While sports like football, basketball and soccer have exploded in popularity over the last few decades, many Americans still have a soft spot for the granddaddy of them all: baseball. While technology has changed many aspects of the game, many of its endearing traditions live on.
Unfortunately, one baseball tradition isn’t so endearing and definitely hazardous to health—tobacco, primarily the smokeless variety. Players and coaches alike, even down to the high school level, have promoted or at least tolerated its use.
But there are signs this particular baseball tradition is losing steam. Not long ago, the San Francisco Giants became the first major league baseball team to prohibit tobacco in its home stadium—on the field as well as in the stands. The move was largely in response to a law passed by the City of San Francisco, but it does illustrate a growing trend to discourage tobacco use in baseball.
While smoking, chewing or dipping tobacco can certainly impact a person’s overall health, it can be especially damaging to the teeth, gums and mouth. Our top oral health concern with tobacco is cancer: Research has shown some correlation between tobacco use (especially smokeless) and a higher risk of oral cancer.
You need look no further than the highest ranks of baseball itself to notice a link between tobacco and oral cancer. Although from different eras, Babe Ruth and Tony Gwynn, both avid tobacco users, died from oral cancer. Other players like pitcher Curt Schilling have been diagnosed and treated for oral cancer.
Cancer isn’t the only threat tobacco poses to oral health. The nicotine in tobacco can constrict blood vessels in the mouth; this in turn reduces the normal flow of nutrients and disease-fighting immune cells to the teeth and gums. As a result, tobacco users are much more susceptible to contracting tooth decay and gum disease than non-users, and heal more slowly after treatment.
That’s why it’s important, especially in youth baseball, to discourage tobacco use on the field. While most of baseball’s traditions are worthy of preservation, the chapter on tobacco needs to close.
Five minutes a day: That’s all it takes to do something that could change your life. It may not seem like a lot of time, but it’s one of the most profound things you can do for your well-being.
So, what is this life-changing activity? Daily oral hygiene—good, old-fashioned brushing and flossing, just like your mom made you do. Along with regular dental visits, daily hygiene is crucial to keeping your teeth healthy. And healthy teeth are key to a healthy life.
Part of the magic is “showing up every day.” The main driver for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that accumulates on teeth. Clearing away this daily buildup with brushing and flossing drastically reduces the likelihood of disease.
The real advantage, though, is in brushing and flossing effectively. Plaque can cling stubbornly to teeth, especially around the gum line and other hard to reach surfaces. What’s left behind interacts with saliva to form a hardened, calcified form called calculus (also known as tartar) that could increase your risk for disease. And it can’t be removed by brushing and flossing.
You can minimize calculus formation with proper brushing and flossing techniques. When brushing, for instance, use a circular motion and make sure you brush all tooth surfaces, including around the gum line (a thorough job takes about two minutes). And avoid aggressive brushing—you could damage your gums. Be gentle while you brush and let the toothpaste and brush bristles do the heavy lifting.
Don’t forget to floss to remove plaque from between teeth your brush can’t access. Wrap the ends of about 18 inches of floss thread around the middle finger of each hand. Using a combination of your index fingers and thumbs to maneuver it, work the floss between the teeth and then snug it to the tooth surface. Go up and down the sides of each tooth a few times until you hear a squeak (this only happens with unwaxed floss). Move then to the remaining teeth until you’re finished.
Focusing on these techniques will improve your ability to keep daily plaque accumulation low. And that means your teeth and gums have a better chance of staying disease-free and healthy.
If you would like more information on proper oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Daily Oral Hygiene.”
To have a great smile and stable systemic health, take care of your gums. Dr. Vincent Grosso II in Kissimmee, FL, can evaluate for and treat periodontal disease. After all the CDC says gum problems are the number one cause of tooth loss in the US. Learn more about what periodontitis involves and what you can do about it.
What is periodontal disease?
Typically caused by neglected brushing and flossing and a lack of periodic check-ups with your Kissimmee dentist, periodontitis, and its milder form, gingivitis, is an infection of the gum tissue. Leading to inflammation and gum recession, periodontal disease harms both oral health and systemic well-being.
As such, Dr. Grosso and his team are vigilant about gum exams and care.
Signs you have periodontal disease
While mild gingivitis may exhibit no symptoms whatsoever, gum disease may show itself to you or your dentist by these signs:
- Changing dental bite
- Tenderness and pain
- Sores on the gums
- Gum pocket depth greater than three millimeters (as measured by your dentist or hygienist)
As gum disease progresses pocket between the soft tissue and tooth surface increases in depth, collecting more and more plaque and tartar. These biofilms, as dentists call them, contain the bacteria which lead to infection and inflammation. Left unchecked, bone recession and tooth may follow.
