Breathe Easier with Good Dental Health

From the flu to lung cancer, from asthma to emphysema, diseases of the lungs and respiratory system are rampant in our nation. While smoking, air pollution, and germs are primary causes of lung diseases, a study released this year found that gum disease is also a factor.

While more research is necessary to determine the why and how of the link, the study showed that participants who had lung diseases were more likely to also have gum disease. Because of the proven connections between gum disease and heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes complications, and premature birth, scientists are inclined to believe that bacteria in the mouth are the link between gum disease and lung diseases.

Everything that goes into your body to be used by the whole body – air and food – is taken in through your mouth. Your mouth, then, is like a direct chute into the inner workings of your body. Bacteria in your mouth can enter the bloodstream, and, in theory, your lungs! (more…)

Dental Floss Cure to Bad Breath

With all of the breath mints, gums, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and other breath-freshening products on the market today, why do so many people have chronic bad breath? 32% percent of Americans cite bad breath as the least attractive trait of their co-workers. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be linked to a lack of proper oral hygiene, but it can also be a sign of bigger health problems. Both adults and children are affected by bad breath, so what can you do to prevent it in yourself and your loved one?

On average, people floss much less than once per day, as recommended by the American Dental Association. Studies show that only about 18 yards of floss is bought per person per year, while the number should be closer to 122 yards to reflect proper flossing habits.. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that bad breath is running rampant. But how does flossing help so much with bad breath?

Flossing reduces the harmful bacteria in your mouth that feeds on leftover food particles. The acids produced by the bacteria deteriorates tooth enamel, causes cavities, and can lead to gum disease. When these bacteria feed on the food particles left between your teeth, sulfur compounds and byproducts are produced. These compounds are volatile and odorous, causing lingering bad breath that doesn’t go away after minty brushing, rinsing, or chewing. Nothing can remove the stuck food particles and bad bacteria that’s fueling the bad breath except thorough dental flossing.

Call Dental Impressions in Ankeny, Iowa at (515) 965-0230 to reserve an appointment with Dr. Amanda Foust, a family and preventive dentist to discuss proper flossing techniques.

Old Habits Live Strong

It’s the beginning of the school year again. Within the next few weeks, you and your children will be settling in to routines that will likely set the tone for the rest of the year. Now is the time to establish habits that are smart, helpful, and healthy. They say old habits die hard. Another way of saying it is, old habits live strong.

A common mistake in hectic schedule changes is to neglect certain habits in favor of getting the kids to bed early for school, and then getting them to school on time the next day. In all the hustle and bustle of this transition from the summer’s less stringent itinerary to the rigid academic year, sometimes brushing twice a day, and flossing once, is ignored.

Your kids should come in for a visit twice a year, minimum. Dr. Foust and our team will examine teeth and mouth, asses brushing habits, and discuss homecare habits during your child’s next dental checkup. (more…)

Immunizations aren’t just for babies- Children and teens need them, too!

The month of August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued its annual update of vaccination guidelines. The new recommendations emphasize the importance of vaccinating children and teens to protect against serious illnesses, such as influenza, pneumonia, and meningitis, as well as other deadly diseases.

The recommendations for 2011 are very similar to those from 2010, but the release of the revised schedule reminds parents to ensure that their children’s immunizations are up to date. Dr. Michael Brady, the chairman of the AAP infectious disease committee, points out that “immunizations have been the most effective medical preventive measure ever developed, but some people who live in the United States right now don’t appreciate how tremendously protected they’ve been because of vaccines. There are still children around the world dying of measles and polio. The vaccination schedules are designed to get vaccines to the child before they are at the greatest risk.”

The updated schedule recommends that all children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years get an annual flu shot. Additionally, children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years who are being vaccinated for the first time, as well as those who have had only one dose of a previous flu vaccine, need two doses of the 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccine.

The AAP recommends the following:

  • Children and teens should receive the recommended whooping cough vaccines.
  • Children ages 7 to 10 years who have not been previously vaccinated against the disease need a single does of the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and Tdap vaccines.
  • Teens ranging in age from 13 to 18 years who never received the Tdap should get the vaccine as well as a Td booster every 10 years.
  • All girls should receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, which can be given between the ages of 9 and 18 years in a three-dose series.
  • Children under the age of 5 should get the haemophilus influenza type b vaccine to prevent the bacterial disease.
  • Routine childhood vaccines, including those for the rotavirus, polio virus, MMR, and varicella, should be received at the suggested ages.

