By Mark Levy | March 30, 2013
Easter is the season for sticky, gooey goodness in the form of Easter Baskets. Who doesn’t want to dive into that Easter Basket that is overflowing with marshmallow Peeps, chocolate bunnies and all sorts of other treats? Unfortunately, eating too much of this stuff is bad for our health, waistline and our teeth. How about an Easter Basket alternative?
Instead of a basket full of candy think about small toys or games instead. You can use plastic eggs from the dollar store to hide small prizes. Children love to get stickers, activity books, new crayons or markers and bubbles are always lots of fun. Since summer is almost here how about adding some sidewalk chalk so your young artist can decorate the driveway!
Theme baskets are another great idea. If you have a boy that loves a certain sport or sports team you can fill the basket with balls, caps, trading cards or other team swag. Little girls might like a basket of jewelry making supplies, art supplies or a princess basket. Even big kids like to get Easter Baskets so you could include gift cards or DVD’s.
Easter doesn’t have to be completely without candy. Don’t forget to include the chocolate bunny. Chocolate (dark chocolate is better) is actually good for your oral health in moderation!
Go ahead and bite the ears off that chocolate bunny and don’t feel guilty – unless of course the bunny belongs to someone else! If you or a family member do overindulge in seasonal treats and experience tooth decay then contact Columbus cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696.
By Mark Levy | March 5, 2013
We know that treating your gum disease, rather than ignoring it, is good for your health. Now an insurance company has found this treatment is also good for their bottom line because it reduced health care costs.
United Concordia is an insurance company that sponsored a University of Pennsylvania study that looked at the costs of treating patients who had heart attack or stroke and had active periodontal disease. Once the gum disease was treated, the annual medical costs were reduced almost $3,000 for heart disease patients. Patients with a history of stroke saw their annual medical bills reduced by over $1,000. Patients with diabetes experienced a 33% reduction in hospitalizations if they had treated their gum disease. They also saved on drug costs and had few physician visits.
This insurance company now has a list of diseases including diabetes, heart disease and stroke that are covered under a “dental wellness” program. This is the first dental program to integrate education and 100% coverage for periodontal surgery for these patients who need to treat their gum disease. The company also looked at findings related to the periodontal care of pregnant women and patients with rheumatoid arthritis but those results have not been released.
Hopefully one day soon all physicians and insurance companies will understand and embrace the concept that good oral health contributes to better overall health.
To keep your mouth as healthy as possible and to reduce the risk of other health problems please contact Columbus cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696.
By Mark Levy | March 2, 2013
I read a statistic that said that 84% of patients want to be educated about gum disease but that only 48% of them think they understand exactly how gum disease works. This means that dentists and hygieniests aren’t doing a very good job of explaining things.
Gum disease is not like the flu, where you catch it, have it for a short while and it clears up. Gum disease is progressive, it gets worse over time without treatment. This chronic disease affects millions of American adults and most of them don’t even realize they have a problem because they have no discomfort or pain.
Our mouths are filled with both good and bad bacteria. Gum disease occurs when the bad bacteria overrun the good bacteria and cause infection and inflammation. The infection attacks the tissue that connects the gums and teeth resulting in pockets. Without treatment these pockets become deeper, eventually leading to tooth loss and bone loss in the jaw. The infection may begin in one part of the mouth but can spread throughout the mouth infecting healthy gum tissue as well.
The good news is that periodontal disease can be treated, and the even better news is that treatments have improved over the years! You may have the beginning signs of periodontal disease if you have gums that are red or puffy. Bleeding while brushing or flossing is not normal and usually accompanies active gum disease.
Please contact Gahanna cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next appointment. You can help prevent periodontal disease by brushing, flossing and visiting your dental hygienist regularly.
By Mark Levy | February 27, 2013
When is the last time you saw a dentist? When is the last time you used your teeth for something other than eating? When is the last time you chewed on ice? If you are answering yes to these questions you have some bad habits that could cause dental health issues.
Did you know that 20% of us have one or more cavities – they aren’t taken care of because one of the bad habits that hurt your smile is avoiding the dentist! Here are a few more habits that may sound familiar:
- Crunching ice – Most people who chomp on ice don’t even realize they are doing it. Talk about something being a habit! Chewing on ice is especially bad for teeth because of the combination of cold and hard. The extreme cold can make our teeth more susceptible to breaking and frozen water is a really hard surface to bite into. The combination can have devastating effects on teeth including cracks, breakage and chips. Add in the fact that extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, make those old mercury amalgam fillings expand and contract and you are creating all sorts of problems. Stop crunching the ice and save your smile.
- Using teeth instead of tools. Raise your hand if you have ever used your teeth to open a bag of chips or to “tighten” a loose link in a necklace. Some people use their teeth instead of pliers for all sorts of things – even opening stuck bottle tops – ouch! If you use your teeth instead of the appropriate tool you will eventually break a tooth. Keep the scissors handy for those plastic bags and put some pliers in the kitchen junk drawer where they are within easy reach. A broken tooth can be painful and if it is badly damaged, may need to be removed. This means replacement with a bridge or a dental implant. Keep your teeth and use the tools instead.