Treating gum disease
Your care plan depends on the extent of the problem. Dr. Grosso will aim at gum re-attachment and limiting both soft and hard tissue destruction. Your treatment could include one or more of the following:
- Tooth scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar, allowing the gums to re-attach
- Placement of antibiotics under the gums or orally as needed
- Gum and/or bone grafting with your own tissue or that of a donor (there are synthetic materials, too)
- Debridement of infected tissue (a painless, no-suture procedure)
Strengthen your oral health
Dealing with periodontal disease is so important. Dr. Vincent Grosso II and his dedicated team will give you the best treatment and help you maintain your gum health at home, too. For more information, or to arrange your six-month examination and hygienic cleaning, please call the office at (407) 350-5969.
Celebrities’ controversial actions and opinions frequently spark fiery debates on social media. But actress Dakota Johnson lit a match to online platforms in a seemingly innocent way—through orthodontics.
This summer she appeared at the premier of her film The Peanut Butter Falcon missing the trademark gap between her front teeth. Interestingly, it happened a little differently than you might think: Her orthodontist removed a permanent retainer attached to the back of her teeth, and the gap closed on its own.
Tooth gaps are otherwise routinely closed with braces or other forms of orthodontics. But, as the back and forth that ensued over Johnson’s new look shows, a number of people don’t think that’s a good idea: It’s not just a gap—it’s your gap, a part of your own uniqueness.
Someone who might be sympathetic to that viewpoint is Michael Strahan, a host on Good Morning America. Right after the former football star began his NFL career, he strongly considered closing the noticeable gap between his two front teeth. In the end, though, he opted to keep it, deciding it was a defining part of his appearance.
But consider another point of view: If it truly is your gap (or whatever other quirky smile “defect” you may have), you can do whatever you want with it—it really is your choice. And, on that score, you have options.
You can have a significant gap closed with orthodontics or, if it’s only a slight gap or other defect, you can improve your appearance with the help of porcelain veneers or crowns. You can also preserve a perceived flaw even while undergoing cosmetic enhancements or restorations. Implant-supported replacement teeth, for example, can be fashioned to retain unique features of your former smile like a tooth gap.
If you’re considering a “smile makeover,” we’ll blend your expectations and desires into the design plans for your future smile. In the case of something unique like a tooth gap, we’ll work closely with dental technicians to create restorations that either include or exclude the gap or other characteristics as you wish.
Regardless of the debate raging on social media, the final arbiter of what a smile should look like is the person wearing it. Our goal is to make sure your new smile reflects the real you.
If you would like more information about cosmetically enhancing your smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Space Between Front Teeth” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”
Could a tooth extraction improve your oral health? In some cases, removing a tooth is the best option for your dental problem. Your Kissimmee, FL, dentist, Dr. Vincent Grosso, helps you care for your smile with extractions and other dental services and procedures.
When might I need an extraction?
An extraction may be recommended if:
- You have extensive tooth decay: Fillings aren't an option if decay has destroyed most of your tooth. Extracting the tooth may be the only solution if you have widespread decay. Once the tooth is removed, it can be replaced with a dental crown or dental implant.
- It's time to get rid of your wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that typically appear during the late teen years. Unfortunately, many people don't have enough room in their mouths for these teeth. Your Kissimmee dentist may recommend removing your wisdom teeth if they're blocked by bone or tissue and can't erupt, or if they are unhealthy after erupting normally.
- You had an accident: A blow to the face during a basketball game, car accident or a fall can damage teeth. In many cases, it may be possible to treat damaged teeth with dental crowns, root canals and other treatments. Unfortunately, extraction is the only option if the damage extends to your tooth roots.
- You're getting braces soon: Your orthodontist may ask your Kissimmee dentist to remove a few teeth if you'll be starting orthodontic treatment in the near future. If your teeth are crowded, extracting several of them can improve the results of your orthodontic treatment.
- You have a dental abscess: An abscess occurs when a bacterial infection attacks the pulp in the center of your tooth. The infection can travel to other parts of your body via your bloodstream if you don't receive emergency treatment. Antibiotics and root canal treatment are often very effective in treating abscesses. Unfortunately, an extraction may be needed if the infection lingers even after you received treatment.
Do you need a tooth extraction? Call your Kissimmee, FL, dentist, Dr. Vincent Grosso, at (407) 350-5969 to schedule an appointment.
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