Does Pregnancy Affect Oral Health?

pregnant woman standing outside in a field
It’s no secret that the side effects of pregnancy range far beyond just creating another human life. However, you may be surprised to learn that there is a strong correlation between pregnancy and oral health. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for developing gum disease and cavities, and the oral health of a pregnant woman can have an impact on the health outcomes of both mother and baby. Today, we want to talk about the oral health risks faced by pregnant mothers as well as the steps they can take to keep their teeth healthy and strong.

Pregnancy & Gum Disease

During pregnancy, hormonal changes cause blood flow to the gums to increase. This can cause gum tissue to become sensitive, swollen, and tender. Not only is this change uncomfortable, it can also hamper your body’s normal response to bacteria and increase your risk for infection.

While there’s nothing you can do to avoid these hormonal changes, you can take steps to mitigate your risk for gum disease by following a good at-home oral hygiene routine as well as regularly visiting our office. In some cases, Dr. Henson may prescribe a special mouthwash to treat your gum disease.

Not only is fighting back against gum disease important for your own oral health, it is also important for the health of your baby. Gum disease is associated with preterm births, low birth weight, and other adverse outcomes.

Pregnancy & Cavities

As if gum disease wasn’t enough to worry about, pregnancy can also increase your risk for cavities. This heightened risk is due both to hormonal changes that affect your body’s response to bacteria as well as changes in diet while pregnant. There is a strong correlation showing that children of pregnant mothers with cavities are much more likely to develop cavities of their own.

Good oral health starts at home: you should brush your teeth twice daily and floss each day to keep teeth healthy and strong. Regular visits to our office help our team treat your oral health and are especially important while pregnant.

Contact us to ask our team any questions about oral health or to schedule a consultation!

The Effects of Grinding Your Teeth at Night

If you dismiss your own or a loved one’s tooth grinding at night as merely a noisy inconvenience, you may want to think twice. Also known as bruxism, tooth grinding can not only have some serious consequences, it may also be a sign of a serious underlying health condition like sleep apnea. Today, we want to explore some of the common effects of grinding your teeth at night, and share some strategies for eliminating grinding.

man in pain grimacing holding his head and jaw with both hands

Headaches & Jaw Pain

Tooth grinding can cause headaches in the morning, due to the constant pressure on your jaw and skull throughout the night. Other patients who grind their teeth complain about constant jaw pain as muscles are straining throughout the night while you grind teeth.

Tooth Sensitivity

Over the years, tooth grinding can lead to tooth sensitivity. When you grind your teeth, tooth enamel slowly wears away as teeth rub together. Not only does enamel protect your teeth from cavities and decay, it also protects the delicate inner dentin, pulp, and nerve endings. Once enamel is damaged and nerve endings are exposed, you will likely experience more sensitive teeth.

Cracked or Shortened Teeth

As your teeth grind back and forth, this wears away on the surface of your teeth. Over time, this can result in teeth becoming shorter. This can also lead to damage in the form of cracks, chips, or even broken teeth.

How Can I Treat Tooth Grinding?

While Dr. Henson may be able to create a customized mouthpiece that protects your teeth while you sleep, the best way to treat tooth grinding is to address its source. For some patients, tooth grinding indicates the presence of a sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea. For others, tooth grinding is indicative of stress or anxiety.

Contact us to ask our team questions about tooth grinding or to schedule a consultation!

Can Baby Teeth Get Cavities?

Many don’t think about the health of baby teeth. The assumption is that since baby teeth eventually fall out, they don’t need to be cared for. Nothing could be less true. Baby teeth are especially prone to cavities. In fact, by the age of five, 60 percent of children have had a cavity. Baby teeth are important and need to be cared for to set kids on a healthy path for life.

young girl showing off her baby brother's teeth and smile

Cavities & Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay for a number of reasons. First, children tend to not brush properly or for long enough. They may fight parents on allowing them to brush. Young children often don’t floss. This can also lead to food particles becoming stuck in between teeth and leading to plaque and tartar. Finally, children tend to love sweet treats. Many of the foods marketed to children are processed snacks like crackers, cookies, and cereal. All of these early childhood staples are hazardous for the health of teeth, especially if proper dental hygiene is lacking.

