adorable baby with bonnet

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles.

Every July, healthcare professionals across the nation join together to promote awareness of and educate the population on birth defects of the head and face. Some of these birth defects include those around the mouth such as cleft lip and cleft palate. The team at our children’s dental office in Erdenheim wants to do our part this month and help raise awareness and understanding of these birth defects.

What is Cleft Lip?

Throughout nine months of pregnancy, a baby is growing organs and arms, toes and fingers, and eventually the face. The formation of the face is especially interesting since both sides of it continue to grow inward until they join in the middle. That process, typically occurring between weeks four and seven of pregnancy, is when babies develop their facial features, including the lips. However, if the left side of the face doesn’t fully connect to the right during development, the baby may have a gap in the upper lip. This is known as cleft lip.

What is Cleft Palate?

Similarly to cleft lip, cleft palate also means that part of the mouth didn’t fully form together during pregnancy. However instead of affecting the lip, cleft palate means the space formed when the sides did not connect together is on the inside roof of the mouth. It’s possible for someone to have both cleft palate and cleft lip.

How Common is Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) a little over 4,400 babies are born with a cleft lip and 2,600 babies are born with a cleft palate every year.

What Causes Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate?

Unfortunately, many times the cause of cleft lip or cleft palate is unknown. However, researchers believe genetics play a role, and things that the mother does during pregnancy may also raise the risk. In fact, studies conducted by the CDC show strong evidence that smoking during pregnancy, moms with diabetes, and taking certain epilepsy medications may all put babies at greater risk for developing cleft lip or cleft palate.

Treatment Options

Cleft lip and cleft palate treatment varies from case to case depending on a variety of factors. Surgery may be an option, but it’s typically recommended prior to baby’s first birthday for a cleft lip and no later than 18 months for a cleft palate. Additionally, some kids may need more surgeries as the continue to grow.  

For more information on cleft lip, cleft palate, or other orofacial clefts, we encourage you to talk to your Erdenheim children’s dentist or read articles published by the American Dental Association or the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.   

 

men's health

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, Gum Disease, Prevention.

Every year during the month of June, healthcare providers across the nation promote the importance of prevention and early detection of diseases that affect American men. Our dental practice in Erdenheim is no different. To do our part, we’re dedicating this blog to educating our patients and community on the unique dental issues that often apply to the male population.

The Dangers of Skipping Dental Checkup

It’s typically recommended that everyone visits their dentist at least twice a year for proper preventive care and a deeper cleaning than you can get at home. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, barely 60% of American men between the ages of 18 and 64 went to the dentist in the past year. Skipping regular visits to your dentist in Erdenheim can allow problems to go untreated and lead to bigger, more complicated (and often more expensive) treatment. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry states that it’s all too common for men, in particular, to only go to the dentist when they’re experiencing a problem. Most likely, these problems could have been prevented by keeping bi-annual dental appointments.

Greater Risk of Gum Disease & Oral Cancer

While regular dental appointments can help protect teeth against decay and the need for fillings or more advanced restorative dentistry such as root canals or crowns, they can also diagnose gum disease and oral cancer early when treatment is less invasive and more successful. This is especially important for men since they’re at increased risk for both gum disease and oral cancer. The truth is, oral cancer is twice as common in men than women and, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, 56% of men have gum disease as compared to only 38% of women.

Gum Disease & Men’s Health

Even though oral cancer is certainly scary and serious, gum disease can be quite scary, too. Gum disease can contribute to a host of other problems throughout the body and has been linked to an increased risk in heart disease and certain cancers, as well as prostate health in men. Studies have shown that there is a possible correlation between gum health and prostate health due to something called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). When gums are inflamed because of periodontal disease or the prostate is unhealthy, PSA levels increase. However, PSA levels are substantially higher in those with both a prostate condition as well as gum disease suggesting a connection between the two.

Dry Mouth is More Common, Too

Dry mouth is something that may sound like nothing to worry about, however can contribute it’s own oral health issues. In a healthy mouth, there’s is an abundance of saliva production that helps neutralize acids and wash away harmful bacteria. But someone who suffers from dry mouth doesn’t have the same benefits. This leaves teeth exposed to enamel-eroding acid and decay-causing bacteria.

This month, and every month, we’re here to keep our neighbors healthy. Whether you’re a man who may have been skipping dental visits, or you’re a woman who has men in your life you care about, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our Erdenheim dental office today.

young boy in dental chair

Posted by & filed under Pediatric Dentistry.

