The Battle Inside Our Mouths

EVERY DAY INSIDE YOUR MOUTH, there is an epic battle of good versus evil being waged over the ultimate prize: your teeth! And guess what… only YOU can protect them from the destructive forces that seek to harm them.

The Good Guys And The Bad Guys

Because tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body (it is made up of mostly minerals), we automatically think of it as a tough shield that nothing can get through. In reality, tooth enamel is porous!

When tooth enamel loses minerals, teeth are weakened and more susceptible to decay–we call this demineralization. If tooth enamel is demineralized enough, a cavity will form. But here’s the good news! The enamel can also be strengthened by receiving nutrients and minerals in a process we call remineralization. This constant dynamic of tooth enamel losing and gaining minerals is the battle that goes on inside your mouth every day!

So, who are the bad guys? Although there are a lot of good bacteria in our mouths, there’s also the cavity-causing bacteria found in plaque. They feed on sugar and other carbohydrates and produce harmful acids in the process. These acid attacks demineralize, or break down tooth enamel, and if left unchecked, can lead to tooth decay.

Check out the video below to learn a little more about plaque:

But all is not lost! You have a secret weapon in your ammunition… and that’s saliva! Not only does saliva wash out food debris and neutralize harmful acids, but minerals in saliva like fluoride, calcium and phosphate can be deposited back into tooth enamel, strengthening and defending it against bad bacteria. That’s why we call saliva the unsung hero of oral health–it works around the clock to protect our smiles and keep our teeth healthy and strong!

Whose Side Are You On?

This “battle” isn’t something that just goes on in your mouth without you having any say in it. You can promote tooth enamel remineralization and help your saliva fight off harmful bacteria by practicing mouth-healthy habits. In the end, you are the ultimate protector of your teeth!

The first thing you can do to defend your teeth from cavity-causing bacteria is eat a nutritious diet. Sugary drinks and treats, crackers, bread and processed foods are just what these bad bacteria love and eating these types of foods can lead to tooth enamel demineralization. On the other hand, foods like cheese, eggs, apples, celery, carrots, dark leafy greens and wild-caught fish promote enamel remineralization. So the next time you open up the fridge or pantry, make the mouth-healthy choice!

Another way to prevent demineralization is to brush with fluoride toothpaste! Where plaque breaks down the tooth, fluoride builds it up. This cavity-fighting mineral protects teeth from bacteria by remineralizing tooth enamel and reducing plaque bacteria’s ability to even produce acid in the first place!

You Are Responsible For Your Oral Health

The battle to keep teeth strong and healthy depends on you! By eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can have a lifetime of healthy smiles. Keep up the good work, soldier. You’re doing great!

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Lights, Camera, Action: It’s Movie Time!

THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SEASON will soon be upon us! With so many great movies coming out this year, we decided we wanted to share some of our team’s all-time favorites!

Our Team’s Top Movie Picks!

We love movies in our practice, so we asked our team members to share what their favorite movie was and why. Here’s what they said:

Carla

Favorite Movie: Fifty First Dates
Why: I really like Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, and I like how well they blended in this movie.

Jennifer

Favorite Movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Why: It’s a very lighthearted movie that just makes you smile. Who wouldn’t want to take an amazing day off?

Therese

Favorite Movie: Bridget Jones’s Diary
Why: THe main reason I like this movie is because of their 

Kessel

Favorite Movie: Willow
Why: This was one of the most underrated films of it’s time. This movie had everything, and one of the best fantasy movies of the 80s.

Speaking of great movies, check out the video below to see whether or not you’ve been correctly quoting these iconic films!

What’s Your Favorite Movie?

Now that we’ve shared some of our favorites, we want to hear from you too! Whether you enjoy goofy comedies, gripping suspense films, or insightful documentaries, we’d love to hear what your favorite movies are. Who knows, maybe one of them will become one of our new favorites! Leave your movie picks in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Thanks for being our star patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user John Fellner used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Common Misconceptions About Gum Disease

WE BELIEVE the more educated our patients are about dental health issues, the better they’ll be able to prevent them. We often warn of periodontal disease and the detrimental effects it has on the mouth and body. But there are also many common misconceptions about gum disease. To help you better understand it, we’ve decided to bust some myths today!

