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The importance of mouth guards!

October 4, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 5:14 pm

Now that fall has arrived, your family may be busy keeping up with the fall sports season. Our team understands the importance of your child staying active and having fun. Since we want to help keep your family safe, we wanted to talk about mouth guards – what they are, when to use them, the whole nine yards! Of course, if you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to hear from you!

Q: What are athletic mouth protectors?

A: Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic. They are adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth.

Q: Why are mouth guards important?

A: Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

Q: When should my child wear a mouth guard?

A: Whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

Q: How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?

A: Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. So, choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room.

You can select from several options in mouth guards. First, preformed or “boil-to-fit” mouth guards are found in sports stores. Different types and brands vary in terms of comfort, protection, and cost. Second, customized mouth guards are provided through your pediatric dentist. They cost a bit more but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries. Give us a call, we can advise you on what type of mouth guard is best for your child.

Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes: Everything You Need to Know!

September 28, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 4:23 pm

Everybody is jumping on the electric toothbrush bandwagon in recent years, with many experts in the dental field claiming electric toothbrushes provide superior dental care. It’s true that electric toothbrushes are recommended for those who can’t do a good job brushing manually or who have arthritis or other conditions. But manual toothbrushes do have some advantages, according to an article we recently found including:

• Cost. While electric toothbrushes may be expensive for many people, manual toothbrushes are both inexpensive and accessible.

• Less pressure on your teeth & gums. While we can feel the amount of pressure we’re using as we grasp our manual toothbrush, we can’t feel the pressure nearly as well with an electric toothbrush. Placing too much pressure on our teeth can wear away at the tooth enamel, which causes pain, sensitivity, as well as an increased risk of tooth decay.

• Simple to pack. Manual toothbrushes are easy to carry around for those business or family trips. People are less likely to let their good dental care habits lapse on vacation with a toothbrush that they can easily bring along!

• Better for kids. Learning at a young age how to properly use a manual toothbrush helps children get a feel for how to properly take care of their oral hygiene.

Electric toothbrushes, on the other hand, are more effective in removing plaque and are considered a better alternative to maintaining gum health. Remember, whether you choose a manual or an electric toothbrush, our team encourages you to choose one with soft bristles and be sure to change the bristles on the electric brush when they become worn down. We also encourage you to replace your toothbrush every three months, when the bristles are no longer straight and firm or after you recover from a cold.

Give our team a call if you have any questions. Or, feel free to connect with us on Facebook!

Happy brushing!

When is the Best Time to Floss?

September 21, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 3:09 pm

At Our office, we encourage our patients to practice good oral hygiene between office visits. Part of that process includes flossing, which is the process of cleaning between the teeth to remove food and debris from the areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. When food is allowed to remain between the teeth, it provides a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause periodontal disease!

Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

According to recent clinical findings, you can floss either before or after brushing, according to your own preference. By flossing first, you can brush away dislodged food debris afterward. On the other hand, brushing first allows you to loosen plaque between the teeth, making it easier to floss more effectively.

Whichever you choose, the most important goal is to floss thoroughly. That means using a fresh strand of dental floss each day, and carefully pulling it back and forth between all of the teeth. Do not skip flossing because your teeth look or feel clean.

When to Floss

Unlike brushing, you need only floss between your teeth once per day. Although you may choose to do it in the morning or afternoon, many prefer to floss at night to prevent food and debris from remaining in the crevices of the teeth overnight. This could prevent the build-up of plaque too, which is a cause of tooth decay.

Help with Flossing

If you have questions about your flossing technique or what type of floss is best for your teeth, contact our office. The staff will be more than happy to assist you in perfecting your home hygiene regimen. In most cases, you can choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine.

Foods That Can Harm Enamel

September 14, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 5:51 pm

Many people who are careful about brushing and flossing their teeth wonder how they still end up with cavities or tooth decay. Several factors affect wear and tear on tooth enamel. Diet is a major factor, with certain foods increasing the likelihood that your enamel will become discolored or decayed. Pay close attention to the foods you eat to keep your pearly whites looking healthy and clean.

