How much do you remember from learning about the pH scale in science class? Don’t worry; if you forgot all of it, we’ll give you a little refresher, because acids and bases are pretty important when it comes to the health of our teeth and gums.

A Crash Course in the pH Scale

The pH scale is how we measure how acidic or basic a substance is. The scale goes from 1 to 14. Neutral substances (like water) have a pH of 7, while highly acidic things are lower on the scale and highly basic things are higher on the scale.

To give you an idea of where some common substances land, orange juice ranges from 3.3 to 4.2, and stomach acid is all the way down between 1.5 and 2.5. Soap is mildly basic at between 9 and 10, and bleach is a powerful base at 12.5. What pH is best for our mouths?

Ideal Oral pH

The human body isn’t all the same pH. Our skin is happiest when mildly acidic (with a pH of about 5.5), but blood should be slightly basic (7.4). For our teeth and gums to stay as healthy as possible, we want our oral pH to remain neutral the majority of the time. An unhealthy mouth is more acidic, which can seriously damage tooth enamel over time. Tooth enamel is extremely hard so that it can withstand a lifetime of chewing, but it begins eroding at a mildly acidic pH of 5.5.

What Makes Mouths Acidic?

So how does acid end up in our mouths? The most direct way is by eating or drinking something tart or sour. The bubbles in soda pop, regular and diet alike, come from carbonic acid even though not all soda tastes sour. Our mouths can also become acidic indirectly. When we consume sugary or starchy things, harmful oral bacteria eat the leftovers and excrete acid onto our teeth and gums as a waste product. Acid reflux or vomiting also introduces more acid to the mouth.

Saliva Is the First Line of Defense Against Acid

Fortunately, our mouths have a built-in defense mechanism against acid: our spit! Saliva washes away leftover particles of food and neutralizes our oral pH over time. This is what makes dry mouth so dangerous to our teeth and gums beyond the way it can make chewing and swallowing difficult. Our teeth are left vulnerable to acid erosion without enough saliva.

What can we do to help our saliva do this critical job? We can avoid sipping on or snacking on sugary drinks and treats. Every time we consume something acidic or containing sugar or starch, we reset the clock on our saliva neutralizing our oral pH. That’s why we recommend keeping the treats to mealtimes instead of continuous sipping and snacking.

Consume Less Sugar and Acid

We can also reduce the overall amount of sugary or acidic things we eat, which means minimizing the soda and sugary treats along with bread and dairy products and adding in more fruits and veggies.

Let’s Unite in the Fight Against Enamel Erosion!

Eating less sugary or acidic food and keeping the ones you do to mealtimes will really help your oral pH stay neutral, but it’s not a replacement for twice-daily brushing and daily flossing — nor is it a replacement for regular dental appointments! These habits are still essential to lifelong oral health.

We love our patients’ healthy smiles! Contact Lane & Associates today to schedule your dental cleaning or talk to one of our staff about your oral health. Want to learn more about oral health and dental cavities? Visit our dental education center page for answers to all of your questions! 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Next Time You Burn Your Mouth On Pizza…

SOMETIMES YOU JUST CAN’T RESIST! It’s SO cheesy and saucy—right out of the oven! You dive in and take your first bite…

Uh oh! Too soon! You’ve got “pizza burn!”

Pizza Isn’t The Only Culprit

You’ve probably burned your mouth before on coffee, soup, and other scorching hot foods. Soon after, you may have noticed that the roof of your mouth, and perhaps your tongue, is very tender. In some cases, you may even have blisters! Unfortunately, your mouth will probably hurt for a few days. However, there are a few things you can do to relieve the pain and irritation.

How To Soothe Your Mouth And Help It Heal

  1. Applying or sucking on ice can relieve the stinging. Gargling cold water or eating ice cream are other options.
  2. Drinking milk can coat the scorched area.
  3. An over-the-counter pain reliever can help, if the pain is really distracting.
  4. Avoid acidic, crunchy, and other hot foods, or even very salty and spicy dressings. This will stop the burn from getting irritated further.
  5. Squeezing Vitamin E from a capsule over the wound can speed up healing. It will regenerate new tissue and heal the wound.
  6. Maintain good oral hygiene while your mouth is burnt, keeping it as clean as possible to promote healing and prevent further infection. Warm saline rinses can also be helpful.
  7. Resist touching the burned area. This may be difficult, but by touching the affected area, the lesion may become irritated further.

If It’s Not Feeling Better In A Few Days, Call Us

Pizza-type burns tend to heal within three to seven days. If soreness and blistering continue beyond a week, please contact us! In the meantime, have fun enjoying that delicious, cheesy pizza—that is, once it’s cool!

