Can Dry Socket Be Deadly?

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD explains how tooth extractions can cause dry socket. What is dry socket? How can we prevent it?The dreaded words of warning for anyone who has a tooth extraction: dry socket. A dry socket is a painful complication after a routine treatment like an extraction, but it can be avoided if you’re careful, and it definitely won’t kill you. Read more below from Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr, on what a dry socket is, how to avoid it, and how to treat it if it happens to you.

What is a Dry Socket?
Like any part of your body, your mouth has its own way to heal and recover itself after accidents or treatments. If you have a tooth removed, your gums will make a blood clot over the hole where the tooth was. The spot in your gums where the tooth once was is called the socket. This clot, like a scab, protects the vulnerable tissues underneath and aids healing. 

If the blood clot gets removed (usually by accident), it leaves a painful and fresh wound. Where the tooth once was is now bare bone and nerves, and it hurts when they are exposed. Dry sockets increase your chance of infection and will increase your pain and prolong your healing after surgery.

Symptoms & Causes of Dry Socket

A dry socket is the most common complication following oral surgery such as tooth extraction. If you have had an extraction, the symptoms of dry socket include:

  • Losing some or all of the blood clot from the socket
  • Intense pain in the socket, as well as pain radiating up into other parts of your mouth and face
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Unpleasant taste and odor

Things that put you at risk for developing a dry socket include:

  • Smoking and tobacco use (both the chemicals and the physical process are likely to compromise the blood clot on the socket)
  • Drinking through a straw (this action causes a suction in the mouth that can loosen the blood clot)
  • Oral contraceptives (high estrogen level may delay the healing process of the first blood clot)
  • Tooth or gum infection (infection around the socket can delay healing)
  • Failure to care for the wound after surgery (be careful to follow your dentist’s instructions once you return home)
  • If you’ve had a dry socket in the past

Treating a Dry Socket

Dry sockets can be very painful and will prolong your healing process. Some amount of pain is to be expected after tooth removal, but if you’re in serious pain and/or experiencing any of the symptoms of a dry socket, you should call us immediately. 

The dentist can treat your dry socket by:

  • Cleaning the wound 
  • Applying topical numbing medicine for instant relief
  • Applying medical bandages to protect the socket
  • Prescribing pain medication
  • Giving you clear instructions on cleaning and dressing the socket at home

Pain from the dry socket will likely subside within a few days, but the dry socket will take some time to fully heal. Be sure to drink lots of water in the days following surgery to help yourself recover and eat only soft food per your dentist’s instructions. Continue to brush your teeth after tooth removal, even with a dry socket, but be very careful around the socket area.

Your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD is here to help with any dental needs you have. Make an appointment today if you have more questions about dry socket or any other oral health concern.

 

The content of 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.

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Could Brushing & Flossing Prevent a Heart Attack?

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD explains the connection between poor oral hygiene and heart attacks.A lot of healthy lifestyle choices benefit more than one system within your body. Eating well, exercising, good sleep, and fresh air all support a lot of your physical needs. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that what hurts one area of your health can easily hurt another area, too. An important (though less known) connection in your health systems is the connection between oral hygiene and heart health

Heart Disease

Your mouth is home to countless kinds of bacteria. Most of these bacteria are normal and good, but some may put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease. Heart disease is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of less-than-desirable conditions in your heart and its connecting vessels. Your heart muscle, valves, and rhythm can all be affected by heart disease.

If something prevents your heart and blood vessels from working properly, the consequences can be devastating. That’s why it’s important to know how your oral health and other lifestyle factors can support (or hurt) your heart health. If you have gum disease or dental plaque, you are at an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Gum disease isn’t always obvious, though somewhere around 50% of all adults will get it. Warning signs include redness, swollen, and receding gums. The same bacteria that cause these problems also put your heart at risk.

Science shows that some bad oral bacteria can travel through your bloodstream and harm not only other parts of your body but the arteries they travel through. 

Harmful oral bacteria can cause:

  • Increased cholesterol buildup in your arteries
  • Arterial walls to thin and become more vulnerable
  • Arterial walls to become sticky and attract more cholesterol and other pathogens
  • The buildup in your arteries blocks your blood flow and can cause a heart attack or stroke

You can see how keeping a close eye on your oral health can compound positive effects. And the good news is that oral hygiene is simple and anyone can do it. (Even children need daily oral hygiene habits and should be taught how to care for their mouths.)

