Helping Kids Enjoy Healthy Habits

December 6, 2016  |  by admin  |  Blog
General Dentistry In Birmingham, AL

One of the most common things we hear our adult patients say is “I wish I would have taken better care of my teeth when I was younger.”

Many times we tell kids “brush and floss and don’t eat candy or you’re going to get cavities” as an effort to motivate them to properly take care of their teeth. It’s hard to help children, who understandably see the world with “here and now” vision, realize the importance of preventative care and the effects it can have on a lifetime of health. So while it is very important to teach our children about prevention and the consequences of not doing so, it can be equally as important to supplement that with positive reinforcement to help them learn to enjoy the preventative measures themselves.

If we can teach our children to actually enjoy healthy habits at a young age, instead of just using scare tactics to avoid unhealthy habits, they will certainly have a more solid foundation for a lifetime of choosing a healthy path.

Some tips:

  • Have an assortment of healthy and natural “treats” (carrot sticks, fruit pieces, etc) available.
  • Allow the child to be part of the decision making process.
  • Be a good role model in what your choices and habits are.
  • Use fun dental hygiene products! Tooth Tunes toothbrushes are an excellent example. It plays music when the brush touches the teeth. Having fun while brushing positively reinforces the habit, whether they understand the concept of prevention or not.

Headaches and Teeth

December 6, 2016  |  by admin  |  Blog
General Dentistry In Birmingham, AL

Did you know that many headaches are actually linked to your teeth? Bruxism is a term to describe the clenching and grinding of teeth. When a person clenches or grinds their teeth together, muscles that control the movement of the jaws work overtime.

The muscles (in particular the temporalis and masseter muscles) become very sore and cause painful tension-type headaches. Facial pain is also frequent symptom with bruxism.

Bruxism can be sparked by a number of things including: stress, anxiety, and bite abnormalities.

Treatment can significantly reduce the frequency or severity of the headaches and/or facial pain. The most common form of treatment is a dental appliance that can control your bite and jaw position. This will help protect the teeth, distribute the forces of bruxism, ease tension off of the muscles, and in some cases stop the bruxism habit all together.

Although dental devices can really help the symptoms, sometimes stress management and/or therapy can be very beneficial to get to the source of the problem. In addition, if the source is a bite abnormality, it is worth investigating if and how that can be corrected.

Flossing in the Shower?

December 6, 2016  |  by admin  |  Blog
General Dentistry In Birmingham, AL

One of the biggest struggles I face as a dentist is the daily battle to convince people that they need to floss. I tell patients that if they are not flossing, then about 40% of their teeth surfaces are not getting cleaned.

I tell them that bacteria are just continually sitting there breeding, eating, and growing. I tell them about the cavities, periodontal disease, bad breath, and systemic complications that not flossing leads to. Rarely does this pleading make a difference.

People know they need to floss more and they know the reasons why; they just aren’t doing it. Why? It’s mostly because they haven’t taken the time to make it a habit. Will power alone will only get people to floss regularly for a very short period of time. They have to form a habit, so it becomes a natural part of their daily routine.

So what do I suggest? Well, here’s one idea: floss in the shower.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Showering is most likely a natural part of your daily routine. By flossing in the shower you can “piggyback” onto this already natural habit in order to develop a new one.
  1. By sitting a floss package in your shower it will stay visible and remind you that it needs to be done.
  1. People often feel that they do not have time to floss. I can relate to this. However, people rarely feel rushed in the shower. If you don’t feel rushed, you are more likely to do the things you need to do.

I know it sounds kind of goofy, but give it a try. The result could literally be life-changing.

Energy, Health, Smiles, & White Peach Tea

December 6, 2016  |  by admin  |  Blog
General Dentistry In Birmingham, AL

Sodas, energy drinks, and coffee are being consumed in record-breaking numbers. Our society absolutely craves energy boosts to get us through our “lives on the go”. Let’s face it…most of us are addicted to caffeine and will consume it in one way or another at some point every day!

So here’s the question: Is there a way to obtain your caffeine fix that’s actually good for you?

Actually….Yes. Ever thought about a good cup ah’ tea?

Tea typically contains more caffeine than a coke, but less than a brew of coffee. It is also sugar-free, unless you choose to add some. Tea has long been known to have many systemic health benefits including: decreasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and boosting your immune system. More recently though, tea has been linked to GREATER ORAL HEALTH.

