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Carbs and Cavities

January 15th, 2020

The Good News

Carbohydrates are one of the body’s essential macronutrients (along with protein and fat). We use carbs to convert the food we eat into energy. How does this work? It’s a sophisticated process:

  • Carbs break down into sugars as we digest them
  • Sugars are absorbed into our bloodstream
  • The pancreas releases insulin when blood sugar levels rise
  • Insulin enables sugars to move from our blood to our cells
  • Cells throughout the body use this sugar for energy.

Without the necessary amount of carbohydrates, our bodies lose a vital source of energy. So, why are carbs a dental concern?

The Bad News

Some foods immediately begin breaking down into sugars in the mouth. Sugars are a favorite food source for the oral bacteria that form plaque. They use this sugar to produce the acids that weaken our enamel and lead to cavities. And the more often we eat these foods, and the longer they remain in the mouth, the more damage our enamel suffers.

But there’s a silver lining! We can be healthier physically and get a jump on preventing damage from sugary treats by becoming more discriminating in our choice of carbs and timing our indulgences wisely.

Good Carb/Bad Carb

Unprocessed, complex carbohydrates are found in foods like whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, and vegetables. They contain the vitamins, minerals, and fibers which are lost when foods are refined. They are composed of larger, more complex molecules, and so they break down gradually for sustained energy.

Some simple carbohydrates break down into sugars more quickly, but also offer important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruits and dairy products, for example, are an important part of a balanced diet.

But some carbs are not pulling their nutritional weight. Refined sugars (think candies, desserts, and sodas) and refined starches (white bread and rice, potato chips, pastries) break down quickly into sugar in the mouth. Worse, many of these foods tend to stick around. Sticky sugars and sticky starches cling to our enamel and hide between the teeth and in the crevices of our molars. Not only do these treats provide a sugary feast for acid-producing bacteria, they take their time doing it!

So, What to Do?

If you have a diet filled with healthy carbs (whole grains, fruit and vegetables, legumes, dairy products), you’re already on the right track. Kudos! But does this mean no desserts? Ever?

No! We all need a cookie sometimes. But you can decrease the chance of enamel damage by interrupting the carbs to cavities cycle.

First, if you are indulging in a rich dessert or some salty chips, better to do it as part of a meal. When you eat a full meal, your body produces more saliva. Saliva not only helps wash away food particles, it also helps neutralize the acids that damage enamel.

Secondly, if you eat simple carbs and sugars all day, your mouth and teeth are being treated to acids all day. If you are going for a snack, there are many great options that don’t use refined sugars and starches. Think fruit smoothies (with a big dollop of vegetables) or whole-grain crackers with hard cheese instead of a can of soda and a bag of pretzels.

Carbs aren’t really bad, they’re just misunderstood. Talk to Dr. Sardzinski, Dr. Wilken, Dr. Stanley, Dr. Hanson and Dr. Heying at your next checkup at our Hiawatha, IA office for ideas for the best carbohydrate choices for healthy metabolisms and healthy smiles!

Dermal Fillers

January 8th, 2020

We want you to be happy with your smile, and we’ve worked with you to make sure your teeth are their healthiest and brightest. But there is more to your smile than teeth alone! If you are concerned about smile lines, lip lines, thinner lips, or other signs of aging, talk to us. Dermal fillers might be just the solution you are looking for to provide the ideal frame for your beautiful smile.

  • What can dermal fillers do for you?

As we age, we start losing the substances in our skin that keep it firm and wrinkle-free. Collagen is the protein that gives our skin structure and the ability to both stretch and snap back. Hyaluronic acid, while we don’t hear as much about it, is actually one of the most important keys to youthful skin. This compound not only attracts water, but binds it to our cells, leaving the skin plump and smooth. But over time, collagen starts to break down and lose its elasticity, and our bodies produce less hyaluronic acid.

These biological changes have noticeable effects on our faces. Permanent lines are visible between the corners of our noses and lips, small wrinkles develop above the mouth, and our lips may appear both wrinkled and thinner. A face-lift can tighten the skin and facial muscles, and neurotoxins such as Botox can prevent facial muscles from wrinkling. But these procedures can’t replace lost volume. A filler, on the other hand, actually provides the fullness the face and lips may have lost for a more youthful and natural appearance.

  • How do dermal fillers work?

There are a variety of fillers available, both natural and synthetic. Dermal fillers are minimally invasive and injected under the skin’s surface. They plump lines and wrinkles, restore volume to the lips, and can reduce acne scarring or other scars by filling depressed spots in the skin. Most fillers are temporary, and designed to be safely absorbed by your body over time.

What are some common concerns about dermal fillers?

  • Are they safe?

We only use approved dermal fillers, and are trained in the safe use and application of this treatment. We will describe the procedure in detail, so you will know what to expect and how to care for yourself afterward, and explain any possible side effects (although these are rare). If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any allergies or other health conditions, or have dental work scheduled in the near future, let Dr. Sardzinski, Dr. Wilken, Dr. Stanley, Dr. Hanson and Dr. Heying know.

  • Are they effective?

