5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced

If you are more than a few decades old, it is likely that your fillings are made of mercury amalgam. For a long time, amalgam fillings were one of the only options for dentists to use. Since that time, there have been advances in dental materials and techniques leading to composite fillings, which are today preferred by many for their tooth-like appearance and material properties. With a lifespan of 10-15 years, amalgam fillings need to be replaced eventually. Learn more about the reasons why you might want to get your amalgam fillings replaced with their composite alternative.

1. Your Amalgam Fillings Show Wear or Decay

If your amalgam fillings are coming loose, it is likely that bacteria can get in around them to your teeth. If you are experiencing looseness, it is important that you get your amalgam fillings replaced as soon as possible, especially if you can see visible decay. If this decay is allowed to continue, the bacteria may get down to the roots of your teeth and you may need a root canal rather than a filling. Teeth sensitivity is a good indicator that this is occurring. It is especially important that you visit your dentist if you are experiencing sensitivity.

2. You Have Had Issues With Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are not bonded to your teeth, they are packed in to fill the empty space. Because of this, amalgam fillings do not actually add any additional strength to the tooth structure itself, and they can act like a wedge. When the pressure of chewing is applied to your teeth, any amalgam fillings you have can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or break. In addition, because amalgam fillings are made of metal, they expand and contract when you eat hot and cold food respectively. These movements can cause teeth to fracture or the filling to loosen, creating gaps for bacteria to get in. On the contrary, composite fillings bond to teeth, strengthing them by distributing the chewing force over the teeth and providing extra resistance to the tooth structure itself. If you have experienced any of the above-mentioned issues with your amalgam fillings, it might be a good idea to get them replaced. Be sure to discuss your experiences and your options with your dentist.

3. You Are Concerned About the Mercury in Amalgam Fillings

Some patients are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings due to allergy, sensitivity, or potential health risks. Amalgam fillings are 50% liquid, elemental mercury and 50% a mixture of silver, tin, and copper powder to form an alloy. This alloy acts like a putty that the dentist mixes on the spot then manipulates to fill the holes in your teeth. The alloy hardens quickly. Once hard, amalgam fillings release low levels of mercury in the form of vapors over their lifetime. The levels of mercury vapors released by amalgam fillings are not high enough to pose a risk to your health. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have marked amalgam fillings safe for use in dental practice. That said, studies have shown changes in the health complaints of patients who have had their amalgam fillings removed, though the exact reasons for these results have yet to be determined. If you are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings, discuss your concerns with your dentist.

4. You Prefer the Aesthetics of Composite Fillings

Amalgam fillings are silver-colored and can be seen whenever you smile or laugh. Composite fillings have been specially designed to be tooth-colored and practically invisible to onlookers. If you do not like the appearance of your amalgam fillings, getting them replaced for composite fillings may be right for you, just be sure to discuss your situation with your dentist.

5. You Are Comfortable With Frequent Replacements

Whereas amalgam fillings last 10-15 years, composite fillings only last 5-10, requiring more frequent replacements. Amalgam is much stronger than composite and it is also much cheaper than composite to replace. If you are comfortable with more frequent replacements for the aesthetics or peace of mind of composite fillings, discuss replacing your amalgam fillings with your dentist. Be aware that composite fillings can only be used for small to medium restorations because they are not as strong as amalgam fillings.

In conclusion, it is of the utmost importance that you get your amalgam fillings replaced if they are coming loose or if decay is occurring around them. Another strong reason to get amalgam fillings replaced is if you have had issues with them in the past. All other reasons are based on your preferences, if you are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings or if you prefer the aesthetics of composite. If you would like to get your amalgam fillings replaced for any of the reasons listed above, schedule an appointment to discuss your options with Dr. Owen Mandanas! Dr. Owen Mandanas is trained in the safe removal of mercury amalgam and would be happy to speak with you.

What Is Integrative Dentistry?

What Is Integrative Dentistry?

The phrase, “integrative dentistry” is being thrown around a lot these days, creating confusion. The fact that there are many different terms used to describe this practice does not help! You may have seen or heard some of the following floating around among local and national dentists:

  • Integrative Dentistry
  • Holistic Dentistry
  • Alternative Dentistry
  • Biological Dentistry
  • Unconventional Dentistry
  • Biocompatible Dentistry
  • Mercury-Safe Dentistry

And the list goes on and on… Integrative dentistry is a philosophy of dentistry that many conventional dentists have begun to use in their practice. We have broken that philosophy down into 3-4 primary categories. Read on to learn more about what “integrative dentistry” really means!

