Guard Your Health: Health and Wellness for Soldiers and Families

Maintaining mission readiness, while balancing dual responsibilities as citizens and Soldiers, can present challenges for Army National Guard (ARNG) Soldiers and their families. Enter Guard Your Health, a website dedicated to the unique health and wellness needs and experiences of Army National Guard Soldiers and their families. The website provides a central online hub for the Army National Guard community to find information and resources on health topics and medical readiness.Soldiers

Good oral health is a critical component of readiness to serve. About one in ten ARNG Soldiers are medically non-deployable because of an overdue dental exam or missed dental treatment. In addition to avoidable pain and suffering, dental readiness means being ready and able to support the unit’s mission and, well, getting paid for duty. Guard Your Health supports the #GuardYourSmile initiative, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of good dental health.

Content on the website is tailored specifically for Soldiers and their roles in the Army National Guard and civilian communities. Website visitors can access health tips, expert commentary, and articles on topics such as nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep, dental health, behavioral health, readiness, and family resilience.

Guard Your Health is packed with tools and information to help make total force fitness a reality for Army National Guard Soldiers and their families. On the site, visitors can:

The American Academy of Pediatrics is proud to be among the Community Support Network members who provide information and resources to Guard members and their families.

What’s the link between vitamin D, gum health, and diabetes?

A new paper draws interesting links between gum infections, a reduced level of vitamin D, and diabetes. This marks the first time that the joint effects of periodontitis and vitamin D deficiency on diabetes have been examined.
False teeth

Gum disease, diabetes, and vitamin D share deep links.

Diabetes, as many people realize, is a growing problem in the United States and globally.

In 2015, almost 1 in 10 adults were estimated to have diabetes. There are about 1.5 million new diagnoses each year in the U.S.

While there are certain well-known risk factorsfor diabetes, such as obesity and high blood pressure, there is still more to learn.

Diabetes is complex and involves multiple systems.

Uncovering the full range of potential risk factors could help prevent diabetes from occurring in some individuals and help others manage symptoms more effectively.

Recently, a team at the University of Toronto in Canada investigated the potential influence of vitamin D deficiency and periodontitis, a gum infection.

Diabetes and periodontitis

They chose to look at gum disease because earlier studies had shown that diabetes increases the risk of periodontitis, which is a bacterially induced inflammatory disease that can damage soft tissue and bone.

This relationship is bidirectional, meaning that periodontitis also makes management of type 2 diabetes more challenging.

10 Dental Myths, Debunked

When it comes to taking care of your smile, there are plenty of misconceptions out there. But while good oral health can be achieved in just minutes a day, the wrong practices can cause irreversible damage. Here’s what you need to know.

Myth: The harder you brush, the cleaner you’ll get your teeth.

The real deal: Brushing too hard or with too abrasive of a toothbrush (medium or firm) can actually harm your teeth by eroding some of the hard enamel that protects the inside of the tooth from cavities and decay. “I see it so much where people feel like they’re getting them more clean, but actually it wears away enamel and even the gums,” says Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, DMD, a dentist in San Antonio, Texas, and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. “I always recommend a soft-bristled brush.”

Myth: Flossing isn’t really necessary anymore.

The real deal: The recommendation to floss regularly was recently removed from the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans based on a lack of strong evidence for the practice. However, a lack of strong evidence doesn’t necessarily mean that flossing is not effective. In fact, many dentists — including Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty — haven’t changed their ways or their recommendations. “I totally believe in flossing,” she says. “Intuitively, it makes sense that there is buildup you can only remove by flossing, and I see the difference every day.” It’s important to still follow your dentist’s recommendation on brushing and flossing.

Myth: Chewing sugar-free gum is just as good as brushing.

The real deal: If only this were true, kids everywhere would jump for joy. Chewing sugar-free gum, especially gum with xylitol, can have a protective effect on the teeth. Gum encourages saliva production, which helps to wash away enamel-eroding acids from foods, drinks, and even stomach acid in the case of issues like acid reflux. And xylitol helps to redouble the effects of saliva.