How to Prevent Cavities in Baby Teeth

For starters, don’t underestimate the importance of baby teeth or dental hygiene for young kids. We set our children up for a lifetime of healthy teeth if we begin and teach good habits early. Bring your child in for a dental appointment as soon as they turn a year old or get their first tooth. Make sure they are brushing twice a day, especially before bed. If they are under the age of six, you’ll need to help make sure they are brushing properly and for long enough. Choose snacks for your child that are low in refined starches and not overly processed. Vegetables, grains, fruits, and lean protein sources are best. Save sweets for special occasions only, and always make sure to brush after.

What to Do If Your Child Has a Cavity

If your child complains of tooth pain or you suspect they may have a cavity, call our office. We will get them seen as soon as possible. Because children’s cavities are common, we are highly experienced in helping. Treatment for a cavity is easy and painless if caught early. Don’t delay getting a cavity checked out. In a baby tooth, infection and abscess could develop and damage the health of the permanent teeth that have yet to grow in.

Contact us today if it’s time to schedule your little one for a dental appointment. We make sure our smallest patients feel comfortable and have fun when they’re with us. We’ll see you soon!

Chipped or Broken Tooth Treatment & Repair

Whether you’re dealing with a chipped tooth yourself, or if you just want to be prepared, we’re here to help. In this blog post, we’ll brief you on what can be done to treat and repair a chipped or broken tooth.

cartoon man pointing at a frowning broken cartoon tooth

At-home Treatment

If you break or chip a tooth, you will have to see your dentist as soon as you can. In the meantime, though, there are a few things you can do. Gently rinse out your mouth with warm water. Depending on the severity of the break, you may experience a lot of pain, and even blood. Quel any blood with gauze and, if needed, reach for a NSAID, like ibuprofen, to ease the pain.

Filling or Bonding

Once you get to the dentist, one of the options they may choose to repair your broken tooth is a filling or bonding. These are methods that are used to repair minor chips. If it’s a visible, front tooth that has been affected, your dentist is likely to opt for a tooth-colored bonding for a seamless restoration. Both procedures are straightforward and can be accomplished in an office visit.

Crown

In instances where a more significant chunk of the tooth has been broken off, your dentist may decide that a crown is the answer. A crown is tooth-shaped, and it covers and protects the damaged tooth. Crowns can be temporary or permanent, and come in a variety of different materials including metal, porcelain, and resin.

Veneers

Especially in cases where one of the front teeth has been significantly damaged, a dental veneer may be the best way to fix the look and feel of the tooth. A veneer is a permanent solution in which a thin, tooth shaped shell covers the affected tooth, leaving you with a tooth that looks as good as new.

If you do happen to break a tooth, don’t panic! Contact us here at Henson Family Dental and a member of our team will be happy to walk you through your options.

Interesting Facts About Ancient Dental Practices

If you didn’t have the modern conveniences of a toothbrush and toothpaste, what would you use to clean your teeth? Well back in the day, ancient civilizations had a lot of different methods for cleaning teeth…some more effective than others. Let’s travel into the past to learn some fun facts about primitive dental practices!

egyptian pharaoh figurine

Chewing Sticks

Back before soft-bristled toothbrushes, people would use chewing sticks to clean their teeth. Imagine a stick or twig with frayed ends that would act as bristles. The first record of these chewing sticks comes from the Babylonians in 3500 BC, and ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans also used such tools.

Tooth Worms

Today, we know that those little holes in our teeth called cavities are caused by decay, but popular belief in the olden times was that a tooth worm was responsible for gnawing away at our teeth and causing problems. Thank goodness that that turned out not to be true! To get rid of such small pests, different cultures tried different techniques, including rituals, spells, heated probes, and extraction.

Toothpaste Recipes

We may have some interesting toothpaste flavors on the market now like chocolate and bacon, but they don’t quite compare to some of the ingredients that were once used. Ash, eggshells, pumice, crushed bones, oyster shells, and bark were all once used to make toothpastes. The oldest known recipe for toothpaste, which comes on a papyrus from ancient Egypt, doesn’t sound so terrible though. It called for rock salt, mint, iris flower, and pepper.

Hearing some of these ancient dental practices may make you a little more thankful for the comfort and convenience of today’s oral health care. We’re sure glad times have changed! If you need some help sorting out a dental routine for yourself, whether you need some pointers with technique or some advice with products, feel free to contact the Henson Family Dental team today!

