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Dentist in Altoona IA | 9 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the Tongue

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We use our tongues every day to talk, taste, and swallow, yet we rarely take time to think about this flexible organ. Here are 9 things you may not know about the tongue:

1.      The longest recorded tongue was more than 3.8 inches from back to tip; the widest measured over 3” across.

2.      The human tongue contains 8 separate muscles intertwined.

3.      A blue whale tongue weighs about 5,400 pounds and is roughly the size of an adult elephant!

4.      Tongues come in many shapes and have varying numbers of taste buds. This makes a human tongue imprint as unique as a fingerprint.

5.      The average person has about 10,000 taste buds in their mouth.

6.      A single taste bud contains between 50 and 100 taste cells, which may have sensors for multiple tastes.

7.      No individual taste cell can identify both bitter and sweet flavors.

8.      1 milliliter of saliva contains about 1,000,000 bacteria.

9.      Using a tongue scraper to clean your tongue is proven to help prevent osteoporosis, pneumonia, heart attacks, premature births, diabetes, and male infertility.

Health issues involving the tongue are most commonly caused by bacteria or tobacco use. Proper cleaning of the tongue can help prevent these conditions from developing. However, if you notice sores, discoloration, or other symptoms, contact our office.

Some tongue-affecting illnesses include:

·         Leukoplakia – excessive cell growth characterized by white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. It is not dangerous, but can be a precursor to oral cancer.

·         Oral thrush – an oral yeast infection common after antibiotic use, often characterized by cottage-cheese like white patches on the surface of the tongue and mouth.

·         Red tongue – may be caused by a deficiency of folic acid and/or vitamin B-12.

·         Hairy tongue – black and/or hairy-feeling tongue can be caused by build-up of bacteria.

·         Canker sores – small ulcerous sores on the tongue, often associated with stress. These sores are not the same as cold sores and are not contagious.

·         Oral cancer – most sore tongue issues are not serious. However, if you have a sore or lump on your tongue that does not heal within a week or two, schedule a screening.

Resource: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/

For more information about the tongue or to schedule a screening with our doctor, contact our office.

107 8th St. SE, Altoona, IA 50009

The One Piece of Gear Every Athlete Needs

An injury to your mouth can be a painful, expensive experience. For athletes, mouth and tooth injuries are a very real risk. Mouthguards are an excellent tool for protecting your mouth from injury and harm. Our team can help you find a solution that protects your teeth while you play.

Why Wear a Mouthguard?

Mouthguards protect your teeth. For athletes, injuries to the mouth can cause cracked teeth, or even worse, missing teeth. Additionally, your mouth is mostly made up of soft tissues, such as your tongue, inside cheeks, and lips. These areas can become injured or pierced when playing sports. Mouthguards help defend your mouth and teeth against such injuries.

Do All Athletes Need a Mouthguard?

Yes. High-contact sports such as hockey, wrestling, football, and boxing pose the greatest risk for mouth injuries. However, all athletes can benefit from being cautious. Gymnasts should consider wearing one to protect their mouth in the event of a fall. Baseball and basketball players should protect themselves from being injured by a ball or collision with another player. Mouthguards should be treated as a necessary piece of your athletic gear, no matter which sport you play.

Which Mouthguard Is the Most Effective?

Our team can help you during your next visit to our office. There are many options available, ranging from store-bought to custom-fitted mouthguards. We will work with you to determine which type of mouthguard is best for you. It is important that any guard fits properly.

If you are currently receiving orthodontic treatment, we may recommend a special type of  mouthguard. Braces can puncture your mouth if impacted, particularly during sports. Our team will help you find a solution that works.

Prevention is the best solution to oral sports injuries. Contact our office and ask about finding a mouthguard that is right for you.

Maintaining Your Oral Health During Illness

Sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. Being sick can make it more difficult to keep up with your daily routine. Don’t let your cold or flu become an excuse for overlooking your oral hygiene. In fact, when you’re sick it is essential that you continue to stick to your regular brushing and flossing routine. Here are a few tips to keep you on track and on your way to getting better.

Brush After Each Meal

When you’re sick, try maintaining a schedule of brushing your teeth shortly after each meal. Your mouth can be a prime location where bacteria breed. Being extra vigilant in your brushing routine is an excellent way to minimize the multiplication of germs and bacteria.

Be Selective with Cough Drops and Lozenges

Numerous brands of cough drops and throat lozenges contain sugar. In fact, many cough drops or lozenges are similar to candy. Candy, particularly sucking candy that lasts in your mouth for an extended period of time, can lead to tooth decay. Bacteria in your mouth feeds off sugar to create acids that damage your teeth. Consider looking for drops and lozenges that are sugar free, or those that do not include corn syrup and fructose.

