How the sun can be great for your smile

by MikeMeehan 7/5/2018 9:00 AM

Going outside to bask in the sun isn’t just fun – it also provides a healthy dose of vitamin D! That’s good for both your overall health and your oral health. Calcium is often praised for its many health benefits like strengthening bones and teeth, but your body won’t experience those benefits if it doesn’t have enough vitamin D to absorb the calcium. Getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D helps reduce bone loss over time and may also decrease your chances of losing teeth. On the flip side, not getting enough calcium could increase your risk for osteoporosis. Developing osteoporosis can cause the jaw to weaken, leading to possible tooth loss.  So how do you make sure your body gets the vitamin D it needs? UVB rays from sunlight and vitamin D supplements are the main sources, but they aren’t the only ones. Some foods naturally contain vitamin D like cheese, egg yolks, beef liver and fatty fish (tuna, mackerel and salmon). Because natural foods rich in vitamin D are somewhat limited, manufacturers sometimes fortify products like milk, margarine and yogurt. The amount of vitamin D you absorb from the sun varies significantly based on factors like where you live, air quality, skin color and more. Additionally, the amount you need largely depends on your age. Check with your physician to determine if you’re getting enough or if you should take a supplement. For the sake of your smile, get outside and enjoy the sun! Just make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF 30+ rating to protect your skin and lips from sunburn.  

Costs for whitening your pearly whites

by MikeMeehan 6/7/2018 8:33 AM

Need to prep your smile for a big summer event? Take a look at the most common whitening methods from least to most expensive. Whitening toothpaste can often be purchased for under $20 and will take two to six weeks to show a noticeable difference. This method works by removing surface stains, such as those caused by drinking coffee or smoking. Since whitening toothpastes don’t alter the natural color of your teeth or lighten stains that go deeper than the tooth’s surface, the effects won’t be as significant as other methods.  Over-the-counter whitening strips and gels usually fall between $10 and $100 and can take 10 to 14 days to whiten teeth. The bleaching agents used for these products are weaker than those used by dentists, so they require longer application times than professional whiteners to achieve similar effects. Each product will be applied differently based on the instructions included in the package.  At-home whitening trays typically cost between $150 and $600 and take full effect in one to four weeks. Your dentist will customize a bleaching tray for you to take home and wear as instructed. The bleaching tray looks somewhat like a retainer or mouth guard in which peroxide-based bleaching gel or paste is contained during the whitening process. You may wear it overnight or during the day for several hours at a time.  In-office bleaching can cost between $500 and $1,000 and normally takes less than two hours. The process is completed painlessly at the dentist’s office. After applying a bleaching agent, your dentist may also use light, heat or both to enhance the whitening effect. Depending on your situation, you may need to complete more than one session. Before choosing a whitening method, consult with your dentist to determine the best option for you. Whiteners may not work on all teeth. For example, teeth with porcelain crowns and composite fillings won’t whiten along with your natural teeth, so their color may no longer match. Your dentist can also advise on the safety of your intended method. After or during your whitening process, you may experience a temporary increase in teeth sensitivity. Talk to your dentist if this happens to you.   

Prevent oral cancer from growing

by MikeMeehan 4/12/2018 1:03 PM

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, but every month is a chance to take steps to prevent oral cancer from growing. Oral cancer is known as a lifestyle disease, meaning that you can dramatically reduce your risk by adjusting your daily habits.   Tobacco, alcohol and diet are some of the biggest lifestyle factors that lead to oral cancer. Tobacco is involved in roughly 90 percent of oral cancer instances, while 7 out of 10 people who develop oral cancer drink heavily.  Heavy drinking is considered to be more than seven drinks per week for women and more than 14 for men. These high levels of alcohol consumption decrease the body’s ability to absorb nutrients that may help prevent cancer. When combined with tobacco use, alcohol has an even greater chance of causing cancer. In addition, not getting enough fruits and vegetables increases your risk. Adding non-starchy fruits and vegetables such as berries and broccoli to a diet has been shown to reduce the chances of developing oral cancer. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is another leading cause of oral cancers, especially oropharyngeal cancers found in the back of the throat. Luckily, there is an HPV vaccine that’s effective against the most common strains of HPV that cause oral cancer. This vaccine only works before becoming infected, so it tends to be most appropriate for preteen and adolescent girls and boys. When it comes to oral cancer, early detection can be a lifesaver. Perform home screenings and ask your dentist about oral cancer screenings during regular checkups. Mouth symptoms to look for can include sores, red or white patches, persistent pain or numbness, lumps or rough spots, and issues chewing and swallowing.  By avoiding risk factors, adjusting your daily habits and staying vigilant for symptoms, you can help protect your future from oral cancer. 

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