Why do Men avoid the dentist?

Why do Men avoid the dentist?
According to a recent study by the Cleveland Clinic, men aren’t going to the doctor for regular checkups as they should. 72% of survey respondents said they’d rather do household chores like clean the bathroom or mow the lawn than go to the doctor. Similarly, three-quarters of men who are married or in a domestic partnership would rather go shopping with their significant other than visit the doctor. Men are less likely than women to seek preventive dental care and may neglect their oral health for years, according to the American Dental Association. Why are men avoiding the dentist? For many men, it’s simple. They don’t want to “bother” the doctor or dentist because they think the problem will likely just resolve on its own. For others, it’s fear-based. They are afraid of what the diagnosis or outcome of an issue could reveal. Avoiding the dentist is part of a larger oral health problem that has men dodging routine at-home dental care too. Consider the following:
  • Men are less likely to brush their teeth after every meal compared to women
  • Men are less likely to brush their teeth twice a day compared to women
  • Men are more likely to have untreated dental decay compared to women
What is the impact on their smile and overall health? Heart disease is still the number one leading cause of death for men in the United States, and poor oral hygiene can increase your risk of heart disease. High levels of inflammation associated with untreated periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can contribute to heart conditions. It leads to a scary statistic: those with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack. Research also suggests a link between a man’s prostate health and periodontal health. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is an enzyme created in the prostate that is normally released in very small amounts. When these PSA levels rise, it can signal a problem in the prostate. Men who have signs of gum disease and prostate issues have higher levels of PSA than men with only one of the conditions. While more research is needed, there’s evidence that men with erectile dysfunction are more likely to have gum disease than those who don’t have it. A study in China found that rats with periodontitis or gum disease had less of an enzyme which helps males achieve an erection. How can men take back control of their health? Men need to keep these two words in mind: proaction and prevention. Good oral and overall health starts with being proactive about your health and seeking preventive care. For starters, brushing and flossing daily can help reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%. Second, schedule annual dental checkups. Dentists can detect up to 120 diseases that have signs and symptoms in the mouth. This means they are often the first person to spot a potential problem before it gets worse. And if anxiety about going to the dentist is the root cause for avoiding these annual checkups, try using these tips:
  1. Plan ahead—book an appointment when you’re not in a rush to reduce your stress
  2. Take a few slow, deep breaths after arriving at the office if you feel tension rising
  3. Let your dentist know if you’re feeling anxious, he or she might have some relaxation techniques to try
Establishing an oral health care routine at home and scheduling regular dental checkups will help men (and women) avoid more costly and painful procedures in the future.   Arnold, Jessica, “Men, Avoiding the Dentist is Bad for Your Health”, Delta Dental
Men, Avoiding the Dentist is Bad for Your Health

What causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

What causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Your child’s baby teeth are important and are still susceptible to cavities, even though they are temporary. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak, and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth grow and develop correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.

What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected. There are many factors that can cause tooth decay in babies and toddlers. One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar, including milk. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is frequently used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth or cleans a pacifier, the bacteria can be passed to the baby. If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay. The good news is that decay is preventable.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay 

  • Avoid sharing feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
  • Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
  • Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
  • Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice, or soft drinks.
  • Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.
When your child’s first tooth appears, talk to your dentist about scheduling the first dental visit. “Bottle Tooth Decay”, Mouth Healthy https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay

Are Spicy Foods Good for You?

Are Spicy Foods Good for You?
In the desert southwest, the tiny chili pepper is mighty in flavor and cultural significance. From packing heat into salsa and sauces to hanging decoratively on the walls of homes and restaurants, these bright, shiny-skinned peppers are the spice of life in Arizona. Part of the plant genus Capsicum, the chili pepper is a flowering plant in the nightshade family. Some common varieties include ancho peppers, banana peppers, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapenos, ghost peppers, and habaneros. While they vary in size and color, the heat of each pepper is determined by one shared chemical component: capsaicin. Whether you prefer your food scorching or subdued, the burning feeling you get from chowing down on your favorite spicy Mexican dish is good for you.