Myth #1: Bleeding Gums Are Normal

This is probably one of the most perpetuated dental health myths. The truth is, bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. Gums swell, bleed and become tender when plaque accumulates on the teeth and around the gum line. Keep your gums healthy by removing plaque and food debris with daily brushing and flossing.

Myth #2: People Get Gum Disease Because They Don’t Clean Their Teeth

While poor oral hygiene definitely contributes to the development of gum disease, there can be many other factors involved. Tobacco use, stress, a bad diet, genetics, and certain illnesses such as diabetes can all increase your risk of developing gum disease. And as we’ve explained before, even being pregnant makes you more susceptible!

We also don’t want our patients to think that if they are cavity-free they couldn’t possibly have gum disease. Gum disease is painless in its beginning stages and many people don’t know they have it. That’s why proper oral hygiene and twice-yearly visits to your dentist are essential for your oral health, even if you don’t have a cavity!

Myth #3: Gum Disease Is Irreversible

What we really want our patients to understand is that gum disease is reversible in its earliest stage: gingivitis! The earlier gingivitis is caught, the easier it is to eliminate it before it advances to full-blown periodontitis. Finding out you have gingivitis can be worrisome but here’s the good news: good oral hygiene habits and professional cleanings can, in most cases, rid you of gingivitis and stop gum disease in its tracks.

To learn more about periodontal screenings, check out the video below!

Myth #4: Only Adults Can Get Gum Disease

Gum disease is much more prevalent in adults, but that doesn’t mean that our children are invulnerable. Children can be more susceptible to gum disease if they are genetically predisposed or have certain illnesses such as autoimmune disorders or diabetes. Even puberty, with all its hormonal changes, can put your child more at risk. Their best defense against any dental disease–gum disease and tooth decay included–is to take care of their teeth at home and visit the dentist on a regular basis.

Myth #5: Everyone With Diabetes Has Gum Disease

If you have diabetes, developing gum disease is not inevitable, although you are certainly at a higher risk. Now more than ever you’ll need a good relationship with and frequent visits to your dentist. A rigorous oral hygiene regimen as well as frequent cleanings can help stave off the onset of gum disease. Proper blood glucose control can also help you lower your risk.

Gum Disease Myths… Busted!

Now that you know more about gum disease, keep up the good work avoiding it! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

As always, thank you for supporting our practice.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Seasonal Allergies? Take Care Of Your Smile

SPRING IS ON THE HORIZON and we couldn’t be more excited! Chirping birds, blooming flowers, and warmer weather are just a few of the things we look forward to when spring comes around. We have to admit though, there is one thing about the season that’s not particularly appealing, and that’s allergies.

Be Aware Of These Dental Side Effects During Allergy Season

Many of you have experienced it, red, itchy and watery eyes and the constant sneezing and congestion. The effects of seasonal allergies can go even further, however, and may even affect your oral health! Here are some mouth-related symptoms to be on the lookout for when seasonal allergies strike.

Tooth Pain

When your body reacts to allergens in the air, you often end up with congested sinuses. Sinus pressure in the maxillary sinuses can sometimes cause the upper molars to ache. Treating your allergies and the congestion should relieve tooth pain. If the pain persists, however, make an appointment with your dentist. It’s important to make sure any aching teeth aren’t the result of tooth decay.

Bad Breath

All that mucus your body is creating can also be bad news for your breath. When you’re congested, mucus from the sinuses leaks into the back of the throat–we call this “post-nasal drip.” Not only can post-nasal drip lead to a sore throat, it can also be the cause of persistent bad breath.

Dry Mouth

Many of you will reach for antihistamines to keep your allergies under control this spring. As helpful as they are, they can often lead to an unpleasant side effect: dry mouth. Saliva is our number one defense against cavity-causing bacteria, so when your mouth is dry, you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay.

Protect Your Mouth This Spring

We want your mouth to stay healthy, even during allergy season. Here are some helpful tips to help you protect your mouth this spring:

  • Continue to practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day, and floss on a daily basis!
  • Take allergy medication as recommended by your physician, but remember to drink plenty of water to compensate for dry mouth.
  • Try gargling with salt water to help with congestion. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water and gargle for a few seconds before spitting it out.

