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.

baby brushing teeth

Posted by & filed under Pediatric Dentistry, Prevention.

Each and every February, our dental office in Erdenheim joins the American Dental Association (ADA) in celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long dedication to children’s oral health strives to promote the importance of proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits for strong and healthy growing smiles. This year, learn how you can get involved to make a difference in your child’s dental health.

Brush Together

Each morning and every night, join your child at the sink and brush your teeth together. This is a great way to ensure she’s brushing properly and long enough. It’ll also help to keep you on a good brushing schedule. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles at a 45 degree angle to gently scrub every side of each tooth and up under the gums.

Teach the Proper Way to Floss

When your little one starts to get a mouth full of teeth, it’s a good time to start teaching her the importance of flossing and the right way to do it. Follow the steps below to make sure you’re both flossing correctly:

  • Gently wind a piece of floss around each pointer finger and pinch it between the thumbs.
  • Slowly and carefully wiggle the floss in-between two teeth.
  • Curve the floss into a ‘C’ shape around the tooth and glide it up and down the sides. Don’t forget to get under the gumline too.
  • Unravel the floss for a new, clean section as you move from tooth to tooth.

Remember to make flossing a daily habit to get the best clean.

Do Some Fun Activities

Take your oral health lessons away from the sink and join your child in doing some fun, educational activities. There are tons of resources available to you for free on the ADA’s website. Grab some crayons and go to town coloring a fridge-worthy masterpiece, connect the dots to reveal a cute hidden character, or work through a crossword puzzle together. Making oral health care fun and enjoyable is a great way to get your child interested in taking care of her teeth.

See Your Pediatric Dentist

The most important thing you can do as a parent to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles for your child is to take her to see a dentist in Erdenheim at least twice a year. These visits help diagnose any potential problems early while they’re still easy to treat. Regular appointments are also crucial in making sure your child gets the fluoride treatments or sealants she needs to protect her pearly whites from cavities.

Our Erdenheim dental office recommends scheduling your child’s first dentist appointment when she gets her first tooth or no later than her first birthday. If she already has a few teeth but hasn’t seen a dentist yet, we welcome you to give us a call. We’ll be happy to care for her in our calm and comforting dental office that’s designed just for kids.

charcoal toothpaste

Posted by & filed under Cosmetic Dentistry, General Dental Articles.

There’s recently been a surge in the popularity of using charcoal toothpaste to get a whiter smile. Promoters of the charcoal toothpaste trend claim that it can help whiten teeth effectively without the risk of increased sensitivity that may result from using other products. But does it really work? Join the team at our Erdenheim dental office as we dive into the truth.

What Exactly is Charcoal Toothpaste?

Before we launch into whether or not charcoal toothpaste can really whiten your smile, let’s look into what the stuff actually is. Charcoal toothpaste uses something called activated charcoal, which is much different than the charcoal you’d use to grill a burger. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that’s been treated in order to make it incredibly porous. Since the porous nature makes activated charcoal really great at absorption, the thought is that it can pull stains, tartar, and bacteria away from teeth.

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?

The short answer is yes, charcoal toothpaste is safe for the human body. Even though the modern age of the world wide web may have popularized the use of it, its usage has a rich history dating way back to the days of the ancient Romans. In fact, a powder form of charcoal was a pretty common ingredient in their toothpastes. Besides its dental usage, activated charcoal was, and still sometimes is, used to treat people who have been poisoned.

So, Does it Whiten Teeth?

Charcoal toothpaste has been effective at removing surface stains on teeth which may help a smile appear whiter. However, using it doesn’t come without risks. Even though charcoal toothpaste is porous, it’s also fairly abrasive. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), charcoal toothpaste is too abrasive to be used regularly and may result in damage. Using an abrasive toothpaste can wear away the protective layer of enamel, making teeth not only more exposed to the dangers of bacteria, but also creating a dingy, discolored appearance.

Other Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

If you’ve tried charcoal toothpaste and didn’t see the results you were hoping for, or you’re not quite on board with its claims, there are still other safe and effective ways you can whiten your teeth.

  • Try a whitening toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • Schedule a professional smile whitening with your dentist in Erdenheim
  • Consider dental veneers to cover up any discoloration or imperfections

As always, our dental office in Erdenheim is happy to answer any questions you may have about the best way to whiten your teeth. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!  

teen brushes teeth

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

As your child enters her teen years, she may begin to consider whitening her smile using over-the-counter tooth whitening strips. But as her parent, you’re unsure if smile whitening is safe for her growing grin. Our dental office in Erdenheim is here to provide you some insight on whitening strips and some risks of using them.

Let’s Look at the Research

As the popularity of over-the-counter white strips increases and buying them becomes easier, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) began conducting research on the safety of children and teens using whitening strips. Below we’ve outlined some of the main results found as part of these studies.

Usability

Although whitening strips come with instructions, the AAPD’s research found a high user error when kids or teens tried using the product on their own. While this may seem like no big deal, if used incorrectly, teens expose themselves to risks of leaving the strips on for too long or even swallowing the product.

Hydrogen Peroxide Content

The active ingredient in whitening strips is hydrogen peroxide. While the amount of hydrogen peroxide differs from product to product, some strips can contain as much as 13 percent. This isn’t usually a problem for adults, but the higher the hydrogen peroxide content, the more risks there are to kids and teens.