Two Kinds of “Integrative”

1. Integrated Body Systems

Integrative dentists believe in something called the “mouth-body connection,” asserting that what happens in the mouth affects the rest of the body; that the two are not independent of each other. They understand that oral health impacts the health of the entire body because the teeth, gums, and the mouth are highly integrated with the other body systems. To integrative dentists, the body, including the mouth, is a whole or holistic system. Consider the gut. The mouth is the entryway to the gut, and the gut affects the health of everything else. If the mouth able to take in nutritious foods and is not suffering from infection, the gut will be healthy as well, and thereby, the body!

2. Integrated Methods

To Integrative dentists, integrated body systems require integrated methods. Conventional dental treatment alone will not take care of systemic issues. Integrative dentists combine conventional treatment methods with alternative, holistic methods because they believe a blended approach will achieve better results. Before, dental care was segregated from medical care. Now, integrative dentists understand that separating the two does not make sense if the body is a whole, and they consider the wellness of the entire patient in their treatment.

What this looks like in practice is a great deal of research and listening. Integrative dentists are constantly looking into the latest research and the most advanced methods to incorporate in their practice. At the appointment, integrative dentists look at the dental and medical history of their patient, listening to their lifestyle, perspective, and choices in order to make the most informed decision for their dental care.

Preventative

Integrative dentists would rather maintain health and prevent disease rather than “get it fixed” after the fact. They do this by performing treatments that have positive long-term effects and by providing advice in areas like nutrition and lifestyle. Their goal is to overcome the root of the problem rather than the symptom in order to prevent future issues.

Minimally Invasive

Because integrative dentists understand the “mouth-body connection,” they try to use as minimally invasive treatments as possible in order to protect the health of the body as well as the mouth. One of the biggest ways they do this is by using safer, more natural materials in their work, such as:

  • BPA and mercury-free fillings
  • Ceramic or porcelain crowns
  • Low dose x-rays

Integrative dentists are also trained in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Innovation in technology is providing integrative dentists with less invasive treatments every day!

Integrative dentists have a philosophy of dentistry that centers on the “mouth-body connection,” viewing the body as a whole rather than as distinct systems. That philosophy has led them to integrate conventional dentistry methods with holistic methods in order to better treat the whole patient. These methods are preventative and minimally invasive to keep the mouth and body as healthy as possible! If you would like to benefit from the best practices of integrative dentistry, learn more about your local, integrative dentist, Dr. Owen Mandanas!

Do Dental Sleep Apnea Devices Really Work?

Do Dental Sleep Apnea Devices Really Work?

Your dentist recently asked you about your sleeping habits; whether you were having trouble sleeping, if your partner complained about snoring, etc. You answered “yes” to all of her questions, and she mentioned Sleep Apnea as a potential culprit, suggesting some dental treatments that could help you overcome it. You were taken aback. Is Sleep Apnea something that a dental professional can treat? The answer to this question is also “yes.”

Common complaints about clunky and uncomfortable CPAP machines have driven many to pursue more natural alternatives to Sleep Apnea treatment, especially those provided by the dental field. Learn more about dental Sleep Apnea devices and how they are helping sufferers of mild to moderate symptoms!

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) impacts an estimated 22 million Americans each year. It occurs when the muscles and tissue in the throat and mouth relax during sleep, causing the airways to narrow to the point of blocking (obstructing) the flow of air. Snoring is a result of partial obstruction; when breathing is fully obstructed, the oxygen level of the blood drops, and the central nervous system kicks in to alert the lungs to take a deep breath. When this happens, the individual suffering from Sleep Apnea will wake up choking and gasping for air. These episodes typically occur multiple times per hour over the course of a night’s sleep, leaving the individual exhausted the next day. Learn more about the causes and effects in our blogs, What is Sleep Apnea? and Can Sleep Apnea Affect My Health?

What are Dental Sleep Apnea Devices and Do They Work?

When people think of treatment for Sleep Apnea, they typically think of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. These machines keep airways open at night by delivering continuous air to the individual suffering from Sleep Apnea via a tube connected to a mask. Unfortunately, these machines are uncomfortable to many people. Approximately 40% of people who are given CPAP machines to treat their Sleep Apnea quit using them. The most common complaints include:

  • The mask is uncomfortable, and can irritate the skin
  • The tube gets in the way during sleep, sometimes to the point of knocking the mask off
  • The machine is too loud, agitating the user and/or their partner
  • The pressurized air is too much to tolerate
  • The system dries-out nasal passages

These issues with the CPAP machine and the desire to pursue more natural treatment methods have driven many sufferers of Sleep Apnea to look for alternatives. Dental Sleep Apnea devices are one of the most popular alternatives, especially considering they can be covered by Medicare and other forms of insurance, unlike other options.

