Connected Health: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

For decades, scientists have been studying the links between periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease. Over the years, research has continued to find strong correlations between these two inflammatory conditions. While there is work yet to be done, we have already discovered connections that may influence how we approach health care in the future. Consider a few key components of the gum disease – heart disease relationship.

Gum disease and heart disease share many of the same risk factors. Some of these include smoking, obesity, stress, nutrition, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of Americans aged 65 and older currently have periodontitis – the most advanced form of gum disease. Recent studies have suggested that patients with heart disease may have increased likelihood of developing gum disease as well.

Likewise, gum disease increases your risk of heart disease. This may be due to the higher rates of inflammation in your body that occur with gum disease. If you already have a heart condition, gum disease may worsen your illness. One study published in 2015 noted an increase in the severity of heart attacks in patients with gum disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

Treating gum disease may decrease your odds of contracting or worsening heart disease. A study published in 2014 found that patients who were treated for gum disease had fewer hospitalizations and lower health care costs related to heart disease. While more research is needed to determine the exact nature of this connection, it is clear that avoiding or treating gum disease can be considered an important part of prevention and treatment for heart disease, as well.

You can reduce your risk of serious health complications from heart disease or gum disease. Healthy diet, regular exercise, good dental hygiene, and avoiding tobacco can all help reduce to your risk of developing one or both of these conditions. See your doctor and our dentist regularly for preventive care and treatment.

To schedule your periodontal screening, contact our office today.

Are Dental Veneers Right for Me?

dentist bel airWe often have visitors to our office ask about solutions for fixing stained teeth or filling in gaps between teeth. We sometimes suggest veneers. Veneers are one cosmetic option available for correcting your smile. Here’s what you should know about veneers, and whether they are right for you and your smile.

What Are Veneers?

A Veneer is a thin cover placed over the front of the tooth. Typically, they are made of dental porcelain and designed to cover your existing tooth, not replace it.

What They Do

Veneers are used to fix a broken or chipped tooth, shrink the noticeable gaps in between teeth, or reduce the visible stains on teeth. Our office specially sizes them to fit your teeth. Generally, the structure of your teeth is not altered since the veneers are placed over your teeth.

What You Need to Know

Those who get veneers sometimes experience a minor increase in sensitivity, particularly to hot or cold food and drinks. Veneers are typically nonreversible, as they often require a small amount of tooth enamel to be removed. After getting them, it is advisable to avoid drinks such as wine, coffee, or tea that are often culprits of causing staining. Taking care of them still requires you to brush twice each day and floss regularly as well. Your teeth are not invincible to staining or decay so be sure to continue to take care of them.

It is important to know that veneers are a solution to minor tooth issues such as discoloration, gaps, or misaligned teeth. They are not a substitute for braces, bridges, or other dental work. Schedule a visit to our office to meet with our dentist. Together our team can work with you to develop a plan to reach the goals and look you are hoping to achieve.

For more information on how to achieve the smile you have dreamed of, contact our office. We look forward to seeing you during your next visit with us!

5 Ways to Safely Remove a Loose Tooth

When children reach a certain age, they begin to grow out of their baby teeth. But before the tooth comes out and they get paid a visit by the tooth fairy, there’s a fair amount of wiggling and playing with the tooth that helps get it to the point where it can be removed. Once the tooth is loose enough to come out, there are several safe methods that can be used to quickly and painlessly to remove it.

Just Keep Wiggling

As time passes, a baby tooth will naturally become loose by constant use of the mouth for eating, getting pushed  by the tongue, and from the adult replacement tooth erupting underneath it . All of these factors help to gradually loosen the tooth until it’s ready to be removed.

When it gets to the point where you can wiggle it back and forth a significant amount, you can use your thumb and index finger to  twist the tooth out. As long as the tooth is ready to come out, this is typically one of the easiest and most painless ways to remove a tooth. If you want to be a bit more sanitary and prepare for any blood, you can use a piece of gauze.

Eat Hard Foods

Eating crunchy or hard foods such as apples and carrots can help to push the tooth out using the force of the mouth and the jaw. Also, eating chewy foods like tough meats may provide enough force to knock the tooth loose.

Use Floss

When a tooth is very loose and you don’t want to use your fingers, or it’s too difficult to reach with fingers, you can use floss to get it free. Wedge a string of floss beneath the tooth and pull hard to quickly free the tooth.

