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Eating for a Healthy Mouth

It’s key to note the importance of what we put in our mouths and how much that affects our oral health. Diet and nutrition are as important as brushing and flossing when it comes to the impact they have on our teeth.

Diet versus Nutrition

Diet refers to the foods we eat. Nutrition refers to the nutrients in the food. Each impacts oral health differently.

Diet can affect the teeth themselves, saliva, and the pH balance in the mouth. Its effects are generally local to the mouth. Nutrition, on the other hand, has a more systemic effect. It can affect the teeth, jaw bone, and other supporting structures of the teeth.

Changes to your diet can lead to changes in the health of your teeth and mouth pretty quickly, while changes to nutrition will take longer to notice.

“Fermentable Carbohydrates”What They Are and Why You Want to Avoid Them

It’s no surprise that I’m going to recommend you avoid sugary foods and drinks. Everyone knows that too much candy and soda “rots” your teeth. But I want to go a little more in depth.

Sugars, whether naturally occurring or added to the food we eat, are known as “fermentable carbohydrates.” These carbohydrates begin breaking down in the mouth, rather than further on in the digestive tract like other foods. The sugars stick to teeth in a sticky film called plaque, feeding bacteria in the mouth, and that’s the beginning of tooth decay. The “stickier” the fermentable carbohydrates are, the more damage they can do.

It’s not hard to identify and avoid the “usual suspects” like candy, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, fruit juices, and regular sodas. It’s more challenging to identify foods with high sugar content that you’d never suspect of having high sugar. This includes foods like bread, crackers, plain cereals, and even fresh and dried fruits. More and more packaged and processed foods are loaded with sugar to make them more palatable, and these added sugars are hiding in plain sight, waiting to damage your teeth. The moral of the story: always check food labels to see how much sugar lurks inside.

Eating for a Healthy Mouth

How can you change your diet to make it more mouth-friendly? In addition to cutting down on sugar, I think a great place to start is with the recommendations from the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. They recommend eating a wide variety of foods:

  • grains, of which half should be whole grains;
  • legumes like peas and beans;
  • a variety of multi-colored vegetables;
  • fresh, whole fruits;
  • calcium-containing dairy; and
  • protein in lean meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, and soy.

(You can learn more about the USDA nutritional recommendations here.)

And don’t forget about liquids. Keep your mouth moist by drinking plain water throughout the day to help wash food particles away and avoid dry mouth, which can lead to a host of problems.

Taking Care of Your Teeth Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Taking care of your teeth doesn’t only happen when you pick up the toothbrush. It needs to happen all day long, as you make conscious decisions about the foods you eat and understand not just how they affect your overall health, but your oral health, too.

Take the first step-start replacing one sugary snack a day with an extra serving of vegetables or a whole piece of fresh fruit. And don’t forget to brush afterward!

Los Peligros De La Boca Seca

Todos hemos experimentado boca seca alguna vez, y normalmente no es un problema. Pero cuando la boca seca (médicamente conocida como xerostomía) es persistente, puede ocasionar problemas a corto y largo plazo. Siga leyendo para descubrir qué lo causa y qué hacer al respecto.

Formación Y Combate: Caries En La Boca

Tal vez recuerde cómo se forman las caries de la clase de salud de la escuela secundaria o de ese folleto que visitó en la oficina de su dentista en su última visita, pero en caso de que no sepa (o lo haya olvidado), aquí les resumo.

Entre los cepillados, la placa se acumula en la superficie de los dientes como una película adhesiva. Está hecho de azúcares y partículas de comida junto con la bacteria que se alimenta de ellos. Después de un tiempo, el ácido de esta placa puede desgastar el esmalte del diente, rompiendo la barrera protectora y permitiendo que se forme una cavidad.

Aquí es donde entra la saliva. La producción contínua de saliva en la boca puede ayudar a eliminar partículas grandes de alimentos de la superficie del diente y su composición, que incluye bicarbonato y calcio, ayuda a neutralizar los ácidos dañinos y reconstruir el esmalte.

