Causes & Treatments for Bad Breath, From Our Apex Family Dentist

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Almost everyone experiences bad breath once in a while. But for some people, bad breath is a chronic problem. Known in the medical field as “halitosis,” bad breath can be exacerbated by numerous factors, like inadequate oral hygiene, lack of saliva, or smoking. If you’re desperate to get rid of your bad breath for good, here are some factors that might be causing it.

Bacteria & Periodontal Disease

All bad breath is caused by bacteria which live on the teeth and tongue. Therefore, your first step at controlling bad breath is practicing good oral hygiene: Brushing the teeth and tongue, using mouthwash, and flossing. Flossing is one key step that many people skip because it can be a bit tedious. However, flossing is crucial to having a clean mouth and fresh breath. Don’t believe us? The next time you floss, smell the string before you throw it away, and we’ll bet you see (or smell) what we mean.

Tobacco and Alcohol

“Smoker’s breath” is a well-known consequence of smoking. This is because the chemicals in tobacco, such as nicotine, remain in the mouth and lungs long after a cigarette has been extinguished. Tobacco smoke can also dry out the mouth, leading to a proliferation of bad-smelling bacteria. Alcohol, too, can dry out the mouth and allow bacteria to thrive.

Dry Mouth

If you brush and floss daily, and don’t smoke or drink, yet still suffer from halitosis, you may be suffering from dry mouth, a condition wherein the salivary glands cannot produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Since human saliva is slightly acidic, it is able to control the bacteria that cause bad breath. A decrease in saliva, therefore, allows bacteria to thrive. To increase your salivary flow, try chewing sugar-free gum after eating, which encourages increased salivary flow, and drink plenty of water. You can also use over-the-counter moisturizing agents, such as a dry mouth spray, rinses, or dry mouth moisturizing gel.

Other Conditions

If all these other causes have been ruled out, another underlying condition is likely to blame. Tonsillitis, respiratory infections such as sinusitis or bronchitis, certain gastrointestinal diseases, and uncontrolled diabetes can all cause bad breath. If you suspect that something else is at play regarding your halitosis, visit a primary care physician just to be on the safe side. 

Step 1: See Your Apex NC Dentist

With all this said, the vast majority of bad breath cases are caused by poor oral health. If you haven’t been to a dentist for a while, your first step should be scheduling a professional cleaning. Once it has been confirmed that there is no plaque or tartar built up on your teeth, your dentist can help you identify other factors that may be causing your halitosis.

If you are suffering from dry mouth, and over-the-counter solutions aren’t yielding any improvement, you may want to schedule a visit with an oral medicine doctor specializing in mucosal diseases and salivary gland disorders.

Hansen Dentistry is an Apex family dentist office specializing in cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, preventative dentistry, and more. We provide Apex NC residents with Invisalign, same-day crowns, professional tooth whitening, and a wide range of other services. To schedule an appointment, click here.

How Many Bacteria Are in My Mouth? Ask Our Apex NC Dentist

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Our teeth might sometimes seem like rocks or seashells; things which are dead and nonliving. However, our mouths are actually a vibrant ecosystem, populated with living things that play a vital role in our health. Here are some interesting facts about the microscopic creatures that live behind your lips from your local Apex family dentist.

The Oral Microbiome

Scientists have a fancy name for your mouth’s ecosystem – they call it the “human oral microbiome.” A big part of this microbiome is bacteria. A single mouth can be home to more than 6 billion bacteria, an impressive number when you consider that the total human population of the earth is 7.3 billion.

Those billions of oral bacteria live in diverse communities, where they go about the same business as most other living creatures: working, feeding, breeding, and dying.  Most of theme are harmless, or helpful, microbes, which can support your overall health as well as oral wellness. If you’ve ever seen the word “probiotics”on a label, these are the types of microbes it was referring to. Other members of the 700 different strains of bacteria that potentially live in your mouth are neither helpful nor harmful – at least as far as we know.

Harmful Mouth Bacteria

Like most urban areas, your mouth has safe neighborhoods and scary ones. Some of the microbiome communities are comprised of pathogenic bacteria that cause tooth decay, gum inflammation, and tooth loss. The main culprit of these oral diseases is Streptococcus mutans, which feeds on sugar and starchy carbs, and convert it into acids that erode your tooth enamel. Porphyromonas gingivalis isn’t a regular resident of your mouth, but shows up when gums are diseased (Periodontitis). Left to run amok, it will destroy gum tissue and the alveolar bone that supports your teeth.

Keeping your mouth bacteria-free

Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to get rid of all your mouth’s bacteria—and you shouldn’t want to, anyway! However, you can help keep your tooth enamel strong by cutting down on sweets and carbohydrates. Both of these are Streptococcus mutans’ favorite food which, once ingested, are converted into acid that destroys teeth. And, of course, regular brushing and flossing will help keep your levels low.

