Dental Tips for Diabetes Patients

Did you know 1 in 5 cases of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic disease which affects your body’s ability to process sugar. High blood sugar can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, people who have diabetes can be at a special risk for periodontal (gum) disease, gum and teeth infections. Periodontal disease can lead to painful chewing difficulties and tooth loss. People with diabetes are also more susceptible to dry mouth, a dental condition that can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and tooth decay.

Keeping your glucose under control is key to maintaining a healthy mouth and preventing issues. In addition, daily brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups are the best defense against oral complications of diabetes.

But why do people with diabetes have to be extra conscientious about dental hygiene?
Because of high blood glucose, people with diabetes are more likely to have problems with teeth and gums. According to the American Diabetes Association, if your blood glucose level is poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than non-diabetics. Patients with diabetes should be observant with their tooth and gum health, monitoring any issues that can include blood when brushing and flossing, dryness, soreness, white patches, or bad taste in the mouth. Another oral problem associated with diabetes include thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth. All of these issues would be a reason to come see us.

It’s also important that patients with diabetes do not smoke or chew tobacco—doing so can increase your chances of getting gum disease or other dental issues listed above. Besides brushing, flossing each day is also essential to healthy teeth and gums. It is a great method to removing plaque, which can cause tooth decay and in some cases, attribute to heart disease.

What is gum disease?shutterstock_28627237
Gum disease afflicts 30 million Americans who have diabetes. It is the inflammation of the soft tissue and abnormal loss of bone that surrounds the teeth and holds them in place, caused by toxins secreted by the bacteria in plaque that can accumulate along the gum line over time. Plaque is a mixture of food, saliva and bacteria. Early symptoms include gum bleeding without pain. If you experience pain, this is a symptom of an advanced type of gum disease called periodontitis, which includes loss of bone around the teeth that lead to gum pockets, causing infection, swelling, pain, and further bone destruction.

Fungal Infections Associated with Diabetes
Diabetes compromises your immune system, causing you to be more prone to fungal infections. Symptoms include painful sores and difficulty swallowing.

Dental patients with diabetes need specialized care, so be sure to mention your condition to us when we complete your dental examination. If you are having extensive oral surgery, we may prescribe antibiotics to minimize the risk of infection. For patients with diabetes, healing may take a while longer. It’s important before and after the dental surgery to keep your blood glucose levels under control in order to prevent further issues.

We may recommend frequent dental appointments that include teeth cleaning and overall evaluation to help you maintain optimum oral health with your diabetes. Call us to schedule an appointment today at (239) 936-0597!

Dental Concerns for People Over 50

As we age, our bodies change in addition to the way we look. Our hair can turn gray, and we might even develop a few wrinkles with our wisdom. According to the American Dental Association, the average number of people keeping their natural teeth into older age is increasing. However, there are still certain concerns and steps you can take to pay special attention to your teeth as you age.


Even as you age, you are still susceptible to cavities. Cavities can show up on the surfaces of teeth that have never been a problem before, or you can get them around old fillings or the root of your tooth. The American Dental Association states that as you age, the root of your tooth becomes softer, and can be more vulnerable to decay and bacteria.

What should you do?  If you are part of the near 80% of Americans who drink water with fluoride in it, this is good enough in addition to brushing and flossing the recommended times per day, and having a dental exam every six months. If not, add a daily fluoride rinse to your daily dental care routine.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can actually be a cause of cavities in older adults. With this uncomfortable condition as a side effect of over 500 medications, it can be hard to escape. Make an appointment for a consultation, and we will help by making some recommendations for you, which may include:

  • Drinking water more frequently
  • Chewing sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production
  • Using a humidifier at home to add more moisture to the air
  • Avoid foods and beverages that
  • User over-the-counter oral moisturizers

If none of these work, perhaps you may need to consult your physician on other medication options

Gum Disease

Gum or Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque, which can irritate and inflame gums. Symptoms of gum disease include swelling, red or bleeding gums. Often, signs go unnoticed until gum disease is in an advanced stage, which if left untreated, gums can pull away from teeth and create spaces called pockets where food particles and plaque may collect. This can destroy the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth and can lead to gum loss.

To prevent gum disease, it’s an easy fix to see the dentist regularly, brush twice or more daily, and floss once per day. If you notice any signs of gum disease, please contact out office here to schedule a consultation.

shutterstock_191999723Tooth Crowding

As we age, our teeth shift. This can cause you not only to look different, but it can make your teeth more challenging to keep clean, and can lead to more decay.  In addition, misaligned teeth can lead to teeth erosion and damage to supporting tissue and bone.

