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!

5 Celebrities That You Didn’t Know Had Fake Teeth

Dental care is important for everyone, whether you’re young, old, rich, poor – or famous! Those bright white smiles that celebrities flash on the red carpet are usually thanks to a little (or a lot) of help from their dentist. In fact, there are many celebrities that have worn dentures or received cosmetic dentistry enhancements. Our Henson Family Dental team has compiled the following list of celebrities you may be surprised to learn had/have fake teeth.

1. George Washington

George Washington, one of the founding fathers and our beloved first president, had notoriously terrible teeth. Throughout much of his adult life, he wore dentures made of ivory that were fixed to his natural teeth with wire. Luckily, modern advances in dentistry have resulted in dentures that both look like natural teeth and are comfortable to wear.

Drawing of George Washington, our first president and the military commander during the Revolutionary War

2. Ben Affleck

Even the Batman doesn’t have naturally perfect teeth! Ben Affleck supposedly has a full set of porcelain veneers to give his teeth that perfect, pearly-white appearance.

3. Clark Gable

Clark Gable, star of Gone With the Wind, Call of the Wild, and many other films, used dentures from the age of 32 as a result of a severe gum infection. To avoid his fate, be sure to brush and floss daily and visit our office every six months for cleanings and checkups.

Black and white image of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind

4. Emma Watson

During the filming of the Harry Potter series, Emma Watson wore a partial denture after her own baby teeth fell out in order to preserve Hermione’s smile.

5. Nicole Polizzi, a.k.a. “Snooki”

Like any of us, Snooki wants her smile at its best when she’s in front of the camera. To achieve that perfect white smile, Snooki has Lumineers®, a type of porcelain veneers.

Your Dream Smile Is Within Reach!

Porcelain veneers, dentures, and professional teeth whitening are great solutions for folks looking to improve the look of their teeth. Discuss with Dr. Henson whether you’re a candidate for dentures or porcelain veneers to make sure they fit with your smile goals. To ask our team any questions about our restorative or cosmetic dentistry services or to schedule your next visit to our office, contact us today!

5 Tooth-Healthy & 3 Tooth-Decaying Foods

The healthier you eat, the healthier your teeth! Here are five foods that promote superb oral health, as well as three snacks we recommend limiting to maintain a happy, healthy smile.

5 Tooth-Healthy Foods

Block of cheese with a big wedge cut out filled with calcium to promote healthy teeth

1. Cheese

Cheese is a terrific boost for your teeth because it’s high in calcium, which promotes strong teeth. Cheese also contains a protein called casein that strengthens tooth enamel and acts as a buffer against acids and bacteria that lead to tooth decay. Calcium also stimulates saliva production and replaces important minerals that your teeth may have lost.

Aerial view of cluster of red apples with yellow highlights that help keep teeth clean with fibrous texture

2. Apples

Apples are a great snack because of their fibrous texture. Chewing on apples stimulates your gums, and increases your saliva flow, which neutralizes acids in your mouth and washes away food bacteria.

Closeup of silver colander filled with leafy greens that support healthy teeth

3. Leafy Greens

Full of vitamins and minerals, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli are high in calcium, which helps build tooth enamel. They also contain folic acid, which has numerous health benefits, such as reducing gum inflammation.

Aerial view of brown almonds in a white custard cup that promote healthy teeth

4. Almonds

Almonds satisfy your crunchy craving guilt-free because they’re low in sugar and high in protein and calcium, which helps keep your teeth strong and reduces the risk for tooth decay.

Cluster of orange carrots with green stems that promote saliva production when eaten

5. Carrots

Carrots are another yummy food to munch on because they are high in fiber and beta carotene, which is needed to make vitamin A, a necessary ingredient for when your mouth is forming tooth enamel. Eating raw carrots can also stimulate saliva production and wash away residual food particles in your mouth that can cause cavities.

3 Tooth-Decaying Foods to Limit

Aerial view of colorful candies in a clear jar on a marble counter

1. Candy

Whether it’s chewy or hard candy, the sugar in candy feeds your oral bacteria. When feasting, bacteria produce acid that dissolves enamel and makes teeth more vulnerable to cavities. Candy also easily sticks between teeth, which leads to plaque buildup. If you need to indulge your sweet tooth, opt for dark chocolate and be sure to drink plenty of water afterward.

Aerial view of orange Pringles chips that can damage teeth with sugar content

2 & 3. Potato Chips and Popcorn

It may be difficult to resist salty, crunchy snacks like popcorn and potato chips, but you should probably think twice before you reach for that next handful. Chip and popcorn particles often linger between your teeth and under your gumline (especially with continued snacking!) encouraging bacteria growth and gum irritation.

Ask our team for more dietary tips to promote a healthy mouth. How is the quality of your oral health? Contact us today to schedule a cleaning and checkup!