Nutrients in Hot Peppers Are Good for Your Mouth

Chili peppers are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, chilis contain Vitamin A, which protects your bones and teeth. Vitamin A also helps reduce inflammation and infection in the tissues of your gums. Some other beneficial vitamins include:
  • Vitamin K1: Essential for healthy bones and kidneys
  • Potassium: Improves bone mineral density
  • Vitamin C: Strengthens gums and soft tissues in the mouth. It can protect against gingivitis.

Other Benefits of Eating Hot Peppers

  • Boosts metabolism. When you pop a hot pepper into your mouth, your brain sends signals to your body to remove the hot substance, this results in increased circulation, helping to boost your metabolism. And, there is some evidence to suggest that capsaicin can promote weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing fat burning.
  • Cools the body. Eating spicy foods can cool you down on a hot day. When you eat spicy foods, it raises your internal temperature to match the temperature outside. Your blood circulation increases, you start sweating and once that sweat evaporates, your body cools down.
  • Pain relief. Eating high amounts of chili peppers may desensitize your pain receptors over time. Also, when capsaicin is used in a lotion or cream, nerves in the hands and feet can grow accustomed to the feeling of heat and lower the body’s ability to process pain.
  • Release endorphins. If you’ve ever felt a bit buzzed when eating spicy food, science says there’s a reason for it. When eating spicy foods, the compounds in the spice send a message to your brain to make it think it’s in pain. As a response to this perceived pain, your brain releases endorphins and dopamine to block the pain signals.
  Arnold, Jessica, “Are Spicy Foods Good for You: The Oral Health Benefits of Hot Peppers”. Delta Dental. http://deltadentalazblog.com/are-spicy-foods-good-for-you-the-oral-health-benefits-of-hot-peppers/

Will cleaning your tongue help reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases?

Will cleaning your tongue help reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases?
Scientific literature continues to highlight the connection between the health of our mouths and the health of our bodies. For example, there has been extensive research on the profound impact that oral health can have on health risks such as heart disease.

It’s all about balance

Your mouth and the rest of your body are inextricably connected, which means what happens in the mouth can influence every other part of your body as well.  Each person is really an entire ecosystem of microbes and human cells engaged in a beautiful genetic dance. In order to thrive, we must be good stewards of the various microbes that make up our bodies, and not allow them to become out of balance.

What does this have to do with cleaning the tongue?

The mouth is home to many microbes- they live on and between our teeth, as well as on our tongue. These microbes are a healthy and normal thing. However, microbes also make up plaque, and can cause cavities and bad breath. If we allow plaque (biofilms of microbes) to stay on our teeth and tongue, they mature and get thicker. And that’s where the trouble starts. While it’s normal and healthy to have small amounts of microbes living in our mouths, thick biofilms that sit on our teeth and tongue become anaerobic (low-oxygen) environments, and this change allows other, pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes to flourish. These anaerobic microbes can cause an inflammatory cascade in our immune system, affecting areas of our body far beyond our mouth.

How could tongue cleaning lower the risk of heart disease (and other inflammatory conditions)?

The tongue plays a vital role in introducing new material into our entire GI tract (our digestive system). So, maintaining a thin biofilm on the tongue is important if we want to avoid continuously harboring and swallowing inflammation-causing microbes. This means we need to regularly clean our tongue and make sure the biofilm there does not thicken and begin to cause negative effects like inflammation.

Why brushing the tongue isn’t cleaning the tongue

Brushing the tongue is somewhat helpful, but it’s just not as thorough as cleaning (scraping) the tongue. Scraping the tongue is more effective in removing the harmful bacteria from the mouth.

Causes of bad breath.

The tongue is home to the majority of microbes that cause bad breath. So, by cleaning your tongue daily, not only will you support both your ‘in-the-mouth’ and ‘whole-body’ health, but you’ll also naturally freshen your breath.   “Can cleaning your tongue help reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory issues?”, Ora Wellness. https://orawellness.com/can-cleaning-your-tongue-help-reduce-heart-disease/

What You Need to Know About Fluorosis

Our mouths contain bacteria that use sugars in the foods we eat and the beverages we drink, to produce an acid that harms our teeth. 

