You have a choice of more than just dental floss to clean between your teeth. There are now hundreds of products on the market for interdental cleaning, ranging from wooden sticks to interdental brushes, and now even oral irrigation devices also known as water flossers (or Water Piks.)

Clinical studies of the Water Pik have found that the water flosser is 51% more effective for reducing gingivitis, twice as effective at reducing gingival bleeding, and 29% more effective at removing plaque. The Waterpik can give you healthier teeth and gums when being used for just a minute per day.

What is a Water Flosser or Water Pik?

A water flosser is an oral health appliance designed for dental care at home: consider it a 'power washer' for your gums.

Although sizes and features vary, all water flossers include:

  • Motor with pump
  • Water reservoir
  • Special tips for specific cleaning needs

The motor and pump cause a stream of pressurized, pulsating water to flow from the reservoir through the tip and into the mouth.

The targeted stream of water removes plaque, food particles, and bacteria in a way that’s more effective, more comfortable, and easier than traditional string floss. The pulsating action also stimulates gum tissue for added health benefits.

Why Choose a Water Flosser?

If you don’t like string floss, don’t floss often, or find string floss hard to use, a water flosser can be the answer.

  • Many people find water flossing easier and more pleasant than using string floss, and they may floss more often as a result.
  • Gum disease prevention and treatment is another reason to use a water flosser. Waterpik®Water Flossers are clinically proven to reduce gingivitis, remove plaque, and improve gum health.
  • Water flossers are especially useful for cleaning braces and other orthodontics, as well as cleaning bridges, crowns, and dental implants.
  • Water flossers are helpful for people with dexterity issues, such as arthritis, who find string flossing difficult.

What About Toothbrushing?

For daily home care, we recommend:

  • Brushing your teeth 2x a day for 2 minutes
  • Flossing once a day to clean between your teeth

Although water flossing reaches areas that tooth brushing can’t, it is not a replacement for brushing your teeth. Rather, it is an alternative to string floss, interdental brushes, or floss threaders to remove plaque and debris that brushing leaves behind. There will also be some patients for whom we recommend using regular dental floss in addition to water flossing, but we like to see every patient using a Water Pik, if possible.

Is Water Flossing Messy?

Compared to string floss, water flossing is easier and doesn't require you to put your hands in your mouth or deal with used string floss.

The correct technique is they key. Unlike string floss, you don’t need to look in the mirror or hold your mouth open wide.

To use a water flosser, place the flosser tip in your mouth, close your lips most of the way, and lean over the sink. Then turn the power on. As you floss along the gumline and between your teeth, allow the water to empty from your mouth into the sink. 

Essential takeaway: flossing is designed to prevent bacterial changes that lead to gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to heart conditions, diabetes, and infection. If regular flossing isn't getting the results you're looking for, a water flosser might be the best option for you. Let's talk about this during your next appointment.

Why your dentist cares about your sleep quality: Downtown Dental // Nashville, TN

Our dental patients should know why we are listening (and looking) closer for the telltale signs that they may not be sleeping well.

It’s a typical day on the job: we see several patients, observe and clean their teeth and get them ready to see Dr. Clark. As we're cleaning one patient’s mouth, something seems a little off. We notice that they have a smaller mouth and a normal size tongue, and it’s difficult to see past their soft palate as they say “Ahhhh.” When we ask the patient about their week, they complain that they’ve been feeling tired and haven’t been sleeping well at night. We've experienced patients with a similar story and appearance before. What’s the connection?

Research shows that 24.1% of patients are more likely to visit their dentist than their physician for an annual exam, which places a responsibility on us to be knowledgeable about the oral signs that may be indicative of a larger health condition.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder that affects 20-30% of adults. It is also the most common undiagnosed sleep disorder and chronic disease in Western society, with up to 80 percent of people that suffer from moderate to severe OSA unaware of their condition.

This is important considering untreated OSA can take up to 20 years off of your lifespan.  It ages your body, wreaks havoc on your immune and cardiovascular system, and dramatically decreases quality of life.

OSA sufferers often experience an inability to concentrate or focus on everyday tasks because they experience repeated microarousals, which eliminate the opportunity to have  complete restorative sleep cycles. They also can experience morning headaches, clenching and grinding, and dry mouth, which can have a severe negative impact on dental health and overall wellness.

Additionally, the disorder is linked to a number of comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and even Alzheimer’s. Those that suffer from OSA are two times more likely to get into a car wreck, as sleep apnea causes a decrease in cognitive functioning.