Las Consecuencias De La Boca Seca

Puede ver qué tan importante es la saliva para la salud oral. Cuando alguien tiene la boca seca, le falta este elemento clave para combatir las caries. Las personas con boca seca son más propensas a tener caries y enfermedades de las encías por esta razón.

Además de los problemas dentales, la boca seca también está relacionada con:
– Mal aliento
– Dificultad para masticar y tragar
– Labios agrietados y partídos
– Lengua seca y dolorosa
– Dolor y llagas en la boca
– Para los usuarios de dentaduras postizas, la sensación de que las dentaduras están sueltas e incómodas

Causas Y Soluciones Para La Boca Seca

La sequedad bucal se asocia con varias enfermedades y afecciones, que incluyen diabetes (tipo 1 y tipo 2), SIDA, enfermedad de Alzheimer, síndrome de Sjögren, anemia, artritis reumatoide y más.

La boca seca también puede ser causada por:
– Deshidratación
– Respiración por la boca
– Medicamentos comunes, incluídos algunos antidepresivos, antibióticos, antihistamínicos, diuréticos, analgésicos y más
– Diálisis

La boca seca es especialmente común en las personas mayores, ya que es más probable que tengan una afección asociada con la boca seca o que tomen los medicamentos que la causan.

Afortunadamente, hay varias cosas que pueden combatir la boca seca:
– Beber agua abundante
– Mastique chicle sin azúcar para estimular la producción de saliva
– Respire por la nariz
– Evite el alcohol y la cafeína
– Evite los enjuagues bucales alcohólicos
– Evite el tabaco

También es importante mantener buenos hábitos de salud bucal, como el uso regular de hilo dental y el cepillado. Si bien esto no ayudará directamente a tratar la boca seca, pero puede ayudar a evitar que la boca seca genere caries y enfermedades.

Atienda Su Boca Seca, No Lo Ignore

Ahora que conoce las consecuencias potenciales de la boca seca, comprende lo importante que es atender el asunto. La boca seca no se trata solo de vergüenza (mal aliento) o incomodidad (dolor de lengua). Puede conducir directamente a caries y enfermedades de las encías si no se trata. Afortunadamente, usted tiene el poder de hacer algo al respecto y tomar el control de su salud oral.

What to Know Before Whitening Older Teeth

Beautiful teeth are healthy, straight, and white.

It’s this last quality—whiteness—that can be maddening for many people as they age. Despite brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings, people still see their once-white teeth turning dull. Discolored teeth can make a smile less attractive and make a person seem older than they really are.

What can be done about it?

When brushing isn’t giving you the white smile you’ve always wanted, many people turn to teeth whitening. We’re fortunate to have many options these days, from at-home toothpastes and gels to sophisticated in-office techniques. But before you buy that DIY kit or book an appointment, here’s what you should know about whitening older teeth.

What Causes Older Teeth to Turn Yellow/Brown/Gray?

To understand what’s really going on when you have your teeth whitened, let’s look at the structure of the tooth first.

At the core is the dental pulp, which is comprised of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Next comes a layer of dentin, which is a protective layer that’s porous and yellow in color. Finally, there’s what we’re most familiar with, the enamel, or the hard, white outer layer on the tooth.

Despite how hard it is, enamel can become stained from certain foods, drinks, and products, like coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco. It can also start to turn yellow, brown, or grey due to cavities, decay, and tartar build up.

Many cases of dingy teeth actually aren’t stains on the enamel at all. Discoloration can occur when the enamel thins, allowing the dentin underneath to show through. This means you’re not seeing discoloration on the surface of the enamel, but the natural color of the dentin underneath. Enamel thins naturally with age, and can wear away prematurely for many other reasons, including acid reflux, excessive soda intake, and tooth grinding.

Older teeth are more likely to be discolored simply because they’ve had more years of wear and tear, food and drink, and possibly neglect.

What to Know About Tooth Whitening

At-home solutions can be great for whitening teeth a shade or two, but you’ll never get the same results that you would from a whitening procedure from your dentist. Keep in mind that teeth can be sensitive for one to two days after whitening, and that stubborn stains may take a few sessions to remove.