At our dental office in Erdenheim we take our patients’ comfort very seriously and are dedicated to keeping them calm and relaxed at every appointment. However, there are times when the noise of the drill is scary (we get it!), treatment is too long for little ones to sit so still, or our special needs patients are uncomfortable with the sensations and atmosphere of a dental office. When these situations arise sedation dentistry may be recommended.

Defining Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a common treatment that uses medication to reduce anxiety and help patients relax. It may be appropriate for kids who are afraid of the dentist or have a need for long, complex treatment. Sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” even though sedation dentistry doesn’t require the patient to actually be asleep. In fact, depending on the type of sedation, patients are often awake.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

  • Oral Sedation

Achieving a calm, relaxed state with a Erdenheim dentist may be as easy as taking a pill prior to the appointment. This type of sedation is referred to as minimal oral sedation and typically allows patients to stay awake and responsive, just a little bit drowsy. Moderate oral sedation is also an option. Still achieved by taking a quick pill, moderate sedation usually has a higher dose of the medicine. Patients tend to be so relaxed they may even fall asleep for a short time.  

  • Nitrous Oxide

More commonly referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is another form of sedation dentistry that only has a very short effect on patients. Nitrous oxide is administered in the dental office through a mask and simply relaxes the mind and body. After treatment, patients will be given oxygen to help remove the nitrous oxide quickly without lingering side effects.

  • Intravenous Sedation (IV Sedation)

IV sedation is perhaps the deepest level of sedation that’s often controlled by an anesthesiologist. Medication is delivered through a needle directly into a vein. This allows the medicine to take effect very quickly. Following treatment, patients may experience nausea, dizziness, or sleepiness for up to 24 hours.  

Safety

The main goal of sedation dentistry is to keep patients comfortable and, most importantly, safe while they get the treatment they need to keep them healthy. Dental offices that offer sedation dentistry have teams who are extensively trained in sedation, follow strict safety precautions, and will monitor your child throughout treatment.

If your child has a fear of the dentist or you think he may benefit from some form of sedation dentistry, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our Erdenheim dental office. At this visit we will discuss all of the options available to you and recommend the best solution based on your child’s individual needs.  

smiling woman with braces

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, Gum Disease, Prevention.

It probably comes as no surprise that the team at our dental office in Erdenheim is all for you brushing your teeth regularly. After all, we are dedicated to protecting our patients’ smiles, and brushing properly is an important step to help accomplish that goal. But we also know that brushing your teeth benefits more than just your dental health. The truth is, it can affect your overall health, too.

Removing Bacteria

One of the most important reasons for brushing your teeth regularly is so you can effectively remove dangerous bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria will feed off of food particles that linger around long after you eat. It then gives off an acidic byproduct. This acid can eat away the teeth’s protective enamel, leaving them at risk for decay and cavities. A buildup of bacteria can also begin to affect gum health. If bacteria is not removed by brushing and starts to creep up under the gum line, you may quickly develop gum disease. Gum disease is a serious problem that affects the rest of your body.

A Closer Look at Gum Disease

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that can eventually lead to tooth loss if not treated by your dentist in Erdenheim. Nearly half of American adults have some type of gum disease, some may not even know it. Common signs of gum disease include:

  • Red, painful gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums

While gum disease has unpleasant symptoms and may cause teeth to fall out, it’s even more concerning than that. In fact, research has shown a potential link between gum disease and other serious whole-body problems.

Gum Disease & Whole-Body Health

There have been several studies that have shown a strong connection between oral health and overall health. The U.S. Surgeon General has even referred to the mouth as a mirror to health throughout the body. Even though researchers continue to study exactly the cause of this connection, many of them have found that gum disease in particular may lead or contribute to:

  • Respiratory Problems
  • Diabetic Complications
  • Some Cancers

Brushing your teeth twice a day, every day does a great job at removing the buildup of dangerous bacteria that could lead to gum disease and perhaps even more serious health concerns. But that’s not all. You also need to maintain regular visits to your dentist twice a year for a deep cleaning that removes plaque and bacteria that only a trained hygienist can remove safely and effectively.

If it’s time for your dental cleaning, we welcome you to call our Erdenheim dental office to schedule an appointment.

girl in field with allergies

Posted by & filed under Oral Health, Pediatric Dentistry, Prevention.