5 Tips to Stop Chronic Dry Mouth

A young blonde woman looking away sits in the sand in the middle of a dry desert with a dry mouth

Have you ever had the uncomfortable feeling that your mouth is incredibly dry, almost like a desert? Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands produce less saliva than normal. Dry mouth causes discomfort and can lead to oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated. Here are 5 tips for stopping chronic dry mouth!

Tips to Stop Dry Mouth

  1. Drink Plenty of Water
  2. This may seem like an obvious tip, but drinking water is maybe the best way to combat dry mouth. Dry mouth often happens due to dehydration, a problem you can easily solve by drinking more water. As an reminder to drink more water, keep a full glass of water next to you so can stay hydrated all day long. If dehydration isn’t the reason for your dry mouth issues, drinking water will still help by increasing the amount of saliva in your mouth and washing away any problematic bacteria from your mouth.

  3. Chew Sugarless Gum
  4. The simple act of chewing sugar-free gum is actually really great for your mouth because it increases the flow of saliva and eases your dry mouth symptoms. The common sugar replacement, xylitol, found in many sugar-free gums can also reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that cause decay and bad breath. Sugarless mints and candies have a similar effect by stimulating salivary flow, as well.

  5. Try Not to Breathe Through Your Mouth
  6. Breathing through your mouth can dry out your mouth, so try to breathe through your nose when you’re resting. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose because of congestion or allergies, it may be a good idea to discuss those issues with your doctor and see if there may be a way to alleviate or combat your symptoms.

  7. Avoid Caffeinated Beverages
  8. Caffeine has a drying effect in your mouth and can often worsen your dry mouth symptoms. If you really need your cup of coffee, be sure that you drink a glass of water too. However, if your dry mouth is really bad and you need to cut out caffeine completely but still need something to help you stay awake, try making yourself a bowl of oatmeal in the morning filled with energizing foods like almonds and blueberries.

  9. Stop Smoking

    Smoking is very bad for your overall health AND your oral health. Cigarettes exacerbate dry mouth because smoking reduces your salivary flow. There are many resources that can help you stop smoking, including nicotine patches and gum, smoking cessation classes and support groups, herbal remedies, and even hypnosis.

Come Visit Us at Henson Family Dental

Another surefire way to combat dry mouth is by practicing good oral hygiene every day and coming in to see us for biannual cleanings and checkups. Call us today if you have any additional questions about dry mouth or to schedule your next dental appointment!

How to Become a General Dentist

Five Boggle letter cubes spell STUDY on a wooden table against a background of two stacks of books

Have you ever considered a career in dentistry? Or maybe you have just been wondering about the education process for dental professionals. Here’s a look at the educational journey of a general dentist.

Applying to Dental School

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Before Dr. Henson attended dental school, she first received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Florida State University. Although the requirements for admission to dental school vary, a bachelor’s degree is a standard across the board.

  3. Complete the Prerequisite Courses
  4. Dental schools also require that applicants have completed additional education courses that are sometimes termed ‘pre-med.’ For example, Dr. Henson’s alma mater, Meharry Medical College, requires the following additional courses:

    • General biology or zoology with lab
    • Inorganic chemistry with lab
    • Organic chemistry with lab
    • General physics with lab
    • English composition
    • Biochemistry
    • Calculus or statistics

  5. Take the DAT
  6. Prior to acceptance into dental school, applicants must have taken the Dental Admission Test (DAT). This test measures the general academic ability of the applicant, with four sections focusing on the natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.

Attending Dental School

Generally speaking, dental school takes four years to complete. In some cases, students who take a combined bachelor’s and doctoral degree program may take less time to finish school. It’s usually two years of lectures, with lab work increasing in the second year. The final two years of dental school also includes some classroom lectures, but a large portion of time is spent completing clinical work in a dental office, under the supervision of your professors.

In order to become a general dentist, you must complete a graduate degree as a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

Passing the Licensure Exams

After completing dental school, graduates must pass a rigorous national exam as well as a state-licensing exam in order to practice as a general dentist.

Questions? We Have Answers!

Reach out or connect via social media to our team at Henson Family Dental! We’re happy to discuss careers in dentistry with you. If you’re overdue for your next dental appointment, contact our office and schedule an appointment today.

Can I Write Off Emergency Dental Procedures?

A pink piggy bank that stores money stands against a darker pink background

Spring is in the air and April is right around the corner! While many of us may look forward to longer days, chances are a larger majority of us are dreading April’s arrival because of Tax Day. The taxman cometh every year, but there’s some extra anxiety about it this year in the wake of tax reform.

Can I Write Off Emergency Dental Procedures?

Before we dive into this question, please bear in mind that you want to check with your accountant or tax advisor to make sure that you are eligible to make these deductions.