Fluoride protects our teeth and is an important mineral, especially for children. However, too much fluoride can cause something called dental fluorosis which can harm our teeth. 


Dental fluorosis results in a slight change in the look of the teeth, usually in the form of very faint white markings. Typically, the fluorosis seen in the US is a mild form that does not cause pain and does not affect the health or function of teeth. Fluorosis only occurs when fluoride is consumed before the age of 8, while permanent teeth are still forming under the gums


When we help our children brush their teeth, it’s important to use toothpaste with fluoride to help protect their teeth, but it’s also important that they spit out the toothpaste, rather than swallow it. Make sure to read the directions on all children’s toothpaste products to know how much toothpaste to put on their toothbrush. A good general rule is children under three should use a thin smear, and children over 3 should use an amount the size of a pea. Young children should not use mouthwash or mouth rinse.


There are many conflicting theories around dental fluorosis and that’s why you need to turn to trusted voices to help you determine what you need to know for yourself and your family. This is where your family dentist plays an important role. Start regular dentist visits for your child by their first birthday. Children who consume a typical diet, drink fluoridated water, and use fluoridated dental products properly will get the fluoride they need for healthy teeth and are no more at risk of fluorosis now than children were 20 years ago.


“What You Need to Know About Fluorosis Today”, Campaign for Dental Health.


Thumbsucking and using a Pacifier

Thumbsucking and using a Pacifier
Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for children. Babies feel secure and happy while sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other objects as this may help them to learn and explore about the world around them. Young children may also suck their thumb to soothe themselves and help them fall asleep.

How can My Child’s Teeth be affected by Thumbsucking?

Thumbsucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth, after the permanent teeth have come in. It may also cause changes in the roof of the mouth. Pacifiers can also affect the teeth the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs, however it is an easier habit to break. The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether or not dental problems may result. If children rest their thumbs passively in their mouths, they are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. Some aggressive thumb-suckers may develop problems with their primary (baby) teeth.

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children usually stop sucking by the time permanent front teeth are ready to erupt and this could be between the ages of two and four years. If you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth or are concerned about your child’s thumbsucking, consult your dentist.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumbsucking?

  • Praise your child for not sucking the thumb.
  • Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child. Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort.
  • Your dentist can explain to your child what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking. Your child might trust information from you, your dentist, or other trusted adults differently, so convey a consistent message.
“Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use”, Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/thumbsucking

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
You may have sensitive teeth, if the taste of ice cream or a sip of hot coffee is sometimes a painful experience. Possible causes include:
  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Fractured teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Exposed tooth root
In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of your teeth—the part above the gum line. Under the gum line, a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.

Sensitive teeth can be treated. The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay, or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay in a tooth that is causing sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.
Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive tooth pain. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity. “What Causes Sensitive Teeth” American Dental Association. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sensitive-teeth

Why a healthy smile should also be a white smile

Why a healthy smile should also be a white smile
A straight and white smile is becoming more sought after than ever before. This mind-set began when we first started to develop an interest in mimicking the results of celebrity cosmetics, also called the ‘Hollywood smile’. Today, the price of cosmetic dentistry, like tooth whitening and adult orthodontics has become far more affordable and accessible. It means today’s Hollywood smile is now the ‘Love Island smile’. As a reality show, this creates an image that cosmetic dentistry is obtainable and as ‘normal’ as visiting the hairdresser or barber. More of us are taking an interest in searching for ways to improve our own smile. However, while changing the appearance of our teeth sits high on many people’s wish lists, it is important to remember the most important thing – the health of our smile. A white smile can also be a healthy one A perfectly white smile may not always be what it seems, and a white smile is not necessarily a healthy one.  White teeth as a result of tooth whitening are still susceptible to tooth decay and disease. Just as white teeth can improve our self-esteem, suffering from tooth loss can have the opposite effect. Strong evidence suggests that gum disease is linked to wider conditions such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and dementia. The health of our mouth isn’t only important for the state of our smile, it is also incredibly influential for our quality of life. We need to realize that the health of our teeth is the most important factor, far more important than the color. The good news is that with regular care at your dentist, regular brushing at home, and good dental care habits, you can be assured to maintain a smile that is both healthy and beautiful. How to keep a healthy mouth A good oral health routine at home and regularly visiting our dentist is all we need to have healthy teeth and gums. It involves a few easy steps:
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes. This is best done the last thing at night and one other time during the day.
  • Clean in between your teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss.
  • Use mouthwash daily.
  • Chew sugar-free gum in between meals.
  • Cut down on the amount of sugary foods and added sugar in your diet, and also reduce the number of times per day you consume sugary foods by limiting sugar consumption to mealtimes.
  • Visit your dentist as often as they recommend.
By sticking to this basic routine, we can achieve that healthy, beautiful smile. Loat, Stephen, “Why a white smile should also be a healthy smile”. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/blog/why-a-white-smile-should-also-be-a-healthy-smile