Sleep apnea can originate in the throat, which makes us the front line in detection of the physical signs that a patient may suffer from if they have OSA. Many patients with sleep apnea DO NOT experience the tell tale symptoms they have heard about;  snoring, daytime fatigue, witnessed cessations of breathing during sleep, high blood pressure, and waking from sleep with a gasp or choking sound. Instead of focusing only on these subjective symptoms, the easiest way to gauge risk of obstructive sleep apnea is to look in the mouth…

What we look for: signs and symptoms

Patients with OSA display many symptoms that can be observed simply by looking into the mouth. The MOST predictive signs include:

  • Small or recessed chin
  • Scalloped tongue
  • Eroded enamel / Clenching and Grinding
  • Mallampati Classification of III or IV

Other signs we assess that are correlated with OSA include:

  • High BMI
  • Morning Headaches
  • Narrow Arch or Small Mouth

If any of these signs are observed, or we note other symptoms that may be indicative of sleep apnea (for example, if the patient is obese or complains of a dry mouth), we often ask follow-up questions, including:

  • Do you snore?
  • Do you wake during the night for any reason?  Is it 4 hours into your sleep cycle?
  • Do you feel well rested after getting a full night of sleep?

Patients who confirm these symptoms should be further assessed. Dentists and dental hygienists can use screening tools for early detection of risk factors. If, after screening, we believe that a patient displays signs of sleep apnea, it is our responsibility to educate our patient and provide them the support they need to get tested.

OSA is not just overweight or older people who snore loudly, it's young otherwise healthy people who just have too much soft tissue (tongue, tonsils, soft palate) in the throat.  

Each Downtown Dental patient (as well as those referred to Downtown Dental by their medical doctors) are provided with a sleep consultation appointment to discuss all the risks, and benefits associated with proper treatment of OSA. Based on the medical doctor recommendation along with our own assessments, we will follow the best approach to a customized, comprehensive treatment plan with ongoing care.

Though the link between dental health and heart health is not completely clear, experts say it’s important to take care of both. Claiming around 610,000 lives each year, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.1 Did you know that research has found a link between this deadly disease and the health of your gums? Having gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%, according to a 2016 study by the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden.2 “Although the findings indicate a strong link between gum disease and heart disease, it’s still unclear whether one actually causes the other,” says the American Heart Association. The two conditions have some of the same risk factors, including smoking, poor nutrition and diabetes. Researchers believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the connection.3