Need a dentist office in Apex NC?

If you want to keep your teeth healthy and safe, head over to see Dr. Hansen and the rest of our team at Hansen Dentistry in Apex. Our Apex dentists and hygienists can’t wait to make your teeth strong and beautiful as possible! To schedule an appointment, click here.

Learn the Parts of the Teeth from Our Apex NC Family Dentist!

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While the mouth is just a small part of our overall anatomy, it’s responsible for some of the most important things we do—eating, drinking, speaking, and making facial expressions! In today’s blog, our family dentist in Apex explains the different parts of the teeth, including the enamel, dentin, pulp, and miscellaneous tissues.

Enamel

The outer covering of the tooth, enamel is the strongest, hardest, and most highly-mineralized substance in your body. Enamel is also the most visible part of teeth, a semi-translucent material that ranges in color from light yellow to grayish-white. Enamel does not contain any living cells, and cannot regenerate itself, so it’s critical to preserve it. Proper oral hygiene – brushing, flossing, regular professional checkups and cleanings – help to keep your enamel from eroding away.

Dentin

Dentin is a layer of living cells that lies underneath the tooth enamel. Dentin is also what primarily gives your teeth their color. This is why people who scour their teeth with harsh, abrasive substances like charcoal or baking soda often wind up with yellower teeth than they started out with. Since the white enamel has been worn away, the yellow dentin shows through. That’s why it’s best to stick to safe, professional whitening treatments!

Dental Pulp

Pulp is the living center of your teeth, filled with blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. Pulp’s role is to keeps your teeth nourished and moist. Without pulp, our teeth would resemble dried, bleached bones, just like the turkey wishbone that you leave out for a few days after Thanksgiving.

Other Parts of the Tooth and Jaw

Teeth are held in place by the cementum, a layer of connective tissue that grips teeth to the gums and jawbone, and the Periodontal ligament, which helps hold the teeth to the jaw. You also (hopefully!) have gums, upper and lower jaws, a tongue, salivary glands, a uvula (the dangly ball bit at the back of your mouth), and a frenulum linguae (the tissue under your tongue). All of these structures, except your teeth, are covered by a protective lining called the oral mucosa, similar to the mucous membranes inside your nose and inner ears.

The health of all these structures are directly related to the health of your teeth. Your mouth is a holistic system, and if one part of it is not well, other parts will also suffer.

Take Care of Your Mouth with our Apex NC Dentists!

Thankfully, teeth can typically be kept healthy and happy with basic oral hygiene and twice-yearly dentist appointments. Regular exams and professional teeth cleanings help your dentist screen you for oral cancer, tooth decay, and gum disease. If you’re searching for dentists in Apex or Cary, contact Hansen Dentistry today!

How to Soothe a Teething Baby, from Hansen Dentistry in Apex

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Although some babies may experience very little or even no discomfort while teething, many do, resulting in excessive drooling, inconsolable crying, and a decreased appetite. If your child seems irritable or in pain, here are some parent-tested tips that will help him or her feel better.

Give Your Baby Chilled Fruit

Once you’ve introduced your baby to solid foods, you can help soothe those sore gums with a tasty snack of chilled mashed bananas. To help prevent choking, place the fruit in a mesh feeder, and give that to your baby to lick or suck on. You can also experiment with other types of cooked, cooled fruit in the mesh feeder, such as apples, strawberries, mangoes, or ripe pears.

Give Them a Cold Washcloth

Take a clean washcloth and submerge it in water, wring it out until it’s just damp, and then place it in the fridge. Once it’s cool, fold it and give to your baby to chew on to help relieve those teething baby gums. However, don’t leave your child unattended while she’s sucking or chewing on the washcloth, as this can be a choking hazard.

Cool a Metal Spoon

Cool metal can be soothing, so grab a regular teaspoon from your kitchen drawer and put it in the fridge. When the spoon is cool, gently rub the back of the spoon against your baby’s gums. A clean, chilled, non-gel-filled teething toy can also provide some relief.

Massage Your Baby’s Gums

You can help provide some baby teething relief by carefully massaging those sore little gums in gentle, circular motions. Remember to wash your hands first.

Wipe Away Drool

One of the main signs of teething is drooling, which, aside from being a little yucky, can irritate the skin. Keep your baby’s face clean and dry by wiping it periodically, and protect their clothing with soft cloth bibs.

