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Family Dentistry

How Intermittent Fasting (IF) May Help Gum Disease

Gum disease — more than 47 percent of Americans have it, that is almost half of our adult population suffering from a preventable dental health condition! It’s important now to address how to prevent, even in the most unassumable ways!

Having a healthy mouth is truly the window into your body’s overall wellness, so if you think you’re suffering from gum disease, there are ways to help treat and prevent it. Find out an interesting concept to tackling this overly abundant dental health issue through intermittent fasting!

A Quick Word on Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontitis, is inflammation of the gums. In its early stage, it’s referred to as gingivitis and can be swollen and prone to bleeding. In more advanced forms, periodontitis, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and can create pockets where teeth can become loose and fall out.

Gum disease is a result of plaque and tartar overgrowth and people are more at risk with poor oral hygiene habits. The best defense is preventative dental health habits such as brushing twice per day and flossing at least once.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Help Gum Disease?

If you’re not familiar with intermittent fasting (IF), in its most simple form is fasting for a 16 hour period and then only eating within an eight-hour timeframe. The best example is eating only from 12 pm to 8 pm, and then skipping breakfast the next day. It will vary from person-to-person — some use a six or even four-hour window between feasting and fasting.

How your microbiome plays in

Your microbiome which is composed of a beautiful ecosystem of bacteria, as we’re learning, is greatly tied to our health. When the balance is tipped, it can affect our digestion, immune health, and brain health. When there is an overgrowth of bacteria it causes both gum disease and bad breath.

The biggest research going into learning about the microbiome is how we influence our daily choices and activities. Through many studies, it is clear that the more diverse our bacterial ecosystem is the greater it benefits our health.

Not only is it now about what we eat — the modern diet has proven to be a disadvantage to a flourishing gut habitat — it may be about when we eat!

Fasting and your microbiome

There are many studies that site how fasting not only benefits our brains and metabolism but now our gut health. As the rhythm of our eating patterns is dynamic, so is how our gut bacteria respond to our feeding and fasting states. The rhythm is only disrupted when there is more feeding than fasting which leads to metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Many biological things occur when you fast, namely, when your body burns energy reserves in response to it.

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of how IF may help gum disease. We looked at what gum disease is and how to prevent it traditionally and broke into the conversation about IF and the microbiome. It will all tie together to gum disease, so stay tuned for part two!

In the meantime, schedule a teeth cleaning and help prevent the onset of gum disease today!

How Medications Affect Your Dental Health: Part Two

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In part one of this series, we addressed how medications cause dry mouth and how they can negatively affect your dental health. Likewise, we touched on small changes that can be made — including regularly scheduling a teeth cleaning with your local dentist — and began to touch on specific medications that cause dry mouth. In today’s post, we’ll expand on the medications causing dry mouth and connect other dental health issues associated with medications.

Further Medications That Cause Dry Mouth

 

In addition to decongestants, antihistamines, and antidepressants that we covered in part one, here are a few more medications that can cause dry mouth.

 

  • Blood pressure medication – The components in most blood pressure medications such as beta blockers, diuretics, and calcium channel blockers address high blood pressure, but increase the chances of developing dry mouth and tooth decay.

 

  • Antacids – This medication may not make sense because of its ability to block acid from getting into your mouth that contributes to tooth erosion, however, they can weaken teeth and cause dry mouth in all forms — dissolvable, chewable, and liquid.  

 

Additional Medications That May Cause Dental Health Issues

 

Dry mouth is one of the dental health issues medications may spawn and the following section will address these dental issues.

 

  • Mouth sores and ulcers – A mouth sore develops on the tongue on within the cheeks and mouth. They can appear red and irritated and feel like a tiny crater in your mouth. More commonly these sores are known as “canker sores” and it’s only a real issue if they become a chronic issue.

 

  • Inflammation of the gums – Medications tend to cause gum inflammation because it increases the growth rate of the tissue and can grow over the teeth themselves. Inflamed gums is an insidious place for bacteria to set up camp and cause gingivitis and tooth decay.

 

  • Inflammation of the lining of the mouth – Medications can cause inflammation in the mouth lining and also results from chemotherapy. This is very painful and can cause mouth sores and ulcers making it increasingly difficult to chew and eat.

 

Today In part two, we addressed further medications that cause dry mouth and medications that can produce harmful dental health issues.

