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Can Your Dental Health Affect Your Digestive Health?

February 16th, 2022

Eating, talking, smiling—consciously or unconsciously, so much of daily life is influenced by our oral health. And here’s one more thought to chew on: oral health affects digestive health as well.

After all, digestion doesn’t begin the moment food reaches the stomach—it begins before we swallow that very first bite. The digestive process gets its start in two ways:

  • Mastication

“Chew your food properly.” Probably every child has heard this piece of helpful advice, because it’s hazardous to swallow large pieces of food. But there’s more to it! There’s a positive benefit for your digestive system when you keep chewing until that mouthful has been pulverized into a uniform, almost paste-like consistency.

But even though chewing food properly leads to easier digestion, dental problems can make the simple act of eating difficult and uncomfortable. Missing teeth or tooth pain can lead to swallowing food before it’s been properly broken down and softened, making it harder for your meal to make its way down the esophagus and more work to digest.

  • Saliva Production

As it happens, there’s science behind the expression “mouthwatering.” When we smell something tasty, or have a bite to eat, or sometimes even think about a favorite food, our saliva glands increase production—and this increase has a digestive purpose.

Saliva contains digestive enzymes. These enzymes help break carbohydrate molecules into smaller sugar molecules, which are easier for our bodies to digest and use for energy. Saliva also contains enzymes that begin the digestion of fat and help neutralize acids as we eat, and, for those who suffer from acid reflux, helps wash acids back into the stomach.

When your oral health is compromised, the normally smooth operation of your digestive system can suffer as well.

  • Replacing Missing Teeth

Losing one or more of your teeth has a real impact on your ability to bite and chew as easily as you should. Not only that, when you’ve lost a tooth, your other teeth and your jaw are affected.

When chewing forces are distributed unevenly because a tooth is missing from its specific spot, you can experience tooth pain and tooth movement. Tooth misalignment can change your bite and cause strain on the temporomandibular joint. And without the stimulation of biting and chewing, the bone underneath a missing tooth can shrink.

Whenever a tooth or teeth are lost, it’s important to see Dr. Dalessandro right away for treatment. If a tooth needs to be extracted, it’s important to get professional care. After losing a tooth, you have several options to restore your smile, including dentures, bridges, and dental implants.

Implants are one of the most effective and long-lasting solutions for resuming your normal eating habits. They function like your natural teeth, and, like your natural teeth, stimulate the jawbone as you chew to prevent the bone from shrinking over time.

Periodontists like Dr. Dalessandro are experts in implant procedures. Because they are specialists in treating the gum tissue and bone structure surrounding the teeth, they are ideally qualified to help you restore the function and appearance of your smile.

Whether you need a single implant or a multiple implant, talk to a member of our Hoffman Estates, IL team to learn all about your options.

Team Dark Chocolate

February 9th, 2022

Valentine’s Day is the holiday to celebrate all the treasured relationships in your life. It’s a time to honor love in all shapes and forms with cards, social gatherings, and sometimes even binge eating of sweets.

It's hard to look the other way when grocery stores and pharmacies are invaded with goodies connected to the Valentine’s Day theme, and especially if you’re on the receiving end of some of these sweets. We get it. In fact, we’re all for it!

However, we also support a cavity-free smile. So in the interest of your dental and general health, and because we think it’s genuinely tasty, Dr. Dalessandro recommends an alternative to the Valentine treats you may be accustomed to: dark chocolate. 

Yes, Healthy Chocolate Exists

Studies have shown that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, an ingredient found in the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Flavonoids can help protect the body against toxins, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.

By opting for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, you get to reap these benefits! Pretty sweet, right? Just make sure to stick to high-quality dark chocolates that have undergone minimal processing.

Dark Chocolate, AKA Protector of Teeth

Not only does dark chocolate provide some nice benefits for your overall health, it also helps protect your teeth against cavities! According to the Texas A&M Health Science Center, dark chocolate contains high amounts of tannins, another ingredient present in cocoa beans.