One of the most common devices is the Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD). It is most comparable to an athletic mouth guard. Instead of pushing air through the airways, it works by gently moving the lower jaw (pushing it down and forward) to open them. These devices are preferred for their natural simplicity, ease of transportation, and silence. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicated that devices like MAD work for people with mild to moderate Sleep Apnea, but not for people with moderate to severe, who should still be using CPAP machines. Here’s what determines mild to moderate to severe Sleep Apnea:

  • Mild – 5-14 episodes of breathing interruptions per hour at night
  • Moderate – 15-30 episodes of breathing interruptions per hour at night
  • Severe – 30 or more episodes of breathing interruptions per hour at night

In conclusion, dental Sleep Apnea devices like MAD will work for people who experience about 10-20 interruptions per hour during the course of a night’s sleep. They are the best option for sufferers of Sleep Apnea who find CPAP machines unnatural, uncomfortable or cannot stick to their CPAP routine. If you would like to learn more about this natural alternative to CPAP, sleep apnea dentist Dr. Owen Mandanas would be happy to speak with you about your options for a healthier, happier night’s sleep!

Why Should I Make the Switch to a Holistic Dentist?

Why Should I Make the Switch to a Holistic Dentist?

Holistic dentistry is on the rise, sparking questions in the minds of many:

“Is my current dentist effective? Should I make the switch to a holistic dentist?”

“I am told that holistic dentists take a more natural approach to dentistry, but is that reason enough to make the switch?”

“Traditional dentists have been doing things their way for years, how could we have missed the importance of holistic dentistry?”

We hope to provide answers to these questions and more below. Read on to find out why we think you should make the switch to a holistic dentist!

They Consider the “Mouth-Body Connection”

Holistic dentists understand that the mouth does not exist in a silo, and that the procedures they perform on your teeth will have lasting effects on the rest of your body as well. They also understand that what goes on in your body, whether positive or negative, will have serious effects on your mouth. This is sometimes called the “Mouth-Body Connection.” Because of their understanding of the mouth-body connection, holistic dentists take time to sit down with their patients and gather as much information about their health as possible–Not just their dental health, but their diet, their lifestyle, and their mental and emotional health as well. They take all of this into consideration to determine the best approach for your dental health and overall well-being.

Holistic Dentists Use Safer Materials

Holistic dentists avoid dental appliances, cleaning materials, and dental hygiene products that use toxic chemicals. Examples of these include mercury amalgam fillings, sealants containing BPA, and fluoride.

Mercury is toxic, and holistic dentists believe that any amount that leaks into the body, no matter how small, puts the body at risk. Mercury fillings are often preferred by traditional dentists because they last longer. Although this is true, mercury fillings are known to last longer because they are stronger than our teeth, which places significant pressure on the tooth filled. This pressure can destroy the original tooth, something all dentists should seek to avoid. Holistic dentists use fillings that match the material of the tooth filled more closely in order to protect it.

BPA, also known as Bisphenol A, is a chemical found in many plastic materials, and it is often used in dental sealants. The problem with BPA is that it mimics estrogen, which can be dangerous for the hormonal balance of the body. As such, holistic dentists avoid materials containing BPA.

Fluoride is a chemical many traditional dentists prescribe to strengthen teeth. It is harmless and even helpful when needed, but just like with any chemical compound, too much fluoride can be toxic for the body. Fluorosis is a harmful condition caused by too much fluoride intake. Holistic dentists recognize that fluoride is already present in many community water systems and only prescribe it when necessary.

In order to help their patients avoid harmful chemicals, holistic dentists also encourage their patients to use natural dental hygiene products, such as natural toothpaste.

They Practice Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine is an approach that combines traditional dentistry with other therapies in dental practice for a fuller approach to care. A big focus for holistic dentists is the nature of the relationships between the structure of the teeth, the jaw, the head, and the neck. Learn more about one of these therapies, called tongue positioning.

Holistic Dentists Pursue Natural Remedies

Holistic dentists seek to avoid invasive procedures as much as possible, opting instead for natural, preventative remedies to common dental issues. They use x-rays sparingly and often do not offer root canals, crowns, and many other procedures typical of a traditional practice. This does not mean that they do not use many traditional methods when needed. Holistic dentists stress the importance of nutrition as the first defense against dental woes. For issues that require treatment, they often offer natural remedies.