Use Tweezers

If you need more precision than fingers can offer, a pair of tweezers can be used to grip a very loose tooth. Using a clean, sterile pair of tweezers can also be safer as it eliminates bacteria from the fingers that can get in the wound left behind from the removed tooth.

See a Dentist

If a tooth isn’t loose enough and needs to be removed to clear the way for an adult tooth that’s coming in, you may have to resort to going to the dentist to get it removed. Rather than attempting to pull the tooth prematurely and cause more pain than necessary, the dentist will have the  expertise necessary to make the removal of the tooth a safe and painless process.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Dentist in Bel Air, MD | Are You at Risk for Hairy Tongue?

Dentist Bel Air

cosmetic dentist bel air mdYou may not realize it, but you could be at risk of developing an unsightly medical condition known as hairy tongue. While it is harmless in most cases, hairy tongue is still an unpleasant ailment. The causes are not always completely known, but practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting our dental office for cleanings can help prevent the issue. Here’s what you need to know.

What is hairy tongue?

With hairy tongue, your tongue may look like its covered in fuzz or hair, but this condition is actually caused by an accumulation of bacteria. The surface of your tongue is covered in small, rough papillae which gives it its rough texture. Overtime, these papillae grow, shed, and are replaced. Occasionally, the older papillae may fail to shed properly. This causes a buildup on the tongue and can cause a hair-like appearance.

Who is at risk of hairy tongue?

According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, as much as 13% of the population may have hairy tongue. Anyone can develop the condition, but certain risk factors such as age and tobacco use increase your chances.

What causes hairy tongue?

While the exact causes of hairy tongue are not known, there are a variety of factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing the condition. Poor oral hygiene and a diet of soft foods can put you at an increased risk, as a lack of stimulation on the tongue can prevent the shedding of older papillae. Excessive consumption of certain substances, including tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea have been shown to contribute to this condition. Dehydration and dry mouth can slow down the tongue’s natural refresh cycle of replacing papillae.

The best defense against hairy tongue is a regular at-home oral hygiene routine that includes twice daily brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. Visiting our practice at least twice a year for cleanings can also give us an opportunity to regularly examine your mouth and catch any early signs of hairy tongue.

If you’re past due for your regular cleaning or are concerned that you might be developing hairy tongue, don’t hesitate to contact our practice for an appointment today.

Your Go-To-Guide to Easter Candy and Healthy Teeth

With Easter right around the corner, there’s no doubt kids are thinking of all the candy and treats they’ll be getting for the holiday. Many Americans celebrate the holiday in part by giving out Easter baskets and holding Easter egg hunts filled with chocolate, candy, and other sweets.

While traditions may hold strong and kids (and adults too!) will always love their sweet treats, all the candy they’ll be eating will take its toll on their teeth. While talking about oral health on Easter certainly isn’t the most fun topic, it’s a good idea to at least familiarize yourself with some basic information and to learn which treats are better and which you can stay away from to keep you and your kids happy and healthy at the same time.

What Does Candy Do to Your Teeth

When eating foods and snacks with a high sugar content, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and excrete an acidic substance as a result. This acidic substance contributes to the decay of the tooth enamel, buildup of plaque, and gum disease and cavities. The longer you expose your teeth to sugar, the more damage is done from the acidic secretions of the bacteria.

Quick Tips

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day when indulging in sweets. Water helps to neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria. Swishing the water around your mouth is an even better way to clean your mouth, as it can shake loose any bits that are stuck in between your teeth. Sugary food that is stuck in the mouth will cause acidic breakdown of the enamel until the food is removed.
  • Try to exercise moderation in the amount of candy you eat. Having a few pieces here and there throughout the day will save your teeth a whole lot of damage than if you constantly indulge in sugary snacks all day.

Treats to Stay Away From

Here are a few types of treats that are particularly damaging to your oral health:

  • Sticky or Gummy Candy – Any candy that has a tendency to stick to the teeth will do more damage as the pieces that get stuck continue to cause damage to the tooth until they are removed.
  • Hard Candy – The more time you spend exposing teeth to sugars, the more damage will be done to the enamel, and the more likely you’ll get a cavity. Candies like lollipops and jawbreakers will cause more harm simply by being in the mouth for a longer time.
  • Dried Fruit – One of the more surprising ones on this list, dried fruit, causes the sugars in the fruit to become very concentrated. Similarly to sticky candy, dried fruit can easily get caught in between your teeth and cause damage until you remove the particle of fruit.