It’s best to have a consultation to evaluate the teeth crowding so we can discuss options to adjust the issue. Our office staff has advanced training in orthodontics and invisible braces such as invisalign. In some cases, it can take as little as 10 months for you to obtain realigned teeth from invisalign! Invisalign is invisible braces that are less noticeable, more comfortable, that gradually moves your teeth through a series of custom made, removable aligners.

Mouth Cancer

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancers this year, and more than 8,000 will die from it. As you grow older, your chances of getting mouth cancer increases. Some people develop mouth cancer for no apparent reason, but some known causes include smoking, alcohol, chewing tobacco or betal leaf, or human papillomavirus.

The sad truth about mouth cancer is that only about half of people who develop it survive. In order to prevent or detect oral cancer, it is best to have a dental check-up every six months. During your dental exam, we will check your tongue and soft tissue in your mouth, throat and jaw for signs.

We will be able to have an indication of mouth cancer if you experience one or more of the following:

  • White or red patches in your mouth
  • Lump on the lip, tongue, mouth or throat
  • Pain when chewing or swallowing
  • A feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • A change in your voice or speech problems
  • Unusual bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • Lump in the neck
  • Loose teeth

For questions about how your dental hygiene routine can change to prevent or treat these conditions, contact our office today or call (239) 936-0597

10 Dental Myths Debunked

With so much information out there about dental health, it can be hard to distinguish what information is accurate. Today, our team at Shane McDowell, DMD is debunking common dental myths to help you with your dental hygiene routine.

Myth: Brushing alone is sufficient enough to keep teeth clean
While brushing is a very important aspect of keeping teeth clean and healthy, you also need to floss, which removes food debris and bacteria from between teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach.

Myth: Hard and soft bristled toothbrushes are the same
Soft-bristled toothbrushes are actually a little better for your teeth, as they get teeth and gums clean but without any damage. Hard-bristled toothbrushes can cause damage to gums, causing them to shrink away and wear away tooth enamel.

Myth: If your gums bleed, it’s best not to brush your teeth
Bleeding gums is a sign of gingivitis or unhealthy gums. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, which if left untreated can lead to Periodontitis, inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth. If you have bleeding gums, you should have a dental consult as soon as possible. Until then, continue to brush, but make sure you do so gently with a soft-bristled brush.

Myth: The only cause of bad breath is not taking care of your teeth
There are multiple reasons why someone may have bad breath. Smoking and eating certain food types can affect breath. In addition, dental infections including gum disease or an abscessed tooth can cause bad breath. If you are experiencing bad breath, see a dentist for a consultation.

Myth: Bleaching weakens teeth
Whitening teeth only affects the color of the teeth, not the health or strength. Bleaching works by removing some of the teeth’s pigmentation. Temporary side effects of bleaching can include tooth sensitivity and irritated gums – but it does not result in weaker teeth.

Myth: Only sugar from sweets and desserts are bad for your teeth
Depending on your dental hygiene habits, sugar from any kind of food can affect the health of your teeth. Many foods have sugar in them, not just candy. Both natural and processed sugars can cause tooth decay if they stay on teeth. It’s best to brush at least 2x per day and floss daily to prevent sugar from causing decay or infection. Even rinsing your teeth with water after you’ve eaten a lot of sugar can help prevent dental issues.

shutterstock_188637977Myth: Tooth sensitivity means you have tooth decay
Cavities can cause sensitivity in teeth, but it’s not the sole reason why you may be experiencing sensitivity. Sensitivity can be a symptom of teeth grinding, gum disease, excessive plaque, and cracked teeth. If you have sensitivity after a dental procedure, that is common and will go away after a short time.

Myth: Gaps in teeth lead to cavities
Actually, the bigger the gap, the easier it is to properly clean. So as long as you keep up with your dental hygiene routine and keep bacteria out of the spaces, they will actually be less prone to decay.

Myth: You should avoid the dentist when pregnant
It’s important that women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant visit their dentist’s office for a check-up to ensure that teeth and gums are healthy. It is best to make sure there is no dental procedure needed early on as a preventative measure. For more information about dental health before or during your pregnancy, click here.

