The Aging Mouth: What is Normal, What is Not

The natural process of aging takes its toll on your teeth and mouth just as it does your body. Here are some common oral health changes you can anticipate as you age:

Enamel Wear — Chewing, cleaning and the normal aging process means your teeth will eventually wear down over time.

Darker Tooth Color — Aging dentin (the tooth’s middle layer) holds stains easier than younger dentin, making your teeth appear slightly darker.

Gum Changes — Aging gums naturally recede over time.

Cavities — Cavities around the root of the tooth are more common as you age. Any fillings you have are also aging and can weaken or crack.

Other changes to your teeth and gums aren’t normal and shouldn’t be overlooked. These symptoms could signal something more serious and are reason to see your dentist right away:

Tooth Loss — Dental cavities and gum disease are the leading culprits of tooth loss in seniors, but neither is a normal part of aging. If your teeth and gums are healthy, there’s no reason why your teeth should fall out.

Dry Mouth – As you age, you may notice a reduced flow of saliva, sometimes as a side effect of medical conditions, medications or medical treatment. Saliva is important because it lubricates the mouth and neutralizes the acids produced by plaque.

Bleeding Gums — Bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease, a leading cause of tooth loss in seniors. But gum disease is not an inevitable result of aging; it’s caused by the build up of plaque. Left untreated, gum disease is linked to other health concerns like arthritis and heart disease.

Health Watch: How Bottled Water Affects Your Teeth

How Bottled Water Affects Your Teeth

Millions of Americans are embracing a healthy lifestyle and turning to bottled water as part of their diet. Bottled water is often marketed as being better for you, but it may be doing your teeth a disservice. Your bottled water could be missing some elements that promote oral health.

For over 60 years, the United States has been involved in a public health program called community water fluoridation. Many communities throughout the nation added fluoride to their water supply, and the result was a significant decrease in childhood cavities. In fact, community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure for tooth decay prevention to date.

The Water Works

Fluoride battles dental cavities by strengthening tooth enamel and remineralizing teeth damaged by acid. Unfortunately, the majority of bottled waters contain little or no fluoride. In fact, fluoride may even be removed from water during the filtration process. Bottling companies and home filtration systems use reverse osmosis or distillation units to remove sediments and impurities from the water. Reverse osmosis is a water purification system that filters out minerals and some chemicals, while distillation uses heat to literally steam water away from impurities. The steam is then cooled and turned back into water.

What’s gaining steam in the water industry is the sale of bottled water — and you’ll need to drink plenty of it in order for your teeth to benefit. According to the American Dental Association, fluoridated water should contain 0.7-1.2 milligrams per liter of fluoride for effective cavity protection. While fluoride intake varies according to weight, the ADA states that ingesting 4 mg of fluoride per day is adequate for the average 160 pound person. Since most bottled waters contain less than 0.3 mg per liter of fluoride, you’ll need to stock up to get the amount of fluoride recommended by the ADA!

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Wisdom Teeth and Teens

Like dental braces, the removal of wisdom teeth is one of the dental “rites of passage” for teens.

Wisdom teeth — or third molars — are our final set of molars and usually start to emerge between the ages of 16 and 25. They are known as “wisdom” teeth in most cultures because of their late arrival compared to other adult molars.

If your teen begins to complain about wisdom teeth symptoms, including inflammation and wisdom teeth pain towards the back of their jaw, it is very likely that their wisdom teeth are getting ready to erupt. Once the teeth break through the gums it is important for your teen to clean them thoroughly everyday, since food and debris can easily become trapped under the gums and cause painful swelling and infection.

Your teen’s dentist will monitor the development of their wisdom teeth by taking X-rays periodically to track their position and movement. If the teeth become impacted — which means that they are coming in at an angle — you will probably be referred to an oral surgeon to have the teeth removed. Impacted wisdom teeth can become infected, cause cysts and damage nearby teeth and nerves, so they should be removed as soon as possible.

Will Your Teen Need Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Sometimes wisdom teeth are unable to erupt because there is not enough room in your teen’s jaw. They may become stuck before they reach the gum surface or while the crown of the tooth is partially visible. This can lead to infections and other complications, so your dentist will likely suggest that they are removed.

Some dentists will suggest removing your teen’s wisdom teeth as a preventive measure if it is likely that they will cause dental problems down the road. This is often done long before the tooth emerges because the longer a wisdom tooth remains in the mouth the more developed its root becomes. As a result, oral surgery may take longer and complications can occur.