What Causes Enamel Damage?

Tooth enamel refers to the hard, semi-translucent, whitish part of the tooth that shows above your gums. The enamel is primarily composed of minerals that are strong but susceptible to highly acidic foods. When acid reacts with the minerals in enamel, tooth decay results. Strongly pigmented foods can also damage enamel by discoloring the surface of the tooth.

Foods that Harm Enamel

Acidic foods are the greatest source of enamel damage. To determine whether a food is acidic, look up its pH. Scientists use pH, on a one-to-seven scale, to define the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Foods with low pH levels, between a one and three, are high in acidity and may damage your enamel. Foods with high pH levels, such as a six or seven, are far less likely to cause enamel harm.

So which foods should you avoid? Many fruits are high in acidity, including lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. The high sugar and acid content in soda makes it another huge contributor to enamel decay. Moderately acidic foods include pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cottage cheese, maple syrup, yogurt, raisins, pickles, and honey. The foods that are least likely to cause enamel damage include milk, most cheeses, eggs, and water.

Beverages such as red wine and coffee also damage the enamel by discoloring it. Although stains do not necessarily undermine the integrity of your teeth, they can be unsightly.

What Can I Do to Prevent Enamel Damage?

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent your enamel from discoloring or decaying. The easiest way to avoid decay is to steer clear of high-acidity foods. This may not always be possible, but eliminating sugary fruit juices and soda from your diet is a good start. Brushing your teeth after each meal and flossing frequently also preserves your enamel. Another good idea is to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating to wash away high-acidity particles.

Although enamel damage is common, it does not have to be an inevitable occurrence. Knowing the foods that harm your teeth gives you the tools to prevent discoloration and decay. With some easy preventive measures, your teeth will stay strong and white for years to come.

How to Prevent or Get Rid of Gum Disease Naturally

September 7, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 11:12 am

If you have, or are at risk for gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) then you probably know about the traditional treatments that your dentist has to offer. Thanks to advances in technology, there are several options for treatment such as periodontal surgery, laser therapy and other non-surgical methods. However, according to the American Academy of Periodontists, non-surgical methods don’t work for every situation. Also, not everyone is comfortable with these procedures due to possible pain, side effects and medicines that may be used in the process. Fortunately, nature has provided a solution in the form of a naturally occurring substance called xylitol.

Xylitol is a natural sugar found in the fibrous part of many plants including plums, strawberries, raspberries, and birch trees. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that xylitol can reduce unhealthy oral bacteria that are responsible for causing cavities and gum disease. Due to xylitol’s unique structure, it doesn’t break down the way that regular sugar does and it helps keep a neutral pH balance in your mouth. Regular consumption of xylitol will prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums, thus decreasing your chance of developing, or worsening, gum disease.

Here are some additional benefits that xylitol provides for your oral health:

* Helps to reduce plaque formation
* Helps to reduce the development of cavities and aids in repairing them
* Increases saliva which helps to repair damaged enamel

Preventing Gum Disease
To maintain optimum oral health, a minimum of six grams is necessary to notice the benefits, but more than ten to 12 grams a day is no more effective than 20 grams. To prevent gum disease, make sure that you consume an appropriate amount of xylitol throughout the day in five to six doses, not all at once. Drinking water, with one to two teaspoons of granulated xylitol stirred in, is an effective way to get the recommended amount. Do this in addition to your usual brushing and flossing routine.

Eliminating Gum Disease
Xylitol is anti-bacterial and will help to make the harmful bacteria disappear and over time the pockets that you’ve developed in your gum line will heal and recede back to their normal condition. Since you already have a higher level of bacteria in your mouth, you’ll want to be sure to get in at least ten grams of xylitol each and every day in addition to maintaining a good brushing and mouth rinsing routine. Use a toothpaste with xylitol, a mouthwash that is highly effective at killing bacteria, and floss daily. As your final step, you should drink some water with a few grams of xylitol, chew a piece of gum or eat a candy with xylitol. Make sure that you get your xylitol in small, frequent doses throughout the day in order to gain the most benefit.