White tea is the least processed form of tea. Basically, the leaves are picked, dried, and that’s it. Because of this, it is the most antioxidant-rich tea there is, even more antioxidants than green tea. Recent research has found that consuming white tea can help prevent cavities and periodontal disease by suppressing the growth of cavity causing microbes and interfering with the bacteria’s ability to stick to teeth. People who drank a cup of tea or two between meals were found to have lower bacterial counts and less plaque than those who did not. A caffeine fix that promotes oral health….a dentist’s dream! The other great news is that white tea is not going to cause erosion of the teeth and unlike coffee and darker teas, white tea will cause minimal to no staining of those pearly whites.

There are many options for obtaining that small boost throughout your day. Consider replacing some of your other options with a nice cup of white tea. Not only will it give you a dose of caffeine, it will promote overall systemic and oral health.

Do Cavities Hurt?

December 6, 2016  |  by admin  |  Blog
General Dentistry In Birmingham, AL

Yes, no, sometimes, always, never…it just depends. They are different for everyone. In my experiences (both as a dentist and as a patient) a majority of cavities do not present with any symptoms until they are quite large. In fact, I have seen many teeth with cavities so large that they were abscessed and yet there was never any pain or sensitivity present. Of course there are those on the complete other side of the spectrum as well.

My wife is a great example. She told me she had a cavity about a year before I could detect anything (and we use magnified vision and the most modern equipment to detect cavities). Some people are just like that though. One of the biggest complaints I have as a dentist is when I get the response, “it doesn’t hurt.” I can detect a cavity and even show pictures, x-rays, etc to the patient, so they can see the cavity for themselves and then the response I get is: “it doesn’t hurt.” And this is used in the context of, “it doesn’t hurt, therefore it doesn’t exist.” This is very poor reasoning.

I believe it doesn’t hurt…it may never hurt, but there is a problem that needs addressed while it still can. There are so many factors involved (some known, some unknown) that determine whether or not there will be pain associated with a cavity, so the presence (or absence) of pain should never be the deciding factor.

Are Diet Drinks Bad for Your Teeth?

September 4, 2012  |  by James Sampson  |  Blog, News
General Dentistry In Birmingham, AL

First, let’s answer this question: What causes cavities? The answer in the simplest terms is acids. The longer explanation is this. Bacteria adhere to your teeth (plaque). The bacteria then use the sugar you consume and create acids. The acids eat away at your teeth and form holes. The cycle continues as the bacteria bore their way deeper and deeper into the teeth.

What is the main thing the bacteria need to thrive? Sugar.

So are diet drinks also bad for teeth? Most diet drinks do not contain sugar. They use some form or another of artificial sweetener. The good news is that cavity-causing bacteria cannot metabolize these sweeteners to form acids. The bad news is, just like their “regular” counterparts, diet drinks are extremely acidic in themselves. Again, what causes cavities? Acids! And so, even though the typical path of cavity formation (bacteria eats sugar, releases acids, forms holes in teeth) is not followed as much, these drinks can just bypass the bacteria step and eat away at your teeth on their own. Pathologically speaking, it is a different type of cavity with different attributes than that of a bacteria caused one. However, in the big picture, it doesn’t really matter. In both situations, tooth structure is eaten away and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Drink more water. There is nothing better!
Limit soft drinks, including diet soft drinks, to meal times.
At the very least, swish around with some water after consuming to remove some of it off your teeth.

Why are dental x-rays important?

November 3, 2011  |  by James Sampson  |  News
General Dentistry In Birmingham, AL

X-rays are a crucial part of diagnosis and treatment in oral health.  They allow a dentist to view structures that are not visible to the naked eye because they are between teeth, under soft tissue, or within the bone.  Without x-rays, some conditions cannot be detected or diagnosed.

X-rays help check for:

  • Cavities
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Infections and abscesses
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Cancer

What about the radiation?

There are a few different factors that affect how much radiation is given off during a dental x-ray. However, with advancements in technology, especially digital systems, x-rays require very low dose radiation.Radiation dosage can be measured in units called millirems (mrem). A typical dental x-raytaken digitally exposes a patient to less than 0.5 mrem.

To put things in perspective, an average resident of the U.S. receives over 360 mrem every year from background sources. This comes from all over the place: outer space, radioactive materials in the earth, small amounts of radioactive material in foods and products that we use, even over people. Variances in lifestyle likewise cause variances in each individual’s total exposure. For example: an individual who flies often is exposed to more background radiation than someone who does not.

While steps should be taken to limit x-ray radiation exposure, dental x-rays are very low dose and are crucial for proper diagnosis. Without them, much of the oral cavity cannot be viewed.

We Appreciate Your Loyalty

October 28, 2011  |  by admin  |  News

“On behalf of Sampson Dentistry, thank you for visiting our site.  Whether you are a current patient of ours or just browsing across our site, we hope you find the information helpful and a good starting point for answering your dental questions.” -James Sampson, DMD