Illustrated nervous woman biting her nails and shaking while thinking about someone drilling into her tooth

Scared of the Dentist? How to Cope

As we head into colder, darker days, let’s discuss a topic that might send a chill down your spine: dental anxiety.

If you are petrified of the dentist, you’re in good company. According to the National Library of Medicine, dental anxiety affects approximately 36 percent of the population. These fears cause unpleasant mental and physical symptoms such as panic, sadness, anger, nausea, chills, dizziness, shaking, stomach pain, rapid heartbeat, and sweating.

While dental anxiety can seem irrational, it typically comes from a rational starting place. Personal causes vary, but here are a few common reasons people dread the dentist:

  • Embarrassment. Some people are embarrassed by the condition of their teeth and gums and fear being judged for having poor dental hygiene. Others are embarrassed at the idea of strangers being up close and personal to look inside their mouth.
  • Mental illness. Having a mental illness like anxiety or panic disorder will increase the odds of also having dental fear.
  • Negative or painful past experiences. Bad experiences with dentists, especially in childhood, can lead to panic surrounding future dental visits.
  • Past trauma. Abuse of any kind can lead to dental anxiety.
  • Family history. Do you have a close family member who is afraid of the dentist or who has an anxiety or panic disorder? This can be passed on with genetics or be a learned behavior from childhood.
  • Cost. A lack of dental insurance or money to pay for care can lead to years of delayed treatment. There is also anxiety surrounding the exact cost of the bill.

In some cases, people have such severe dental anxiety that it becomes a phobia. It is estimated that 3 to 5 percent of the population has dentophobia (an extreme fear of the dentist). If your fear of the dentist is intense enough to stop you from going even when you urgently need care, it’s possible you could have dentophobia.

Illustrated woman with eyes closed, a slight smile, and a thought bubble that says, “Keep calm.” Body text says, “Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a frightening experience

Coping Methods

Even if you are part of the third of the population with dental fear, going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a frightening experience! There are an abundance of ways to handle dental anxiety and dentophobia, so there is likely to be at least one method that will work for you.

First and foremost, discuss your fears at the dental office. Making a consultation appointment in advance of any work being done will help you to get to know the dentist better, and you can talk through your specific worries to get a better idea of what to expect during treatment. Most dentists simply want to help patients get the help they need and have seen all kinds of dental problems, and they can work with you to come up with a plan that will minimize triggers and create a calm environment. You can also use the consultation to ask about whether sedation or medication is an option to help during future appointments.

Then, try some of these ideas:

  • See a specialist. Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acupuncture have shown promise at helping patients manage their dental jitters.
  • Stay distracted. It can help to listen to music or watch a show. If your dental office doesn’t provide entertainment options, bring a tablet or a phone that is pre-loaded with your favorite content.
  • Bring a comfort person or object. If you have a close family member or friend who is willing to help you out, bring them to the appointment to supervise or advocate for your needs. If you have a plush toy, blanket, or other comfort item, it may be useful to bring it so that you can focus on staying calm.
  • Use your imagination. Instead of focusing on the present, let your mind drift off into a less stressful scenario! Fantasize about relaxing on a beach or think about a memory of when you felt safe and comfortable.
  • Treat yourself. Once you make it through the appointment, give yourself a treat. You’ve earned it! This can help build a more positive association with dental visits and provide motivation to go in the first place.

You don’t have to fear the dentist. With planning and patience, your next dental visit can be the best one yet.

Smith Valley Smiles

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

Advertisement
Text that says September is National Gum Care Month with photo of man flossing

September is National Gum Care Month

September is here, which means welcoming the beginning of autumn, cooler weather, and most importantly in dentistry, National Gum Care Month! You probably already know the importance of good oral health, but you may not know how to give your gums the best care or how to identify the signs and symptoms of gum disease.

Know Your Gum Diseases

There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up and causes gum inflammation and bleeding. Of the two types of gum disease, gingivitis is less severe, and gum disease will start here and progress into periodontitis if left untreated. At the gingivitis stage, it is simple enough to treat and reverse the damage, which is why it is important to keep up with your regular dental cleaning appointments so that your dentist can catch it early.

Periodontitis, the secondary stage of gum disease, happens when tartar accumulates around the gumline and causes the formation of pockets around the teeth. These gum pockets allow bacteria and plaque to spread, destroying the tissues that keep your teeth secure in your mouth. With advanced periodontitis, you can lose your teeth. It’s the number one cause of adult tooth loss, so stopping gum disease in its tracks before it gets to this point is essential!