Several approaches to teeth whitening work well for surface stains on the enamel of the tooth. If your discoloration comes from the yellow dentin showing through worn enamel, these may not work as well for you and could result in some disappointment. That’s why you want to talk to your dentist first before starting any DIY care, to better understand what’s causing your dull teeth and what your options are.

Whiter Teeth Equal a Younger Smile

Many patients I’ve treated are amazed at not only how much better their smile looks after whitening, but how much younger white teeth make them look, too. Remember, just because your teeth are “older” doesn’t mean they have to look it.

Dr. Ramon Duran

¿Qué Costo Tiene El Estrés En Su Cuerpo?

Aunque soy dentista de profesión, me interesa mucho más que solo la boca y los dientes. A lo largo de mi carrera, he llegado a apreciar la relación entre la salud dental y la salud general y ayudar a mis pacientes a cuidar de ambos es mi misión.

Creo que el estrés sería un buen tema a discutir, especialmente porque es una queja muy común de las personas. Una encuesta en el 2015 de la Asociación Americana de Psicología [3] encontró que los adultos en Estados Unidos creen que están experimentando niveles de estrés más altos, y el 39% de Gen-Xers y el 45% de los Millennials informaron que sus niveles de estrés aumentaron en el pasado año.

¿Qué significan estas tendencias sobre el estrés para nuestra salud?

Estrés en la boca: Desgaste

Doscientas libras de fuerza por pulgada cuadrada – esa es la cantidad promedio de presión que puede producir la mordida de un ser humano. Eso es mucha fuerza, y puede causar mucho daño.

Lo que realmente es malo es la aplicación prolongada de esta fuerza. Eso es lo que sucede con el rechinado de dientes, o bruxismo, que puede desgastar el esmalte en la superficie del diente, exponiendo la dentina suave que está por debajo y haciendo que los dientes sean más propensos a caries. La presión prolongada también puede conducir a la fractura de los dientes y a trastornos temporomandibulares (TTM), que son problemas con la articulación temporomandibular (ATM). Los dolores de cabeza son otro resultado común de TTM, que puede tardar mucho tiempo en aparecer y durar por largo periodo de tiempo.

¿Qué causa el bruxismo? Una mordida incorrecta puede llevar al desgaste de los dientes, pero también puede causar estrés. Lo que hace que sea difícil de arreglar/tratar es que en la mayoria de las ocaciones el rechinar de dientes ocurre por la noche, cuando el paciente ni siquiera está consciente de lo que está sucediendo.

Estrés y Comportamiento

El estrés tiene un impacto insidioso en nuestra salud general. Cuando estamos estresados, tendemos a detener nuestros buenos hábitos y en cambio nos involucramos en malos hábitos.

Con respecto a la salud oral, nos olvidamos de cepillarnos los dientes y usar hilo dental, omitir las citas de higiene dental porque tenemos mucho que hacer, o no podemos completer a cabalidad esas citas. Del mismo modo, cuando estamos estresados, el ejercicio es a menudo lo primero que eliminamos de nuestra rutina y el sueño también desaparece. Los niveles adecuados de ejercicio y sueño son cruciales para nuestra salud en general. En lugar de las cosas buenas, tendemos a acumular cosas malas, como atracones, comida chatarra, cigarrillos y otras drogas.

Este puede ser un ciclo difícil de romper, porque sentimos estrés, dejamos de hacer cosas que son buenas para nosotros y empezamos a hacer cosas que son malas para nosotros, y eso simplemente nos pone más estresados, por lo que hacemos menos cosas buenas y más cosas malas … y así continua el ciclo.

Los efectos del estrés crónico

El estrés puede parecer que solo está ocurriendo “en nuestras cabezas”, pero en realidad es una respuesta química en el cuerpo que es muy real. Nuestros cuerpos fueron diseñados para experimentar el estrés, y un poco de estrés es necesario, y bueno, para mantenernos alerta, evitar peligros y combatir infecciones en el cuerpo.

Cuando la respuesta al estrés dura demasiado tiempo es que se desarrollan los problemas. Cuando experimentamos estrés, nuestro cuerpo libera cortisol, una hormona asociada con la presión arterial, la regulación del azúcar en la sangre, el metabolismo, el aumento de peso (especialmente en la parte media del abdomen), la inflamación y más. La liberación a corto plazo de cortisol es antiinflamatoria, pero a largo plazo causa el efecto contrario, lo que agrava la respuesta inflamatoria.