Food and drinks that spell trouble for oral health

Food and drinks that spell trouble for oral health
Acids play an important role in oral health, however when hearing the word ‘acid’ we might be likely to recall the various chemicals we saw in glass bottles in science class at school. We may also think of it as the thing that can cause heartburn and indigestion.  There are several foods and drinks that are high enough in acid to cause a problem for the health of your teeth. High acidity foods and drinks are the cause of dental erosion and can have serious consequences for the strength of the enamel that surrounds and protects teeth. How acid affects the mouth Acids leave teeth vulnerable to damage by weakening the enamel. Every time we eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel becomes softer for a short while and it loses some of its mineral content. Enamel is the hard, protective coating of our tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. The dentine underneath is exposed, when the enamel is worn away which may lead to pain and sensitivity. Naturally, saliva will slowly cancel out this acidity and restore the chemical balance in the mouth. However, if this acid attack happens over and over, it could result in permanent damage to the enamel. The most common types of acid in food and drink are carbonic acids, citric acids, and phosphoric acids. These are the acids that weaken enamel, leading to dental erosion. The main culprits when it comes to acidic foods and drinks are the two Fs: Fizz and Fruit. Fizz ‘Fizziness’ is often a tell-tale sign of an acidic drink. The most common of these are fizzy drinks, sodas, pops, and carbonated drinks. Even the ‘diet’ brands that contain “Fizz” are harmful. Some alcohols are also acidic. Beer, cider, prosecco, white wine, and alcopops are all examples of alcoholic drinks that are highly erosive for teeth. Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says: “The best way for us to avoid the damage caused by fizzy drinks is to simply limit our exposure to them.” Try reducing exposure to acidic drinks by eliminating them outside of mealtimes. Another tip is to swallow the drink quickly, without holding it in your mouth or ‘swishing’ it around. Again, it’s all about reducing the amount of time the teeth are being exposed to acid. Using a straw helps drinks go to the back of the mouth and avoids additional contact with teeth. Dr. Soha Dattani, Director Scientific & Professional Affairs at GSK Consumer Healthcare says: “The drinks market is full of products which are high in acidity and that can play havoc on the enamel of our teeth. As consumers, this often makes it difficult for us to make healthy choices when choosing our drinks.” This is true whether we’re in a supermarket, a restaurant, attending events, or socializing. Plain, still water is the best drink for teeth. Milk is also good because it helps to neutralize acids in the mouth. Fruit Fruits form an integral part of a healthy balanced diet. However, fruits can encourage dental decay as they contain citric acid. Citrus fruits are the worst offenders as they have low pH levels, which means they are acidic. The most acidic fruits are lemons, limes, plums, grapes, grapefruits, blueberries, pineapples, oranges, peaches, and tomatoes. There are a few things we can do to limit the dental damage caused by fruits. Dr. Nigel Carter adds: “The first thing we can do, much as with fizzy drinks, is to keep them to mealtimes. Consuming fruit at breakfast, lunch, and dinner should provide the appropriate number of daily portions while not putting teeth under unnecessary strain. Secondly, always try to consume fruit in its whole form and not as fruit juice. While most fruit contains natural sugar, many fruit juices also have added sugar. This is not good for teeth. Whole fruit is also packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, which is often missing or reduced in concentration in fruit juice. More tips and advice Erosion of the enamel from acidic foods can cause sensitivity in your teeth- this may be one of the first signs of dental erosion. If you experience sensitivity to temperature or sweet foods, you should schedule an exam with your dentist.  Sensitivity can be treated with special ‘desensitizing’ products to help relieve the symptoms. This may include fluoride gels, rinses, or varnishes. The symptoms of dental erosion can also be managed at home, while waiting for a dental appointment, with products like toothpastes designed to reduce sensitivity and strengthen enamel.  Your dentist will be able to advise which type of toothpaste is best for you. Borthwick, Josh, “ What foods and drinks contain acid and why it spells trouble for our oral health”. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/blog/what-foods-and-drinks-contain-acid-and-why-it-spells-trouble-for-our-oral-health