Myth: Teeth-whitening treatments take too long
We offer a few different options for whitening procedures, and based on your personal needs we will advise which we think is a good fit for you. Teeth-whitening treatments come in a variety of options, but at Shane McDowell Dentistry, we offer Zoom Whitening, which is an in-office treatment that will make your teeth whiter in just over an hour. How it works is the Zoom Advanced Power Chairside Lamp accelerates the whitening process with a hydrogen peroxide solution. Our at-home whitening kits will produce similar results in about 4-6 weeks.

Our practice provides a full array of dental care services including general dentistry, implants, and cosmetic dentistry. For questions about our dental services, contact our office at (239) 936-0597 or request an appointment.

Smoking is bad for your teeth, too!

Girl breaking cigAccording to The Center of Disease Control, more than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking and another half suffer from gum disease. This equates to 64.7 million American adults, which is quite alarming!

When taking into account how smoking affects the body, most people may not consider how it can directly affect their mouth. As a cigarettes’ entry way, the mouth is more susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease, loss of bone structure, inflammation of the salivary gland, Leukoplakia (precancerous condition) and development of lung, throat or oral cancer. With more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, it’s not surprising that smoking can cause premature aging and serious conditions.

What is Periodontis?

Periodontis is inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth caused by certain bacteria and local inflammation that is triggered by periodontal bacteria. This condition is common in smokers. The main symptom of gum disease is visible inflammation of the gums called gingivitis and bleeding from the gums when brushing teeth.

Smoking Can Age you!

Studies show that smoking regularly can cause loss of bone structure and an aging appearance. Smokers are twice as likely to lose teeth as nonsmokers, which may cause a need for dental implants or dentures to help fill out facial features.

Not only can smoking cause these serious conditions, it can also result in built-up plaque and tartar, stained yellow or brown teeth, bad breath, and the loss of taste and smell. Patients who smoke are also likely to heal slowly after dental work, and have a lower success rate of dental implants.

At Shane McDowell, we truly care about our patients overall health. We recommend taking this course of action to eventually abstain from smoking to help avoid serious conditions.

  • Schedule an exam with your doctor so they can help identify the right smoking cessation program
  • Schedule an appointment with us so we may evaluate your dental health and advise on any issues or treatment solutions
  • Inquire with your doctor about counseling service, nicotine patch or gum, or prescription medications that may help ease the need to smoke
  • Schedule regular professional dental cleanings and checkups
  • Initiate a stress reduction program such as an exercise regimen, Pilates, or yoga class

In order to protect your overall health and your dental health, our recommendation is to stop smoking, If you wish to continue to smoke, be sure to inform us of your habits so we may screen for periodontal disease and other smoking related issues.

At Shane McDowell, we take our patients health and happiness seriously.  If you are still unhappy with the look of your teeth, we can help! Our quality cosmetic and restorative dentistry procedures can help you have the smile you deserve.

Contact us today for a consultation at (239) 936-0597 or at

The ALS Oral Care Guide

With all of the recent awareness of ALS, at Shane McDowell, DMD., we want to provide some tips on how patients who suffer with ALS can still maintain their dental hygiene.

What Is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gerhig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of motor neurons means the motor neurons die off, which rids the brain its ability to initiate and control muscle movement. For most people, dental care is generally an easy, non-time consuming ritual. But for a patient struggling with symptoms of ALS, it can be a challenge.

Here is our quick guide to dental hygiene with ALS:

Brushing your teeth is a basic way to take care of dental hygiene, but it could sometimes be neglected, due to a patient feeling tired or having difficulty moving. After meals and before bedtime are the recommended times to brush teeth, for at least 2 minutes per session. This will help remove food particles and bacterial plaque that can cause gum disease. Focus should be placed on the gum line while brushing, because this is where bacteria lives and will behind eroding teeth if not properly cleaned away.

Slider image to replace kidIf a patient struggling with ALS can no longer brush their teeth, it may be up to a caregiver to help. This could be a challenge for both the patient and caregiver, but it’s still very important. If a patient is in a wheelchair, it is easiest to stand directly in front or to the side of the chair, facing the patient. If there is no headrest, make sure the patients head is supported for this process. Use one hand to stabilize the chin, and move the brush around the teeth with your other hand.

