Tag Archives: Oral Hygiene

How Tooth Decay Can Cause Other Health Problems

Poor oral hygiene can wreak chaos inside your mouth because it can result in tooth decay. Did you know it can also impact your overall health? Adequate oral care not only gives you a bright smile, but it also improves the rest of your body’s health.

Find out more about tooth decay.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is damage to a tooth’s surface, also known as the enamel. It occurs when the bacteria in your mouth produce acids that attack your enamel. Untreated tooth decay can result in mouth pain and infection, and its effects can spread to the rest of your body; this can lead to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other conditions.

Discover more about the correlation between tooth decay and your overall health.

Heart Attacks and Strokes

If you fail to brush and floss your teeth daily, it may lead to plaque build-up. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. Believe it or not, too much of it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Most people are under the false impression that only cholesterol can lead to blocked arteries. Still, research by the American Heart Association proves the bacteria in plaque contributes to artery blockage. It can get into your bloodstream and may clog your heart’s arteries, which can result in a heart attack or stroke.


If you have diabetes, tooth decay can aggravate it. If left untreated, it can lead to gum inflammation, also known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious health condition in which the gums become inflamed to the point where they start pulling away from teeth and
form gaps.

Unfortunately, these gaps usually become infected. If you have diabetes, an infection can make it difficult for your body to absorb insulin medication. Without insulin, your blood sugar levels may remain perpetually low. High blood sugar can exacerbate oral infections, which results in more inflammation; it’s a vicious cycle you may not be able to break from.

For these reasons, it’s detrimental for people with diabetes to maintain good oral health.

Can Tooth Decay Affect My Pregnancy?

Expecting mothers know they need to take prenatal vitamins, avoid certain foods and drinks, and frequently visit their doctor for check-ups. If you’re pregnant, you’re likely not thinking about your oral health because there are several other items you need to take care of. However, you should prioritize your oral health for the sake of your baby’s wellbeing.

An increase in pregnancy hormones can negatively impact your oral health, particularly if you already have existing problems such as tooth decay. If your tooth decay results in periodontitis, it can put your baby at risk of being born prematurely or underweight. Maintaining excellent oral health can protect you and your baby, so in addition to seeing your gynecologist, you should visit your dentist.

Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah

Brushing and flossing your teeth is the best way to prevent tooth decay. However, if your dentist determines you have tooth decay and it’s lead to other oral problems, you may need surgery. The board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah specialize in dental implants, tooth extraction, impacted canines, and other procedures. Schedule your consultation today.

How Tooth Decay Can Cause Other Health Problems

What Your Tongue Is Trying To Tell You

Have you ever inspected your tongue? Believe it or not, your tongue’s appearance says a lot about your health. For example, a black tongue can signal poor oral hygiene, and it’s also one of the first symptoms of diabetes.

Start paying attention to your tongue’s health, and don’t ignore any irregularities. Continue reading to learn more about the correlation between your tongue and physical well-being. 

Understanding Your Tongue’s Anatomy

It’s easy to downplay your tongue’s role because most people only pay attention to their teeth when it comes to oral health. However, your tongue is a muscular organ that deserves as much attention and care as the rest of your body. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to chew, swallow food, or talk. 

Covered in moist, pink tissue called mucosa, your tongue has papillae, tiny bumps that give your tongue its rough texture. Taste buds are a collection of nerve-like cells that connect to nerves running into your brain. Thousands of them cover the surfaces of your papillae. 

A tongue is anchored to the mouth by webs of tough tissue and mucosa. The tether holding down the front of the tongue is called the frenum. Tongues are attached to the hyoid bone in the back of the mouth. 

The four familiar tastes are sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Your tongue has thousands of nerves that detect and transmit taste signals to your brain. Additionally, there’s a fifth taste called umami, which you can experience by tasting glutamate.

White Patches on Your Tongue

If you notice white patches on your tongue, don’t worry just yet. Most of the time, white patches aren’t an indicator of poor oral health. However, sometimes they’re linked to an overgrowth of yeast in your mouth. 

Brush your teeth twice a day and pay extra attention to your tongue for the next two weeks; brush it for 30 seconds. If the patches are still there, you likely have an oral yeast infection. 

Fortunately, you can cure this condition at home by brushing your teeth every day and using an antifungal mouth rinse. 

Black Hairy Tongue

Black hairy tongue is a condition that can stem from an oral yeast infection, diabetes, cancer therapies, or poor oral hygiene. Usually, a tongue becomes black and hairy due to a buildup of dead skin cells on the papillae. 

You don’t need medical care for this condition; all you have to do is practice oral hygiene and brush your tongue with a tongue scraper. 

