THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away....

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR ORAL HEALTH

On the list of common reasons people avoid the dentist, cost is usually near the top. It is a fact — some dental treatments are expensive. However, you have some control in working to avoid pricey dental procedures. Two of the best ways to avoid needing expensive dental treatments are to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and cleaning and following proper dental hygiene advice every day.

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COMMON SLEEP DISORDER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE BODY

The National Sleep Foundation estimates over 18 million adults in the United States, or about one in every 15 people, suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing, resulting in disruptive sleep. Individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse throughout their sleep, which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

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YOU ARE WHAT YOU CHEW AND YOUR TEETH ARE TOO

minerals such as fruits and potatoes. A well-balanced diet also includes foods that contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Good examples of foods offering these items include sweet potatoes, beans and strawberries. And, of course, consuming adequate water and limiting sugary beverages is part of this healthy mix. From helping keep your mouth clean to aiding muscles and skin, it’s important to stay properly hydrated.


When trying to decide on a healthy diet, choosemyplate.gov is an excellent resource. MyPlate offers ideas on how to build a healthy mix of food. It encourages users to make half their plate a mixture of fruits and vegetables and explains the difference between what actual portions and commonly eaten portions look like. That large bagel actually counts as more than one serving.


Of course, healthy eating requires a healthy mouth. Your ability to chew lean protein and fiber-rich sweet potatoes is directly related to the number and the condition of your teeth and their supporting structures – gums and bone. Enamel, the outer covering of teeth, helps protect the living tissues inside your teeth. During the day, bacteria build up in your mouth, forming dental plaque.

 The foods you’ve eaten produce enamel-damaging acids. When the damage is significant enough, a cavity (also known as dental caries) forms and needs to be cared for by a dentist.


While limiting sugary foods and beverages from your diet is important for maintaining a healthy mouth, without proper dental habits, even healthy foods can contribute to the formation of plaque. To help avoid cavities, it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day to prevent the build-up of plaque. Using a fluoride toothpaste will help strengthen teeth and make it less likely for cavities to form.


Your teeth need the help of strong gums. Just like teeth, gums can be affected by bacteria in the mouth. If allowed to build up, plaque can lead to inflammation in the gums, or gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontal or gum disease, which will need to be treated in a dental office. Research indicates periodontal disease makes it more difficult for the body to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Maintaining blood sugar levels is vital for individuals who are concerned with issues such as diabetes. Flossing once a day can not only help prevent gingivitis but also the formation of cavities between teeth.


The tight-knit relationship between the mouth and overall health is why some people refer to oral health as the window to overall health. Working to maintain a healthy mouth can go a long way in fending off other health issues or aid in keeping them under better control. This relationship has helped encourage the creation of new models for patient care, including facilities focused on the holistic treatment of patients. These facilities, such as the University of Kentucky’s Diagnosis, Wellness and Prevention Clinic, offer patients the opportunity to visit a variety of healthcare professionals, including a dentist and nurse practitioner, in one location during a single appointment.


Before that next snack or meal, keep in mind how healthy dietary choices support both oral and overall health. Because of this tight relationship between your oral and overall health, remember to brush and floss regularly regardless of what you’re eating.

UK DENTISTRY

UK Dentistry offers expert, personalized care for the general and specialty dental and oral health needs of adults  and children. We're committed to improving Kentucky, and beyond, one smile at a time.

 More information about UK Dentistry is available at www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/dentistry.

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The food we eat affects not only our teeth but also our health overall. Webster’s Dictionary defines diet as the kinds of foods a person, animal or community habitually eats. “Diet” can mistakenly be associated with food restriction and often carries a bad connotation. However, a healthy approach to eating results in benefits that may include improved sleep, more energy, clearer skin and fat loss, as well as strong teeth and bones. Eating a healthy diet also decreases the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Healthy choices can help lead to healthy lives.


A healthy diet is a well-balanced diet. If you are a healthy adult who is disease free, you should be able to eat food without restrictions – there are no items you must work to avoid routinely. However, it is still a good idea to follow best practices when it comes to your diet. Doing so will not only make your dentist happy, but will also work to maintain your overall health.


What do some of those best practices look like? A well-balanced diet contains three important macronutrients: protein, fats and carbohydrates. Protein, such as lean beef, chicken and fish or eggs and nuts, is often under-consumed, but the body needs these nutrients for energy. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated and trans saturated fats such as butter, whole milk and animal fat. Carbohydrates should come from sources with vitamins and