Which toothbrush is best?
Some toothbrushes in the store may not be best suited for patients with ALS. Most of these toothbrushes have small, skinny handles that are difficult to grip in which the patient will have difficulty keeping a grip on the brush. If the handle is too short, patients may have difficulty lifting their arms to reach the mouth. Here are the types of toothbrushes and equipment that are designed specifically for this type of patient:

  • Electric toothbrush: this type of toothbrush is great because it eliminates the need for extensive arm action, which will help the patient keep from getting too tired when brushing their teeth. Many of these models are designed with a thicker handle to help make gripping the toothbrush easier. A disadvantage may be that the toothbrush is too heavy to lift.
  • Handle build-ups: these are a very inexpensive solution that helps the patient keep hold of the toothbrush. For a quick-fix, try making a cut into a tennis ball, and inserting the end of the toothbrush into the tennis ball. Make sure it is securely fastened into the tennis ball before use.
  • Toothpaste dispenser: a toothpaste dispenser can help eliminate the need to squeeze toothpaste from a tube. This may seem like a rather ordinary task for most people, but for patients struggling with ALS, it may be a daunting task. Try this relatively inexpensive “As Seen on TV” option.

What is the best way to floss?
For a caregiver to help a patient with ALS floss may be a larger challenge than just brushing alone. However, the attempt is definitely worthwhile. If you are using manual floss, stand along the side and slightly to the rear of the wheel chair or any chair the patient is sitting in. Wrap your arms around the patients head, lean in a bit, and open the mouth and start flossing. It’s best to try to be as gentle as possible.

If flossing with the hands become too difficult, using a floss holder can help make flossing easier. For an even more convenient option, try Floss Picks, made by almost every major toothpaste brand.

Be cautious of mouth rinses
While mouth rinses are a great way to achieve a healthy mouth and gums, and help prevent gum disease, it can become impossible because of swallowing difficulties. If this is not a problem, still beware of rinses with high levels of alcohol. It’s usually best to go with an alcohol free rinse.

Other Important FAQ’s:

  • The progression of ALS can affect respiratory muscles to the point where patients may need a ventilator. Ventilators often have mouthpieces that cup around the mouth. It’s important to maintain dental health, because studies have shown that the presence of periodontal disease, plaque, or bacteria that can infect the lungs through the ventilator, and could potential cause pneumonia.
  • Some patients with ALS may experience an increase or decrease in saliva. This can be caused my certain medications or the need to breathe through the mouth. A decrease in saliva can be a problem, as saliva helps keep the teeth clean.

To help raise awareness and funds for ALS research, our entire team at Dr. Shane McDowell has participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! See the video here:

At Shane McDowell, DMD., we love helping our patients live a happy and healthy lifestyle. We hope this ALS Dental Care guide is helpful to all of our patients and caregivers. For more tips on living with ALS, and to donate to research, visit the ALS Association Website  or the Lee Memorial ALS Clinic Website.

I lost a tooth: now what?

shutterstock_138265232When you’re a kid, losing teeth is not a big deal—it’s another chapter of your life that is exciting and indicates you are growing up. And let’s face it, it meant a visit from the tooth fairy, which was always a great thing!

Now that we’re older, losing teeth is not such a great thing. The tooth fairy doesn’t visit us and we have lost our permanent adult teeth, now requiring us to have cosmetic dentistry procedures. If you lose an adult tooth that has minimal damage, in some cases the dentist will be able to re-implant the tooth. If the tooth is severely damaged, our dental practice has many different cosmeceutical options for you!

How does it happen?

Lost teeth are mainly caused by car crashes, falls, sport-related trauma, or chewing hard food. Losing a tooth can also be symptomatic of cavities or gum disease, which is treatable but will require you to have an examination so we can evaluate your dental health.

When you realize your tooth has fallen out, call us right away to schedule an appointment. Be sure to save it and bring it with you to your dentist appointment. It’s important to see the dentist as soon as possible, as the longer you wait, the less likely the dentist is able to fix it. To transport the tooth, place it in a container and cover with a small amount of milk or saliva.

Pain Management

To ease the pain of the gum where you lost the tooth, apply a cold compress to the mouth and gums, and apply some pressure to control bleeding. If your tooth is badly broken, your nerve endings may be exposed, and you should make an emergency appointment right away.

If your roots are exposed, do not touch, scrape, brush or clean the root of the tooth with alcohol or peroxide.

How we can repair this for you

Our dental practice offers a number of treatment options:

  • Dental implants are for patients who lose a tooth due to an accident or periodontal gum disease. The implant looks like a natural tooth, and is inserted into the site of the missing tooth, then a small post or “abutment” connects to the implant. We then cement the replacement tooth on top of the abutment.
  • Implant-retained dentures fit over the existing natural teeth or dental implants. They are held in place by dental attachments to provide maximum retention and function. This option would be good for the loss of several teeth.
  • Full Arch dental implants can be placed to function as a full set of teeth, which appear and function like a full set of natural teeth.