But chewing gum still doesn’t replace brushing and flossing when it comes to removing plaque from all the surfaces of your teeth. You should brush at least twice a day for about two minutes, says Ferraz-Dougherty.

Myth: If your gums bleed when you floss, it’s best to leave them alone.

The real deal: “The reason our gums bleed is due to inflammation,” explains Ferraz-Dougherty. Often it happens when bacteria and plaque get stuck in between our teeth where toothbrush bristles don’t reach properly. Over time the bacteria builds up and causes the gums to become inflamed. Bleeding is part of that process.

If you floss once a month (or just before going to the dentist), it’s likely you’ll notice your gums bleeding. “That’s a sign telling you something is going on there,” says Ferraz-Dougherty. Make flossing a daily habit and the inflammation — and the bleeding — will go away with time.

Myth: You’ve been slacking on brushing and flossing and have a dentist appointment coming up. As long as you brush well before going in, no one will know, right?

The real deal: Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not getting away with anything. “We can tell,” says Ferraz-Dougherty. Without regular brushing and flossing, hard tartar forms around your teeth and at a certain point you can’t get it off with brushing alone. Plus, you can’t undo the inflammation in your gums that occurs when plaque and tartar have accumulated over six months with just a few days of flossing. “Bleeding gums and the amount and location of tartar are the giveaways,” says Ferraz-Dougherty.

Myth: When it comes to cavities, sugar is the main culprit.

The real deal: When you think of cavities, you might think of lollipops and other sweet and sticky treats. But crackers and chips might be even worse for your teeth, says Ferraz-Dougherty. “It has to do with the starchiness,” she explains. “It’s carbohydrates in general — they have the sugars that break down the teeth, but they also really stick to your teeth.”

Myth: If you have sensitive teeth, it means you have worn away too much of the enamel on your teeth.

The real deal: Sensitivity is a key symptom of the loss of enamel, the hard protective layer on the outside of your teeth. But it can be caused by other factors as well, such as gum recession, or even the use of whitening toothpastes. “The hydrogen peroxide [used for whitening] can penetrate to remove stains,” Ferraz-Dougherty says, “And it penetrates through the enamel into the layer beneath, which is the more sensitive part of the tooth.” The good news: If your sensitivity is caused by teeth whitening, switching to a more gentle toothpaste can help improve symptoms.

Myth: Gum disease is only a problem for your mouth.

The real deal: Your dentist might be the first one to notice it, but if you have gum disease you’re more likely to have health issues such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as certain types of cancers that are related to chronic inflammation, says Ferraz-Dougherty.

Myth: The whiter your teeth are, the healthier they are.

The real deal: This can be true but not always. “Our teeth are naturally white,” says Ferraz-Dougherty. And many of the things that cause our teeth to get darker or become yellow are unhealthy, like smoking.

But there are also plenty of things that can darken the color of our teeth that aren’t necessarily unhealthy, such as medication, stains from foods and drinks, or just the natural process of aging.

Myth: If nothing is bothering you, you don’t need a dental checkup.

The real deal: “This is one of the biggest misconceptions,” says Ferraz-Dougherty. “With a lot of dental issues, you don’t necessarily feel pain right away. I have to explain to patients and educate them that with cavities and gum disease you don’t always feel it.” The problem is once the symptoms appear, it’s often a bigger issue. If you wait until a cavity hurts to get it checked out, you could end up needing a root canal or an extraction that could have been prevented with regular checkups.

Are You Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard?