Prevention is the best medicine

Regular healthy habits can lower your risk of both gum disease and heart disease. And, if you already have one or both of these conditions, these strategies can help reduce their impact:
  • Brush and floss regularly. To remove plaque-forming bacteria, brush for at least two minutes, twice a day, and don’t skip the floss.
  • Choose a healthy diet, rich in essential nutrients (especially vitamins A and C). Reduce or eliminate sugar and starches.
  • Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. These habits can destroy your gums and increase your chance of heart disease.
    • 1CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015.
    • 2Rydén L, Buhlin K, Ekstrand E, et al. Periodontitis increases the risk of a first myocardial infarction: A report from the PAROKRANK study. 2016.
    • 3Jeffcoat et al. Impact of periodontal therapy on general health: evidence from insurance data for five systemic conditions. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2014;47(2):166-74.
    • 4Gum Disease and Heart Disease. American Academy of Periodontology. Dec. 2016.
    via Delta Dental
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[caption id="" align="alignright" width="228"] Photo credit:[/caption] A lot of people believe that they have already fully comprehend what osteoporosis is all about and what they can do to either prevent or cure the condition. Osteoporosis refers to a disease characterized by extremely fragile and less dense bones. The main causes of the problem are aging, menopause, and lack of Vitamin D and calcium. Recent advancements in research have shed new light on the entire condition, showing clear reasons for its existence and what sufferers can do to treat it. Osteoporosis is a condition worth worrying about because there are predictions that state its ability to affect more than half of the people in America who will be older than age 50 by the year 2020. New research and studies show more relevant information from the process of diagnosing osteoporosis, to preventing and treating it. Bone health, osteoporosis, and calcium intake In the past few years, there are a few studies that report conflicting findings about the effectiveness of calcium supplements mainly utilized for prevention of fractures and improvement in bone health. The reason behind this is that there are also findings that show the ability of these supplements to increase a person's risk of suffering from heart diseases and attacks. According to Douglas C. Bauer, a professor of epidemiology, biostatistics, and medicine, osteoporosis is a result of the lack of calcium consumption, and it has become a common disease among people in the U.S. He further added that it greatly affects the elderly, especially if their intake of calcium is less than their required daily dosage. However, he also stated that it is necessary to follow a high-calcium diet instead of relying on supplements. The reason behind such a recommendation is that calcium supplements also carry a few adverse side effects. Among the common side effects are minor constipation, increased risk of developing kidney stones, and indigestion. Recent studies also show that calcium supplements increase one's chances of a heart attack. In fact, a nonrandomized study conducted by JAMA’s Internal Medicine just this year figured out that more than 11,000 deaths related to cardiovascular diseases are connected to the increased and continued intake of calcium supplements. This is the main reason why a lot of experts recommend increasing calcium intake through foods rich in calcium. Choose to eat dairy products with high calcium content, instead of instantly taking the supplement. Food products fortified with extra calcium such as broccoli and kale can also help. If the intake of calcium supplement cannot be prevented, then it is best to discuss the decision with your doctor. This can help in figuring out if there are any complications to this move. Osteoporosis and its effects on oral and dental health Osteoporosis is a health condition that greatly affects the bones, since the disease weakens them and makes them capable of breaking easily. Note that aside from negatively hampering overall health and well being, osteoporosis also has a direct relationship on oral and dental health. One should realize that the disease can hamper or damage jawbones. It also triggers dental and oral health issues, including gum or periodontal diseases and loss of teeth. The dental and oral effects of osteoporosis tend to affect more women than man. This holds true for women who are already on their menopausal phase, unless they regularly use a therapy designed to replace lost hormones and balance them. It should also be noted that even if someone has no teeth and does not wear dentures, the effects of osteoporosis can still affect dental and oral health. Bone weakness and loss may also affect the body ridges that hold dentures in the proper position, resulting in poor-fitting dentures. Studies also show that sufferers of the disease are at risk of requiring new dentures more often than those who have strong, healthy bones. Osteoporosis has a major impact on the part of the jawbone supporting the teeth. Studies show that a loss in this bone is most likely to cause tooth loss or mobility. Female sufferers of osteoporosis also have a higher likelihood of experiencing tooth loss or mobility than nonsufferers. Low bone density in the jaw triggered by osteoporosis can also lead to other dental issues. For instance, women suffering from osteoporosis are most likely to experience difficulties linked to ill-fitting or loose dentures. The results of various oral and dental surgical procedures are also less than desirable for these women. The best way to handle this problem is to avoid delaying or postponing dental treatments. Regular dental visits are essential in correcting problems in oral and dental health caused by weak bones. A healthy lifestyle is necessary in strengthening and maintaining good bone health. Effective tips in optimizing bone health include eating a well-balanced diet, containing high amounts of Vitamin D and calcium, and performing regular physical activities. The best exercises that are beneficial in strengthening bones are jogging, weight training, dancing, and walking. Another tip is to avoid excessive smoking and alcohol consumption. Remind your patients to immediately report problems to your dental office related to receding or detached gums, ill-fitting or loose dentures, and loose teeth. Osteoporosis and the life span of women Based on new reports and studies, especially the ones published and reported by the International Osteoporosis Foundation, women live longer life spans than male sufferers. However, the quality of living of these women