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Dentist in Altoona IA | Dentistry – Past, Present, and Future

Restorative Dentist in Altoona, IA

50009 dentist“Tooth worms” are the cause of tooth decay. That was the headline of a Sumerian text from around 5,000 B.C.E. Fortunately, the dental industry has evolved since then and we know “tooth worms” don’t exist. Here’s how dentistry has evolved into the comfortable, safe, and beneficial science of today.

In the Beginning

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians had designated doctors for teeth? Evidence has been uncovered suggesting the Chinese used acupuncture to treat pain associated with tooth decay as early as 2700 B.C.E.

Additionally, in 500 B.C.E., Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote of treating teeth and oral diseases by using sterilization procedures and red-hot wires. They also spoke of using these red-hot wires to stabilize jaw fractures and bind loose teeth.

The Visionary Thoughts of the 1600s-1700s

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the 1600s and 1700s were a gold mine of innovation in the dental world. In 1695, Charles Allen published the first ever English dental textbook entitled The Operator of Teeth. In the book, he advises using a homemade toothpaste from powdered coal, rose-water, and “dragon’s blood” to keep teeth clean and white. Allen also suggests using dog’s teeth for transplants and even references wisdom teeth in his book.

In the 18th century, Pierre Fauchard was well ahead of his time in the medical practice when his master work The Surgeon Dentist was published. For the first time, dentistry was described as a modern profession. Some notable highlights in the book include sugar being the cause of dental caries (cavities), braces being used to correct teeth position, and the concept of a dentist’s chair light.

The Progressive 1800s

The discoveries and inventions of the 1800s were significant. In 1816, Auguste Taveau developed the first form of dental fillings made out of silver coins and mercury. In 1840, Horace Wells demonstrated the use of nitrous oxide to sedate patients and Thomas Morton employed the use of ether anesthesia for surgery.

That same year, Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris boosted modern dentistry by opening the first dental school, inventing the modern doctorate of dental surgery, and starting the first dental society. By the end of the 1800’s, porcelain inlays, the first mechanized dental drill, and the toothpaste tube had all been invented.

Scientific Advancement of the 1900s

The scientific development of the 1900s gave birth to some amazing advancements in the dental industry. Electric drills became available due to the invention of electricity. In 1907, precision case fillings made by a “lost wax” casting machine was invented to fill cavities, and Novocain was introduced into US dental offices.

In 1955, Michael Buonocore described the method of tooth bonding to repair cracked enamel on teeth. Years later, the first fully-reclining dental chair is introduced to put patients and dentists at ease.  By the 1990s, “invisible” braces were introduced, along with the first at-home tooth bleaching system.

What Will the Future of Dentistry Hold?

Today, dental professionals are investigating the links between oral health and overall health. The use of gene-mediated therapeutics to alter the genetic structure of teeth to increase resistance to tooth decay is receiving attention. Some researchers believe that there may be a way to grow a new tooth structure around weakened enamel. Only time will tell what the future of dentistry will bring, but our office is dedicated to seeking the most effective modern technologies as they arise.

Our team is here to help you achieve and maintain your best oral health. To schedule your next appointment, please contact our office.

107 8th St SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Altoona Family Dentist | Chewing Gum for Your Oral Health

Restorative Dentist in Altoona, IA

50009 dentistSugary, sticky, and sweet candies can damage your teeth by increasing your risk of decay. Though gum can be considered a type of candy, chewing sugarless gum approved by the ADA can actually help protect teeth and prevent tooth decay. Here’s what you need to know about gum and your teeth.

How it Works

Chewing gum helps increase the production of saliva. Chewing sugarless gum for twenty minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay because the saliva helps wash away food and other debris from the surface of your teeth. Increased salivary flow can also neutralize acids that bacteria produce inside your mouth. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, leading to decay. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which aid in strengthening tooth enamel.

