The Relationship Between Diabetes and Dental Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes today. Diabetes can cause a number of problems, including increased risk of stroke and heart disease, increased risk of infection, visual disturbances such as cataracts and glaucoma, and many more. Yet another thing that is negatively affected by diabetes is your teeth. What’s more, these problems exacerbate the symptoms of diabetes, trapping patients in a vicious cycle. At St. Petersburg Dental Center, we believe that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way; to that end, we offer these details about diabetes and dental health in hopes that you develop a better understanding of how important it is for your health — dental and overall — to control your blood sugar.
Diabetes and Your Teeth
Ultimately, it’s high blood sugar that causes all health problems for those who have diabetes. When blood sugar is elevated, white blood cells — the body’s first defense against bacteria infections — become compromised. When this happens, the following are more likely to occur:
- Xerostomia, or Dry Mouth — Saliva helps naturally clean your teeth; without it, bad breath, ulcers, and tooth decay can occur.
- Gingivitis and Periodontitis — When the white blood cells are weakened, it is more difficult for your body to fight off infections; this includes all forms of gum disease, as they are the result of infection.
- Diminished Ability to Heal — When blood sugar is not controlled, blood flow is reduced; as a result, any wound that needs to heal, whether from infection or surgery, will take longer than it would if sugar levels were as they should be.
- Thrush — A fungal infection of the mouth, thrush thrives on the high glucose levels of diabetics; thrush is more likely to occur in those who wear dentures and can also lead to a burning sensation in the mouth and tongue.
These are bad enough, but all of them affect insulin levels. When insulin levels are elevated, these problems occur, and elevate insulin levels … you get it.
An Ounce of Prevention
There are definitely things that can reduce the diabetic’s chances of experiencing the problems mentioned above; first and foremost, controlling their blood sugar. They can also:
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist every six months.
- Share the name of your doctor with your dentist (and vice versa) so that they can work together to make sure your blood sugars are normalized before any procedures.
- Follow post-cleaning and post-operative instructions to the letter to promote faster healing.
- Seek immediate treatment if you develop a sore in your mouth.
If you have diabetes, you’ve got enough on your plate without having to worry about losing your teeth. At our St. Petersburg and Clearwater offices, we can help you attain the dental health you need so that you can concentrate on getting your blood sugar under control.
Whether you’re following the Bucs or Lightening from home or camping out in front of the stadium, food is a HUGE part of why sports are so enjoyable. We love a good tailgate, but as we’re munching down on treats, there’s something else on our minds: teeth. A lot of the foods and beverages served at sporting events can cause damage to your beautiful smile. Is it too late for you? Are you destined to have the mouth of an NHL hockey player?
A Sucker Punch to Your Teeth
Some of the most popular foods for sports fans may be delicious, but they could be harming your teeth. Here are a few examples:
- Chips — Potato and tortilla chips alone are great, but when they’re used as scoops for mouthwatering dips, they could almost inspire poetry. There are two problems: one is that (believe it or not) chips can literally chip your teeth and harm your dental work, the other is that tiny soggy chip particles get caught in the grooves of your teeth, where they act just like sugar and promote cavities.
- Alcohol — No matter your poison, alcohol will affect your teeth in two ways. First, the acids in beer, wine, and liquor can damage your tooth enamel, making your teeth vulnerable to decay. Second, these drinks can dehydrate you — including your mouth. When saliva doesn’t flow as it should, your teeth are even more susceptible to tooth decay. What’s more, dry mouth could lead to bad breath. If someone cries “foul,” it may be because of YOU!
- Soda — Soda pulls all the punches … and without gloves! First, sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks all contain acids, which (as indicated above) can compromise your tooth enamel. Then, while your enamel is soft and porous, the sugars penetrate and form the plaque that causes tooth decay.
- Acidic Foods — Yep! Acid again! Pickles, tomato-based salsas, wing sauce, and a whole slew of other foods are chock full of acidity.
Be a Champion!