Osteoporosis and Oral Health

Osteoporosis and Oral Health
Certain medications can influence dental treatment decisions and it’s important to let your dentist know about all the medications that you take. In the case of antiresorptive agents—medicines that help strengthen bones—these medications have been associated with a rare but serious condition called osteonecrosis (OSS-tee-oh-ne-KRO-sis) of the jaw (ONJ) that can cause severe damage to the jawbone. Some bone strengthening medicines, such as Fosamax, Actonel, Atelvia, Didronel, and Boniva, are taken orally to help prevent or treat osteoporosis (thinning of bone) and Paget’s disease of the bone, a disorder that involves abnormal bone destruction and regrowth, which can result in deformity. Others, such as Boniva IV, Reclast or Prolia, are administered by injection. Higher and more frequent dosing of these medications are given as part of cancer therapy to reduce bone pain and hypercalcemia of malignancy (abnormally high calcium levels in the blood) associated with metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma.

How do these medications affect dental treatment plans?

While osteonecrosis of the jaw can occur spontaneously, it more commonly occurs after dental procedures that affect the bone or associated tissues (for example, pulling a tooth). Be sure to tell your dentist if you are taking any medications for bone health so he or she can take that into account when developing your treatment plan. It’s not possible to say who will develop osteonecrosis and who will not. Most people (more than 90 percent) diagnosed with ONJ associated with these medications are patients with cancer who are receiving or have received repeated high doses of antiresorptive agents through an infusion. The other 10 percent (of people with ONJ) were receiving much lower doses of these medications for the treatment of osteoporosis. It may be beneficial for anyone who will be starting osteoporosis treatment with antiresorptive agents to see their dentist before beginning treatment or shortly after. This way, you and your dentist can ensure that you have good oral health going into treatment and develop a plan that will keep your mouth healthy during treatment.

Continue regular dental visits

If you are taking antiresorptive agents for the treatment of osteoporosis, you typically do not need to avoid or postpone dental treatment. The risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw is very low. By contrast, untreated dental disease can progress to become more serious, perhaps even involving the bone and associated tissues, increasing the chances that you might need more invasive treatment. People who are taking antiresorptive agents for cancer treatment should avoid invasive dental treatments, if possible. Ideally, these patients should have a dental examination before beginning therapy with antiresorptive agents so that any oral disease can be treated. Let your dentist know that you will be starting therapy with these drugs. Likewise, let your physician know if you recently have had dental treatment.

Talk to your physician before ending medications

It is not generally recommended that patients stop taking their osteoporosis medications. The risk of developing bone weakness and a possible fracture is higher than those of developing osteonecrosis. Talk to your physician before you stop taking any medication.

Symptoms of osteonecrosis of the jaw include, but are not limited to:

  • pain, swelling, or infection of the gums or jaw
  • injured or recently treated gums that are not healing
  • loose teeth
  • numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw
  • exposed bone
Contact your dentist, general physician or oncologist right away if you develop any of these symptoms after dental treatment. “Osteoporosis and Oral Health”. Mouth Healthy https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/o/osteoporosis-and-oral-health