When it comes to brushing your teeth, there is such a thing as proper technique. Brushing too hard — or using the wrong toothbrush — can damage your teeth and gums, leading to problems like enamel wear and receding gums, which can in turn lead to tooth sensitivity, says Gene Romo, DDS, a Chicago-based dentist and consumeradvisor for the American Dental Association (ADA). “People tend to brush aggressively, thinking it’s the only way they can get their teeth to feel clean and look whiter,” Dr.Romo says. “That’s counterproductive, because not only does it cause recession of your gums, but you’re also wearing away the white, glossy enamel on your teeth, making them look yellow and darker.” And when that happens, you’re putting yourself at risk for developing sensitive teeth.

Not sure if you’re brushing too hard? Take a look at your toothbrush. If you’ve been using it for three months or less, it should still appear relatively new. “If it looks beat up and flat, that’s a sign you’re brushing way too hard,” Romo says.

The Proper Way to Brush Your Teeth

It requires a lot of mindfulness, but you can change your hard-brushing ways, Romo says. Follow these tips to brush properly to help relieve tooth sensitivity and prevent damage to your teeth and gums:

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Choose one with the ADA seal and replace it every three months — or sooner if it frays.

Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. That way, the bristles can reach and clean underneath your gumline, Romo says.

Gently move the brush back and forth. Use short, tooth-wide strokes to clean the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth, the ADA recommends. (If you have a lot of gum recession, your dentist may recommend you try the roll technique instead, Romo says.) If you’re using an electric toothbrush, let it do all the work and just lightly glide it over your teeth instead of pushing it against them. To make sure you’re using a gentle grip, try holding your toothbrush in your nondominant hand.

Slow down. Dentists recommend that you brush for two full minutes — 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth — twice a day. Use the timer on your phone or choose an electric toothbrush that alerts you every 30 seconds. “For people who have never tried it, it can feel like an eternity. You don’t really know what two minutes feels like until you actually brush that long,” Romo says. But when you’re not rushing to finish, it will keep you more mindful about brushing too aggressively.

Tips on Choosing a Manual Toothbrush

When considering which toothbrush to buy, much depends on an individual’s dental needs. There is also a personal preference.  The particular toothbrush design or touted benefits is often what seals the sale. Of course, a dentist may advise a patient which toothbrush best suits that client’s needs.

How to Buy a Toothbrush

While it seems like one of life’s simpler decisions, the best toothbrush to buy should receive some careful thought. Does the buyer prefer a hard, medium, or soft bristle in a manual toothbrush? Whatever the personal preference, the best type of bristle is a question to ask the dentist. Most dentists will recommend a soft bristle, as these allow for better cleaning and are safer for teeth. Size matters – a toothbrush designed for an adult is not suitable for a child. Adults should steer clear of overly large toothbrush heads, as these can make cleaning hard-to-reach areas difficult.


Other Toothbrush Considerations

When choosing a best toothbrush to buy, take these factors into consideration:

.   Find toothbrushes receiving the American Dental Association seal of approval.

.   Look at individual toothbrush uses besides basic brushing. For example, some toothbrushes include bristles shaped specifically for cleaning surface stains.

.   Bristles with rounded tips help protect teeth from overzealous brushing.

.   Think about the best handle design for your purposes. Some people prefer an easy-grip handle, while others like a handle with more flexibility.


Regular Replacement

No matter which toothbrush you choose, it is important to rinse it thoroughly after use and store it in an upright position. Figure on replacing a toothbrush every three to four months. Toothbrush design does not matter in that regard. All toothbrush bristles wear down after a few months of use. Anyone suffering from a contagious disease should replace their toothbrush once they are on the mend. Those nasty germs can linger on the brush, resulting in re-infection.


Recycle, Reuse Old Toothbrushes

There is no need to throw out an old toothbrush in relatively good shape but no longer suitable for brushing. There are lots of alternative toothbrush uses, such as cleaning a computer board or removing dust or grime from delicate jewelry.


Proper dental hygiene not only keeps your teeth in good condition, but might help prevent more serious diseases, including heart and digestive system issues. That means choosing the right toothbrush – along with proper brushing, flossing and twice-yearly dental visits – could possibly save your life.

