Local Anesthetic – Is it Safe?

If you get to go on a tropical vacation, your ability to feel the warm sun and the smooth sand is crucial to enjoying the atmosphere. There are, however, times in life when you would rather not feel anything. Getting a dental procedure can be one of those times—as important as the procedure might be. In that case, thank goodness for modern medicine and anesthesia.

Ancient dentists used a number of herbs and drugs to numb their patients. Thankfully, today, you have the option of completely safe and effective anesthesia. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr share more below about what anesthesia is and when you might need it.

What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a type of medicine best known for dulling pain. The root-word “an” means without and “aesthesis” means feeling. Anesthesia literally means “without feeling.” That perfectly describes how most people want to feel if they need to get a cavity filled or a tooth pulled. Anesthesia can also help you feel relaxed during your treatment and ease your pain afterward. Read more ›

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An Alkaline Diet for Oral Health

Acids and bases might sound like something from far back in your memory, like middle-school science class, but the concept is still very applicable to every aspect of life today.

The foods and beverages you consume daily have a very big effect on your oral health and overall health, for better or worse. You can protect and support your health by eating the right foods. We know this isn’t news to anyone, but it’s much easier said than done, right?

Brandon dentists Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr explain below how an alkaline diet can benefit your oral health and overall health.

What is an Alkaline Diet?

Everything around us is made of chemicals that are either some level of acidic or basic (alkaline). Chemicals are numbered on the pH scale from 0-6 as acidic, 7 as neutral, and 8-14 as alkaline and more people are talking these days about the negative effects of diets high in acidity. A minimally acidic—or alkaline—diet will contain mostly foods with a pH above 7. Read more ›

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Can Poor Oral Health Cause Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic and complicated disease that affects how your body processes sugar—its main source of energy. Diabetes symptoms mostly affect your heart, eyes, nerves, and kidneys, but it can affect your whole body, including your mouth.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and almost 2 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Managing your blood sugar is very important if you have diabetes and will help keep symptoms at bay. Taking good care of your oral wellness is actually one key to managing blood sugar. Read more ›

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Types for All Stripes: Teeth Whitening

Whiter, brighter teeth are on the top of everyone’s smile wish list – and for good reason! White teeth look young and healthy. The good news is that teeth whitening is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve your smile, and the results are almost immediate. If you’re already taking good care of your oral health, whitening your teeth will truly put the polish on all of your efforts.

Teeth Staining 101

Your unique smile and lifestyle determine the color of your teeth. The hard, outer surface of every tooth is called enamel. Enamel is usually white or off-white, but health and environmental factors can make it turn yellow, brown, or gray. Your mouth may do the talking, but your teeth can say a lot about your habits and health.

  • Coffee, tea, red wine, soda, sports drinks, and tobacco are the biggest causes of stains in healthy teeth. Limit these to preserve your natural pearly whites.
  • One dark or discolored tooth may be the sign of a more serious problem. It’s important to see a dentist that can get an accurate diagnosis for a single discolored tooth.
  • Aging causes your enamel to thin. This causes yellowing and sensitivity in teeth.

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Is Flossing Really Necessary?

How do you feel when you see that little plastic floss container in your medicine cabinet? Eagerness to achieve that clean feeling in your mouth? Or regret over a habit you have trouble keeping? Did you get excited about recent headlines saying flossing isn’t necessary? We’re sorry to break the news, but as your oral health experts, we’re here to tell you floss is still incredibly important. In fact, it’s one of the most important foundations for oral health.

The Brandon dentists at Walker and Barr, DMD share more below about why you should floss, how to floss, and what to do if flossing causes your gums to bleed.

What is Floss?

Floss is a simple waxed thread designed specially to clean between your teeth (the hardest spots in your mouth to reach) comfortably and effectively. Floss was invented around 1820 and was first seen on store shelves decades later. Read more ›

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A Real Nail Biter

We all have those nervous habits we turn to when we feel awkward, stressed, or just plain bored. If your choice vice is biting your nails, you need to know that it can cause a lot of distress on your oral health and overall health. Brandon dentists Dr. Walker and Dr. Barr share why nail biting is so bad for you and how you can break the habit.