Prevent oral problems and heart disease by:

  • Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Getting routine dental cleanings and check-ups
  • Eating a balanced diet with limited snacking between meals

Bonus: eating a diet rich in unprocessed foods and vegetables supports heart health, too! See, everything really is connected.

Healthy Lifestyle for a Healthy Life

The health of your mouth can affect countless other health concerns and desires you might have. Oral health supports your sleep, heart, digestion, immune system, brain, and pregnancy.

The field of research that studies these kinds of connections is called the oral-systemic link. As research grows, we know a few things for sure. Prevention is everything, and knowing your risk factors is always important. Having relationships with a doctor and a dentist you trust can help give you the life satisfaction you desire.

Your health is truly a tightly woven map of interconnected parts and systems. Don’t be overwhelmed by everything there is to know, but find the right health care providers, and definitely make use of all the simple ways you can take care of yourself.

Dentists are Doctors 

Dentists are medical professionals who can take care of a wide range of health and wellness needs. If you are looking for a Brandon dentist who can get you on the right track, come to see Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD. Make an appointment and let our team of caring, knowledgeable staff give you the smile and the life you want.

 

The content of 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.

 

 

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Gingivitis: Are Your Gums Trying to Tell You Something?

Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD tells patients about gingivitis—causes, symptoms, and treatments to help get your gums healthy.Gingivitis, very simply, is an inflammation of your gums. (Any time a medical term ends with “itis” it means inflammation.) Gingivitis varies in severity and can look a few different ways. Very bad gingivitis leads to periodontal (gum) disease

Gingivitis is common and affects many, rather, most adults. But with good oral hygiene and the care of Brandon dentists Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr, you should be able to avoid any major problems and even prevent gingivitis before it begins! Walker and Barr DMD shares some information below about what causes gingivitis, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if it happens to you!

Causes of Gingivitis
Plaque forms on your teeth and near your gums after you eat and drink. Regular brushing and flossing cleans your teeth and removes this plaque. But if you go too long without brushing and flossing, or you don’t do it well enough, the plaque can build up and harden in your mouth. At this point, the plaque becomes tartar that can only be removed by a dental professional. 

Gingivitis happens because:

  • Tartar builds up on the line where your teeth and gums meet, it sticks and hardens to your soft gum tissue. 
  • Tartar irritates your gums and makes them more sensitive to oral bacteria that normally aren’t a problem.
  • Your gums inflame in order to fight the bacteria and tartar. 
  • Inflammation causes gums to bleed easily during brushing and flossing.

Effects of Gingivitis

In most cases, gingivitis just means slightly swollen and sore gums. If this happens, call your dentist and definitely keep brushing and flossing your teeth. Try brushing lightly and using a soft toothbrush if your mouth is very sensitive. 

If your symptoms don’t go away, gingivitis can cause:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Gums bleed easily
  • Bad breath or taste
  • Sensitive or painful gums
  • Gums pull away from teeth and form pockets around teeth
  • Tooth loss caused by periodontitis

Preventing Gingivitis

Good oral hygiene is important for everyone and can do a lot to keep you and your mouth healthy. Still, some risk factors make you more likely to develop gingivitis:

  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes in women (pregnancy)
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases that lower your immune system
  • Dry mouth (sometimes caused by prescription medication)
  • Genetics
  • Being a male over 30 years old

Treating Gingivitis

As always, brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is the best way to care for your teeth and gums. Flossing or cleaning between your teeth once a day is also very important. Make sure you curve the floss in a C-shape, around the tooth, and under the gumline. 

Next, be sure to get regular dental care from our team at Walker and Barr DMD—about two visits per year is recommended. If you have gingivitis or gum disease, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr will help remove tartar, control the infection, and might advise you to change some personal hygiene habits.  More advanced cases of gum disease may require more extensive treatment methods. 

If you’re looking for a Brandon dentist to help you feel your best, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr is taking new patients. Contact us to make an appointment at Walker and Barr DMD today!

 

The content of 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.

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Feeling Worn Down?

Walker Barr DMD discuss the impact severe tooth wear can have on your oral healthAs people get older, the body naturally begins the process of breaking down—and unfortunately, that includes our teeth. Worn teeth are somewhat inevitable, but diligent oral hygiene and quality dental care from Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr can help save as much of your natural teeth as possible.

