I can recall as a kid, on several occasions, being less than thrilled to visit the dentist. When my mother told me we were going to get my teeth checked it was all she could do to keep me from running to hide. But, I also recall that every time I was apprehensive my fears would quickly disappear when the dentist came into the room. He was gentle and patient and had an amusing sense of humor. I can’t say for sure that my exposure to the dental chair at a young age wasn’t at least a tiny bit of inspiration for my career choice years later.
But, dental fear and anxiety are pretty common actually. For some it is a mild feeling of anxiousness yet for others it can be an intense fear or dread, referred to as a phobia (odontophobia).Their reluctance to visit the dentist is often a source of pain and swelling, lack of nutrition, missed work, medical complications. When those people do eventually seek dental care, their teeth are often in such bad shape that they require more extensive dental work which reinforces their fear. Unfortunately, the fact that seeing the dentist for regular care and maintaining good oral health can be helpful is not enough of a motivation for many people to overcome their fears and see one. While some may have had a traumatic dental experience at some point, for others it may be due to other existing anxieties. According to researchers in Sweden, about five percent of people have severe dental anxiety. The researchers found five strategies people use to get over their fear of the dentist. Their findings were published in the journal, Acta Odontologica Scandinavica. Common strategies are distracting yourself (such as counting or mental games), distancing (telling yourself the pain or discomfort feels like something else), prayer, personal efficacy (telling yourself to be strong), optimism (telling yourself everything will be okay).
One of the things I always like to do whether or not a patient has fear and anxiety is to get to know them. I share a personal story and make my patients feel comfortable by asking them to tell me about themselves. I sit with them and explain diagnoses and procedures. I let patients look at the equipment I will be using. Some of my patients choose to bring earbuds and listen to their own music or an audiobook and that is perfectly fine. The important thing is to allow enough time to accommodate and make patients feel comfortable and their needs heard. Not all patients have anxiety or dental fear, but for those who do it certainly is not a deterrent to us caring for their teeth.
I recently came across some facts regarding ancient dentistry and oral care. It’s always interesting to see how much has changed and yet in some cases, I find it amazing how innovative things were for those times.
- Egyptians were reportedly the first to use toothpaste, the main ingredients of which were eggshells and pumice.
- Although they did not have toothbrushes or toothpaste, the ancient Romans of Pompeii were said to have excellent teeth because their diets were so low in sugar.
- The Mayans actually used tooth-shaped shells for dental implants! The shells contained calcium carbonate which allowed them to integrate with the bone.
- In medieval times, the Japanese used to dye their teeth black through a practice called Ohaguro which was a statement of beauty. It evidently acted as a dental sealant to prevent tooth decay as well.
- Ancient civilizations as far back as 2,500 years ago, bedazzled their teeth with semi-precious jewels, attaching the stones with adhesives made of natural resins like plant sap.
- The Etruscans were likely the first to experiment with filling gold teeth.
So, these are just a few of the interesting facts I found in ancient dentistry. What amazes me most is their ingenuity given the lack of modern resources and technology.
Saliva is made up of mostly water and also contains substances to help your body digest food.
It keeps your mouth moist.
Saliva allows you to taste, chew and swallow.
It fights germs and prevents bad breath.
Saliva contains some proteins and minerals that protect your tooth enamel and prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
Your salivary glands are located inside each cheek, near the front teeth.
The body produces about two to four pints of saliva each day on average.
Some people have medical conditions in which they produce too much (hypersalivation) or not enough (xerostomia) saliva. For a slightly dry mouth, be sure to drink plenty of water and try chewing sugar-free gum.
If you experience excessive amounts of saliva or a very dry mouth, please ask Dr. Ellison about some possible solutions.