Ask Your Child’s Dentist About Medication

If you’re concerned that your baby’s teething discomfort cannot be soothed by any of the above methods, consult your doctor and/or dentist for advice on using medication to help with baby teething symptoms. Make an appointment with a pediatric dentist after the first tooth erupts or by your infant’s first birthday, whichever comes first.

Hansen Dentistry is a general dentist serving children and grown-ups in Apex NC. To schedule an appointment with us, contact us here.  

Learn About the Most Popular Filling Materials from our Apex Restorative Dentist

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When a tooth is damaged by decay and acid, your dentist will use a filling to restore it to its normal shape and function. If you are going to get a filling in an upcoming dental appointment, or have already had one and are just curious about the procedure, here is everything you need to know about dental fillings from our Apex dentist office.

Popular Dental Filling Materials 

Fillings help close off spaces where bacteria can enter, and prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include:

  • Gold
  • Porcelain
  • Composite resin (for tooth-colored fillings)
  • Amalgam fillings (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

No one type of filling is “best” for everyone. What’s best for you will depend on the extent of the decay; whether or not you are allergic to certain materials; where the cavity is located; and cost. Below is more information about each cavity filling material.

Gold Fillings

Historically the only filling material that was used, gold fillings are now made to order in dental labs. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissue, and may last for more than 20 years. For these reasons, many dentists consider gold to be the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice, and is not the most resilient.

Porcelain Fillings

Porcelain fillings usually have a similar cost to gold. If you have ever heard the dental term “inlay” or “onlay”, it was referring to a porcelain filling. Porcelain restorations are a popular choice because they can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are very durable. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth.

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite fillings are essentially a type of plastic. These can also be matched to the same color of your teeth, and are therefore another popular choice when the cavity is in a visible area. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings, as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea, or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings (generally from three to 10 years).

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are often known as “silver fillings”, but a dental amalgam is actually a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and zinc. Mercury, which makes up about 50% of the compound, is used to bind the metals together. Generally, the amount of mercury in a filling is considered too small to be harmful, as studies have shown that the amount of mercury in a filling is less than the amount most people consume in the food they eat.

Amalgam fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations, and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as the front teeth.

What Happens When You get a Dental Filling?

During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth. If your dentist detects a cavity that needs to be filled, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with one of the materials described above.

Schedule an Appointment with Hansen Dentistry

If you would like to have your teeth cleaned and inspected for cavities, stop on by Hansen Dentistry! Our friendly Apex dentist, Dr. Hansen, will help you achieve your perfect smile. To schedule an appointment, click here.

Our Apex Dentist Unpacks Common Dental Myths and Misconceptions

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When it comes to oral hygiene, there are a lot of common myths and misconceptions that simply aren’t true. If you want to keep your teeth as healthy as possible, here are some of the most common dental myths to watch out for. If you need a teeth cleaning or other dental service, be sure to stop by our Apex dentist office today.

Myth 1: Diet sodas are better for my teeth than regular sodas.

Since diet sodas are low-calorie and low-sugar, many people assume they are better for your teeth than non-diet alternatives. However, this is based on the assumption that it’s sugar which harms your teeth. The element that actually harms your teeth is acid, which is produced by bacteria that feed on sugar and carbohydrates. Diet sodas are actually usually higher in phosphoric acid than regular sodas, and will wear down your tooth enamel more than the acid produced by the bacteria. To keep your teeth healthy, you’re better off skipping the carbonated drinks altogether.

Myth 2: I don’t feel any pain in my mouth, so there’s probably nothing wrong with my teeth.

Many patients come to us because they are experiencing dental pain, and assume that the problem can be easily fixed. However, when dentists hear that someone is in pain, we already begin wondering if it will require a root canal or extraction. By the time you start to feel pain from a cracked tooth or other issue, it has probably been worsening for a while. Furthermore, having pain go completely away can be a sign of the nerve dying, so it’s still important to go in for a dental check-up even if you don’t feel any discomfort.

Myth 3: Having bad teeth won’t affect the rest of my body.

Bad dental care can be a gateway to stomach diseases, heart diseases, and other serious complications throughout your body. Not only does bad dental hygiene threaten your overall health, it can become a problem if you ever need clearance for a surgery. We often see patients who need dental clearance before a surgery because their teeth are an infection hazard. If you take care of your teeth, your overall body will be in better health as you get older.

Myth 4: Fluoride is a chemical, and herbal or natural toothpaste is better for me.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element which combines with the calcium and phosphates in your saliva to help remineralize your enamel. Fluoride is the most important component in toothpaste, and any brand labeled as “herbal” or “natural” toothpaste is not very beneficial to your dental health. Activated charcoal toothpaste is also very dangerous for your dental health.