Sensitivity

As you may know a common side effect of using whitening strips is increased tooth sensitivity. This side effect isn’t limited to just teens or children either as many adults report sensitivity after using them. While it’s not clear if teens are at greater risk for more sensitivity than adults, it’s still a concern.  

So, Are Whitening Strips Safe for Teens?

According to the AAPD and your dentist in Erdenheim, more research is needed to truly take a position on whether whitening strips are safe for kids or teens. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean your child can’t do anything to brighten her smile.

Alternatives to Smile Whitening Strips

There are some surprisingly easy ways that help get, and keep, teeth nice and white:

  • Make sure your teen is brushing her teeth twice a day for two minutes each time
  • Avoid foods known to stain smiles including soda, coffee, berries, and pasta sauce
  • Have her see the dentist twice a year

The team at our Erdenheim dental office is committed to your child’s oral health and is here to get her a smile that’s not only strong and healthy, but also one that makes her feel confident. We welcome her (and you!) to talk with us about any concerns she may have about her smile so we can work together to resolve them.

holiday dinner with wine

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

There’s been a popular belief surrounding red wine and its benefits to heart health floating around for years. We even found an article suggesting that drinking a glass of red wine a day has the same type of benefits as spending an hour at the gym. But we’re not here to debunk or support any of these claims. Instead, our dental office in Erdenheim is here to talk about whether or not drinking wine is bad for your teeth.

Varying Opinions

Some online sources are passionately claiming that red wine can be good for oral health. At the same time, there are others telling us that drinking red wine can have detrimental effects on our teeth. So who’s right? Is drinking red wine really great for our smiles, or really bad? Let’s take a look.

The Claim: Drinking Wine is Good For Oral Health

A study published by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry supports the idea that red wine can decrease tooth decay. In their research, scientists tested the biofilm of several participants. The biofilm was loaded with bacteria that’s naturally found in the mouth. After exposing the biofilm and bacteria to red wine, researchers observed that the wine removed the bacteria. And with no bacteria, there’s little risk for decay and cavities.

The Claim: Drinking Wine is Bad for Teeth

Wine, both red and white, is highly acidic. This acid can deteriorate tooth enamel and cause teeth to look yellow. Without protective enamel, teeth are also at risk for bacteria and decay. Even though your dentist in Erdenheim has solutions to fix all these problems, it’s best to avoid them in the first place.  

The Conclusion

Essentially, more research on the effects that wine has on oral health is needed before we can say the benefits outweigh the concerns. However, it’s safe to say that any risks associated with drinking wine, including risks to your oral health, can be minimized by drinking it in moderation and responsibly. To further protect your smile from any negative side effects of wine, consider:

  • Drinking water after drinking wine. Water helps neutralize acid and wash it away. It’s even better if you can rinse your mouth out.
  • Not brushing right after enjoying a glass. Brushing your teeth too soon can spread the acid expose your entire mouth to its damaging effects.

Whether you enjoy your nightly glass of wine or partake only occasionally, keep an eye on your teeth. If you notice any discoloration, call our Erdenheim dental office to talk about professional smile whitening or cosmetic dentistry. Of course, we’re always welcoming new patients would happy to see you no matter what your dental needs may be.

pregnant woman takes vitamin

Posted by & filed under Oral Health, Pediatric Dentistry.

During pregnancy, mom-to-be’s body needs adequate amounts of certain vitamins to support not only her system, but her growing baby too. Vitamin D is one of these vitamins that serves an important role. A proper intake of vitamin D helps mom’s bones stay strong, promotes healthy cell division, and supports calcium absorption. But getting enough Vitamin D during pregnancy is also important to baby’s development and, perhaps surprisingly, dental health.

Vitamin D and Baby’s Oral Health

At our Erdenheim dental office, we strive to keep our patients’ smiles healthy from the day they step into their first appointment. But recent research suggests that good dental health may begin even before your little one is born.

According to one study, children of moms who had a vitamin D deficiency were at greater risk of developing cavities during early childhood. Of the 206 women studied, 90% of them did not have adequate levels of vitamin D. Fast forward a few months to when the researchers examined the teeth of the now 16 month old children of these women. They found that nearly 22% had enamel defects, which makes teeth more susceptible to cavities, and almost 34% already had decay.  

The Link Between Vitamin D and Developing Babies

Even though you may not see your baby’s first tooth until he’s a few months old, all of his teeth are forming while he’s still in the womb. Just like bones, teeth need vitamin D to grow tough and strong. Since all of a baby’s vitamin and nutrient intake are dependent on mom during pregnancy, pregnant women need to get enough vitamin D in order to form health teeth.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need During Pregnancy?

According to an American Pregnancy Association study, women who took 4,000 IU of vitamin D every day had a greater chance of carrying a baby full-term as well as decreased infections. Most prenatal vitamins contain only 400 IU, so additional sources of vitamin D should be added.

How to Get More Vitamin D

You can increase your vitamin D intake by eating foods with a high vitamin D content such as:

  • Egg Yolks
  • Salmon
  • Milk.

It’s also recommended to get 5-10 minutes of sun two or three times a week.

Pregnancy is such an exciting event, and we know you’re doing everything you can to keep your growing baby healthy. Once your little one is born, the best way to make sure his smile stays healthy is by seeing a children’s dentist in Erdenheim when his first tooth pops through. Seeing a dentist early is a great way to get your baby comfortable with the experience and set him up for a lifetime of good oral health.