They Made the Switch First

It is a little-known fact that many holistic dentists turned their practice around after working in traditional dentistry for many years. They made the switch because they witnessed the mouth-body connection through the experiences of their patients. In order to provide the best possible care for their patients, these holistic dentists researched their experiences and came to the conclusion that holistic dentistry will best meet their patients’ needs.

Holistic dentists pursue an approach that uses natural, preventative measures first and takes the whole body into consideration when practicing dental care. We hope we provided answers to any questions you may have about holistic dentistry. If you have more, please reach out to your local holistic dentists, Dr. Owen Mandanas! Dr. Mandanas would be happy to talk with you more about the benefits of making the switch from traditional to holistic dentistry.

7 Natural Toothpaste Brands to Try

7 Natural Toothpaste Brands to Try

The world of natural toothpaste is growing wider every day, with many, competing options to choose from. It is no small wonder, considering the harmful chemicals contained in most traditional toothpastes, like sodium lauryl sulfate, which agitates the skin, and triclosan, which was banned from soaps by the FDA in 2016 and shown to be a hormone-disrupter. There has also been a recent push for fluoride-free toothpaste, since too much flouride can cause dental fluorosis in children. These trends and our natural desire to return to nature’s ingredients have changed the face of the oral care industry as we know it. We have outlined some of the top brands to try and their benefits below–Take a look and try some for yourself!

1. Davids Natural Toothpaste

✔ Vegan

Sweet Freedom: No fluoride, sulfates, artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, preservatives, or animal cruelty.

Great Ingredients: Includes baking soda (natural, gentle abrasive), birch-derived xylitol (remineralizes enamel), peppermint oil, spearmint oil, wintergreen leaf oil, anise seed extract, and stevia leaf extract (natural flavors/sweeteners). The ingredients are 98% sourced in the U.S.

Additional Perks: The recyclable metal tube packaging is manufactured with 100% renewable wind power energy. The toothpaste is Environmental Working Group Certified.

2. Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste

✔ Popular Choice

Sweet Freedom: No fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate (foaming agent) depending on the toothpaste chosen, no artificial flavors, fragrances, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, or animal testing.

Great Ingredients: Includes Xylitol (prevents plaque), zinc citrate (controls tartar), silica (whitens teeth), natural oils for flavor.

3. Dr. Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste

✔ Vegan ✔ Kid Safe

Sweet Freedom: Flouride, GMO, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, foaming agents, carrageenan, and cruelty-free.

Great Ingredients: Includes bentonite clay (natural, gentle abrasive), Fare Trade, organic coconut flour and oil (also abrasives), baking soda (abrasive), aloe leaf juice, peppermint oil, anise, cinnamon, and stevia leaf extract (natural flavors/sweeteners). The ingredients are 70% organic!

Additional Perks: The packaging is 100% recyclable.

4. Kiss My Face Toothpaste

✔ Vegan ✔ Kid-Friendly Option

Sweet Freedom: No sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, parabens, gluten, artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, or fluoride depending on the toothpaste chosen. Also cruelty-free.

Great Ingredients: Organic aloe vera, olives, horse chestnut (promotes healthy gums), tea tree oil (natural antiseptic), silica (natural whitener), peppermint, and menthol (natural flavors).

Additional Perks: Kiss My Face makes a berry-flavored paste designed with kids in mind!

5. JĀSÖN Toothpaste

✔ Kosher

Sweet Freedom: No preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners, gluten, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfates.

Great Ingredients: Depending on the toothpaste chosen, you can expect to find a variety of essential oils, extracts, and antioxidant-rich ingredients.

6. LEBON Toothpaste

✔ Vegan ✔ Organic

Sweet Freedom: No fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfates, parabens, triclosan, artificial coloring, or cruelty.

Great Ingredients: Comes in six tasty mint flavors that include hints of green tea, pineapple, or cinnamon.

Additional Perks: LEBON toothpaste is ethically-made using PEFC certified cardboard packaging.

7. Jack N’ Jill Natural Kids Toothpaste

✔ Organic ✔ Made for Kids

Sweet Freedom: Free of fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfates, artificial colors and preservatives, GMOs, gluten, sugar, BPA, and cruelty.

Great Ingredients: Coconut-oil based and contains calendula extract.

Additional Perks: Jack N’Jill toothpaste comes in fun, kid-oriented flavors like coconut banana and even flavor-free! The package is recyclable.

If you have yet to dip your toes into the ocean of natural toothpaste brands, give it a try! At Mandanas Dental, we are always encouraging our patients to choose the natural option when they have the choice. To learn more about our natural approach to healthcare, schedule an appointment with Dr. Owen Mandanas. Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who considers the “mouth-body” connection in her dental work, looking at how the health of the mouth affects the body, and vice-versa!

