Category Archives: Dental Health Tips

Dental Insurance Benefits Expire: Use It OR Lose It

As most of us would probably agree, 2020 has been a year rife with unexpected twists and turns and while the year might be winding down, it’s important to remember we still have a couple months left to go! With so many things going on these days, indeed it is easy to forget or simply overlook something as seemingly insignificant as a dental appointment. However, this is an ill-advised misstep as any dental insurance benefits expire that have been left unused will ultimately be lost! As unfair as it may seem, the simple fact is that the vast majority of insurance providers will almost always automatically reset their insurance benefits to their defaults at the beginning of each new year, regardless of whether these benefits have been fully utilized or not. By allowing these unused insurance benefits to expire, you are not only missing out on a great opportunity to save money, but you may be inadvertently putting yourself at risk as well!

Routine Exams: More That They Appear!

As mentioned previously, while it may be easy to dismiss the insurance benefits of such a seeming minor procedure such as a basic dental exam, but the truth is that routine checkups are perhaps one of the most beneficial procedures not only your oral health, but your overall health too.

What many media outlets fail to adequately publicize is that while receiving a standard dental checkup, a patient is also simultaneously undergoing a simple but highly important dental procedure, in which we discussed at length in previous blogs. Check out this article about Oral Cancer Screenings: Oral Cancer Screenings are the Dental Industry’s Best Kept Secret. As you may surmise oral cancer is perhaps one of the most devastating progressive illnesses known to modern medicine, and while much progress has been made in light of the illness becoming a national epidemic, oral cancer is still responsible for approximately 7,500 deaths in the U.S. annually.

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How Can Oral Bacteria Impact Your Pretty Smile?

Dental Health: Poor Oral Health is Risky Business

Fortunately, in an effort to combat this crisis, dentists everywhere have received specific training to recognize and identify any sighs of early onset oral cancer, in order to address the condition before it is able to progress. To properly assess oral cancer or any of the other oral health associated illnesses, dental practitioners generally recommend minimum of two routine check-ups per year with an approximant six-month gap between each appointment.

As such, the majority of insurance providers have plans to provide coverage for exactly this, (two yearly appointments) and at Overland Park Dentistry we accept the coverage plans of many of the most well-known and commonly used providers. Aetna, Cigna, Delta, Guardian, Humana, MetLife, and United Healthcare are all among our accepted providers, and we can provide all necessary forms and paperwork for you upon your next scheduled visit!

Restorative Treatment

Unlike basic exams and preventative oral cancer screenings, restoration-based treatment are the more advanced procedures that result from sustaining kind of damage or decay to your teeth. Treatments such as crowns, bondings, and implants all fall under the umbrella of restorative dentistry, and while they will typically be covered by insurance providers to a varying degree, keep in mind that the more advanced dental procedures can require an extensive bit of work on the part of your dentist and sometimes require multiple appointments to properly assess.

Learn more about Restorative Dentistry Treatments HERE.

While certainly Dr. Kimes and his staff would be willing to help you come up with an arrangement that best allows you to maximize your insurance benefits while receiving the treatment needed, this window of opportunity will only stay open for a bit longer. Keep in mind, while it might be easy to put dental care on the back burner due to its slow progressing nature, oral health issues can be a slippery slope that CAN become very serious if neglected.

Don’t Delay!

As 2020 finally winds to a close, it’s clear that a new day is on the horizon, and while we may be anxious to ring in the new year, it’s important not to forget about the unused dental insurance benefits expire on December 31st. At Overland Park Dentistry, we want you to get the most bang for your buck! Therefore, if you (like most people) rely on your dental insurance to help cover the cost your dental care, we highly encourage you take this opportunity to maximize your insurance now benefits now before they are gone forever!

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Sugar Affects Teeth: The Magic of Halloween!

In a world where COVID-19 remains a lingering public concern and endless political advertising dominates all media outlets, a little Halloween fun is perhaps just what the doctor ordered! Thankfully, with Halloween right around the corner, kids and parents alike will have a chance to let off a little steam and partake in the timeless fall tradition that we all know and love. However, while trick or treating is sure to put plenty of smiles on young faces, keeping those little smiles healthy can put a bit of a scare into parents this season!

Sure, a little candy is fine every now and then, but as parents; which ones could be harmful for kid’s teeth? As a frequently asked question for us here at Overland Park Dentistry, we believe it is a good idea for all parents to have a firm grasp on which types of candy to be on the lookout for during the Halloween season. Therefore, in this article we will discuss here how sugar affects teeth, as well as highlighting the worst types of candy for teeth and a few types of candy that might provide a healthier alternative instead!

Related Article: Oral Health and Hygiene: Keep Your Immune System Strong

Halloween Havoc: How Excess Sugar Can Harm Teeth

While It’s no secret that sugar is bad for teeth, how exactly sugar affects teeth is not something that everyone fully understands. Once sugar enters the mouth, it quickly interacts with the sticky film that surrounds your teeth, commonly known as plaque, thereby creating a chain-reaction. When sugar comes into contact with the plaque, it is absorbed by the bacteria within the plaque, thus releasing acid as a waste product. The acid produced will in turn, begin to dissolve the tooth’s enamel, ultimately causing the tooth to slowly decay.

Obviously, tooth decay is a progressive issue that often affects people more as they get older. However, it’s important to realize that children who develop oral health issues at a young age are likely to carry these issues along with them into adulthood, in which they are likely to worsen. This underscores the significance of instilling proper healthy oral hygiene and lifestyle habits amongst children as preventing any such issues before they occur is always the best route.