According to the CDC, gum diseases are more likely to affect certain demographics. The most at-risk groups are men, senior adults, and people living below the federal poverty line or who did not graduate from high school. Women experiencing hormonal changes such as pregnancy—or even simply using the birth control pill—have increased risk as well. Finally, genetics can also play a role. If your family is prone to dental problems, chances are you will be too.

Graphic of surprised woman and list of symptoms of unhealthy gums that is pulled from article

Healthy or Unhealthy?

Look in the mirror—are your gums healthy? Healthy gums should be pink, firm, and not have any bleeding or swelling when you floss or brush your teeth. Unhealthy gums are likely to have some or all of these symptoms:

If you notice any of these worrying signs, make an appointment with your dentist right away.

Preventing Periodontal Woes

By now, you probably know the drill (pun intended) if you’ve been listening to your dentist, but it bears repeating: brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are the most important habits you can have to maintain good oral hygiene! These are especially important if you have a family history of poor dental health.

Curbing some of your bad habits can help prevent gum disease. Smoking or not getting enough nutrients in your diet contribute to gum disease and dental deterioration. Brushing your teeth too aggressively or with a toothbrush with firm bristles can damage gums and cause the appearance of gingivitis. Also, be sure to replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head once every three months so bristles don’t become too worn to scrub off plaque and massage your gums.

Mouthwashes are an optional step, but these can be a good idea if you are genetically prone to gum disease or have higher-risk habits that you are unwilling or unable to give up. They can reduce the plaque that contributes to gum disease and provide bonuses like whitening teeth and/or freshening breath. There are also mouth rinses that help with dry mouth, and dry mouth can also be a factor in gum disease.

Knowledge is power! Now that you are armed with information, you can create healthy habits that last well beyond September and into the rest of your life.

Smith Valley Smiles

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

Photo of person swimming in a pool wearing a swim cap and goggles, with article title text: swim away from dental damage this summer

Swim Away from Dental Damage This Summer

Swimming is a good way to beat the heat, but did you know it can have an impact on your dental health? It’s true!

In recent years, it has become clear that there is a link between chlorinated pool water and dental conditions referred to as swimmer’s erosion, swimmer’s calculus, or swimmer’s mouth. When left untreated, these conditions can cause unpleasant effects like enamel loss, tooth sensitivity, transparency around edges of teeth, yellow or brown staining, and tartar buildup. Fortunately, knowledge is power, and we are here to give you details about how you can avoid having chlorinated chompers.

Who Should Be Worried?

Competitive swimmers—defined as people who swim at least two hours each day five days a week—need to be especially mindful of harm caused by pool water. According to a study from the University of Western Australia, children who swim competitively have a significant increase in dental staining as compared to their peers.

On the other hand, if you are only an occasional swimmer, it is unlikely that you need to worry much about the effects on your teeth unless they are already compromised.

People who normally swim in a saltwater pool also have less to worry about. This type of pool still contains chlorine, but not as much as traditional pool water. Aside from being better for your oral health, saltwater pools have the added bonus of being milder for your eyes, skin, and hair.

Everyone, regardless of how much or where they swim, should avoid pools that aren’t regularly tested. Swimmer’s dental conditions will worsen from badly maintained pools with improper chlorine and pH levels.

graphic of woman swimming with excerpt text from the article

Preventing Damage

So, does this mean that you can no longer enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool if you want healthy teeth? Not at all! Swimming is great for your mind and body, and it’s a fun way to increase exercise during the hot summer months. However, taking a few precautions will reduce the chance of dental erosion and staining caused by pool water. Here are some tips to keep your teeth in great shape:

  • Try to keep your mouth closed while you swim.
  • Brush your teeth before getting in the water so that chemicals don’t stick to plaque.
  • If you own a chlorinated swimming pool, test the water weekly and keep the pH levels between 7.2 and 7.6 to protect enamel while still maintaining the bacteria-killing effects of the chlorine.
  • If using a public pool, there are two main things you can do to check for proper maintenance:
    • Ask questions about the facility’s pool maintenance procedures. If they aren’t testing the water regularly, try to swim in a different pool.
    • Look at structures attached to the pool such as ladders. If they show signs of erosion, chances are good that the water is not maintained properly and will do the same to your teeth.
  • Go for a relaxing dip in the water instead of swimming, and that way you can keep your head out of the water entirely.
  • There is some evidence that chewing xylitol gum three times a day can lower the risk of erosion.
  • If you swim six hours or more a week, tell your dentist and make sure to keep up on your recommended maintenance cleanings so any problems are caught early.
    • One option that the dentist may suggest is a special fluoride treatment for added enamel protection.