Healthier Alternatives

Try some of these alternatives that you and your kids will still love:

  • Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate that’s low in sugar has been shown to have teeth strengthening properties.
  • Real Eggs – Want an alternative to candy that can be turned into a fun activity as well? Decorating hard-boiled eggs during Easter with natural dyes is a classic activity and doesn’t have the sugary content that candy does.
  • Sugar Free Candy – Low sugar or sugar free candy can taste just as good but won’t have the same sugar content that is responsible for causing damage to teeth.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Dentist in Bel Air | 3 Simple Ways to Reduce Tooth Decay

Dentist in Bel Air, MD

A happy smile is a healthy smile! There are a number of steps you can take to keep your smile healthy by reducing your risk of developing tooth decay. Here are a few suggestions from our team.

Eat a Tooth Friendly Diet

Reduce the amount of sugars and carbohydrates in your diet. Decay-causing bacteria in the mouth feed on these substances.

We suggest you reduce grains, beans, seeds, and nuts in your diet when possible. These foods can lead to demineralization of your teeth and bones due to their acidic content. Consider adding foods high in minerals and vitamins to your diet such as apples, leafy greens, celery, or carrots.

Brush, Floss, Rinse, Repeat

Routine brushing at least twice a day followed by flossing and a mouth rinse is the optimal at home dental care routine. Brush for at least two minutes in the morning and at night. Use a soft bristle toothbrush that is small enough to reach every tooth.

Dental Sealants

Children often get dental sealants to protect the hard-to-reach teeth in the back of their mouths. However, dental sealants can benefit adults and those who have a higher risk of decay. Dental sealants are a layer of plastic-like material that coats the top surface of the tooth. Sealants protect the crevices in the tooth where bacteria reside and minimizes exposure of the tooth to harmful acids and sugars that wear down enamel.

When left untreated, tooth decay can cause discomfort and spread to other healthy teeth. You can combat tooth decay by reducing sugars and acids in your diet and brushing and flossing regularly. For some patients, dental sealants might be a solution.

Don’t forget to schedule your next visit to our office. Our team can provide a professional cleaning and check for signs of tooth decay.

How Important Is It to Brush Baby Teeth?

While we all know how important it is to keep our teeth clean and healthy, there are often misconceptions in regards to the importance of keeping baby teeth clean. Many people may tell themselves that it’s not as important to clean baby teeth as it is to clean permanent, adult teeth because baby teeth will eventually fall out.

However, the health of adult teeth, as well as the habits formed by regularly taking care of your teeth, are largely dependent on the health and care of baby teeth, making it extremely important to take care of teeth at a very young age.

How Early Should I Start Taking Care of My Child’s Teeth?

Most experts actually recommend that parents begin an oral health regimen even before baby teeth emerge. Gently wiping a baby’s gums with a wet washcloth after eating removes surface bacteria. Once baby teeth first begin to emerge, switch to a soft toothbrush to use on the teeth and the gums. It’s okay to use just water to clean the teeth at first, and you can eventually switch to a toothpaste with fluoride around two years of age.

Why Is It Important to Keep Baby Teeth Clean?

Baby teeth are extremely important to the health and development of a growing child. Healthy teeth allow for your child to chew without pain, smile a radiant smile, and learn to speak properly. You wouldn’t want your kid to have dental issues with their baby teeth, even if those issues were to go away with the permanent teeth! Clean and pain-free teeth lead to a happier, healthier childhood.

Baby teeth, however, do affect the development and placement of adult teeth. They hold the place in the jaw for the permanent teeth that grow beneath the gums. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent tooth can drift beneath the gums and cause crowding or spacing in the adult teeth when they try to come in.

Baby teeth are just as prone to cavities as adult teeth. Over 50 percent of children are affected by some form of tooth decay before the age of five due to improper tooth care.

Developing Habits

Aside from the immediate physical benefits of caring for baby teeth, it is essential to have your child develop positive oral health habits from a very young age. Starting at an age where they can handle it on their own, making sure your kid brushes their teeth at least two or three times a day will have them get used to a proper oral care regimen. When they’re old enough, have them introduce flossing and mouthwash into the routine to help develop even stronger habits. Plus, this gives them the tools and skills necessary to maintain a healthy smile.

