rinse for your mouth, posing this simple question can save you stress and confusion the next time you shop for dental care products. Often, your dentist may even have a sample for you to try at home, so you can see if it's to your liking before shelling out some cash. And, in some cases, your dentist may recommend prescription-strength dental products instead.

  1. Are there any dental procedures that can help my smile?

Perhaps brochures in the waiting room have sparked your curiosity, but chances are there are many treatments you are not even aware of that can help improve the looks and function of your teeth and gums. The only way to find out which ones make sense for you is to ask your dentist! Even if you're satisfied with the smile you have, it never hurts to learn what's possible — especially for procedures covered (or partially covered) by your insurance.

  1. What's the latest buzz in the world of dentistry?

New studies, products and procedures transforming dental care may benefit your mouth (and wallet). Asking your dentist to share the latest news not only helps to give you a sense of how active he or she is in learning new methods and technologies, but also it can uncover new treatment opportunities you may not have considered. In addition to discussing developments in in-office care, get your dentist's perspective on at-home preventative care techniques and trends. From oil pulling to DIY remedies, he or she can verify their effectiveness and clear up any questions or concerns.

  1. Are there any important updates I need to share with my doctor?

Due to the natural connection your mouth has with your overall wellbeing, health conditions (as well as side effects from prescribed medications) can often reveal themselves in your teeth, tongue and gums. Communicating oral complications and/or symptoms to your doctor can be instrumental in detecting and addressing certain health concerns accurately and efficiently. Similarly, sharing your medical history with your dentist may impact his or her approach and your eligibility for certain procedures.

Building Rapport with Your Dentist

Engaging your dentist in conversation is a simple way to relax during your visit, while providing an opportunity to be honest and open about your dental needs and concerns. To ensure your discussion is as productive as possible, try to carve out some time to do a little research and note any important questions in preparation for your visit.

Sources:

Glover, L. (2014, June 11). 9 Questions You're Not Asking Your Dentist - But Should Be. Retrieved June 1, 2014 http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/06/11/questions-should-be-asking-your-dentist/

Reynolds, C. (n.d.). 5 Questions to Always Ask Your Dentist. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/oral-health/5-questions-to-always-ask-your-dentist#MD5Cd0kwZyELhZp4.97

Questions to Ask Your Dentist. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.healthymouthshealthylives.org/ en/dental-care-resources/Questions%20to%20Ask%20Your%20Dentist/

 

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