What to Do in a Dental Emergency

When a dental emergency strikes, knowing how to react can mean the difference between saving a tooth or not. Today, our team at Henson Family Dental want to talk about a few common dental emergencies and help you come up with a plan for how to react in the event that something happens.

girl holding her lower tooth with a dental emergency

Toothache

Toothaches are very common, and can have a variety of causes. The first thing you should do is gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it. If you notice that something is irritating your teeth (like a food particle trapped between teeth or between your tooth and gum), you can try to gently floss to remove it. If this doesn’t ease your pain, call our office for help. In many cases, we can see patients same-day for emergencies.

Cracked Tooth

Once you realize that you’ve chipped or cracked a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it and keep an infection from developing. If you notice that the area around your tooth is swollen, you can use a cold compress. Then, call our office to learn about next steps.

Lost Tooth

If for some reason your tooth gets knocked out, don’t panic – there’s still a chance you can save your tooth. If possible, place your tooth back in its socket without touching the root. If this is impossible, you can also place it between your teeth and gums. If neither is possible, you can place the tooth in a glass of milk. Regardless, it is important to keep your tooth moist. Call our office immediately.

No matter your dental emergency, call our office as quickly as possible. Our highly trained team knows what to do in just about every situation to help you preserve the health of your teeth. To ask us any questions or schedule your next visit, contact our office today!

What Thanksgiving Foods Will Make Your Teeth Happy?

When you’re stuffing yourself this Thanksgiving, you don’t need to feel too badly about what you’re doing to your health. Sure, you might gain a few pounds, but you may actually be doing wonders for your teeth at the very least. It turns out there are some Thanksgiving foods that are actually good for your dental health! Keep reading to find out more.

thanksgiving dinner foods good for oral health

Turkey

Yes, that’s right! Turkey is good for your teeth, provided you make sure to clean your teeth afterwards. That’s because it’s filled with protein and phosphorus, which strengthen both your teeth and bones. However, turkey is also hard to eat and can get stuck between your teeth, so make sure you floss afterwards.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are packed with a variety of vitamins that are extremely good for your teeth. Vitamin C helps fight gingivitis and protects your gums, while vitamin D helps to prevent tooth loss. However, be sure to eat these in moderation; bacteria that causes cavities also happen to love the sugar in potatoes’ starch. As always, don’t forget to brush your teeth and floss afterwards!

Glazed Carrots

Carrots contain a lot of vitamin B, which causes your mouth to salivate. While that might sound strange, saliva is actually very important for your dental health. Saliva kills bacteria and washes away harmful acids. In addition, carrots are loaded with vitamin K, which helps prevent tooth decay.

What Are Some of the Worst Thanksgiving Foods?

While turkey, roasted sweet potatoes, and glazed carrots are dentist-approved in moderation, some foods can spell disaster for your teeth if you’re not careful. Sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages can give you cavities quickly, so make sure you swish your mouth out after consuming these. Desserts like fruit cake are also filled with sugar, and we don’t need to explain how bad that can be for your teeth!

We at Henson Family Dental hope these culinary recommendations will help you enjoy Thanksgiving in the most tooth-friendly way possible. In the meantime, if you’re due for a checkup, or have any other dental issue, contact our office today to schedule an appointment!

Can Your Gums Grow Back?

Receding gums is a condition in which the gums around your teeth pull back or wear away to expose more of your tooth or even your tooth’s root. But once your gums recede, can they grow back? Here, we’ll discuss whether your gums can grow back, along with explaining what causes your gums to recede, what happens when they do, and how you can prevent your gums from receding.

woman touching her lower lip wondering if her gums are receding

What Causes Gums to Recede?

There are a large number of factors that can cause gums to recede. Some are directly related to your oral health such as poor oral hygiene, grinding your teeth, gum disease which destroys gum tissue and the bone that keep your teeth in their place, and too aggressive tooth brushing which can wear away at your enamel and lead to your gums receding. Then there are the unfortunate factors that you can’t do too much about including genetics–about 30 percent of people are predisposed to gum disease–and hormonal changes that we experience throughout our life including during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Further, there are those causes that are personal lifestyle choices such as smoking and tobacco use and body piercings that can lead to receding gums.

What Happens When Your Gums Recede?

Your gums are meant to protect your teeth by connecting your teeth to bone and protecting your teeth’s roots from being exposed. When your gums recede, this can cause tooth decay as bacteria can build up in the pockets that are left between the gums and teeth. If left untreated, receding gums can actually cause tooth loss. You’ll be able to detect gum recession when you notice your teeth being particularly sensitive to hot and cold foods, and if your teeth look longer than normal.

Can Your Gums Grow Back?

