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Choose Chocolate on Valentine's Day

February 14th, 2024

From a student handing out sweets for her classmates to an older married couple exchanging boxes of candy, Valentine’s Day is the time of year when people like to show affection by gifting sugary treats to their loved ones. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of Valentine’s Day candy, you can celebrate the holiday in a healthier way by making dark chocolate your confection of choice.

Contribute to Your Health

According to the Cleveland Clinic, studies have shown that the cocoa beans used to make chocolate contain flavonoids, which can help protect the body against damage from various toxins. Flavonoids may also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and the brain. Dark chocolates typically contain a higher amount of flavonoids than other types, making them a great choice for chocolate lovers. However, you should keep in mind that many companies produce chocolate that is so heavily processed that the flavonoids are largely eliminated. Your best bet is to look for high-quality dark chocolates and cocoa powders that have undergone minimal processing.

Protect Against Cavities

If you think there’s no way candy could ever be beneficial for your teeth, think again. The Texas A&M Health Science Center has reported that the tannins present in cocoa beans may actually help prevent cavities by interfering with bacteria’s harmful interaction with teeth. Just like with flavonoids, tannins have been found to be present more often in dark chocolates, rather than milk chocolates, giving you another great reason to choose the richer, sweet varieties.

Avoid a Sticky Situation

One more benefit of choosing chocolate over other candies is that it is less likely to get stuck in the crevices and spaces between teeth. Gooey sweets like taffy can stay lodged in the mouth for longer periods of time, putting you at a greater risk for developing cavities. When you choose your chocolate, be sure to avoid types that also contain sticky ingredients like caramel or marshmallow, and instead opt for the plain varieties.

Remember that the health benefits you can receive from dark chocolate are largely based on eating the candy in moderation. With that being said, it’s easy to make this delicious and health conscious switch when you’re out shopping for your sweetheart, friends, loved ones, and yourself. Have fun satisfying your sweet tooth this year and Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Amundson Dental Associates!

Healthy Gums, Healthy Life: Observing Gum Disease Awareness Month

February 13th, 2024

This month, Amundson Dental is highlighting Gum Disease Awareness Month.  Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common but often overlooked oral health issue that can have serious consequences if left untreated. This condition affects the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth, leading to inflammation and, in severe cases, tooth loss. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and preventive measures can help individuals maintain optimal oral health.

Causes:

Gum disease typically begins with the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Poor oral hygiene habits, such as irregular brushing and flossing, contribute to plaque build-up. Over time, if not removed through proper dental care, plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. The presence of tartar irritates the gums, leading to inflammation and the onset of gum disease.

Other factors that can increase the risk of gum disease include smoking, hormonal changes (such as those during pregnancy or menopause), certain medications, systemic diseases like diabetes, and a genetic predisposition to gum problems.

Symptoms:

Recognizing the early signs of gum disease is crucial for timely intervention. Common symptoms include:

  • Gingivitis: The earliest stage of gum disease is characterized by red, swollen gums that may bleed during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is reversible with proper oral hygiene.
  • Periodontitis: If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, where the inflammation extends to the supporting structures of the teeth. Symptoms include receding gums, pockets forming between teeth and gums, and potential tooth mobility.
  • Advanced Periodontitis: In the advanced stage, the damage becomes severe, leading to tooth loss, changes in bite, and even bone loss in the jaw.

Preventing gum disease involves adopting a consistent oral care routine and making lifestyle changes:

  • Regular Dental Check-ups: Professional dental cleanings and check-ups are essential for the early detection and treatment of gum disease.
  • Effective Oral Hygiene: Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can help remove plaque and prevent its accumulation.
  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Quitting smoking, maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and managing conditions such as diabetes can contribute to overall gum health.
  • Monitoring Hormonal Changes: Individuals experiencing hormonal fluctuations, such as during pregnancy or menopause, should be especially vigilant about their oral health and consult with their dentist if any concerns arise.