Many people are still unaware of the effect swimming can have on teeth, so share this article with a friend to save their smile this summer!

Smith Valley Smiles

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

Blue mouthwash in a bottle and blue toothbrush with text: Mouthwash: Friend or Foe?

Mouthwash: Friend or Foe?

Every dentist will tell you that it is necessary to brush and floss your teeth to maintain your oral health, but what about using mouthwash? Is it an essential part of your dental routine, a neutral addition, or actively harmful? While there isn’t a dental consensus about the necessity of mouthwash, there are certain facts that can help you decide whether it is right for you.

Ingredients Matter

Mouthwashes are not one-size-fits-all, and the ingredients and effects vary. However, according to the ADA, there are two distinct varieties: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Cosmetic mouthwashes are solely used to provide a fresh, clean feeling and to temporarily minimize bad breath for several hours. If you are only looking to use a mouthwash to improve your oral health, these types of mouthwashes are unnecessary.

Therapeutic mouthwashes, on the other hand, have more varied ingredients and can provide a number of benefits including the reduction of bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. They can also whiten teeth and decrease pain.

Here are the most common mouthwash active ingredients to remember and the function of each:

  • Fluoride: strengthens enamel, cavity prevention
  • Chlorhexidine: treats and prevents gingivitis, prevents the buildup of plaque, and lowers the chance of getting dry socket after a tooth extraction (can cause staining)
  • Peroxide: whitens surface of teeth, kills germs
  • Xylitol: dry mouth relief
  • Lidocaine: local anesthetic that provides temporary pain relief
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride: kills bacteria that can cause bad breath

Many of the active ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes are available over-the-counter at your local drugstore, but those that contain chlorhexidine or lidocaine will require a prescription.

text from blog that says "mouthwash cannot replace your regular brushing and flossing routine" with image of toothbrushes and floss

Can Mouthwash Have Side Effects?

Unfortunately, mouthwash use has the potential for unwanted side effects. Formulations containing alcohol can cause dry mouth or canker sores. Chlorhexidine rinses can stain teeth, especially when used for longer than recommended. Additionally, bacteria-killing ingredients can wipe out the natural oral microbiome that helps to maintain healthy gums and teeth, since they can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. If you must use a bacteria-killing mouthwash, use sparingly or at the instruction of your dentist.

Here are a few additional facts to keep in mind if you are considering adding mouthwash to your dental health routine:

  • Mouthwash cannot replace your regular brushing and flossing routine.
  • Kids under the age of six should not use mouthwash due to the risk of swallowing.
  • Look for rinses that have a higher pH value (more alkaline). If a mouthwash is too acidic, it can erode enamel or cause other unwanted effects.
  • If you have dry mouth, avoid using a rinse that contains alcohol.

At the end of the day, while most over-the-counter mouth rinses have beneficial properties, they can only do so much. Mouthwashes are useful for treating minor oral health issues and provide extra help to people who are prone to dental problems. It is a good idea to consult with your dentist for personalized advice and recommendations that will have the most benefit to your oral health.

Smith Valley Smiles

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

water splashing with text: better hydration for better smiles

Better Hydration for Better Smiles

With the heat of summer on the horizon, many of us will need to drink more water than ever to stay hydrated. How does drinking water affect our teeth? Here are some ways that consuming water not only increases your overall health, but your dental health, too.

No Sugars, No Acids

Water is the best beverage partly because of what it doesn’t contain instead of what it does—that is, sugars and acids! These can erode your enamel over time and cause tooth decay, but drinking water helps cleanse your mouth and remove these substances from your teeth. It can reduce the amount of damage done over time and help keep your smile looking younger.

Decreases Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common occurrence that can be lessened by drinking enough water. It can lead to uncomfortable side effects like bad breath, sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. It is important to note that increased water intake is not a permanent solution to dry mouth but is a first step toward better oral health. It is a good idea to talk about permanent dry mouth solutions with your dentist at your next appointment.