 

The Mouth-Body Connection: Links Between Oral Hygiene and Whole Body Health

The Mouth-Body Connection: Links Between Oral Hygiene and Whole Body Health

We all know the phrase, “mind-body connection,” but what about “mouth-body connection?” Does what goes on in the mouth affect the rest of the body, and vice versa? More and more research has been conducted to determine the link between oral hygiene and the health of the body, much of which has focused on systemic issues caused by gum disease.

When we fail to look after our oral hygiene, we put ourselves at risk of developing something called periodontitis (gum disease), a bacterial infection in the mouth. Gum disease causes gums to bleed, which allows the bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream. Read on to learn more about the systemic diseases and health complications linked to this bacteria in the blood!

Cardiovascular Disease | As bacteria from the mouth travels through the body via the bloodstream, it can affect the blood vessels in negative ways. The bacteria can cause arteries to create plaque and harden, something called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes issues with blood flow and can go so far as to block the heart, leading to a heart attack.

Stroke | As the blood vessels continue to respond negatively to bacteria from the mouth, and incur the damage caused by atherosclerosis, arteries in the brain can begin to weaken and blood clots can begin to form. Both of these things are precursors to a stroke. The bacteria can also cause hypertension, another disease that weakens the arteries, which can lead to a stroke.

Endocarditis | Repeat exposure of the inner linings of the heart, the chambers and the valves, to bacteria from the mouth, can create growth pockets of bacteria as they attach to these tissues and cause them to become inflamed. This inflammation of the heart tissue is called endocarditis and can be fatal.

Respiratory Infection | Bacteria from the mouth can enter the lungs through breathing. This can lead to respiratory infections including pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The bacteria can worsen existing conditions.

Diabetes | Gum disease can complicate diabetes as bacteria from the mouth weakens the body’s ability to use insulin and convert sugar in the blood to energy. This, in turn, leads to higher than normal blood sugar levels and increases in blood pressure.

Kidney Disease | The bacteria from gum disease weaken the immune system, increasing the likelihood of infection. People who have poor oral hygiene are more likely to have kidney disease.

Osteoporosis | Gum disease contributes to the loss of bone tissue in the mouth, and can contribute to bone loss throughout the body, including the hips, back, and wrists.

Rheumatoid Arthritis | As previously mentioned, the bacteria from gum disease cause inflammation in the body. If someone already suffers from the inflammatory autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, their pain can worsen with the addition of gum disease.

Dementia & Alzheimer’s | Bacteria in the blood affects the brain, too. When the nerve cells in the brain are repeatedly exposed to the bacteria, they can die, leading to the kind of memory loss present in dementia and Alzheimer’s. The effects can go both ways. Learn more in our blog How Oral Health Impacts Mental Health (and vice versa!).

Pregnancy Complications | Women who have gum disease have an increased risk of complications for the birth of their child, including premature birth, a low birth weight, and infection in their newborn. This is due to bacteria in the blood traveling to the developing infant.

Infertility | It can take longer for women with poor oral hygiene to get pregnant than those who have healthy mouths.

Erectile Dysfunction | As mentioned, bacteria from the mouth causes blood vessels to become inflamed, blocking blood flow to all parts of the body.

Cancer | There are links between poor oral hygiene and increased risks for blood cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and oropharyngeal cancer.

Your mouth is the gateway to your body. Take better care of your overall health and avoid complications by respecting your “mouth-body” connection and exercising proper oral hygiene! If you would like to learn more about how to keep your whole body healthy starting with your mouth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Owen Mandanas! Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who takes a holistic approach to healthcare.

Foods That Naturally Strengthen Children's Teeth

7 Foods That Naturally Strengthen Your Child’s Teeth

Many dentists are quick to talk about the foods that we should avoid feeding our children if we want them to have healthy teeth. We are given lists of “no-no foods” to post on our fridge doors, including the likes of candy, soda, sugar, etc. These lists are helpful, but what if we want to take a more proactive approach? What are the foods that naturally promote healthy teeth in our children? Check out our list of 7 foods that do just that!

1. Water

Okay, water is a drink, not a food, but it is a drink that works wonders when it comes to naturally strengthening your child’s teeth! Water is the primary ingredient in saliva, which contains calcium and phosphorous. Both of these minerals are used by the body to rebuild enamel and teeth-supporting bone structures. Saliva is also a natural rinsing agent, loosening plaque and hydrating gums. Finally, saliva increases the number of natural, bacteria-fighting antibodies in the mouth and neutralizes damage-causing acid. Increase your child’s water intake to increase saliva production and reap these benefits for their teeth!