To get a more in-depth look at what causes those pesky allergies and what you can do to avoid them, check out the video below!

Don’t Let Allergies Get The Best Of You

We know how difficult spring can be for some of our patients because of allergies. Keep practicing good oral hygiene and call us if you need anything! We’re here to get you through allergy season with a smile on your face.

Thank you for ACHOO-sing our practice! (Gesundheit…)

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

How Pregnancy Affects Your Oral Health

PREGNANCY AFFECTS NEARLY every aspect of your life–your lifestyle, your diet, your health, and much more! Your mouth is no exception to the changes your body may experience during pregnancy. During this special time, you’ll need to pay particular attention to your oral health for both your sake and your growing baby’s.

You May Be More Prone To Dental Problems

One of the main concerns we have for expectant mothers is what we call pregnancy gingivitis. Around 40 percent of pregnant women have some form of gum disease–gingivitis being the first stage. Because of raised hormone levels during pregnancy, you may be more sensitive to dental plaque than before, causing your gums to be sensitive, swell and bleed. Studies have linked mothers with gum disease to premature delivery and lower birth weights.

In about five percent of pregnancies, women may experience lumps along the gum line and in between teeth. Luckily, these swellings are harmless and usually go away after baby is born. Even though these are known as “pregnancy tumors,” there is no need to be alarmed as they are not cancerous and can be easily removed by your dentist.

Morning sickness can also cause dental woes for expectant mothers. Pregnant women often complain of sensitive gag reflexes and even routine tasks such as brushing and flossing can induce vomiting. Exposure to acid, especially strong stomach acid, can lead to tooth enamel erosion, decay and sensitivity. After vomiting, we recommend rinsing your mouth out with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to neutralize stomach acid and prevent any damage to teeth.

Protect Your Teeth During Pregnancy

To protect your teeth during pregnancy, one of your first stops should be the dentist’s office. If you are planning on getting pregnant, talk to your dentist beforehand so you can fix any dental issues before conceiving. And when you do find out that you are pregnant, don’t just go to your OB/GYN, make your way to the dentist’s as well!

Routine cleanings and checkups are safe during pregnancy, and as you may be more susceptible to certain dental problems at this time, getting frequent cleanings is a must. You will also need to be diligent about your oral hygiene at home. As always, brush at least twice a day and floss daily.

Another thing to remember is that your diet matters. Did you know that baby’s teeth start developing between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? You will need plenty of nutrients–specifically vitamins A, C and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous–to make sure their teeth, gums and bones develop properly.

Mothers, We Are Here For You

Pregnancy can bring with it a lot of change and responsibility, but we want our patients to know that we are here for you. We want to make sure that your dental health is taken care of so you can focus on preparing for your little one to come into the world. So whether you’re planning on becoming pregnant or already are, we’d love to see you in our office!

Our patients mean the world to us!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Phalinn Ooi used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Say Hello To Our Awesome Dental Assistant, Therese!

SOMETIMES, WE’RE  GUILTY OF ASSUMING TOO MUCH, RIGHT? We recently realized that we’ve probably wrongly assumed that ALL of you—our valued patients—know Therese as well as we do! That’s probably not the case.

So, We Asked Therese A Few Questions

We asked Therese a few questions to help you get to know her a little better. Those questions are found below—along with her candid answers! Enjoy!

Where are you originally from?

“El Paso, Texas. Go Longhorns.”

What made you decide that you wanted to become a dental assistant?

“I wanted to be able to help people and give everyone a smile they were proud of. It’s also a great career field with lots of opportunities.”

When you started as a dental assistant was there something funny that happened? Do you dare tell us that story?

“One of the very first patients I every worked on, threw up all over me. I did not know what to do! That is not something they teach you in school how to handle!”

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?

“Shopping. Lots of shopping, and spending time with my awesome family.”

What do you enjoy most about being a dental assistant?

“Working with Dr. Allen. He really cares about his patients and I don’t think I have ever seen anyone take more interest in their patients than he does.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Therese a little better. Here at Rio Rancho Family Dental Care we feel really fortunate to have her as a member of our awesome team.

