Vote Gentech Dentist for This Year's Best Dentist Award!

We made it to the final round of voting! A big thanks to all of our awesome patients that nominated us for this award last month! 2018 BOCC logo_Vote2.png

The Columbian is hosting their 11th annual Best of Clark County contest, and Gentech Dentist is in the final push for the Best Dentist award! 

You can help us stand out as the best by voting today!

  1. Simply visit The Best of Clark County
  2. Select 'Gentech Dentist'
  3. And then 'Submit' your vote!

Voting ends at 11:59pm on Sunday, April 1st! We appreciate your help to us get there! #BOCC18

Why Does My Jaw Hurt?

A sore jaw can be a real distraction from your day, and the sooner you can figure out what’s causing the pain, the sooner you can get back to your regularly scheduled activities. But it can be harder than you might think to pinpoint the cause of your jaw pain. There are a number of different things that can cause your jaw to hurt. Take a look at some of the possible causes of jaw pain and learn how you can find out what’s causing yours.

Tooth Grinding

Grinding at night can cause bruxism

Does your jaw feel tight and sore when you wake up in the morning? You may be grinding your teeth in your sleep. This condition, called bruxism, can be  responsible for a lot of jaw pain, and because the grinding happens while you sleep, it’s easy to be unaware of what’s causing it. 

Your dentist will be able to tell if you’ve been grinding your teeth because your teeth will show signs of wear. Your dentist may recommend a nighttime mouthguard that will prevent you from grinding, helping ease your pain and protect your teeth from further damage. 

Tooth Infection

Why does my jaw hurt? Tooth infections can cause your jaw to hurt.

While a tooth infection might occur in your tooth or your gums, not your jaw bone, it’s possible for the pain to radiate into the jaw area. 

If you have a tooth infection or abscess, your dentist will probably prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection. Depending on the location and severity of the infection, you may also need a root canal to prevent the infection from recurring. 

TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the joints on either side of your jaw that allow it to open and close. In addition to jaw pain, you may also have difficulty moving your jaw or hear popping or clicking sounds when you open or close your jaw. 

TMJ can be caused by one or more of several factors, including arthritis, injury or dislocation of your jaw, or misalignment. Depending on the cause, your dentist may prescribe a number of different treatments, from relaxation techniques to jaw exercises to medications. 

Heart Problems

It’s important to remember that your mouth is connected to the rest of your body, and symptoms in the mouth area can signal a problem occurring somewhere else. This is particularly true of jaw pain, which is sometimes a symptom of a heart attack. This is known as referred pain – it happens when the nerves around the heart send pain signals to other parts of the body. 

How can you tell if the jaw pain you’re experiencing is a sign of a heart attack? If chewing or speaking makes the pain worse, then it’s probably caused by something affecting your jaw, not your heart. While morning jaw pain can have several causes, your risk of heart attack is higher in the morning, so be aware that this could be a sign of a heart attack. And if your jaw pain is located on the lower left side of your jaw and accompanied by shortness of breath or pain in your shoulder or chest, you should definitely seek emergency medical attention.

If you’re experiencing pain your jaw, or anywhere else in your mouth, schedule an appointment so we can take a look.

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3 Things Your Bad Breath Might be Telling You

Halitosis, or bad breath, can be a real embarrassment. The last impression that you want to leave of yourself is as someone with stinky breath, especially if you have to meet with an employer, teacher, or romantic interest. Usually, you can avoid bad breath just by brushing and flossing your teeth conscientiously. But if you find that you still have bad breath even with frequent brushing, it could be a sign of a different problem. Take a look at some of the things that your bad breath may be trying to tell you. 

You May Be Using the Wrong Mouthwash

Mouthwash might be the first thing that you reach for if you think that you have a halitosis problem. But you might be surprised to learn that mouthwash could be contributing to the problem. Many commercial types of mouthwash have antibacterial properties, meaning that they kill bacteria in your mouth. But there are many different kinds of bacteria, and not all of them are bad. You also have good bacteria that help keep the bad bacteria – the kind that cause odors – in check. When you use an antibacterial mouthwash, it kills all the bacteria, both good and bad. The elimination of good bacteria means that the faster-growing, odor-causing bacteria can quickly proliferate, causing bad breath.  Halitosis - bad breath

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t use mouthwash, but you should consult your dentist about what kind of mouthwash you need. Your dentist will let you know whether antibacterial mouthwash is right for you and can suggest alternatives if you’re struggling with bad breath. 

You May Have A Throat Infection 

Have you ever noticed that bad breath seems to go hand-in-hand with a sore throat? That’s because the bacteria causing the throat infection can also give off an odor that’s expelled from your mouth when you breathe. Because the bacteria is in your throat, no amount of toothbrushing can get rid of the odor. You may need an antibiotic to kill the bacteria that’s causing the throat infection. Gargling with warm salt water can help reduce the bacteria in your throat and soothe the soreness as well. 