 

If you struggle with dry mouth or issues such as inflamed gums or mouth sores, schedule a teeth cleaning with your local dentist to establish a plan of action to help find relief.

 

Call Zen Smiles today!

Get Knotty With Your Floss

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Preventative dental health care, both at-home and with your local dentist, can greatly influence the state of your health, and it only takes a little time out of your day! Brushing twice per day and flossing at least once per day not only prevents tooth decay and cavities, it helps prevent gum disease thus helping prevent diabetes and heart disease. Preventative dental health goes a long way!

While many people can commit to brushing twice per day, flossing for some reason, is harder to get people to do. Sometimes it can be painful at first and gums bleed so people stop, the spaces are tough to get in and out of quickly, or others may just mindlessly forget. If you can consistently execute flossing in your dental health regimen, you’re one step closer to optimal teeth health.

Flossing is an intuitive act, but there are a couple of pointers to make flossing a little more effective for a cleaner, healthier, brighter smile.

How to effectively floss:

You’ll want to floss your whole mouth, top and bottom, tooth-by-tooth, space-by-space! Begin by holding the floss taut, gently glide up and down between the tooth spaces.

Gently floss just below the gum line and you can either rick the floss from side-to-side or curve the floss around each base of the tooth. As you move through each space and each tooth, use a clean section of floss.

The Knot Method

If you have larger gaps or pockets in your teeth, the knot flossing method could be perfect for you! To benefit from the knot method, you’ll floss just as you normally would, but before you begin you’ll tie a sequence of spaced knots in your floss string. The knots effectively reach and clean larger spaces, removing food debris and plaque for cleaner teeth! If tying knots is too cumbersome, there are floss products on the market that come pre-tied for easier flossing!

Choosing a floss

Choosing a floss that you like will not only make this step more enjoyable, but you’re more likely to do it. Floss comes in a variety of waxed or unwaxed varieties, flavors, and sizes. The floss type is always a personal preference. Waxed flossed can be easier to maneuver from space-to-space, while unwaxed squeaks a bit signaling the plaque and debris had been removed. So, choose a floss you like and consistently commit to using it!

Zen Smiles

If you’ve been lacking a little in the flossing department and need a fresh start, schedule a teeth cleaning with us today!

Call to make an appointment!

The Influence Of Female Hormones On Oral Health

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Female hormones have the ability to affect a woman’s health from monthly migraines and mood disturbances to acne and increased energy. Because of the moment-by-moment fluctuations in the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, together they can cause a myriad of health issues in women.

Have you ever noticed that your gums are increasingly more sensitive around your cycle? Or perhaps you’ve even scheduled with your local dentist around this time because you thought you had a cavity, only to mistake it and find that your hormones were the culprit of your oral panic!

Find out how hormones influence your oral health in each stage of life.

How your hormones can land you in your local dentist office

Hormones affect your oral health because these fluctuations can increase or decrease the blood supply to the gums, as well as how your body responds to toxins in correlation to plaque. Because hormones play such a wide and vast role in women’s health, they can directly leave women more susceptible to oral health issues such as periodontal disease.

How hormones influence oral health through the stages

Hormones may always affect a woman’s health but in terms of oral health, there are specific stages where hormones are the most abundant and active.

  • Puberty – Puberty presents a host of changes, but mainly a flood of sex hormones throughout the body. The fast influx of estrogen and progesterone affects a woman’s gums by increasing blood flow to the tissue leaving it tender, swollen, and somewhat red. Because of the increased inflammation to the gums, it may cause the gums to bleed more readily during brushing and flossing.
  • Pregnancy – Similar to puberty, during pregnancy hormones rapidly fluctuate. Pregnant women are prone to a condition called pregnancy gingivitis and as a result of increased progesterone can have increased plaque buildup. The condition causes swollen and bleeding gums, so getting a routine dental cleaning early in a pregnancy can help reduce the risk of getting it.
  • Menopause – As women age, they are at risk for many other health issues and often have to combat it with medication. The combination of medications and decreased hormones, can leave a woman with dry mouth, burning mouth, and increased sensitivity to extreme temperatures in food and beverages. With the decrease of estrogen during menopause this causes contributes to bone loss which can affect her oral health and make her more susceptible to periodontitis.

Other hormonal influences

Both a woman’s menstrual cycle and oral contraceptives factor into the state of her oral health. A woman can experience inflamed, bleeding, and red gums, canker sores, and swollen salivary glands during her monthly cycle, and can cause what’s referred to as “menstrual gingivitis” and clears after her period has started.