It is extremely common for adults to have tooth wear beyond the degree that is healthy for their age, and unfortunately, severe tooth wear ages them as well.

Some of the problems caused by worn-down teeth include:

  • Temperature-sensitive teeth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Chipped teeth
  • Fractured teeth
  • Bite-related problems
  • Headaches
  • TMJ and jaw joint issues
  • Nerve exposure, leading to severe toothache

If you suffer from bruxism (grinding and clenching teeth), some tooth wear may be alleviated by using a nightguard while you sleep, but there are other causes for tooth wear:

  • Malocclusion (teeth and bite misalignment)
  • Abrasion (external forces on teeth including hard bristle toothbrushes or teeth whiteners)
  • Erosion (chemical or acid breaking down of teeth)

Restorative dentistry may be recommended in cases of severe tooth wear, particularly if significant tooth damage should occur. However, it is important to identify the cause of tooth wear before undergoing treatment—and Walker – Barr DMD can help! Saving your teeth is the most important thing to your Brandon, FL dentist—and for your health in the long run.

If you’re concerned about tooth wear, please make an appointment with us today

The content of 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.

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Tongue Talk – To Scrape or Not to Scrape?

Walker Barr DMD talk about tongue scrapingFor such a seemingly small part of your body, the tongue plays a major role in many everyday functions, such as talking, helping you digest and taste food, and swallowing. In fact, the appearance of your tongue may speak volumes (pun slightly intended) about the state of your oral and overall health. 

Today, Brandon, FL dentists, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker – Barr DMD would like to talk about an excellent way to include this muscle (well, eight muscles, to be exact) in your oral hygiene routine: tongue scraping.

More Pleasant than it Sounds!

Tongue scraping has been practiced for centuries, but surprisingly it isn’t as common in the United States as it has been in Europe, Africa, India, and South America. We think it’s worth jumping on the bandwagon because your tongue can harbor bacteria that cause tooth decay and bad breath; the buildup can even prevent you from fully enjoying the flavors of your food! 

If you’ve got any questions about tongue scraping or how to improve your oral health, we’d love to help. Contact us today to schedule a visit!

The content of 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.

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Mouthwash: More Harm Than Good?

Walker-Barr DMD talk about the good and bad of mouthwashesAt Walker – Barr DMD, we know a lot of people feel they’re adding a layer of tooth decay and gum disease prevention to their oral hygiene routines when they swish with mouthwash—which may be true, but it depends on the mouthwash. If you floss and brush properly, mouthwash isn’t always necessary, and certain types could even be harmful to your oral health.

Think about it this way: do you take antibiotics when you don’t have an infection that requires them? Like antibiotics, certain mouthwashes can kill beneficial bacteria and either create or aggravate problems.

It’s All About the Ingredients

One of the conditions that can be exacerbated by mouthwash is dry mouth, and it’s usually due to the alcohol content many of them carry. Do you know that burning feeling that makes it feel like it’s working? That’s the alcohol, and it’s actually doing more harm than good. 

If you have any questions or concerns about this topic or any other oral health subject, contact Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr today. We love staying in touch with our dental family!

The content of 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.

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Dentistry in the Digital Age

Walker-Barr DMD discuss technological advancements in dentistryTechnology has changed nearly every aspect of human life and modern society. New tools, programs, and education can greatly improve your healthcare, too! Let’s say you need any kind of standard dental restoration for a cracked or missing tooth. From x-rays and impressions to surgery and installation, your whole treatment could be digital. We’re so used to digital tools these days, you may not even notice how much technology a dentist can utilize to best serve your oral health needs. Below are some of the ways your oral care may be digitized.

CAD/CAM Software

Short for computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacturing, this software brings you better-fitting crowns, veneers, inlays and onlays, and bridges. CAD/CAM technology comes out of industrial engineering and manufacturing and into the dental office to provide faster, superior products and services in oral health. Using computers to design oral appliances increases accuracy, efficiency, appearance, and function. 

CAD/CAM dental services start with 3D images. The computer takes the images and creates a model of whatever restorative appliance you need. Research shows that dental restorations made with CAD/CAM technology are stronger and less likely to break. This is great news if you’re already dealing with oral health issues and you just want everything to look natural and work well.

Same-Day Milling
Thanks to CAD/CAM technology, you can now get many dental restorations placed in just one visit to the dental office. This is good news for busy people! All crowns, veneers, and onlays need to actually be created and shaped out of porcelain or composite. After using digital images to get a picture of your mouth, the information will be sent to a machine that can automatically create a natural-looking restoration on the spot. 