- Sugary soda habit – Do you keep a can of soda on your desk and take little sips throughout the day? That is one of the worse things you can do for your smile. The acids from the soda soften the tooth enamel and the sugar feeds the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. If you want to drink a soda then you should drink it as quickly as possible and rinse your mouth with water when finished. When your mouth is free of acid and sugar your saliva can start working to harden your dental enamel again.
One healthy habit for your smile is regular visits to your dental hygienist along with daily brushing and flossing. Please contact Columbus cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next dental hygiene visit.
By Mark Levy | February 2, 2013
People have lots of reasons for avoiding dental appointments? What’s yours?
Some people think oral health isn’t very important (check the science – oral health is crucial). Others experience anxiety or fear about dental visits. Lots of people feel that they can’t go to the dentist because they don’t have dental insurance – not true. Whatever the reason, regular dental visits are too important to skip. Think about the use and abuse your teeth get every single day! Is it any wonder we want to check them every six months to make sure everything is OK?
Here are several excuses that people use to avoid visiting the dentist:
- I don’t have dental insurance. Dental insurance policies typically don’t cover very much anyway. If you stick to regular dental hygiene visits and practice good oral care at home you will be surprised at how little your preventive care will cost. Taking care of your mouth helps prevent expensive situations from popping up in the future. If we do discover a problem it usually costs a lot less to deal with it early. A good example is tooth decay – a small cavity can be filled very easily but if it is ignored it will become a very large cavity, which can turn into a much bigger problem including root canal and a crown.
- My teeth aren’t that important. Our mouths are very important. We use our teeth to chew our food which is the first step in the digestive process that allows our bodies to draw needed nutrients from the things we eat. Gum disease and tooth decay are caused by oral bacteria. These oral bacteria can travel throughout the body and have been found everywhere from the heart to inside tumors. Keeping your mouth healthy is key to keeping good overall health.
- I have dental anxiety. We understand patients who have dental anxiety and fear. Using sedation dentistry we can treat years of neglect and dental damage while you are completely relaxed. Different people require different levels of sedation so we offer a range of options, from nitrous oxide to fearless dentistry using a little pill. You can have a beautiful healthy smile despite your anxiety!
- I’m afraid you’ll find something wrong. If you do have trouble brewing in your gums or teeth wouldn’t you want to know? After all, oral health problems won’t go away on their own, they will only get worse. This is one case where ignoring the problem won’t make it go away – unless your tooth has to go away because the damage is too severe!
Please contact Columbus general dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your visit. You’ll be surprised at how enjoyable your visit will be and you may even stop avoiding dental appointments!
By Mark Levy | January 26, 2013
People discovered a long time ago that vitamins have an effect on healthy smiles — remember sailors on long voyages experiencing scurvy? Sailors lived on dried grains and meats and didn’t have access to the vitamin C in fresh vegetables so they ended up with spongy gums and tooth loss. Keep your smile as healthy as possible by getting these important vitamins:
- Vitamin A helps maintain saliva flow and healthy mucous membranes. Get yours from sweet potatoes, melon, spinach and beef liver.
- Vitamin B-1 fights inflammation and helps keep your gums a healthy pink. Sunflower seeds and many vegetables are good sources.
- Vitamin B-2 prevents those little cracks, or flakes that form at the corners of your mouth. This condition is called cheilosis and milk products, mushrooms and lean beef are good sources of B-2.
- Vitamin B-5 helps with the healing of oral tissues. If you have had recent oral surgery you might want to increase your intake of egg yolks and liver.
- Folic Acid is another B vitamin, B-9, and helps fight yeast growth and the symptoms of chronic gum disease. Beef liver, spinach, greens and asparagus are all full of this nutrient.
- Vitamin C will ensure you don’t get scurvy like those sailors. Actually vitamin C is required for our bodies to make collagen which is necessary for healthy gums. Citrus fruit is full of vitamin C.
- Vitamin D is needed to build strong bones and teeth. While sun exposure causes our bodies to create this vitamin, most people need supplements to ensure a proper level.
- Calcium is another bone and teeth builder. Get yours from low fat dairy products and leafy greens.
- Magnesium goes hand in hand with calcium when it comes to building bones and teeth. Supplements may be needed for magnesium as well.
A good multi-vitamin can make sure that you have all of these essential nutrients but getting as many as possible from a healthy diet is even better.
Please contact Columbus, OH cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 if you are experiencing gum disease or especially if you have lost a tooth that needs to be replaced. You may not have suffered from scurvy but any missing tooth should be replaced as soon as possible.
By Mark Levy | January 25, 2013
Smoking can lead to gum disease and gum disease leads to tooth loss. About half of gum disease in smokers is caused by smoking and studies have found that using tobacco is one of the largest risk factors for the development of gum disease.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection and in the early stages the gums will bleed easily when brushing or flossing. Smokers typically have less gum bleeding and redness than non-smokers even when their gums are not healthy. This can lead to people thinking their gums are healthy when they are not. Smoking makes gum disease get worse much faster and smokers have more bone loss and treatment of the disease is much more difficult. Smoking also makes treatment less likely to succeed because smoking hampers the healing process. Of course, the changes in the healing response are throughout the entire body – not just the mouth. One more reason to quit!