Birth control pills can also cause swollen gums when they are first started, but because they help balance hormones, they can help reduce the inflammatory response in gums.

Zen Smiles – your local dentist

Whatever stage of life you’re in, at Zen Smiles we want to help address any oral health issues you have related to fluctuating hormone levels! And, we’re always here for a routine dental cleaning!

Schedule with us today!

Can The Juicing Trend Sabotage Your Smile?

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If you take a stroll, or Uber, around Miami there is no shortage of night clubs, Cuban cuisine, and juice bars! While food trends come and go, the juice trend — not even being food — has seemingly stuck. Miami boasts some of the best juice bars including Miami Juice, Raw South Juice, The Juicery Bar, Jugofresh, and Juice And Java.

With all the varieties of juices that clever minds concoct, we can’t help but wonder how it affects oral health? Sure it’s brimming with beautiful phytochemicals and protective antioxidants to not only support your immune system and your skin, but what are the impacts long-term? Will the juicing trend send people running to their local dentist for a emergency teeth cleaning or teeth whitening treatment? Find out more about how the juicing trend may influence your oral health.

Juice Bars and Your Teeth

The juicing community may have you believing that if you’re not consuming a $10.00 green juice per day, your health is suffering. It is chock full of wonderful nutrients, but at the end of the day you may want to do a little more research into what’s going into the emerald green elixir!

Because of the nature of the actual vegetables that are being juiced and having a green and sometimes bitter taste, fruits and fruit purees are added to sweeten the deal and hook the drinker! Fruits contain a natural occurring sugar called fructose which gives them their delicious appeal, however it’s the sugar that can wreak havoc on your pearly whites. The harmful effects of sugar are often associated with soda and wine, but green juices fit alongside those other beverages. A standard green juice composed of apple, kale, celery, and lemon have an average of 42 grams of sugar per eight ounces. This is high, as the daily recommended amount of sugar is 25 grams. So, you’re getting almost twice the amount of recommended sugar in just one juice!

…But the sugar in juice is natural, it can’t be too harmful

The fructose is naturally occurring, but the bacteria in your mouth does not discriminate! When you consume juice, the sugar within it likes to stick around. The longer you go without brushing or rinsing your mouth with water, the longer the insidious little bugs have to do tooth decay damage. The bacteria will consume the sugar that’s been left behind and digest it and turn it into acid. The acid, overtime, breaks down and demineralizes the tooth enamel causing tooth decay including cavities.

Can I still enjoy the juice bar every once in a while?

Green juices aren’t all bad, and they have a lot of positive benefits. It’s when the juice is left to coat your teeth when it because an adverse situation. Here are a couple of tips to combat the sugar:

Rinse your mouth with water after the juice, or sip it along with the juice.
Brush your teeth afterwards.
Drink the juice all in one sitting instead of throughout the day constantly exposing your teeth to sugar.

If you do brush, wait at least a half hour before you do so. The acids weaken the enamel and if you you it immediatly after a juice it’s like brushing the acid further into your teeth — it can cause more damage.

Green juice is a wonderful and delicious option but it’s always good to know what is going into your juices including how much sugar, and to take preventative measures accordingly.

Zen Smiles

At Zen Smiles, we would love to chat more about how to make the most of green juices and your oral health! As always, come see us for a teeth cleaning twice a year and brush twice a day and floss at least once for optimum dental health.

 

Schedule an appointment today!

All About Bad Breath

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Face-to-face conversation — it’s not as prevalent as it once was. There was once a time when goods and services couldn’t be ordered through a click of a button and delivered minutes later to your doorstep. As we are further removed from social interactions, the less chances we have at finding out we have bad breath! Have you ever had a coworker, as friendly as they are, lean in for conversation only to have the worst coffee breath? Or, perhaps you’ve been standing in line at the grocery store and the person in front of you turns to make conversation, and you slowly back up a couple of inches because their breath is terrible. These social cues are being missed because face-to-face conversation is disappearing, leaving people with bad breath unaware that they have it! As long as bad breath sufferers are seeing their local dentist twice a year, this may be the only social interaction that saves them from a life of halitosis (bad breath).