2. Raw, High-Fiber Veggies

Crunchy and stringy veggies naturally scrub plaque from teeth when chewed. Next time your child is looking for a quick snack, give them some celery or carrot sticks, broccoli or cauliflower, green beans or snap peas!

3. Protein/Mineral-Rich Foods

Foods that are high in vitamins A, C and D, calcium and phosphorous are good for your child’s teeth. Vitamins A and C fight gingivitis-causing bacteria. Vitamin D helps the body use calcium and phosphorous which are building blocks for healthy teeth. Calcium also raises the pH level in your child’s mouth, reducing acid, which eats away at your child’s enamel. Foods that contain these minerals include protein-rich beef, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu and beans as well as potatoes, spinach, other leafy greens and whole grains. Next time you are making dinner for your child, look for recipes that contain these natural ingredients!

4. Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are also vitamin and mineral rich, including vitamin D and calcium. They also contain natural fats and oils that coat your child’s teeth, shielding them against bacteria and strengthening their enamel, making them resistant to cavities. Pack trail mix for your child wherever you go to take advantage of the teeth-strengthening power of nuts and seeds!

5. Vitamin C-Rich Foods

Vitamin C fights the bacteria in the mouth that convert sugar to damage-causing acid. Vitamin C-rich foods include oranges, limes, kiwis, strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe, peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes to name a few. Many of these foods are also acid-rich, so exercise caution and choose lower-acidity vitamin C-rich foods for your child.

6. Dairy Products

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are high in calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous. As we have already learned, these vitamins and minerals strengthen your child’s teeth and raise the pH level in their mouth, lowering acid levels and protecting their enamel. Dairy products also promote saliva production!

7. Sugarless Gum

Gum is typically not recommended by dentists because of its high sugar content, but sugarless gum is different! Not only does sugarless gum stimulate saliva production and naturally scrub your child’s teeth like veggies do, but many brands of sugarless gum contain a natural sweetener called Xylitol. This natural sweetener fights tooth decay-causing bacteria in your child’s mouth.

Incorporate these 7 foods in your child’s diet to strengthen their teeth! If you would like to talk to a dentist about more ways to naturally promote healthy teeth in your children, contact Dr. Owen Mandanas. Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who will look at the whole picture of your child’s health to better take care of their mouth.

Tongue Positioning: What It Is and How It Helps

Tongue Positioning: What It Is and How It Helps

You may have recently heard your dentist mention “tongue posture” or “tongue positioning,” wondering: “What on earth is that? Why have I never heard of it before?” Well, just like we practice good sitting and standing posture for the sake of our necks and backs, we can practice good tongue posture for the sake of our mouth. In fact, the position of your tongue impacts the nose, the eyes, the head, the neck and shoulders too! As many as 50% of people have incorrect tongue posture and a growing number of dentists and orthodontists have started addressing this problem head on. Learn more about the negative impacts of improper tongue positioning, how to position your tongue correctly, and more below.

Proper Tongue Positioning

So what is the right way to hold your tongue? Let’s start with the wrong way first.

For a lot of people, their tongue rests at the bottom of the mouth, pushing against the bottom teeth. Is this you? If so, you have improper tongue positioning. Don’t be alarmed–As we mentioned earlier, almost half of the population on earth is in the same boat.

Proper tongue positioning is where the tongue rests at the top of the mouth, sitting about 1/2 inch behind the front teeth. Your entire tongue (including the back) should be pressing against the roof of the mouth, your lips should be sealed and your teeth should rest slightly apart. You don’t want any pressure on your bottom or top front teeth. Even the slightest pressure over time will move them (this is how orthodontics works!). It is important that the entire tongue presses against the roof of the mouth–Over time this can expand the palate, preventing the crowding of your teeth and opening up your sinuses.

Signs and Symptoms of Improper Tongue Positioning

The tongue is a powerful muscle, impacting many parts of the body beyond the mouth. As we mentioned earlier, tongue positioning can even affect the sinuses. Here are some signs and symptoms that could indicate improper tongue positioning:

  • Improper Swallowing – When swallowing, your tongue should move up and back like a wave moving the food toward the back of your throat, not forward and down (this is called tongue thrusting). Tongue thrusting negatively affects the shape of your teeth and jaw.
  • Snoring and Sleep Apnea – Again, your palate is connected to the sinuses. If by improper tongue positioning your palate has narrowed, your sinuses may narrow, creating complications for your breathing.
  • Vision Problems – The palate is connected to your eye sockets as well as your sinuses, impacting how your eyes rest in your head. If the palate misshapen is due to improper tongue positioning, your eyes will not be positioned properly.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (better known as TMJ) – If you have had orthodontic work, chances are you have TMJ, especially if your orthodontist does not take a holistic approach to your teeth. TMJ is where the jaw is slightly out of alignment, causing inflammation and pain at the hinge. Orthodontic work should consider tongue positioning and how their work on the teeth affects the jaw along with the rest of the body.
  • Crowded Teeth
  • Gap in the Front Teeth
  • Dysfunctional Bite – Overbite, underbite or crossbite.
  • Teeth Grinding
  • Tooth Decay
  • Recessed Chin
  • Longer, Flatter Face Shape
  • Forward Thrust of the Head – Where the head is thrust forward and chin is lifted. Our heads are meant to sit back with our chins tucked under. Anything else and we begin to experience neck pain.
  • Neck and Shoulder Tension and Pain
  • Headaches

Benefits of Proper Tongue Positioning

What are the benefits of holding your tongue the right way? Avoiding all of the uncomfortable symptoms of improper tongue posture! We’ve broken these benefits down into four categories:

  • Look Better – That’s right! Proper tongue positioning leads to a more attractive face with higher cheekbones and a stronger jawline because the muscles in your mouth are where they are supposed to be. People who hold their tongue correctly are also less likely to have crowded, crooked teeth.
  • Feel Better – When your tongue is in the right place, you can have a healthy bite, no jaw pain, neck pain or headaches.
  • Breath Better
  • Sleep Better

Tongue Positioning Exercises

Take advantage of the benefits of proper tongue positioning with these exercises!

The first exercise helps you get an idea of the shape of your mouth as well as where your tongue should be. Start by feeling the back of your teeth with the tip of your tongue. Now slide the tip back to the flat area just behind your teeth, then to the bumpy, ridged area behind that. You will notice that the roof of your mouth slopes off behind the ridged area into the cavity of your palate. It is just before the slope that your tongue should rest–in the most defined “ridge.” This is called “the spot.”

The second exercise helps you find where the back of your tongue should rest. Start by making a big, cheezy grin and raising your eyebrows. Now, try to swallow while keeping your teeth clenched. This may be difficult, but if you can do it successfully, you will feel the back of your tongue pressing against the roof of your mouth–This is where you want it to be.

To see results from both of these exercises, practice them several times throughout the day. If you do so, you should start to notice your muscle memory kicking-in and your tongue rising to the correct position naturally!

Now that you know what tongue positioning is and how to use it to improve significant parts of your overall health and well-being, what are you going to do about it? We hope that you use these exercises and get started on your way looking, feeling, breathing and sleeping better. If you are experiencing some of the signs and symptoms we mention above and would like to speak with a local dentist about tongue positioning, please contact Dr. Owen Mandanas. Dr. Mandanas will take a holistic approach to your healthcare, considering the whole body and how each part interacts with the others for your well-being.

Natural Remedies for Dry Sockets

Natural Remedies for Dry Sockets

Two days after your tooth extraction, you begin to experience excruciating, throbbing pain. Perhaps it extends to the ear and the eye on the extraction side of your face. Bad news. You probably have a dry socket.

Dry sockets occur when a blood clot either does not form after a tooth extraction or is lost. When this happens, the jawbone and nerves that were protected by the blood clot become exposed, causing significant pain and delayed healing. Good news. There are natural remedies for dry sockets that can relieve your pain within minutes to hours.

Clove Oil – Clove oil is used by dentists in so many applications that the smell of clove oil is often what patients identify as the smell of a dental office. Why is clove oil used so frequently in the dental field? Because it has antiseptic properties that fight bacteria in the mouth. These properties can be harnessed to treat a dry socket. Simply rinse the socket gently with warm salt water to clean it then apply a clove oil dressing, made by rolling a piece of cotton or gauze into a ball and adding a drop of clove oil. The ball should be small enough to fit in the socket without compacting but big enough to prevent food from entering it. Replace the ball every 24 hours until the pain is relieved. This process can take up to 5 days, but some relief can be expected within minutes to an hour.

Salt Water – Stir 1/2 teaspoon of salt into an 8 oz glass of warm water until the salt dissolves. Warm water can reduce swelling while salt can prevent infection. It is good to rinse gently with this solution 24 hours after a tooth extraction to prevent dry sockets. If you already have dry sockets, rinse gently with the solution 2-3 times per day to see results.

