Tooth Decay

How to Stop Floss From Getting Stuck Between Your Teeth

October 20th, 2016

How to Stop Floss From Getting Stuck Between Your TeethFlossing is one of the more overlooked (and frequently skipped) steps to good dental hygiene. Dentists agree it’s an essential part of dental care. But if it seems like your floss is getting stuck between your teeth more often than your food does, it’s tempting just to brush your teeth and skip flossing. Don’t do it!

The Academy of General Dentistry cites flossing as the most important line of defense in fighting plaque. Flossing removes plaque and food particles that a toothbrush can’t reach, which leads to fresher breath and a reduced risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day as well as flossing (or using another interdental tool) to clean between the teeth once a day. If your floss keeps getting stuck, there are solutions to help you floss with ease.

Reasons why floss may be getting stuck between your teeth  

Dental floss is thin, but it can still get wedged in between teeth. This happens more often when you are experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Your teeth are set too close together.
  • There is plaque build-up between teeth.
  • Tooth enamel or restorative dental work has started to break down and creates uneven surfaces between the teeth.
  • You use an improper flossing technique. Are you making one of these common flossing mistakes?

How to prevent floss from getting stuck

Not all dental floss is created equal. Sometimes, switching types of floss can aid in preventing it from getting stuck in between your teeth.

Unwaxed dental floss, made of nylon fibers, is more likely to get stuck, shred, or break while flossing. Waxed dental floss is sometimes thicker because of the wax coating, but the wax also enables it to glide more smoothly between teeth.

Polytetrafluorethylene floss is another synthetic floss that is stronger than most conventional waxed or unwaxed varieties. It is also slick, which allows it to slide easily through the tight spaces in between your teeth.

Proper flossing technique 

If your dental floss routinely gets stuck between your teeth, you might need to adjust your flossing technique to make flossing easier and more effective.

No matter what type of dental floss you choose, start with a strand about 18 inches long. Wind most of the length around your two middle fingers, leaving just a couple inches between your hands. Pull the floss tight, holding it taut with your index fingers and thumbs.

Use a gentle sawing motion to guide the floss between your teeth, moving it up and down. When the floss reaches the gum line, bend the floss into a C-shape around the tooth, allowing the floss to reach all the way to the base of the tooth.

Still working gently, scrape the floss against the base of the tooth, working on one side of one tooth and then moving to the side of the adjacent tooth.

Continue to use the up and down sawing motion, as you move, and be gentle! Keep the floss taut against the surface of your teeth to remove plaque, and avoid letting the floss dig into the gums, which can cause irritation, redness, and bruising.

After each tooth, unwind a clean section of floss from your fingers. Make sure to get into each crevice between the teeth, including the hard-to-reach teeth in the back of your mouth! When you're finished flossing your entire mouth, remember to rinse well to remove any leftover bits of plaque or debris.

If you're going to make an effort to floss, follow proper flossing technique to prevent your floss from getting stuck in the tight spaces in your mouth. Your teeth will thank you!

If you continue to experience problems flossing, visit Water Tower Dental Care! We can take a look at your teeth to see if there are any serious issues causing flossing to be difficult for you and teach you the proper way to floss in person.

Here's Why Flossing Every Day is Still Extremely Important, Despite Recent News

August 25th, 2016

Woman flossing every day because it's important to oral heatlhFlossing has been making headlines recently thanks to the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The most recently released guidelines did not include flossing, which was once a recommended activity for daily health. But does this mean you shouldn’t floss every day? No, not at all. Not flossing can lead to serious dental problems. Trust us - we’ve seen how skipping the string can damage your oral health over and over again.

Though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services didn’t include flossing in its 2015 dietary guidelines due to a lack of evidence, the department stated that this does not imply that flossing is not an important oral hygiene practice. In fact, the department stated that cleaning between teeth with floss is an important oral hygiene practice, and, along with professional cleanings and tooth brushing, has been shown to disrupt and remove plaque, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
When it comes down to it, the U.S. Department of Health and Services didn’t include flossing this year because of a lack of documented research that flossing benefits you, not because it doesn’t actually provide any benefits. Flossing research is notoriously known for being high in costs and taking a long time, which explains why there isn’t a substantial amount of research showing its benefits. After all, it can take years to develop gum disease or tooth decay due to not flossing.
Here are four reasons why flossing every day is extremely important, and why you definitely shouldn’t stop now.

Clears Out Plaque in Tight Spaces

Sure, brushing can take care of plaque. But brush bristles can’t effectively clean out the tight spaces in between your teeth. And mouthwash typically isn’t powerful enough to move plaque that’s stuck between teeth. This is where floss comes in. Floss and interdental cleaners can clean out plaque that builds up between your teeth better than any other tools. Getting rid of that plaque will help to prevent cavities from forming in between your teeth and lower your risk of developing gum disease.

Fights Off Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Scraps of food and bacteria can easily get stuck in the areas where your teeth and gums meet. These particles and bacteria can eventually transform from plaque into tartar, a hard deposit that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
If you don’t get rid of hard-to-reach plaque with floss, you may notice that your gums become red and swollen and bleed easily. This is a sign that you have gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Left untreated, the plaque and tartar can spread deeper into your gum line, causing more severe gum disease (periodontitis), which can lead to tooth and bone loss. Bacteria can also eat away at your enamel and teeth, causing tooth decay.

Gets Your Teeth Looking as Good as New

Nobody wants to look at a smile only to find big clumps of plaque and rotting food between the teeth. Flossing your teeth can help to make your smile look beautiful by keeping it clear of the nasty stuff that can build up inside your mouth. This will result in a bolder, brighter smile.

Fresher Breath

Flossing isn’t all about oral health and appearance. It can also make your breath smell better than ever! If you don’t floss, food can sit in between your teeth and rot for weeks. As you can imagine, this doesn’t make your breath smell too great. Flossing will keep rotting food particles out of your mouth and allow saliva to effectively move through your teeth, keeping everything clean and smelling great!
Flossing every day is essential to your oral health. Without flossing, you wouldn’t be able to get rid of hard-to-reach plaque, which can lead to serious gum disease and tooth decay over time. Learn more about how often you should floss and common flossing mistakes here.