If your child gets a stuffy nose when the pollen count is high, every time he’s around a cat, or has an even worse reaction to certain foods, it’s likely he’s suffering from an allergic reaction. The typical symptoms of allergies include itchy eyes, a stuffed up nose, or difficulty breathing. But did you know that allergies can also affect dental health? Our dental office in Erdenheim takes a closer look in this week’s blog…

Crooked Teeth Caused by Allergies?

We already know that it’s common for kids with allergies to suffer from itchy, watery eyes and leaky, stuffy noses. These symptoms are a result of the body making too much mucus. And too much of this thick, slimy stuff can block up airways, making it difficult to breathe out of the nose. As a natural response, the body switches to breathing out of the mouth, also known appropriately as mouth breathing. That’s where the problems begin.

When kids habitually have to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses, it can actually affect how their teeth develop. Children who suffer from allergies also tend to suffer from crooked teeth which may require braces or other orthodontic treatment. But the problems associated with chronic mouth breathing doesn’t stop there. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry reports that mouth breathing may also lead to a gummy smile, problems with facial development, even with the overall health of your mouth.

Mouth Breathing & Proper Facial Development

When kids need to breathe out of their mouths often, it may actually impact facial development. Mouth breathing requires our posture to change in order to keep the airway open. In a kid, if mouth breathing and this change in posture is left untreated, it can cause the face to become long and narrow, the nose flat, the upper lip short, and the lower lip a bit pouty. Additionally, it could create some other concerning oral health concerns.

More on Mouth Breathing

Besides developmental concerns, mouth breathing can lead to a whole host of other dental issues including dry mouth. While that may not seem like such a big deal, it is worrisome to your dentist in Erdenheim. Mouth breathing can quickly decrease saliva production which leaves teeth at risk for cavities and bad breath. Dry mouth is also one of the causes of gum disease, a dangerous oral health problem that can create health issues throughout the body.

How You Can Help

If your child has allergies that affect his ability to breathe properly there are things you can do to help him, his oral health, and his overall health. Start by speaking with his pediatrician and the team at our Erdenheim dental office. As part of his healthcare team, we will be happy to recommend some ways to get allergy relief so he can start breathing easier while keeping his smile protected.

oral cancer risk

Posted by & filed under Oral Cancer, Oral Health, Prevention.

April is recognized as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our Erdenheim dental office, we know just how serious this epidemic is in the United States. In fact, just over 51,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with it this year. While there have been advancements in oral cancer treatment, and often times the disease is successfully treated, it still takes the lives of approximately 10,000 Americans yearly. This April, join us in learning the risks and symptoms of oral cancer that could save your life.

Know The Risks

It’s important to note that anyone can develop oral cancer whether they have or engage in factors that increase their risk or not. Some of the risks are unavoidable, but many can be controlled through making smart lifestyle choices. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or using smokeless tobacco greatly increases your risk of oral cancer. Statistics show that 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users.
  • Drinking Alcohol: Consuming alcohol regularly can also put you at greater risk. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
  • Drinking & Smoking: Since both tobacco use and drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the likelihood of getting oral cancer, if you do both, your chance for oral cancer can be as high as 100%.
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women. While this risk factor can’t be changed, men can reduce their risk by not drinking or smoking.
  • Age: Our chances of getting oral cancer increases as we age. The average age of diagnosis is 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are at least 55.
  • UV Rays: Skin cancer isn’t the only thing that can happen from too much unprotected sun exposure. Oral cancer is also higher in those who spend a lot of time in the sun without wearing sunscreen.

Recognize The Symptoms

Being able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancer early increases the chance of survival. Oral cancer treatment is often successful in the earlier stages, so the sooner you see your dentist in Erdenheim if you suspect anything, the better. The most common signs include:  

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • A lump on the cheek
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in your voice

During your regular dental cleanings and exams, your hygienist and dentist will monitor your  mouth for any abnormalities and can use high-tech equipment that can show what the human eye can’t see. This is just another reason maintaining your bi-annual dental appointments is so important to your overall health.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last visit, call our dental office in Erdenheim to schedule an appointment today. You never know, one visit could save your life.

teen girls playing field hockey

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, Oral Health, Pediatric Dentistry, Prevention.

As the weather gets warmer and kids are spending more time outside, perhaps participating in some fun spring sports, we’re happy to see them out of the house doing something active. But it’s not all fun and games when their little smiles and angelic faces are at risk for injuries. That’s one reason our Erdenheim dental office chooses to do our part to promote National Facial Protection Month.