will be seriously and adversely affected if they do not take necessary action to protect their bone health. Studies show the vulnerability of postmenopausal women to bone fractures and osteoporosis. Currently, about 200 million women suffer from osteoporosis. Estimates and studies prove that at least one in every three women who are older than 50 will deal with bone fractures due to osteoporosis. Solutions linked to preventing and managing fracture and osteoporosis are now introduced to women, especially postmenopausal ones. The reason behind this is that women who are older than 50 and serve as breadwinners of their family or caregivers of society need to prioritize the improvement of their bone health. It would be impossible for these women to continue in their roles if their bones were not in good condition. Researchers also emphasize the need to do a few things that are valuable in preventing the disease as early as possible. It is crucial to take all the necessary actions designed to boost bone health upon reaching menopause. Note that menopause is a critical stage to perform preventive techniques and measures that fight muscle weakness and bone loss leading to falls, fracture, and osteoporosis. Menopause is also the stage when the resorption of bones exceeds their formation. This triggers the immediate decline in bone mass, further leading to increased bone loss and triggering osteoporosis. This disease can cause bones to become weak and porous. It also increases the vulnerability of bones to fractures. Encourage your patients to take action to strengthen their bones, increase their intake of calcium-rich foods, and regularly visit a specialist to have their bone structure checked to ensure that this will never be a threat to their health and quality of life. Resource: Dentistry IQ
What goes on in your mouth affects what happens all over your body. Regular dentist visits can do more than keep your smile attractive — they can tell dentists a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be developing a disease like diabetes.  Evidence is continually being shown to support the belief that your mouth is a window into many health issues throughout your body. It has been proven that more than 75% of American adults suffer from various forms of periodontal (gum) disease and many don’t know it. Your oral health can also act as an early detection window to so many other chronic illnesses. Here are a few points to consider. Dentists detect disease. The risks of developing diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease increase with age. Since symptoms of these conditions can manifest in the mouth, dentists may be key in diagnosing the diseases. Acid reflux – your dentist may notice before you do. Never have heartburn? That doesn't mean you don't have acid reflux. The good news is that if you have acid reflux, your dentist can detect symptoms of this disease during your regular oral examination. A woman’s mouth can say a lot about osteoporosis. If you're a woman, your dentist may be the first health professional to suspect you have osteoporosis — and refer you to a physician before the disease advances. Anxiety disorders contribute to oral health problems. People are anxious about going to the dentist for different reasons, including worrying about the effectiveness, feeling dentist is rushed, neglecting concerns, anticipation of pain, negative past experiences, or atmosphere. Dental health care can help Alzheimer’s patients. Proper dental care can maintain or increase an Alzheimer's patient's quality of life. Taking time to brush, floss, inspect his teeth and see his dentist on a regular basis should be top priorities.  The Washington Post recently published an article citing three studies that demonstrated a correlation between gum (periodontal) disease and Alzheimer's disease. Your dentist should know what's in your medicine cabinet. If you haven't talked to your dentist lately about what medications you're taking, you should. From over-the-counter antihistamines to prescribed blood pressure regulators, many medications can cause side effects that negatively affect oral health. The heart and mouth connection: oral health and heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease is America’s number one killer. But did you know that heart disease and oral health are linked? How many teeth are in that cigarette pack? If you start smoking at age 18 and smoke one pack a day, you are likely to lose 4 or 5 teeth by the time you are 35 years old. How vegetarians can ensure good oral health While a vegetarian diet can have great overall health benefits, vegetarians need to be aware of how this lifestyle choice can affect their oral health. By eliminating certain food groups, vegetarians can risk missing out on some key nutrients that are essential for good oral health. Oral cancer screenings Your dentist can perform a screening for oral cancer, which is most frequently found on the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips, and gums. Early detection and treatment is essential. Oral health gives clues about eating disorders. More dentists are becoming the first line of defense when it comes to recognizing eating disorders in patients. A dentist may spot the warning signs of an eating disorder and be able to point parents in the right direction to get help. Learn more:
We had a wonderful time at the 2014 NASBA Employee Health Fair! It's always great to see our community businesses emphasizing health and wellness and providing their employees with opportunities to interact with health focused local businesses. Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 11.26.27 AM NASBA has proven themselves to be a award winning in business strategy, growth, & service along with being recognized in past years as one of the best places to work!  It's no surprise that they have a history of focusing on health and wellness for their employees. We were in good company and appreciated the opportunity to show how easily addressing your dental needs can lead to overall health and wellness. As a vendor we spent time speaking with employees about the oral systemic connection that links oral disease and inflammation to MANY serious illnesses throughout the body.Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 1.58.55 PM There are signs to watch for to see if you are at risk!  And awareness of these warning signs are the first step towards better overall health and wellness: Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 2.01.00 PM And thanks to technological advancements in the dental industry experiencing these signs of dental disease and infection DOES NOT mean that you are in for an unpleasant trip to the dentist.  OUR WAY makes treating common dental diseases and ailments easy and pain free.