Related Article:

How Can Oral Bacteria Impact Your Pretty Smile?

Tooth Pain: What is Causing My Toothache?

Not all Halloween Candy is the same!

Although no candy is genuinely good for your teeth, its only natural to indulge in a few treats during Halloween! Nonetheless, it’s important to realize that some candy is considerably worse for teeth than others. In the list below we have compiled some types of candy that you should try to avoid and some that are healthier to enjoy based on how sugar affects teeth.

Sugar Affects Teeth: Candy to Avoid

  • Chewy Sweets: From gummy worms, to caramel chocolate and taffy, unquestionably some of the worst candy for your teeth has to be the chewy or gummy type of candy. As they are chewed, this sticky material covers your teeth, while proceeding to get stuck in any gap or crevice it can find.  This can lead to a (no pun intended) very sticky situation as removing the material can be quite difficult, however if the sugary substance is not removed, the cavity-causing bacteria will most certainly have ample opportunity to flourish.
  • Hard Candy: Certain types of hard candy, such as jawbreakers, jolly ranchers, or even lollipops, can prove to be problematic for a couple of reasons, the first and perhaps most obvious reason is the fact that biting down on hard surface of the candy may break or cause damage to the tooth. However, another less than obvious reason would be the simple fact that one would likely keep this candy in their mouth for a prolonged period of time, thus causing the excess sugar to get into your saliva, and continue to wash over and continuously coat your teeth. 
  • Sour Candy: Although increasingly popular among kids today, the highly acidic sour candy treats can easily weaken and damage the enamel of your teeth, thus making them more vulnerable to cavities

Sugar Affects Teeth: Candy to Enjoy

  • Milk or Dark Chocolate: As easily one of the most popular and beloved candy choices out there, regular chocolate is also a relatively smart choice regarding one’s teeth due to its ability to be easily removed. While particularly hard or frozen chocolate would certainly be an exception, regular milk chocolate treats are a perfectly safe candy choice, so long as your teeth are properly brushed afterwards.
  • Candy with Nuts: Believe it or not, candy bars with nuts can actually help break up the sticky resin that chewy or gummy candies leave behind. However, just remember not to put these bars in the refrigerator!
  • Sugarless Candy: Okay hear us out on this one! While sugar-free treats have gained something of an unpopular reputation among candy lovers as being a bit bland tasting and therefore less than satisfactory. In recent years however, this has changed as sugar-free candy has improved considerably by using sugar substitutes to become much more flavorful, and thereby much more enjoyable.

Overland Park Dentistry Can Help You Stay Cavity-Free This Halloween

There are few events more fun then Halloween, and at Overland Park Dentistry, we hope you and your kiddos get to enjoy yourselves during this season of thrills and chills! While we certainly advise a bit of caution when indulging in some of the treats listed above, perhaps the most important tidbits to remember are keeping up with proper oral hygiene habits and to practice a little good old-fashioned moderation!

From all of us here Overland Park Dentistry we wish you a happy and cavity-free Halloween, until next time keep smiling!

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Oral Health and Hygiene: Keep Your Immune System Strong

Oral Health and Hygiene is More Important Than Ever!

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, personal health has been brought to the forefront of nearly everybody’s minds, and while this might not be a new concern among some of the more health conscious folks out there, for some people this may be the first time that their health and personal well-being has been a source of distress.

Therefore, If you have read any of our previous entries, you will have certainly gained an understanding as to the significant impact oral health and hygiene can have on the body’s ability to ward off the amount of hazardous bacteria that surrounds us on a daily basis. Whether the pathogens are airborne or blood borne if our immune system is compromised, the body might not have the strength to fight off the virus, thus putting yourself at risk of experiencing serious or even fatal repercussions. In the sections below we will shed some light on some of these issues, to provide a more comprehensive understanding as to the prominent role that oral hygiene plays in your overall health. 

Oral Health and Hygiene: Why It Matters?

Although it might not seem like that big of a deal, make no mistake; oral hygiene is extremely important and while you might be able to get away with a couple slipups here and there, unfortunately, it’s a slippery slope as it can be extremely easy to get into the bad habit of providing your teeth with inadequate care.   If you allow yourself to fall into such habits, (improper brushing techniques, lack of flossing, failing to receive routine checkups) you are perhaps unknowingly setting yourself up for inevitable health issues, both orally and otherwise. Unfortunately, this has been a costly lesson for many people over the years, as progressive oral diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease typically manifest slowly over an extended period, and rarely display any obvious symptoms until they reach their advanced stages. If these illnesses have progressed to a later stage, the damage at that point may be irreversible and could in fact, trigger additional health problems or interact with pre-existing ones.

Related Article: How Can Oral Bacteria Impact Your Pretty Smile?

Oral Health Complications: Much Worse Than You Think

Although major oral health issues such as tooth decay and gum disease are obviously a serious problem, many are quick to write these issues off as strictly oral problems, without fully understanding the health ramifications behind them. However, as mentioned previously these issues go deeper than that, as they not only wreak havoc on your oral health but cause an excess of oral bacteria to build up as well. If the excess bacteria is able to reach the sufferer’s bloodstream, it will be allowed to travel throughout the body, thus significantly worsening issue. If the hazardous bacteria can reach the sufferer’s heart, it will inflame the heart’s vessels, resulting in the formation of numerous blood clots. These blood clots will slowly begin to cut off the flow of blood, ultimately strangling the heart and forcing it to pump faster while becoming increasingly less productive. As a result of this, individuals suffering from oral health issues have a three times higher likelihood of suffering a heart attack, or other cardiovascular-based complications, as well as becoming increasingly susceptible to harmful pathogens or the progression of chronic illnesses.