It is not just cigarette smoke that contributes to gum disease. All forms of tobacco do the same – chewing tobacco has the added plus of upping the risk of oral cancers. The good news is that quitting helps reduce your risks of all types of disease, including gum disease that could lead to tooth loss.
If you do smoke and have no intention of quitting then it is extremely important for you to become best friends with your dental hygienist. You will probably be visiting for cleaning appointments more often than the usual six month recall just to keep your mouth as healthy as possible. These visits also allow us to check for signs of oral cancers.
Please contact Columbus cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next dental hygiene appointment. Working together we can keep your smile healthy.
By Mark Levy | January 19, 2013
Do you suffer from heartburn on a regular basis? You might suffer from GERD and this stomach problem can also affect your oral health.
GERD is short-hand for gastroesophageal reflux disorder and the discomfort felt by GERD sufferers is caused by the stomach acid rising into the esophagus or mouth. This acid erodes the lining of the esophagus and also erodes tooth enamel.
Common dental signs of GERD are tooth erosion, tooth sensitivity, bad breath or a sour taste in the mouth. Tooth enamel begins dissolving when the pH value in our mouth drops below 5.2. The pH value of stomach acid is around 2.0 – so you can see why this condition is so damaging to teeth. About 25% of adult GERD patients experience serious dental erosion.
Not surprisingly, many cases of GERD are first spotted by dentists! Many patients ignore or mask their symptoms using over the counter medications – eroded dental enamel is one sign that your dentist won’t ignore.
GERD is becoming more common, especially as our population becomes heavier. This is a potentially serious (due to tissue damage in the esophagus) condition that can be treated and controlled. The dental manifestations of acid reflex should not be ignored because the weakened tooth structure can lead to decay and breakage. Repairing the tooth erosion caused by stomach acid will probably include dental crowns, veneers and other types of restorations that will restore tooth function and appearance.
It is important that patients with GERD visit their dentist regularly. Please contact Columbus, OH cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy at 614-476-6696 today to schedule your next visit.
By Mark Levy | January 5, 2013
Diabetics have a higher rate of gum disease but new research suggests ways they can protect themselves.
More scientific evidence linking type 2 diabetes with a greater risk of gum disease has been published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. This is one of the largest investigations of the link using data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study(an ongoing study of 51,529 male U.S. health professionals).
The research showed that men with type 2 diabetes had a 39% increased chance of having gum disease and a 22% increased risk of tooth loss compared to those without diabetes.Among men with a low intake of fruits and vegetables, having diabetes was associated with a 49% greater risk of gum disease. Men who at lots of fruits and vegetables seemed to protect themselves against the increased risk of gum disease. Eat your veggies!
The researchers noted “These results hold important public health implications due to the associations between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease and nutritional alterations associated with tooth loss.” They added “Greater collaboration between diabetes care providers and dentists could be used to identify at-risk patients in both clinical settings.”
Diabetic patients and their physicians are beginning to understand the importance of good oral health and its consequences in the treatment of their disease. This study also appears to show that a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables could offer some protection against gum disease.
Please contact Columbus, OH general dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next dental hygiene appointment. Working together with our diabetic patients we can help maintain good oral health which will improve blood sugar control.
By Mark Levy | December 26, 2012
Lots of people find that when they get older, those golden years bring lots of new cavities. Why would you suddenly start getting cavities when you are in your 60′s or 70′s? Most of the time you can blame your medications!
One side effect of many medications, including those for allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression (a lot of the most common prescriptions written today) is reduced saliva flow. This is called xerostomia or “dry mouth” and it is one reason you need to tell your dentist about all of your medications you may be taking. If you are on a medication that causes dry mouth here are some suggestions to reduce your risk of dentla decay:
- Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers – these ususally come in spray or rinse form
- Drink lots of water all day long. This helps rinse food debris from your mouth and keeps the tissues moist.
- Chew sugar-free gum (those containing xylitol are most helpful) or suck on sugar-free candies to stimulate saliva flow
- Avoid beverages that add to the problem like coffee, alcohol and carbonated soft drinks
- Check with your physician to see if a lower dose or different medication could help
Dry mouth not only leads to more dental decay but your gums can be affected as well. This is not the time of life to skip your dental checkups.
Regular dental hygiene visits can help clear away plaque and bacteria so you can maintain good oral health – which leads to better overall health – as you age. It is not unusual to have decay under older dental restorations. In some cases the decay may require removal of the tooth. While dental bridges are still used in some cases to replace the missing tooth, a far more popular and natural feeling option is a dental implant.
Dental implants act just like tooth roots and the restoration is completed with a special crown. The resulting tooth looks and feels like your natural tooth.
Please contact cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy in Columbus, OH today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next appointment.