Most dentists agree that removing wisdom teeth is the best way to prevent tooth decay, gum infection and pressure pain. Since wisdom teeth will try to make room for themselves in your teen’s tightly packed jaw, they may also shift teeth that have been previously straightened with braces or other orthodontic devices, ruining the investment you made in your orthodontist.

If you have not done so already, it is a good idea to speak with your teen’s dentist about their wisdom teeth. Waiting until complications arise can make the removal process more difficult, and a dentist is the best person to advise you about treatment options.

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Back To School Check-up!

Summer is over and it’s back-to-school time, which means it’s also time for your child’s check-up. We want to make sure he/she kicks off the school year with excellent dental health! Please call our office at 775-882-1195 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Our back-to-school schedule fills up quickly, and we want to arrange a time that works best for you!
As always, it’s our pleasure to provide you and your family with the very best in dental care!

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Six Easy Ways to Prevent Dental Cavities in Children

In dentistry, children and cavities seem to go hand in hand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 percent of children ages 2 through 5 have at least one dental cavity, compared to 24 percent a decade ago. Although 4 percent may not seem like a lot, that increase represents thousands and thousands of children and cavities — as well as a trend in the opposite direction of the last 40 years, when tooth decay was on a gradual decline.

Eating unhealthy foods is one of the primary reasons for the rise in numbers of affected children and cavities. Healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts are often replaced with processed foods, and soda and sugary drinks have trumped water.

And unfortunately, even if your child is drinking water, it won’t do their teeth any good if it’s bottled; because unlike tap water, bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride, which is essential for the healthy development of your child’s teeth.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Visiting the dentist regularly, practicing good oral hygiene and promoting healthy eating habits are all ways to help break the connection between children and cavities.

You can also get a head start on fighting the children and cavities epidemic by taking extra special care of your child’s baby teeth. Baby teeth are adorable to look at, but they also set the stage for healthy adult teeth. If tooth decay is present in baby teeth, your child’s adult teeth can also become infected.

So if you have children and cavities are a concern, here are six easy ways to reduce the risk:

1. Avoid giving your baby juice or formula at night. The sugar in juice and formula causes the bacteria in the mouth to produce the acids that cause baby bottle tooth decay. Use fluoridated water instead.

2. Choose low-fat foods from the basic food groups. Raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole-grain breads and low-fat dairy products are great for your child’s overall health and their dental health!

3. If you must, give sweets only as a dessert. If your child must have sweets, limit it to dessert or following a main meal. Late-night snacking and frequent snacking are a major culprit of cavities in children.

4. Invest in a water filter. Most community sources of water are fluoridated — an excellent resource to help the battle between children and cavities. Instead of spending extra on bottled water, invest in a filter for your sink, or a filtered water pitcher.

5. Don’t share cups or utensils. Cavities are contagious. So if you have them, you can pass them onto your child by sharing cups and utensils.

6. If you smoke, stop. The University of Rochester’s Strong Children’s Research Center has discovered a link between smoking, children and cavities. Results from a recent study show that children of parents who smoke are more likely to develop cavities.

Learning how to brush properly is also essential in helping to stop the children and cavities epidemic. Teach your child to use short side-to-side, up-and-down strokes and to brush around his or her gum line for at least two minutes twice a day.

Finally, never skip taking your child to the dentist for regular exams and dental cleanings. While you’re at the dentist’s office, be sure to ask plenty of questions — your dentist is the best resource for learning how to protect your children from cavities!

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Making the Most of Your Dentures

A Few Tips on Making the Most of Your Dentures

Dentures are more like natural teeth than you might think. Often when people get dentures, they might think they are set for life. In reality, dentures require as much attention as natural teeth. While this might come as a surprise to many in Carson City, a few straightforward tips can help you keep that new smile healthy.

First things first— remember to clean your dentures regularly. While dentures may look smooth and impenetrable, they still have pores and indentations that can trap bacteria. Daily brushing and nightly soaking help kill bacteria and keep you healthy. There are a lot of products out there ranging in price and effectiveness. Ask your dentist for recommendations on what products will work best for you.

Back to the point about being set for life with new dentures. Experts recommend replacing dentures about every 5-7 years, so it is important to keep in touch with your dentist not only for regular cleanings, but also to monitor the condition of your dentures. The Nevada State Health Division recommends regular professional oral care in addition to daily home care, and this applies to dentures.

