elderly woman holding dentures

Aging and Oral Health: Know the Facts

It’s a fact that getting older results in changes to our dental health, so have you ever wondered what you can do to make sure that your teeth withstand the test of time? Is it inevitable that as we age, we will lose teeth and require dentures? Let’s talk about aging and the realities behind senior dental hygiene!

A leading reason for tooth loss amongst seniors is gum disease. What starts as mild gingivitis can advance to a severe gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of teeth and irreversible gum damage if left untreated. According to the CDC, “70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease,” which is not a comforting statistic! However, it is a myth that senior adults need to lose their teeth, and with preventative care, there is no reason that gum disease leading to tooth loss cannot be kept in check.

Another age-related oral health occurrence is stained and weakened enamel. Our teeth aren’t immune to showing the signs of aging, and years of eating and drinking will eventually make themselves known on the surface of your teeth. Acids and sugars wear away enamel over time. This, too, can be slowed down significantly through measures such as a balanced diet with less acidic foods and standard oral hygiene.

A few more things to watch out for are decreased nerve sensitivity, dry mouth caused by medications, and gum recession. Decreased nerve sensitivity can lead to an absence of pain, but that does NOT mean that no problem exists–this can mask issues and lead to delays in treatment. Dry mouth can cause gum infections and increase the chances of tooth decay. Gum recession can expose the sensitive root of a tooth and provide a haven for bacteria to accumulate.

Unfortunately, in addition to all of the above, aging and its associated health problems can create physical limitations that make it more difficult to properly maintain oral health. Chronic health conditions can lower morale and lead to mental health issues like depression, which can make daily tasks more likely to fall by the wayside. Lower energy levels can mean prioritizing other health needs instead of oral care. In order to combat these factors, consider ideas like using a water flosser, setting tooth-brushing alarms on a phone or an alarm clock, and using a toothbrush with an extra-large handle.

This may all sound grim, but the good news is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowing how to find and treat problems is most of the battle when it comes to dental health. Plus, technology is always advancing, and new treatments will only get better with time. Following the below tips can help make sure your natural teeth will last for a lifetime!

  • Make sure you have adequate calcium intake to support your teeth.
  • To treat dry mouth and prevent enamel loss, stay hydrated and moderate your intake of beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
  • To minimize gum recession, gently brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and speak with your dentist to see what mouthwash may be right for you.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush to be sure you are brushing more thoroughly and for a long enough time.

And, of course, two of the most crucial ways to maintain your overall dental health as you age are also the most obvious:

  • Visit your dentist on schedule, ideally every six months, for routine cleanings
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily

With care, knowledge, and a bit of luck, you can keep your entire mouth feeling healthy and looking fantastic no matter your age!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

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The Impact of “Scary” and “Sweet” Candy on Your Teeth

It’s finally that time of the year, the leaves are falling, the weather is getting cooler, and Halloween is right around the corner! With the spooky season rapidly approaching you should know which candies are “scary” for your teeth and which ones are “sweet”.

The “Scary” Candy

  • Sticky and gummy candies (Laffy Taffy, gummy bears, caramel)
  • Hard candy (jawbreakers, lollipops, Jolly Ranchers)
  • Sour candy (Lemon Heads, War Heads, Sour Patch Kids)
  • Popcorn balls

These “scary” candies can cause a whole monster of problems from enamel loss to tooth damage. The sticky/gummy candies adhere to your teeth giving the sugar time to seep into all those nooks and crannies. beware-candy.jpgHard candy sits in your mouth slowly coating your teeth in sugar and can crack or break teeth as you chew them. The sour candies are super acidic and break down the enamel, weakening your teeth and making them more susceptible to cavities. Treats like popcorn balls have sharp kernels that can cause bleeding gums and other painful sores in your mouth.

The “Sweet” Candy

  • Semi-Sweet and dark chocolate
  • Candy bars with nuts
  • Any fun-sized candy bars

Now, any candy not in moderation can be harmful. However, these “sweet” candies are a safer bet for your teeth and gums. The chocolate and candy bars with nuts can be quickly and easily rinsed out with saliva or water. The fun-sized candy bars are smaller portions which means less sugar while satisfying your cravings!