Tannins can actually help prevent cavities by interfering with the bacteria that causes them. Think of them as scarecrows for bacteria. They don’t always prevail, but isn’t it nice to have them there?

Smooth Never Sticky

Unlike many popular candies, dark chocolate is less likely to stick in the crevices of your teeth. Chewy, gooey sweets are more likely to hang around in your mouth for longer periods of time, which means they raise the odds of your harboring cavity-creating bacteria.

While some dark chocolates have additives like caramel or marshmallow, it’s best to opt for the plain varieties, which are just as delicious. If you’re feeling festive, though, a dark chocolate with caramel is still better than a milk chocolate with caramel, so that’s the way to go!

While dark chocolate has some pretty sweet benefits, the most important thing to remember (whether you go the dark chocolate route or not), is that moderation is key. That being said, we hope you have fun satisfying your sweet tooth and shopping for treats for your friends and loved ones. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Dalessandro Implants & Periodontics!

Which mouthwash should you use?

February 2nd, 2022

Although using mouthwash is certainly not the equal of brushing and flossing, it does have benefits for your dental hygiene. If you use mouthwash regularly, you should find out which type is best suited for your needs. Here are some things to think about the next time you’re at the store.

The first item to weigh is why you want to use mouthwash. If the reason involves a high risk for cavities, you should focus on a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Make sure to double-check the label, because some mouthwashes do not necessarily include fluoride.

If you’re looking for a mouthwash to fight gingivitis, select an oral rinse with antibacterial properties. Make sure to read labels and avoid picking one that contains alcohol. Antibacterial mouthwash would also be best for a patient who has periodontal disease.

Another option is prescription mouthwash. These should be discussed with Dr. Dalessandro and/or your pharmacist in order to avoid negative side effects. Pay close attention to the directions regarding how much to use and for how long. Keep in mind that some brands may lose their effectiveness if you use them on an ongoing basis.

For children, you can find a mouthwash that changes the color of plaque on their teeth. This is a fun way to help them understand how well they are brushing, and what areas they need to focus on. It can even be a tool for adults who have trouble reaching certain areas of their mouth.

While mouthwash is generally considered as a safe means to improve your oral health, you need to keep certain things in mind. Avoid using any mouthwash that has alcohol in it. If you are using a strong one, it can reduce your sense of taste over time. Be wary of a mouthwash that claims it can loosen plaque; this is not accurate and can mislead consumers.

We hope these simple suggestions will help you the next time you’re at the store. Make sure you pick the right mouthwash to keep that healthy smile! Feel free to contact Dr. Dalessandro at our Hoffman Estates, IL with any questions you may have.

What’s the deal with bottled water?

January 19th, 2022

As more people turn to bottled water and away from the tap, they may be missing out on one important ingredient that most brands of bottled water fail to include: fluoride! Because fluoride helps strengthen teeth, it is an important component of maintaining good oral health. Our friends at the American Dental Association have endorsed both community water fluoridation and the use of fluoride-containing products as a safe means of preventing tooth decay.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also warned that “bottled water may not have a sufficient amount of fluoride, which is important for preventing tooth decay and promoting oral health.” If you are avoiding fluoridated tap water in favor of ever-more-popular bottled water, you could be missing out on the levels of fluoride necessary to make a difference in your oral health. One 2012 study in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry found that more than 65 percent of parents using bottled water did not know what levels of fluoride it contained.

If bottled water happens to be your or your children’s beverage of choice, check the label to make sure your brand contains fluoride. Of course, simply drinking fluoridated water is not a magic ticket to perfect teeth. To keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape, it’s important to brush and floss daily and avoid sugary sweets, in addition to maintaining your fluoride intake.

Questions about fluoride? Give us a call at our convenient Hoffman Estates, IL office! We look forward to hearing from you!

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