We can discuss any concerns you have about specific facial conditions and what you would like to accomplish. We tell you if you are a good candidate for dermal fillers, and how they can provide you with a more youthful—and natural—appearance. Because dermal fillers are generally absorbable and temporary, the results usually last from six months to a year.

If you want your smile to look more youthful, if you’d like fuller lips, if you’d like to reduce wrinkling around the face and mouth—give our Hiawatha, IA office a call! Because working together, we can make the most of your beautiful smile.

Healthy Resolutions for Healthy Teeth

January 1st, 2020

Every January 1st, you have your resolutions ready. No more nail biting. Lose ten pounds. Stop smoking. None of us are happy about those annoying bad habits we’ve picked up over the years. But if nothing else has helped you keep your resolutions, maybe seeing how they can improve your oral health will give you some extra willpower.

  • No More Nail Biting

You can easily see how nail biting affects your fingernails, but its effects are more than cosmetic. The pressure this habit puts on tooth enamel can lead to cracks, chips, and enamel erosion. Nail biters have a greater risk of bruxism, or teeth grinding. (More on that below.) And the transfer of germs from fingers to mouth and mouth to fingers is a vicious circle that can lead to illnesses and infections in both fingers and mouth.

  • Cut Down on Junk Food

Sugars and carbs help pack on the pounds, no doubt. Did you know that they can also help create cavities? Sugar is a favorite food for oral bacteria, which allows them to produce acids which attack and weaken tooth enamel. And carbs? They convert easily to simple sugars. Choose nutritious snacks and beverages, and you will keep those teeth healthy. You might even lose a few pounds!

  • Lower the Volume

If your partner complains about sleepless nights thanks to your nocturnal teeth grinding, or your friends ask you to quit chewing on that cup of ice while they’re trying to watch a movie with you, listen to them! (If you can hear them over the grinding and chewing.) Bruxism can fracture teeth, cause headaches and jaw problems, and might even lead to loose teeth. Chewing hard foods can have the very same effects. Too much pressure from any source can damage your teeth. Grinding, chewing ice, crunching down on hard candies—any habit that’s loud enough to annoy others could be a warning to be more careful of your teeth.

  • Don’t Put That in Your Mouth!

Helping you eat and chew nutritious foods—of course. Smiling—absolutely. Ripping off a piece of duct tape, tearing open a potato chip bag, holding your dog’s leash while you look for your keys, opening a tight bottle cap—no, no, no, and really no. Fractures and chips are common injuries when you use your teeth as tools. Your teeth have a crucial job to do, but that job description never includes “scissors” or “nutcracker” or “bottle opener.” Take that extra minute and find the tool you need!

  • Drink in Moderation

Along with all the other consequences of over-indulging, too much alcohol in your diet can be bad for your oral health. Alcohol, especially paired with sugary drinks, helps create that acidic environment that leads to weakened enamel. More than that, it’s dehydrating. Without sufficient hydration, we don’t have the optimal saliva production we need to fight cavities. After all, saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria, neutralizes acids, and strengthens enamel through remineralization. Ring in the New Year—moderately!

  • It’s Time to Quit

Cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco—there is no tobacco product that is healthy for your body or your teeth! We’re all familiar with the discoloration tobacco can cause, but it also has serious oral health consequences. Oral cancer, gum disease, early tooth loss—all these conditions have been linked to tobacco use. Today there are more methods than ever before to help you quit. Make this your year!

You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start working on healthier habits. If you’d like to tackle teeth grinding, banish nail biting, stop smoking, or work on any other habits that can damage your health and your teeth, talk to Dr. Sardzinski, Dr. Wilken, Dr. Stanley, Dr. Hanson and Dr. Heying at your next visit to our Hiawatha, IA office. And, don’t forget—resolving to see us twice a year for a checkup and a cleaning is a resolution that’s extremely easy to keep!

Should You Get Dental Veneers?

December 25th, 2019

Dental veneers are a popular treatment to improve the appearance of your smile. Dr. Sardzinski, Dr. Wilken, Dr. Stanley, Dr. Hanson and Dr. Heying and our team want to help you understand whether this dental option is right for you.

Veneers, also known as laminates, are custom-made shells that cover the front of your teeth. They can change the color, size, or length of each individual tooth. The process can require between one and three trips to our Hiawatha, IA office to complete.

This treatment is usually done for people who want to change the appearance of their smile: they can get rid of stains, gaps, or chips. Here at Blair Ridge Dental, we know how getting veneers can dramatically change your smile and help improve your confidence.

Your initial appointment entails preparing the teeth and creating an impression. The impression will help us design each veneer to the exact shape and color you desire. You’ll come back in a week or two to have the veneers placed. Your veneers should last about ten years, as long as you practice proper care and hygiene.

There are plenty of benefits to getting veneers, but you should be aware of the potential downsides of this procedure. This process is irreversible and the veneers cannot usually be fixed. If they chip or crack, they’ll need to be replaced.

It is also possible for veneers to fall off due to excessive pressure from nail biting or chewing on ice. If you grind your teeth a lot, you’re more likely to expose your veneers to damage, which can be costly to repair.

In order to know whether veneers are right for you, schedule an appointment at our Hiawatha, IA office for a consultation. We can decide what you’re looking to do with your smile and if this is the best option for you.

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