Intractable bad breath could also be a sign of tonsil stones. These are small calcium deposits that build up and harden in your tonsils. While these stones are usually harmless and often unnoticeable, they can sometimes cause symptoms like bad breath or throat irritation. You may be able to see them – they look like small bumps on your tonsils. If they occur frequently or cause problems, you may want to consider having your tonsils removed. 

You Could Be Developing Gum Disease

You know that bacteria is at the root of your bad breath. But bacteria also causes other problems as well. Problems like gum disease. If you’re battling bad breath that never seems to go away, you may also notice that your gums are inflamed, swollen, or bleed when you brush. These are good signs that you are developing gum disease, a serious dental condition that is caused by bacteria and can lead to tooth loss.

Gum disease is not only bad for your breath and your dental health, it’s also linked to other serious conditions, like heart disease and strokes. In a way, your bad breath could be an early indicator that you’re at risk for heart disease. Taking care of your gums as soon as you notice a problem can stop gum disease in its tracks and help ward off more serious problems as well. 

If you can’t seem to get a handle on your halitosis, a visit to the dentist is in order. Contact us to find an office.

3 Ways to Relieve Tooth Sensitivity

When teeth are sensitive, ordinary actions like taking a sip of your drink or a bite of your dinner can become pretty painful – sometimes without much warning. If the sensitivity persists for some time, eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth can become difficult chores that you must approach carefully in order to avoid pain. There are a number of things that can cause tooth sensitivity – decay, injury, infection, even worn tooth enamel. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to just live with tooth sensitivity and learn to work around it. Take a look at these three things that you can do to relieve it. 

Fluoride TreatmentsFluoride hardens your enamel and can help stop sensitivity.

Fluoride hardens your enamel and can help stop sensitivity.

The hard material that covers your teeth is called enamel. It protects the more fragile dentin that makes up a lower layer of the tooth. But enamel that is weakened or worn can leave lower levels of the tooth more exposed, resulting in tooth sensitivity. 

Fluoride works to strengthen and harden tooth enamel. That’s why it’s added to oral hygiene products and water supplies. If your tooth enamel is particularly weak, causing sensitivity, your dentist may recommend additional fluoride treatments. These treatments can help bring strength to the enamel, relieving the sensitivity. 

Dental Procedures

If your tooth sensitivity is caused by decay or infections, you may need a dental procedure of some kind to fix it. For example, you may need a filling or a crown – or an existing filling or crown may have failed and need to be replaced. If you have a tooth infection, your dentist can prescribe antibiotics to get rid of it. 

Infections that affect your gums can cause gum disease, which can contribute to sensitivity by causing your gums to recede, exposing the tooth root. In that case, you may need to be treated for gum disease. Your oral surgeon can perform a gum graft, which will provide protection for the tooth root. In cases where the infection involves the tooth root and inner pulp, you may need a root canal to preserve the tooth and relieve sensitivity. 

Dental Hygiene Changes

A new toothbrush or toothpaste can help relieve your tooth sensitivity.

A new toothbrush or toothpaste can help relieve your tooth sensitivity.

If your teeth are healthy, but simply more sensitive than the average patient’s teeth, your dentist may recommend some changes to your dental hygiene routine. For example, you may want to try using a softer-bristled toothbrush, and adjusting your brushing technique so that you aren’t scrubbing your teeth as hard. 

Your dentist may also recommend using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. These varieties of toothpaste contain potassium nitrate, an ingredient that desensitizes the nerves that are causing you pain. It will cut down on the pain you feel while brushing, and with repeated use, it will prevent you from feeling sensitivity while you eat or drink. For the most effective treatment of your tooth sensitivity, it’s important to know what’s causing the pain, and for that, you need to visit your dentist. 

The Columbian's Best of Clark County Contest is On!

It's that time of year again! 

The Columbian is hosting their 11th annual Best of Clark County contest, and Gentech Dentist is IN IT to WIN IT! 

Please take the time to nominate Gentech Dentist for Best Dentist! We won Best Dentist in 2013 & 2015, but came up just short (in the top 3) for the last two years. 

The Columbian is hosting the Best of Clark County Contest for 2018!Nominating is easy!

  1. Go to The Columbian's Best of Nomination page
  2. Type "Gentech Dentist"
  3. Enter your name & email
  4. Scroll down and click 'Submit'

FIRST nominate, THEN vote. Nominations end at 11:59pm on Monday, February 26th! Only the top 5 dentists go through to the final voting stage. We appreciate your help to us get there! #BOCC18

February is National Children's Dental Health Month

Did you know that childhood cavities can affect your child's permanent teeth?