Fantastic Fluoride

If you are reading this, then the odds are good you live in a town or a city that includes added fluoride in their drinking water! According to the CDC, as of 2016, over 200 million people drink fluoridated water, which has been proven safe over the span of more than 75 years to help reduce cavities. To find out whether you have fluoridated water in your area, you can contact your local water utility provider or check if your state participates in the My Water’s Fluoride program and look up the information on the CDC’s website. If your water does not have added fluoride, speak to your dentist about how you can best supplement fluoride in your routine.

carbonated water

Carbonated Water

For people who prefer fizzy drinks, carbonated water is a popular way to stay hydrated and healthy. But does carbonated water make an ideal substitute for plain water? Mostly, the answer is yes, but there are some differences to keep in mind.

  • Sparkling water is more acidic than regular water, with a lower pH value. However, the good news is that studies have shown that the lowered pH value of plain carbonation is not enough to erode enamel! This can vary slightly depending on the flavor of the water—citrus flavors, because of their naturally occurring citric acid, are more likely to cause mild enamel erosion.
  • As a rule, carbonated waters do not contain added fluoride, nor do most plain bottled waters, so consuming a lot of sparkling water can mean you are not getting enough fluoride to provide cavity protection. This is a good reason to mix up your water intake and include tap water.
  • Some sparkling waters add sweeteners for flavor, and this takes carbonated water from a healthy beverage to one that can increase your risk of cavities.
  • Plain sparkling water or non-citrus, unsweetened flavored sparkling waters are the best for pearly white and healthy teeth, though citrus unsweetened waters are fine in moderation.

As you can see, staying hydrated is full of dental benefits, and is an all-around excellent idea for your health. Keeping up on your water intake can lead to a happier, healthier you!

Smith Valley Smiles

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

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April, a month that’s filled with beautiful spring weather, the sun is out longer, which means summer is getting closer. April is also the month to raise awareness of a cause very important to us, and one that could affect us all. It’s Oral Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 54,000 people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. That means, 132 new people will be diagnosed every day here in the U.S. So, let’s take this opportunity together to highlight the importance of early detection and examine why oral cancer screenings are important for everyone’s health.

Signs & Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Did you know that oral cancer refers to any cancer that impacts the lips, tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks or roof, or floor of the mouth? Although it is less talked about than the other common cancers, oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the world. The signs and symptoms are easily overlooked and brushed off as “small problems.” Unfortunately, this makes oral cancer even more deadly as most are diagnosed in the later stages. One of the most common signs of oral cancer includes a lingering sore in the mouth or on the lips. The kind that doesn’t go away or ever fully heal. Other symptoms include:

  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Discoloration inside the mouth (red or white patches of skin)
  • Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth area
  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing
  • Mouth and/or ear pain

What Causes Oral Cancer in People?

It’s also very important to note that one or more of these symptoms does not mean you have cancer, only that if symptoms are present for more than two weeks, you need to make an appointment to see us, your dentist. Now that we’ve talked about the symptoms of oral cancer, let’s dive into some of the reasons that could cause it to appear. The greatest causes of oral cancer, after tobacco, are:

  • Alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Excessive sun exposure to the lips

Most people will develop oral cancer from their tobacco use. According to the American Lung Association, cigarettes, the most common form of tobacco, causes 90% of all lung cancer. People who smoke are at 10x higher risk for oral cancer compared to non-smokers. In addition to that, cigarettes contain more than 60 known cancer-causing agents. If you need help to quit smoking, talk to us!

How Safe is Vaping?

By now, we’ve all heard about e-cigarettes, vape pens and vaping. A lot of young people, including under-age teens, prefer getting their nicotine intake from various vape devices. Originally advertised to help regular smokers separate themselves from cigarettes, vaping sounded like the safest option. It’s now proven to not be safe at all, just slightly less detrimental to one’s health than smoking. But is it common knowledge to know what’s inside of them and how it can eventually lead to oral cancer? E-cigarettes/vape pens are portable devices that heat up nicotine (extracted from tobacco). They can include flavorings and often have a myriad of other chemicals to create an aerosol that’s inhaled. In 2020, there was a huge outbreak of lung injuries and deaths that were associated with vaping, which checks out because it was reported in 2020 that an estimated 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students said they’d used or tried using e-cigarettes. In February 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 2,807 cases of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury and 68 deaths that were connected to vaping.