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends!

We’ve all been there before, sitting in the middle of a job interview or a first date and realizing that our breath is far from minty fresh. Even when everything else is going perfectly, bad breath can be enough to ruin your confidence and turn a good experience sour. Why do we get bad breath, and what can we do to stop it?

Oral Bacteria And The Food We Eat

In order to effectively fight bad breath, it’s important to figure out what’s causing it. The simplest and most common cause is leftover food particles stuck between our teeth after a meal. The bacteria in our mouths break down these particles, and the end result doesn’t smell good. We can combat this with a good daily hygiene routine, including daily flossing, twice-daily brushing, scraping our tongues clean, and chewing sugar-free gum.

Causes Of Chronic Bad Breath

Chronic cases of bad breath (also called halitosis) might not be solved by good oral hygiene practices alone. Halitosis may be caused by:

  1. Chronic conditions. Sometimes, bad breath is linked to conditions that you wouldn’t think are connected to oral hygiene, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and acid reflux.
  2. Medications. A common side-effect of medications is dry mouth. Without saliva to wash away food particles and neutralize acid, the mouth is vulnerable to problems like bad breath.
  3. Mouth-breathing. Whether it happens by habit or because breathing through the nose is difficult, mouth-breathing tends to dry out the mouth, leading to the same problems as described above.
  4. Mouth, nose, and throat infections. Bad breath can be the result of increased mucous when we have a cold or sinus infection.
  5. Pregnancy. Symptoms such as morning sickness and nausea can cause bad breath, because of the extra acid in the mouth. This is also a problem for people struggling with bulimia.
  6. Tobacco products. Tobacco in any form leaves smelly chemicals in the mouth and can also dry it out. In addition, it increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease, which negatively impact breath as well.
  7. Tooth decay and gum disease. Poor dental health often goes hand-in-hand with chronic bad breath because cavities and periodontitis are caused by the same bacteria that produce those nasty-smelling chemicals.

person brushing their tongue
Brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper is a good option.

Keeping Your Breath Fresh

Even if strict oral hygiene isn’t enough to keep the bad breath completely at bay, it will help to manage it, and treating the underlying cause may be able to eliminate it. If you are a habitual mouth-breather, try breathing through your nose more. Quitting smoking will eliminate a major cause of bad breath. If dry mouth is the problem, chew sugar-free gum and mints to stimulate saliva production, sip water, and use a humidifier to help keep up the moisture.

Your Dentist Can Help

Discovering the underlying cause of bad breath is a crucial step in fighting back, and the dentist is your best ally here. Schedule an appointment at Lane & Associates so that you can get the answers you need to fight bad breath the best way. We want all of our patients to feel confident about their breath!

We’ve all been there. You sit down for your dental appointment, ready and prepared for a filling or crown, and then…the blood pressure cuff comes out. And we think, “What’s this for?” Read along as we get answers on why your dentists and dental hygienists check your blood pressure at your dental appointment.

Why did they take my blood pressure at the dentist?

There are many reasons why the dentist or assistant may need to check your blood pressure at your appointment. This can range from establishing your baseline to alerts in hypertension to measuring your anxiety levels. Namely, your blood pressure is key to understanding your overall health at the time of your appointment. 

This is especially important since many Americans see their dentist more often than their physician at every 6-month cleaning. It’s a crucial health check and an opportunity to understand the changes in your overall health.

Can dental problems cause high blood pressure?

As humans, our bodies react differently when we are in pain or experiencing high anxiety. If you have high blood pressure, your dentist may need to adjust your treatment plan. Once determined, your dentist can make a better customized treatment plan for your specific needs. 

For example, some dentists may be able to offer light sedation options for those patients who have high anxiety which is causing their blood pressure to rise. Additionally, patients who are in pain from a tooth that needs to be extracted will see a drop in their blood pressure after that painful tooth has been removed. 

In extremely hypertensive situations, however, you may be asked to visit your primary care physician to discuss ways to reduce your blood pressure before beginning any dental care treatment.

closeup on dental tray during treatment

What blood pressure is too high for dental treatment?

Obviously this range is going to depend on many factors. The type of procedure, whether or not you are currently taking blood pressure medications, and many other health history factors. Typically, however, high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 or above. Also, if your top number (systolic) is greater than 140 or your bottom number (diastolic) is greater than 90, you may have high blood pressure no matter what the other number reads. 

If you are suffering from hypertension, your physician can determine the best course of action. This may include blood pressure medication or lifestyle changes. Many dentists and oral surgeons will also require medical approval from your cardiologist or physician before they will operate. 