We’re not trying to strike a low blow; we just want to keep you informed. You can still enjoy an occasional tailgate — especially if you incorporate some of the following foods:
- Fresh Veggies — Just like chips, these wholesome bad boys can deliver a nice dollop of dip to your mouth. They can also naturally clean your teeth as you chew them. After a day of junking out, some of your fellow partiers will appreciate having a healthy option at hand.
- Water — Water is everything! It will keep you and other sports fans hydrated in the Florida heat, it will keep the saliva flowing, it will help you digest all other foods, and it will rinse away particles of junky stuff from your teeth.
- Dairy — Dairy is a great way to counter acidity, plus it has calcium and proteins. Instead of a big bowl of salsa, serve a Greek yogurt-based roasted veggie dip. Instead of crackers, have bite-size slices of cheese for party-goers to nibble on. These foods support healthy bones and teeth, but they are also satiating, so you and your fellow sports fans won’t be hungry for hours.
The truth is, tailgating foods are probably okay in moderation. If you’re partying weekend after weekend, though, you may want to give your teeth (and body) a break. However often you indulge, know that we are here for you — judgement free — and will make sure your teeth stay healthy from one sports season to the next.
The St. Petersburg Dental Team
The Gold Standard of Tooth Replacement Options
In a perfect world, we would all get to keep the teeth we were born with. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts with a toothbrush and floss, tooth loss is inevitable. When a patient is told that they’ll have to lose a tooth, their mind becomes flooded with “what ifs”: What if it changes my smile? What if people assume it’s my fault? What if I have to have more teeth extracted in order to wear dentures? The good news is that we offer a replacement option that will take care of all of those “what ifs.” What is it and are you a candidate?
Dental Implants: The Basics
Simply stated, implants take the place of a missing tooth root. They are surgically implanted beneath the gum line and, as they heal, become fused with your jaw. This is where the magic happens, as the implant provides a stable structure on which we attach an individual prosthetic tooth. Stability and individual tooth placement aren’t the only benefits that implants offer, either. Others include:
- A natural-looking smile. Your prosthetic tooth will be created to match the rest of your teeth; it will look so natural, no one will know it’s not the smile you were born with.
- The ability to eat whatever you want. Because implants are as stable as natural teeth, you can eat fresh veggies and fruits, tear into some beef jerky, and enjoy your favorite chewy treats.
- An easy-to-maintain oral health routine. Simply brush after each meal, floss daily, and visit your dentist as recommended. No need for overnight soaking!
- A permanent replacement option. Unlike some other prosthetic devices, you cannot remove your implants. When cared for properly, they will last for years and years.
- A huge boost in self-confidence. When you’re proud of your smile, you’re more likely to engage in social activities, speak without fear of being misunderstood, and laugh without worrying that you’re being judged.
Are You a Candidate?
Because they are individually placed, implants are ideal for people missing a single tooth or an entire mouthful of teeth. To be a candidate for dental implants, you must:
- Be in good general health
- Have healthy gums
- Have sufficient bone mass in your jaw
- Be committed to taking care of your smile
If you or someone you know is facing tooth loss, then we just might have the perfect solution. Contact our office soon to learn more. We can’t wait to help you have the smile you want and deserve.
Why We Prefer Composite Fillings
If you have the old-fashioned, silver amalgam fillings, you already know about one of their weaknesses: they stand out. You can see them in any picture that features an open-mouth smile, laughter, or even lively conversation. Thing of it is, amalgam fillings have other drawbacks that you may not be aware of. At the St. Petersburg Dental Center, we prefer composite fillings, and here’s why:
The Problems With Amalgam
Amalgam fillings are made from a mixture of zinc, copper, silver, tin, and mercury. Aside from the obvious aesthetic concerns of silver amalgam fillings, they also pose the following problems:
- They require extensive preparation, which means we have to remove more of the tooth’s surface
- They don’t bond directly with your tooth
- Some people experience allergic reactions to the mercury in each filling
- While it has not been proven, the mercury used in amalgam fillings could be toxic
The Perks of Composites
Composite fillings, on the other hand, are made from plastic and finely ground glass particles. Composites can be made to closely match the color of your teeth, so no one will know you have fillings! Other perks include:
- They bond directly to your tooth, which means less of the tooth’s surface needs to be removed
- Because they bond directly to your tooth, your tooth is actually strengthened by the composite filling
- They are heat-cured, which makes them stronger than amalgam fillings
- There are currently no concerns about the safety of the materials used
Not only is it our job to keep your teeth healthy; we want to keep you happy with your smile, as well. Composite fillings are just one way we do both. If you live in or near our offices in St. Petersburg or Feather Sound, Florida, contact us today to learn about the other ways we can make you love your smile.