The machine can usually make these in about 20 minutes. The milling machine may also glaze or stain the porcelain to best match your natural teeth. Like clay pottery, the porcelain or composite then needs to be fired. All of this should take anywhere from one to two hours. You can walk into the dentist toothless and walk out with a full, vibrant smile the same day. 

Guided Surgery
Surgical guides are 3D computer images that your dentist may use to improve the accuracy and safety of having dental implants placed. Not everyone is a good candidate for implants, but if your dentist believes you are, they may also use a surgical guide during your procedure. 

A surgical guide uses digital images to give us a realistic picture of your jawbones, gums, nerves, and more. A computer will help your Brandon dentist plan the whole procedure so that each step and measurement is more accurate. With all of this important information, dentists can work faster so you’re in the chair less (as much as we love to see you).

Cone-Beam Imaging

When your doctor or dentist needs to see beyond the naked eye, they can use one of many different x-ray and imaging technologies. Cone-beam images are 3D scans that use cone-shaped laser beams to get a complete scan of your entire mouth. Cone beams use more radiation than a standard dental x-ray, but far less than a standard medical CT scan. Cone-beam images especially help with placement and installation of dental implants.  

Electronic Booking & Billing

Gone are the days of endless stacks of paper you need to keep track of and store. Gone are the days of being on hold with a receptionist. Many dental offices now make use of email and online programs to communicate with patients both for billing and making new appointments. 

Now, everything you need to know about your oral care can be kept in one place to easily see and understand. Nothing can replace the friendly and professional environment of a good dental office, but digital communication helps ensure that you, your dentist, and the insurance providers are all on the same page. So when you walk in for your appointment, things should flow seamlessly and with no surprises.

Finding a Digital Dentist

An everyday visit to the dentist looks a lot different today than it has in decades past. The services you need may require any or all of the above technology to provide quality care and favorable outcomes. 

At Walker – Barr DMD, we are always learning more about how to use technology to better serve you. Make an appointment today to learn more about what we can do for you and your smile!

 

The content of 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.

 

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Pregnant Moms & Oral Health: Brushing & Flossing for Two

Walker - Barr DMD discuss the importance of oral hygiene for pregnant clients in Brandon, FloridaThere are so many things to be concerned about when you find out you’re expecting. Eating right, taking enough vitamins, getting enough rest, telling your husband there is absolutely no way you are naming your firstborn son Bud Light… but what about your teeth? There’s an old saying—“you lose a tooth for every baby”—but those beliefs are outdated, thank goodness! Still, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker – Barr DMD has some important information to share about pregnancy and oral health.


Taking Care of Yourself is Taking Care of Your Baby

Moms-to-be can become so focused on preparation for the new bundle of joy that they neglect their own health—but try to remember that taking care of yourself is taking care of your baby. If you are pregnant, remain proactive about your oral hygiene routine and don’t skip your regular dental visits. Your teeth and gums need special attention during this time, so be on the alert for symptoms like bleeding gums and dry mouth. 

 

Gingivitis & Gum Disease

Hormonal changes and diabetes during pregnancy can cause pregnancy gingivitis (inflamed, tender and irritated gums)—about 75% of pregnant women end up with it. Left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis, an even more severe form of gum disease that leads to actual bone loss. Older mothers have a higher risk of gum disease in general, and research has linked preterm delivery and low birth weight to gingivitis—sufferers were seven times more likely to have either or both conditions. Researchers also estimate that advanced gum disease could be linked to about 18% of premature births in the United States.

Gum disease may also contribute to preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition that affects about 5% of pregnant women, leading to a sharp increase in blood pressure. The only cure for preeclampsia is giving birth, which can put the baby at risk if it happens prematurely. Additional potential complications of preeclampsia include hemorrhage, stroke, and kidney failure. A handful of studies have linked gum disease with preeclampsia, but more research is needed to show a true cause-and-effect relationship.

 

Acidity & Dry Mouth

Not every pregnant woman has morning sickness, but if you are one of the unlucky ones, keep in mind that along with nausea, stomach acid can make its way into the mouth and erode your teeth. Try rinsing your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash to help control the acidity level. This is not only a protective measure for your teeth but may help with nausea a bit as well.