Related Article: Dental Health: Poor Oral Health is Risky Business

Don’t Let It Happen To You!

At Overland Park Dentistry, we passionately believe that prevention is the key to keeping your beautiful smile strong and healthy. Therefore, we employ what we like to call “The Six-Month Rule” which as its name implies, recommends six months between each routine checkup, thus rounding out to two checkups per year. Yes this may seem a bit excessive to some; however, with COVID-19 still posing a threat to the general public, maintaining your oral and overall health is NOW more important than ever.

Related Article: Tooth Decay Dangers: Can it Kill You?

You owe it to yourself, schedule an appointment to see us at Overland Park Dentistry, so you can stay healthy and smiling for years to come!

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Vaping Causes Gum Disease and Damages Your Oral Health

A Cause for Concern

As businesses began to reopen and people everywhere began to regain a sense of normality, continued concerns surrounding Covid-19 have forced our Nation to reassess our stance on our health and the various health concerns that we as a society face.

For decades, one of the biggest health issues amongst people in both the U.S. and abroad has been smoking. Over the years, the dangers of tobacco smoking have been widely publicized and scrutinized amongst various media outlets, and although tobacco smoking (particularly cigarette smoking) has declined in recent years, it still remains a persistent issue. However, coinciding with the decline of tobacco users in the world today, a new trend as emerged under the guise as a safe alternative to tobacco smoking.

While this new trend known as vaping may in fact be a healthier alternative to smoking, that certainly does not mean there is not a plethora of negative health consequences that vaping itself can cause. At Overland Park Dentistry, we have unfortunately seen firsthand how vaping can affect a smile and trust us, it isn’t pretty! Therefore, in addition to giving you the scoop on some of the effects vaping has on oral health, we will also provide some helpful tips and insight into how you may possibly go about quitting this habit, in order to keep yourself healthy and smiling!

Related Article: A New Trend: The Dangers of Vaping

Vaping: The Ugly Truth!

Whether it be a quick search via Google or a simple chit-chat with Dr. Kimes or any of his staff at Overland Park Dentistry, the unfortunate truth is that vaping can cause a great deal of harm to one’s oral health over time.

Much like smoking, vaping allows its user to receive a nicotine kick by ingesting smokeless vapor, using a vapor-generating electronic cigarette (typically known as e-cigs or vape pens). While the significant amount of nicotine present in vapor products allow them to act as a substitute for cigarette smoke, the excess nicotine also exponentially increases the risk of developing gum disease. So, we truly believe that vaping causes gum disease among other dental and oral concerns.

Gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are an infection of the gum tissue which if left untreated, can spread rapidly throughout the mouth causing irreversible damage to the teeth, gums, and jawbone. Additionally, periodontitis (which is the more severe type of gum disease) also has an alarming tendency to interact with other preexisting health issues or even spread to other regions of the body, thus becoming a potentially fatal issue!

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While some advocates for vaping are quick to point out that periodontitis AKA severe gum disease is a progressive illness in which time is required for the disease to spread. It is important to realize that the nicotine from vaping also causes portions of the gums to slowly die off, making it increasingly difficult for your dentist to detect the infection, thereby allowing the infection continued time to progress and worsen. Once again, this gives us cause to believe that vaping causes gum disease — sooner or later, it’s going to be a dangerous problem.

How Can I Quit Vaping?

If you have ever been (or previously been) a smoker, you will certainly understand how tough it can be to quit. Much like smoking, vaping can be a tough habit to break and may require a certain degree of soul searching and support. Although quitting isn’t an exact science, there are a number of methods and strategies that you may employ to aid you in this endeavor!

The information below includes some are some useful tips and things to consider when undertaking the quitting process.

  • Find your motivation: First thing first, it’s important to ask yourself: Why do you genuinely want to quit? Sure, this may seem silly or unnecessary at first, but by finding and firmly establishing a concise motive for quitting, you will be able to take a more structured and direct approach to accomplishing this, with a clear goal in mind.
  • Consider the timing: As with anything, another key factor to consider is timing. Whether you are attempting to quit cold turkey (often the most effective way) or gradually reduce the habit until it is no more, eliminating vaping from your daily routine is likely to cause a certain degree of stress. However, if this were to coincide with another potentially stressful life event, (changing careers, buying a new house, family/marital issues, etc) the excess stress may hinder your success or cause you to fall back into your vaping habit. While certainly life can be unpredictable at times, try to shoot for a time in which outside stress and interference will be relatively minimal, thus allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
  • Have a positive support group:  We all need help sometimes and having other people to both encourage and hold you accountable can have a huge impact on your ability to give up vaping once and for all. By surrounding yourself with group of friends or loved ones who will support your decision to quit and provide you with a safe and positive environment, you will have taken a crucial step in the right direction.
  • Identify triggers: What sort of things make you want to vape? Could it be stress or boredom? Or perhaps it’s simply the crowd you hang out with? Whether they be physical, social, or emotional, learning to recognize what triggers the urge to vape is essential in providing you with the necessary means to alter this behavior.
  • Make a game plan: In going along with the previous step, once you have identified what triggers you to vape, you can then begin to develop a strategy to manage or avoid these triggers. One of the most effective strategies that has helped many people in the past is to find a replacement activity for vaping. Do you have a particular hobby that you rarely find time to do? Perhaps this could be the opportune time to rekindle your interest in said hobby or to even pursue a new one.
  • Use resources: In a time where there are a number of tools available to you, it would be wise to take advantage of them. Known as nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine patches, gums, and other nicotine substitutes can play a major part in slowly diminishing the powerful dependence on nicotine caused by vaping.