Can I refuse to have my blood pressure taken at the dentist?

Ultimately, your blood pressure allows dentists and hygienists to know that you are healthy enough to endure the treatment. It also gives them an indication as to which form of anesthetic to use (for example, anesthetics without epinephrine). By refusing, you are consequently putting your own health at risk and your dentist will most likely refuse to proceed. Taking your oral health seriously is important to your overall health and well-being. 

Taking the time to check these key health measures is an incredibly important step in your dental treatment.

Start your treatment today!

At Lane & Associates Family Dentistry, we not only check your blood pressure, but also offer oral cancer screenings, oxygen level checks, and pulse checks. The combination of these factors & our many other services, let’s us know how best to treat our patients and make their experience with us truly one that makes them smile. If you are looking for a dentist that takes your overall health seriously, contact us today

THE TRUTH IS, our teeth are amazing! Without them we wouldn’t be able to speak, eat, sing, or smile properly. We’d like to celebrate our teeth by sharing some interesting dental facts you may not have known!

couple brushing their teeth at same sink

Here Are 10 Fun Dental Facts:

  1. If you’ve been using floss daily, by the end of the year the total length will be the perimeter of a baseball diamond!
  2. Because birds lack teeth, many swallow stones or grits to aid in breaking up hard foods.
  3. On average, women smile 62 times a day and men only eight times a day. Step it up, guys!
  4. The average American spends 38.5 total days brushing their teeth in their lifetime.
  5. Only 40 percent of young people age six to 19 have had cavities in their life. That’s down from 50 percent a decade ago!
  6. In the middle ages, people thought that a dog’s tooth boiled in wine made an excellent mouth rinse to prevent tooth decay. Tasty!
  7. The Egyptian Plover, also known as the crocodile bird, is famous for flying into crocodile mouths and cleaning their teeth.
  8. Prior to the 1850s, ‘toothpaste’ were usually powdered and contained soap and chalk.
  9. An obscure law in Vermont states that it is illegal for women to wear false teeth without the written permission of their husbands. Crazy!
  10. Different animals have different amounts of teeth; armadillos have 104, pigs have 44, and humans have 32.

How Many Of These Facts Have You Heard Before?
It’s always fun to learn about the obscure facts and crazy history that make up our tooth trivia! Do you know any other cool dental facts? Comment below or on our Facebook page! And remember, take care of your teeth. They do so much for you! We are grateful for our awesome patients and we love to make you smile!

Learn more interesting facts about teeth here | Contact Us | Schedule your appointment

In anticipation of Groundhog Day 2020, we wanted to take a closer look at some of the world’s most interesting animal teeth! Especially Groundhogs like our Laney!

Groundhog day Laney
GROUNDHOGS
Groundhogs have 18 chewing teeth, as well as four chisel-shaped incisors. Their two upper incisors constantly grow—about 1/16 of an inch every week! So groundhogs must constantly gnaw on leaves, trees, grass, and roots to keep the growth in check. Without a shadow of a doubt, groundhogs have some interesting pearly whites. Keep reading to learn about more animals with unique sets of teeth!

GIRAFFES
When it comes to their number of teeth, giraffes and humans are neck and neck. We both have 32 teeth! Giraffes also have an estimated 20-inch tongue for all their snacking needs!

 

alligator teeth graphic
ALLIGATORS
Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth in their mouth at a time, but as their teeth wear down, new ones constantly replace them. A single alligator can go through as many as 3,000 teeth in one lifetime!

HORSES
Did you know you can estimate the age of a young horse based on its number of developed teeth? Typically by age five, they have a full set of teeth. A fully developed horse of around five years of age will have between 36 and 44 teeth. All equines are heterodontous, which means that they have different shaped teeth for different purposes. All horses have twelve incisors at the front of the mouth, used primarily for cutting food, most often grass, whilst grazing.

 

Narwhals tusk as tooth
NARWHALS
Narwhals live in Arctic waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. You may recognize a narwhal from the long, hornlike tusk protruding from its head. But did you know that this tusk is actually an overgrown tooth? Read more about Narwhals and their tusk on the BBC article here.

BLUE WHALES
This may be surprising but blue whales do not even have teeth. Instead, the blue whale has a structure called a baleen plate. Shaped like a comb, the bristles of the baleen let water pass through while trapping prey. Once caught, the whale brings in the food with its massive tongue.

Hopefully, you found out some fun facts about interesting animal teeth! Let us know if you have any questions about these tooth tidbits & be on the lookout on Groundhog day to see if Laney sees his shadow! #GroundhogDay2020 #Feb2nd

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