The statistics for the next year weren’t any better because according to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2021. With more than 8 in 10 of those using flavored e-cigarettes. Flavor vapes are a prime attraction to try and start regularly using vape pens. Young people and adults find the lack of smoke appealing, with no overpowering smell, e-cigarettes have reduced the stigma of smoking. A lot of people are attracted to the taste of e-cigarette flavors, which also contributes to people incorrectly believing that vaping is a less serious health risk compared to smoking actual cigarettes.

    We should all know by now that cigarettes and secondhand smoke go hand in hand, but a lot of people do not know that secondhand vaping can also affect those who are around to breathe in the smoke. Nonsmokers get exposed to ultrafine particles from secondhand vape aerosol, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as well. Secondhand vape aerosol can affect anyone, but certain groups have a higher risk. Those groups include infants and children, pregnant people, and people who have lung conditions. Secondhand vaping may seem like it’s no big deal, but the aerosol being exhaled from vaping contain a lot of the same chemicals that have been resulting in serious health problems for people who vape and those around them.

    After realizing how smoking cigarettes and vaping could lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease, the question that lingers is… now what? What can we do? No one wants to live in fear of getting oral cancer or worry about the risk factors so, let’s talk about what we can do to lower our risks:

  • Stop using tobacco or don’t start: If you use tobacco, try to stop now. Using tobacco, whether it’s smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in the mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation: Excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in our mouths, which will make them vulnerable to oral cancer. Always make sure to drink alcohol in moderation. For healthy adults, that would mean only one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65, and up to two drinks a day for men aged 65 and younger.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to the lips: Always try to protect the skin on our lips from the sun by staying in the shade as much as possible and using a good amount of sunscreen.
  • See the dentist regularly: As part of a routine dental exam, ask your dentist to inspect your entire mouth for any abnormal areas that may indicate oral cancer or any severe changes.

    Due to low public awareness of the signs, symptoms, and risks, most diagnoses and death from oral cancer is because of late detection. This month is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of patients and survivors, increasing awareness, and providing education to those who have no idea how harmful oral cancer can be if not taken seriously. Oral cancer is a highly preventable disease and it’s also very treatable if caught early. We should all make sure that everyone knows what oral cancer is and how we can better our health to avoid any complications. If you’re smoking cigarettes, or puffing vapes and want to quit, talk to us. We can help, schedule now https://www.smithvalleysmiles.com/request_appointment_info/

Smith Valley Smiles

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

Historical Women in Dentistry

    March is filled with so many special days that we often celebrate or engage with. St. Patrick’s Day, daylight savings, the first day of Spring, Pi Day, but did you know that March is also Women’s History Month? Women’s history month is a celebration of the role of women in American history, so let’s dive in together!

HISTORY OF WOMEN’S MONTH

   The origin of women’s history month as a national celebration started in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law 97-28, designating the week beginning of March 7th, 1982, as “Women’s History Week”. Between the years of 1988 – 1994, Congress passed resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to declare March of every year to be known as “Women’s History Month”, and it worked. Since 1995, Presidents have been issuing proclamations declaring March as women’s history month which celebrates the contributions and achievements women have made to the United States.

So, with no further ado, we bring you the trailblazing women of dentistry!

DR. LUCY HOBBS TAYLOR

    Born Lucy Beaman Hobbs on March 14th, 1833, in Constable, New York, in 1859, Hobbs moved to Ohio to pursue a degree in dentistry. She was denied admission at the Eclectic Medical College and the Ohio College of Dentistry in Cincinnati because she was a woman. A recent graduate of one of the schools, Dr. Samuel Wardle, agreed to tutor Hobbs in an apprenticeship at his new office. Later, she opened her own practice in 1861. Hobbs moved her practice to northern Iowa in 1862 and became a member of the Iowa State Dental Society and served as a delegate to the American Dental Association Convention of 1865. Mainly, because Hobbs gained trust through her practice, the school finally changed its attitude towards admitting women. She was finally allowed to enroll as a senior at the Ohio College of Dentistry. This was only the second dental school in the nation at the time. In 1866, she became the first woman to receive a doctorate in dentistry. After a while, she moved her practice once more, this time to Chicago where she married Civil War veteran James Myrtle Taylor. Dr. Hobbs then began to teach him dentistry. Together, they created one of the most successful dental practices in Kansas.

