February 29th, 2024
Unless you're aware of the signs and symptoms of gum disease and how it's caused, it's possible that you may have unknowingly developed it. Often painless, gum disease -- or periodontal disease -- becomes progressively more serious when left untreated. As you learn more about the common causes of gum disease, you'll be better-equipped to maintain the best oral health possible.
Gingivitis & Periodontitis: Common Causes of Gum Disease
- Bacteria & Plaque. Bacteria in the mouth creates a sticky film over the teeth. Good hygiene practices help remove the bacteria and the plaque they cause. When plaque is not removed, it develops into a rock-like substance called tartar. This can only be removed by a dental professional.
- Smoking & Tobacco. If you're a smoker or use tobacco, you face a higher risk of developing gum disease. Additionally, tobacco use can lead to stained teeth, bad breath, and an increased risk of oral cancers.
- Certain Medications. Some medications that are taken for other health conditions can increase a person's risk of developing gum disease. If you take steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, certain cancer therapy medications, or oral contraceptives, speak to Drs. Rottschalk, Acker, and Froidcoeur about how to maintain healthy gums.
- Medical Conditions. Certain medical conditions can impact the health of your gums. For instance, diabetics face an increased risk of gum disease due to the inflammatory chemicals present in their bodies. Always talk to our team about other health conditions to ensure we take that into account when treating you.
Take a Proactive Stance
Good oral hygiene practices and regular visits to our Fairview Heights, IL office can help you eliminate or reduce the risks of developing gum disease. A thorough cleaning with your toothbrush and dental floss should take about three to five minutes. Brush your teeth a minimum of twice per day and floss at least once each day. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be ready to prevent gum disease.
February 21st, 2024
Time for some sweet talk! Many studies have been done to figure out why we enjoy sugar so much. Is it brain chemistry? Is it blood sugar getting a bit low? Is it our bodies craving a quick burst of energy?
It’s probably all of the above and more besides. After all, our biochemistry makes use of sugars on a cellular level. The carbohydrates in our diet break down into sugars, and these sugars are the body’s preferred source of energy.
Problems arise when we get too much of a good thing. There’s a difference between the carbs we need to fuel our bodies and the sugars we add to foods for flavor. Too many added sugars in the diet are linked to a number of medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, even prematurely aging skin.
And, of course, a sugar-heavy diet has a direct effect on your oral health.
There’s no way to sugar coat it. Plaque is mainly composed of bacteria, which feed on sugars. As they digest sugar, they produce acids. These acids attack our enamel, dissolving the calcium and phosphorus minerals which keep it strong. Weakened enamel leaves teeth vulnerable to decay, and decay creates cavities.
It’s natural to want a sweet treat every now and then, but without some attention, it’s easy to go overboard with added sugars and empty calories. If you’re searching for a middle way, balancing your love for sweet things with your love for cavity-free checkups, read on!
- Check and compare labels for added sugars. You’ll be surprised how many foods have a high sugar content, even such health-oriented foods as flavored yogurts, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and protein bars.
- Consider the (sugar) source. White and brown table sugars and syrups break down easily as we’re eating them, adding empty calories which provide little nutrition, and increasing acidic conditions in the mouth.
Fruits, on the other hand, provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber along with their natural sugars. Switch out cookies, cakes, and pastries and their processed sugars for fruit when you crave something sweet.
- Chocolate lovers, don’t despair! It’s true, unless you’re eating 100% cocoa, you are probably getting added sugar in your candy bar. But dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium, and other essential minerals, too. When you indulge in chocolate, give dark chocolate a try.
- Not all candies are created equal! Soft candy bars and candies are healthier for your teeth than sticky or chewy confections, which tend to remain on your enamel for quite some time. Choose a treat that won’t stick with you.
Watch Your Timing
- If you must snack during the day, it’s better to choose foods without a high sugar content. Bacteria use sugars to produce acids right away. Saliva can neutralize acids in the mouth, but it takes at least 20 minutes for the process to start.
More meals mean more sugar, more acid production, and more time for these acids to cause their damage. That’s why we also suggest you . . .
- Eat your favorite dessert with a meal instead of waiting until later. You’ll be able to enjoy it even more knowing you’re limiting your exposure to harmful acids.
- Taking your time is not a good idea when it comes to sweets. We don’t mean you should gobble your food. We do mean that taking sips of sugary beverages throughout the day, or sucking on slowly dissolving candies, gives you a lot more exposure to sugar over a longer period of time.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
- Drink water after enjoying something sweet to help wash away and dilute sugar.
- Straws protect your teeth from a sugar-bath if you are drinking sodas, sweetened energy drinks, or other sugary beverages.
- Sugar-free gum provides a burst of sweet flavor without added sugar. And even better? Chewing gum increases saliva, washing away food particles and acids and bathing teeth in enamel-strengthening minerals.