What your local dentist says about bad breath

Bad breath isn’t a simple cut and dry answer, as it can be caused by a myriad of things. Causes of bad breath include the following:

  • Poor oral hygiene – Poor dental health habits combined with the absence of local dentist visits, creates the perfect sanctuary for bad bacteria to camp out in your mouth, causing bad breath. This is why your local dentist makes the firm case for brushing and flossing twice a day — not only does it remove food debris that can cause bad breath, but it prevents a whole host of dental health issues.
  • Tooth decay – Cavities are linked with poor oral hygiene habits and breakdown the enamel due to an overabundance of acid from bacteria. With tooth decay you may also suffer from inflamed gums and infection adding to an ecosystem that’s already thriving on bad bacteria.
  • Dry mouth – Saliva is the beautiful fluid that washes away plaque, bacteria, and food debris, keeping your mouth healthy. When there is an absence of saliva, your mouth doesn’t have the ability to shed and dispose of the unwanted particles leaving bad breath in its wake.
  • Medical conditions – A host of medical conditions can cause bad breath including people who suffer from eating disorders and chronic dieters. People who are in kidney failure will have a foul, fishy odor or breath that is reminiscent of urine or ammonia. Prolonged vomiting or someone with an obstructed bowel, has breath smelling of feces. Chronic sinus and lung issues may also leave a person with prolonged bad breath. Because bad breath can often be a symptom of something more sinister, it is crucial to see your local dentist regularly for a check-up and teeth cleaning.

How to alleviate bad breath

The most important piece of treating bad breath is finding the root cause of it. If you have chronic coffee breath, it can be as simple as drinking water alongside your coffee or rising your mouth when you’re finished drinking it. If you love garlic and onions, yet they cause bad breath, you may just have to accept that you’ll smell like them! For temporary relief, chewing gum, mints, and breath spray are very helpful is masking foul smells.

Proper oral hygiene will also work wonders in addressing bad breath — and this includes brushing and flossing twice a day and scheduling routine teeth cleaning visits with your local dentist. Changing your diet will also improve your breath. If you currently consume a highly processed diet full of abundantly sugary and starchy foods, this creates more bacteria and acid, causing bad breath. Make adjustments by limiting your sugar consumption and add colorful vegetables into your diet.

If you suffer from chronic bad breath and take the above measures, it would be important to have a conversation with your dentist and seek out medical advice. Again, bad breath can be a symptom of more serious health conditions and poor oral health has been linked to an increase in diabetes and heart disease.

Zen Smiles – your local dentist

At Zen Smiles, you don’t have to suffer or be embarrassed about your bad breath. We’re here to not only give you regular teeth cleanings that help it, but to help you address your bad breath and find the root cause through face-to-face conversations!

Schedule an appointment today!

Unsuspecting Food And Drinks That Can Damage Your Enamel

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Your tooth enamel is a vital component to your oral health, yet do you know what it is and what it protects? You may want to inquire with us, at Zen Smiles Miami, during your next teeth cleaning. If you can’t wait, please enjoy this article about unsuspecting food and drinks that cause harm to your enamel.

So, back to enamel. Tooth enamel is the outermost layer (most visible) of your teeth that is highly mineralized, and is only partly responsible for the color of your teeth. Enamel is deeply protective from harmful bacteria and prevents your teeth from damage and decay. Its role in oral protection is to guard from acidic substances and plaque, as well as temperature variations that can cause sensitivity.
If your enamel is destroyed, as of yet, it cannot be replaced. Your body is unable to synthesize enamel because it’s void of living cells, thus there is no hope for regeneration. So, treat your enamel well — help protect it and it will protect you.

How to prevent enamel erosion
The best way to spare and protect enamel is through your diet. This means consuming a diet full of whole foods and reducing highly-processed ones. Sugary foods and processed, starchy carbs are major culprits of enamel erosion, so avoiding candy and potato chips will do you good! If you do choose to consume them research has found it’s not the amount you consume but the consistency, so if you’re an energy-drink-a-day kind of person, you’re doing more damage. To undo some of the sugary, carby damage, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and brush afterwards if you’re able.
If you’re interested in the unsuspecting enamel destroyers, read more below.