Is Fluoride Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

August 11th, 2016

Is Fluoride Good or Bad for Your Teeth?Over the years, the use of fluoride in both water and toothpaste has been very controversial. Some people argue that fluoride can cause serious health issues, while experts have found that fluoride can significantly improve dental health. So what’s the truth? Today, we’re going to look at the scientific facts to determine whether fluoride is good or bad for your teeth.

What is It?

Remember that periodic table you were forced to learn about in high school? Well fluorine is on that table. The fluoride ion comes from fluorine, which is an element. Fluorine is found naturally all over the earth, in soil, food, water, and minerals. Fluoride can also be made in laboratories to be added to water and dental products, like toothpaste. Fluoride is commonly added to water to reduce tooth decay in communities.

Why is Fluoride Good for Your Teeth?

Studies have shown that adding fluoride to water has reduced dental decay by 20 to 40%, according to American Dental Association (ADA). That’s a huge positive effect! In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that adding fluoride to water is one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
So why is fluoride so good for your teeth? When you consume fluoride, it collects in areas that are high in calcium, including your teeth. This helps teeth in several ways:

  • When children with developing teeth eat or drink fluoride in safe amounts, it builds up inside their teeth. This provides them with extra lasting strength and protection against acids.
  • Fluoride can also strengthen enamel in adult teeth. When you eat or drink fluoride, it becomes a part of your saliva. Since your saliva constantly soaks your teeth, it provides your teeth’s surface with fluoride, strengthening enamel and preventing decay.
  • Topical fluoride, like toothpaste and mouthwash, help to make the surface of your teeth more resistant to decay.
  • Your saliva works to keep your enamel hard by constantly replenishing your teeth with minerals, like calcium and phosphorous. When there’s fluoride in your saliva along with these other minerals, the minerals that replenish your teeth are extra strong. This keeps your teeth as hard and protected against decay as possible.

As long as you have healthy teeth and a low risk of tooth decay, drinking water that contains a safe amount of fluoride and brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste should provide you with a sufficient amount of fluoride.

Can Fluoride Be Bad for Your Teeth?

If fluoride is so great for your teeth, why is it so controversial? Some people think that it can cause serious health issues, including cancer, kidney failure or bone disease. It’s true that too much fluoride may cause issues. But as long as it is consumed properly, it is safe and effective, according to the ADA. In fact, for generations, millions of people have been drinking natural water with fluoride in higher concentrations than those now recommended.
Since fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes isn’t ingested, the real fear people have is when it’s found in water, other drinks and food. The ADA notes that 60 years of research and practical experience has given us sufficient evidence that indicates that fluoride in community water is safe and effective. American Cancer Society (ACA) also states that the general consensus of scientific reviews is that there’s no strong evidence of a link between fluoride in water and cancer. However, more research can be done to clarify the link.
As long as you use fluoride in the correct dosage, it should provide safe and effective protection against tooth decay. You should never swallow toothpaste, mouthwash, or other dental products that warn against ingestion. If you or your child receives fluoride supplements, you or your child must take only the amount that is prescribed to avoid overdose. If you’re worried about the amount of fluoride in your local public water, the ACA recommends contacting your local community water system.

Where Can You Get It?

There are many ways you can get fluoride to support your dental health. Just make sure to follow the indicated instructions and use the correct dose. Here are some common sources of fluoride:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Water
  • Dietary fluoride supplements
  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Professionally applied foams, gels and varnishes

It’s important that you get enough fluoride to keep your teeth healthy. If you’re worried that you’re experiencing tooth decay, come on into Water Tower Dental Care! We can help you find out if you need more fluoride and can tell you the most efficient way to get it. Feel free to contact us today!

Getting Full-Mouth Reconstruction in Chicago

May 26th, 2016

Getting Full-Mouth Reconstruction in ChicagoDo you feel like your teeth are beyond repair? You’ve come to the right place. When you’ve suffered a serious trauma or have left teeth untreated for a long period of time, you might feel like giving up hope on your smile. But the reality is, getting a full-mouth reconstruction can leave your teeth looking as good as new!
Here at Water Tower Dental Care, we work hard to offer one of the best full-mouth reconstruction services in Chicago. You’ll never feel the need to hide your teeth again!

What Are Some of the Risks that Come with Damaged Teeth?

Whether your teeth have been broken due to injury or decayed thanks to years of hygienic neglect, dental damage can cause a variety of issues.
First, there’s the most obvious: psychological problems. “Bad teeth” have been found to reduce self-esteem and cause depression. According to research conducted by ICM Research, 31% of people surveyed said that having bad teeth made them less confident in public. Another 15% said their bad teeth made them feel depressed and 10% reported that they don’t speak as much because of their teeth. If you can’t be yourself because of your teeth, you definitely want to seek help.
Having bad teeth doesn’t only affect your social life and psychological well-being. It can also be detrimental to your physical health. Everything in your mouth is connected one way or another. If you leave a cavity untreated, it will get bigger and bigger, causing a lot of pain and eventually leading to tooth loss. Gum disease will also result in tooth loss if it’s not treated. And it doesn’t stop there.
If you lose one tooth, it affects all of your other teeth and the bone that supports your teeth. Without the stimulation from your lost tooth, your bone will begin to decrease in width, which in turn leads to your gum tissue decreasing. These changes make it difficult to chew and speak.
[caption id="attachment_2477" align="alignleft" width="608"]Full mouth reconstruction before and after Before and after getting full-mouth reconstruction at Water Tower Dental Care.[/caption]

What Does Full-Mouth Reconstruction Involve?

Hopefully you now see how important it is to get your teeth treated as soon as possible if you have severe dental damage. Dr. Aneszko and Dr. Stino take compromised mouths very seriously. Full-mouth reconstruction can restore the appearance and functionality of even the most damaged mouths.
Every full-mouth reconstruction is made up of a series of treatments. In order to find out the right full-mouth reconstruction plan for you, our dentists will discuss your concerns and goals and evaluate your needs. From there, we may suggest several general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry treatments. Here are a few treatments we commonly use when performing full-mouth reconstruction:

If you’re ready to stop hiding your teeth and start having a smile you’re proud of, contact us about getting full-mouth reconstruction in Chicago. We’re experts at full-mouth reconstruction. Just check out before and after pictures our patients who have received the treatment here! We would be honored to give you your pearly whites back.