To prevent your teeth from falling out in the future, be sure to:

  • Wear a mouth guard when playing any contact sport
  • Avoid hard foods, such as bones, stale bread, and tough bagels
  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Avoid cavities and gum disease by brushing your teeth at least two times per day, and floss at least once per day. Also remember to schedule a cleaning every six months.

At Shane McDowell, DMD, we guide our patients to find customized solutions for their dental issues. We can help repair a broken tooth, or if it’s not possible to repair or re-implant the tooth, we will find the right cosmeceutical solution for you.

To schedule your appointment for your missing tooth, contact us today at 239-936-0597 or We look forward to serving you!


Why Flossing is Important for your Dental Health

It’s difficult to reach the plaque and food debris that lodge between your gum line and teeth by just brushing alone. A survey conducted by the American Dental Association says that only 50 percent of Americans floss daily, and percent of Americans floss less than daily.

Girl Flossing

We understand that remembering or taking the time to floss can be challenging. But it’s really important for you to make sure you floss! Here’s why:

Reducing Plaque

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon to fight against plaque. You might think that statement is exaggerated, but floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums. It also polishes tooth services to help control bad breath.  Many people think that flossing is a way to remove food debris from between your teeth, but more importantly it removes plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleaning.

Plaque can cause tooth decay, and eventually, if not properly taken care of, can result in tooth loss or gum disease. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.

Tips on how to floss

The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day. Even flossing 2-3 times a week is a better option than none at all, but always try to floss at least once per day. It’s hard to know the right way to floss if no one has ever showed you. Luckily, The American Dental Association outlined some tips and directions on how to floss properly:

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand; this finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers
  • Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion—never snap the floss onto the gums
  • When floss reaches the gum line, create a C shape against one tooth, and gently slide it into the space between the gum and tooth
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth, gently rubbing the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions
  • Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth near your molars! The most decay will rest near the back of your teeth

Flossing should not be painful. When you first begin flossing again, you may feel some initial discomfort. With daily brushing and flossing, the discomfort will ease within a week or two. If this pain persists, please contact us for an appointment, for you may be at risk for gum disease.

Choosing Floss

We know there’s a lot of different kinds of floss on the market. How often you floss is actually more important than the type of floss you choose. So essentially, your choice of floss is based on your preference:

  • Multifilament floss: This kind of floss is made of nylon or silk floss. Generally, nylon dental floss will be more common. This type of floss also comes in waxed or unwaxed. Floss is coated in wax to help fit around your teeth. An example of this kind of floss is Johnson & Johnson’s REACH Fluoride Woven Floss.
  • Monofilament Floss: A newer kind of technology, this floss’ fabric is like nylon, but doesn’t rip or tear. Because it’s stronger, more patients feel that it is easier to pull in-between teeth. Some brands like Glide are made with this material (which of course is where it got its name!)

As long as you are taking the time to brush twice daily for two minutes each, and floss at least once per day, you are helping to keep your mouth healthy and free of plaque and potential gum disease.

At Shane McDowell, we love seeing our patients healthy and happy. We are committed to serving you with the best dental health care possible. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact us today at 239-936-0597 or email us at

The link between gum disease and heart health

Did you know, that there could be a connection between the health of your gums and the health of your heart? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, people who have chronic gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack.

There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is gum inflammation, whereas periodontal disease is a serious gum disease. Gingivitis begins with bacterial growth in your mouth, and if not properly treated, can lead to tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue around your teeth. Gingivitis will come first, and if not properly treated, will develop into periodontal disease.

There are several things that can cause gum disease.

  • Illness: several disease including HIV and cancer can lower your body’s ability to fight bacteria.
  • Medications: certain medications can affect the health of your mouth by causing dry mouth or abnormal growths in the mouth
  • Poor Oral Hygiene Habits: neglecting to brush and floss your teeth daily can cause infections in the gums
  • Bad Habits: smoking can sometimes make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself, therefore making it harder for your mouth to heal itself from bacterial infections
  • Hormonal Changes: this includes hormonal fluctuations during menopause, pregnancy, puberty and monthly menstruation. Experiencing these can make gums more sensitive, allowing gingivitis to develop

How do you know if you have gum disease?
The symptoms you could experience with gum disease include:

  • Receding gums
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Persistent bad breath of bad taste in the mouth
  • Bleeding gums after brushing

How this affects your heart health
Because the mouth is referred to as “the pathway to the body,” its health is a way to judge a person’s overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with moderate or advanced gum disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.