5 Back To School Dental Tips For Students

When you’re busy with tests, essay deadlines and a hectic social life, it’s easy to forget all of the dental tips that you learned when you were a child. Keep the following dental tips in mind to maximize your oral health easily and effectively.


1) Watch what you drink

When you’re out at a bar or a party, remember that some drinks are more likely to cause tooth decay or staining. Top dental tips include drinking fewer sugary cocktails or alcopops, and swapping your red wine for white wine if you want to keep a bright, attractive smile.


2) Whiten your teeth in the dentist’s office

If you’re looking for whiter teeth, one of the smartest dental tips is to go to your dentist’s office instead of buying a cheap product from the mall. Some of these products can damage tooth enamel when used excessively.


3) Think twice about a mouth piercing

Although you might want a tongue or lip piercing for aesthetic reasons, one of our dental tips is to avoid these piercing. They commonly result in chipped teeth, and they also increase your chances of getting a painful infection.


4) Don’t forget your checkups

Dental checkups are as important now as they were when you were a child, so one of the most useful dental tips is to see your dentist at least every six months. Although you may not think there is anything wrong with your mouth, your dentist can spot the early signs of problems like tooth decay and gum disease before they get more serious.


5) Keep an eye on stress levels

When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to grind your teeth, and this can not only cause tooth damage but also lead to intense pain in your jaw. One of our top dental tips is to make sure you relax before bed. In addition, make sure that you take breaks when studying.


Differences Between Teeth Whitening Options

With the wide variety of teeth whitening products and services available, it can be overwhelming to choose one that is right for you. Here is a summary of the differences between some of the most popular options:

Porcelain Veneers

Veneers are thin porcelain sheets that are bonded to your teeth to enhance the appearance of your smile. Getting veneers in Chicago is a popular option for those whose teeth are deeply stained and resistant to bleaching. If some of your teeth can be whitened but others are naturally too thin or have become more grey in color, then adding porcelain veneers in Chicago to these teeth can help create a cohesive-white smile.

Zoom! Teeth Whitening

Zoom! Teeth whitening is the best option for those who wish to brighten their smile very quickly with proven results. The efficient process can whiten teeth up to 8 shades whiter than their original color. Zoom! teeth whitening is unique due to the ultraviolet light used to enhance results with the whitening gel. Another advantage of Zoom! teeth whitening is it is less likely to cause tooth sensitivity.

Bleaching Trays

At home products, such as custom-fit bleaching trays, can give you similar results as Zoom! teeth whitening. However, bleaching trays take a much longer period of time to see results as good as Zoom! Teeth Whitening. It also takes much more maintenance and upkeep.

How Hormones Affect Women’s Dental Health

Hormones affect a lot in a woman’s life, which you may have known. But you may not realize how much hormones can even impact a person’s dental health.

According to the American Dental Association, increased levels of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause more blood flow to the gums, which can make them more sensitive to irritation. During these hormone spikes, gums can become more easily inflamed or swollen from plaque and bacteria. In a worst-case scenario, leaving irritated gums untreated can eventually lead to gum disease. As a woman experiences a variety of hormonal changes throughout life, it’s essential to maintain proper dental care to alleviate gum inflammation and avoid any permanent damage.

Here are five moments when a woman’s changing hormone levels may cause dental complications, and some good practices to help combat them.

During puberty, increased levels of sex hormones cause increased blood circulation to the gums. Due to this, young women may experience increased gum sensitivity, which may lead to irritation or reactions. Luckily, regular oral care (brushing and flossing) helps remove any local bacterial growth and keep irritants at bay. As puberty progresses, women’s hormonal gum sensitivity will begin to diminish.

Periods are to blame for several annoying health symptoms, including cramps, acne, and mood swings. According to a study from the US National Library of Medicine, menstruation can also cause a variety of oral health problems, including swollen, tender, or bleeding gums (also known as menstrual gingivitis), or even canker sores. Women should maintain their regular dental routine, and any oral inflammation should pass after a few days.