Looking for a dentist for your growing child? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

How Gum Disease Affects More Than Just Your Mouth

With so much focus on the health of our teeth, gum health seems to be one of the most understated facets of oral health. Everyone is constantly bombarded with commercials and information telling us to brush our teeth, get them whiter, and keep them cleaner, but we often forget about the thing that holds them firmly in place and protects them. The truth is, in order to have healthy teeth, and good health overall, it is crucial to have healthy gums. In fact, gum disease not only has detrimental effects on your oral health, but can affect multiple systems in your body in addition to just your mouth.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is caused by the presence of bacteria in the mouth in areas where it can congregate and accumulate. Gum disease most commonly occurs around and below the gum line due to a buildup of plaque and bacteria where the teeth meet the gums. This buildup causes irritation and inflammation in the gums, triggering an immune response from the body.

The mildest form of gum disease is known as gingivitis, which can progress to a more severe form known as periodontitis if left unchecked. Periodontitis can actually break down the connection between the teeth and the gums.

Approximately 47% of adults in the United States have some form of gum disease, with over 70% of adults over 65 years old being affected.

How Gum Disease Affects Your Body

The oral symptoms of gum disease include bad breath, swollen gums, loose or sensitive teeth, receding gums, tender or bleeding gums, and painful chewing. When left untreated, gum disease can even lead to the loss of teeth. However, gum disease can also have a major impact on other body systems that can lead to serious health issues such as pneumonia, COPD, and acute bronchitis. Since gum disease is an infection that the body must dedicate resources to fight, its ability to fight other infections such as the aforementioned respiratory infections, is compromised.

While not a direct cause, there are many common factors between gum disease and heart disease, including genetics, age, smoking habits, presence of diabetes, and more.

According to recent studies, it takes two to three months longer for women with active gum disease to conceive compared to women without gum disease. Fertility specialists actually often require women to show that they do not have gum disease or are taking steps necessary to treat it if they do have it.

Gum disease during pregnancy must be monitored closely and treated properly. With nearly 40% of pregnant women developing gum disease at some point during their pregnancy, it is a common issue with potential side effects; pregnant women with active gum disease have an increased chance to deliver prematurely or have babies with lower than average birth weight.

Want to make sure your gum health is up to par? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for you and your baby so you can spend less time worrying and more time on the things that matter. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Fun Recipes for a Beautiful Smile

Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you, so keeping it in great shape is important. Aside from just looks, maintaining healthy teeth can give you a life free from tooth pain and frequent dentist visits.

The foods we eat have a big effect on the quality of our teeth. Avoiding foods with a high sugar content and certain staining foods and drinks like coffee can help prolong oral health and the whiteness of your smile. Foods high in fat soluble nutrients such as vitamin A, C, D, and K, as well as calcium and protein, can provide your body with vitamins and minerals that support strong teeth. Here are a few great tasting recipes that will help you maintain that radiant smile!

Veggie Omelet

This delicious dish is packed with protein, calcium, and a whole lot of nutrients from the veggies. It’s an overall great way to start the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pepper, onion and mushrooms, then cook for two minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in spinach and cook until it wilts. Remove veggies from skillet and place into a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, adding water, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the hot skillet and let it cook, without stirring. Once the egg is ready, empty the bowl of cooked veggies onto half the omelet and sprinkle with cheese. Use a spatula to fold the other half of the omelet over the vegetables and cheese. Serve while warm.

Crunchy Chopped Salad (Recipe by Karen D. Krchma)

Packed with nutrients from leafy greens and vegetables, this salad is sure to be a favorite for you and your smile.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion (red, green or white) finely chopped
  • 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped, or 1⁄4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 drops stevia, or 1 teaspoon honey, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Sea salt, a pinch or two to taste
  • Fresh ground peppercorn, a pinch or two to taste

Directions:

Chop the vegetables and basil, if using fresh, and place in a medium bowl. If using dried basil, keep in a separate bowl.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, stevia (or honey), salt, pepper, olive oil (optional), and 2 teaspoons of water. Add dried basil if using this instead of fresh. Stir and pour over vegetables. Toss well to coat.