Al igual que el estrés, las respuestas de inflamación del cuerpo son buenas y necesarias en ciertas situaciones. También como el estrés, cuando es crónico es que ocurren los problemas. La inflamación a largo plazo está relacionada con afecciones que incluyen artritis, asma, úlceras, colitis, enfermedad de Crohn, entre otras.

Sea proactivo contra el estrés

Puedes notar que el estrés a largo plazo es malo. Afortunadamente, puede combatir el estrés de manera proactiva para tomar control de su salud. Haga un esfuerzo por mantener buenos hábitos como dormir las 7 a 8 horas recomendadas todas las noches, hacer ejercicio con regularidad, evitar alimentos dañinos y otras sustancias. El Instituto Nacional de Salud Mental también recomienda hacer una actividad que le resulte relajante, como yoga o tai chi.

Duran smiles

How Your Smile Factors Into Your Happiness

One of the most rewarding parts of being a dentist is the moment when a patient looks in the mirror for the first time after treatment and smiles back at themselves. They see themselves in a new light, and we dentists know that this new smile will have a much bigger impact on their lives than they know. It’s evident how your smile factors into your happiness.

A healthy smile is so important to our social, financial, and physical well-being that It’s troubling to learn that one in four adults avoid smiling due to their teeth and mouth, according to a 2015 study from the American Dental Association[1]. That’s a lot of people; too many, in my opinion. Being proud of your smile is too important to happiness to ignore.

Friend of Foe?

First impressions are important. Imagine meeting two people for the first time. The first is a woman who smiles at you and her smile is confident, with straight, white teeth, and fresh breath. The second is a man who never smiles, and when he talks you notice he has crooked, yellow, and missing teeth, and stale breath.

Be honest, all other things being equal, don’t you form a better impression of the first person? We’ve likely judged the woman as friendly and confident, while we draw unflattering conclusions about the man’s approachability, hygiene, health, and habits.

No wonder that people who aren’t confident in their smile don’t like to smile, when they know they’re being judged. Yet being able to smile is important in making and maintaining connections with other people. My wife and I run a dental practice together and have heard from many patients over the years that once they took care of their smile, they made new friends, met someone special, or got a better job. All because of their smile.

Unemployable for the Wrong Reason

That last thing might have surprised you – what does a smile have to do with getting a job? Here’s how.

I read a story once in the Desert News in Salt Lake City, UT, that made a big impression on me. It was about a woman named “Shelly” who worked a temp job in a front desk position. She was friendly, competent, and well-liked, yet she wasn’t hired full-time once her temp position ended. She found out that her crooked and bucked teeth kept her from the job. The office manager wanted someone at the front desk who reflected the right image of the company.

This story breaks my heart. What makes it unique is not that “Shelly” wasn’t hired because of her teeth, but that the hiring manager actually told her this was the reason. Most hiring managers are not as transparent. Yet I would guess that many feel the same way, and judge an applicant’s employability in part on their smile. This is yet another way – a drastic one – that your smile can impact your life and your happiness.

Happy Smile, Happy Health

We tend to compartmentalize our health: see a cardiologist for the heart; an ENT for ear, nose or throat pain; a dentist for toothache. But our body doesn’t see it that way. It’s all interconnected. A problem in one area can lead to problems in another. That’s true for the mouth, too.

Normally, when teeth and gum line are healthy, they form a strong defense against bad bacteria from entering the body. When they aren’t healthy, these defenses break down, allowing bacteria to enter the body and wreak havoc. Bad oral health has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and preterm birth and low birth rate[2].

That’s why oral health is not just about teeth and gums and the mouth but about whole body health and wellness.

What Makes Us Happy?

Many things contribute to happiness, with strong relationships, good income, and robust health at the top of the list. Go look in the mirror now and smile at yourself. Is your smile helping you achieve the happiness you want, or is it holding you back? I hope you love your smile, but if you don’t, I encourage you to take action to improve it.