It’s important to contact your dentist if these symptoms persist; they may be signaling a different problem.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body is working extra hard, and so are her hormones. It’s not unusual for women to experience pregnancy gingivitis, especially between her second and eighth months of pregnancy. While taking care of your body is especially important during this time, it’s essential to maintain good dental health, too. Some dentists even recommend more frequent cleanings during pregnancy to help control gingivitis and gum sensitivity.

Oral Contraceptives
Modern birth control pills do not contain enough estrogen and progesterone to cause gum inflammation, but it’s still important to keep your dentist up-to-date on your current medications. Some medications may cause your birth control to be less effective, which is important for dentists to know when writing a prescription. Also, according to the American Dental Association, women using oral contraceptives may face a higher risk of dry socket, a painful complication during tooth removal procedures. If you are concerned with how your medications may affect an upcoming procedure, talk to your dentist.

As another sizeable hormonal change in a woman’s life, menopause can also cause oral health complications. One such complication is dry mouth, which increases your risk for cavities. Maintain saliva production by sucking on sugar-free candy, drinking lots of water, or using an over-the-counter dry mouth spray. During menopause, some women also experience a loss of bone density, which can lead to eventual tooth loss. To combat tooth loss, make sure you’re intaking plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking.

Dental Facts Every Expectant Mother Needs to Know

For expectant mothers it is quite normal to be concerned about their own general and oral health. Could pregnancy affect my gums? (Yes, gingivitis, inflammation of the gum tissue is common from the second through the eighth month of pregnancy.) Does the calcium for the baby’s teeth come from my teeth? (No, this is an old wives’ tale!) These are just a few of the questions covered in this response to a Dear Doctor email from an expectant mother.

3 Reasons To Choose Dental Implants

I always tell my patients that a person who is missing one or more teeth may be a candidate for dental implants. An implant is an appropriate treatment method to replace areas of missing teeth and provides support and stability for additional dental appliances.

A dental implant is typically a small titanium screw that is applied to the natural bone of the jaw and is used as a support structure for a ceramic crown (replacement tooth). Additional reasons for implants include the need to resolve bite problems caused by shifting teeth, restoration of natural chewing functions, support for a dental bridge or dentures, and to restore your smile and confidence.

Here are 3 reasons why implants may be the right choice for you:

  1. A More Natural and Functional Feel

    An implant feels, fits and functions like your natural tooth. Other options may interfere with how you eat, smile and speak. Implants, along with replacement teeth, create a natural look and feel and can be used in both the upper and lower jaws. Due to their bio-compatible properties, titanium dental implants provide many advantages for patients with areas of missing teeth and can be used in situations that call for the replacement of single or multiple missing teeth. The teeth attached to your dental implants are extremely natural in appearance.

  2. Natural and Comfortable Chewing

    Implants allow you to bite naturally, eat almost anything you want, and brush your teeth as you normally would. Dentures can feel uncomfortable when you eat, can limit your your food choices and need to be removed for cleaning.

  3. A More Confident Smile

    Implants are fixed in place, so they won’t move, click or shift, giving you confidence in your smile. Dentures may slip when you are eating, talking or even laughing. An implant is an appropriate method that aims to replace areas of missing teeth and provides support and stability for additional dental appliances.

If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. The good news is that the majority of dental implants and can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without general anesthesia.

Although implants are durable and will last many years, regular brushing, flossing and dental visits will add life to your smile. On occasion, implants may have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear. I will provide you with care instructions once your implants have been completed.

Whether you need a single tooth replacement or a full-mouth reconstruction our team does it all! Our specialist, Periodontist Eugenia Prokopets D.D.S, M.S.D. is board certified in Periodontology and Dental Implant Surgery. Dr. Prokopets handles the surgical work and then hands off the restorative work to me so rest assured you’re in the best hands with our experienced team. Our prices are competitive and we also offer financing through CareCredit.