Safer Does NOT Mean Safe

While indeed vaping has helped dissipate the amount of tobacco users across the globe, while providing a safer alternative to smoking, safer still does not mean safe! Remember, how we’ve mentioned that vaping causes gum disease? If you continue to vape, you will run the risk of damaging your smile, as well as developing additional (or even unknown) health complications later on.

If you are a former smoker, it is certainly understandable if you have taken up vaping as a substitute for smoking. Although we highly encourage you to please consider taking the necessary steps to put the habit behind you, as vaping is not the harmless alternative that many believe it to be. However, if you have never been a smoker but are interested in vaping, please do not start! Remember, in addition to harming your oral health, vaping is also very addictive, and once you get hooked it can be extremely hard to quit.

Overland Park Dentistry Can Help

If you have any additional questions about vaping, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our offices at Overland Park Dentistry and until next time, Keep on smiling! 

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

How can Oral Bacteria impact your Pretty Smile?

Healthy teeth are about more than just a pretty smile. Your oral health has a major effect on the overall health of your body, not just in your mouth. By maintaining healthy teeth and gums, you can make your body healthier from head to toe.

Oral Bacteria and Health

Bacteria in the mouth cause tooth decay – by feeding on the sugars in the foods and drinks we consume – they leave behind the waste, in the form of a biofilm known as dental plaque.

Our mouths have lots of bacteria that is usually harmless. (Did you know that the bacteria in our body aids with digestion and other biological tasks?) However, if you do not brush or floss regularly, bacteria can reach dangerously high levels. When this happens, tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections can be the nasty result.

Related Article: Tooth Decay Dangers: Can It Kill You?

Health Risks Throughout the Body

There is evidence that the oral bacteria and high level of inflammation associated with the serious gum disease known as periodontitis can play a role in diseases in other parts of the body.

The following health issues and diseases are linked with poor gum health:

  • Infections from Abscesses: In some rare instances, severe tooth decay can lead to an abscess. The infection can travel to the heart, brain, or lungs, causing severe illness or even death.
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: There are researchers who suggest that heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries are linked to the inflammation and infections caused by too much oral bacteria.
  • Pregnancy and Birth Complications: Severe gum infection has been linked to premature births and low birth weight.
  • Endocarditis: This is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. This can occur when bacteria from other parts of your body, such as your mouth, move through your bloodstream and become attached to damaged areas in the heart.

The Impact of Gum Disease

Did you know that 85% of Americans suffer from gum disease, yet only 60% of those infected know they have gum disease? Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bone that support your teeth and is the leading cause of tooth loss. However, the impact can extend beyond your mouth.

Also known as periodontitis, gum disease can significantly affect your general health.

Research shows that there is a connection between gum disease and other serious conditions such as:

  • osteoporosis
  • oral and pancreatic cancer
  • brain stroke
  • heart disease
  • gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia from oral bacteria that spread through the blood stream
  • gum disease also impacts those with diabetes by making it difficult to regulate blood glucose levels

If you have one of these systemic conditions, it is important to talk to your dentist about your risk for gum disease and the best treatment options.

Related Article: Dental Health Awareness: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Gum Disease Causes:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Sugar and acid
  • Tooth abnormalities
  • Poor dental work
  • Wisdom teeth
  • Tooth grinding

Gum Disease Symptoms Can Range from:

  • chronic bad breath
  • red, swollen gums
  • bleeding when you brush
  • painful chewing
  • loose or sensitive teeth
  • sensitive or receding gums

Sometimes there are no signs of gum disease, which is why it’s essential to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup.

Related Article: How to Stop Bad Breath: A Stinky Situation

Gum Disease is Treatable

The three goals of treatment involve:

  1. reducing inflammation
  2. decreasing pocket depth (the space between your tooth and gum)
  3. stopping bone loss

Initial treatment options can include Laser Pocket Disinfection or scaling and root planning (also known as deep cleaning). There are surgery options for advanced gum disease.

Protecting Your Oral Health

By protecting the health of your teeth and gums, you can keep yourself healthier too. Practice good oral hygiene daily to prevent overgrowth of bacteria.

This includes:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice per day
  • Floss daily to remove plaque between teeth
  • Avoid tobacco use, as this can cause irritation in your gums
  • Limit sugary snacks, which can feed bacteria and increase their growth
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months

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Poor Oral Health is Risky Business

Sugar Hurts Teeth: Do You Sip and Snack All Day?

You should also have regular dental checkups and cleanings. If you notice a problem with your teeth or gums, call for an appointment right away. The sooner these are handled, the sooner you will be back to full health. Charles R. Kimes, DDS provides general and family dentistry in the Overland Park, Kansas area to keep his patients healthy – including healthy teeth, healthy gums, and a healthy body. Time for your checkup? Call to schedule today.

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Tooth Pain: What is Causing My Toothache?

Toothaches can be a minor tinge letting you know that something is wrong or they can cause crippling pain… that’s why we wanted to share some common toothache causes and their symptoms.

What is a toothache? Pain or inflammation in or around the tooth, often caused by tooth decay or infection.

What are common causes of a toothache?

A toothache can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Examples may include flossing, biting into something hard, getting something stuck in between the teeth, or braces. In children, it’s a regular part of the developmental process.