It’s natural to appreciate a sweet treat every now and then. If you’re not ready for a completely treat-free life, talk to Drs. Rottschalk, Acker, and Froidcoeur at our Fairview Heights, IL office about the best ways to have your cake and eat it—or even better, to recommend healthy substitutes to satisfy your sweet tooth.
February 15th, 2024
Congratulations! Your child is beginning to leave her bottle behind and has started to use her first sippy cup. And the best training cup is one that makes the transition from bottle to cup an efficient, timely, and healthy one.
The Right Training Cup
While a “no spill” cup seems like the perfect choice for toddler and parent alike, those cups are designed much like baby bottles. The same valve in the no-spill top that keeps the liquid from spilling requires your child to suck rather than sip to get a drink. If your child’s cup has a top with a spout, she will learn to sip from it. Two handles and a weighted base make spills less likely.
When to Use a Training Cup
Children can be introduced to a sippy cup before they are one year old, and we suggest phasing out the bottle between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Use a sippy cup as the source for all liquids at that age, and only when your child is thirsty and at mealtime to avoid overdrinking. The transition from sippy cup to regular cup should be a swift one.
Healthy Sipping Habits
The best first option in a sippy cup between meals is water. Milk or juice should be offered at mealtimes, when saliva production increases and helps neutralize the effects of these drinks on young teeth. And don’t let your child go to sleep with anything other than water—falling asleep with a cup filled with milk, juice, or other sugary drinks means these liquids stay in the mouth overnight. Finally, while a sippy cup is convenient and portable, don’t let your young child walk and sip at the same time to avoid injuries.
When your child comes to our Fairview Heights, IL office for her first visit, please bring any questions you might have about training cups. We would be glad to share ways to make the move from bottle to cup both successful and safe!
February 7th, 2024
No, we don’t mean the latest foamy offering from your favorite microbrewery. When you’re thirsty, one of the best options available is literally at your fingertips—tap water, straight from your faucet. It might not be the most adventurous choice, but drinking a tall glass of fresh tap water is refreshing in so many healthy ways.
Water conveniently available at home is much more than a convenience. We need to keep hydrated, because our bodies are made to run on water. To name just a few of its benefits, water provides nutrients to organs and cells, eliminates waste, regulates our temperature, and protects our joints and delicate tissues. Drs. Rottschalk, Acker, and Froidcoeur and our Fairview Heights, IL team will tell you all about the importance of proper hydration when it comes to your mouth, gums, and teeth, but here are a few highlights:
- We need to be hydrated to produce enough saliva. Saliva, which is more than 90% water, helps prevent cavities and protect enamel by both washing away bacteria and balancing acids in the mouth which can cause decay.
- Tooth enamel is so strong because it’s made of calcium and phosphate. These minerals are leached from our enamel by both bacteria-produced acids and dietary acids. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphate, and, with fluoride, restores these minerals in our enamel, leaving teeth stronger and less likely to develop cavities.
- As a bonus, a quick rinse with water when you can’t brush after eating is a great way to remove food particles left behand—especially healthy when you’ve had sugary or acidic foods.
If you want to reduce waste, one of the easiest ways to do so is to use tap water instead of bottled water.
- Bottled water has a carbon footprint. It takes energy (and additional water) to create plastic and glass bottles, to label them, and to transport them. Water piped into your home from local sources? No bottles, labels, or long road trips necessary.
- Water bottles should be recycled. Unfortunately, many cities don’t offer, or have stopped offering, recycling. Plastic and glass empties end up in landfills, littering our neighborhoods, or in our waters.
Getting your daily hydration from bottles can add up quickly.
- Bottled water can cost hundreds of times as much as tap water. While local water prices vary, the average gallon of tap water costs less than a penny. No matter what kind of sale your local store is offering, bottled water will never be the bargain tap water is.
- When you buy many small bottles instead of a few larger ones, or choose more expensive “designer” water, your costs can mount up even more.
- When you need to bring water with you for work, sports, or other activities, consider filling a reusable bottle with water from home.
Getting the recommended amount of fluoride in your diet is one of the single best things you can do for your dental health. Fortunately, many communities make this easy for us by providing fluoridated drinking water.
- Fluoride works with the calcium and phosphate in your saliva to create stronger enamel, so cavities can’t form as easily when your teeth are exposed to plaque and food particles.
- Fluoride helps strengthen your child’s permanent teeth as they develop, and helps prevent cavities in both baby teeth and permanent teeth as children grow.
- If your community doesn’t offer fluoridated water, ask Drs. Rottschalk, Acker, and Froidcoeur for the best way to get the fluoride you need to protect your teeth.
For the good of your body, your planet, your wallet, and last, but most certainly not least, the health of your teeth and gums, consider a glass of water. So many benefits—and you have them all on tap!