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6 Things to Consider with Aging Teeth

Getting older is a natural part of being alive. As we mature, our skin thins, our bones may weaken, and our body tends to slow down. As a result, we need to change our routines to accommodate these changes in our bodies. But did you know that as we age, our teeth change, too? In fact, there are many ways we need to adapt our oral health care routines as we get older.

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Netherlands Designer Repurposes Human Teeth as Fashion Accessories

Ever wonder what to do with your lost teeth once they’ve fallen or have been pulled out? If your kids lose teeth, their teeth probably spend the night under a pillow and then are either thrown away or saved as a childhood memento. Most adults just leave pulled teeth at the dentist’s office, and those teeth are then sent on to dental schools, research firms, or simply incinerated as medical waste. But a designer named Lucie Majerus based in The Netherlands is doing something a little different with old teeth: she’s wearing them! Dr. Stephen Hill explains.

If you’ve never heard the term "human ivory" before, you’re not alone. Human ivory is simply repurposing human teeth to be worn as jewelry.  Lucy Majerus, a Dutch designer got the idea to repurpose human teeth into "ivory" in response to the black-market poaching crisis facing animals like elephants and rhinoceros who are still being illegally killed for their tusks and horns. Human ivory repurposes fallen or pulled teeth by polishing them with a stone polisher and reshaping them into beads for jewelry. Larger teeth like molars can be made round, while incisors can be made into teardrop shaped beads.

It sounds gross and unsanitary, right? But Majerus insists that by the time the consumer gets his or her human ivory jewelry, the teeth themselves are perfectly clean. Majerus begins the jewelry process by bleaching the teeth. From there, they are cleaned again during the reshaping and polishing process.

The final result looks nothing like teeth. In fact, if you saw someone wearing it walking down the street, you’d probably never guess it was made of human teeth! But while it looks kind of cool, it’s up to the consumer to decide if they really want to wear teeth as jewelry. The line includes everything from necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets and for men, cufflinks and lapel pins. Customers can purchase jewelry made of strangers’ teeth, or if you’d like, you can send your own teeth to Majerus for a custom made, commissioned piece.

The artist says she hopes the project inspires people to see the value in themselves, and while we don't disagree with that, there’s a better way to do that. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss, get regular cleanings and exams. Take care of your teeth while they’re still in your mouth, and they’ll be the most beautiful accessory you have.

To schedule your exam and cleaning, give Dr. Stephen Hill’s office a call at 469-640-9550.

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Don’t Let Sensitive Teeth Ruin Your Summer

Nothing is better on a balmy day than cooling off with a rich, creamy ice cream cone or a juicy slice of watermelon. But for millions of people with sensitive teeth, these cool, refreshing desserts are off the table. That’s because sensitive teeth can make what should be an enjoyable experience into a painful one. But you don’t have to stand by and suffer. There are many options you can try to help decrease the sensitivity of your teeth and get back to enjoying those cold, delicious summer desserts again!

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The Worst Foods (and Drinks!) For Your Teeth

You may have heard the concept that there are no bad foods when it comes to dieting, but that phrase doesn’t quite apply to your oral health. Unfortunately, when it comes to your teeth, there are bad foods or at least some foods that are worse for your teeth than others.

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Could Your Coffee Be Helping Your Teeth?

If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who indulges in an occasional cup of coffee each day, no doubt you have heard about all the reasons you shouldn’t be drinking it. After all, coffee causes coffee breath,  stained teeth, dry mouth and enamel erosion. But now, evidence suggests that drinking coffee may not be all bad. Researchers at Rio De Janeiro’s Federal University recently discovered that certain kinds of coffee can actually stop tooth decay.

It’s one of the most popular beverages in the world, transcending languages, cultures and continents. But though despite its universal popularity, coffee has universal drawbacks, too. But before you toss that cup of dark roast like a bad habit, relax! Coffee isn’t all bad! In addition to some pretty impressive health benefits for the rest of your body, including lower risks for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, among other things, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has revealed that if drank black and without sugar, coffee from the coffee canephora bean, present in about 30% of the world’s coffee blends, may actually help prevent tooth decay.

This is because these beans contain an antioxidant called methylpyridinium, which is created during the coffee bean’s roasting process. This antioxidant helps kill a naturally occurring oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which is the primary bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay. But don’t just start tossing back lattes and expecting a perfect smile. .

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Setting the Record Straight About Flossing

Last summer, when the Federal Government removed the practice of teeth flossing as an official dietary guideline, many Americans were left wondering if they’d been wasting their time and their dental floss.  Since first becoming a dietary guideline in 1979, flossing has become a staple of many Americans’ daily oral health routines. Used to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth, flossing may also help prevent everything from cavities to periodontal disease to even heart disease. Not surprisingly, many dental professionals worried that the Federal Government’s new omission might cause patients to stop flossing, especially those who didn’t read beyond the headlines. 