The short answer is yes! But there are several qualifiers:

  • To write off dental work, you must itemize your deductions.
  • At least for 2017 and 2018 tax returns, the deduction for medical expenses must meet a threshold of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). You may only deduct the amount of your total medical expense that exceeds 7.5% of your AGI.
  • Dental expenses that qualify for a tax write off must be medically necessary and preventive, while purely cosmetic procedures, like teeth whitening are not eligible.

Affordable Dental Care

Dr. Henson and our team at Henson Family Dental pride ourselves on making the financial burden of dental care as manageable as possible for our patients. We accept a variety of different dental insurance plans and third party financing to help you get the dental care you need when you need it. We accept and file most insurance claims and help you maximize your dental insurance benefits.

At Henson Family Dental, we also accept CareCredit® patient financing. This option allows our patients to split up the cost of their treatments into manageable monthly payments. Visit the CareCredit website for more information about this payment option.

Contact Our Office

Your smile is priceless and all of us at Henson Family Dental want to be sure that you can keep up with regular cleaning and preventive work. If you have any questions regarding your taxes, dental insurance, or other payment options, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

A History of Dental Science

Dentist sits with patient while he discusses her oral X-ray results

We’ve come along way from where dentistry began. To learn about the history of dental science and how modern dentistry came to be, we need to go back in time…

Ancient Times

Back in 5000 BC, a Sumerian text described “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay. This is the earliest known record of dental science. About 2,500 years later, an Egyptian scribe who was known as the first dentist, passed away. The inscription on his tomb read “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” Much later, around 500-300 BC, Aristotle and Hippocrates wrote about treating gum disease and tooth decay, using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws, as well as removing teeth using forceps.

Middle Ages

Two important dental works were published in the Middle Ages. Artzney Buchlein’s Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth, the first book devoted to dentistry which covered topics like placing fillings and oral hygiene, was published in 1530 in Germany. Ambrose Pare, known as the Father of Surgery, published Complete Works forty-five years later in France, detailing treatment for jaw fractures and tooth decay, as well as tooth extractions.

18th Century

Yet another revolutionary text was published in 1723 by Pierre Fauchard, a surgeon from France known as the Father of Modern Dentistry. The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth described dental science practices like basic oral function and anatomy, operating techniques, and dental construction. During the 18th Century, some of the first American dentists started practicing dentistry, the first dental chair was invented, and the first patent for porcelain teeth was created.

19th Century

The 19th Century saw many advances in education and science. An investment in dental science as a career lead to the opening of the first dental school and the creation of the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. Further establishing dentistry as an important medical discipline, the American Dental Association and the American Society of Dental Surgeons were created. Scientific achievements made in the 1800s include the commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth, tubed toothpaste, the reclining dental chair, use of anesthesia in oral surgery, using gold fillings for cavities, and more.

20th Century

The 1900s were a century filled with the creation of many organizations and practices including water fluoridation, the first dental hygienist program, the U.S. Army Dental Corps, and the American Board of Orthodontics. Other advancements in dental science include the electric toothbrush, Novocain, nylon toothbrushes, tooth-colored restorative materials for cosmetic dental work, the porcelain crown, and many more.

Next time you sit down in the dentist’s chair, think about the history of dental science and the ways in which its shaped our culture and our medical practices today. Contact us to schedule your next checkup and cleaning!

New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy Smile

Blonde woman in black dress standing in the snow in front of a black background holding a lit sparkler.

If you’re anything like our team, your New Year’s resolutions involve making positive changes in your life in some area. Whether its a healthier diet, an exercise regimen, or meditation, the new year is a great time to create a positive habit. At Henson Family Dental, we are encouraging our patients to come up with a New Year’s resolution for a healthy smile. If you’re stumped, we have a few ideas!

1. Make Flossing a Priority

A good preventive care regimen means brushing twice daily and flossing once each day. If you skip flossing, you aren’t cleaning about 40% of the surface of your tooth, creating a breeding ground for bacteria that produce acid and result in cavities. There are a variety of flossing tools on the market, from WaterPik® water flossers to floss extenders, that can make flossing easier and more convenient.

2. Limit Cavity-Causing Foods

Foods high in sugar and starch give the harmful bacteria in your mouth fuel to turn into acid that can cause tooth decay. Instead of reaching for a soda or candy, consider substituting for water or some fruit. You’ll be doing your teeth a favor!

3. Get the Smile You’ve Always Wanted

Many of our patients mention that they are embarrassed to smile in photographs because their teeth are stained or chipped. This year, make your smile a priority and consider some of our cosmetic dentistry services. We offer professional teeth whitening services, both at home and in the office, that can give you that bright, white smile you’ve always wanted. Dr. Henson can also place porcelain veneers that help to fix dental issues like chipped teeth or discoloration. Don’t waste any more time hiding your smile in the new year!

To ask our friendly team any questions or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Henson, contact our office today!