Dark Red Tongue

Your tongue usually turns red when you have a sore throat. However, if it’s strawberry red and you have a headache, you might have scarlet fever; it’s time to take a trip to your doctor’s office. A red, swollen tongue can also be a symptom of vitamin deficiency. Take your vitamins and brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.

Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah

If your tongue’s irregularities persist, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist might recommend you to an oral surgeon if they detect you have an underlying condition that needs advanced treatment. The board-certified surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah are experts in all fields of oral care. Schedule your consultation today. 

    What Your Tongue Is Trying To Tell You

Water Flossing Versus Flossing

Recently, water flossing has become more and more popular. Whether you get a Waterpik machine, a specialty toothbrush with water flossing capabilities, or some other form, water flossing is becoming much more accessible. So, what is it? Is it good for you? Should it replace your traditional flossing with string floss? We’ve got some answers for you. 

Water Flossing

Water flossing, also known as water picking, has many advantages. Water picking is an easy to use a machine that uses a high-pressure stream of water to remove food particles and plaque from teeth. This action can massage gums, improving gum health, and reach areas that traditional floss may not reach. The pressure of the water can push food particles away from the teeth and clean them at the same time. 

Water picking does require a water picking device, which can be expensive. Using a water pick is fairly simple. Fill the water reservoir and adjust the pressure. While leaning over a sink, use the tip of the water pick to shoot water in between teeth and along the gumline. Start with the back teeth and move forward. When finished, eject tip and clean the device.  

Traditional Flossing 

Dentists have preached traditional flossing for decades—and for a good reason. It’s an extremely effective method of removing food particles and plaque from teeth. Flossing is a cheap and easily accessible method of oral care. It can be done anywhere with little effort. 

Flossing daily has long been a practice of those with good oral hygiene. When flossing is not part of your daily routine, you become vulnerable to gum disease. If gum disease does occur, the gums will swell and bleed when you floss. Even so, flossing is still relevant.  Flossing less can lead to more gum sensitivity. 

Water Flossing vs. Traditional Flossing

Though both of these techniques can be beneficial to your oral health, water flossing should not replace traditional flossing. Water flossing is an excellent addition to your oral hygiene routine, but it is no substitute for flossing. 

According to a study done in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, those who used both traditional string floss and water flossing saw a 74.4% reduction in plaque. In comparison, those who just used string floss had a 57.7% reduction in plaque. 

Using both water flossing and traditional flossing can combat plaque and keep your teeth healthy longer. Reduce chances of gum disease and tooth decay with multiple flossing techniques. 

For the best oral health brush twice daily, floss with string floss daily, floss with a water pick where possible and visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups. Work fluoride in your routine where possible for the best results.

Water Flossing Versus Flossing

The Effects of Pacifiers on Your Child’s Oral Health

Is there reason to be concerned about pacifiers? It’s true that they can impact the oral health of your child—both negatively and positively. It all depends on how and when your baby is using their pacifier. In some situations, pacifiers can impact the dental development of your baby—this is commonly referred to as pacifier teeth. 

Are pacifiers bad for your baby?

Pacifiers are not necessarily bad for your baby if they are weaned off of them before the age of two. After that, teeth start to develop, and oral health can be impacted. As the jaw develops, if there is consistently a pacifier, a thumb, or other obstruct in it, the jaw will develop around it. This can lead to an overbite, underbite, misaligned teeth, changes in the roof of the mouth, or other issues. In short, if a baby used a pacifier long term, it can impact the shape of their mouth and the alignment of their teeth. Sucking a thumb can have a similar effect. 

Pacifiers can also lead to other issues. Babies who are six months or older and still using a pacifier are at higher risk for ear infections—introducing a baby to a pacifier before one month can create problems with breastfeeding. 

Benefits of a Pacifier

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, there can be many benefits to a baby using a pacifier between the ages of one month and six months. It’s natural for a baby to enjoy sucking—it can be very soothing for them. Giving them a pacifier can prevent them from using their thumb. Though there is no real harm in thumb sucking, it is much more difficult to wean off of. You can take away a pacifier, but you can’t take away a thumb. It’s also easier to keep a pacifier clean and germ-free. 

According to a study done by the American Academy of Family Physicians, pacifiers can reduce a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.)  

Weaning the Pacifier 

It seems that the key to using a pacifier is to wean off of it before it can cause damage. There are many methods for helping your baby break the pacifier habit. Praises and rewards when they don’t use the pacifier can be helpful. Giving them a little extra help or comfort when they usually use their pacifier is also a good idea. It’s crucial to avoid punishments or scolding regarding the pacifier; this can lead to other issues and has proven to be ineffective. 