Finally, many people worry that dentures spell the end of enjoying hard to eat foods like corn on the cob or apples. Your dental professionals, like the friendly experts at Carson Tahoe Family Dental Care, are there to help you quickly adjust to your dentures so you can eat and smile like you always have. Just like your natural teeth, taking care of your dentures will help you get the most out of them.

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Get Smart About Sippy Cups

Sippy cups are as much a mainstay of infancy and toddlerhood as diapers and onesies. These clever cups come complete with a tight lid and a spill-proof bill-shaped spout. They’ve helped make the transition from nursing and bottle feeding to drinking from a cup less messy for thousands of little ones over the years. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Turns out a sippy cup can contribute to tooth decay in much the same way as a baby bottle. Prolonged, constant sucking on a sippy cup or baby bottle that contains milk, formula and fruit juice can leave sugars and acids on your child’s teeth. Over time, these can erode the tooth enamel, causing serious dental problems such as cavities for your little one’s baby teeth. That’s why the American Dental Association recommends you encourage your child to drink from a cup by his or her first birthday.

Choose the Right Cup

As a parent, it’s natural to want to do what’s best for your child. When it comes to preventing baby bottle tooth decay — dental caries in children under 3 — choosing the right sippy cup is an important step. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though, since stores offer so many options. Most of these are “no-spill” cups — sippy cups that come with a valve beneath the spout to stop spills. While they may limit messes, these valves do not allow your child to sip. Instead, your little one must suck the liquid from the cup in much the same way as when drinking from a baby bottle.

The best sippy cups are those without valves. These provide a slotted opening which limits liquid flow and requires your child to sip instead of suck. Consider choosing one with two handles to make grasping it easier. And don’t be afraid to let your baby test drive a few different sippy cups to find the right one.

Sipping With Success

Most babies don’t go from nursing or bottle feeding to drinking from a cup overnight. Sippy cups are intended to be used temporarily while your child learns how to sip. During this transition, there are a few things you can do to protect your little one’s pearly whites from potential sippy cup side effects:

Use sippy cups only at meal or snack time.
Saliva production increases during a meal. This helps neutralize acid production and rinses food particles from your child’s mouth.

Restrict use to the highchair or table.
At-will, frequent sips of sugary liquids fosters tooth decay. Plus, toddlers are unsteady and may fall while holding a cup, which could cause an injury to the mouth.

Clean the cup after every use.
Liquid can easily become trapped in the nooks and crannies of a sippy cup, leading to the growth of bacteria and mold.

Offer water instead of sugary fluids.
If your child is thirsty in-between meals, offer a cup with water instead of a sugary fluid.

Skip sippy cups altogether.
Some parents transition their babies straight from a bottle to a cup with no lid. It just requires more patience and clean up!

Don’t forget to schedule your child’s first dental visit when the first tooth appears or by the first birthday. Your dentist is a great resource for helping you decide when to introduce sippy cups and which type is right for your child.

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Click, Pop, It Won’t Stop!

Does your jaw click, pop or grind while you’re eating, talking or yawning? While this may not feel like a serious condition, it’s usually caused by problems with the temporomandibular joint. If left untreated, this can develop into a painful and occasionally debilitating disorder known as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD.


TMD can cause headaches, dizziness, facial pain and tooth sensitivity. It can cause difficulty in chewing and opening your jaw, and can lead to other problems like jaw clenching. As your dental office, we want to help you maintain good oral health. If you’re experiencing jaw clicks, please call our office for an appointment today.

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Picking a Toothbrush

Picking a toothbrush sounds easy, right? But if you’ve ever walked down the toothbrush aisle of your local drug store, you know how easy it is to get confused by all the choices. Some toothbrushes promise fresh breath, deep cleaning and even teeth whitening. Others are specially designed for orthodontics or dentures. While these special features are enticing, it’s best to ask your dentist if they’re right for you or if you need them at all. There are, however, some toothbrush basics that you need to know — these tips should make your search for a toothbrush a whole lot easier!

What to Look for in a Toothbrush

The right toothbrush can help turn bad oral hygiene habits into good oral hygiene habits. Without daily brushing and flossing, your teeth and gums may become especially vulnerable to tooth decay, dental plaque, dental tartar, even gum disease. Don’t let that happen — use these guidelines to help you pick a toothbrush; the more you like your toothbrush, the more likely you are to brush.