Get a Professional Dental Cleaning with our Apex Dental Office

If you need a tooth cleaning, dental exam, or other dental service in Apex NC, contact Hansen Dentistry today. Our Apex dental office is passionate about what we do, and we want our patients to feel confident that they will receive the best dental care possible. To request an appointment, click here.

Four Things to Consider When Choosing a Dentist in Apex NC

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Are you new in town or looking for a different dental experience?  There are many dentists to choose from in the Apex Cary area and so sometimes it can be overwhelming as you try to find a good fit for you and your family. It is important to choose a dentist who you feel you can trust. Look for a dentist who…

 1)  Is an Active Listener

You should feel like your dentist gives you a customized dental experience. Not a one size fits all appointment.  This can only be done if the dentist takes time to not only look in your mouth, but to listen to you.  The dentist might be an expert on what is going on in your mouth, but you are the expert on why.  What’s is going on in your life and how is that effecting your overall and dental health?  Are you a mom who is busy doing a fabulous job taking care of your children but tend to put yourself on the back burner?  Are you a bride preparing for your wedding and want the best smile of your life?  Did you just get your first job, have dental insurance for the first time since before college and want to get back on track? How do you feel about your smile?  If there is something you could change about your smile, what would it be?

Your dentist should be interested in you.  Not just your mouth.

2) Respects Your Time and Your Resources

A dentist should not keep you in the waiting room too long and should be punctual for appointments.  Scheduling coordinators should give you options for appointments that are convenient for you. If taking off work is difficult, find a dental office that offers appointments on Saturdays or late weekday hours.

 A dentist should also offer different billing options so that your financial resources can be optimized.  For example, hopefully they file your insurance, have financing options, and/or offer a cash discount if you are a cash paying patient.

3)  Educates You about all aspects of your appointment

The entire dental team should be good educators.

The dentist will educate you on all matters related to your oral health and how it effects your overall health and well being. This includes performing oral cancer screenings as a part of a head and neck exam.

The dental hygienist should educate you on what you can do daily to keep your teeth healthy and maintain your smile.

Insurance can get confusing.  What you will pay, what insurance will pay? Do you pay up front?  Or only the difference? The financial coordinator’s job is to help you understand all aspects of your financial arrangement.

4)  Stays Current with Technology and Continuing Education

 You wouldn’t use a phone from 15 years ago.  So why go to a dentist who does not stay up to date with current technology?  Advancements in technology in the dental field offer many of the same benefits as those outside the field.  More comfort, less time, better results. For example, same day CEREC crowns mean less wait time for patients. They also mean no annoying temporary crown while you wait for the permanent one to come back from the lab.

Continuing education allows dentists to stay current with technology and procedures.  It gives them an opportunity to brush up on procedures they are already comfortable with and expand their scope of practice.

Not sure what your dentist does to stay up to date?  Just ask!  If your dentist is already doing this, he/she would most likely love the opportunity to share this information with you!

 

Overall, just remember to trust your gut.  Taking some time to find a dental practice that meets your specific needs is worth the effort. Perhaps that means calling to ask for an office tour and to meet the dentist and staff before scheduling your first appointment.  Once you find the right fit, you will be glad you did!

An Exciting Month at Hansen Dentistry in Apex!

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What an exciting Month at Hansen Dentistry!

 I enjoyed meeting everyone who came to the office during the last week of May and the month of June.  Building relationships is the best part of my job as a leading dentist in Apex. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to be your dentist.  After years of looking for the right practice to join, I know I have made the right choice coming to Hansen Dentistry.

Several patients have asked how we came to find out that the Simpsons were selling their practice.  My family and I go to church with the Simpsons.  They actually approached us when they heard that were looking for practice purchase opportunities.  So we kind of feel like they hand picked us!  As you might imagine, because Apex is such an amazing, incredible place to live, opportunities in this area are not too easy to come by.  But it was when I saw how Dr. Simpson’s attention to detail mirrored my own, that I knew it was a good fit.

There have been some exciting changes too!  We have a new website, and a new logo.

You will probably also notice we have made some cosmetic

changes around the office.  A little paint and new lighting…did you know I was an electrician before I went to dental school?  We are also now in-network with most insurance companies.  More on this to come.

One of the changes that is the most exciting to me is that we now have the ability to do in-office same day CEREC crowns, root canals, and implants.  Less referrals means less cost for our patients.  Plus

it is just more convenient.

And I guess another change is this blog!   This is just the first blog post so I will keep it short and sweet.  We will be updating regularly with educational posts and fun posts to share about what we are doing at the office.

We would love any feedback from you.  If there are topics that we can cover here to help you better understand your dental health, feel free to comment or call us!

Thanks for a great first month!

Happy Independence Day to you!  How blessed we are!

-Dr. H