Speaking of sugar, it can have a pretty sinister effect on your teeth, enamel and your gums. In our mouths, we have bacteria that when introduced to sugar, creates acid. Sugar also lowers the PH balance in our mouths making it more acidic. This acid can bond to and erode your enamel, Scary right?demineralization.jpg This process is called demineralization, luckily our saliva is a base, so it helps prevent and restore some of the damage done in a process called remineralization.

Over time this acid wears our enamel down so much that the sugar can seep into our teeth causing cavities. When these cavities are left untreated, they can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. According to the ADA (American Dental Association), 91% percent of Americans over 20 have had cavities and 27% of them have experienced tooth decay.

Those are some spooky statistics! Thankfully there are some steps you can take to prevent the sugar from doing too much harm to those pearly whites. We suggest that after eating those “scary” treats, you chew some sugar-free gum. The sugar-free gum absorbs some of the acidic gunk stuck to your teeth, lessening its harmful effects on your enamel. It is also wise to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush. This keeps the sugar and acid from being ground into your enamel which can cause even more damage.

Always remember whether the candy is “scary” or “sweet” to eat in moderation, AND brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day also helps. Keep those beautiful teeth happy and healthy, schedule your dental check-up today!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

What’s In a Kiss?

In 2006 International Kissing Day was established and it’s celebrated on July 6th. In our society, a kiss is a sign of affection or a warm greeting. Did you know a single kiss can spread up to 80 million bacteria?

We are not born with the bacteria that cause cavities. Studies have proven that parents often infect their child before 2. Once your child becomes exposed they are prone to cavities in baby and permanent teeth. In fact, babies can also begin to develop them before their first tooth erupts!Blog.png

Tooth decay is a disease known as dental caries. It is caused by specific germs and is easily spread throughout families by sharing a cup, utensils, or toothbrushes, and lasts a lifetime. Did you know it’s more common for a child to have cavities than any other chronic illness? Bacteria loves sugar and attacks the structure of teeth by diminishing calcium. It also creates plaque which builds even more enamel-eroding acid.

Can tooth decay be spotted early?

Early tooth decay can be hard to see. A sign is a white strip along the gum line at the base of the teeth. During the early stages, you might be able to see brown spots on the teeth, and gums are red and inflamed. When more advanced, the spots are blackened.

If you have had your fair share of troubles with your teeth, it’s important to take precautions when it comes to your child’s dental care. It’s recommended to bring your child to the dentist six months after the first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. The best way to limit cavities is to brush and floss with your kids daily. Setting the example, helps create and reinforce these healthy habits.

Tips for keeping decay away from your children:

  • Wipe down your baby’s gums with a washcloth after feedings, even if the first tooth has not erupted.
  • Start brushing with fluoride-free toothpaste as the first tooth erupts.
  • When your child is two or three years old, begin using toothpaste with a small amount of fluoride, and begin flossing when two teeth are touching.

What can happen to untreated cavities?

Cavities don’t go away by themselves. If you ignore a cavity, it continues to grow. They are small holes in your teeth that will become wider and deeper making your teeth more fragile, increasing the risk to crack. If left untreated, the cavity will next reach your tooth’s nerves, which is likely to cause severe pain. Depending on your situation, your tooth will either need a root canal or require extraction. If your tooth is infected you will need antibiotics along with cavity treatment.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection at your gum line which may result in damaged jaw bone.
There are three different stages: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gum disease is caused by bacteria and plaque. If not removed it hardens and turns into tartar while plaque continues to form more build up. The only way for it to be removed is by visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning.

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are pulled away from teeth- making teeth look longer
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bad breath

What happens if I don’t treat my Periodontitis?

stages of perio.pngThe first stage of gum disease might be easy to miss, but if left untreated it will result in larger problems. If you notice any of the warning signs or think you may have gum disease contact us today. Lack of treatment results in tender gums, receding gums, sensitive teeth, loose teeth, and eventually leads to tooth loss. Let’s prevent that together!

Have you ever wondered why we kiss with our eyes closed? Maybe it’s because when oral care wasn’t popular nobody wanted to see others teeth up close… Just kidding! But because of dental advancements, it’s easy to keep your smile in tip-top shape. Protect you and your family from bacteria and tooth decay by requesting your appointments today!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388