Shiitake Mushroom Chicken with Millet Recipe (Recipe by Karen D. Krchma)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 pounds chicken breast (preferably, organic, hormone- and antibiotic free)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, Himalayan or Celtic
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped, or 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed, trimmed and patted dry. Remove the tops and slice; finely chop the stems.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, removing the leaves from the stem, or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 3-4 green onions, trimmed and sliced diagonally, or increase onion to 1 medium onion
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh pea pods, washed, trimmed, sliced diagonally (optional)
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced red pepper (optional)
  • 1⁄4 cup white wine, dry preferred
  • 1 cup fresh or prepared chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter, organic preferred, or Ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 tablespoons, fresh coarsely chopped parsley, or 1 scant tablespoon dried parsley

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Wash and scrape chicken (scrape a sharp knife over the chicken while rinsing under running water). Place chicken breasts on a glass cutting board. With a sharp knife, pierce each chicken breast 10-12 times. Using a wooden or stainless steel meat tenderizer (mallet), pound each chicken breast down to 1⁄4-1⁄2-inch thickness, as evenly as possible. Tent a paper towel over the mallet to prevent “chicken splash” when pounding. Never use plastic wrap when pounding chicken. Cut each breast in half, or palm-size pieces. Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and garlic powder if using.

Heat coconut oil in skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot add chicken, mushrooms and onions, as well as fresh garlic if using. Sauté chicken about 5-7 minutes or until lightly brown, stirring mushrooms and onions to brown evenly. Turn chicken to brown both sides, cooking for an additional 5-7 minutes, making sure juices in the thickest part run clear. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and cover to keep warm.

In your skillet with the mushrooms and onions, add rosemary, green onions, pea pods, and red pepper. Add the wine, stirring to loosen cooked juices in the pan. When the wine is slightly reduced, add the broth, and then continue to cook until liquid is reduced by half. Stir in butter or Ghee. Add the chicken and bring back to serving temperature. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and parsley and serve.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment

Dental Health During Pregnancy

With a baby on the way, your dental health is probably the last thing on your mind. Your body is changing in more ways than ever, your clothes don’t fit, cravings are out of control, and the list goes on and on. However, poor dental hygiene during pregnancy can lead to long-term consequences for both you and your baby. Understanding and preventing the dental issues that are associated with pregnancy can leave you worry-free and allow you to focus on the important things during such an important time in your life.

Pregnancy and Dental Health Myths

There are a number of misconceptions regarding pregnancy and oral care. One myth is that it is unsafe for pregnant women to go to the dentist due to the radiation from X-rays and other procedures that are perceived as harmful to the baby. This is definitely not the case, and you should at a minimum continue your regularly scheduled dentist appointments. It’s an even better idea to visit your dentist if you are planning to become pregnant to help set a plan to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout.

Another myth is that teeth lose a significant amount of calcium during pregnancy because the growing baby has nutrients move to somewhere else in the body for support. However, this is untrue, and any dental changes that occur during pregnancy are due to hormone changes in the body. It is still important to increase the amount of calcium you intake to ensure both you and your baby have the proper amount of calcium needed for development, particularly during the third trimester. Prenatal vitamins usually contain an adequate amount of calcium and other important nutrients such as Vitamin D.

Risks with Oral Hygiene

One of the most common dental issues for expecting mothers is gingivitis. High and fluctuating  hormone levels can lead to an increase reactivity  in the mouth during pregnancy, which can potentially cause gingivitis, a type of gum disease. Symptoms of gingivitis include red or swollen gums.

Tooth decay is another potential pregnancy risk, especially for mothers that suffer from morning sickness. For those who vomit often as a result of morning sickness, acid in the mouth breaks down the enamel and increases the risk of tooth decay, which can lead to cavities.

Even after giving birth, dental risks can still persist due to various reasons. Moms often are overwhelmed caring for the newbourne and neglect their own health and continue for many months to have erratic  hormone levels, both of which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Treating and Preventing Dental Issues

Fortunately for those who are concerned about dental issues during pregnancy, you can take preventative measure to reduce the risk of harm to  oral hygiene. The best and most basic way to prevent dental issues is to simply maintain or step up your oral hygiene routine, committing to brushing and flossing two to three times a day. Also, stay hydrated and try your best to stick to a low sugar and starch diet to protect your teeth.

Want to make sure your oral health is in check with your baby on the way? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for you and your baby so you can spend less time worrying and more time on the things that matter. Contact us today to set up an appointment.