Can Summer Fun Harm Your Teeth?
It’s summertime in Florida. When the afternoon storms subside, we take full advantage of living in the Sunshine State. We enjoy backyard barbecues, bike rides with the family, trips to our many amusement parks, and other activities that provide the opportunity to create memories with our friends and loved ones. This is all fantastic … unless you’re engaging in summer activities that are harming your teeth. What does a season have to do with your dental health?
It may have started when we were kids looking forward to a long, well-deserved summer break, but adults get just as excited about summer as the little ones do. Even as grown-ups with jobs and responsibilities, we tend to live with fewer rules during the summer. Some of these activities can ultimately hurt our smiles. Here are just a few examples:
- Unhealthy snacking — During the summer, we indulge in things we normally wouldn’t. We eat ice cream to stay cool, buy sugary cereals, and munch our way through bowls of chips when we’re socializing with the neighbors. The sugars and starches on these junk foods sit on our teeth and form plaque, which leads to tooth decay. The best plan is to keep your fridge and pantry stocked with fresh fruits and veggies in order to avoid binging on unhealthy snacks. If that’s simply not possible, be sure to brush your teeth soon after you finish eating to minimize the amount of time the sugars sit on your teeth.
- Skipping on the bedtime routine — When you or your kids have been out in the hot sun all day, you’re tired. When you’re summertime tired, it’s easy to bypass face washing, teeth brushing, and flossing in favor of a few extra minutes of sack time. Missing even a few days of a well-established routine can put you or your child back to square one. When school resumes in August, you’ll be having the same arguments as always as soon as it’s time for bed. Do yourself a favor and resist all temptation to skip out on your dental health regimen.
- Engaging in sports without a mouthguard — You know what won’t look good in your family vacation photos? A chipped tooth. If you engage in any rigorous activity during the summer, particularly an activity that involves contact, be sure to wear a mouthguard to protect your smile. Even a simple game of basketball with your kids can result in a fall that could not only harm your teeth, but cause great pain, as well.
The folks at the St. Petersburg Dental Center are here for you no matter what the season. If you happen to experience a summer-related dental emergency, remember that, with two offices and extended hours, we can help. In the meantime, enjoy your summer!
Busting the Most Common Dental Myths: Part 1
In some cases, myths have an almost sacred status: From Prometheus giving fire to humanity to Elvis being alive and well in a small Tennessee town, we believe these stories with all our hearts. This is also true of dental myths. No matter how unverified or unsubstantiated, these stories are passed on from person to person, much like the folklore that has entertained us for centuries. Thing of it is, some of these dental myths are not only wrong, they’re dangerous, as well. In the interest of setting the record straight, the folks at the St. Petersburg Dental Center are ready to bust some of the most common dental myths.
Myth #1 — Don’t Brush or Floss If Your Gums Are Bleeding
This one takes a direct hit to the hearts of dentists everywhere. The fact is, your gums are bleeding because you don’t properly brush or floss. If you notice light bleeding when you properly care for your teeth, you may be in the beginning stages of gum disease, known as gingivitis. At this point, your gum disease is reversible, so do NOT put off treatment.