No matter your baby’s pacifier habits, be sure that you are caring for your little one’s teeth.  Keep them clean by brushing them twice daily with toothpaste formulated for infants or babies. Reduce their risk of pacifier teeth and other oral issues and start good oral hygiene early on.

The Effects of Pacifiers on Your Child’s Oral Health

5 Ways To Improve Your Oral Health

You may have good oral hygiene habits, but you can always do more. Incorporating these habits into your daily routine can help you to keep tooth decay at bay. Even if you have good oral hygiene, you can be susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems.

1. Floss Daily

No other dental practice can replace diligent flossing. A natural survey conducted by Colgate discovered that about 1 in 4 adults do not floss daily. Flossing effective removes food from between teeth cannot be reached in any other way. Be sure that you are flossing at least once a day to remove food residue and plaque. It may be a good idea to get into the habit of flossing at night before bed to remove any food particles that have built up throughout the day. Flossing daily will help you to avoid tooth decay and gum disease.

2. Try Antibacterial Mouthwash

Bacteria can easily build up in your mouth throughout the day, leading to bad bread, tooth decay, or gum disease. Mouthwash can help to reach crevices and clean germs away that brushing cannot. Mouthwash can give you fresher breath while also fighting cavities and gum disease. When choosing your mouthwash, be sure that you go with antibacterial. It is also important to avoid mouthwash with high amounts of alcohol—alcohol can cause dry mouth and cancel out the benefits of mouthwash.

3. Get a Better Toothbrush

Even if you are brushing twice a day, it may not be very effective if you’re are using an old and soft-bristled toothbrush. You don’t necessarily need a fancy electric brush or tough bristles; these things can actually harm your oral health if you’re not careful. With use, toothbrushes wear down over time and become less effective. You should be replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months to ensure that you are effectively removing plaque.

4. Eat More Fruits and Veggies

There are many foods out there that can help your oral health, mainly crispy fruits and vegetables. Limiting other certain foods can also improve your oral health. Foods that are high in sugar or excessively chewing can easily get caught in your teeth and lead to decay. Crispy fruits and vegetables can dislodge food particle caught in teeth, and certain antioxidants and other attributes to these foods can greatly benefit your mouth, even fighting unwanted bacteria.

5. Drink More Water

Staying hydrated benefits your health in numerous ways. Drinking water can help you avoid overeating. Plus, most tap water these days has fluoride in it, which is great for your oral health. Drinking water can also help to dislodge any food particles stuck in your mouth and encourage saliva production. You can avoid dry mouth with some hydration—dry mouth can lead to bad breath and bacteria growth.    

5 Ways To Improve Your Oral Health

What Your Tongue Says About Your Overall Health

What does a healthy tongue look like? A healthy tongue should be pink and covered in papillae (or small nodules). Any change in your tongue’s appearance or any pain could mean something more about your oral health or your overall health. When you go through your nightly routine, be sure to check your tongue. Notice any differences? In this post, we’re talking about what tongue abnormalities could mean.

If your tongue has white patches on it, it could mean a few things:

  • Oral thrush—this is a yeast infection that develops in the mouth. It usually looks like white patches in a similar consistency to cottage cheese. Oral thrush is most common in infants and the elderly.
  • Leukoplakia—this condition occurs when the cells in the mouth grow too excessively. It can be identified by white patches on the tongue and on the inside of the mouth. Leukoplakia develops when the tongue is irritated. It’s most common in tobacco users.
  • Oral lichen planus—this condition appears as little raised white lines on your tongue. Its cause is unknown, but it usually goes away on its own.

If your tongue is unusually red, it could be:

  • Vitamin deficiency—both vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies can cause a red tongue.
  • Geographic tongue—this is a condition that leaves a pattern similar to a map of reddish spots on the surface of the tongue. It is usually harmless.
  • Scarlet fever—this is an infection that can lead to the tongue looking red and bumpy, similar to a strawberry. Antibiotics are usually necessary to kill the infection.  
  • Kawasaki disease—this condition can also lead to a strawberry-like appearance on the surface of the tongue. It’s usually seen in children under the age of 5 and often accompanied by a high fever. It is a serious condition. If you suspect Kawasaki disease, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If your tongue is sore and bumpy, it may mean:

  • Trauma—have you recently bit or burnt your tongue? Grinding or clenching teeth can also irritate your tongue and mouth.
  • Smoking—smoking irritates your tongue and throat. It can lead to soreness.
  • Canker sores—mouth ulcers are common and can develop on the tongue. It can be caused by stress. They normally heal on their own but can also be treated by ointments.
  • Oral cancer—signs of oral cancer can appear in your mouth and on your tongue. A lump or sore on your tongue that doesn’t go away on its own, usually within two weeks, seek an evaluation from a medical professional. Oral cancer usually is not painful in its early stages, but it much easier to deal with if caught early on.  
What Your Tongue Can Says About Your Overall Health

How To Prevent Dry Mouth

Dry mouth or xerostomia occurs when your salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva, leaving your mouth feel dry and uncomfortable. It can be caused by many different factors—medications, other health issues, stress, nutritional deficiencies, etc. Changing a few of your oral health care habits and eating habits may be able to solve the problem for you.