Dr. Amanda Foust is a family dentist in Ankeny, Iowa, and she believes prevention is key to healthy living. For more information about how to have healthy teeth and gums and live a healthy life, call Dental Impressions at (515) 965-0230. Caring for smiles in Bondurant, Alleman, Polk City, Elkhart, and the surrounding communities, Dr. Foust and her team want to make you and your family smile.

Do whitening toothpastes really work?

With so many toothpastes to choose from, it’s hard to know if a toothpaste will really do what it claims to do. Looking for the ADA seal of approval is a good place to start, but what if your knowledge went a little deeper?

Teeth whitening products are widely available at grocery stores and drug stores, and teeth whitening agents are among the most popular in toothpastes. With so many toothpastes claiming to brighten your pearly whites, how many of them actually work, and what can you expect?

The way a toothpaste works depends on what it contains. For patients, it’s important to remember that whitening toothpastes won’t whiten your smile like professional teeth whitening will. They can, however, whiten teeth slightly by removing surfaces stains, such as those caused by drinking coffee or smoking. Whitening toothpaste can also be used after a bleaching treatment to help maintain results.

Whitening toothpaste, however, cannot change the natural color of teeth or reverse discoloration caused by excessive exposure to fluoride, deep surface stains, or tooth decay.

When used properly two times a day, whitening toothpaste can take anywhere from two to four weeks to whiten teeth. Although it offers unparalleled results, the cost of professional teeth whitening is often much higher than the cost of a tube of whitening toothpaste. If your smile is free of deep stains and severe discoloration, give whitening toothpaste chance. It may be able to lighten your smile enough to give you the results you wanted. If not, talk to Dr. Foust about the teeth whitening options she offers.

Call Dental Impressions in Ankeny, Iowa at (515) 965-0230 to reserve an appointment with Dr. Amanda Foust, a family and preventive dentist.

Do You Have a Superpower?

If you could have any superpower, which would you choose? Would you fly like Superman, run like the Flash, or climb walls like Spiderman? You may already have a superpower – you could be a supertaster!

Supertasters have more taste buds than the average person. They are especially sensitive to bitter tastes, and tend to avoid very bitter foods and beverages, like coffee and most green vegetables. You might be a supertaster if you really hate broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or spinach,

In the laboratory, scientists use a very bitter chemical called propylthiouracil (PROP) to determine tasting ability. Those who can’t taste it at all (about 25%) are labeled non-tasters. Tasters are people who can taste it (about 50%), but don’t find it too unpleasant. Supertasters (25%) find PROP absolutely disgusting.

You can do a simple experiment at home to see if you are a non-taster, a taster, or a supertaster. You’ll need the following supplies:

-A one-inch square of wax paper

-Hole punch

-Blue food coloring

-Cotton swab

-Magnifying glass

-Mirror, or a partner who’s willing to look at your tongue

Use the cotton swab to coat part of your tongue with food coloring. Punch a hole in the wax paper and place it on your tongue. Use the magnifying glass and mirror (or partner) to count the number of pink bumps inside the circle. How many did you see?

Less than 15: non-taster

15-35: taster

More than 35: supertaster

Since supertasters avoid green leafy vegetables, they’re at risk for health conditions like colon cancer. Green vegetables are key to your oral and general health. Dr. Foust has tips for keeping you and your family healthy. Call our Ankeny office today at (515) 965-0230 to find out how the right diet keeps you in super condition.

Eat Your Way to a Healthier Smile

Whether we know the exact values on the food pyramid, we’re all familiar with this chart of what makes up a balanced diet.

Over time, scientists and health professionals have made changes to the food pyramid as more research has been done about what our bodies need to be healthy and well nourished.

The most recent adaptation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid recommends 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day. Eating the right variety of fruits and vegetables can strongly affect your dental health as the proper intake of vitamins and minerals is crucial to having healthy teeth and gums.