Remember: the Softer the better. It might seem like a toothbrush with stiff bristles is the right choice — after all, many of your household brushes probably have rigid bristles, making cleaning faster and easier. But the opposite is true when it comes to picking a toothbrush. And the reason why is simple: Softer bristles are easier on your gums. When you brush, you want to clean your teeth, not make your gums bleed. A toothbrush with stiff bristles is more likely to cause bleeding gums. However, don’t pick a toothbrush that’s labeled “soft” unless your dentist recommends it; choose a “medium” one instead.

Go nylon, not natural. There’s a whole slew of natural dental products available that are environmentally friendly. You may have even heard about something called a “Natural Toothbrush” with bristles made from the root of an Araak tree. Other types of natural toothbrushes have brown bristles that are reportedly softer than nylon bristles. While you may be curious to try a natural toothbrush, keep in mind that there has been little research done in the U.S. on their effectiveness (or harmfulness). Natural toothbrushes may also cost more and wear out faster than standard toothbrushes. Until there’s more information about natural toothbrushes, it’s probably best to stick to an ADA-recommended toothbrush with medium-soft, nylon bristles.

Get a heads up. When it comes to a toothbrush head, you might think that bigger is better. That’s not always the case. If you have a small mouth, a toothbrush with a big head might make it difficult to angle your toothbrush to brush hard-to-reach areas. Go for something that complements the size of your mouth.

Choose a handle with care. The handles of toothbrushes are usually colorful, sometimes translucent or even glittery. But don’t be fooled into thinking that “bright and shiny” is all you need. What you should really look for is a toothbrush handle that feels comfortable in your hand and is easy to maneuver. Also look for a non-slip surface, especially if you have arthritis.

Don’t forget: After daily use, your toothbrush can lose its effectiveness and even become a breeding ground for germs, fungus and bacteria. Who wants that? To get the most out of your toothbrush, replace it frequently — at least every 1-3 months. And if you recently had a cold or infection, you may have transferred germs to your toothbrush so be sure to use a new toothbrush.

Make an appointment today to schedule an appointment with us or call us at (775) 882-1195!

Tooth Root Decay – Baby Boomers at Higher Risk

Getting to the Root of the Problem with Tooth Root Decay

The development of root decay is providing a new challenge for dentists. Root decay is more difficult to treat than normal cavities — especially if the dental cavity travels under the gum line. Traditionally, dentists treat root decay the same way they treat regular dental cavities. While the procedure is more demanding, root fillings have a much higher failure rate. Tooth filling material isn’t designed to adhere to the tooth’s porous roots; this often results in a shorter life span for the restoration and multiple visits to the dentist to fix the problem.

As more baby boomers are becoming seniors, the dental industry is finding new ways to battle root decay. Dentists are now practicing less invasive procedures to treat early signs of root decay. Professional fluoride treatments are often recommended, which your dentist can provide in the office. At-home fluoride use is also important in the fight against tooth decay, and your dentist can prescribe a toothpaste, mouth rinse or fluoride trays as part of your ongoing dental care.

For severe damage or decay found between teeth, your dentist may need to treat the area with a dental crown. Extreme cases may require a tooth extraction followed by a dental bridge or dental implants to replace the tooth. Root decay also increases your chances of needing a root canal. A dental cavity on the root of the tooth has more chances of affecting the pulp, so it’s important to treat root decay before it has a chance to spread.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

If your gums have receded, you should take measures to prevent root decay. Diets high in sugar will feed the dental plaque-causing bacteria found on your roots, so stay away from sweets! Dry mouth also increases your chances of getting root decay — saliva is needed to wash away food debris and neutralize acid. Without it, exposed roots may be more prone to acid attacks and resulting decay. Drinking lots of water, sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugarless gum can help prevent dry mouth.

If you suffer from receding gums or have just reached “that age,” regular dental visits allow your dentist to check for tooth root decay. Preventive measures also include gum disease treatment for receding gums: An ultrasonic dental cleaning removes dental tartar from under the gum line and helps ward off the possibility of gum disease. If necessary, a gum graft can help restore gums to their natural state. At home, soft brushing with fluoride toothpaste will also help keep your gums intact and prevent decay.

With age comes the wisdom to make excellent health choices — in the time it took to read this article, you’ve only gotten a couple of minutes older, but your knowledge of root decay has grown immensely. With a little extra care, you can draw the curtain on the root decay problem and truly reap the benefits of your golden years!

Make an appointment today to schedule an appointment with us or call us at (775) 882-1195!