The short answer is no. Once your gums recede, they can’t come back. However, there are a number of treatment options that can help depending upon how severe the gum recession is. First, there is root planing which is when your dentist removes any plaque buildup on your tooth’s root to prevent tooth decay or periodontal disease from developing. Gum grafting is a surgical procedure during which your healthy gum tissue is taken from the top of your mouth to replace the missing gum tissue. Lastly, there is regeneration which is only used in the more extreme cases of gum recession where the bone is destroyed. A dentist will place regenerative material where the bone loss occurred to regenerate tissue and bone during this surgical procedure.

How Can You Prevent Gum Recession?

Good oral health habits are the best way to prevent your gums from receding. This means brushing–not too vigorously!–twice a day for two minutes at a time, flossing at least once a day, and using fluoride toothpaste. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet low in sugars and starches, and if you are a smoker you should consider stopping.

Another vital aspect of good oral health is coming in for regular checkups and cleanings. Contact our office today to learn more about healthy gums and to schedule a consultation with our team!

History of Dental Implants

Why Are Dental Implants Necessary?

We’ve been dealing with tooth loss literally for all of human history. Whether teeth are lost from decay, accident, or disease, it’s important to deal with the missing tooth (or teeth) promptly, because failing to do so can result in the following scenarios:

  • Missing teeth will affect the way that you eat and speak
  • Existing teeth will often shift
  • Jawbone degeneration from a missing tooth or teeth can cause the shape of your face to change

History of Dental Implants

Our ancestors have always been losing teeth, and basically for all of that time, the techniques they experimented with would eventually develop into modern dental implants. Consider the following ancient cultures and their dental practices:

terracota warriors in ancient china

  • Ancient China
    Archeological evidence from ancient China dating back 4000 years shows pegs carved from bamboo that were then tapped into the jawbone to replace missing teeth.
  • Ancient Egypt
    2,000-year-old remains from ancient Egypt attest to the practice of implanting precious metals, ivory, and in some cases, even transplanted human teeth.
  • Ancient Honduras
    A lower jaw dating back to 600 AD was found in Honduras with three missing teeth that had been replaced with pieces of tooth-shaped shells.

Modern Dental Implants

Dental implants have made great strides since ancient times and in more recent decades, especially since the 1950’s. In 1952 a Swedish doctor discovered that titanium screws inserted into the jawbone, where the tooth used to be, connect to the living bone tissue, literally joining it to the bone in a term know as osseointegration. After the titanium screw is fused to bone, a post is placed atop it with a crown.

Although dental implants as recently as the 19th century were dodgy and did not have a high rate of success, the Institute for Dental Implant Awareness quotes clinical studies that show modern dental implants as having a success rate above 95 percent.

Are you missing a tooth or teeth? Chances are good that you’re a candidate for dental implants! Contact our office today to learn more about dental implants and to schedule a consultation with our team!

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Brunette girl in a wet white shirt drinks from a stream of water flowing from a stone fountain

At Henson Family Dental, we know how important it is to establish healthy dental habits in your kids from a young age. Encouraging your children to brush twice daily for two minutes each time, floss each day, and visit our office regularly can ensure that their developing teeth grow healthy and strong. Often, parents ask Dr. Henson and our team about the safety of using various dental products on their children. Fluoride is a topic that frequently comes up, so today we want to talk about why fluoride is a safe, effective tool for fighting cavities in patients of all ages.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in the earth’s crust. Many communities add fluoride to their drinking water for its cavity-fighting benefits. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth by hardening enamel both in children and adults.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride works through a process called remineralization. After you eat, acids produced by bacteria that consume food particles begin to wear away at enamel. Over time, this process can result in cavities. Fluoride deposits calcium and phosphorus, minerals that work to strengthen enamel before cavities can develop.

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Yes, fluoride is safe for children in small amounts. If you live in an area where fluoride is added to the water supply, your kids will receive the benefit each time they take a drink of water. As your child develops their first teeth, Dr. Henson may recommend a toothpaste with additional fluoride depending on their needs.

Occasionally, young patients develop fluorosis as a result of ingesting too much fluoride. If you notice small white spots on your kid’s teeth, this may be fluorosis. However, if your children are using the correct amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush and spitting it out, the chance that they will develop fluorosis is very low – and the chance that fluoride will protect them against cavities is very high.

To ask our team any additional questions about the safety of fluoride or to schedule your next appointment, contact us today!