Do you know when you should take your child to their first dental appointment?

What is the best way to prevent cavities in children?

Check out the infographic below for some great tips, as well as our previous blog post for more info on children's oral care. Schedule your child's appointment online here:

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Saliva: Oral Health's MVP

Saliva_sm.jpg

The Importance of Saliva

Saliva is such an ordinary thing that you probably haven’t given it much thought, but it’s actually as important to the healthy function of our mouths as oil is to a working car engine. Saliva is an essential component of our ability to eat, taste our favorite foods, and speak. It’s crucial to a healthy immune system, and it’s our first line of defense against many oral health problems.
 

Saliva Production And Stages

In a healthy mouth, saliva is produced continuously by the salivary glands, which are located under our tongues and in our cheeks. These glands produce between two and six cups of saliva every day! Saliva is 98-99 percent water, and the rest consists of proteins, digestive enzymes, antimicrobial factors, and electrolytes.

Depending on where food is in the digestive process, saliva goes through a few different stages: cephalic, buccal, oesophageal, gastric, and intestinal. When you smell something delicious and your mouth waters, that’s the cephalic stage! Actually eating moves it to the buccal stage, which helps us swallow food. The oesophageal stage helps move swallowed food down the esophagus.

The last two stages are less pleasant, but still important. If you’re about to throw up, your salivary glands work overtime in the gastric stage so that the stomach acid won’t do as much damage when it comes up and out with the partially digested food. The intestinal stage is similar, activating when the body doesn’t agree with food that reaches the upper intestine.

Saliva And Oral Health

There are many reasons we have saliva, but the most important role it plays for your teeth is keeping your mouth’s pH balanced, and flushing away remnants of food to keep everything clean. Eating food tends to make our mouths more acidic, and even though the enamel on our teeth is the hardest substance in our bodies, it only takes a pH of 5.5 to start dissolving it. Many of the foods we eat are far more acidic than that, which makes saliva critical in protecting our teeth.

The antimicrobial factors in saliva also fight bacteria, protecting us against gum disease and bad breath. Growth factors in saliva are why injuries in your mouth (like a burned tongue or a bitten cheek) heal faster than injuries elsewhere on the body. And those are just the benefits to oral health, but saliva does much more.

When The Spit Runs Dry…

All of these benefits are why dry mouth is such a serious problem. It can happen for a number of reasons. Our mouths tend to go dry in stressful situations. We also tend to produce less saliva in old age. Drug use, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all cause dry mouth as well. Unfortunately, many prescription medications cause dry mouth as a side effect.

Let’s Get That Mouth Watering!

If you’ve been experiencing dry mouth for any reason, schedule an appointment with us. We can discover the cause and get that saliva flowing again so that you won’t miss out on any of its great health benefits!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

4 Things to Know About Caring for Temporary Crowns

Dental Crowns

If your dentist has scheduled you for a root canal and crown placement, you will likely need to have a temporary crown placed over your tooth before having the permanent crown cemented. While you’re waiting for the permanent crown, a temporary crown allows you to eat normally. 

Watch What You Eat

Avoid hard and sticky foods if you have a temporary crown in, waiting for your dental crown to come in

Temporary crowns are held in place with cement, but it’s not as firm as the cement used for permanent crowns – after all, your dentist will need to be able to easily remove it in a few weeks in order to put the permanent crown in place.

Avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where the temporary crown is located. Also avoid sticky or hard foods that might crack the crown, or pull it out of your mouth.

Don’t Neglect Brushing and Flossing

You may be tempted to avoid brushing and flossing around the tooth with the temporary crown, but resist the temptation.  The seal isn’t as tight as it would be on a permanent crown, and food particles or bacteria could get underneath the temporary crown and cause cavities on the prepared tooth. Normal brushing and flossing should not be enough to dislodge the crown. 

Know What to do If the Crown Comes Off

Dental crowns can come in different shapes, sizes, and materials.

If your temporary crown pops off, try to gently slide it back in place. If you can’t, or if you lose the temporary crown, contact your dentist to have the crown replaced. 

Don’t try to finish out the time until your permanent crown placement without the temporary crown in place. Not only will the tooth underneath be sensitive to cold and hot temperatures (potentially painful without it), your tooth might also move without the temporary crown to stabilize it. This could cause problems when it’s time to place the permanent crown. 

Don’t Put Off Your Next Appointment

Temporary crowns are designed to only last for a short amount of time, so it’s important to keep your next appointment to have the permanent crown put in place. You shouldn’t have the temporary crown for more than two or three weeks. 

If you have questions about temporary crowns, don’t hesitate to bring your concerns up to your dentist. If you’re in need of crowns or other dental work, contact us to schedule an appointment.