Rinse Carefully

If you are vomiting, keeping your mouth clean is important. Stomach acids can damage your teeth. However, brushing right away will just cause you to rub the acids all over your teeth. Instead, rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash and wait at least 20 minutes before reaching for the toothbrush.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is one of the keys to recovery. Drinking water is also an effective way to prevent dry mouth. Dry mouth can lead to decay and bad breath. Some medications you might be taking to relieve your cold or flu symptoms might dry out your mouth, so be sure to continue to drink water throughout the day.

Replace Your Brush

Once you have recovered from your illness, consider replacing your toothbrush. While it isn’t likely that you would cause yourself to get sick again, you may wish to err on the side of caution. The American Dental Association recommends that you regularly replace your toothbrush every three to four months.

When you are sick, make it a point to keep up with your oral health. Your medications or over-the-counter remedies can have an impact on your oral health. Watch out for sugar content in cough drops and throat lozenges, and stay hydrated with water to avoid dry mouth. Keeping your mouth healthy is the first step to keeping your entire body healthy.

For more oral health tips or to schedule a visit to our office, please contact us.

Dentist in Altoona IA | Picture Perfect: Your Dream Smile with Veneers

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Are you embarrassed by the look of your smile? Dental veneers might be the solution for you. Veneers are thin shells of a ceramic or composite resin material that are bonded to the front of the tooth. Veneers can transform your smile by changing the size, shape, and color of your teeth.  

How Veneers Can Help You

Veneers can cover up tooth defects that may make teeth look unpleasant. Veneers disguise tooth discoloration, injuries, or root canal procedures. Gapped, chipped, or worn down front teeth can be fixed with dental veneers.

How Veneers are Applied

Veneers will require up to 3 appointments for planning, preparation, and bonding. Deciding on either a ceramic or composite resin material will impact the length of treatment. Our team will recommend a material that is best for you. Composite resin veneers can often be done in one appointment. The veneers are carefully sculpted and bonded onto each individual tooth. Ceramic veneers may take a few days because a mold of your teeth is created to get the right fit and color made specifically for you.

What to Expect

After the procedure, it may take a few weeks to adjust to your new veneers. The size and shape of your teeth may have changed dramatically. Slight sensitivity can occur but will subside. Always brush and floss your teeth just like you would with your natural teeth. Make sure to schedule a follow up appointment so our team can check that your new smile is healthy.

Veneers offer the appearance of natural-looking teeth. The size, color, and shape are personalized to blend in with your smile. They can enhance your smile and heighten your confidence. If you think that veneers would be the perfect fit for you, schedule a consultation with our team today.

107 8th St. SE, Altoona, IA 50009

Altoona Dentist | Kill the Pain, Save the Tooth

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Root canal, or endodontic, therapy treats inflammation or infection within the pulp of a tooth. If you are awaiting your first root canal treatment, you may feel anxious or uncertain. It can be difficult to separate myth from fact when trying to learn what to expect. Here is some useful information about root canal therapy and some common misperceptions you may encounter.

Despite common belief, root canal therapy does not cause pain. Instead, it relieves the pain you are already experiencing by treating the underlying cause of the infection or inflammation. Some common reasons for tooth pulp inflammation or infection include:

  • Deep tooth decay
  • Chip or crack in tooth structure
  • Tooth root fracture
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Repeated treatment on a single tooth

Once inflammation begins, the pulp experiences swelling and pressure that cause pain. If left untreated, permanent damage to the pulp can occur, including pulp tissue death. When this happens, you may experience temporary relief of pain, but it may lead to painful infection and tooth loss.

Root canal therapy is the removal of diseased or dead pulp tissue from the inside of a tooth. We use specially designed instruments that clean out the pulp chamber and root canals. Next, we disinfect the canals with special medications and clean them once more. Finally, we seal the canals to prevent re-infection. You may experience minor discomfort for a few days, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications.

After your root canal treatment, your tooth will need a permanent restoration to replace the lost tooth structure and protect the remaining tooth. This may be a filling or crown, depending on your need. We will discuss your restoration plan with you prior to your root canal therapy.