Do YOU Have A Question For Therese?

If so, please enter it in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to pass it along to Therese for an answer! Also, as you know, you can always send us private questions or comments on our Facebook page.

Thanks for the trust you place in us!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

How Eating Disorders Can Affect Oral Health

DO YOU OR DOES SOMEONE you love have an eating disorder? This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. To help spread awareness about eating disorders and their effect on oral and overall health, share this post with your friends and family who may benefit from it.

Be Aware Of The Dental Complications

We all know that eating disorders can result in various health complications. You may be surprised to hear, however, that they are often first diagnosed during a dental exam. In fact, changes in the mouth are many times the first physical signs of an eating disorder.

A nutritious diet is crucial for healthy teeth and gums. And as those with anorexia and bulimia are often undernourished, they can experience a number of oral health issues. Poor nutrition can cause sores in the mouth, swollen salivary glands and periodontal disease. Gums and other soft tissues in the mouth may bleed more easily. People who have eating disorders are also more prone to chronic dry mouth and bad breath.

Frequent vomiting can also result in dental problems. Exposure to acid, especially strong stomach acid, on a regular basis is bad news for teeth. Tooth sensitivity, discoloration and decay can be the result. Because of the damage to tooth enamel, the shape and length of teeth can also be affected. In addition, teeth may become more brittle and chip or break more easily.

Reduce The Damage

As you or your loved one seek treatment for an eating disorder, follow these steps to reduce the damage to the oral cavity and teeth in the meantime:

  • Continue a rigorous oral hygiene routine–brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day.
  • Instead of brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, rinse your mouth out with water or water with baking soda to neutralize stomach acids. Don’t brush your teeth for at least an hour after purging.
  • Be open and honest with your dentist, and see them on a regular basis.

We Are Here For You

As your trusted oral healthcare providers, we are here to give advice without passing judgment, and as always, maintain full patient confidentiality. We care about your health and well-being! If you have any questions regarding this blog post, call us or come in today. You can also send us a private message on our Facebook page. For more information and resources to help those you love get the help they need, visit http://nedawareness.org/.

Thank you for trusting us with your oral health.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Joe Szilagyi used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Smile-Friendly After School Snacks

AS MANY PARENTS KNOW when your child comes home from school, they often run straight for the pantry!

We understand that kids can be a bit hungry after a long day in the classroom and we want to help you provide snacks that won’t only fill their bellies, but will benefit their smile as well!

Try These Smile-Friendly Snacks!

Consuming a lot of starchy and sugary treats in the afternoon can do a number on a child’s teeth—not to mention ruin their appetite for dinner! Sticky, sugary snacks can adhere to your child’s teeth for long periods of time, potentially causing harmful cavities. In order to avoid snack-induced cavities and other oral health concerns, try these ideas instead:

Leafy Greens and Fresh Veggies

Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens have calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and magnesium–all essential for healthy teeth and gums. Veggies like broccoli and celery are great too! In addition to being rich in vitamins, broccoli has been shown to create an acid-resistant teeth “shield.” As for celery, because of its fibrous material, it massages gums, cleans teeth, and encourages saliva production—making it a natural tooth scrubber!

If your kids like a little crunch in their snack, you could even try making homemade veggie chips! You can use anything from kale and spinach to sweet potatoes and carrots. Simply mix your veggies with enough olive oil to coat them, add any spices you’d like (garlic or pepper is always good!), and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, flip your veggies, and then bake until crispy!

Cheese, Milk, and Yogurt

Dairy is the go-to dental snack for a reason! Few other foods give such a great boost of calcium. Cheese and yogurt even help cut acidity, helping protect your child’s teeth from erosion caused by acidic fruit juices.

If your child doesn’t just want plain yogurt, fruit and yogurt parfaits are a great option to add some flavor and healthy vitamins to their snack.

Fruit High in Vitamin C

A lack of vitamin C can break down the collagen network in our gums, making them tender and more susceptible to bacteria and gum disease. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and kiwi are great sources of Vitamin C.

To make their citrus snack fun, you can make fun kabobs with some citrus, berries, and some of their favorite cheeses.

If you’d like some healthy and creative school lunch ideas, check out these tips from Martha Stewart!