Common Causes of a Toothache:

  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth fracture
  • Broken tooth
  • Abscessed tooth
  • Infected gums
  • Damaged filling
  • Repetitive motions, such as chewing gum or grinding teeth

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Common Symptoms of a Toothache:

  • Tooth pain that may be sharp, throbbing, or constant.
  • In some people, pain results only when pressure is applied to the tooth.
  • Foul-tasting drainage from the infected tooth
  • Swelling around the tooth
  • Fever or headache

When Should I See a Dentist About a Toothache?

We recommend seeing your dentist as soon as possible about your toothache if:

  • Your toothache is severe
  • You have a toothache that lasts longer than 1 or 2 days
  • You have a fever, earache
  • You experience pain upon opening your mouth wide

What Happens When I Go to the Dentist for a Toothache?

First, your dentist will conduct a dental exam. He or she will ask you questions about the pain, such as:

  • when the pain started
  • how severe it is
  • where the pain is located
  • what makes the pain worse and what makes it better
  • does the pain wake you up in the middle of the night

Your dentist will examine:

  • your mouth
  • teeth and gums
  • jaws
  • tongue
  • throat
  • sinuses, ears, nose, and neck

X-rays may be taken as well as other tests, depending on what your dentist suspects is causing your toothache.

What Treatments Are Available for a Toothache?

Treatment for a toothache depends on the cause. If a cavity is causing the toothache, your dentist will fill the cavity or possibly extract the tooth, but only if there is no other way to save the tooth.

A root canal might be needed if the cause of the toothache is determined to be an infection of the tooth’s nerve. Bacteria that have worked their way into the inner areas of the tooth cause that type of infection. An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is fever or swelling in the jaw.

Related Article: Revealing the Facts and Busting the Myths about Root Canals

How Can Toothaches Be Prevented?

Since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, following good oral hygiene practices can prevent most toothaches.

Good oral hygiene practices consist of:

  • brushing regularly with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
  • flossing daily
  • rinsing once or twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash
  • seeing your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning and exam

In addition to these practices, ask your dentist about sealants and fluoride applications and make low-sugar or healthy choices on snacks, meals and beverages.

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We Can Get You Out of Pain

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Dental Health: Poor Oral Health is Risky Business

February is National Childrens Dental Health Month and we want to celebrate the benefits of building healthy habits when kiddos are small that will last a lifetime. That’s why the American Dental Association chose to focus on this particular topic … to bring together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. What’s interesting is that so many of the oral hygiene tips we give to adults should also be followed by children.

Your teeth are truly an amazing part of your body, and as beautiful as those pearly whites of yours can be, they are extremely important as well. Being responsible for breaking down food for consumption, obviously your teeth play a vital role in daily life. However, with such an important purpose, the hazards your teeth face on a regular basis are countless.

Indeed, your teeth are very tough, the constant wear and tear they endure is bound to take its toll.  Additionally, if your teeth are improperly cared for or neglected, this could spell disaster for your teeth in a variety of different ways!

First, let’s review the importance of oral hygiene.

Daily Oral Hygiene

It’s important for our littles to see us leading the way and setting an example. They pick up on our good habits AND our bad habits, that’s why oral hygiene is so important.

It can be way too easy to get into the habit of poor oral hygiene and you could be setting yourself up for unavoidable dental health issues.

Sadly, this has been the case for many people, as progressive diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease typically manifest slowly over several years, and rarely display any obvious symptoms until their latter stages.

Unfortunately, if these conditions have progressed to an advanced stage, the damage at that point may be irreversible.

Poor Oral Hygiene: The Consequences

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a condition in which harmful acidic particles build up in a person’s mouth over a prolonged period, slowly eroding the tooth’s protective outer layer and rendering it vulnerable. Unprotected, bacteria descend upon the tooth causing it to rapidly decay. Once a tooth has fallen into a state of decay, you are likely to experience increased tooth sensitivity, as well as the appearance of cavities and eventual breakage.

Related Article: Tooth Decay: A Sticky, Sweet Dilemma

Tooth Decay: Signs & Symptoms

While not all of the symptoms listed here are definitive signs of tooth decay, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend you contact your dental practitioner to receive a formal checkup. 

  • Unexplained toothaches or spontaneous tooth sensitivity
  • Moderate to severe pain while consuming hot/cold foods or drinks
  • Visible holes, stains, or crevices on a tooth’s surface
  • Chronic foul breath (Read more here about how to stop bad breath)
  • Alterations in bite or difficulty while chewing
  • Discoloration of tooth and surrounding gum line

Gum Disease

Although gum disease is a relatively familiar term to many people, the condition is often misunderstood and simply written off as little more than a minor nuisance. However, the truth is that gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue caused by excess plaque/bacteria build up around the teeth and gumline. When the gum tissue has become infected, inflammation of tissue surrounding the teeth will occur. Your gums may bleed while eating or brushing, this is often a tell-tale sign of gingivitis, or an early stage of gum disease.

Once gingivitis has been detected, we highly recommend that you visit your dentist (if you haven’t already) and begin taking a proactive role in treating the condition before it can spread any further. If the infection is allowed to progress further, it will continue to spread throughout the mouth, eventually affecting the teeth and jawbone. This is what’s known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, which is a later stage of gum disease, and unquestionably when the disease is at its worst.

Periodontal disease causes irreversible damage to the mouth and may destroy the entire jaw if severe enough. Perhaps most troubling of all is periodontal disease’s tendency to spread to other regions of the body or interact with other preexisting conditions, which could pose serious problems not only to your dental health, but your overall health!

Related Article: Dental Health Awareness: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Complications from Poor Oral Hygiene

While tooth decay and gum disease may not sound all that scary at first, the complications of either condition can truly be a nightmare! As alluded to earlier, if the bacteria produced by either condition enters the bloodstream it may likely travel to other areas of the body, spreading and worsening the infection.