Dry mouth during pregnancy can put pregnant women at higher risk for tooth decay and dental infections. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and chewing sugarless gum to enhance saliva production—try to find sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol, which has been shown to be effective in preventing cavities.

If you’re hungry a lot—which is not unheard of while pregnant—frequent snacking keeps teeth in constant contact with sugars. Bacteria feed on these sugars, speeding up acid production which creates more opportunities to weaken a pregnant mom’s tooth enamel. Be aware of your snacking habits and be sure to rinse your mouth frequently with water after eating or drinking.


How Does Mom’s Oral Health Affect Her Baby?

It’s quite simple: the bacteria in Mom’s mouth is the link to the baby’s health. When a pregnant woman has excessive oral bacteria, pathogens can enter the bloodstream via the gums, travel to the uterus, and trigger the production of chemicals suspected to induce preterm labor. After the baby is born, a mom in poor oral health can still pass harmful bacteria to her newborn in a process known as vertical transmission. This can lead to negative dental consequences down the road for the baby—no one wants to see an active toddler with cavities. 

Good oral hygiene—brushing at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and flossing at least once each day—is your own insurance policy to reduce the risk of dental infection in your newborn baby. Good nutrition and balanced meals limiting acidity and sugar have the most benefits for both Mom and baby

Most important of all, don’t forget that when you’re brushing and flossing during pregnancy, you’re doing it for two! If you have any questions or concerns about pregnancy and your dental health, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

 

The content of 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.

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Destination Dentistry – Are the Savings Worth the Risk?

Walker - Barr DMD discusses Destination Dentistry in Brandon FloridaAh, vacation. The sun, the sand, the… gauze in your mouth? Dental work and recovery might not be your preferred use of your precious vacation days, but some people are packing their bags and heading to exotic locations for dental work in hopes of saving money. As medical education and technology improve all around the world, destination dentistry or dental tourism is becoming an attractive option for many. Dental tourism is a kind of medical tourism and can reportedly save up to 70% of costs compared to getting dental work done in the US. 

Who Gets Destination Dentistry? 

You might have to be a little adventurous to leave your home country for something as vulnerable as dental work, but healthcare costs in the US prevent many people from getting dental work they might really need or want. Due to cheaper education, licensing, materials, and less bureaucracy in other countries, dentists abroad are able to charge a fraction of those in the US. The most common treatments for patients seeking dental care abroad include dental implants, crowns and dentures.

If you’re already flying out of the country anyway, you’ll have the opportunity to spend a few extra days somewhere exciting. But dental tourism may not be all it’s cracked up to be, and there are some issues to consider before renewing your passport. Those licensing and bureaucracy standards in the US do serve an important purpose for your safety and well-being.

Top Destinations

The most popular destinations for dental tourism include:

  • Mexico
  • Thailand
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • Czech Republic
  • Dubai
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Costa Rica
  • Hungary

Destination Dentistry Pros & Cons

The potential benefits of dental tourism include:

  • Your dental work is likely to be a lot cheaper.
  • You can visit an exciting or relaxing foreign location.
  • You can find quality care in many places outside the US.
  • In Europe, dentists have similar education, training, and oversight as dentists in the US, and dental practices are held to the same standards.

However, reasons not to travel for dental work include:

  • The practices and conditions might not be to a standard that you’re used to or comfortable with. National standards in the US ensure clean facilities to prevent infection, and drugs and equipment are regulated for safety. This may not be the case for dentists outside the US.
  • It will be very hard to get follow-up care from the same dentist who did your work.
  • You probably can’t get an exact quote for your total costs until the dentist sees you in person for a consultation.
  • Some dental treatments (like dental implants) require two visits, which means more time away from home.
  • Costs of airfare, hotels, car rental, and food add up quickly.

Considerations

Weigh all of the pros and cons of traveling far away for dental work, and consider your current lifestyle and well-being. If you’re already very busy and tired from the responsibilities of life, you might want a real vacation and not a medical one. Any health complications could also seriously hurt your chances of having successful treatment in a foreign country. Talk to your primary care doctor to get their opinion. 

If you’re interested in destination dentistry, talk with your Brandon dentist first. Even if your dentist isn’t a fan of this idea (they probably won’t be), the decision is ultimately yours, and it’s still important to keep your dentist (who knows your medical history) in the loop. We will probably need to send x-rays and files to the dentist abroad and will want a way to contact the dentist in case of questions about follow-up and recovery.