Tips and Warnings

* To get enough xylitol, try eating xylitol candies and chewing gum made with 100 percent xylitol or drinking xylitol mixed with water.
* Consuming too much xylitol in a given day, usually more than 20 to 30 grams, often causes diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
* While it’s perfectly safe for human consumption, xylitol is lethal to dogs. Be sure to keep your xylitol in a cupboard or high shelf so that your canine friends can’t get to it.

How to Prevent Bad Breath

August 31, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 12:51 pm

We all experience bad breath every now and then. Usually it’s a minor inconvenience resolved with a thorough brushing. There are times, however, when bad breath becomes a recurring condition that can be a major source of embarrassment. Fortunately, mouth odor is preventable. By familiarizing yourself with the causes of bad breath, you’ll be able to take action and keep it in check.

Brushing and Flossing Habits: Proper care of your teeth and gums will go a long way toward maintaining fresh breath. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice each day with a fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to brush your tongue; bacteria can gather there as well. To remove odor-causing food particles from between your teeth, be sure to floss once per day.

Diet: The phrase “you are what you eat” is especially true when it comes to mouth odor. Researchers at New York University list strong-smelling foods such as pastrami, garlic, and onions as common culprits of bad breath. If you’re dieting, you may notice that your breath is worse between meals. Infrequent eating results in lower saliva production, which can cause bacteria buildup in the mouth. Eating meals at regular intervals can help reduce this accumulation.

Dry Mouth: The American Dental Association attributes a condition called xerostomia, better known as dry mouth, to bad breath. Dry mouth is exactly what it sounds like: a decreased amount of saliva resulting from continuous mouth breathing, salivary gland problems, or certain medications. The lack of beneficial saliva can lead to a buildup of odor-causing particles in the mouth. To combat dry mouth, be sure to stay hydrated or try sucking on a sugar-free candy.

Tobacco Use: Yet another entry on the long list of reasons to kick the habit, tobacco products can also contribute to bad breath. The experts at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center attribute tobacco use to a wide range of problems with the teeth and gums. In addition to mouth odor, potential problems include periodontal disease, loss of taste, gum irritation, and oral cancer.

Medical Conditions: Bad breath can be a warning sign or symptom of another underlying health issue. According to the Wexner Medical Center, mouth odor can indicate a respiratory infection, diabetes, a gastrointestinal disorder, or issues with the liver and kidneys. Symptoms vary from person to person, so if you suspect that your bad breath might be stemming from a larger problem, make an appointment with your doctor to address your concerns.

Additional Prevention: Scheduling regular dental checkups will help keep plaque buildup and gum disease from developing. Contact our office about any oral health issues you may be experiencing. We can provide professional recommendations tailored to your situation that will help keep your mouth as fresh and clean as it can be.

Four Common Causes of Toothaches

August 24, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 4:37 pm

If you have ever suffered from a toothache, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Tooth pain is usually caused by irritation to the nerves in the roots of the teeth, although there are other potential sources of the pain as well. Fortunately, there are ways to both prevent and resolve a toothache, regardless of its cause.

Causes of Tooth Pain

Some of the most common causes of tooth pain include:

• Tooth Decay – Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when bacteria erode the enamel of the tooth, which can eventually expose the nerve. This is the most common cause of tooth pain.
• Gum Disease – Also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria populate along and below the gum line.
• Injury – An injury can include a small chip or a large break in the tooth.
• Impaction – Teeth often become impacted beneath the surface of the gums. This condition is most common in molars, such as the wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth may cause no pain at all, or it could become extremely painful if it begins to affect the nerves and teeth around it.

