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Watkins Family Dental Care

Improve your oral health with xylitol!

October 12th, 2018

Xylitol tastes sweet, but unlike sugar, it is not converted to acid that can cause your teeth to decay. It’s a naturally occurring sweetener found in plants, fruits, and vegetables; even the human body produces it in small amounts. Xylitol is widely used in sugar-free chewing gum, mints, candies, and even certain forms of medicine.

The World Health Organization has approved xylitol because only a small amount is needed for its health benefits. It’s even safe for diabetics, with a glycemic index of only seven. Xylitol has 40% fewer calories than other types of carbs: less than three calories per gram.

So how can this natural sweetener benefit your oral health? Take a look at the facts. Tooth decay starts when bacteria consumes the sugars left in your mouth. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria on your teeth will multiply and make acid that can destroy your enamel.

Xylitol is derived from fibrous parts of plants, so it does not break down like a regular sugar. It actually helps maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth, which in turn prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. The bacteria are then unable to digest xylitol, which means your teeth won’t develop enamel damage and cavities.

Studies have shown the consumption of xylitol as a sugar substitute or a dietary addition had a dramatic reduction in new cavities and even reversed existing cavities. These effects are long lasting: low cavity rates remained years after the trials were done.

When there’s less bacteria and acid in your mouth due to xylitol, your teeth stay healthier. The more frequently it’s ingested, the more you will prevent enamel damage.

Aim to consume around five grams a day, or one gram every three hours if possible. You can do this by consuming gum, tablets, candy, or mints that have xylitol as one of the first ingredients after your meals. You can find these products in health food stores and specialty grocery stores.

Since xylitol replaces sugar on a one-to-one ratio, it’s used in several common items:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouth rinse
  • Baby oral wipes, gel, and pacifiers
  • Nasal wash
  • Dry mouth spray
  • Granulated forms for cooking
  • Granulated packets to add to drinks
  • Commercially prepared foods

Make sure to pick up items that contain xylitol the next time you’re at the store! This is an easy way to maintain great oral health. If you have specific questions about xylitol, ask Drs. Thomas and Andrew Watkins during your next appointment at our Bloomington, IN office.

Fluorosis: What is it?

October 5th, 2018

Many people think dental fluorosis is a disease, but it’s not; it’s a condition that affects the appearance of your tooth’s enamel, not the function or health of the teeth. These changes may vary from tiny, white, barely noticeable spots to very noticeable staining, discoloration, and brown markings. The spots and stains left by fluorosis are permanent and may darken over time.

Dental fluorosis occurs in children who are excessively exposed to fluoride between 20 and 30 months of age. Only children ages eight years and younger can develop dental fluorosis. Why? That is the period when permanent teeth are still developing under the gums. For kids, fluorosis can cause significant embarrassment and anxiety about the appearance of their teeth. No matter how much they might brush and floss, the fluorosis stains do not go away.

Many well-known sources of fluoride may contribute to overexposure, including:

  • Fluoridated mouth rinse, which young children may swallow
  • Bottled water which is not tested for fluoride content
  • Inappropriate use of fluoride supplements
  • Exposure to water that is naturally or unnaturally fluoridated to levels well above the recommended levels

One way to reduce the risk for enamel fluorosis is to teach your children not to swallow topical fluoride products, such as toothpaste that contains fluoride. In fact, kids should use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing, and children under the age of two shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste at all.

Dental fluorosis can be treated with tooth bleaching, microabrasion, and conservative composite restorations or porcelain veneers. Please give us a call at our office to learn more or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Thomas and Andrew Watkins.

Care for Your Dentures

September 28th, 2018

Just like natural teeth, Drs. Thomas and Andrew Watkins will tell you that dentures have a tendency to get coated with plaque, which is a sticky, transparent film that attracts food and bacteria. When you don’t take care of your dentures adequately and regularly, plaque can build up, harden, and become difficult to remove. More importantly, it can result in dental problems, including gum disease and infection. Proper care for your dentures also helps them maintain their shape, fit the way they are supposed to, and last longer.

Cleaning your dentures

Your dentures should be cleaned with the same diligence as you clean natural teeth.

  • Take out dentures and rinse them after eating. To remove food particles, run water over your dentures.
  • Clean your teeth after denture removal. Once dentures have been removed, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush existing teeth, gums, and tongue.
  • Scrub your dentures on a daily basis. At least once per day, gently scrub your dentures with a soft-bristled toothbrush and denture cleanser.
  • Soak dentures overnight. In order to keep their shape intact, many dentures must remain moist. Always use a mild denture solution recommended by our office. Never use hot water on your dentures, as they may warp their shape.
  • Rinse dentures prior to placing them back in your mouth. This is especially important if you soak your dentures in a denture solution.
  • Dentures are fragile and can break when dropped. It’s a good idea to hold them in a soft cloth or towel to keep them from falling and breaking.

Over time, even with diligent daily care, your dentures may form difficult-to-remove tartar. When this happens, our team at Watkins Family Dental Care uses a powerful ultrasonic cleaner to remove stubborn, denture build-up.

Proper care for your dentures can help retain their shape, prevent oral issues, and increase their longevity. Visit Drs. Thomas and Andrew Watkins regularly at our convenient Bloomington, IN office to maintain your oral health and keep your dentures in tip-top shape.