When the Associated Press released an article in August of 2016, entitled "Medical Benefits of Dental Floss Unproven," floss-haters across America rejoiced and likely tossed their dental floss. But for many, that celebration has been short lived, because though the article claimed that the benefits of flossing had not been studied adequately enough to earn it the title of dietary guideline, the lack of research keeping it from that distinction did not outweigh the actual benefits of flossing. In order for something to be considered a dietary guideline, it must be backed by a minimum amount of scientific studies; something which had never officially been done for teeth flossing. Thus, despite years of proven anecdotal evidence, the Federal Government dropped the recommendation pending more valid scientific data.

"But you’d never know that if you didn’t read more than just the headlines," said Dr. Stephen Hill, an Allen, Texas dentist. "Some headlines implied that flossing was useless, or a waste of time- which simply isn’t true- and that caused a lot of confusion."

But why is that? Well, for starters, according to a study by the Media Impact Project, only about sixty percent of Americans actually read more than just the headlines. 

"That means anyone who just read the headline to this article or any of the dozens of articles about it may have gotten the wrong idea about flossing- and never attempted to learn more," Hill said. 

This is especially troubling because according to Hill, flossing is still absolutely integral to good oral hygiene, but the crux of the issue is that the AP was unable to locate any studies to support this, and that’s why the guideline was dropped. Explains Hill 

"Imagine if there were no study saying that brushing your teeth is good for you, or that exercise is good for you," Hill said. "If you brush your teeth and exercise, you already know they’re good for you because you see and feel the results. But the way the announcement was made, it seemed like there was suddenly new evidence refuting the benefits of flossing when it was just a discovery of a lack of qualifying data."

So, what does this mean for the future of flossing? Hill for one would like to put this particular piece of misinformation to rest. 

"Yes, you still need to floss at least once a day, every day," he said. "No article or study will change that. Brushing alone only gets about seventy percent of the plaque and food from your teeth, but most people cannot fit a toothbrush between their teeth. Flossing is still the best way to the remaining thirty percent."

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Coffee Drinkers Not in the Clear Just Yet

Coffee. It’s a staple of the American diet. In fact, the National Coffee Association estimates that 150 million Americans drink coffee each day, to the tune of about 3.1 cups of coffee a day- and that number only increases as we get older. It’s not hard to see why either. After all, in addition to its rich taste and boost of energy, it’s also been shown to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, MS, colorectal cancer, heart disease, and even cavities. But up until recently, it had one major caveat: staining your teeth. That could all change, however, with the introduction of a new product called CLR CFF, a clear coffee that promises all the benefits of coffee, but without the dental stains. But is this miracle drink all it’s cracked up to be?

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The Truth About Your Toothbrush

Did you know that one of the most important tools we use each day can cost as little as a few dollars, and has been around for less than a century? I’m speaking of course about your toothbrush. Tooth brushing implements have been found dating as far back 3500-3000 BC when Babylonians and Egyptians used ‘tooth sticks’ to clean their teeth. Centuries later, the Chinese would chew on fragrant wood to freshen their breath (around 1600 BC) and later in the 15th century, they’d also develop the first natural bristled brushes from the hair on pigs’ necks! The original Chinese design got a bit of an overhaul when it was brought to Europe centuries later, where Europeans often swapped out the pigs’ hair for something softer, such as horsehair or feathers- however, these materials were not preferred by everyone. Those who did not use brushes instead cleaned their teeth with a soft cloth and a paste of baking soda, soot, or salt. Following its migration to Europe, the toothbrush remained mostly the same until around 1784, when a shape more reminiscent of our modern shaped brush was developed.  The design didn’t change much again until in 1938 when DuPont developed the first nylon bristled brushes, which have been used around the world ever since.

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Last Call for Drinking at the Dentist’s Office?

For many people, going to the dentist’s office can be a nerve-wracking experience. In fact, dental anxiety has led to entirely new frontiers in dentistry, known as sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry allows the patient to be awake but sedated during their dental procedures, but it comes at a cost- a cost many insurance plans won’t cover, and some patients cannot afford. In Texas, some dental practices have come up with another way to try and curb dental anxiety: by serving patients (and their guests) alcohol during their visit. But the gesture, which may seem like a brilliant idea to some, and a recipe for disaster to others, is coming under fire in the Texas Senate in the form of Senate Bill 404 (SB404) which seeks to abolish this trend in the Lone Star State.  Dr. Stephen Hill, an Allen, Texas dentist, shares his thoughts about SB 404, and what is at stake if it passes or doesn’t pass.

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Fusion vs. Gemination in Teeth

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never heard of the rare conditions known as tooth fusion or germination, and understandably so. It is estimated that only about 2.5 percent of Caucasian and 5 percent of Asian children experience either of these dental issues, and most people never hear about either condition unless it affects them or their child. So, what are germination and fusion and should you be concerned if your child is affected? Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas sheds some light on these little know dental phenomena.

Though most are born toothless, the average child eventually grows twenty baby teeth before losing them to make room for their permanent adult teeth.  Sometimes, however, that number is off thanks to rare conditions known as fusion and germination.