Pain Resolution

Determining the source of your pain starts with a trip to the dentist. Usually, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination that may include X-rays. If your X-rays or examination reveal tooth decay, the solution may involve a simple filling, a root canal or even a tooth extraction. Your dentist will decide which option is best for you based on how advanced the tooth decay is, as well whether an infection is present within the tooth.

If, however, gum disease is causing your tooth pain, the solution may be as simple as a root planing and scaling, followed by administration of oral or topical antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your symptoms. If you have a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, your dentist may resolve your pain by either filling the crack, or covering the tooth with a crown designed to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If your dental X-rays reveal that you have an impacted tooth, you will most likely need to have it extracted to avoid causing damage or misalignment to the other teeth. Impacted teeth can also become infected, which is why it is important to remove impacted teeth before they begin to cause problems.

Prevention

Although there are ways of treating a toothache, the best way to treat it is by preventing it altogether. Some causes of tooth pain are not preventable, such as an impacted tooth or a predisposition to tooth sensitivity. However, tooth decay and gum disease are easily prevented by using good hygienic practices at home and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. By brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, as well as wearing protective mouthguards when participating in high-impact activities, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing tooth pain in the future.

A Healthy Mouth Starts With What You Eat!

August 17, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 4:22 pm

Most people know that visiting the dentist is an essential part of caring for their teeth. Regular checkups and cleanings are, of course, very important. But what some people don’t realize is that good dental hygiene starts long before you get to the dentist’s office. You may be saying, “I know, it starts with my toothbrush and floss.” But actually, oral health begins even before that. A healthy smile starts at your grocery store.

Dental checkups can detect problems early on and address them, but only good nutrition can give your teeth and gums the healthy foundation they need. If your diet is rich in tooth-friendly nutrients, you will be less prone to gum disease, tooth decay, and even jawbone loss.

So, which nutrients are the most important? Here are a few tooth-building superstars.

Calcium

We all know that calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Most expectant mothers are even aware that the calcium-rich foods they eat during pregnancy will ensure that their babies develop strong, healthy teeth later on. But did you know that calcium is important to your teeth long into adulthood?

On its “Milk Matters” page, the National Institutes of Health tells us that calcium can protect teeth against decay. Furthermore, a 2001 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that elderly people who had adequate amounts of calcium in their diets were more likely to retain their teeth as they aged.

Good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheeses, milk, and leafy green vegetables. If you can’t get enough calcium from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin can synthesize it during exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D could also be called the healthy smile vitamin. It not only helps your teeth, but it also keeps your gums healthy. Another study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine has shown a connection between low levels of dietary vitamin D and gingivitis. People in the study who had more of the vitamin in their diets had healthier gums.

While most of us get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, people who live farther from the equator may need to take a supplement during the winter months.

Vitamin C

Long ago, British sailors were called “Limeys” because their superiors made them eat limes on long ocean voyages. Why? Because limes are rich in vitamin C and without it, the sailors got scurvy and often lost their teeth. While there’s little danger of developing scurvy today, a study in the year 2000 of people who ranged in age from 20 to 90, showed that vitamin C is still necessary for healthy gums. People in the study who had the lowest dietary intake of this essential vitamin were at the highest risk of gum disease.

Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of vitamins to get from your diet. Rich sources include strawberries, apricots, oranges, lemons and, of course, limes. Red and yellow peppers also have lots of vitamin C, as do tomatoes and brussels sprouts.

Never put off regular dental checkups and cleanings, but in between appointments, watch your diet. Making sure these essential nutrients are a part of your daily intake will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.

Sensitive Teeth? Try Changing Your Toothpaste!

August 10, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 5:57 pm

If you have noticed that your teeth are starting to feel more sensitive than usual, you might initially avoid foods and drinks that seem to cause discomfort. For example, you feel some dental pain when you drink a hot cup of coffee in the morning or while chewing on a cold apple. While it’s a normal reaction to avoid foods or drinks that lead to pain or discomfort, it’s better to determine the cause of the problem and take steps to improve the health and quality of your teeth.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

– If only a single tooth is sensitive, it could be caused by a cavity. In other cases, the tooth might be cracked. These situations require care from a trained dental professional. You may need to get a filling, a new crown, or a root canal to reduce the tooth sensitivity.