  • Chew gum—chewing will help you produce salvia. For better dental health, be sure that it’s sugar-free gum.
  • Avoid mouthwash with alcohol—many types of mouthwash contain high levels of alcohol, which will dry out your mouth. Look for a mouthwash with no alcohol, and preferably with fluoride.  
  • Drink more water—sipping water regularly throughout the day will help to keep your mouth damp. Dehydration could be causing your dry mouth. According to the Mayo Clinic, men should be drinking about 3 liters of water a day and women should be drinking about 2.2 liters of water a day. Water can also to cleanse your mouth, increase your saliva flow, and wash out harmful bacteria.
  • Limit caffeine intake—caffeine can dry out your mouth. You make find that second cup of coffee each day is drying out your mouth.
  • Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes—if you are having trouble producing salvia, look for products to help. Some of these may include Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray or Mouth Kole.  
  • Don’t take antihistamines and decongestants—certain over-the-counter medications can worsen dry mouth.
  • Quit smoking—smoking can cause dry mouth and slow down your body’s production of saliva.
  • Use a humidifier—many people sleep with their mouths open and experience dry mouth at night. If you must sleep with your mouth open, try using a humidifier. It could make a big difference for your mouth.
  • Suck on a mint or sugar-free candy—sucking will also produce salvia. If your mouth is feeling dry, pop in a mint. Plus, you’ll have fresher breath!
  • Breathe through your nose—this may seem like a no brainer, but if you aren’t breathing through your mouth, it won’t be as dry. You can also produce more salvia when your mouth is closed.
  • Incorporate fluoride into your routine—fluoride is extremely beneficial to your teeth in many ways. Be sure that you are brushing with fluoride toothpaste. You can also use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel for extra fluoride protection.
  • Practice good oral hygiene—having overall good oral health will help you prevent dry mouth. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once a day, and visit your dentist for cleanings semi-annually.  

If your symptoms continue or worsen, see a dentist. There are medications that can help, or it’s possible your dry mouth is being caused by another underlying condition. For long-term relief from dry mouth, see your dentist.


Cavity Prevention Tips

A cavity is tooth decay. Over time, a cavity can create a hole in a tooth. If left untreated, decay will continue to spread and worsen. Cavities can be painful, but they can also go unnoticed. Cavity treatments usually include a filling that will prevent decay growth and allow you to return to your everyday life eating and chewing without any pain. Cavities don’t need to be a big problem, but if left untreated, they can become a problem. If you are experiencing any teeth pain, be sure to visit your dentist.

Though cavities are not reversible, they are preventable. There are simple, everyday habits that can help you avoid the pain of cavities. Work these habits in your life for a healthier smile that will last throughout your life.

1. Brushing Twice Daily

The best way to prevent cavities is to practice good oral care. That starts with brushing your teeth—no surprise there. Brushing every morning and night will help to keep your teeth healthy and free of plaque. You can ensure that your brushing is effective as you use toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride has been proven in multiple studies to greatly improve oral health and prevent cavities.

2. Floss Daily

Flossing is a great way to prevent cavities. Debris from food is consistently getting caught in between your teeth. Toothbrushes often don’t get to these hard to reach places, which leaves between food to slowly eat away at the enamel protecting your teeth which will eventually lead to decay.

3. Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash cannot replace brushing or flossing, but it can add extra protection against tooth decay—especially if the mouthwash has fluoride.

4. Regular Dental Visits and Cleanings

Even if you have great oral hygiene habits, you should still visit the dentist regularly. Having your teeth professionally cleaned will certainly help to avoid cavities. You can get a good fix of fluoride at the dentist, plus if there is any decay, you can catch it early before it spreads. You should be visiting the dentist every six months.

5. Dental Sealants

Dental sealants fill in the grooves in your molars with a plastic that seal off your teeth. It can prevent food from getting cause in the grooves of your teeth and causing decay. Sealants last up to ten years.