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3 Things Baby Boomers Need to Know About Oral Health

Aging and Oral Health

One inescapable fact of getting older is that you end up having to deal with health problems that you never had to deal with before. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in poor health, just that your health needs have changed as a result of aging. Your nutritional needs are different, your sleep needs are different, and your activity & exercise needs are different. It should come as no surprise that your dental health needs are different as well. 

Dry Mouth Is More Than Just a Minor Problem

Oral health problems in baby boomers

Dry mouth is not an uncommon experience for baby boomers.

You may experience dry mouth more frequently than you did in your younger years. You may be tempted to brush this off as an annoying, but minor, irritation. However, dry mouth can be a big problem for your dental health. Your mouth uses saliva to wash bacteria away from your teeth – if you don’t have enough of it, decay-causing bacteria has more of a chance to cause cavities in your teeth. Increased bacteria in your mouth can also lead to more painful tooth infections.

Dry mouth isn’t just a normal aspect of aging. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, it has a cause. It could be caused by a medication, for example, or by hormone fluctuations. Getting to the root cause of your dry mouth can not only make you more comfortable, it can prevent major dental problems in the future. 

Age Is A Risk Factor For Oral Cancer

When most people think of oral cancer, they think of smoking, and it’s true that smoking is a significant risk factor. But there are other risk factors, and age itself is one of them – one that you have no control over.

Oral cancer is very survivable if it’s caught early enough. It has an 83% survival rate if caught before it begins to spread. Once it spreads past the closest lymph nodes to faraway parts of the body, that rate drops to just 38%. Regular oral cancer screenings can help ensure that if you do develop oral cancer, it’s caught during the oral stages when it can be more easily and successfully treated. 

Gum Disease Can Lead to Other Serious Health Conditions

Oral health problems don’t just stay in your mouth – they affect the rest of your body as well. Gum disease is a prime example. If you suffer from gingivitis, your risk of serious conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes all increase significantly. It’s more important now than ever to work with your dentist to keep your gums healthy, and to address early signs of gum disease right away. 

What is dental plaque?

You know that good dental hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, is an important part of preventing cavities, decay, and other tooth problems. You probably have even heard about the importance of removing plaque from your teeth. But what is plaque? Where does it come from? What does it do? 

It’s Alive!

What is plaque?

Flossing doesn’t just remove crumbs caught between your teeth. It also removes tiny bacteria living there.

If there’s anything that should inspire you to brush your teeth more consistently, it’s the idea of tiny living things growing on your teeth. And guess what? That’s just what plaque is.

Dental plaque is what’s known as a biofilm. Biofilms are sticky coatings made of microorganisms that adhere to each other and to a surface. In the case of dental plaque, the microorganisms are bacteria that inhabit your mouth. 

How Plaque Grows

Plaque is always forming on your teeth. The process works like this:

  • First, a layer of saliva, called the dental pellicle, forms on the surface of the teeth.
  • Soon, bacteria begin to bind themselves to the pellicle. 
  • Once attached, the bacteria begin to multiply, spreading to other parts of the mouth.
  • The bacteria begin to form microcolonies, and they secrete a protective coating known as the slime layer.
  • The microcolonies grow larger and more complex.
  • The film develops its own rudimentary circulatory system. 

The only way to interrupt the cycle is by brushing the plaque off of your teeth. And don’t underestimate the importance of flossing as well. Even if your teeth are perfectly straight, the surfaces on the sides of your teeth are covered by other teeth, and your toothbrush’s bristles can’t reach in-between them. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque from these areas. If your teeth are crooked, you may have even more overlapping tooth surfaces that require plaque removal.

What Happens When Plaque is Not Removed?

Tools for removing plaque and tartar.

If you don’t remove plaque with your toothbrush, your dentist may need stronger tools to get the job done.

 If you don’t remove the dental plaque from your teeth, the bacteria have free reign to continue to grow. They feed on the same food particles and beverages that you put in your mouth and convert sugars and starches into enamel-eroding acids. 

Over time, the plaque that’s not removed can harden. This happens when the plaque absorbs minerals that are in your saliva. This harder, more difficult to remove plaque has a different name: tartar. While brushing and flossing can clean the plaque off of your teeth, tartar is a more intractable problem. Plaque is sticky, but soft enough to come off on your toothbrush or floss. Tartar usually needs to be removed with special tools at your dentist’s office. 

Plaque and tartar not only form on the visible surfaces of the teeth, they also form just below the gumline. If you don’t regularly brush and floss, the plaque and tartar that build up under your gums can eventually cause gum disease. This is a serious problem, as gum disease is linked to several dangerous health problems, like heart disease and strokes. 

You can fight plaque by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once daily, as well as with regular visits to your dentist.