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BuffaloBillsStefonDiggsKnowsTheresNeveraBadPlacetoFloss

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs wrapped up the NFL regular season in January, setting single-season records in both catches and receiving yards. The Bills handily beat the Miami Dolphins, earning themselves the second seed in the AFC playoffs, and Diggs certainly did his part, making 7 catches for 76 yards. But what set the internet ablaze was not Diggs' accomplishments on the field but rather what the camera caught him doing on the sidelines—flossing his teeth!

The Twitterverse erupted with Bills fans poking fun at Diggs. But Diggs is not ashamed of his good oral hygiene habits, and CBS play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan expressed his support with “Dental hygiene is something to take note of, kids! There's never a bad place to floss” and “When you lead the NFL in catches and yards, you can floss anytime you want.”

We like to think so. There's an old joke among dentists:
Q. Which teeth do you need to floss?
A. Only the ones you want to keep.

Although this sounds humorous, it is borne out in research. Of note, a 2017 study showed that people who floss have a lower risk of tooth loss over periods of 5 years and 10 years, and a 2020 study found that older adults who flossed lost an average of 1 tooth in 5 years, while those who don't lost around 4 teeth in the same time period.

We in the dental profession stress the importance of flossing as a daily habit—and Stefon Diggs would likely agree—yet fewer than 1 in 3 Americans floss every day. The 2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, revealed that only 30% of Americans floss every day, while 37% floss less than every day and 32% never floss.

The biggest enemy on the football field may be the opposing team, but the biggest enemy to your oral health is plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and food debris that builds up on tooth surfaces. Plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease, the number one cause of tooth loss among adults. Flossing is necessary to remove plaque from between teeth and around the gums where a toothbrush can't reach. If not removed, plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by the specialized tools used in the dental office. Regular professional dental cleanings are also needed to get at those hard-to-reach spots you may have missed.

If Diggs can find time to floss during a major NFL game, the rest of us can certainly find a couple minutes a day to do it. While we might not recommend Diggs' technique of flossing from one side of the mouth to the other, we commend his enthusiasm and commitment to keeping his teeth and gums healthy. Along with good dental hygiene at home—or on the sidelines if you are Stefon Diggs—regular professional dental cleanings and checkups play a key role in maintaining a healthy smile for life.

If you would like more information about keeping in the best dental health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Daily Oral Hygiene.”

By Heritage Hunt Dental
May 11, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: braces  
3WaysToGetAheadofYourChildsDevelopingBiteProblem

Each year some 4 million teens and pre-teens have their teeth straightened with braces or clear aligners. But there's another facet of bite correction that can take place much earlier in a child's life—and which might reduce or eliminate orthodontic treatment later.

Techniques known as interceptive orthodontics do exactly what the name implies—get ahead of bite problems before they fully develop. Many of these treatments attempt to influence jaw development, a prime factor in many bite problems. Although braces may be a part of interceptive treatment, it often includes other devices.

Here are 3 examples of interventional treatments that can stop a growing bite problem in its tracks.

Palatal expanders. Sometimes, an upper jaw may be growing too narrowly. As a result, incoming permanent teeth don't have enough space and can erupt out of position. A palatal expander device, usually installed around age 7 against the roof of the mouth, puts pressure on the side teeth to "push" the jaw outward. This widens a gap in the center of the pallet, which then fills with new bone. By the time the gap closes in early adolescence, the jaw has gained width and more room for incoming teeth.

Herbst appliances. Supporting muscles and bones can pressure the upper jaw to grow too far forward, which in turn creates an overbite where the upper teeth severely overlap the lower. An orthodontist may attach a Herbst appliance, a device consisting of two metal hinges, to the upper and lower jaws toward the back of the mouth. The hinge action forces the jaw muscles and bones to move the lower jaw forward as it grows, resulting in a better relationship with the upper jaw.

Space maintainers. Not all interceptive techniques involve intricate appliances—a simple looped wire could prevent a later bite problem. Because primary (baby) teeth hold the spaces for future permanent teeth, losing one too early could create an empty space into which surrounding teeth can drift. This, then, reduces the space available for the incoming tooth, causing it to erupt out of position. Placing a looped wire called a space maintainer into the space prevents the teeth around the gap from moving into it.

If you would like more information on various orthodontic treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Interceptive Orthodontics.”

ThisTemporaryRPDCouldSustainYourSmileWhileYouWaitForImplants

Dental implants are often the ideal choice to replace missing teeth. Unfortunately, "ideal" and "affordable" don't always align simultaneously for people. Even if implants are right for you, you may have to put them off to a more financially appropriate season.

In the meantime, though, you're still missing teeth—and perhaps some of them are right square in the middle of your smile. What can you do now, even if temporarily?

The solution might be a flexible removable partial denture (RPD). These newer types of RPD fit somewhere between the lightweight "flipper" and the more traditional rigid plastic appliances often made for permanent use. The flexible RPD is made of nylon plastic (technically known as a super-polyamide), which although lightweight, is highly durable.

Super-polyamides change their shape under high heat, a characteristic dental technicians take advantage of by injection molding heated material into flexible denture bases, to which they then attach the replacement teeth. Like other RPDs, a flexible RPD is custom-designed for the individual patient to match their jaw contours, as well as the types and locations of their missing teeth.