Cold Compress – A cold compress can be made using an ice pack purchased from the store, ice cubes and a towel, or a towel soaked in cold water. What is important is that the cold object is applied to the wounded area with pressure. Hold the compress to the side of the face that is affected for 15 minutes, 4-5 times per day to reduce swelling.

Honey – Honey is a natural antibacterial. Some studies report that honey can sterilize dry sockets within 3-6 days. Make a honey dressing in the same way that you would make a clove oil dressing, only by dipping the cotton or gauze ball into the honey with a pair of tweezers.

Black Tea – Black tea is a natural antibiotic, capable of reducing pain and swelling. Place a black tea bag in hot water as you would to make tea. Once the tea is sufficiently brewed, remove the tea bag and let it cool. Once cool, place the tea bag on the dry socket and hold it there for 5-10 minutes. Afterward, use the tea you made to rinse your mouth.

Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, preventing infections. To make an apple cider vinegar dressing, dip a cotton ball in the vinegar and place it on the dry socket, holding it there for 10 minutes, 2 times per day.

Garlic – As unpleasant as it may sound, garlic is another natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, good for treating dry sockets. Make a paste using garlic cloves and a little salt. Apply the paste to the socket for 30 minutes before removing and rinsing with warm water.

Turmeric – Turmeric is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric with a little water to make a paste and apply it to the dry socket. After 20 minutes, rinse the area with warm water. Do this 2-3 times per day.

Valerian Root – Valerian root is capable of alleviating the sensitivity of the nervous system. Make a tea by placing a piece of the root in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Sip the tea 2 times per day.

Tea Tree Oil – Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that can heal dry sockets. Dip a cotton swab in water then place 1-2 drops of tea tree oil on it. Press this against the dry socket for 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Do this 2-3 times per day.

Now that you know some of the natural remedies for dry sockets, which will you choose? For more natural ways to take care of your teeth after dry sockets, read Natural Ways to Improve Teeth Health.

How Oral Health Impacts Mental Health (and vice versa!)

How Oral Health Impacts Mental Health (and vice-versa!)

As a holistic dentist, I believe the body is more interconnected than we know. Health in one part of the body influences health in all of the others. Oral health has ramifications that extend to affect both body and mind! Learn more about the influences of oral health on mental health (and vice-versa!) below.

Oral Health Affects Mental Health

Poor or neglected oral health can damage feelings of personal value and self-confidence, which is harmful to mental health. Imagine the implications of a depressed patient learning that no one wants to talk to them because of their bad breath. The following results of poor oral health can cause or exacerbate social anxiety, which can lead to depression:

  • Difficulty eating or speaking
  • Poor appearance – yellowing, decaying, or lost teeth
  • Chronic bad breath

Poor oral health has also been correlated with memory loss. Research suggests that the bacteria from oral diseases such as Gingivitis and Periodontitis (gum disease) may travel through the bloodstream to the brain, causing inflammation and destruction of the neurons that can lead to memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. More research needs to be done to confirm the correlation. Read more about the link between oral diseases and physical illnesses in our blog, Why Health Gums Are Important.

Mental Health Affects Oral Health

On the flip side, mental health has significant ramifications for oral health. Patients with severe mental illnesses are 2.7 times more likely to have lost all of their teeth than the general populous. Learn more about how specific mental illnesses correlate with oral health issues below:

Depression & Schizophrenia | Patients who suffer from depression or schizophrenia are more likely to neglect oral hygiene, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

Bipolar Disorder & Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) | Patients with bipolar disorder or OCD can be over-zealous with their brushing, flossing, and mouthwashing, which can lead to damaged gums. Also, bipolar patients are often treated with a form of medication that can cause dry mouth or mouth sores. It is easier for bacteria to stick around in a dry mouth, leading to plaque, gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

Dementia | Patients who have dementia may forget to take care of their teeth or fail to remember if they have already done so, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

Eating Disorders | Patients with bulimia experience additional acid in the mouth due to vomiting, which can cause tooth decay. Anorexic patients often consume less calcium and other nutrients teeth need to stay strong.

Substance Abuse | Abuse of alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco can cause tooth decay.

Dental Phobia | Dental phobia, or, fear of the dentist, is a diagnosable phobia. Patients with dental phobia are less likely to make visits to the dentist and receive proper dental care on a regular basis as they should.

Also, some of the drugs used to treat mental illnesses include possible side effects of susceptibility to oral bacterial infection.

In summary, oral health and mental health do not exist in silos. They each affect each other in powerful ways. To me, this affirms the importance of holistic dentistry. Whole body health is just as important as the health of an individual part of the body. If you would like to take this approach to your dental care, contact me, Dr. Owen Mandanas.