Downsides of Biting your Nails

It may seem harmless, but nail biting can actually:

  • Chip your teeth
  • Hurt your jaw (due to frequently jutting your teeth out to bite)
  • Increase your risk of tooth loss
  • Tear and damage your gums
  • Spread bacteria from under the fingernail into your mouth, bloodstream, and body

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Dry Mouth: Nothing to Spit At

Can you imagine a 2-liter bottle of your favorite soda? Now imagine that same bottle filled with spit. That’s approximately how much saliva the average adult produces in their mouth every day! It may be gross, but it’s definitely important. Saliva is a normal body fluid that’s crucial for oral health and overall wellness.

If you struggle to make enough saliva, your mouth will feel very dry and you will have trouble with daily activities like speaking, eating, and swallowing. This condition is commonly known as dry mouth, but the clinical name is xerostomia. A chronically dry mouth is uncomfortable and unhealthy.

You have three salivary glands in different parts of your jaw that make and secrete saliva. Saliva is mostly made of water, but it also contains important molecules called enzymes that help keep your mouth clean and fight infection.

Dry mouth is common and can usually be fixed with the help of your Brandon dentists and primary care doctor. Walker & Raynal, DMD shares more below about what causes dry mouth and how to treat it. Read more ›

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What’s Lurking in Your Saliva?

Saliva. Just the word can conjure an array of images in your imagination. From salivating at a delicious meal to studying Pavlov’s dogs to watching a baseball player spit, life is full of saliva! And that’s a good thing because saliva is very important for oral and overall health. Problems with saliva can lead to dry mouth, cavities, and bad breath. Read more below from the Brandon dentists of Walker & Raynal, DMD to learn more about your saliva.

Composition of Saliva

Saliva is 98% water. It also contains electrolytes, mucus, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Saliva travels to all parts of your mouth via “saliva ducts.” Saliva is made in your salivary glands and the contents come from your blood. Ancient doctors believed saliva and blood were “brothers” when it comes to a person’s wellness.

Because saliva is so similar to blood, research is growing on how to use saliva samples to test for diseases. Saliva samples are already used to test for HIV, but studies are finding you can also detect breast cancer, oral cancer, gum disease, and viral hepatitis in your saliva! Saliva samples can also help doctors understand a person’s immune system.

Functions of Saliva

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Why Does My Jaw Hurt?

If your jaw clicks when it opens, or you can’t fully open it, or you have pain in your face and trouble chewing, then you’re among the 15% of Americans who have chronic jaw pain.

Your jaw joint is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. The name comes from the jaw’s role to connect your temporal bone in the skull with your mandible bone. Some people experience short-term pain that goes away with ice and over-the-counter medicine. But if you have chronic jaw pain or you can’t open your mouth, you might have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and it’s important to see your dentist right away to find relief.

The Brandon dentists of Walker & Raynal, DMD explain more below about the causes and treatments of jaw pain.

Different Kinds of Jaw Pain

Pain in your jaw can feel different depending on what’s going on. In order to best understand what’s causing your pain, try to notice when you specifically feel the pain and what specifically it feels like.

Do you have tightness, soreness, or clicking? Is the pain shooting sharp or a dull ache? Some jaw problems can also cause pain in your face, head, neck or shoulders. Many patients who have chronic migraines don’t realize it’s actually a dysfunction of their bite and TMJ. It’s important to see a dentist and explain what you’re feeling so that they can offer the best treatment options.

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Dental Insurance Trends

Above any other medical need, people are more likely to skip seeing the dentist because they can’t afford it.

Many people choose not to buy dental insurance because it’s an added cost without a lot of perceived value. For some reason, people simply feel more comfortable taking this risk because they don’t fully understand the consequences of oral health problems. But it’s a risk indeed. You can develop a facial or oral injury just as easily as any other injury and oral infections and diseases are just as common—if not more common—as any other.

Beyond the critical events of oral injury or infection, preventive dental care (aka your regular cleanings and check-ups) is crucial for catching problems before they become dangerous. Seeing the dentist regularly can help you address a surprising number of overall health and wellness issues.

Still, dentists understand that medical costs are rising, the world of insurance is often a mystery, and sometimes you’re just at a loss. The Brandon dentists of Walker & Raynal, DMD explain more below about the current trends in dental insurance and what they mean for you.

Forgoing Dental Insurance

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