   

Bienvenido A La Zona “Libre De Prejuicios”

En mi consultorio dental, me enorgullece ser parte de lo que mi equipo y yo llamamos zona “libre de prejuicios”. No juzgamos a nadie que entre por la puerta. No juzgamos basándonos en la sonrisa. No juzgamos según la apariencia. No juzgamos según el tipo de seguro que tenga alguien (o si no tiene ningún seguro). Nos interesa sólo lo que esta persona necesita y cómo podemos ayudarlo. Juntos, forjamos el camino para mejorar su salud oral y su sonrisa.

Aún así, es desafortunado pero cierto: las personas hacen juicios rápidos sobre otras personas. Muchos de estos juicios se basan en la apariencia, como la postura, la ropa, el corte de pelo y, lo adivinaron, los dientes. Los dientes que están torcidos, extrañamente espaciados o decolorados pueden ser juzgados con dureza.

La persona que juzga no solo hace suposiciones sobre la salud dental de una persona, sino también sobre sus antecedentes, educación y estado. Una empresa de investigación de mercado, Kelton, descubrió que las personas con dientes rectos eran consideradas más propensas a conseguir un trabajo, tener éxito y obtener una entrevista en comparación con las personas con dientes torcidos. Sé que cuando las personas se avergüenzan de sonreír, eso puede obstaculizar sus vidas sociales. He oído hablar de otros casos de personas con dientes antiestéticos que fueron pasados ​​por alto para promoción o empleo porque no encajan con la imagen que la compañía tiene de sí misma.

¿Es justo? No, en absoluto. Pero refleja la realidad de la sociedad en la que vivimos. Por eso creo que lo que hacemos como dentistas es muy importante. Va más allá de la salud, es afectar la vida de una persona de manera profunda, desde las relaciones románticas hasta las oportunidades de empleo. Más importante aún, he visto cómo el cuidado dental puede tener un efecto profundo en la autoestima de una persona, lo que le permite finalmente sentirse cómodo con su propia piel.

Muchas veces la gente quiere arreglar su sonrisa pero no puede porque el costo es prohibitivo, particularmente cuando el tratamiento es extenso y no hay un seguro que lo cubra. Aún así, algunos entienden que el dinero que invierten en cuidado dental no es sólo una inversión en su sonrisa, sino en sus vidas. Muchos de los dentistas que conozco están motivados por su deseo de ayudar a las personas, y pueden llegar a acuerdos financieros con los pacientes para ayudarlos a obtener el tratamiento que necesitan de una manera que les favorezca. Si se encuentra en esta posición y ni siquiera ha visitado al dentista porque considera que la atención que necesita está fuera de su alcance, entonces lo aliento a que vaya y busque una consulta. Puede que se sorprenda de lo que sale de él.

Recuerde que pase lo que pase, cuando venga a visitarnos, estará en una zona “libre de prejuicios”. Sabemos que hay mucho más para una persona que su sonrisa y eso es lo que nos interesa.

Woman smiling

Knowing How to Care for Your Teeth At Every Age

For a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime, you have to take care of your teeth at every stage of life. Achieving optimal oral health isn’t difficult, but it takes consistent care and attention. Here’s how to take care of teeth at every age, to have a beautiful smile at any age.

Infants

Before teeth come in, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth or pad after each feeding.

Ages 1-3

Brush your child’s teeth regularly using a child-size toothbrush and a rice-sized amount of children’s toothpaste.

As young as it seems, this is also the time for a first check-up with the dentist. We recommend children coming in before the age of one. This lets us check for decay of baby teeth and also helps children learn to associate going to the dentist with a pleasant experience.

Ages 3-7

Continue to brush your child’s teeth using a child-size toothbrush, but up the toothpaste to a pea-size amount. When your child wants to begin brushing by him- or herself, supervise to make sure he or she is doing it correctly, is brushing for long enough (minimum two minutes), and is spitting out the toothpaste rather than swallowing.

Ages 7-12

Several things happen at this stage. One, you can stop brushing and supervising your child’s brushing at around six or seven. Two, it’s time for the first visit to the orthodontist between seven to nine years of age, before baby teeth have all fallen out and permanent teeth have come in. Three, this is the ideal time for dental sealants, which are thin coats of a protective substance applied to molars to prevent cavities. This process is simple but can have a big impact, as nine out of ten cavities occur in the back permanent teeth.