How Chicago's Sun Affects Your Teeth

March 17th, 2016

How Chicago's Sun Affects Your TeethSpring is a beautiful time of year, especially in Chicago. We boast some of the best temperatures during this time, perfect for visiting Millennium Park or heading to Wrigley Field. When the sun comes out during these glorious days, you will more often than not find yourself applying sunscreen to avoid those nasty burns. The sun is something that warms us to our core, yet too much of it can be dangerous to our skin.
Does too much exposure to the sun affect our pearly whites as well? Here, we attempt to find out, so you don’t find yourself spending most of your time standing under the bean, keeping your teeth (and skin) safe!

What is Tooth Decay?

Before we discuss the connection between Chicago’s sun and your pearly whites, it’s important to understand tooth decay. Like your skin, your teeth are probably one of your most prized possessions (Here at Water Tower Dental Care, they’re definitely ours!). Teeth play an extremely important role in the health of your body. Tooth decay has been shown to lead to other health problems, if infected matter makes its way into your bloodstream. Overall, bad oral health can lead to health risks beyond your mouth, including heart disease and more!

The Link Between Vitamin D and Oral Health

Some studies have shown that tooth decay is the most common in late winter and the first few weeks of spring. This is because you will have the lowest exposure to Vitamin D during those times. Vitamin D, a vitamin produced in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet B light from the sun, is very healthy for your body overall. Vitamin D can help fight off bacterial infections in your body, especially the ones caused by tooth decay.

How Vitamin D Helps Strengthen Your Teeth

While Vitamin D cannot contribute anything to your teeth directly, Vitamin D’s main contribution comes when it interacts with Calcium, which makes your teeth and bones strong. While calcium strengthens your body, the body does not easily absorb it. This is where Vitamin D comes in, as it serves as a catalyst for calcium absorption, making you stronger than ever before and helping you absorb the most calcium possible from the foods you eat!
The more you are in the sun, the more Vitamin D your body will produce, and the more calcium levels in your body will rise. Vitamin D helps indirectly fight off gum disease, by strengthening the bones around your teeth. In conclusion, Vitamin D leads to stronger teeth, which helps fight off bacterial infections.

Conclusion

To summarize, being in the sun might not be as bad as you might have thought! While you should still be sure to wear sunscreen during Chicago’s warm summer months, the cool temperatures we currently have are perfect for enjoying Navy Pier, the Riverwalk, and more.
While you’re outside in these comfortable months, let Vitamin D and calcium do the work, strengthening your teeth and your bones. Your teeth may be strong, but don’t skip out on a check-up just because the sun is out! Contact us today!

Is Salt Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

February 25th, 2016

Is Salt Good or Bad for your Teeth?Salt, or sodium, has often said to be both good and bad for your teeth. While high sodium-intake has generally been associated with many detrimental effects, (which is why healthy eating has also been associated with staying away from food rich in sodium) many people practicing good oral hygiene will rinse their mouth with salt. Is salt actually good or bad for your teeth? Here are some of the pros and cons:

Why Salt Can Be Good for Your Teeth

The sodium chemical itself has proved itself to be good for your teeth in a few ways:

  1. Short term, saltwater mouthwash rinses are great treatments for your mouth and any wounds you may have. If you’ve had oral surgery recently, infections, or gum swelling, saltwater will help to remove swelling, as it is a natural disinfectant.
  2. Salt helps to increase the pH balance in your mouth, making it hard for abrasive bacteria to survive in this alkaline environment.
  3. According to the American Dental Association, salt is a common ingredient in foaming detergents in toothpaste, which helps toothpaste stay in your mouth, preventing dribbling.

Why Salt Can Be Bad for Your Teeth

While salt washes have been commonly used and are considered good for your teeth, the opposite is true of sodium-rich food. Sodium may not directly cause tooth decay, but sodium-rich diets have been found to be bad for your teeth. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Oral bacteria thrive on simple sugars, which are produced when you ingest food or beverages rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, crackers, tend to be rich in sodium. These foods are broken down into simple sugars and starches. The interaction between oral bacteria and simple sugars create harsh acids that have the same effect as sugary food, eroding tooth enamel and leading to tooth decay.
  2. Teeth often rely on calcium to produce structure and strength. A high-sodium diet causes your body to excrete excess calcium, leading to tooth loss and even osteoporosis!

In conclusion, while, salt has been found to have many positive effects on teeth, a sodium-rich diet can have various detrimental effects, similar to a sugary diet. To avoid cavities and tooth decay, strive to have a diet low in sodium. Tooth decay can also be prevented through brushing, flossing, and proper oral hygiene. If your teeth have been affected, let Water Tower Dental help you today!

White Discoloration On Teeth: What It Means & How to Fix

February 18th, 2016

White Discoloration On Teeth: What It Means & How to FixEveryone hates teeth discoloration, which is why whitening strips are so popular. But what do you do when the discoloration appears in the form of white spots on your teeth? Although these spots are primarily a cosmetic concern, they can affect oral health and should be treated.

Causes

White discoloration on teeth, more common yet less discussed, are due to the demineralization and loss of enamel on the tooth. Common causes of demineralization include poor brushing habits and poor diet choices. White spots (or hypoplasia) can form in children if there is disruption in enamel formation, or if you use too much fluoride toothpaste.
When these unsightly white spots appear in adults, they are often the sign of tooth decay and plaque formation. When plaque builds up, bacteria forms that leads to demineralization, the first step in tooth decay. This can be common when braces are taken off, as plaque often builds in hard-to-reach places underneath braces (white spots are often more common in orthodontic patients).

Preventing White Discoloration

While treatments for these white spots are available (we’ll discuss these later), prevention is also possible. Here are a few easy steps you can take to prevent white spots from appearing on your teeth!