Lately, in our practice, we have been singing the praises of using a water pik. While I still recommend flossing, I must admit that I floss less now since getting back to using a water pik regularly. It’s a whole new kind of clean. Through independent and university clinical research, studies show the benefits of using a water pik (sometimes called an oral irrigator or water flosser). Water piks improve gum health and reduce gingivitis by removing plaque and bacteria. They are able to clean between teeth and below the gum line where a toothbrush or floss may not. The pulsating flow of water is gentle on the gums and less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums that brushing and flossing sometimes do. Water piks are also great for people with limited dexterity. Often when patients hate to floss or find it uncomfortable for sensitive teeth and gums, their oral health is negatively affected. Using a water pik is a reasonable and effective alternative or addition to the regimen. People who suffer from periodontal disease and those undergoing orthodontic treatment find the water pick’s small bursts of water helpful in dislodging food particles and bacteria. I recommend using a water pik to my patients with implants as well. It also massages and increases blood flow to the gums. Water piks are a great tool for reducing discomfort while effectively cleaning the teeth and gums.
There are both home and portable versions available. Home versions use electrical outlets and portables operate on batteries. They can sometimes spray unwanted water around the counter and mirror if you aren’t careful, which is why I like to just take my portable along in the shower. Both home and portable versions offer a pulsating stream of water, but some allow you to adjust the pressure settings, which we recommend especially for sensitive teeth and gums. Our favorite water pik is a portable one that several of us in our practice have been using and really like, The Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser. And, for the record, I do not get any affiliate credit for recommending. You can find it on Amazon and Best Buy. If you have questions about this or any other water pick, please ask Dr. Ellison.
With summer's arrival and kids home for the better part of three months, patients and parents sometimes ask me for suggestions of healthy snacks (and not just for kids). It can be easy to fall into the trap of junk and processed food, but with a little thought and planning these healthier options are definitely doable. I certainly enjoy chips and salsa or occasional potato chips as well. Pretzels were always my go-to when I got home from work. We enjoy taking advantage of summer's seasonal foods as well for both snacks and meals. Here are ten of my favorites.
Specifically walnuts. Full of fiber and protein, omega-3 fats and antioxidants, it doesn't take much for these to keep you feeling full longer. I read that studies show just 1 ounce of walnuts 5 times a week can cut heart disease risk by almost 40 .percent. Nuts, in general, are an easy snack to grab on your way out the door. Walnuts tasted like dirt to me at first, but you get used to them.
Along with drinking water, some foods offer great hydrating effects and watermelon is one, containing more than 90 percent water. Watermelon also contains lycopene, which helps to protect the skin from damaging sun, as well as antioxidants, and vitamins A,B6 and C. We have probably had watermelon at every summer barbecue.
Sweet, full of vitamins and 1 cup contains as much as 8 grams of fiber. Raspberries are one of my favorites for breakfast.
Sweet yet tart, Blueberries are full of antioxidants and fiber. I like them fresh, but frozen are great for throwing in a smoothie.
Cherries just remind me of summer. We used to go pick them when I was a kid and I'd eat them right out of my bucket before I had finished filling it up. Of course, as a kid I was unaware that cherries contain cancer-fighting flavonoids and anthocyanins that help increase fat burning, as well as melatonin that may help sleep.
There is nothing like fresh homegrown tomatoes in summer, sliced with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I like them paired with some mozzarella and a little basil. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, the phytonutrient that gives them the red color and helps protect the skin from sun. Tomatoes contain plenty of vitamin C and are about 94 percent water content too.
Cucumbers actually have a higher water content than watermelon at 95 percent. They're low calorie and versatile. Try them as a replacement for crackers with cheese. I was skeptical at first too.
We can't keep enough avocados around our house. They go with just about everything from sandwiches and burgers, to salads and eggs. Of course, guacamole and chips are a must.
Full of fiber and essential nutrients that your body can lose when you've been outside in the sun, spinach makes a great salad base for lunch or dinner, added to eggs, on a sandwich. I recently learned that spinach contains 157 mg of magnesium per cup.
If you're like me, you probably think celery has no taste. But it's a great vehicle for other things. You can top it with cream cheese or peanut butter or anything you can think.Celery is 95 percent water, contains fiber, vitamins A,C,K, B, folate and potassium. Celery is one tha I eat almost daily.
Most of these foods, except for nuts, contain a lot of water so they make excellent snacks in the summer when it is even more important to stay hydrated. Spending excessive time in the sun and sweating can deplete your body's electrolytes-potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium. These foods are all healthy choices for your teeth as well as your body
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