If the infectious bacteria reach the heart, it will inflame the heart’s vessels, resulting in the formation of numerous blood clots. These blood clots will slowly begin to cut off the flow of blood, thereby choking the heart and forcing it to pump faster while producing less and less efficiently.

As a result of this, individuals suffering from severe tooth decay or periodontal disease, (or both) have a three times higher likelihood of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular-based complications. Additionally, tooth decay and more particularly gum disease, can also lead to the worsening of other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, or various types of cancer, which is likely to have serious if not fatal results.

Common Dental Problems

Although some of the most common dental problems are not exactly terms that are unfamiliar, the resulting ramifications of such dental health issues can have devastating effects on not just your oral health, but your general health as well.

Of course, we’ve already discussed the dangers of tooth decay and gum disease, listed below are some of the most common dental problems and health issues affecting patients today.

Foul Breath:

The condition known as halitosis or bad breath can certainly be the cause of social anxiety or embarrassment, however if this remains a persistent problem, there is likely an additional oral issue to blame. Chronic foul breath can be indicative of numerous issues such as cavities, dry mouth, gum disease, buildup on tongue, or even oral cancer.  Read more about how to stop bad breath.

Toothaches:

Like foul breath, toothaches or tooth sensitivity can be a tell-tale sign that there may be additional dental health problems that perhaps have not been addressed. Tooth sensitivity may indicate undetected damage (such as cracks, chips or abscesses) or even the early symptoms of tooth decay. Regardless, if chronic toothaches are ignored, they are only likely to worsen over time.

Oral Cancer:

Oral cancer is an extremely aggressive type of cancer that is responsible for approximately 9,750 annual deaths in the U.S. alone, and remains a major health issue nationwide. While treatable in its early stages, if allowed to spread, oral cancer may not be able to be stopped, thereby having potentially fatal consequences. Read more about oral cancer screenings and how they can save your life, here.

You may not know that these common dental problems can lead to additional health problems. Read more about additional consequences of poor oral health here.

Risk Factors

These dental health issues obviously pose some serious problems – not only for adults, but for children as well – however, by recognizing the various triggers or risk factors of some of these common dental problems, you may allow yourself to take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent such issues before they occur.

  • Improper Oral Hygiene: While this may seem like a given, unfortunately it can be very easy to fall into poor oral hygiene habits, and while this may not seem like a big deal, obviously it dose put you at a higher risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other related complications.
  • Dietary Habits: It’s certainly okay to enjoy the occasional treat, however if sugary drinks and snacks are a part of your daily diet, then you might consider cutting back on the sweets. Excess sugar can cause a number of alarming dental health concerns and oral problems are certainly no exception. If reeling in your sweet tooth is an issue, then it is essential that you practice proper oral hygiene.
  • Smoking/Tobacco Use: As you probably realize, excess tobacco use can be catastrophic on one’s oral health, and cigarette smoke is often the culprit of this. Tooth decay, gum disease, and of course oral cancer can all be caused by smoking, and the likelihood of tobacco users developing any of these issues is exponentially higher than that of nonusers. If you are a regular tobacco user, we strongly encourage you to seek professional counseling and to consider quitting. There’s also a new trend on the rise, vaping. Read more about the dangers of vaping.
  • Infrequent Checkups: As a rule of thumb, most dentists agree that a dental appointment every six months is the best course of action, effectively resulting in two appointments per year. It’s important to remember that your dentist is trained to not only take care of your teeth, but also to recognize the signs of any additional health issues (both oral and otherwise). By not giving your dentist the time to give you a proper examination, you are preventing your dentist from detecting any health problems and allowing dental health issues to progress and worsen. 

Prevention

When it comes to issues such as tooth decay and gum disease, prevention is always the best route, therefore Dr. Kimes and his staff at Overland Park Dentistry are more than happy to provide you with the best guidance and treatment to address all your oral hygienic concerns or needs.

However, despite the various quality services that are available, it’s important to remember that the determining factor between good oral health and poor oral health always comes back basic oral hygiene. By taking the time to make sure you are correctly brushing, flossing, and caring for your teeth daily you are taking a crucial step in preventing dental health issues before they occur.

Remember consistency is key! By taking a few extra minutes each day to ensure you’re practicing proper oral hygiene and incorporating this into your daily routine until it becomes a habit, in sense you are acting as your own daily dentist! However, while daily hygienic consistency is in your hands, you should still make a point to schedule a routine dental checkup twice a year to make sure that your hygiene efforts are paying off and your teeth are strong and healthy.

Related Article: Schedule Your Summer Dental Appointment

Remember, although taking a few minutes each day to correctly care for your teeth may just seem like a little thing, sometimes the little things can make a very big difference!

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Maximize Your Dental Insurance Benefits: Use It OR Lose it!!

2020 Is on The Horizon

As the days grow shorter and the weather grows colder, we enter the final months of 2019, and while the end of the year may be drawing near, things are as busy as ever! With the forecast of a potentially harsh winter, and the holiday season still ahead, a dental appointment is probably the last thing on your mind. While this certainly an understandable oversight, it can in fact be a costly one as dental insurance benefits do not carry over from one year to the next and any unused benefits are lost. Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence and at Overland Park Dentistry, it’s important to us that you are able to maximize dental insurance benefits. By utilizing your remaining insurance benefits before the end of the year, you will have the opportunity to give your smile some much needed attention, without spending more than necessary.