  1. Brushing well! Nothing prevents demineralization and plaque buildup better than brushing thoroughly two times a day.
  2. Flossing every night. Flossing can also help drastically reduce plaque buildup and therefore reduce those unappealing white spots!
  3. Less soda, more water.  Soda causes acidic buildup, which demineralizes your teeth faster. Drink more water to help prevent this.
  4. Eat healthy, snack less. Choosing foods that contain less sugar (and therefore less demineralizing bacteria) that break down calcium in the teeth will help prevent decalcification and the formation of white spots. Consider mineral and calcium rich foods, such as milk and cheese. Also, try to eat foods high in magnesium, as this mineral helps your body absorb and retain calcium.

Treating White Spots

Especially in orthodontic cases, white spots that form may need to be treated, despite preventive measures that were taken. Here are some of the best treatments for white spots on your teeth.

  1. Before and After Remineralization Treatment for White Discoloration on Teeth at Water Tower Dental CareBleaching your teeth. Dentists can professionally assess the damage and bleach your teeth to make these spots less visible, as well as seal enamel in order to strengthen your teeth again. At Water Tower Dental Care, we use Zoom! Teeth Whitening to bleach teeth in under an hour!
  2. Composite bonding. In this procedure, resin is molded onto your teeth, helping to conceal white spots and giving you a straighter, whiter smile.
  3. Air or microabrasion.  Consider techniques in which your dentist can remove spots by scuffing the area with abrasive material. These techniques should only be used for small to medium white spots, as too much abrasion can further damage your teeth.
  4. Topical Remineralization Therapy. These prescription toothpaste and gel treatments help remineralize your teeth faster by treating the microscopic holes causing the white spots. The photo above and to the right shows a patient of ours before and after enamel remineralization therapy.

In all, white spots are undesirable to most. While prevention is ideal, treatment is often necessary. Luckily, Water Tower Dental Care can help with this white discoloration treatment to get your teeth sparkling white again!

What Does Xylitol Do For Your Teeth?

November 12th, 2015

What Does Xylitol Do For Your Teeth?Want to chew gum? Do it! As long as there’s xylitol in it, your dentist will approve. Xylitol is the perfect sugar alternative. Not only does it not cause tooth decay. It’s also good for your teeth. Yes, you heard that right. Something that tastes as wonderful as sugar actually benefits your teeth. Let’s take a look at why.

What is Xylitol?

Though it tastes like magic, xylitol can actually be all natural. It’s a five-carbon sugar alcohol compound. What does that mean? It’s not actually sugar or alcohol. Instead, it’s a carbohydrate that looks and tastes like sugar. But instead of damaging your teeth, xylitol actually protects it.
Xylitol is found naturally in plants, berries, and vegetables. It can also be manufactured from starches and sugar. Unfortunately, since we eat so much sugar, we can’t get enough xylitol from the foods we eat to sufficiently help our teeth. That’s why we brush, floss and take xylitol supplements.

How does it benefit your teeth?

To understand how Xylitol helps protect your teeth, you have to first understand how you get cavities. According to Registered Dental Hygienist, the average American consumes about 31 teaspoons of sugar every single day. Our teeth aren’t made to eat that much sugar. Inevitably, all of this sugar leads to tooth decay, usually in the form of cavities. The sugar in food causes bacteria in your mouth to grow. These bacteria create hungry acids that eat away at your teeth, causing tooth decay.
Bad bacteria can’t digest xylitol to grow like it digests sugar. In fact, xylitol works to keep the pH level neutral in your mouth. The less acidic your pH levels are, the fewer bacteria will grow and the better off your teeth will be.
Xylitol also stops bacteria from sticking to your teeth. So even if there are bacteria in your mouth after taking xylitol, it’s much less likely that the bacteria will damage your teeth because it can’t stick on to them.
Thanks to increased pH levels, xylitol also promotes enamel repair. As pH levels get higher than 7, calcium and phosphate salts in your saliva help to rebuild weak enamel.

Where can you get Xylitol?

Now that you know great xylitol is for your mouth, you’re probably wondering where you can get some. Since you usually eat sugar during the day, you should try taking xylitol throughout the day as well. You should always look for xylitol in toothpaste and mouthwash. Most of the big names in toothpaste and mouthwash include xylitol because of its benefits.
Since it can be inconvenient to carry your toothbrush and mouthwash around all day, it’s beneficial to have another source of xylitol on hand. Gum, candy and mints frequently have xylitol in them. These products can help you battle bacteria throughout the day. A 1998 article from The British Dental Journal writes that chewing gum containing xylitol prevents cavities and promotes enamel remineralization.  You can also find the sweetener in corncobs and stalks.
Consuming xylitol is one of the tastiest ways to keep your teeth healthy! Find out more about the benefits of xylitol and the best places to get it from by contacting the number one Chicago dental practice, Water Tower Dental Care. We would be happy to put you on the right track to a healthy and happy smile.

Signs That An Eating Disorder May Be Damaging Your Teeth

November 5th, 2015

Signs That An Eating Disorder May Be Damaging Your TeethYou might be surprised that a dental office is writing about eating disorders. But eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa can devastate your teeth, gums and overall oral health. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), about 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder for a period of time in their lives in the US. That’s a lot of people suffering with a disorder that can seriously damage not only your teeth, but your entire life.
Dentists are often the first people to discover that a patient has an eating disorder because the signs are so obvious. We’re going to take a look at some of those signs today.

What are eating disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are illnesses that cause extreme changes to your daily diet, such as eating very small amounts of food everyday or severe overeating. A person with an eating disorder may be able to alter their diet with small changes at first, but at some point the urge to eat less or more becomes uncontrollable.
Some of the most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating. Anorexia nervosa usually involves a severe and distorted fear of becoming fat or gaining weight. People with anorexia may not be fat at all, or may even be underweight. This fear can lead the person to undereat, exercise excessively, or purge after eating by forcing themselves to throw up or use laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
Bulimia nervosa typically involves seemingly uncontrollable overeating (binging) followed by purging with self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or using laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
The American Dental Association notes that eating disorders are caused by various physical, emotional and social issues and focus on body image, food and weight, along with many other issues. Eating disorders are much more complicated than whether someone is overweight, underweight or anywhere in between.