Gum disease is a prevalent oral health issue, but with proper awareness and preventive measures, it can be effectively managed and even reversed in its early stages. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, seeking professional dental care regularly, and addressing risk factors can go a long way in preserving the health of your gums and teeth. If you notice any signs of gum disease, it's essential to call Dr Roger and Dr Scott Amundson promptly to prevent the progression of the condition and safeguard your oral well-being.

My gums are inflamed. What can I do?

February 7th, 2024

Inflamed gums are a fairly common dental issue, but unfortunately, many people don't take the problem seriously enough. If you ignore inflamed gums and continue your usual routine, you could be encouraging a much more severe inflammation problem, and the pain that goes along with that. Fortunately, it is quite easy to relieve inflamed gums if you use the tips below.

Use Soft Bristles

A soft-bristle toothbrush - the softest you can buy - is a must for anyone with inflamed gums. Anything that makes contact with your gums can cause you pain, so fine and soft bristles are always the best choice.

Use Sensitive Formula Toothpaste

The toothpaste marketed as “Sensitive Teeth Formula” contain special ingredients to help relieve sensitivity. When your gums are inflamed, even light brushing can cause some pain. Using a special toothpaste will help reduce that pain and make it easier to brush your teeth effectively. The effect becomes stronger as you use the toothpaste more, so use it for each brushing.

Visit Our Office

If your gums remain swollen for more than a few days or a week, set up an appointment with Dr. Roger and Scott Amundson. There is a long list of conditions that could be causing your swollen gums, everything from gum disease to pregnancy, so you need to find out where your issue is coming from. Most of the time, Dr. Roger and Scott Amundson can easily treat the swollen gum issue at our Grand Forks office, or can give you an effective treatment to take home.

What’s the Big Deal about Sleep Apnea?

January 31st, 2024

What’s the big deal about a little snoring during the night? Or feeling a bit drowsy during the day? Or an occasional bout of insomnia? If your sleep problems are few and far between, probably not a major worry. But if your sleep disruptions are frequent, getting worse, or more noticeable to those around you, your problem might be sleep apnea. And that can be a big deal.

Sleep apnea occurs in three forms:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

This is the most common form of sleep apnea. It can be the result of the muscles in the back of the throat relaxing during sleep to obstruct the airway. Obstruction can also be caused by a physical condition such as a deviated septum, excess throat tissue or enlarged tonsils.  Loud snoring often results as the sleeper struggles to inhale through the obstructed passageway.

  • Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea is caused by the brain failing to transmit the proper signals to breathe during sleep. The sleeper either stops breathing, or takes such shallow breaths that he or she can’t get enough air into the lungs.

  • Complex sleep apnea

This condition is a mix of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Any of these forms of sleep apnea will cause a miserable night’s sleep. Sufferers actually stop breathing for a brief time. To start breathing properly again, our bodies move from the deep sleep we need to restore our physical and mental health to shallow sleep or even momentary wakefulness. And these disruptive episodes can happen dozens of times an hour, all night long. You might think you have gotten a full night’s sleep, while in reality you are suffering from sleep deprivation.

When you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, the immediate consequences are easy to see and hear. Loud snoring, choking, constant drowsiness—you (and your loved ones) suffer from these symptoms night and day. But the hidden consequences of this disorder are even more dangerous. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. It can cause memory problems, depression, and mood changes. Loss of focus and slow reflexes can lead to accidents. Complications from general anesthetics and medications can also become a serious risk.

Snoring is not the only symptom of sleep apnea. If you notice that you often wake up with a sore throat, a dry mouth, or a headache, have difficulty going to sleep at night or staying awake during the day, can’t concentrate,  or constantly feel irritable—you should consider the possibility that you suffer from sleep apnea. Talk to Dr. Roger and Scott Amundson at our Grand Forks office. We can recommend options that will have you once again sleeping soundly in your bed, waking up refreshed and healthy. And that is a big deal.

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