Look for the ADA Seal

The ADA Seal assures you that the gum is sugarless and has met the ADA’s criteria for safety and effectiveness. ADA-labeled products are tested to ensure they provide the benefits guaranteed by the seal. Companies must verify all relevant data with the ADA to become certified. If you are unable to brush for a short period of time, chewing gum with the ADA seal is a great option to help clean your teeth after a meal or snack.

Can I Stop Brushing if I Chew Gum?

No. Chewing gum for twenty minutes after a meal helps but is not a replacement for brushing and flossing. You should brush at least twice each day, for two full minutes. Chewing gum also does not eliminate your need for regular dental examinations. Our dentist recommends scheduling two visits each year, with additional visits necessary for high-risk patients with oral health conditions.

Chewing sugarless gum has noticeable benefits for your oral health, such as increasing the production of saliva. While this can help prevent the build up of decay-causing bacteria, chewing gum should not be used as a substitute for brushing or flossing. Our dentist recommends that if you are chewing gum, be sure to choose an ADA approved brand of sugarless gum.

Our team is here to help you achieve and maintain your best oral health. To schedule your next appointment, please contact our office.

Altoona Family Dentist | 12 Reasons to See Your Dentist

Restorative Dentist in Altoona, IA

50009 dentistDon’t wait until you’re in pain to see your dentist! Most people make time to clean out the house, car, garage, or closets at least twice a year. Why not include your oral health on your “to do” list?

Schedule an Appointment Now!

Regular professional cleaning and examinations are essential to maintaining optimal oral health. These routine visits are your first line of defense against tooth decay, periodontal disease, oral cancers, and more. Early identification and treatment of any oral illness improves outcomes and allows for less-invasive treatment options. Don’t wait until it hurts!

Why Do We Avoid Going?

The HDI institute, in a study done with the American Dental Association, lists some of the main reasons we sometimes delay going to the dentist. Cost, low perceived need, time, and anxiety are the most common causes. However, if we allow these concerns to interfere with oral care, we may allow more serious issues to develop.

When Should We See the Dentist?

The ADA or American Dental Society recommends maintaining twice yearly visits for cleaning and examinations. In addition, they advise making an appointment for any of the following concerns:

  1. Pain in your mouth, teeth, or face
  2. Injury to your mouth, teeth, or face
  3. Conditions that can affect oral health, such as diabetes
  4. Pregnancy
  5. Jaw pain or stiffness
  6. Bleeding, swelling, or redness in your gums
  7. Recent dental treatment, such as fillings, crowns, implants, or root canal
  8. Pain or difficulty eating or drinking
  9. Chronic dry mouth
  10. Smoking or tobacco use
  11. Sores in your mouth that are not healing
  12. You have questions or concerns about your oral health or hygiene

Our team is here to help you achieve and maintain your best oral health. To schedule your next appointment, please contact our office.

Restorative Dentist Altoona | What’s in Your Mouth?

Dentist in Altoona, IA

50009 dentistYour mouth contains hundreds of bacteria. Before you reach for the toothbrush and mouthwash, understand that not all bacteria are bad. Here’s what you need to know about the bacteria that makes its home in your mouth.

Bacteria Basics

More than 700 different oral bacteria species have been detected. Most people usually have less than 10% of these different strains in their mouth at one time. Different strains have different purposes. Bacteria that are harmless and help digest food are known as probiotics. Other types of bacteria help keep your teeth and gums healthy. The troublemakers are those that contribute to decay and periodontal disease.

The Dangers of Bacteria

Bacteria constantly grow and multiply in your mouth. According to Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine, certain bacteria species can double their population in 20 minutes if conditions are right. They feed on starches and sugars that are the byproduct of the food and drinks you consume throughout the day. Certain bacteria types produce an acid while they feed. This acid erodes your tooth enamel, leaving your teeth susceptible to decay.

Maintain a Healthy Mouth

The best way to manage the bacteria in your mouth is to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brushing at least twice each day for two full minutes and flossing regularly is the best way to keep bacteria in check. You may want to consider an antibacterial mouthwash. Another key element to maintaining optimal oral health is sticking to a healthy diet. By avoiding or cutting back on foods and drinks that contain high amounts of sugars, acids, and starches, you can reduce the multiplication of bacteria that feed on these byproducts.

