Did you know that saliva is the mouth’s primary defense against tooth decay? We speak the truth…saliva is a really big deal! Saliva helps wash away food, fortify your teeth with minerals, and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. It is crucial to your oral health, which is why if you experience dry mouth, Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos want to know. Dry mouth, also known xerostomia, can be a symptom of another medical issue or a side effect of certain medications. It can be a particular issue for patients over 60. So, what causes dry mouth? And what are the complications that can result from it? Let’s take a closer look:
Dry mouth is not a disease, but can be a symptom of other medical conditions. One example is Sjogren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture producing glands. Other conditions that can cause dry mouth include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cystic fibrosis. Hormonal changes in the body like women experience during pregnancy and menopause can also impact saliva production. Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos are part of your health care team, and if you have a medical condition that impacts your saliva or mouth, it is helpful to keep us in the loop. Share your medical history with us so we can help you be proactive about your symptoms and your oral health.
Along with your medical history, it is also important to share what medications you take with Dr. Bruncini and Dr. Karagiorgos. Certain medications can have dry mouth as a side effect. These medications can range from chemotherapy to antidepressants to over-the-counter antihistamines. Dry mouth is one of the most common adverse side effects and fortunately there are options to help restore moisture to your mouth. Sharing your medication list with us helps us know all the factors contributing to your oral health so we can help design a treatment plan that is right for you.
It can be uncomfortable to experience dry mouth and problematic to your dental health. You may experience complications such as a sore throat, trouble speaking, difficulty chewing and swallowing, or notice that your saliva feels sticky and that you have bad breath. Mouth sores and yeast infections are other complications that may arise. If you wear dentures, you may experience issues with their fit and comfort without proper saliva production. Your mouth will also be exposed to more bacteria which puts you at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Don’t worry, if you’re experiencing some of the discomfort associated with dry mouth, we can help! Talk to Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, or your hygienist. We will have tips and recommendations to help you find relief while you care for your teeth and mouth. For example, we can help you find a sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and restore moisture, or steer you towards oral rinses that will replace moisture. As always, remember to keep brushing twice a day and flossing once a day! If you have more questions or concerns about your oral health or would like to schedule an appointment or consultation, give us a call at 207.781.5900.
**Image courtesy of www.thedoctorweighsin.com
Welcome to Dental Health 101! Educating our patients is one of our top priorities at FDA, and we thought it would be fun to test your knowledge of some oral health care basics with a pop quiz! Relax, this won’t impact your final grade. 😉 So, grab your extra-sharp No.2 pencils and see if you pass the FDA Basic Dental Health Pop Quiz!
Answer: A – We recommend you start bringing your children around the age of 1 to 3 to start their dental care. As soon as your child has teeth, they can get cavities and it is helpful to be proactive about oral health care. Each child is different as to when they are ready and our goal is to make coming to the dentist a positive experience for them. Our compassionate team is here to help you start a lifetime of healthy habits for your kids. If you need tips for getting your kids to brush, give us a call!
Answer: True! It is even harder than bone! A highly resilient surface, it is 96% mineral which makes it extremely durable, lasting hundreds of years. Despite its toughness, enamel can still chip or crack. Take care of tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay by brushing twice-a-day and flossing daily. If a chip happens your tooth enamel can’t repair itself, so come see Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos to talk about your options for repair or restoration.
Answer: B – Brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice-a-day. While the average American only brushes their teeth for about 45 seconds, give your teeth the extra love they need to help reduce plaque and maintain your gum health. Many electric toothbrushes have a built-in timer that automatically shuts off after two minutes…how easy is that?! Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice-a-day, along with daily flossing, regular dental check-ups, and a healthy diet is the basic recipe for a healthy mouth and a healthy life!
Answer: True! A diet rich in vegetables, high-calcium dairy products, protein, and omega-3s, not only keeps your body healthy, but helps your mouth stay healthy, too! Those crisp fruits and veggies help stimulate saliva to keep your teeth clean…kind of like brushing your teeth. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D help maintain a strong tooth structure, while those omega-3s contribute to a healthy inflammatory response in your body. When you nourish your body, you also support your oral health…so load up your plate with leafy greens, nuts, crunchy veggies, fish, and dairy products. We’re always happy to share healthy tips, so feel free to ask us about what food to incorporate into your diet for improved oral health at your next appointment!
Answer: C – You can brush your teeth too hard: over-brushing your teeth with a stiff-bristled brush or with a lot of force you can damage your tooth enamel and erode your gums. Treat your teeth and gums with care and take a more gentle approach with your pearly whites. Look for an extra soft-bristled brush with the ADA “Seal of Approval” and gently brush at a 45-degree angle so you clean your teeth and massage your gums without causing damage.
How did your dental health knowledge stack up? Whether you aced this quiz or bombed it, please know that FDA is always here to answer your questions and show you the best dental care techniques. We are your partners in your oral health and strive to empower you with knowledge so together we create a customized course of treatment that works for you. Call us at 207.781.5900 with questions or to schedule your next appointment!
