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‘Tis the Season—for Healthy Dental Choices!

December 2nd, 2020

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re dashing through the snow to an emergency dental appointment, you’re not feeling very jolly. And post-holiday, no one wants to start off their New Year’s Resolutions with “Get Cavities Filled.” How to survive the sweetest of seasons with enamel and fillings intact?

Candies and sweets would normally be on the naughty list, but we’re not Scrooges! Indulging in a treat or two is part of the holiday fun, and we have some advice for how to enjoy them guilt-free. But first, some treats are definitely more naughty than nice. Which are the ones that are better as decorations than desserts?

  • Candy Canes

If you’ve ever suffered a chipped or cracked tooth after an innocently biting down on a much-harder-than-expected piece of candy, you know that caution is in order. That’s why we tend to take our time with candy canes, letting them dissolve slowly in the mouth. Of course, the drawback to this strategy is that now we’re slowly bathing our teeth in sugar, encouraging the growth of plaque and cavity-causing bacteria.

Candy canes, peppermints, and other hard candies are potentially bad for your teeth when you crunch away, and definitely bad for your teeth if you let them dissolve slowly.

  • Gumdrops

Glistening, colorful gumdrops. Roofing your gingerbread house, trimming a gumdrop tree, or simply sitting in a bowl, they are one of the sweetest ways to decorate for the holidays. And when we say “sweet,” we mean that literally. Most gumdrops are basically made of corn syrup and sugar—and then rolled in more sugar.

But their sugar content isn’t the only problem. This is sugar in an extra-gummy form that sticks between our teeth and around our gums.

  • Toffees, Caramels, Taffy

They might come in lovely ribboned boxes, but these extremely sticky foods are not a gift to your teeth.

Not only do chewy candies stick to enamel, they stick to fillings, crowns (especially temporary crowns), and orthodontic wires and brackets. No one wants an unexpected trip to the dentist or orthodontist because dental work has been damaged or dislodged!

  • Gingerbread Houses

Nothing says the holidays like a gingerbread house—chewy, sticky gingerbread covered with hard sugar icing, gumdrops, and peppermints. Great for your décor; not so great for your dental health. Eat one gingerbread man if you’re in a spicy mood and leave your architectural masterpiece intact.

  • Fruitcake

If you need an excuse to turn down fruitcake, here’s a perfect one: most fruitcake is not great for your teeth. Candied fruit is, well, candied, and dried fruit is sugary, sticky, and chewy. There are delicious exceptions, of course, but even a delicious fruitcake is very high in sugar.

Well, this list wasn’t very jolly. So as a little holiday gift for you, here are some suggestions to help you enjoy your desserts in the healthiest way possible.

  • Be choosy.

Just like you search for the perfect presents for your family and friends, take the time to choose the perfect holiday treats for yourself. If you are worried about cavities, or have a temporary crown, or wear braces, or have cracked a tooth before, or are just generally concerned with your oral health, stay away from sticky, hard, and excessively sugary desserts.

What can you accept from your holiday hosts with a grateful (and relieved) smile? The occasional soft chocolate should be nothing to stress about—and if you make it dark chocolate, you’ll actually get nutritional bonuses like magnesium and antioxidants. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies—yes, they are made with lots of sugar, but it is the holidays after all. Just be sure to follow our next suggestions to make that slice of cheesecake guilt-free.

  • Eat sweets with a meal.

Saliva does more than keep our mouths from getting dry. It also helps prevent cavities by washing away food particles and neutralizing the acids from food and bacteria, which damage enamel.

Eat dessert with a meal, and you benefit from increased mealtime saliva production. When you snack throughout the day, this acid-neutralizing ability is greatly reduced.

  • Rinse after eating.

Rinsing your mouth with water after a meal or a snack, especially a sugary one, also helps wash away the sticky sugars and carbs, which oral bacteria convert into acids.

  • Brush immediately. (Maybe.)