Not all bacteria are out to harm your teeth. Bacteria can be incredibly helpful in maintaining your overall heath. To help protect your mouth and teeth against the bad bacteria strains, keep following your oral hygiene routine. During your next visit to our office, we will provide a thorough cleaning and check for decay. We will also screen for any signs of other oral diseases.

For more information on keeping your mouth healthy, please contact our team.

Altoona Family Dentist | Diabetes and Oral Health

Dentist in Altoona, IA

dentist near meDid you know that 1 in 5 cases of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes? Diabetes affects your entire body including your mouth and teeth. Here are a few ways diabetes can impact your oral health:

Gum Disease

An early warning sign of potential gum disease is bleeding while you brush or floss. At this stage, gum disease may still be avoided by maintaining proper oral hygiene and a balanced diet. Research suggests that if your blood sugar isn’t under control, it can worsen gum disease. When gum disease becomes severe, it can break down the bone that supports your teeth and lead to tooth loss.

Dry Mouth

According to studies, people with diabetes have less saliva. Symptoms may include a dry tongue, cracked lips, and constantly feeling thirsty. Medications and higher blood sugar levels can also contribute to dry mouth. You can manage your blood sugar levels to help improve these symptoms. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy, crunchy foods to get the saliva flowing.

Change in Taste

Diabetes can alter your sense of taste and certain flavors may not feel as rich to you as they once did. Try considering this as an opportunity to explore new tastes, spices, and textures to your food. Be cautious of adding sugar to your foods, as this could negatively affect your diet. Make sure to see our dentist if you have persistent issues with taste.

Infections

Diabetes affects your immune system and can cause you to be more prone to infections in the mouth. Oral thrush is one common infection among many who have diabetes. It will look like a white layered coating on your tongue and on the inside of your cheeks. This is a reaction to the yeast thriving on high levels of sugar that can be found in your saliva. Oral thrush may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it can be treated.

Slow Healing

Diabetes can slow down the process of healing any injuries, cuts, or sores in your mouth. Poor blood sugar control can prevent sores from healing quickly and properly. Be sure to see our dentist if something in your mouth hasn’t healed properly.

If you have diabetes and want more information on its impact on your oral health, schedule your next visit and talk to our doctor.

Altoona Dentist | 5 Ways Dental Implants Change Your Life

Dentist in Altoona, IA

Dentist in 50009The American College of Prosthodontists reports that about 178 million American adults are missing at least one tooth. Nearly 40 million have lost all of their permanent teeth.

Regardless of the cause, tooth loss can have serious consequences on your oral health, diet, speech, appearance, and self-esteem. Dental implants provide a long-term solution for tooth loss that can improve more than just your smile. Here are 5 ways dental implant restorations can change your life:

  1. Improve your speech. Missing teeth can leave gaps that cause speech impediments. Dentures can be bulky or loose, leading to discomfort, slurred words, and embarrassment. Dental implants stay secure and do not take up additional space in the mouth, so you can speak naturally.
  2. Preserve your jawbone. The roots of teeth are naturally embedded in the jawbone. When the tooth and root are missing, your jaw’s bone structure can begin to deteriorate over time. Dental implants help to preserve and strengthen the bone, as natural teeth do.
  3. Keep your teeth in place. When a tooth is lost, surrounding teeth can shift into the opening, distorting the shape of your smile and bite. Dental implants fill the gap and hold your surrounding teeth in their correct positions.
  4. Look younger. When we are in early adulthood, our teeth and jawbone work together to support our facial features. When teeth are lost, your facial skin can crease or droop near gaps. Jaw bone loss can lead to further loss of support, causing a more aged appearance. Dental implants restore your facial support and help preserve jaw bone structure.
  5. Improve your smile. Gaps in your smile can leave you feeling self-conscious about your appearance. Dental implants look like natural teeth, restoring the beauty of your smile. Studies show that feeling good about your smile boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

To learn more about the benefits of dental implant restoration, contact our office for your consultation.