When was the last time you checked in with your jaw? In these stressful times, perhaps you’ve noticed that you clench or grind your teeth more frequently, or that your jaw has begun to pop as you chew or talk. While occasional grinding or clenching may not be harmful, regular grinding can cause damage to your teeth and impact your jaws and joints. Sounds scary! However, you’re not alone! Some 30 to 40% of Americans have jaw pain or grind their teeth. Talking to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos is a great first step to addressing the aches in your jaw and face. Here are some symptoms to look out for and some tips to keep your jaw from causing you pain.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, often happens at night while you sleep. Even if you’re not aware of grinding and clenching your teeth, you’re probably experiencing some symptoms in the daylight hours. Here are a few common symptoms:
There are steps you can take to stop grinding your teeth and Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos should be part of your plan. If you feel like you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, come in for a comprehensive dental exam so we can help develop a special treatment plan for you. For example, we can prescribe and fabricate a night guard to help protect your teeth. We can also help you address your stress, as well as find resources and support for relaxing your mind and your jaw muscles. Some tips to consider include:
So, remember to brush your teeth, floss, and relax your jaw! If you need help addressing your jaw pain or teeth grinding, give us a call at 207.781.5900. We are here to help you have dental care that treats you and helps you have a healthy mouth and a healthy life!
October is National Dental Hygiene Month and we are lucky to have an amazing team of dental hygienists at Falmouth Dental Arts: Diann, Kelly, Jean, Erin, Alex, and our newest addition Leigha!
From a patient perspective, this incredible group of compassionate and knowledgeable healthcare professionals are the people you interact with most: they perform your routine check-ups and cleanings, and help your teeth get squeaky clean for the dentist’s review. They also love to educate patients so you are empowered to make the best choices for your unique dental needs.
So, what does it take to be a dental hygienist? What are some of the tricks-of-the-trade? To celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month, we asked Ashley from our team of phenomenal hygienists to share a little more about what they do.
Ashley: Dental hygienists must attend accredited dental school or university majoring in Dental Hygiene. The majority of current programs take four years to complete, with graduates receiving a bachelor’s degree. Upon receiving their degree, hygienists are eligible to take a series of board exams in order to become licensed and to work in a dental office.
Ashley: One of the best parts of being a dental hygienist is building connections and relationships with our patients. Learning about our patients not only makes our appointments fun and engaging but also helps us make recommendations that work with their lifestyle. We love our patients!
Ashley: Choosing a career in Dental Hygiene is a commitment to life-long learning. Technologies and care philosophies are always evolving which means we as providers are constantly engaging in education and professional development to ensure we are providing “crest of the wave” care. In fact, we are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education every two years as part maintaining an active license in the state of Maine.
Ashley: The electric toothbrush. It is more effective at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush and stimulates the gum tissue in order to promote gum health. It enhances the homecare routine especially for those with dexterity issues and braces.
Ashley: Simple, FLOSS. Flossing daily can prevent a myriad of dental and overall health issues. Who knew a piece of string could have such an impact on overall health?!
Ashley: Collectively, one of the most rewarding elements of being a hygienist at Falmouth Dental Arts is our whole-body approach to dental care. We recognize the impact of oral health on overall health and collaborate with our patients to create an individualized care plan. This approach is empowering and motivating for both us as hygienists and for the patient. As a result, treatment success is increased. It’s very rewarding!
Thank you, Ashley!
And thank you to all of our outstanding dental hygienists — Diann, Kelly, Jean, Erin, Alex, and Leigha! If you have more questions for our team about your oral health care, or need to schedule your next appointment, give our office a call at 207.781.5900.
Your pearly whites get a lot of attention, but when was the last time you thought about the health of your gums? Your gums play a vital role in your beautiful smile and your overall health. When you brush and floss your teeth you’re not just preventing cavities, you’re also protecting your gums from developing gum disease. Also known as periodontal disease, it is the leading cause of tooth loss, impacts your overall health, and as we’ve discussed on the blog before, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. So what are the ways you can improve the health of your gums? Here are 5 tips to help keep your gums healthy:
A proper brushing technique is essential to preventing gum disease. Start with a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush at a 45 degree angle to your gum line. Use short strokes and make sure you get all surfaces of your teeth. You should spend 2 minutes, twice a day on brushing. When you’re done with your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue, too! If you have questions about your brushing technique, don’t hesitate to ask your hygienist for a quick demonstration at your next appointment…our hygiene team loves to help and share their knowledge!
An important part of your oral health care regimen, flossing helps remove food and plaque from between the teeth. We know flossing can be a hard habit to stick with so if you’re looking for other ways to clean between your teeth, check out our blog post on alternatives to traditional flossing. If you notice any bleeding when you floss let us know at your next visit–this can be an early sign of periodontal disease. Find a method that works for you and stick with it!
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health! People who smoke cigarettes are four times as likely to have periodontal disease, and smoking makes it harder to manage treatments. Let us know if you have questions about smoking and oral health care or if you need help quitting…we want to support you!
Eating a diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables is good for your body, good for your teeth, and good for your gums. By incorporating foods that are rich in Omega-3s, vitamin C, and fiber you are not only getting essential nutrients, you are reducing inflammation and boosting your immune system, and in the process supporting the health of your gums as well. Snack on some almonds, bell peppers, and leafy greens for the win!
Coming in for regular check-ups with Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos is an important part of your oral health care. Seeing us regularly helps us monitor the health of your gums and teeth and notice if there are early signs of gum disease we can help you reverse. We are your partners in oral health care and want to help you have effective dental care for a healthy mouth and a healthy life!
If you have questions about the health of your gums or need to schedule your next appointment, please call us at 207.781.5900. We are working diligently to schedule patients with our new safety protocols, and appreciate your patience. We look forward to seeing you!