Routine Procedures

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, the key to sustaining one’s oral health is prevention, and at Overland Park Dentistry we generally encourage patients to adhere to what we call “the six-month rule.” The six-month rule refers to the six-month time period one appointment to the next, ultimately resulting in two annual appointments per year. This sentiment is echoed by the coverage plans of many major insurance providers including; Aetna, Cigna, Delta, Guardian, Humana, MetLife and United Healthcare, all of which are accepted at Overland Park Dentistry along with the necessary forms and paperwork, which can be made available upon your request.

Advanced Services  

Unfortunately, insurance benefits of dental insurance plans do not last forever, and if your teeth have sustained damage or decay, you will require a specialized type of treatment to correct the problem. While certainly the type of treatment varies depending on the degree of damage sustained, advanced procedures such as implants, bonding, or crowns, often require multiple appointments to complete. At Overland Park Dentistry, we are more than happy to assist you in finding a solution that best allows you to maximize dental insurance benefits while receiving the treatment needed; however, the window of opportunity for 2019 is closing fast! 

Insurance Benefits: A Terrible Thing to Waste!

2020 is just around the corner, and the time to act is now! Therefore, if you have yet to use all of your provider’s benefits and are suffering from any sort of oral health issues, we highly recommend that you schedule an appointment as soon as possible!

Remember, while those lingering unused insurance benefits might not seem like a big deal to you, they are a big deal to your teeth! And although it still seems far away, once the ball drops on December 31st, those unused benefits are gone forever! So, if you have remining benefits on your insurance plan, please use them, trust us… your teeth will thank you for it!

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Avoid Tooth Decay: Halloween Candy is a Spooky Subject for Your Teeth

Trick or Treat

With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the time of year in which little ghosts, vampires, and gholuls from all over, take part in the door-to-door quest for sweets. While this is always an exciting and of course spooky time of year for kids, for parents it can be a bit spooky for a totally different reason!

As surely, we’ve all heard by now, sugar is bad for your teeth. Although this is a commonly known fact that has been drilled into the collective conscious of our society for many years now, many people still struggle to grasp the seriousness of tooth decay as well as the overall importance of oral hygiene. Therefore, in a season in which the treats are a plenty, we will shed some light on the effects of tooth decay, as well as identifying which treats are the worst for causing tooth decay, and providing some insight on how to avoid tooth decay from frightening you this Halloween!

Avoid Tooth Decay: A Truly Scary Thing!

Tooth decay is a problem that can affect children and adults alike and is perhaps one of the most commonly encountered issues within the realm of professional dentistry. Tooth decay is progressive destruction of a tooth’s enamel, in which the protective out lining of the tooth is slowly broken down, thus rendering the tooth vulnerable. In this state, the tooth is essentially at the mercy of whatever substances it may encounter, particularly substances with high acidity levels or containing excessive amounts of sugar. Therefore, if binge snacking on such treats continues, it’s inevitable that the teeth will begin to decay, ultimately resulting in a cavity or additional damage to occur.

Related Article: Tooth Decay Dangers: Can it kill you?

Avoid Tooth Decay: Candy Types and Affects

Obviously sugary candy isn’t the best the for your teeth, it’s important to realize that some types of candy are much worse than others. For instance, classic chocolate treats (such as Hershey’s bars, Hershey’s kisses, Chocolate or Peanut M&M’s) remain arguably the most popular type of candy in the world today, however because the chocolate residue from these products can be easily removed from teeth by a proper brushing, these basic chocolate treats are actually a much better choice regarding your child’s oral heath than the majority of candy types out there. Conversely, chocolate bars containing a chewy filling can be much more harmful due to their contents sticking to teeth.

Related Article: The Consequences of Poor Oral Health

In the section below are a list of different types of candy and how they can be bad for teeth if consumed in excessive amounts.

  • Hard Candy: While hard candy such as Lollipops, Lifesavers, Jawbreakers, and Jolly Ranchers are certainly in high demand around Halloween, unfortunately treats such as these can be tough on teeth due to both their highly sugary contents, and hard structure. If a tooth has already been weakened by any previous damage or decay, chomping on some hard candies are certain to not make things any better!
  • High Citrus Sweets: Regardless of whether it’s a high citrus beverage or a citrusy snack, excess citrus can absolutely wreak havoc on a tooth’s enamel, causing the enamel to erode at a very quick rate. Some popular candy products containing particularly high amounts citric acid include: Sour Patch Kids, Lemonheads, Sour Skittles, and various other sour-based candies.
  • Chewy Candy: Gummy or chewy candies are perhaps among the worst types of candy when it comes to causing or progressing tooth decay. When chewy treats are consumed, the sticky remnants may to cling to teeth or even get caught in gaps or small crevasses in one’s smile and continue to expose the teeth to their sugary contents. Many different types of candy fall into this category including: Skittles, Starbursts, Gummy Bears, Laffy Taffy, and the classic Halloween staple known as Candy Corn.
  • Caramel Chocolate: As mentioned previously, unlike their more basic counterparts, caramel-filled chocolate products such as Snickers, Milk Duds, Twix, or Milky Way bars are not as easy to wash away with a simple brushing. Rather, these products tend to act much in the same vein as the aforementioned chewy candies, often getting stuck to teeth and finding their way into those hard to reach regions of the mouth. If the substance is not removed, it will likely remain lodged in place and will eventually decay, thus highlighting the importance of flossing after eating.
  • Cold Chocolate: Just a word to the wise; please do not put chocolate in the refrigerator! Biting down on an ice-cold chocolate bar can break a tooth quicker than you can say dental crown!