Dentist in 50009 | One Tool for Better Gum Health

Dentist in Altoona, IA

Dentist in 50009Loose teeth, bad breath, and painful, bloody gums. These are among the signs and symptoms of periodontal, or gum, disease. In many people, periodontal disease can start without showing obvious symptoms. If left untreated, you risk irreparable damage to your teeth and gums. The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable. In fact, one of the most effective tools for preventing the disease only takes a minute of your time each day.

Floss to the Rescue

Dental floss is an effective and easy to use tool that can be among your best defenses for preventing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria. Your daily oral hygiene routine should include a thorough brushing that lasts for two minutes, at least twice each day. You should also be incorporating floss into your routine as well. Dental floss is effective at cleaning areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. Small gaps and tight spaces between teeth catch food debris as well as sugars and acids from drinks all day long. Flossing helps to clean out these tough to reach spaces.

Facts Behind Flossing

According to a survey referenced by the American Dental Association, only 40% of Americans are flossing each day. The same study showed a clear link between those who floss having better oral health compared to those who don’t. Unfortunately, many people lie about the frequency they floss. A study from the American Academy of Periodontology found that 27% of adults lie to their dentist about their flossing habits.

Tips to Floss Correctly

It can be confusing to figure out the best way to use floss. Try working with roughly 18 inches of floss, while wrapping most of it around your middle finger. Use roughly one inch to work with for each tooth. Using your thumb and index finger, carefully slide the floss between your teeth. Floss to your gumline, but be gentle. Avoid cutting your gums. Work your way through your 18 inches of floss by using a new, clean section for each new section between your teeth.

It only takes a few minutes to floss your teeth each day, but those few minutes can contribute to a lifetime of optimal oral health. Floss is among the most effective tools at your disposal to keep your gums clean and healthy. Get into the habit of flossing your teeth regularly – your gums will thank you.

For more information about gum health, or to schedule a visit to our office, please contact our team.

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

Dentist in Altoona, IA

Dentist in 50009We 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.

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

Dentist Altoona IA | The One Piece of Gear Every Athlete Needs

Dentist in Altoona

Dentist in AltoonaAn 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.

Altoona Dentist | Ow! Your Guide to Canker Sores

Dentist in Altoona

A canker sore can make eating, drinking, and talking difficult and even painful. Maintaining your oral health by brushing and flossing may also be difficult with a sore in your mouth, but keeping up with your daily oral hygiene routine is an important step in the healing process. We’ve put together a short guide to everything you need to know about canker sores.

What do they look like?

Canker sores are usually small, round reddish sores. You’ll find them on the soft tissues of your mouth, such as your tongue, the sides of your mouth, and at the base of your gums. Occasionally, a sore might have a yellow or white colored center.

What causes them?

Among the most common causes of canker sores are injuries. This can happen from biting your lip or cheek, an injury from sports, or even vigorous brushing. Certain people are sensitive to toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate, leading to sores. Foods may also cause canker sores in certain people. Chocolate, eggs, nuts, and spicy foods have been known to cause the sores. At times, a diet that is deficient in vitamin B-12 or zinc is the culprit.

What can I do?

Your best defense is to keep your mouth healthy. This means keeping up with your twice-daily brushing and daily flossing. With a mouth sore, it may be tempting to avoid the area when brushing your teeth. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria. Aid the healing process by keeping your mouth clean and healthy. You may also try a mouthwash formulated for mouth sores. When in doubt, or if pain persists, talk to our team.

Brush thoroughly but gently around sores. Most canker sores heal within a week. If you find you are regularly getting sores, or they are taking longer than one week to heal, schedule a visit to our office. We will assess your oral health and provide you with our expert advice.

For more information about oral health or to schedule your next visit, please contact our office. We look forward to seeing you.