In 1886, her husband died. A year later, she retired and started to devote her time to charity and other social causes especially ones for women’s rights. Today, the American Association of Women Dentists recognizes outstanding women in the dental field with the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award. Which is one of the most prestigious honors the organization grants. Hobbs was the first woman dentist in the United States to receive her doctorate, paving the way for Emeline Roberts Jones to be the first practicing woman dentist.

EMELINE JONES

   Emeline Jones was born in 1838 with dreams of wanting to become a dentist. At 18, she married a dentist, Dr. Daniel Jones. He was quite reluctant to teach her, as he believed that women were not suited for dentistry because of their “frail and clumsy fingers”. Emeline persisted anyway and started to secretly practice doing fillings and extractions on teeth, and she was successful at it too. In 1855, it was only after she was working on hundreds of teeth and demonstrating her skills in secret that her husband finally took her seriously and allowed her to work on some of his patients. In 1859, she became his partner and became publicly known as a skilled dentist.

After her husband died in 1864, Jones had two small children and herself to support, so she continued her practice alone to support her family by traveling with her portable dentist chair to eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 1876, she moved to New Haven, Connecticut where she established her own successful practice that she maintained until her retirement in 1915. Emeline Jones was nationally recognized as the first woman dentist at the 1893 World’s Columbian Dental Congress and in that same year, she became the 18th dentist to be licensed in Connecticut.

    Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, society, and cultures. Every year, the National Women’s History Alliance chooses a theme for the month and this year’s theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”. This theme works very well because where would we be without dentists? Women dentists? Lucy Hobbs and Emeline Jones provided both healing and hope, and we recognize them for their contributions and achievements this month. Remember oral health impacts your total health. Schedule your spring dental cleaning today!

Smith Valley Smiles

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

   Matters of the Heart! and Tips to De-Stress

 It’s that time of year… love and happiness is in the air! It’s also a month that brings awareness to big topics. February is Children’s Dental Health Month and American Heart Month (AHM). While many of us have kids, we all have hearts, so let’s talk about that. Our heart is the most vital muscle in our body and can become quite vulnerable.

    One main topic that we can focus on during this month is the battle against heart disease. Heart disease doesn’t have a clear definition because there are different forms. It is a range of conditions and disorders that affect the heart. The most common form in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD). This is when arteries that supply the blood to the heart start becoming hardened and narrow due to a buildup of cholesterol, which is also known as plaque. If CAD is not treated, it can lead to major health issues like heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, and an irregular heartbeat.

    Some of the most common risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

    While there are many different forms of heart disease, they all share common symptoms, and the warning signs are all the same. It’s very important that we are aware of these symptoms in case of an emergency or much-needed treatment. Symptoms that we should be aware of include:

  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, cold sweats
  • Pain in the upper body, arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
  • Fatigue
  • An irregular heartbeat or increased heart rate

    Sounds scary, but it’s only scary if we do not take care of ourselves. Either preventing the occurrence, or for many of us, acting as soon as we become aware of the signs. For a lot of people, risk factors can develop because of our environment and family history. For example, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the two most widespread health concerns that we have in America. Those are the two big factors that will increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease.

    Statistics show that heart disease risks do increase as we get older, which means that our loved ones who are a lot older than us could be more at risk. Starting from an early age, we can try to keep our hearts healthy in a lot of ways. But here we are now! We need to start making changes in our everyday lives. Here are examples of real actions to get us started:  

  • Move Around (exercise): Physical activity is a great way to improve heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that we should exercise for at least 2.5 hours per week to meet the basic requirements. Uncomfortable jogging the neighborhood? Don’t want to go to the gym? Pace your hallway, take extra trips up and down the stairs, you can do this!
  • Quit Vaping (quit smoking): It’s time. There are a lot of benefits to living a smoke-free life, such as reducing the risks of developing certain types of cancers and improvements in circulation. For chronic smokers, you can expect to see an increase in your lung capacity in as little as two weeks!
  • Eat Healthy (whole foods, limit sugar): Limiting ourselves from eating saturated fats, salt, and food that has high cholesterol will do our hearts a big favor. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is your best bet for keeping your fridge stocked with fresh, healthy ingredients. Pro Tip: frozen veggies are a great time saver!
  • Watch Your Numbers: Get regular check-ups to monitor health conditions that could affect your heart like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Sleep: Sleep is very beneficial as we all know. Always getting a good night’s rest helps the brain and immune functionality, metabolism, and emotional well-being. Pro Tip: set an alarm… to go to bed.
  • De-Stress: A lot of stress will eventually affect the heart in a negative way, which can result in heart disease. To combat stress, find healthy outlets to relieve it, that will lower the risks of getting heart disease. Some of our favorites include reading, walking the dog, taking a long bath, stretching on the floor while binge watching old TV shows. 