Unsuspecting things that damage your enamel

  • Dried fruit – This food is found in various trail mixes and is delightful on its own. Dried fruit can actually be worse for your teeth than processed candy because of it’s overly sticky consistency. The dried fruit debris can stick to nooks and crannies within your teeth and hide out allowing bacteria to flourish and destroy your enamel in addition to causing cavities.
  • Lemon water – If you do an internet search on the benefits of lemon water you’ll find many articles boasting how wonderful it is, but that is not what we’re debating! We want to to bring attention to the high acidity that lemons contain. Highly acidic fruits, such as lemons, damage tooth enamel, so try not to do it everyday. It’s also important to wait 30 minutes after you’ve had it before brushing your teeth.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Similar to lemon water, apple cider vinegar has great beneficial properties, but if you drink it, its acidity causes damage. The acid also leaves the tooth in a weakened state, which is why you want to wait 30 minutes before brushing. If you decide to use apple cider vinegar, you can find it in capsule form. Or, try mixing it in eight ounces of water or drinking it through a straw.
  • Ice – Chewing on ice in the summer months is not only refreshing, but also cooling! The issue results when people habitually chew ice which can chip and break teeth. Continuous ice chewing can wear the enamel and cause even further damage to your teeth.
  • Sugar-free soda – When people choose sugar-free soda over regular soda, it’s likely with the intention that it’s not as harmful because it’s sugar-free. Unfortunately, soda is still very acidic, and constant exposure to it (drinking it throughout the day) never let’s your teeth recover from the onslaught of acid.
  • Kombucha – Like lemon water and apple cider vinegar, kombucha has been represented as a health elixir, but again, it’s highly acidic! The naturally occurring probiotics are wonderful, so help neutralize the acids by drinking water alongside it.

While some of these beverages may be surprising because of their health benefits, the thing that all of these drinks have in common are their high acidity content. So if you choose to partake in these beverages, ensure your dilute them in water or rinse your teeth with water afterwards.
Zen Smiles
If you’re guilty of drinking copious amounts of acidic beverages, schedule a routine teeth cleaning today with us and we’ll take a look at the state of your enamel!

Schedule an appointment today!

How to Instantly Have Better Oral Health

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Your mouth is the gateway to overall health in your whole body, so it’s imperative to have good oral hygiene habits. You can’t always reverse damage that has been done, but there are measures that you can create now for an instantly healthier mouth! And as always, schedule a routine teeth cleaning with us at Zen Smiles twice a year.
Bad habits to break
Since gum disease is so widespread, with over half of the US adult population having it, prevention and breaking bad dental habits can save you from a host of other issues such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and low birth weight in infants.
Here are some bad dental habits to break:

  • Not flossing
  • Not brushing
  • Eating an excessive amount of sugar and processed carbohydrates
  • Not scheduling routine dental care
  • Smoking

Now for the good!
To instantly up your oral hygiene game and impress any dentist — or partner you’re up close and personal with — try out the following approaches!

  • Eat your veggies – Consuming raw, crisp veggies such as carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumber can instantly help your pearly whites. When you eat your veggies, because of their hard textures, it creates a scrubbing action on your teeth, helping to remove leftover food, plaque, and bacteria-laden debris.
  • Sip tea – Tea is instantly beneficial to teeth because it contains catechins which are compounds that helps block an enzyme called glucosyltransferase that converts sugars, thus causing cavities. So the next time you meet a friend for coffee, choose tea!
  • Get a little rest and relaxation – If you’re stressed, chances are you hold a majority of your stress in the head and neck regions — including your mouth! For healthier teeth and less teeth grinding, destress! This can be getting a facial (or giving yourself a relaxing facial massage), meditating, or just getting more sleep!
  • Use a straw – If you’re due for a teeth whitening procedure but don’t want to cause further stains, invest in a straw. Carry a straw around in your car or if you carry a purse, and use it when you drink adult beverages: think coffee, tea, soda, or wine.
  • Scrape your tongue – Have you seen the handy “U” shaped tongue scrapers that clean your tongue? Invest in one of these devices for your dental care routine and have better breath (and oral health) to boot. The tongue scraper removes bad, cavity causing bacteria and creates a nice, habitable environment for the good bacteria!
  • Chew gum – Chewing gum is great for oral health, but not any ol’ gum — chew a xylitol based gum. Xylitol is a compound shown specifically to aid in oral health. It increases salivation, which effectively reduces cavities and plaque. So after a delicious meal, pop in a piece of sugar-free xylitol gum!

Zen Smiles
If you’ve enjoyed these tips on instant oral health but have remembered you need a routine teeth cleaning, contact our office today and schedule an appointment!

Dental care is self care!

 

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