Pre-teens and Teens

In this age range, twice yearly visits to the dentist are crucial, as this is when cavities are likely to be a problem. In fact, according to the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004), 85.58 percent of adults aged twenty to thirty-four already have a cavity, filled tooth, or missing tooth. The sooner decay can be spotted and cavities filled, the better.

Ages 20-39

In addition to cavities, gingivitis—inflammation of the gums—tends to crop up during the early adult years. If left untreated, it can develop into periodontal disease. Fortunately, regular visits to the hygienist, brushing, and flossing can reverse the damage easily if addressed soon enough.

This is also the age to speak to your dentist if you notice symptoms like clicking and popping in the jaw, pain when chewing, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, grinding of teeth, and unexplained headaches and jaw pain. These are all common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), a disorder of the jaw joint, which should be addressed and corrected.

Ages 40-59

Half of American adults have periodontal disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology/CDC, so by this age there’s a good chance that you or someone in your family has it. Address it head-on by having a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year either from your regular dentist or by a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in gum health) and get it treated if necessary.

This is also a common age where fillings run their course and crowns become necessary. Your dentist will talk to you about timing and options.

Ages 60+

An increasingly common issue at this age is dry mouth. Many medications can cause dry mouth, which means less saliva, which means less protection for tooth enamel, which means more tooth decay. Staying hydrated is the easiest way to address this problem. Many dentists also recommend the application of a fluoride varnish a few times a year, which can protect teeth and reduce the incidence of root cavities.

We recommend older adults suffering from arthritis or with limited dexterity switch to an electric toothbrush, which can make regular brushing much easier.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Teeth will get some wear with age and we can’t do anything about the passage of time. We can, however, make preventative dental care a priority, to save us time, money, and pain in the future. By brushing and flossing daily, seeing dental professionals every year, and watching what we eat, we can make a huge impact on the health of our teeth for years to come.

Dr. Ramon speaking with patient

Welcome to the “No Judgment” Zone

At my dental office, I’m proud to be part of what my team and I call a “no judgment” zone. We don’t judge anyone who comes through the door. We don’t judge based on smile. We don’t judge based on appearance. We don’t judge based on what type of insurance someone has (or if they have no insurance at all). We’re interested only in what this person needs and how we can help. Together, we go on the journey to improve their oral health and their smile.

Still, it’s unfortunate but true: People make snap judgments about other people. Many of these judgments are based on appearance, like posture, clothing, haircut, and, you guessed it, teeth. Teeth that are crooked, oddly spaced, or discolored can be judged harshly.

Not only does the person judging make assumptions about someone’s dental health, but about their background, upbringing, and status, too. A marketing research firm, Kelton, found that people with straight teeth were judged to be more likely to get a job, be successful, and get a date compared to people with crooked teeth. I know that when people are embarrassed to smile, that can hamper their social lives. I’ve heard of other cases of people with unsightly teeth being passed over for promotion or employment because they don’t fit with the image the company has of itself.

Is this fair? No, not at all. But it reflects the reality of the society we live in. That’s why I believe what we do as dentists is so important. It goes beyond health to affect a person’s life in profound ways, from romantic relationships to employment opportunities. More importantly, I’ve seen how dental care can have a profound effect on a person’s self-esteem, allowing them to finally be comfortable in their own skin.

Many times people want to fix their smile but can’t because the cost is prohibitive, particularly when treatment is extensive and there’s no insurance to cover it. Still, some understand that they money they invest in dental care is not just an investment in their smile, but in their life. Many of the dentists I know are motivated by their desire to help people, and they can work out financial arrangements with patients to help them get the treatment they need in a way that works for them. If you’re in this position and you haven’t even visited the dentist because you assume that the care you need is out of reach, then I encourage you to go anyway for a conversation. You may be surprised at what comes out of it.

Remember that no matter what happens out in the world, when you come to visit us, you’ll be in a “no judgment” zone. We know that there’s much more to a person than their smile and that’s what we’re interested in.