A recent study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association studied 657 people with known heart disease. It was noted that these people had higher blood levels of certain disease-causing bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to atherosclerosis of the carotid artery in the neck that can lead to stroke. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries that develops when fats and other substances in your blood begin to stick to the sides of your arteries, leading to a stroke or a heart attack.

More than 90 percent of all systematic diseases—including heart disease—have oral symptoms. In some cases, dentists can help patients with a history of heart disease by examining them for infection or inflammation that could indicate heart problems.

What can you do to prevent gum disease and possible heart problems?
• Brush for 2-3 minutes twice per day, making sure to brush your teeth as well as your gums
• Floss daily
• Eat a healthy diet that provides essential nutrients
• Avoid tobacco
• Schedule regular dentist check-ups and cleanings

If you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to see a dentist right away. At Shane McDowell DMD, we want to make sure that your mouth is healthy, so the rest of you can be healthy too! Call us to set up an appointment today, at 239-936-0597 or email us at

What is gum disease?

shutterstock_28627237Gum disease is also referred to as periodontal disease. It is an inflammation of the gums that could lead to the loss of tissue that holds your teeth in place. The main cause of gum disease is the consistent formation of plaque, bacteria, on teeth. When the plaque isn’t removed properly, it can actually cause your gums to start pulling or moving away from the teeth. Plaque that doesn’t get brushed or cleaned off your teeth can also harden and form what’s called “calculus” or tartar under your gums. This tartar will then make it even more difficult to properly remove plaque from teeth and could cause gum disease.

There are many reasons to be aware of the causes and ways to prevent gum disease. As a dentist, I can tell you that the number one reason for tooth loss in adults is gum disease. Furthermore, gum disease is also linked to coronary artery disease and other systemic diseases.

Gum disease is preventable and oftentimes reversible. The sooner you treat it, the better. Below are some symptoms and warning signs of gum disease:

  • Gums that appear red and swollen and bleed easily when brushing or flossing
  • Gums that look like they’ve pulled away from your teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • The appearance of pus between teeth and gums
  • Teeth that feel loose or like they are moving away from one another

We also want to share the ways to prevent gum disease include:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush for two minutes per session
  • Clean between your teeth at least once daily with floss or another ADA approved interdental cleaner
  • Visit the Shane McDowell Dentistry for your regular checkup and cleaning

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms for gum disease noted above, please contact us today to schedule your next appointment. We care about your daily oral health routine and look forward to continuing to serve you! For more information or to schedule an appointment with us, please visit our website at or call (239) 936-0597.

How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

When there is too much sugar in the bloodstream of a person with diabetes, it causes ashutterstock_93866083 variety of potential health problems, including dental issues. The most common problems from diabetes include gingivitis, periodontitis, thrush, dry mouth and burning mouth. Each dental health issue is accompanied by symptoms like swollen gums, pain in the mouth, bad breath that doesn’t go away, sore white or red patches on the gums, tongue or cheek and others.

To prevent serious dental health complications from diabetes, it is important to control blood sugar levels and adhere to the following recommended practices:

  • Eat healthy:  Keeping your blood glucose level at a target range requires eating healthy carbohydrates, fiber-rich foods, and watching portions. Foods that may benefit your dental health include cheese, milk, leafy greens, almonds, and eggs. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water! Flouridated water is your most tooth-friendly beverage.
  • Brush your teeth a minimum of twice a day: Brushing the right way with fluoride toothpaste can dramatically reduce any progression of symptoms from gingivitis. For best brushing, the American Dental Association recommends selecting a soft-bristled brush that is comfortable to hold for necessary brushing. If it’s possible to brush three times a day, that is also recommended. Brushing should last at least two minutes.
  • Get regular dental check-ups and cleanings:  With regular check-ups, your dentist can help you manage any diabetes related oral health concerns. For example, patients who experience thrush (a growth of fungus in the mouth) or xerostomia (dry mouth) may be provided medicine by their dentist. Deep dental cleanings are typically provided to patients who have periodontitis, which is a more severe form of gum disease.

Elevated glucose levels increase plaque growth in the mouth, which causes tooth decay and cavities. Though, with proper monitoring, a healthy daily routine and regular visits to Shane McDowell Dentistry, you can maintain a healthy, happy smile. For more information or to schedule your next appointment, please visit us at