What are some signs that an eating disorder is damaging your teeth?

Eating disorders can wreak havoc on your entire body, including your teeth. While it may be hard for parents to tell if their child has an eating disorder, it’s typically obvious to dentists after a certain period of time. Many of the dental issues that come along with eating disorders are caused by stomach acids damaging your teeth as a result of vomiting. But nutritional deficiencies caused by under eating are also terrible for your dental health.
Here are a few signs that an eating disorder is damaging your oral health and teeth:

  • Xerostomia, or dry mouth symptom, caused by enlarged salivary glands
  • Tooth decay and enamel erosion, especially in the inside of the upper front teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity, thinning and chipping due to enamel erosion
  • Tooth discoloration and/or change in the shape or size of your teeth
  • Mouth sores that may bleed easily
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tender mouth and throat
  • Dry, red and cracked lips

Treating eating disorders

Though your dentist may be able to temporarily improve the dental damage caused by eating disorders, there’s not much they can do to heal your teeth in the long run if the eating disorder continues. The best thing you can do is see an experienced and skilled therapist that specializes in eating disorders. Since eating disorders are complicated and vary from person to person, it’s very important that someone who suffers with an eating disorder speak with an expert as soon as possible.
To reduce the effects of purging on your teeth, don’t brush your teeth right after you vomit. The acids from your stomach erode your enamel, and brushing your teeth immediately afterwards can make enamel erosion even worse. Instead, immediately wash out your mouth with club soda, a sugar-free mouthwash, or, as a last resort, water. This will help neutralize the stomach acids. 30 minutes later, gently brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
If you think you might have an eating disorder, it’s important that you seek professional help as soon as possible before irreversible damage is done. Along with damaging your relationships, mental health, self-esteem, and physical body, eating disorders can also result in death.
Please don’t be afraid to visit Water Tower Dental Care or contact us if you’re worried about how your diet is affecting your teeth and oral health. We have seen many patients with eating disorders and would love to inspect your mouth to let you know how your teeth are doing.
We also work with a Behavioral Health Care Center in our office that specializes in eating disorders, called ASCENDchc. Together, we can put you on the path to a healthier life.

How Oral Probiotics Benefit Your Dental Health

October 22nd, 2015

Why Oral Probiotics Benefit Your Dental HealthWhen it comes to taking care of your teeth, there’s a lot more you can do than just brushing and flossing. In fact, those are just the first two steps to keeping your teeth healthy. Adding oral probiotics to your teeth-cleaning routine will help to ensure that you keep cavities away and an attractive smile going.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics have been growing in popularity for years because of their ability to improve digestive health. But in recent years, probiotics have also been found to improve your oral health by naturally getting rid of cavity-causing plaque. So what exactly are probiotics and how are they so helpful?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines probiotics as live organisms that are intended to have health benefits. Typically, these live organisms are good bacteria. Yes, you read that right. Bacteria can be good for you - and even for good your teeth. Probiotics work by crowding out the bad bacteria in your mouth with good bacteria. The more good bacteria there are in your mouth, the less room there will be for bad bacteria to grow and rot your teeth, slowing down the plaque build-up process. While foods like yogurt are full of probiotics, the probiotics derived by this kind of food can’t fight bacteria in your mouth like it can in your stomach.

 How Can Probiotics Help Your Mouth and Teeth?

So now that you know that probiotics can cause less bad bacteria to grow in your mouth, you’re probably wondering how exactly that helps your teeth and mouth. Evora, a maker of oral probiotics, notes that there are three major ways that the ProBiora3 probiotics improve your oral health:

  • They support gum and tooth health.
    Since less bad bacteria will be growing on your teeth and gums, probiotics will help to keep your teeth healthy. Mayo Clinic writes that high levels of bad bacteria can cause gum disease and tooth decay. 
  • They make your breath smell better.
    Stinky breath is caused by bad bacteria sitting in your mouth. Since probiotics don’t allow a lot of room for the bacteria that cause bad breath to grow, your mouth should smell a lot better.
  • They whiten your teeth over time.
    ProBiora3 probiotics from Evora produce low doses of hydrogen peroxide. Over time, these low doses gently whiten your teeth. Unlike other teeth whitening treatments, you won’t feel any sensitivity or gum irritation from this natural teeth whitening process.

Probiotics are an important addition to everyone’s dental health routine. Though they don’t replace brushing and flossing, probiotics do support these activities, making your teeth and gums even healthier. All you have to do is eat probiotics a few times a month to make a difference in your mouth.
If you’re interested in learning more about probiotics or purchasing them for the first time, speak to our dental experts at Water Tower Dental Care. We would love to help you pick the best type of probiotics for your teeth and gums and help you better understand how they make your smile look its best.

Best Sugar Alternatives and Sweeteners for Your Teeth

October 15th, 2015

Best Sugar and Sweetener Alternatives for Your TeethJust because you have a particularly hungry sweet tooth doesn’t mean you're doomed to have cavities. There are a handful of sugar and sweetener alternatives out there that aren’t bad for your teeth. In fact, some of these sweet substitutes have actually been found to be good for your teeth. We’re here to let you know which sugar alternatives and sweeteners are best for your teeth.

Why Is Sugar So Bad for Your Teeth?

Surprising to many, it’s not actually sugar that is your teeth’s enemy. Rather, it’s the bacteria that turn sugar into enamel-eating acids. Sugar is extremely easy for bacteria to break down into acid, which is why dentists want you to avoid eating a lot of sugary food, candy and drinks. When the sugar is broken down into acids, the acids break down your enamel, causing cavities, dental decay, and eventually, an unhappy trip to the dentist.