The easier the treatment, the more likely you are to get and stay healthy!

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 2.01.23 PM If you are a local business and are looking to provide your employees with more opportunities for education in healthy and wellness let us know. We look forward to the opportunity to be a part of your event!
Did you know that seeing your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings could help you become aware of a potential health issue?  Oral health provides clues to your overall health. Studies have shown that your mouth can provide early warning signs for more than 90% of all systemic diseases, diseases that affect a number of organs or tissues, or your body as a whole. By a simple visit to your dentist every six months for your bi-annual cleaning, you could either prevent, or become aware of potential life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease.
Your dentist will look for signs of gum disease, and upon treating, or working to prevent this illness, can help patients lower their risk by prescribing ways to prevent the disease from fully developing or evolving to another illness. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), more than 80% of Americans are battling gum disease, making the need for ongoing dental care even more important now than ever. Are you next? Warning signs of gum disease that you should be on the lookout for:
  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  • Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
  • Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Teeth that are loose or are separating from each other
Those who already being treated for gum disease or who are working with their dentists to prevent the disease, are taking steps in the right direction for overall good health.
If you haven’t heard, the theme our staff has adopted for 2013 is staying healthy from head to toe and we’ve worked hard to keep that pledge going throughout the year. What’s been so inspiring is that many of you have joined us in making that commitment in your own lives from keeping your heart healthy through regular dental visits to running a half marathon. As we reach the halfway point in the year, we started to brainstorm some ways to keep our commitment level up while celebrating all of the incredible ways you’ve joined us thus far…. What better way to celebrate and encourage others than with a party? A BE WELL Party, in fact. As a way to encourage the entire downtown Nashville community to join our commitment to stay healthy from head to toe, we’re bringing in a host of local vendors for a night of food, entertainment, and healthy living education. On Thursday, August 1st from 5:30 pm -7:30 pm, we’ll host an evening for you stop by our office and enjoy food, drinks and music…
  • Nashville Running Company will be there to help runners find the right type of shoe for their style and discounts to get your run off on the right foot.
  • Massage Therapist Jules Saunders will be there to help relieve all the stress you’ve been building up with free massages.
  • Third and Church Healthcare will be there to provide you with resources to stay healthy throughout the upcoming months including free B-12 shots for our first 75 guests.
  • Nashville B-Cycle will be there to showcase how you can stay healthy and have fun all at the same time along with membership discounts.
  • We’ll be showcasing our new Waterlase iPlus Laser if you haven’t had a chance to see it in action.
There will also be a drawing for a new iPad mini for those that RSVP and attend the event. The more co-workers and friends that you bring, the better chance you have of winning! Complimentary food will be provided from Wrapper’s Delight, brews from Jackalope Brewery, and wine from Midtown Wine & Spirits. Finally, Josh Roberts will be be there to provide live entertainment. What should you do next?
  1.  The first thing you should do is RSVP.
  2. Immediately after you do that, don’t forget to mark it down on your calendar. You can walk, bike, or jog to our offices after work (and get extra points for staying healthy) or public parking is available underneath the Justice A.A. Birch Building.
We hope you’ll join us as we celebrate staying healthy from head to toe with a night of food, drinks, and inspiration with your friends and co-workers For more details or RSVP information, you can contact us here.
As part of our effort to stay healthy from head to toe, we wanted to take some time this month to talk about heart and dental health. A few months ago, we shared two unconventional ways to commit to total body heath. Instead of spitting out statics from the latest studies, here is how and why taking care of your teeth help keep your heart healthy. How does taking care of your teeth affect your heart health? Understanding the connection between heart and dental health isn’t complicated. Most people know if you don’t take proper care of your teeth, diseases such as tooth decay and gingivitis develops. Also, you probably know that if you don’t regularly floss, your gums can become sore bleeding can result. Studies have shown the bacteria you’ve built up from poor dental habits can make its way into your blood stream. Traveling through the rest of your body, the bacteria can provoke inflammation or cause clogged arteries. Over time, these issues can develop into more serious problems. Why does it matter? Over time, the issues caused by bacteria in your blood stream can contribute to heart disease or other heart related issues. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 2,600 people in the U.S. die of heart disease every day. That's an average of one death every 34 seconds. In short… By not taking care of your teeth and gums, you’re ultimately opening yourself up for the potential to be diagnosed with heart disease or other heart related issues if dental bacteria enters the blood stream. It is evident from research that the two are directly related. How do you prevent this from happening? While regular dental exams and cleanings are necessary to remove bacteria, plaque and tartar and detect early signs of gum disease, you can play a major role in preventing bacteria build up: • Brush for two to three minutes twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Be sure to brush along the gumline without using too much force. • Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. • Use a mouth rinse to reduce plaque up to 20 percent. • Eat a healthy diet, low in refined sugars, to provide essential nutrients (vitamins A and C, in particular). • Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. At Downtown Dental, we want you to have more than a nice smile; we want you to live a healthy, vibrant life. That’s why we’re committed to total body health. Join us in staying healthy from head to toe and taking care of the most important part of your body: your heart.