Do You Have Anything To Add?

Do you have any healthy snack recipes of your own? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Thank you for your trust in our practice!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Bradley West used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Are Your Teeth Sensitive? Here’s Why

DO YOU EVER cringe when you watch someone bite into ice cream? Are you sometimes fearful of that first sip of hot soup or drink of tea? You’re not alone. Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints we hear about!

Teeth Feel Sensitive When Nerves Are Exposed 

On the outside of each tooth is a protective layer of enamel. Over time, the enamel can wear away leaving an inner layer, called the dentin, exposed. This occurs due to normal wear and tear, poor dental hygiene or certain lifestyle choices.

Dentin contains fluid-filled tubules that reach into the innermost part of the tooth where all the nerves reside. Because the nerves inside the tooth are exposed when the enamel is eroded away, sensitivity is the result.

Another form of tooth sensitivity develops when gum recession leaves the root of the tooth exposed to food, drink and air.

Desensitizing Toothpaste Can Help

Desensitizing toothpastes are a great way to ease tooth sensitivity. Many of our patients ask us how these toothpastes actually work! It’s simple: they are specially formulated to either block the tubules in the dentin, protecting the nerves in the tooth from exposure, or numb your teeth, in a manner of speaking, so you don’t register the pain of sensitivity.

It’s important to remember, however, that if your teeth are at all sensitive, your first stop should be your dentist’s office. Some problems that cause teeth to be sensitive can be quite serious and may require more extensive treatment than desensitizing toothpaste can provide.

Follow These Helpful Tips To Avoid Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can range from mildly annoying to severely painful. To prevent further damage to your teeth, or any sensitivity in the first place, follow the suggestions below:

  • Practice proper oral hygiene. Gum disease and tooth decay are frequently the cause of tooth sensitivity. In addition, avoid smoking or any form of tobacco use.
  • Don’t brush so hard. Aggressive brushing or brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause gum recession and enamel erosion. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and don’t apply too much force. Plaque comes off easier than you think!
  • Protect your teeth. If you clench your teeth frequently or have been diagnosed with bruxism (teeth grinding), make sure you protect your teeth with a nightguard provided to you by your dentist and try to be conscious of your clenching habits during the day.
  • Make sure your diet is healthy. Eat sugar and carbohydrates in moderation. Drink plenty of water and eat foods that are good for your teeth such as dairy products and vegetables.

Nobody Should Live With Tooth Pain

No matter what your level of discomfort, it’s our belief that nobody should have to live with tooth pain. If you experience any kind of sensitivity in your teeth, come in and see us! We can diagnose the root cause of your sensitivity and ascertain the best way to treat it.

We are thankful for our wonderful patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Lachlan Hardy used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

February Is Children’s Dental Health Month

THE CDC REPORTS THAT 1 in 5 children (between ages 5 and 11) in the US have untreated tooth decay. Not only should tooth decay be treated in regular dental appointments, it should be prevented! Tooth decay is 100 percent preventable with effective personal care and regular dental cleanings.

In honor of Children’s Dental Health Month, we’re spreading the word about children’s dental health.

YOU Can Help Little Ones Have Healthier Smiles!

  1. Encourage them to brush for two full minutes: Pick a song about two minutes long and sing it to them during brushing time.
  2. Set reminders to brush twice a day: Brushing after breakfast and just before bed are the best times for preventing bacteria growth from food.
  3. Show them flossing is fun, not harmful: Be gentle at first when doing it for them. A bad experience can stop them from flossing on their own.
  4. Be persistent: Don’t let fussy children off the hook. Be motivating! Kids may gladly brush for a sticker or star if you make it an activity.
  5. Set their first dental appointment before age 1: Having positive dental experiences early will make dental visits easier and less frightening when older.

We encourage you to bring your young ones with you to your next dental appointment! The dentist will let them ‘ride’ the dental chair up and down and will count their teeth, showing them that seeing the dentist is not scary. They can get their own toothbrush and even a small prize! We call this a ‘Happy Visit’.

Help Us Spread The Word!

Share this message with your friends and family, and especially with the children in your life. If you have any questions about children’s dental health, don’t hesitate to ask us!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.