Related Article: Your Halloween Candy Survival Guide

A Decay-Free Halloween!

Okay, let’s make ourselves perfectly clear, it IS okay to enjoy a few treats here and there, and we certainly DON’T want to spoil you or your kiddo’s festivities this Halloween. Our goal here is simply to make both kids and parents a little more aware of how some of those beloved treats can potentially affect their smile and encourage everyone to practice a little moderation when enjoying those tasty treats to avoid tooth decay.

Remember, Halloween just isn’t Halloween without being a little scary, but tooth decay certainly isn’t the kind of scare that anyone wants!

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Tooth Decay Dangers: Can it Kill You??

Tooth Decay Dangers: The Ugly Truth

As one of the most fundamental oral health issues that you can face, Tooth decay remains a serious but often overlooked aspect of one’s overall health.

While once considered as little more than a minor nuisance, in more recent years, various long-term health issues have been discovered to be linked to (or directly caused by) tooth decay.  While such recent discoveries have forced the health industry to reevaluate their stance on tooth decay and take the issue much more seriously, according to The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, approximal 85% of American adults between the ages of 20-64 have some form of tooth decay in a statistic that unfortunately continues to remain stagnant. But as sobering as this statistic might be, tooth decay isn’t really THAT dangerous is it?

Well to answer that, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what exactly tooth decay is and how it’s able to manifest. The information provided below will hopefully present you with not only a basic understanding of tooth decay, but also what sort of hazards the illness may bring.

Tooth Decay Dangers: How It Happens

As its name implies, tooth decay is a condition in which the build-up of acidic material in a person’s mouth causes the outer layers of their teeth to slowly begin to erode and dissolve. When a tooth has lost its protective outer coating, it is left vulnerable to the elements causing the tooth to wither and begin to break down, thereby beginning the process of tooth decay. Being a progressive illness, tooth decay is not something that will display significant signs immediately, but rather will develop over an extended period, and gradually worsen over time. Certainly, the idea of damaged or rotten teeth may sound unpleasant, what truly makes this an urgent issue are the infectious complications that can occur as a result of tooth decay. If allowed to spread, the complications can be serious or even life-threatening if left improperly treated.

Read More: Tooth Decay: A Sickly, Sweet Dilemma

Tooth Decay Dangers: Signs & Symptoms

As mentioned previously, the early symptoms of tooth decay are relatively minor and easy to dismiss. Unfortunately, the tendency to ignore such conditions can be a very costly error as it allows the illness to progress and become increasingly difficult to treat. While not all of the symptoms listed here are definitive signs of tooth decay, if you are experiencing any such symptoms, we recommend you contact your dental practitioner to receive a formal checkup. 

  • Unexplained toothaches or spontaneous tooth sensitivity
  • Moderate to severe pain while consuming hot/cold foods or drinks
  • Visible holes, stains, or crevices on a tooth’s surface
  • Chronic foul breath
  • Alterations in bite or difficulty while chewing
  • Discoloration of tooth and surrounding gumline

Read more here about how to stop bad breath.

Tooth Decay Dangers: The Domino Effect

As nasty as tooth decay can be, failing to recognize the symptoms and assess the condition can have terrifying ramifications! The crux of this concern is the propensity for bacteria to spread, thus setting off a chain reaction within the body. When teeth have decayed due to bacteria, the excess buildup of bacteria is certain to spread to the surrounding gumline thereby causing an infection in the gums, or what’s known as Periodontitis.

Related Article: Do you sip and snack all day? Read more about how sugar can harm your teeth and cause decay.

When a serious oral infection occurs, there is always the potential for the excess bacteria to spread to the bloodstream and possibly reach other regions of the body.

This is particularly dangerous for two reasons:

  1.  The bacteria’s uncanny ability to interact with and exacerbate certain pre-existing health conditions, (such as Diabetes).
  2. Perhaps an even greater concern is the affect the bacteria can have on the cardiovascular health of the individual.

As something of an umbrella term, cardiovascular or heart disease pertains to any such conditions that may block the heart’s valves or restrict its blood flow in anyway.

In severe cases of tooth decay, when the excess bacteria enter the body’s blood vessels, it will begin to travel throughout the body. If the bacteria can reach the heart, it will inflame its vessels thereby causing blood clots to develop and damage to occur. This damage will slowly began restricting the flow of blood, effectively choking the heart and forcing it to pump faster while producing less and less.

Given this, skeptics in both the dental and medical fields are quick to point out that despite the previous information, tooth decay does not guarantee an eventual heart attack. While this is certainly true, according to a recent study conducted by Harvard University, individuals afflicted with significant tooth decay have at least a two to three times higher probability of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other sort of cardiovascular-based issue; sadly, proving the correlation to be self-evident.

Tooth Decay Dangers: Prevention Is the Answer!

So, to answer the question posed earlier, unfortunately the answer is: “YES”. If left untreated for too long and allowed to progress to advanced stages, tooth decay can be THAT dangerous and YES it CAN actually KILL You.

However, keep in mind that tooth decay requires time to reach this critical point, and much like a runaway train, severe tooth decay is only hard to stop or slowdown once it gets going, so the key is prevention! By preventing tooth decay before it starts or stopping it while it’s still in the early stages, are your best bet to preventing tooth decay.

Your friends at Overland Park Dentistry are here to help you keep tooth decay dangers at bay! By scheduling your routine six-month checkups with Dr. Kimes and his staff, you will help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Overland Park Dentistry
Even though going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things to do, my experience with Dr. Kimes have always been good. They are both very kind and considerate and try to treat you as painlessly as possible.