It’s always a good idea to brush right after eating—well, almost always. If you’ve been eating acidic foods like citrus or colas, the acids in the food can weaken your enamel just enough to cause some potential enamel damage if you scour your teeth immediately after eating. We often recommend waiting about 30 minutes to brush to give your enamel a chance to recover.

But every mouth is different. If you wear braces, or tend to get food stuck in your teeth or dental work, or have any other concerns, ask Dr. Ron Shiver for the best times and methods for holiday brushing.

You don’t want to ho-ho-hope that we can fit you in at our Valdosta office to treat a cavity or a cracked tooth. Make your holiday dessert list and check it twice, and make sure you’re brushing and flossing more often if you’re indulging in seasonal treats—give yourself these two gifts, and you’ll be ringing in the New Year with a beautiful, healthy smile. Sweet!

Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2020

At Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry, we love to celebrate the holidays with vigor! Dr. Ron Shiver would love to share some unique ways of celebrating Thanksgiving from beyond the Valdosta area to the national level!

When Americans sit down to dinner on the last Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the day on which Thanksgiving would be celebrated, they do so thinking that the first Thanksgiving feast was held at Plymouth in 1621. According to National Geographic, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez Coronado and his men celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in Texas in 1541, giving Texas the distinction of being the first place where Thanksgiving was celebrated.

Different Types of Celebrations

Native Americans had rituals around which they celebrated in hopes of ensuring a bountiful harvest. The Cherokees had a Green Corn Dance that they did for this very purpose. The Pilgrims (not to be confused with the Puritans,) rejected any type of public religious display. They held a three-day long non-religious Thanksgiving feast. Although they said grace, the focus of their celebration was on feasting, drinking alcohol (they did have beer,) and playing games.

The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation celebrated a different day of Thanksgiving in 1623. Plagued by a crop-destroying drought, the settlers prayed for relief. They even fasted. A few days later, they got the rain they so desperately needed. Soon thereafter, they received another blessing when Captain Miles Standish came with staples they couldn't otherwise get. He also told them that a Dutch supply ship was en route. In gratitude for the abundance of good fortune, the Plymouth settlers celebrated a day of prayer and Thanksgiving on June 30, 1623.

The Story of Squanto

No discussion of Thanksgiving is complete without a discussion of Squanto, or Tisquantum, as he was known among his people, the Patuxet Indians. It is believed that he was born sometime around 1580. As he returned to his village after a long journey, he and several other Native Americans were kidnapped by Jamestown colonist, Thomas Hunt. Hunt put them on a ship heading to Spain where they were to be sold into slavery.

As fate would have it, some local friars rescued him and many of the other kidnapped natives. Squanto was educated by the friars. Eventually, after asking for freedom so he could return to North America, he ended up in London where he spent time working as a ship builder. By 1619, he was finally able to get passage on a ship headed to New England with other Pilgrims.

Upon arriving at Plymouth Rock, he learned that his entire tribe was wiped out by diseases that accompanied earlier settlers from Europe. In gratitude for passage on their ship, he helped them set up a settlement on the very land where his people once lived. They called the settlement Plymouth. Since they knew nothing about how to survive, let alone how to find food, Squanto taught them everything, from how to plant corn and other crops, how to fertilize them, how and where to get fish and eels and much more.

After a devastating winter during which many settlers died, thanks to Squanto's teaching, they had an abundant harvest. After that harvest, they honored him with a feast. It is this feast of 1621 which was celebrated between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians that is widely considered the first Thanksgiving celebration.

About the Meal of the Plymouth Settlers

Surviving journals of Edward Winslow that are housed at Plymouth Plantation indicate that the first Thanksgiving feast was nothing like what Americans eat today. The meal consisted of venison, various types of wild fowl (including wild turkey,) and Indian corn. There were no cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes, or any of the other “traditional” foods that appear on modern menus.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the holiday. It is still a day of feasting, and for some, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. For others, it is a celebration of gathering, especially for families. Still others may celebrate in entirely different ways, including watching college football bowl games, or by playing family games.