Whenever possible, saving your natural tooth is our goal. Root canal therapy can help to preserve your tooth. To learn more about root canal therapy or to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Phone: (515) 967-4211

50009 Dentist | How Candy Threatens Your Child’s Smile

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How often does your child eat candy? According to a study conducted by the USDA Economic Research Service, children under 12 consume an average of 49 pounds of sugar in one year. While candy is not the sole source of sugar in a child’s diet, the impacts of sugary candy treats are particularly harmful to teeth. Here’s what you need to know about candy and how it might be damaging your child’s smile.

The Impact of Sugar on Teeth

The real culprit in candy is the high sugar content. Certain types of bacteria that are present in your mouth can feed on sugar. These destructive bacteria then create acid that wears away tooth enamel. When enamel is weakened, your risk of developing decay increases. Your mouth is effective at neutralizing acids and aiding minerals that strengthen enamel if the amount of sugars and acids is not excessive. Your mouth can only do so much, which makes it essential to limit your sugar intake and maintain a regular and thorough oral hygiene routine.

Watch Out for Sticky, Sugary Candies

Not all candies are made equal. For a general rule of thumb, the sticker the candy, the worse it is for your teeth. Sticky candies leave sugary residue on your teeth long after you are done eating. This gives the bacteria in your mouth more time to start demineralizing enamel. Watch out for sticky candies like gum drops and taffy.

Suckers, lollipops, and hard sucking candies are troublesome because they are in your mouth for an extended period of time. Like sticky candies, this allows for more time for harmful bacteria to get to work by weakening your teeth. You can also chip or crack a tooth if you bite too hard.

Other problematic candies include those that are gummy and coated in sugar. Think of gummy worms or another sour covered, chewy critter. Not only are they high in sugar content, but they also typically contain harmful acids that contribute to a loss of enamel.

Steps for Preventing Decay

You can help your child by limiting their candy and sugar intake. In some instances, this can be tricky and even out of your control when your child is at school or a friend’s house. What you can do is instill good oral hygiene habits in your child. Make sure they are brushing for two minutes twice each day. You can make brushing fun. Sing a song together for the two minutes, and allow them to choose a fun toothbrush and toothpaste flavor.

Candy is a fun treat. You don’t have to take it away from your child altogether, but limit their exposure to such treats and educate them about the impacts candy can have on their teeth. When left untreated, decay can spread leading to pain and infection. Maintaining a schedule of regular visits to our office is essential. More than just a cleaning, we will provide a thorough examination to check for decay.

If you haven’t already scheduled your child’s next appointment, please contact our office.

107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Phone: (515) 967-4211

Dentist in Altoona | One Simple Treatment Can Save Your Child’s Smile

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Our dentist might suggest dental sealants for your child during a visit to our office. Sealants are a way to protect your teeth against decay. With any dental treatment, it helps to understand the procedure and how it can impact your child’s oral health.

Why Get Sealants?

Sealants help to prevent tooth decay. Sealants are applied on the back teeth, where decay is most likely to develop. Our dentist will often recommend sealants for children and teens, but adults may benefit from sealants, as well.

The further your teeth are in the back of your mouth, the more difficult it can be to maintain the proper hygiene needed to keep them healthy. Sealants can prevent up to 80% of decay within the first two years alone. After 4 years, sealants continue to prevent as much as 50% of decay. Children without sealants are more than three times as likely to develop tooth decay than those with sealants.

When Should You Get Them?

Your child’s first molars usually become visible around age 6, with the second set around age 12. You will want to talk to us about the best course of action for keeping molars healthy. Sealants are most effective when they are done as soon as the molars break through. Regular examinations with our dentist will determine the best time to have sealants applied.

What Should I Expect?

Sealants are one of the simplest treatments we perform in our office. There is generally no discomfort associated with this process. We will first thoroughly clean your child’s teeth, and then use a special gel. The gel is then cleaned off before the sealant is applied. A small blue light is used to harden the sealant in a matter of moments.

What Concerns Should I Have?

There are no side-effects from sealants, and allergic reactions are extremely rare. However, talk to our doctor about any allergies your child has so we can discuss the best possible course of action.

Next Steps

Sealants last for years before needing to be reapplied. It is important to schedule regular visits to our office so that our dentist can check the condition of the sealants and teeth on an ongoing basis. If your child had sealants several years ago and you are unsure if they should be reapplied, schedule an appointment with us.

For more tips onkeeping teeth healthy and for questions about dental sealants, contact ouroffice.

107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Phone: (515) 967-4211

Altoona Dentist | Did You Forget to Pack Something?

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The year is closing and holidays are on the horizon. Are you planning year-end travel or a last-minute getaway? Before heading out on your next adventure, make sure you are prepared with these 3 quick tips for maintaining optimal dental health during travel.