– If many or all of your teeth are sensitive, you may have recently begun consuming larger amounts of foods or drinks that are high in acid. The acid dissolves the protective enamel of your teeth, exposing the dentin. The tooth’s dentin is sensitive to heat and cold as well as sticky or acidic foods that can trigger pain.

– Teeth whitening treatments can also cause tooth sensitivity.

– Increased stress in your life also can indirectly lead to tooth sensitivity. High stress can cause you to grind your teeth while you sleep. If you suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, one treatment option may be a special night guard appliance to wear while you sleep.

– Weather changes are another factor to consider. If it starts getting cold suddenly, the cool air you breathe in may trigger teeth pain, especially when enamel has been eroded from your teeth.

Reducing Tooth Sensitivity

– Avoid consuming foods and drinks that are high in acid. For example, citrus fruits and their juices can wear down your teeth’s enamel over time. Taper down your consumption to minimize teeth erosion. Try using a straw when drinking acidic juices in order to minimize their contact with your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and drinks.

– Start brushing your teeth with the softest available toothbrush. Use gentle motions to brush your teeth to minimize abrading their surfaces.

– You may be interested in switching to a new toothpaste to help you with the discomfort. Select a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. You can find a variety of brands at your local pharmacy or supermarket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly paying attention to how long you can use the product. If your teeth are still sensitive after using the special toothpaste, you should contact our office so we can rule out a more serious underlying problem.

Does Oral Health Affect Your Heart?

August 2, 2012

Filed under: oral health — Tags: , — dr_tillman @ 5:56 pm

Brushing your teeth every day keeps them cleaner, improves your breath, and reduces plaque buildup. But did you know that there may be a connection between your dental health and chronic illness? Some scientific evidence suggests that poor dental health may be linked to cardiovascular disease. Although more research is needed to explore this association, it provides yet another reason to brush your teeth twice per day, floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly.

Over 2,400 people die from cardiovascular disease each day, making it an immense public health problem. Cardiovascular disease occurs when arteries become harder, making it more difficult for blood to easily pass through your circulatory system. Plaques also build up in your blood vessels, further restricting blood flow. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects nearly 75% of the U.S. population, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause bone and gum tissue to deteriorate, causing bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and loose teeth.

If periodontal disease affects your teeth and cardiovascular disease affects your heart, what’s the connection between the two? Scientists have known for years that the two conditions share several risk factors. Increasing age, cigarette smoking, and type 2 diabetes increase your risk of developing both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. None of these risk factors, however, explain the causal mechanism connecting the two conditions.

According to a 2009 review article by the editors of the American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Periodontology, one possible explanation is inflammation. Moderate to severe periodontal disease triggers chronic systemic inflammation, affecting not only your mouth but also your circulatory system, leading to cardiovascular disease. Another hypothesis is that bacteria from your mouth can cause heart disease. People with periodontal disease have billions of bacteria and other microorganisms teeming in their mouths. Chewing food and brushing your teeth release these bacteria into the bloodstream. The Harvard Heart Letter reports that the types of bacteria that cause periodontitis have been associated with plaque buildup in your arteries.

Not all scientific findings have shown a relationship between the two conditions. In April 2012, the American Heart Association published a scientific statement in the journal Circulation denying that gum disease causes heart attacks or stroke. The American Dental Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs and the World Heart Federation also endorsed the statement, agreeing that there is no conclusive evidence that the conditions are related. More scientific research needs to be performed to determine the exact relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease.

Although the scientific evidence has been mixed, periodontal disease can be very harmful to your health even if it does not lead to cardiovascular disease. It is important to reduce your risk of gum disease by careful tooth brushing, frequent flossing, and regular trips to the dentist!

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