If you ever wonder why you're so tired after the Thanksgiving meal, it's because turkey contains an amino acid, tryptophan, and it sets off chemicals whose chain reaction combine to make people sleepy.

How Endodontic Treatments Save Teeth

November 18th, 2020

When you have a dental health concern about one or more of your teeth, the best option is always to keep your natural teeth! Often, the only alternative to endodontic treatment (also known as root canal treatment) is extraction of the tooth.

That’s followed by implant surgery or the placement of a bridge, and although these are common treatments nowadays, endodontic treatment should be your first consideration.

If you’re told by Dr. Ron Shiver that you need a root canal or endodontic treatment, you will probably have some questions. We'll try to answer some of them here.

What is endodontic treatment?

The most common type of endodontic treatment performed at our Valdosta office is called an apicoectomy. In this procedure, Dr. Ron Shiver will surgically open the gum tissue, remove infected or inflamed material from the underlying bone, and remove the tip of the root.

Who needs endodontic treatment?

Usually, endodontic treatment is recommended for patients who have persistent pain or symptoms that can’t be detected by other, non-surgical means such as X-rays or a visual examination. This means typically the tooth has a hairline fracture or a small canal that’s causing discomfort. There are also cases where a patient may have a canal that has become calcified.

Why do I need surgery?

By performing a root canal, Dr. Ron Shiver can examine the entire root of the tooth to learn what is causing the discomfort and address it. So it’s not just a treatment but a means of diagnosis too. After the problem has been addressed, you will be able to keep your natural tooth and use it as you always have.

What’s the benefit of root canal treatment as opposed to getting an implant or a bridge?

A root canal allows patients to keep their natural tooth. Nothing comes close to how a natural tooth looks and functions, no matter how advanced implant technology or bridges may become. Often, a tooth that’s undergone a root canal can last patients their entire lifetime without any need for further treatment.

What if I’ve had a root canal but still have pain?

In rare cases, it’s possible that a tooth that has undergone a root canal could become inflamed or infected again. If this is the case, other surgical options may be able to save your tooth.

What does an endodontist do?

November 11th, 2020

The most common procedure for an endodontist is a root canal, which involves treating infected roots in order to save the tooth. To become a specialist, Dr. Ron Shiver had to complete at least two additional years of schooling. Your general dentist may refer you to Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry if you experience chronic tooth pain and your X-rays show signs of infection.

Just like a cardiologist only deals with disorders of the heart, an endodontist only works with the pulp, or inside tissues, of your teeth. This specialization allows for more accurate diagnostics and better results with treatment. Your regular dentist is qualified to perform simple root canals, but an endodontist can provide you with more treatment options that can restore your teeth for life. Procedures that endodontists can perform but general dentists cannot include:

  • Cracked teeth treatment
  • Diagnosis and treatment of complex root problems
  • Tooth replacements
  • Consultations for facial trauma patients
  • Surgical removal of roots

Why visit an endodontist?

While no type of replacement is as good as your natural teeth, root canals and other endodontic procedures effectively save teeth, and specialists prefer these methods over extractions, bridges, and implants. If your dentist ever suggests tooth removal as treatment, you should request an endodontic consultation for other options. Endodontists have access to more advanced diagnostic technology, such as ultrasonic imaging and operating microscopes, and can offer you a larger selection of treatment options to prevent the loss of adult teeth.

Endodontic treatment reduces the time it takes for treatment and recovery. While you do not need to see a specialist for every dental issue, there are some symptoms that indicate problems with your teeth’s blood vessels, roots, nerves, and soft tissues. Seek an endodontist’s specialized care when you experience the following symptoms.

  • Sharp pain when biting
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods followed by lingering pain
  • Persistent and severe pain with swollen gums
  • Uncomfortable aches in the upper teeth and jaws

You value your natural teeth, and at our Valdosta office, we can help ensure the longevity and function of your pearly whites for the years to come!

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