Best Sugar and Sweetener Choices to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Unlike sugar, sugar alternatives aren’t as easy for bacteria to break down into acids. A group of sweeteners known as polyols actually have antibacterial properties, according to The New York Times, making them the best possible sugar and sweetener alternatives for your teeth. If sweeteners are antibacterial, they cannot be broken down by bacteria in your mouth and won't cause cavities.
So what are these polyols? Polyols are sugar alcohols that come from a chemical process. Not only are they great for your teeth, but they also contain fewer calories than sugar. Common polyols include xylitol, sorbitol, malitol, and isomalt. Since these sugar substitutes won’t cause cavities, they are often used in gum. In fact, a 1998 article from The British Dental Journal found that chewing gum containing sugar sweetener alternatives, like sorbitol and xylitol, actually helped to prevent cavities due to increased saliva flow.

Are Polyols Healthy for You in Other Ways?

So now that you know that polyols such as xylitol, sorbitol, malitol, and isomalt are good for your teeth, you’re probably wondering if they’re safe for the rest of your body too. According to the Calorie Control Council, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recognized some polyols as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and others have been approved as food additives. An Expert Committee of the World Health Organization has concluded that polyols are safe for human consumption after careful review.
For very sensitive people, polyols have been found to cause gastrointestinal problems, such as gas or laxative effects, but these issues aren’t permanent. Polyols have been used for many years by people all over the world. They are pretty well documented as being a safe and effective sugar and sweetener alternative.
You don’t have to sacrifice delicious sweets in order to keep your teeth healthy. Polyols taste just as delicious as sugar without the harmful tooth decaying effects! If you have any more questions about the best sugar and sweetener alternatives for your teeth, you should reach out to us on Facebook!

5 Reasons Why Your Bottom Teeth May Hurt

September 24th, 2015

5 Reasons Why Your Bottom Teeth May HurtConstant tooth pain is irritating, and can be downright debilitating if it hurts enough. If you experience regular bottom teeth pain, the first thing you should do is visit your dentist so that whatever is wrong doesn’t get worse. But it doesn’t hurt to learn what might be causing your bottom teeth to hurt in the meantime. Here are 5 reasons why your bottom teeth may hurt.

You’ve Got A Cavity

Cavity Tooth Pain Symptoms: Typically, pain caused by cavities can be felt sharply, consistently and suddenly in one or more teeth when you bite down. Cavities can also cause sensitivity.
If you haven’t been getting rid of all of the plaque on and around your bottom teeth by brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, you may have cavity. Cavities can also be caused by gum recession. Cavities are holes in your teeth created by acids, which love eating away at your enamel. Thankfully, fixing a cavity is quick and easy. All your dentist has to do is fill it in with dental filling material.

Your Root Might Be Infected

Infected Root Tooth Pain Symptoms: If you experience a severe and constant bottom toothache that causes throbbing or shooting pain, you may have an abscessed tooth, or root infection. Your teeth may also feel sensitive to extreme temperatures and when biting down, and your gums and glands may be swollen.
Severe tooth decay is usually the reason why an infection develops at the root of your tooth. When acids have been allowed to dissolve your enamel for a while, bacteria infects the center of your tooth (the pulp) between your gum and your tooth. If you don’t see a dentist to cure your infection, it can spread to the bones that support your bottom teeth. A root canal can be performed to rid your teeth of the infection.

You’re Clenching and/or Grinding Your Teeth

Clenching/Grinding Tooth Pain Symptoms: If you bottom teeth pain is less severe, and more of a constant throbbing or achy pain, you may grind or clench your teeth too much.
Many people clench their teeth when they are concentrating or working out at the gym. You may also grind your teeth while you’re sound asleep. When you grind or clench your teeth often, you wear down your enamel, which exposes the tubes that lead to your nerves. This can lead to sensitivity and tooth pain. If you think you clench or grind your teeth, speak to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard.

You Fractured Your Tooth

Fractured Tooth Pain Symptoms: If you experience irregular pain in a bottom tooth when you’re chewing or when your tooth is exposed to extreme temperatures, you may have a fractured tooth.
The center of your tooth contains soft tissue, called the pulp, where your nerves are located. Your enamel and dentin, which is the hard layer underneath your enamel, protect your nerves. The closer your pulp is to being exposed, the more you irritate your nerves, which can cause pain and sensitivity. There are several different dental procedures that treat cracked teeth, depending on the severity, from crowns to root canals.

You Have Other Serious Health Issues

Bottom teeth pain isn’t always a sign that you have dental issues. Teeth pain can also be caused by a variety of other serious health issues that you might not even think of. These include heart attacks, sinus infections, cluster headaches, viral infections, diabetes, nerve-related disease, alcohol or drug abuse, and more.
The only way to truly find out what is causing your bottom teeth to hurt is to speak to your dentist. They’ll be able to get to the root of your teeth pain and provide you with solutions to make you pain-free again.

6 Unusual Teeth Tips Straight From Our Dentists

September 17th, 2015

6 Unusual Teeth Tips Straight From Our DentistsWhen it comes to taking care of our teeth, we generally hear the same kind of advice all of the time: brush and floss everyday and don’t eat too much candy. While this advice is extremely important, there are a lot of additional ways to keep your teeth healthy as well. We asked our dentists at Water Tower Dental Care to share some tips for taking care of your teeth that you probably haven’t heard before. Here are 6 unusual teeth tips straight from our dentists.

  1. Eat Cheese (In Moderation)

Believe it or not, cheese is good for your teeth! Like the peroxide-based teeth-whitening solutions we described earlier, cheese helps to neutralize acids in your mouth, increasing your pH levels for about 30 minutes, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. This means less bacteria breeding in your mouth and less teeth erosion. Cheese also causes salivation, which helps get rid harmful bacteria and food particles. Finally, cheese contains casein phosphate, which keeps your teeth strong. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you should eat all of the cheese that you possibly can. You only need about ⅓ of a slice to get these oral benefits.