6. Drink More Water

Drinking water is good for your health all around—including your oral health. Water can help to wash out your mouth, loosen any food debris left behind, and increase saliva production—which will also help you have fresher smelling breath. Plus, many cities have fluoride in their tap water which can also help you avoid cavities.

7. Tooth-Healthy Foods

Certain foods can also benefit your oral health. Crispy fruits and vegetables are great for your teeth. Other good options include green tea and sugar-free gum.


How Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

What Your Oral Health Says About Your Overall Health

You may not think that your oral health is connected to your overall health, but it can be. Your body is all connected. What is going on in your mouth can impact what is going on in the rest of your body. If there are health issues there, they can be spread elsewhere. Not only can your oral health be telling of other health issues that may potentially be going on in your body, but it can also impact the rest of your body.

If you have infections impacting your oral health, it is likely from bacteria growth. This growth or infection can spread to other parts of your body as well.

Gum disease, otherwise known ad periodontist, is an infection of the gums that is caused by poor oral hygiene. This infection has been connected to other health afflictions such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

As the body is fighting off oral infections, it can also lower the body’s resistance to fight other potential infections and leave you vulnerable to many unwanted conditions.  

Conditions Linked with Oral Health

There are many medical conditions that have been linked with your oral hygiene. Poor oral health can contribute to these health conditions:

  • Endocarditis—this infection of the inner lining of your heart, occurs when bacteria or germs from another part of the body (like your mouth) spreads to your heart through your bloodstream.
  • Cardiovascular disease—heart disease and other heart related conditions such as, clogged arteries, and strokes may be linked to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria growth.
  • Diabetes—gum disease is more frequent in those who have diabetes. Diabetes can reduce your body’s resistance to infection, including oral infection and gum disease.
  • Osteoporosis—this condition causes bones to become weak and brittle. It can be linked with gum disease which can lead to bone loss and tooth loss.

Other conditions that have been linked to oral health include head and neck cancers, eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and even pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weights.

How To Improve Your Oral Health

So how can you avoid your oral health from affecting your overall health? Improve your oral health. Keep your mouth healthy and avoid infection starting at all. Good oral practices include brushing at least twice daily. Flossing your teeth at least once a day. Use fluoride in your oral care. Look for toothpaste with fluoride. Be sure to visit your dentist about every six months for a semi-annual cleaning. This is also a great way to work fluoride into your oral care. You should also replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months. As the bristles wear down, they will be less effective in removing plaque from your mouth. You should also avoid tobacco to ensure better oral health.


Signs of Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection that is a result of poor dental hygiene. Gum disease starts as gingivitis and then becomes periodontitis. Gum disease is very common and easily prevented.

At certain stages, it can be reversible. If left untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, and even leave you at risk for heart and lung diseases. An infection left untreated will continue to spread and infect other parts of your body.

The Stages of Gum Disease

Gum disease starts with a built up of plaque. Plaque will start to build up on the teeth and gumline. The first stage is gingivitis—at this point, it is still reversible with some good oral hygiene habits. Getting a professional dental cleaning and practicing good habits like brushing and flossing can reserve it.

The next stage of gum disease is periodontitis. At this more advanced stage, treatment options are more invasive. Techniques may include cleaning of the surfaces of your roots, removing plaque from beneath your gum line, or even surgery.  

Signs of Gum Disease:

Early signs of gum disease can be subtle and often go unnoticed for some time. Look for these symptoms:

  1. Swollen gums—gum disease typically starts with red and swollen gums. They may or may not be tender. It’s common that they will not be painful, and thus get overlooked.
  2. Bleeding when you floss—you may start to notice some bleeding when you floss. Again, it may or may not hurt, but if there is blood, that is a sure sign of gum disease.
  3. Bad breath—this can be caused by many things. But if you are experiencing bad breath regularly and cannot determine another cause, it can be from gum disease.
  4. Gums are pulling away from teeth—gums will become less healthy and start to pull away from teeth.
  5. Change in bite—you may notice your bite slightly changing. This could be a result of teeth moving due to decay.
  6. Your permanent teeth are loose—when gums are infected, they can’t do their job. Your permanent teeth may start to loosen and even wiggle if they are attached to an unhealthy gum.

How To Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease can easily be prevented with good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day will help you to avoid many dental hiccups including gum disease. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings will also help you to prevent any sort of infection or decay. Working fluoride into your dental routine will also help you to avoid decay.

Regular dental visits will also help your catch gum disease in its early stages when it’s still reversible. Prevention and early detection are key to fighting gum disease. The longer the infection lives in your mouth the more it will spread. Avoid dealing with the woes of gum disease all together when you practice good oral care.

Signs of Gum Disease