    For the month of February, let’s try to focus more on our hearts, not just for Valentine’s Day but for our overall health. American Heart Month should be used as a reminder for us to take care of our bodies and our health as we age, to reduce the risks of developing heart disease or any other health conditions. It’s never too late to start taking care of our bodies the right way, let’s start today!  

Smith Valley Smiles

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

5 Holiday Stocking Stuffers to Make a Smile Brighter!

 The Holidays are now in full swing. It’s getting colder, the sun is setting a little earlier, but the decorations are out and shining bright. The holidays are a time where people get together and celebrate friends, family, good health, happiness, and festive foods! With all the holiday sweets and desserts that we usually eat around this time, we don’t stop to think about the effects all that sugar can have on our teeth. Just like you, we know it’s not easy staying healthy over the holidays. For this Christmas, we’re striving to be more mindful of our oral health, do what we can to prevent any sugar overload, and invite you to take that on as well. Since we’re thinking about our oral health and what we can give out for gifts (because there’s still time!), let’s discuss some healthy and useful stocking stuffer options, that are also affordable for all budgets.

  • Toothbrush covers: When we’re done brushing our teeth, our toothbrushes sit uncovered, and they start to collect all kinds of bacteria before we start using it again. It’s super gross to think about it, but a simple toothbrush cover can help protect the bristles. It’s also convenient to have, especially when traveling. The cover is a great idea to give as a gift because it can keep our brushes hygienic and dust-free. PRO TIP: Just like your toothbrush, remember to replace them frequently.
  • Sugar-free gum: Candy is a common stocking stuffer and whether it’s sugar-free or not, who doesn’t love gum?! Sugar-free gum is the healthiest option for teeth, especially kids. Gum also helps us produce more saliva. More saliva prevents dry mouth and helps clean bacteria and clear food particles that tend to linger after meals.
  • Travel toothpaste and mouthwash: Small, travel size toothpaste and mouthwash are convenient to have around. Be it preparing for a trip, sleep over, or unexpected guests.
  • Fun Flossers/Floss Picks: If we want to start them off early, fun flossers are a way to encourage kids to start flossing daily. Fun flossers brands like DenTek and Plackers come in unique shapes and colors to make flossing more fun for kids. Some flossers out there even come in different flavors with fluoride coating, which we all need for our teeth! Floss picks are another option that we can give out to people who procrastinate with a flossing routine. Stick a container of floss picks in their stockings, the picks are much easier to use than the regular traditional string floss.
  • Electric toothbrush: Electric toothbrushes clean teeth and gums much better than the traditional manual ones we’re used to. Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter OBE says people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay, and also keep their teeth for longer. There are also ones for kids that come in different colors and cartoon characters, that’ll get them excited to start brushing their teeth. PRO TIP: unsure if electric is for you? Try the battery powered ones.

    That should take care of our stocking stuffer gifts, but what about when we’re with our family and friends? We should be able to enjoy the holiday season without worrying about cavities or plaque. If you need a list to keep you on track to maintaining a clean and healthy mouth, we got that covered! Check out our list of what we can do this holiday season to keep our teeth healthy.

  • Avoid overdoing it: Candy canes, cookies, cakes, and popcorn, all the wonderful classics we’ll eat during Christmas time. All the sticky, hard, gummy, and chewy foods are tasty, but can be difficult to get out and off our teeth. If we’re constantly snacking on something, we run a higher risk of tooth decay. Let’s try slowing down on the sugar and brushing after every meal. PRO TIP: Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal, can also help for those times you don’t have a toothbrush handy.
  • Eat more of the healthy foods: If we’re worried about eating too much sugar, we can eat more fruits and vegetables just to balance out what we’re eating. Winter favorites like apples, carrots, and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breaths.
  • Stick to our daily routine: Brushing and flossing may sound tedious, but if we want to keep our teeth in great shape, we must stick to our daily routine. By brushing twice daily, flossing, and using mouthwash, we can keep up our good oral habits. PRO TIP: just brush and floss the teeth you’d like to keep!
  • Drink plenty of water: We all know that drinking water has many benefits, and those benefits can work for us especially around the holidays. When we’re going out to see friends and family, it’s very important to stay hydrated. Aside from hydration, water can freshen breaths and it’s a quick way to get rid of debris in our teeth.