Myth #2 — There Is No Need To Care For Baby Teeth
Unless you want a mouthful of overlapping, misaligned adult teeth. Here are the facts: Baby teeth guide the adult teeth into the proper positions. When the baby teeth rot to the point that extraction is required, the way the adult teeth erupt is anyone’s guess. An additional reason to care for baby teeth is to establish good dental health as early as possible; unless you want to fight with your kids every time they have to brush or floss, start caring for their teeth as soon as they begin to erupt.
Myth #3 — Whitening Damages Tooth Enamel
This common misconception may be a result of the tooth sensitivity that patients experience after a whitening treatment. This side effect is completely normal and passes within a couple of days if not earlier. The truth is that, under the care of a dental professional, teeth whitening is as safe as brushing your teeth. If you’ve been putting off whitening for fear of damaging your teeth, then wait no longer.
We hear so many other absurdities from our patients, which is why this is only part one of our Dental Mythbusting series. As you eagerly await the next installment, remember that the team at St. Petersburg Dental Center is here to help you discern between fact and fiction. With locations in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Pinellas County residents should be well-versed in the truth.
The Perfect Fix For Almost Any Dental Flaw
They’re stained. They’re crooked. They look like fangs … very few of us are perfectly content with our smiles. Though other people probably don’t take notice, all we see when we look in the mirror is a row of ecru imperfections. We’d like to make changes, but cosmetic dental treatments are involved and costly … or are they? Lucky for you, we have a single solution for a number of your dental defects. What is it and how can you benefit?
The Elegance of Veneers
Dental veneers are ultra-thin porcelain shells that are crafted to cover the surface of your visible teeth. This conservative, non-invasive treatment is perfect for correcting:
- Gaps between teeth
- Rounded or squared teeth
- Overlapping teeth
- Shortened or elongated teeth
- Stained teeth
No other dental treatment can treat so many imperfections, making veneers a favorite of our patients.
Worried that a cure-all like veneers will involve a prolonged, invasive procedure? Prepare to be impressed, because veneers are actually one of the less-involved treatments we offer. While cases vary according to the original condition of the teeth, expect the following to take place when you commit to veneers:
- After we determine that your teeth and enamel are healthy enough for veneers, we will remove a thin layer of your enamel — about the same thickness as the veneers that will be placed — to prepare your teeth.
- After your teeth have been prepared, we will take an impression that will be used to create your customized veneers.
- When your veneers are ready, we will clean your teeth and score the surface to ensure that the bond between tooth and veneer is secure.
- Finally, a bonding solution will permanently adhere the veneers to your teeth. We will then polish your veneers so they reflect light (just like natural teeth) and shape them to provide look you desire.
There’s No Better Time
If you’re waiting for the perfect time to invest in yourself, then wait no longer. The time to take care of yourself and your smile is now, and we are ready to craft the look you’ve always dreamed of. The dentists at both our St. Petersburg and Clearwater offices are waiting for your call.
Yours in dental health,
The St. Petersburg Dental Center Team
No Need To Panic: We Offer Sedation Dentistry
From The Three Stooges to Seinfeld, dentists have been portrayed as masochistic mad men who love to inflict pain, either with bronze-age torture devices or outdated magazines. As far as St. Petersburg Dental Center is concerned, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we’re so concerned with patient care and comfort that we offer sedation dentistry. If you experience anxiety or excessive pain during treatment, here are some options that just might put you at ease.
This simple injection will numb your mouth and gums, allowing us to perform a number of treatments — including extractions — without you feeling a thing. You will be awake and aware during your procedure, which means that you will be able to drive yourself back home or to work and resume your day. Any residual numbness will wear off within a few hours.
Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and administered through a mask that is placed over your nose. While you will be awake during your procedure, you will feel calm and pain-free. The effects of the gas will subside a few minutes after treatment, allowing you to take care of your own transportation.
Administered intravenously, this type of sedation is ideal for those who experience anxiety during dental procedures. While you will be technically awake, it is not uncommon for those who undergo IV sedation to periodically drift off and awaken with no memory of the procedure. Unlike the other sedation options we offer, IV sedation will require a ride home.