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Unhealthy Gums May Increase Stroke Risk

Each year, over six hundred thousand Americans suffer from the brain attack known as stroke. Of those 600,000 a staggering 130,000 will not survive. The third most common cause of death in the US, strokes are often difficult to predict. Like heart attacks, strokes come on suddenly, leaving the victim little time to get help. Unfortunately, for an event like a stroke where time is of the essence, even the slightest delay can mean the difference between life and death. Now, a recent study has found a link between strokes and gum health. Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas weighs in on what this could mean for oral health as well as for stroke prevention.

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All About Canker Sores

It’s estimated that about half of all people get occasional canker sores in their mouth. But, while most canker sores are pretty small (usually under one-half inch in diameter) they can often pack a big punch when it comes to painfulness. So, what are canker sores, exactly- and what, if anything, can you do to prevent them?

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The Root of the Problem: The Not-So-Scary Reality of Root Canals

Few phrases strike such immediate fear in the hearts of those who hear it as the phrase "root canal." But while many people may not know exactly what a root canal is, they know enough to know they don’t want one. In honor of Root Canal Awareness Week (which runs March 30- April 5) we asked Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas to tell us exactly what a root canal is- and let us know if it’s really as scary as it sounds!

So, what is a root canal? A root canal is a procedure done to repair a damaged or infected tooth.  It is sometimes performed by a dentist, but it is most frequently performed by a dental specialist called an endodontist, whose sole focus is on preserving natural teeth by replacing the soft tissue or ‘pulp’ of the inner tooth. The name endodontist comes from the Greek words "endo," which means inside, and "odont" which means tooth.

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Dental Therapists Could Bridge Gaps in Dentist Access

If you’ve ever been to a doctor on a busy day, or needed to see a physician but didn’t want to be on a months-long wait list, you may have been treated in the interim by a nurse practitioner (NP). A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse (RN) who has completed more advanced training than a standard RN has.  Similar to the NP license, the dentistry community in many states is considering adding a third level of dental practitioner, called a Dental Therapist- to their licensing structure. But though this seems like a great way to solve a dentistry shortage in many communities, the proposal is facing strong opposition from some dentists. We spoke to Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas about how dental therapists may or may not benefit the dental field.

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Enamel Defects May Uncover Unknown Celiac Disease

Celiac disease has been a much-discussed topic in recent years, despite its relatively low occurrence in the general population.  Though only about one percent of Americans suffer from this serious, genetic autoimmune disorder, the name celiac disease has become synonymous with the "gluten free," diet movement, which has spurned an entire market of gluten-free products. But while many people who choose a gluten-free lifestyle claim to be ‘gluten-sensitive’ or even believe they have celiac disease, many more who have the disorder may not even realize they have it – until now. Researchers have recently found a link between certain tooth enamel defects and celiac disease- and it may make diagnosing celiac disease a lot easier. We asked Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas for some insight.

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At-Home LED Whitening Not the Brightest Idea

LED home teeth whitening kits are getting a lot of buzz from celebrities on social media sites and showing up as sponsored ads on Instagram and Facebook. Worse yet, when you google these devices, most of what you see are paid (read: biased) reviews from popular bloggers that don’t mention anything about the safety or drawbacks of these products. If you’re considering investing in a whitening kit, here are some things to consider.

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Your Teeth and Cold Weather

Winter is here, and so are colder temperatures. But while most people bundle up in warm gear before heading out into the chill, many people do not realize that their teeth need protection from colder temperatures, too. We spoke to Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, TX about protecting your teeth during the winter months.

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New Dangers for E-Cigarette Users

Smoking e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ has been increasing in popularity since 2003 when it was first introduced to smokers as a safer option to paper cigarettes. However, several studies have recently revealed that vaping may not be as safe as initially thought. Now, a new vaping-related danger is making headlines – and this time the danger is coming from an unlikely source. We spoke Dr. Stephen Hill, an Allen, TX-based dentist about these shocking new revelations.

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Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Teeth?

Each year, an estimated 175 million Americans chew gum. That’s more than half the US population! But despite how common the habit is, there is still a lot of misinformation out there about gum and its effects on your teeth and body. We discussed ‘the world’s number one habit’ with Dr. Stephen Hill, a dentist in Allen, TX. What we learned may surprise you!

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Should Pregnant Women Skip Dental Checkups?

It is a long-held misconception that women should avoid dental checkups while pregnant- and while nobody knows exactly how this myth got started, stopping the misinformation is important. Oral health care is just as important, if not more important, during pregnancy than it is during any other time in a woman’s life.

For many women, pregnancy is a time of optimism and joy- but it can also be a time of worry, especially for the health of their unborn child. For this reason, many women are extremely cautious with everything from the foods they eat to the amount of time spent sitting or standing. But one area that you may not realize is of extreme importance during pregnancy is your oral health. In fact, a 2011 study confirmed that gingivitis and periodontitis in pregnant women could be a contributor to low birth weight in their babies.

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