Medication Can Lead To Xerostomia in Women

September 21st, 2018

Xerostomia, otherwise known as dry mouth, can be a side effect of many common medications. Drugs used for blood pressure, birth control, antidepressants, or cancer treatments may cause the dry mouth problems you’re experiencing. When you have dry mouth, you’re more likely to experience tooth decay and an increased risk of developing periodontal disease. Medication can sometimes be the cause of dry mouth in women, and lead to an increased amount of cavities.

You may not develop a cavity for years, but suddenly find more than one when you’re on medication for several months. This is due to there being less saliva in your mouth, which normally prevents bacteria from flourishing. When there is a lack of saliva flow, your mouth will be more likely to host tooth decay and be more prone to gum disease.

You may not notice it, but birth control can lead to inflammation of the gums and bleeding because of dry mouth. The condition can also emerge if you’ve undergone cancer treatments such as radiation, because your saliva glands may be damaged in the process.

Boosting saliva production is critical for treating xerostomia. Many over-the-counter saliva products are designed to help manage dry mouth. For women with severe cases of dry mouth and decay, we may recommend in-home fluoride treatments that offer extra enamel protection. This can come in the form of fluoride trays, prescription toothpaste, or a special fluoride rinse.

Other ways to relieve dry mouth include chewing sugar-free gum, limiting caffeine intake, avoiding mouthwashes that contain alcohol, sipping water regularly, using a humidifier at night, and stopping all tobacco use.

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of dry mouth, contact our Bloomington, IN office to schedule an appointment with Drs. Thomas and Andrew Watkins. It’s wise to take medications that have been prescribed by your doctor, but it’s also smart to watch for any side effects. If you think a medication is causing you to have dry mouth, let’s figure out how to manage your symptoms as a team!

Testimonials

I cannot say enough about how comfortable I am made to feel during every appointment. Dr. Watkins is a kind and gentle dentist and I recommend him to everyone, but most of all, I recommend him to those who have ever had a bad experience at a dentist.

~ Terre S. Read More
Testimonials

I have been going to Dr. Watkins for many years. After I moved from Bloomington (to over 50 miles away), Dr. Watkins is the only doctor that I keep coming back to Bloomington to see. I trust him completely. He and his staff are so caring, that I no longer dread going to the dentist as I did when I was a child.

~ Terre S. Read More
Testimonials

When I first moved to Bloomington, one of my first tasks was finding a new family dentist. One of the reasons I picked Dr. Watkins' office was because his advertisement on the back of my church bulletin said 'Relax, we cater to cowards!' Since I had some painful memories of dental procedures as a child, this slogan gave me hope.

~ Vallia Read More
Testimonials

I have been going to this office for probably 25 years or more and I have NEVER been mistreated or disappointed in any way. Even as a child I can remember how careful and caring they all were and continue to be to this day. I have recommended many people to them throughout the years and like me, I have yet to have anyone who was/is disappointed with their service.

~ Rex V. Read More
Testimonials

The technology is strictly state-of-the-art. The receptionists are extremely friendly, accommodating, flexible, The doctors are understanding. extremely kind, reassuring, gentle, encouraging, and technically superior.

~ Robert R. Read More
Testimonials

Drs. Watkins and their staff provide excellent customer service and exceptional dental care, The entire office is very well organized every step of the way… from scheduling your appointment through each step of your visit and with follow up, my family has been patients of Dr. Watkins for 15+ years!

~ Ann Read More
Testimonials

The staff at Dr. Watkins' office always treats me with prompt, friendly, and courteous service! It's as if I were lifelong friends, or yet: family! I have come to expect superior professional service, and with each visit, from cleaning to crowns, the complete staff continues to help me at feel at ease.

~ Louella S. Read More
Testimonials

I have been coming to Dr. Watkins since I was little and I'm now in my 30s. There is no one else that I would trust to take care of my smile. My daughter also loves to come here! Drs. Watkins and the office staff are awesome!

~ Cami Read More
Testimonials

I work in a medical office as well, and understand the daily grind of repeatedly doing the same thing and seeing the same appointment types... I know that my daughter's appointment was not the only one that day, but the staff made us both feel comfortable, heard, special, and not rushed. I appreciate that!

~ Piper R. Read More
Testimonials

They are extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to take the time to explain the what and why of their treatment. This is simply an amazing group of people who are the best at what they do.

~ Rex V. Read More
Testimonials

My family have been patients of Dr. Watkins for 15+ years. We have always had very positive and caring experiences with Dr. Watkins and his staff.

~ Ann Read More
Testimonials

Dr. Watkins and the office staff are awesome! They treat me like I'm just part of their family. Make your appointment with him today! You won't be sorry!

~ Cami Read More
Testimonials

From the minute I walked into his office the very first time, I felt that I would be well cared for, and I have been, every time. Whether it was another crown, a simple filling, or a routine cleaning, my comfort and care has always been their top priority

~ Vallia Read More
Testimonials

Dr. Watkins is an excellent dentist with an excellent staff. You never have to wait long, you are always met with competent, very friendly receptionists, and the hygienists and Dr. Watkins themselves are very up to date and explain things very well. The office is also exceptionally clean. Wish I could give more than 5 stars!

~ Amy Read More
Testimonials

The medical assistants are top of the line, gentle, reassuring, and knowledgeable. Dr. Watkins is at the top of his game—extremely kind, reassuring, gentle, encouraging, and technically superior.

~ Robert R. Read More
Testimonials

I am thrilled to be a patient in this practice and would recommend them to everyone... enthusiastically, and without hesitation!

~ Robert R. Read More
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