  1. Whiten Your Teeth For Health & Cosmetic Reasons

While teeth whitening can make your teeth look better than ever, its benefits aren’t purely cosmetic. Teeth whitening can also help keep your teeth healthy by removing plaque and preventing tooth decay. Recent research has found that teeth whitening products that contain a peroxide-based solution can effectively get rid of plaque, reduce caries bacteria, and increase the pH level of your mouth, according to Professor Van B. Haywood.
When the pH level in your mouth becomes too low, this means that it is highly acidic. If your pH level is highly acidic, bacteria will begin to breed and your enamel will break down. Peroxide-based teeth-whitening solutions will neutralize your pH levels to a healthy 7 or 8, reducing the acidity in your mouth. This is especially helpful after you eat or drink highly acidic food, such as coffee, wine and citrus fruits. Ask us about our at-home teeth whitening kits to help your teeth look and feel healthier today!

  1. Keep Your Mouth Healthy With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a ton of health benefits, from decreasing cholesterol levels to helping diabetes. It turns out that coconut oil is great for your oral health too. Through a method called oil pulling, coconut oil can actually help pull bacteria off of your teeth for a healthier and cleaner smile. All you have to do is swish around a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Of course, you should still keep up with your regular routine of brushing, flossing and using mouthwash.
If you’re questioning the validity of this claim, good for you. You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, especially when it comes to oral health. Thankfully, there are various studies, including the following three, that have proved that oil pulling effectively fights off bacteria: Study 1Study 2Study 3You can read more about oil pulling for your teeth here.

  1. Use Oral Probiotics For Your Mouth

In the past, probiotics were thought to only help digestive and immune health. But recently, probiotics designed specifically for oral health have been found to naturally support gum and tooth health, make your breath fresh and whiten your teeth. Effective probiotics trigger the production of healthy bacteria that work to keep your mouth and gums healthy. They also reduce the nutrients for bacteria that cause bad breath, and produce low doses of hydrogen peroxide to gently whiten your teeth. Learn more about oral probiotics from Evora.

  1. Don’t Use Your Teeth As Tools

While it may be more convenient to open that bag of chips with your teeth rather than finding scissors, using your teeth as tools can have serious (and expensive) consequences. Many of our patients have come in with broken, cracked or chipped teeth because they tried using their teeth to cut or open something. Your teeth are meant for chewing food in your mouth - Not for anything else. It’s not worth the pain or the price to fix your teeth.

  1. You Can Use A Reversal Agent for Mouth Numbing

Some patients avoid important dental procedures because of the irritating and sometimes damaging numbing sensation that they experience hours afterwards. While it’s great to be numb in the dentist’s chair, it’s not so great when you’re hungry a couple hours afterwards. At worst, some patients chew their lip and gums because they can’t feel what their teeth are doing. Many patients may drool and not be able to talk properly, smile, or eat and drink because their mouths are numb. Thankfully, at Water Tower Dental Care, we offer reversal agents for teeth numbing, so that you can return to feeling your mouth much faster, and avoid the painful and embarrassing after effects.
We hope these unusual tips from our dentists, along with your normal health routine, help you to make your teeth even healthier. If you would like any more tips, reach out to us on our Facebook page. We’re full of helpful and creative ways to keep your teeth looking and feeling as good as new!

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Teeth and Mouth

June 18th, 2015

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Teeth and MouthWhen you’re sipping on a glass of red wine while relaxing in front of the TV after work, you’re probably not thinking about the way the alcohol is affecting your mouth. If you drink too much alcohol on a regular basis, you may be severely damaging your mouth.
Let’s take a look at six of the most common ways alcohol affects your teeth and mouth so you can make sure you aren’t causing any permanent damage with your drink of choice.

  1. Tooth Decay

You may want to lay off of the margaritas, piña coladas and sweet cocktails after reading this. Many delicious alcoholic drinks are packed with sugar. And we’re not the only ones enjoying it. Bacteria love sugar just as much as we do, feeding off of it and producing acid as they munch. Combine these acid-releasing bacteria with acidic alcoholic beverages and your teeth are on a path to decaying.
Solution: While you’re out for the evening, try to avoid sugary cocktails. Choose beer, wine or a coconut water and vodka cocktail instead. If you can’t end the night without your favorite sweet cocktail, use a straw so that the sugars skip past the majority of your teeth. Finally, always make sure to brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after you’ve consumed alcohol. Any sooner and you may further erode your enamel by brushing it.

  1. Oral Cancer

Alcohol isn’t all fun and games. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), alcohol abuse is the second largest risk factor for developing oral cancer. Alcohol can cause your gums, cheeks and skin to corrode, leading to mouth and throat cancer. When combined with smoking, a heavy drinker has an especially high risk of developing the disease. The OCF notes that alcohol dehydrates the cell walls, which allows tobacco carcinogens to spread throughout your mouth more easily. Heavy drinking can also lead to nutritional deficiencies that lower your body’s ability to fight off cancer.
Solution: As long as you aren’t a heavy drinker, you shouldn’t run into this problem. Try to keep your drinking to moderate levels, which is defined as one drink a day if you’re a woman, and two drinks a day if you’re a man, according to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  1. Enamel Erosion

Every time you drink alcohol, you’re usually exposing your teeth to highly acidic liquid. This causes enamel, the protective calcium coating on your skin, to erode. When your enamel wears away enough, you’ll notice your teeth are more sensitive and you’re more susceptible to cavities. Worst of all, enamel can’t naturally grow back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Solution: Try to avoid carbonated alcoholic drinks, as they are usually more acidic. Drinking water in between alcohol will also help to wash away the acids in your mouth.

  1. Dry Mouth

Instead of keeping your mouth wet, alcohol actually dries it out. You know how you have to take all those extra trips to the bathroom while you’re drinking? It’s because alcohol is a diuretic. In other words, it dehydrates you by making you urinate more than usual. Less liquid in your body means less saliva in your mouth. Since saliva fights off bacteria, your risk of gum disease and tooth decay increases while you’re drinking. You’ll also probably have pretty bad breath.
Solution: Try to drink at least one glass of water in between your alcoholic drinks. Mints and sugar-free gum can also help to increase your saliva production.

  1. Gum Disease

A couple of the ways that alcohol can increase your risk of developing gum disease have already been mentioned: bacteria feeding off of sugary drinks, nutritional deficiencies and lack of saliva. Additionally, alcohol has been found to irritate gum tissue and alcohol abusers tend to have poor dental hygiene habits, according to the Drug & Alcohol Rehab Asia. All of this leads to a much higher risk of developing gum disease conditions, which can range from swollen gums to dangerous infections.
Solution: Avoid heavy drinking. If you do drink, make sure to brush practice good oral hygiene at least 30 minutes after drinking by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and correctly flossing.