About National Facial Protection Month

Sponsored by the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists, National Facial Protection Month is an awareness campaign that strives to educate parents and children on the importance of using proper protection to help prevent injuries while participating in sports. And based on the data you’re about to see, it’s an important cause that we can surely get behind.  

The Data on Sports Injuries

According to an article by Johns Hopkins, more than 3.5 million kids under the age of 15 are hurt every year participating in a sport or similar recreational activities. Of those, over 770,000 kids are hurt bad enough to require a trip to the emergency room. Many of these injuries are sprains and strains, but there’s still a large amount that result in a facial or head injury.

When on the playing field or court, anything can happen. Two kids can collide, an ankle can roll, a knee can get twisted, or a mouth can connect with an elbow. In fact, 39% of all children’s sports dental injuries are caused by a direct hit with a ball or another player, according to The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Mouthguards can help lower this number and keep your child protected.

The Importance of Mouthguards

Mouthguards are designed to, quite obviously, guard and protect the teeth and mouth. A mouthguard can prevent teeth from being chipped, broken, or knocked out. But properly fitted mouthguards can even protect the bone and tissues around the teeth and jaw, and lower the chance of concussions. But not all mouthguards are equally effective.

Store-Bought vs. Custom-Made Mouthguards

It may be more convenient to head on over to your local sporting goods store and pick up a packaged mouthguard. Following a quick dip in some boiling water and a sturdy bite by your child, you have a molded mouthguard. While that’s better than nothing, there’s a noticeable difference in the quality between these boil-and-bite mouthguards and a custom-made one from your child’s dentist in Erdenheim.

Custom mouthguards are specifically molded to fit every contour of your child’s teeth and provide the ultimate in protection. They’re also constructed to ensure extended comfort. This means less time out of the mouth and more time in the mouth where they belong.

If your little one is gearing up to play any sort of sport this spring, schedule an appointment at our dental office in Erdenheim. We’re here to keep their smiles healthy, and part of keeping them healthy is keeping them protected. Don’t wait for an accident to occur, call us today.

woman awakens from nightmare

Posted by & filed under Dental Implants, General Dental Articles, Oral Health.

Sleep is supposed to bring us a sense of total relaxation so we can properly recharge for whatever the next day brings. But when an unsettling dream pops up, it can disrupt a perfectly peaceful snooze. One of the more uncomfortable dreams we’ve heard about at our dental office in Erdenheim involves vivid pictures of teeth falling out, or crumbling to dust. But what does this dental related dream really mean? Let’s take a closer look…

Feeling Anxious?

One of the most commonly proposed explanations behind dreams about losing your teeth is high levels of anxiety in real life. If the dreams are experienced periodically, they could be triggered by a particularly stressful life event or during a big life transition. Dreams in which your teeth are affected could also indicate feelings of helplessness or as if you don’t have control. According to a Psychological Reports study, recurring dreams of this nature are typically found in people who are more anxious, less self-confident, and even depressed.

Death of a Loved One?

A more dated belief behind a tooth loss dream is that it’s a warning of the future death of a friend or family member. This dark meaning is still a valid belief in several Chinese and Native American traditions, although recent research suggests a more likely explanation of growing older.

Getting Older?

As we age, we tend to take on additional worries that were never even a consideration when we were younger. These thoughts may be triggered around a birthday when a fear of getting older is usually at its worst. While death or a realization of one’s mortality can be one of those thoughts, it’s more likely a dream about losing teeth is brought on by being unable to control the aging process.

Starting Something New?

Not every interpretation about this dream is so dreary. Sometimes a person may experience one when beginning an exciting new adventure such as a relationship, job, or rewarding hobby. According to one of the top dream interpretation psychologists and the Jungian dream analysis, experiencing a dream where you lose your tooth may represent a birth. Whether that’s a true birth of a child or simply the birth of something new, it is a respected interpretation of the tooth loss dream.

Dreams that disturb our sleep are never pleasant, and dreams about losing your teeth can be particularly scary. But try not interpret these unconscious thoughts as realty. However, if you happen to actually be missing a tooth or several teeth, we encourage you to call our Erdenheim dental office to schedule a consultation. We have a variety of ways to help restore your smile including dental implants, a dental bridge, or dentures. Give us a call today, we’ll be happy to help!