If anxiety or fear of pain are keeping you from going to the dentist, you have nothing to fear! Not only do we provide outstanding, patient-centered dental care, we do so with sedation dentistry whenever necessary. If you’d like to experience what St. Petersburg Dental Care has to offer, contact our St. Petersburg or Clearwater location today. We look forward to seeing your smile.
Invisible Orthodontics? You Bet!
We have plenty of patients who would like to have a straighter smile, but they have bad associations with braces: the headgear, the rubber bands, the brackets that make your lips protrude … all induce nightmares of middle school. The good news is that orthodontics have come a long way since then. These days, both adults and teens with the most common orthodontic problems can enjoy treatment that no one has to know about. How? Click here to find out.
InvisalignⓇ Clear Aligners
InvisibleⓇ braces? Yes! Instead of brackets, bands, and archwires, Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic aligner trays to gently guide your teeth into the desired position. You’ll use a new set of aligner trays about every two weeks and see us every four to six weeks to make sure your smile is progressing as expected.
The most obvious benefit is that InvisalignⓇ is, well, invisible. No matter what your age, if you can avoid having “metal mouth” or “tinsel teeth,” you will. There are many other benefits to InvisalignⓇ, however, including:
- Abbreviated treatment. Invisalign users typically see results in six to 18 months.
- No eating restrictions. Simply remove your aligner trays any time you eat or drink (other than water) then replace them when you’ve finished.
- Easy care. There’s no need for floss threaders or other accoutrement when you can simply remove your aligner trays to brush and floss.
InvisalignⓇ is not for patients who lack the discipline to keep their aligner trays in for at least 22 hours a day. Patients must also be able to brush their teeth after every meal to avoid staining (which could prove to be difficult for kids and teenagers during the school year).
If you’ve been thinking of orthodontics but have avoided it due to previous conceptions, now’s the time to act. InvisalignⓇ will give you the straight teeth you’ve always wanted without the trappings of old-fashioned orthodontics. Call our St. Petersburg or Clearwater office today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you.
Whatever You Do, Replace That Tooth!
At St. Petersburg Dental Center, our doctors will do everything it takes to save a tooth. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, an extraction is necessary. This can be a worrisome time for patients: Will the missing tooth be obvious? How will others’ perceptions of them change when their smile changes? Are there reasonable replacement methods that will restore their smile? We’re happy to tell you that, not only are there replacement options for a missing tooth, but they are far more than cosmetic. If you lose even a single adult tooth, you should replace it as soon as possible. Here’s why:
- Your teeth need each other. When one tooth is missing from an arch, the remaining teeth begin to shift.
- Crooked teeth are sometimes harder to clean. If your teeth crowd when they shift, they can be more difficult to clean effectively. If you can’t clean between your teeth properly, then you increase your risk of decay, gum disease, and even further tooth loss.
- Crooked teeth can lead to misaligned bites. When the top and bottom teeth don’t come together as they should, chewing and even speaking can become more difficult.
- Misaligned bites can cause jaw problems. If your bite isn’t correctly aligned, your jaw will try to compensate. This can lead to ear aches, headaches, shoulder and neck pain, and even disorders of the temporomandibular (jaw) joints.
- When teeth are missing, so are the tooth roots that used to reside in the jaw. Without those roots firmly planted where they’re intended to be, your jaw bone can become compromised.
- The shape of your face could change (and not for the better). Weakened jaw bones and multiple missing teeth cause the sunken in look that is associated with old age.
Our favorite solution for tooth loss is dental implants. While there are others available, only implants are permanent and offer the appearance, stability, and function of natural teeth. If you’ve been missing a tooth or two but haven’t considered your replacement options, then act quickly. The faster you replace a tooth, the less likely you are to suffer from any of the aforementioned complications.
We hope you never need them, but both our Clearwater and St. Petersburg locations offer extractions, dental implants, and other restorative dentistry services. Contact one of our offices today to schedule an appointment and preserve the integrity of your smile.