How Invisalign Fixes Your Crooked Teeth

May 21st, 2015

How Invisalign Fixes Your Crooked Teeth Nobody likes having crooked teeth. They don’t give you the most beautiful smile in the world and they’re hard to take care of. Ironically, nobody really likes wearing braces to straighten their crooked teeth either, for pretty much the same reasons. At Water Tower Dental Care, we have a better solution to straighten your smile: Invisalign. Invisalign clear braces are easy to clean, effective and pretty much invisible to the eye.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign was designed to be as easy as possible. The invisible aligners, which look like teeth-whitening trays, are custom made for your teeth. As a result, they fit comfortably in your mouth. You’re given a series of these aligners throughout the treatment process - typically one every two weeks. Each aligner will gently reposition your teeth into their proper place. Your doctor controls the timing in which each tooth is moved and maps out exactly where your teeth should be.
Treatment time varies from patient to patient, but the average timeline to correct your teeth alignment with Invisalign is only about 12 months. During this time, you’ll want to wear the aligners for about 20 to 22 hours every day.
Invisalign for crooked teeth before and after pictures

Benefits of Invisalign Compared to Braces for Fixing Crooked Teeth

At Water Tower Dental Care, we’re big advocates of Invisalign. Here are just a few reasons why you might like Invisalign more than traditional braces.

  • Invisalign is virtually invisible, with no unsightly brackets or wires
  • It’s incredibly easy to clean. All you have to do is pop off your aligners and clean them with the Invisalign Cleaning system, which you can purchase at our office, or with lukewarm water and a brush.
  • Invisalign isn’t painful. Instead, it fits comfortably over your teeth and gently repositions them over time.
  • You’ll have no food restrictions. You can take off your Invisalign braces and chew all the gum you want!
  • Your teeth are easy to clean. It can be tough to clean all of your teeth with wires and brackets in the way. With Invisalign, you can remove the aligners in the morning and evening for easy access to your teeth.
  • Pop them off for big events. It’s best to wear your aligners as much as possible. But if you have a big event, you can always take off your aligners and put them back on later.
  • They work as fast as traditional braces. On average, treatment time for patients wearing Invisalign is only 12 months.

Health Problems Caused by Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth don’t only look bad. They also hurt your oral health, which Invisalign can help with. Here are a handful of problems caused by crooked teeth that you may not know about.

  • Gum Disease. When your teeth aren’t aligned well, your gums aren’t supporting them as securely as if they were straight. This means your gums are less healthy and strong, and more likely to develop periodontal disease.
  • Tooth Decay. Plaque can build up in spots that you can’t see when you have severely crooked teeth. Untouched plaque will lead to bacteria eating away at your teeth over time.
  • Harder to clean. It’s hard to properly floss and brush when you have crooked teeth. If you can’t reach your gums or specific places on your teeth while cleaning, you’re more likely to develop cavities, gum disease and other oral health problems.
  • Worse Health Overall. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy means keeping the rest of your body healthy as well. Oral infection and bad oral health may lead or contribute to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, endocarditis, and more, according to Mayo Clinic.

Interested in learning more about Invisalign? We here at Water Tower Dental Care are Invisalign experts. Feel free to contact us to learn more about this amazing treatment. We will be more than happy to help put you on a path to the straight smile of your dreams, without the hassle of traditional braces.

What Are Wisdom Teeth and Why Are They Removed?

December 11th, 2014

Impacted Wisdom Teeth - Wisdom Teeth RemovalSurprise: your wisdom teeth are no wiser than your other teeth. They’re named that because the wisdom teeth are your last to emerge, usually when you’re more mature and a little wiser. The wisdom teeth are the third molars in the back of your mouth that develop in the later years of your maturing body. While some people are able to keep their wisdom teeth, the majority of people need to have them removed. There are many reasons why a person may need their wisdom teeth removed.

Reasons Why Your Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed

The first reason why you may need your wisdom teeth removed is that they can grow improperly, either never emerging from the gums or moving at such an angle that they affect other teeth. Because wisdom teeth are the last of the teeth to emerge, they often displace other teeth that are in their correct position. Many times, the wisdom teeth don’t start to grow until after a person has worn braces. If they grow irregularly, they can push against your back molars and cause a chain reaction that dis-aligns all of your teeth. Some wisdom teeth can grow at such an angle they never emerge from the gums, yet still push on your teeth to affect your mouth structure.
Other times, a wisdom tooth might grow straight, but only partially emerge from the gums, making it hard to fully clean the tooth while creating a passageway for bacteria to enter into the gums. This will create larger issues such as periodontal disease or oral infections.
When either of these situations happen, it’s a wise choice to have your wisdom teeth removed. It’s recommended to remove wisdom teeth before they are fully grown. This makes the removal easier, as roots are not yet fully formed, which keeps them from becoming too hinged to the jaw. When wisdom teeth are rooted, they are often positioned very close to the nerve endings of your jaw. Removal of your wisdom teeth at such juncture can cause a higher amount of pain, heavy bleeding, and minor loss of movement in the jaw. These problems can last days to months.
Removing wisdom teeth before they’re fully grown often means removing them before a clear problem arises. Often the patient is younger, which helps the mouth heal faster with less bleeding and pain.
Sometimes, however, the problem is avoided or not addressed until much larger issues occur. If you haven’t removed your wisdom teeth and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s recommended you have your wisdom teeth checked and potentially removed.

Signs That You May Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

  • Pain in the Back of Mouth
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Extensive Tooth Decay
  • Cysts
  • Infection of Gums In the Back Teeth

While some don’t ever find cause to remove their wisdom teeth, the majority of healthy adults will need to have theirs’ removed. If your wisdom teeth are beginning to emerge or have appeared and are causing you issues, we recommend contacting your dentist to help take you through the proper steps of wisdom teeth removal.