Easter candy

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, Oral Health, Pediatric Dentistry.

As we head into another month with a holiday that’s typically celebrated with loads of candy, our dental office in Erdenheim wants to remind our patients that while you don’t need to totally avoid packing Easter baskets with sweet treats, you should choose your candy wisely. This Easter, try to avoid these top three worst candies, and swap them out for some of the healthier alternatives…

The Terrible Three

It’s often thought that dentists have a sour attitude when it comes to sweets. The truth is, we just really care about our patients’ smiles, and since sugar is one the main causes of decay and cavities, we try to recommend enjoying sweet treats in moderation. We also encourage avoiding candy that fall into the three categories below.

  • Sticky & Gooey – Sticky candy is particularly dangerous because it tends to get stuck in teeth’s tiny nooks and crannies. This makes it really hard to reach while brushing and flossing. The longer the goo sticks around, the longer the teeth are exposed to the sugar and the more likely it is that cavities will follow. Avoid caramels, gummies, and taffy.
  • Sweets and Sours – Not all damaging candy is super sweet. In fact, the pucker-inducing sour candy can be just as risky. These sweet and sour snacks contain both sugar and acid so not only do you have the traditional risks of sugar, you also have to worry about the acid. Acid causes enamel erosion which makes it easy for bacteria to wiggle in and create cavities.
  • Hard as a Rock –  Hard sweets like lollipops or small jawbreakers take awhile to eat, leaving teeth exposed to sugar for a long time. The longer it’s there, the more chance there is for decay and cavities. What’s more is that if its bit into too soon, the tough texture of the candy can even cause tooth damage such as chips and broken teeth.

Better Alternatives

As we mentioned before, we’re not here to put a damper on anyone’s holiday or to recommend that you swear off candy altogether. But when it comes to selecting more tooth-friendly alternatives, there are plenty of things to choose from including:

  • Hollow Dark Chocolates – Everyone can still get a chocolate fix this Easter, but it’d be wiser to snack on dark chocolate as opposed to milk. Recent studies show a potential strong correlation between dark chocolate its ability to ward off decay, cavities, and problem causing plaque. Select a hollow bunny instead of a solid mold and you’ll even cut calories and lower your exposure to sugar even more.
  • Sugar-Free Snacks – Believe it or not, there are a lot of great sugar-free candies that don’t taste like they’re sans sugar. Do a bit of research for no or low sugar options that won’t only please your child, but also his mouth.  

Choosing better sweets for your smile can make for great checkups and great oral health. Of course, proper brushing and flossing and regular visits to your children’s dentist in Erdenheim are also crucial for healthy, growing smiles and bodies.

If it’s time for your child’s checkup and you’re looking for a dental team that puts him first, give our Erdenheim dental office a call.

heart health month

Posted by & filed under Gum Disease, Oral Health, Prevention.

During this American Heart Health Month, our dental office in Erdenheim wants to do our part and raise awareness of how gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease. While these two areas of the body seem to be unrelated, there’s a clear connection between gum disease and heart health that you need to know about.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious infection that requires a proper diagnosis and early intervention to treat. It’s typically caused by a buildup of plaque that’s not removed through proper brushing and flossing at home. When left on the teeth too long, this plaque builds and transforms into hard tartar. This tartar is impossible to remove on your own and requires a professional dental cleaning. However, if the tartar is not removed, the bacteria within it can move into the gum tissue and cause an infection. This infection can easily progress into gingivitis or periodontitis and may cause tooth loss. But the worries don’t stop in your mouth. In fact, research shows that gum disease has been linked to heart disease.

Heart Disease

Untreated gum disease leaves the infection free to do whatever it wants, including traveling into other areas such as the bloodstream. If this happens, your body responds by producing too much C-reactive protein (CRP). Higher than normal levels of CRP can lead to serious conditions such as:

  • Inflamed arteries
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes  

Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease

Diagnosing gum disease and beginning treatment is key to protecting your mouth and your overall health. To do that, you need to be able to recognize the common signs of gum disease including:

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffy, tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth  

If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, call your dentist in Erdenheim to schedule an appointment.

Besides brushing and flossing every day at home, the best way you can avoid gum disease and protect your heart is to maintain regular dental visits at least twice a year. These appointments can go a long way in keeping you healthy. If it’s time for your bi-annual dental cleaning, give our Erdenheim dental office a call today.