Consume the following vitamins and minerals for oral and overall health:

  • Vitamin A prevents tooth decay and helps the formation of healthy soft tissues and teeth. Unpeeled sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, and carrots are excellent sources of vitamin A.
  • Vitamin B is actually a complex of eights vitamins that benefit oral health and comfort by preventing inflammation. B vitamins can be found in leafy green vegetables, sweet corn, peas, and berries.
  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it prevents free radicals from attacking cells and causing decay. This vitamin is also vital in regeneration of your skin, bones, and connection tissue, which helps prevent gum disease. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, and red and green peppers are all sources of vitamin C.
  • Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, a mineral that is vital for the structure and function of the teeth and bones. Vegetable sources of vitamin D include alfalfa and mushrooms.
  • Calcium is in bok choy, collards, broccoli, kale, and turnip greens, and helps promote strong teeth and bones.

In addition to having regular dental exams and cleanings, having a balanced and nutritious diet can help to ensure healthy teeth and gums and a healthy body overall. Call Dr. Amanda Foust at Dental Impressions in Ankeny, Iowa at (515) 965-0230 to schedule an appointment for you and your children.

Crafty Ways to Make Dental Hygiene Fun for Kids

Do your kids hate to brush their teeth? Do they complain about getting bored on long summer days? We have a solution for both! Today, we’ll explain a couple of crafts that can make dental hygiene seem fun and keep your kids occupied and happy.

Materials

You will need the following items for the crafts:

Paper
Paint
Dental Floss (cut lengths about 1″ longer than the paper)
Toothbrushes (one for each child to paint with)
Palettes or Plates (don’t use your good china because these will be used to hold paint)
Old T-shirt or Painting Smocks (to keep their clothes from getting paint on them)

Paint with Dental Floss

For this activity, you’ll need the dental floss, palettes or plates, paper, and, of course, paint. (more…)

Dry Mouth Escalates Quickly; Don’t Let the Problem Persist

Do you feel like you have cotton in your mouth constantly? Everyone’s mouth is dry sometimes, but if you have consistent dry mouth, you shouldn’t delay treatment.

Dry mouth, known medically as xerostomia, occurs when you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth. This can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Stress
  • Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation of the head or neck
  • Hormone changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause
  • Health problems, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes
  • Snoring or open-mouthed breathing

Dry mouth may make it difficult to speak, chew, swallow, and may alter the taste of your food. It can also cause a sore throat, hoarseness, and bad breath. Most seriously, however, dry mouth can lead to tooth decay. Your saliva helps to re-strengthen your tooth enamel after eating and drinking, so a lack of saliva can result in weaker tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay.

If you suffer from dry mouth, try the following:

  • Sip water or sugarless drinks, or suck (don’t bite) on ice chips.
  • Avoid irritants, such as alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Remember that caffeine is found in most sodas, as well as in coffee and tea.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy.
  • Avoid salty and spicy foods.
  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom at night.
  • Consider using saliva substitutes.

Dr. Amanda Foust of Dental Impressions of Ankeny provides dental care to families with numerous dental and oral conditions at her comfortable dental office Ankeny, Iowa. Call (515) 965-0230 to schedule an appointment if your dry mouth symptoms persist.

Oral Cancer Screenings from Your Ankeny Family Dentist Can Save Your Life

As a general and family dentist, Dr. Amanda Foust sees patients with a variety of dental cases and needs. One of those needs is oral cancer.

Because oral cancer is often detected in the later stages, it has a higher mortality rate than that of other health problems, including several other forms of cancer. Unfortunately, oral cancer is very little known about.

With the help of modern technology, screening for oral cancer is easy. Generally, oral cancer screening devices use fluorescent lights to detect abnormalities in the tissue of your mouth. The different kinds of tissue appear to “glow” different colors. Screening for oral cancer is quick and does not require any rinses, stains, or discomfort whatsoever.

Luckily, the vast majority of oral cancer is detectable by physical exam, so if you’ve had a thorough evaluation of your mouth, including your teeth and gums, and your dentist doesn’t detect anything, it’s unlikely that you have oral cancer.

Some signs of oral cancer can include areas of your mouth that don’t heal (such as a persistent ulcer or cold sore), constant bleeding, a growth, white or red plaque, constant pain, and difficulty swallowing.

All adults should have an annual oral cancer screening. Men over 40 and women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most prone to the disease, but it can appear in anyone. Those who use tobacco, consume alcohol daily, or have viral infections, autoimmune deficiencies, or diabetes should be screened more frequently.

Dr. Foust will screen your mouth for signs of oral cancer at every dental cleaning and exam you have. Call Dental Impressions of Ankeny in Ankeny, Iowa at (515) 965-0230 for more information or to schedule an appointment.