Flexible RPDs also differ from other RPD types in how they stay in place. While the more rigid RPD depends on metal clasps that grip to some of the remaining natural teeth, a flexible RPD uses finger-like extensions of the nylon material to fit around teeth near the gum line where they're difficult to see. As such, the flexible RPD is both comfortable and securely held in place.

A flexible RPD, like their counterparts, does require regular maintenance. Any RPD can accumulate dental plaque, a thin biofilm buildup on teeth that causes dental disease. For this reason, wearers should regularly remove their RPD and clean it thoroughly with an antibacterial soap (never toothpaste). All RPDs should also be removed at night to limit bacterial growth.

With a little care, a flexible RPD could last for several years. It could be just the solution to buy you time while you're waiting to obtain dental implants.

If you would like more information on restoration options for missing teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Flexible Partial Dentures.”

By Heritage Hunt Dental
April 21, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: teeth grinding   stress  
ChronicStressCouldBeDamagingYourDentalHealth

We're all quite familiar with the impact chronic stress can have on our minds and emotions. But stress can also take a toll on physical well-being, even basic physiology like pulse rate and blood pressure. It might also surprise you to know that stress could play a role in some dental problems.

April is Stress Awareness Month, an opportunity to look afresh at this unsettling problem that afflicts many in modern life. As dental care professionals, we focus on how stress could affect your teeth and what you can do to minimize that effect.

Stress is any physical or mental strain in response to a danger or peril in life. It can be a good thing, as the sudden stress a hiker feels upon meeting a bear in the woods, which can focus the mind to take life-saving action. And if expertly harnessed, the "butterflies" a musician feels right before a concert may also serve to improve their performance.

Stress becomes problematic, though, when it morphs into a chronic response to life in general. Besides health problems akin to those we've previously mentioned, chronic stress can give rise to nervous behaviors like fidgeting, smoking or binge eating.

Stress may also give rise to behaviors we don't even realize we're doing—and one such involuntary habit could impact your dental health. Teeth grinding is the gnashing or grinding of teeth together, or mindlessly chewing on a hard object like a pencil.

Although quite common and less concerning in children, it's another matter when it occurs in adulthood. The habit can accelerate the normal teeth wearing that accompanies aging. Abnormally high biting forces generated by grinding can also cause teeth weakened by disease to loosen or fracture.

There are ways to reduce the effects of grinding, like wearing a protective mouthguard or having your teeth altered to reduce the biting forces the habit can generate. But addressing the chronic stress underlying teeth grinding through the following ways could help reduce its frequency and occurrence.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle: Eating a nutritiously-balanced diet, exercising and getting enough quality sleep can help reduce stress.

Avoid drugs or alcohol: These mood-altering substances may help someone cope with stress, but they don't address the underlying issue, and they can create additional physical and emotional issues for the user.

Pursue relaxation: Meditation, biofeedback therapy or even pursuing a favorite hobby could help you better manage your response to life issues causing you stress.

Seek others' help: Sharing your life struggles with trusted friends, family, professionals, or therapy groups can help greatly reduce your experience of stress.

Reducing chronic stress will certainly improve your overall well-being. If you suffer from teeth grinding, it may also do wonders for your oral health.

If you would like more information about stress-related dental problems, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Grinding.”

By Heritage Hunt Dental
April 11, 2022
Category: Oral Health
HowaToothCausedHannahBronfmansMysteryAilments

Hannah Bronfman, well-known DJ and founder of the health and beauty website HBFIT.com, took a tumble while biking a few years ago. After the initial pain and bruising subsided, all seemed well—until she started experiencing headaches, fatigue and unexplained weight gain. Her doctors finally located the source—a serious infection emanating from a tooth injured during the accident.

It's easy to think of the human body as a loose confederation of organs and tissues that by and large keep their problems to themselves. But we'd do better to consider the body as an organic whole—and that a seemingly isolated condition may actually disrupt other aspects of our health.

That can be the case with oral infections triggered by tooth decay or gum disease, or from trauma as in Bronfman's case. These infections, which can inflict severe damage on teeth and gums, may also contribute to health issues beyond the mouth. They can even worsen serious, life-threatening conditions like heart disease.

The bacteria that cause both tooth decay and gum disease could be the mechanism for these extended problems. It's possible for bacteria active during an oral infection to migrate to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. If that happens, they can spread infection elsewhere, as it appears happened with Bronfman.

But perhaps the more common way for a dental disease to impact general health is through chronic inflammation. Initially, this defensive response by the body is a good thing—it serves to isolate diseased or injured tissues from healthier tissues. But if it becomes chronic, inflammation can cause its own share of damage.

The inflammation associated with gum disease can lead to weakened gum tissues that lose their attachment to teeth. But clinical research over the last few years also points to another possibility—that periodontal inflammation could worsen the inflammation associated with diseases like heart disease, diabetes or arthritis.

Because of this potential harm not only to your teeth and gums but also to the rest of your body, you shouldn't take an oral injury or infection lightly. If you've had an accident involving your mouth, see your dentist as soon as possible for a complete examination. You should also make an appointment if you notice signs of infection like swollen or bleeding gums.

Prompt dental treatment can help you minimize potential damage to your teeth and gums. It could also protect the rest of your health.

If you would like more information about the effects of dental problems on the rest of the body, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Link Between Heart and Gum Diseases.”





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