  1. Properly transport your toothbrush. Instead of throwing your toothbrush into a bag with the rest of your toiletries, use a resealable plastic bag. This can reduce the amount of bacteria that gets passed on to your toothbrush.
  2. Pack sugarless gum. Gum can help relieve ear pressure during a flight and prevent dry mouth that can occur during travel. Research shows that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can also help prevent tooth decay.
  3. Brush with bottled water. If you are in another country or on a camping trip in the wilds, use bottled water to brush your teeth. This can reduce your risk of getting sick due to unfamiliar bacteria or other contaminants in the local water.

If you are taking a vacation before the year ends, don’t forget to take steps to maintain optimal oral health while you are away. Don’t forget to pack our office number in case you have questions about your oral health during your trip, then schedule an exam and cleaning for after your return.

107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Phone: (515) 967-4211

 

50009 Dentist | Are Drinks Attacking Your Teeth?

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If carbonated soft drinks are part of your normal daily routine, you may be causing serious damage to your teeth. Recent studies have found soft drinks to be among the most potent dietary causes of tooth decay. Soft drinks have also been implicated in increases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Before you shop for beverages this week, consider a few things you should know about soft drinks.

Most soft drinks contain substantial amounts of sugars, which interact with the bacteria in your mouth. This interaction produces a form of acid that can damage your teeth for about 20 minutes. Each time you take a drink, you reset that time window. If you consume throughout the day, you are essentially bathing your teeth in that beverage for hours.

Most soft drinks contain acids, as well. Even sugar-free varieties contain acids that can weaken the enamel on your teeth. Colas and citrus-flavored soft drinks tend to have the highest levels of acid. Over time, this weakening of tooth enamel has a cumulative effect. This can lead to decay and even tooth loss if not addressed in early stages.

Obviously, the best solution is to stop consuming carbonated soft drinks. However, it can be a difficult habit to break. Here are some tips to help reduce your risks of tooth damage from these beverages:

  • Drink in moderation. Too much sugar and acid will eventually cause damage.
  • Try sparkling water. This provides the fizzy sensation without all the sugar and acid.
  • Drink more water. You will crave soft drinks less when you are fully hydrated.
  • Don’t sip. The longer you spend drinking, the more time sugars and acids are reacting with your teeth.
  • Use a straw. This can help keep the sugars and acids away from your teeth.
  • Rinse with water after drinking to dilute acids and sugars.
  • Don’t brush immediately. Wait at least 30 minutes for acids to be neutralized by saliva before brushing.
  • Practice good dental hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings and exams.

Carbonated soft drinks can be harmful to your oral and overall health. Be mindful of how often you consume them and consider reducing or stopping your use of these dangerous beverages.

For more oral health tips or to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Phone: (515) 967-4211

Dentist in Altoona | The Scary Link Between Childhood Obesity and Gum Disease

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More than half of all adults over 30 have gum disease. These findings were from a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adults are not the only group impacted by gum disease. In fact, new research has uncovered a startling link between childhood who are obesity and gum disease.

Understanding the Numbers

A study published in Diabetes Care found that just under 99% of children who were classified as obese had some degree of gum disease or inflammation. A separate group of children classified as overweight were also studied. In this group, 85% of children had some degree of gum disease. This study is among the first of its kind examining the link between childhood obesity and gum disease. However these results are similar to a range of findings in past studies covering adults.

Combating Gum Disease

Gum disease can be challenging to identify at first because you might not even know your child has it. Mild types of gum disease, such as gingivitis, can sometimes go unnoticed. Without proper treatment, gum disease and inflammation can become more severe and more difficult to treat. Early detection and prevention are the keys to a healthy mouth. Gum disease can lead to bad breath and swollen or bloody gums. In its most advanced stages, gum disease can lead to tooth loss as the infected gums recede.

Keeping Your Child Healthy

The most important step you can take is to maintain an active role in ensuring your child practices proper oral hygiene. Make sure they are brushing their teeth for two minutes twice each day. Flossing is essential to keeping gums healthy. Anti-bacterial mouthwashes are also an option for extra protection against plaque buildup. If your child is overweight, consult your pediatrician. Keep up with regular visits to our office. Our team is trained in identifying gum inflammation. We can help your child stay on track for maintaining optimal oral health.

While this particular study is one of the first of its kind, it does mimic the extensive research correlating obesity and gum disease in adults. These alarming findings underscore the importance of maintaining healthy habits and keeping up with oral hygiene.

For more information on keeping your child’s mouth healthy or to schedule a visit, please contact us.

107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Phone: (515) 967-4211