If you decide dental tourism is right for you, do your research to find the highest quality of care possible. The Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP) has a checklist that can help you determine if you are making a safe choice for dentistry abroad. And the World Dental Federation is a good place to check for qualified dentists around the world.

Your oral health is crucial to your overall health and long-term well-being. Only you can decide if the gamble on safety and quality is worth the potential monetary savings. If it’s just a matter of saving money, many dentists offer payment plans and flexible financing options to help you afford the dental care you need. Or, you might qualify for state support to cover costs.

If you have any dental needs or concerns, before you pack your bags, make an appointment with your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker – Barr DMD today and let us be your partners in health!

 

The content of 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.

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Can Plaque Cause Tooth Loss?

Can plaque cause tooth loss?If you’ve ever gone too long between brushing your teeth, you know how slimy and dirty your teeth can feel. Some people lovingly call this layer of grime “teeth sweaters.” But it has a real name: plaque. Plaque is common but it can cause poor oral health if you ignore it. Read below for more information on what plaque is and how to deal with it.

What is Plaque?
To best understand what exactly plaque is, let us paint you a picture of the inside of your mouth after a meal. After enjoying your delicious food, someone else (or something else) is enjoying the leftovers. Oral bacteria are natural and normally present in everyone’s mouth.

These bacteria feed off tiny bits of leftover food on your teeth – kind of gross, but it’s true! As bacteria eat the food, they digest and process it. Finally, the bacteria produce plaque as an aftereffect of digestion. This process happens with any food you eat, but the bacteria especially love carbohydrates and sugar.

Plaque sticks to any and all parts of your teeth. In fact, the plaque on the sides of your teeth and near your gums can be different than the kind of plaque found in the grooves on the chewing surface of your teeth.

 

Effects of Plaque on Teeth

The real problem with plaque is that it contains acid, which ruins your teeth. Over time, acid can erode your enamel and harm your gums. While plaque is totally normal, it’s still important to keep it at bay.

The buildup of plaque can cause:

In summary, plaque is the basis of most oral health problems. Left untreated, many of the oral health problems listed above can lead to tooth loss and other oral health complications down the road.

What Causes Plaque?

You can’t avoid plaque completely. Plaque is simply the natural outcome of oral bacteria. Either the bacteria naturally reproduce or you pick up new bacteria from your environment. And some oral bacteria are actually good for you.

So the idea isn’t to completely get rid of bacteria in your mouth. But certain foods (like sugar) and bad habits (like not brushing and flossing) can cause excessive plaque and harmful buildup that hardens into tartar and can wreak havoc on your oral health.

 

Fighting Plaque

The benefits of good oral hygiene go far beyond just your mouth. A healthy mouth is important for a healthy body and a joyful life.

To keep your mouth healthy and plaque-free:

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes twice every day, especially in the morning and before bed. Saliva helps wash food off your teeth, but you have less saliva while you sleep, so it’s important to go to bed with very clean teeth to give the bacteria less to enjoy. Also, be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months to keep it clean.
  • Floss and clean between your teeth every day. A lot of plaque hides along and under the gum line, and flossing is the only way to get to this hard-to-reach plaque that brushing will miss.
  • Mouthwash can help loosen up plaque before or after you brush your teeth, and most have ingredients to fight bacteria. You might be sensitive to mouthwash and mouthwash should never replace regular brushing and flossing, so talk to your dentist about using it.
  • Eat less sugar. Especially avoid sugary drinks, which prolong your mouth’s exposure to sugar all day. Sugar is sneaky, you might be surprised how many snacks and beverages actually contain it. If you do have snacks with sugar, rinse your mouth with water right afterward.
  • Eat fewer snacks between meals. If you eat all day long, it’s like giving the bacteria in your mouth an all-day buffet. Eat a healthy meal, then either rinse your mouth or brush your teeth, then give your mouth a break from the plaque process.
  • See your Brandon dentist. You can do a lot to fight bacteria and plaque every day, but professional cleaning is still necessary at least twice a year.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants for an added layer of protection against plaque and tooth decay.

To schedule a professional cleaning for your teeth, or to develop a new relationship with your Brandon dentist, contact Walker – Barr DMD today! Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr are taking new patients and would love to serve all your oral health needs, and help you keep plaque at bay.

 

The content of 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.

 

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