    The holidays are always a great time, we spend 11 months looking forward to this time of year. While we are having fun and enjoying ourselves, we can also be mindful about caring for our teeth. Keeping up with our daily routines and going the extra mile can assist in preventing dental problems down the line. Share these helpful tips with family and friends so they can be aware of what to do around this time and support you as well. Happy Holidays and keep those teeth shining bright!

Smith Valley Smiles

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

Things You Need to Know About Dental History

    The dentistry field has come a very long way from where it started. One of the oldest medical professions, it dates back to 7000 B.C. during the Indus Valley Civilization. However, descriptions that date back to 5,000 B.C document knowledge and presence of dentistry and tooth decay. Back then, people thought the cause of tooth decay came from tooth worms, but that was proven to be false in the 1700s. Over time, dentistry has seen many improvements and changes. Its modern-day use has evolved to better utilize preventative care and treatment. Learning about dental history is a wild ride, so hop in, and let’s go down memory lane!

    The concept behind today’s dentistry got its start between 1650 and the 1800s, and the man who started it all was Pierre Fauchard. Fauchard was a 17th-century French physician, and he was properly named “The Father of Modern Dentistry”. But, did you know that as far back as the Bronze Age (3500 BC), barbers were the go-to people for concerns about teeth? These early dentists were known as “Barber-Surgeons”. They not only groomed faces but also performed minor surgeries. The barber dentists usually pulled teeth to treat tooth decay, but they also knew how to fill cavities.

    Humans have been attempting to clean their teeth for a very long time. One of the earliest tools that were used came from the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians. They were made from twigs that were chewed and worked on in the mouth. They were used to help get rid of leftover food debris. This tool was properly named “chew sticks”. The first bristle toothbrush was invented by the Chinese during the Tang Dynasty (618 AD – 907 AD). This toothbrush was most likely made from pigs’ hair for the bristles and bone or bamboo for the handles. Today, we have all varieties of toothbrushes, both manual and electric that come in all shapes and sizes. Toothbrushes now are mostly manufactured with plastic handles and nylon bristles.

    But what about toothpaste, you ask? Ancient toothpaste was used to treat the same concerns that we all have today, keeping our teeth and gums clean, whitening teeth, and freshening breaths. However, the ingredients that were used were a lot different than what we have today. Ingredients back then included powder of ox hooves, ashes, and burnt eggshells that were also combined with pumice (volcanic rock). The Greeks and Romans liked to use crushed bones and oyster shells for theirs. The Romans also added powdered charcoal and bark to give the toothpaste more of a flavor to aid with bad breath. The Chinese ingredients contained ginseng, herbal mints, and salt, which is the closest to what most of us use today. It’s also worth noting that some cultures used urine for whitening as early as the 18th century!

   The development of toothpaste in modern times started around the 1800s. The early versions contained soap and chalk. After 1945, soap was replaced by other ingredients to make the paste smoother. The soap was replaced by sodium lauryl sulfate, which remains a common ingredient today.

    Dental implants are considered the most advanced solution to replacing missing teeth. Before titanium implants were invented, people replaced teeth using a variety of methods. In 2000 B.C. carved bamboo pegs were the go-to for teeth in China. In the 18th century, researchers used a blend of gold and alloy to create implants. While that ended up not working out, it did plant the seeds for more research in later years.

  After that, almost 2,000 years ago, it was common to try and replace teeth with actual animal teeth and from other humans, specifically someone who was considered lower class. How crazy is that? Those often failed to work out because of rampant infections and the presence of decay. The issues with a lot of dental implants from previous years were the rejection of the foreign material by the body. Currently, dental implants have over a 95% success rate. Titanium roots that are used now are placed into your jawbone and fuse over time, and function just like a natural took.

    Modern dentistry has improved the lives of many people. Throughout the years, dentistry has continued to develop, improve, and introduce new techniques and materials to make our experience going to the dentist more comfortable. With modern dentistry, there is less pain, less anxiety, and more available treatment options to consider. Dental care is very important, and with the help of modern dentistry, a lot of people don’t have to suffer in silence. Let’s keep taking care of our teeth and maintaining good oral health!

Smith Valley Smiles

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