Tag Archive for: dental health

Why do gums bleed?

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

Ever notice pink in the sink after you brush or floss your teeth? Gums bleed for many reasons and can sometimes be a sign of a bigger dental health issue. Here are nine common causes of bleeding:

  • Gingivitis: This oral health issue is caused by plaque along the gum line that is not removed with brushing or flossing. This is the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms include swollen or red gums, bad breath, and receding gum line.
  • Medications: Some medications contribute to gum sensitivity, like blood thinners and aspirin. Be sure to share your medications with your dentist.
  • Flossing incorrectly: Gums that bleed when flossing indicates poor technique, ask your dentist for a demonstration of the best methodology.
  • Brushing too hard: Gums may bleed if you brush too hard, or you need a softer bristle.
  • Poor oral health habits: Just missing one or two scheduled oral care hygiene habits may increase the sensitivity of gums.
  • Poor diet: Starchy or sugary foods caught in the gums may contribute to plaque and cause irritation and inflammation.
  • Stress: Anxiety can contribute to a breakdown of the immune system and increase the risk of tender gums.
  • Smoking or vaping: Dangerous bacteria can get trapped between the teeth and gums, leading to sensitive gums.
  • A health condition like diabetes, leukemia or a vitamin deficiency: Bleeding gums may be a sign of more serious conditions. Conditions like diabetes may make it harder to fight inflammation and infections.

Visit our blog for full details.

Dental Terms Made Easy

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

Open enrollment may be coming soon, which may include lots of insurance jargon. Here are a few of the top terms that may help guide your decisions.

Annual Maximum: This is the total amount your dental plan will cover within a one-year period. Typically, a calendar year.

Coinsurance: This is the amount you are responsible for if your plan does not cover the entire (100%) procedure. For example, your plan may cover a filling at 50% of the cost. You would be responsible for the 50% balance.

Copay: A copay fee is the fixed amount you would pay for a procedure and not a percentage regardless of the actual cost. For example, your plan may stipulate the copay for a filling is $100. The actual cost may be $300 but your cost will remain $100.

Deductible: This is the amount you will pay before your insurance plan will start covering your care.

Explanation of Benefits (EOB): You will receive an EOB after your procedures. This is not a bill but an explanation of all the services and the amount the insurance plan will cover.

Network: This is the group of dental providers approved to serve you with dental procedures. They have been credentialed and trained for enrolled members.

Open enrollment: This is a once-a-year period employers offer eligible employees to sign up for medical or dental services. This is your opportunity to add or remove coverage.

More dental insurance terms can be viewed in the Delta Dental of Washington glossary.

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

Did you know that diabetes can take a toll on the health of your smile? Diminishing oral health can be one of the first signs of diabetes. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, common dental problems such as gum inflammation could potentially be an early warning sign.

Other signs and possible symptoms include:

  • Diabetes and Tooth Decay: Elevated glucose in our saliva supplies more food to the cavity-causing bacteria in dental plaque.
  • Diabetes and Gingivitis: Bacteria in plaque and tartar can cause swelling and bleeding along the gum line.
  • Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: This condition is characterized by a loss of bone that supports the teeth. Periodontitis can contribute to spikes in blood sugar that makes diabetes more difficult to control and, in turn, gum disease harder to fight.
  • Diabetes and Dry Mouth: A lack of lack of saliva in some cases may result in difficulty swallowing, trouble speaking, a burning sensation or a constant sore throat.
  • Diabetes and Thrush: This causes painful red or white patches in the mouth which are made worse by smoking or high levels of sugar in your saliva.

For more information and a short video describing oral health and diabetes, check out the Delta Dental blog.

What You Need to Know About Childhood Cavities

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

Tooth decay can occur at any age — even in children! In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistrytooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, with cavities being four times more common than childhood asthma and three times more likely than childhood obesity.

If left untreated, childhood cavities can cause several other issues. From pain and infection to difficulty eating, irregular tooth development, overbites, and speech problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even notes that children with poor oral health miss more school and receive lower grades than children with good oral health.

Here are the main reasons for childhood cavities:

  • Inadequate brushing and flossing. Brushing twice and flossing once a day is key. Brushing should start as soon as your infant has one tooth.
  • Wrong amount or type of toothpaste. For infants younger than 2, the American Dental Association recommends a smear of paste, to pea-sized for 3- to 6-year-olds. A fluoride toothpaste helps to strengthen enamel but should not be swallowed.
  • Too many sugary or starchy food and drinks. Diet plays a huge role in the health of teeth and gums at an early age. Bacteria feeds on simple sugars and starch causing plaque, which weakens tooth enamel and leads to cavities.
  • Irregular trips to the dentist. The initial visit should come after the first tooth appears, but no later than their first birthday. Preventive visits ensure there is no buildup of plaque and tartar that lead to cavities and the need for extensive treatments.

The good news is that childhood tooth decay is largely preventable by introducing good oral habits. For full details of symptoms and treatment options visit Delta Dental’s Childhood Cavities patient blog.

Five Ways to Help You Relieve Stress

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

Whether it’s work demands, family obligations, or a busy social calendar, stress can take a serious toll on our mental and physical health. Stress can even impact the health of our mouth – issues like teeth grinding, gum disease, canker sores, and TMJ dysfunction can all be made worse in times of stress.

Here is a list of 5 easy tips for managing stress.

  1. Exercise regularly
    Exercise increases concentrations of a hormone called norepinephrine, which studies show helps the brain manage its response to stress and stressful situations.
  2. Kick the unhealthy habits
    When we’re stressed, we sometimes turn to not-so-healthy ways to deal with it – perhaps we drink a little more than we intended or light up a cigarette after finally quitting.
  3. Practice the art of saying “no”
    Sometimes, graciously turning down plans can be the best way to relieve some pressure from a busy schedule.
  4. Get in touch with yourself
    If you haven’t tried meditation, this is your sign to start. Practicing mindfulness meditation significantly reduced the body’s inflammatory response to stress when compared to other traditional stress-relieving habits.
  5. Talk to someone
    Call up a trusted friend or loved one and talk to them about what’s stressing you out. Just the simple act of them lending their ear can make a world of difference.

To read more about ways to reduce your stress, visit the Delta Dental blog.

Eat for Your Teeth

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington.

When you think about eating for a healthy body, why not add eating for great oral health!

So, what is eating for your teeth? It means consider caring for your whole mouth, minerals that are part of the teeth structure, and bone health to protect your teeth and hold them securely in your jaw. Like your body, your mouth needs the right amount of nutrition to stay strong and healthy.

A few basic rules to follow are:

  • Eat foods high in calcium like low-fat cheese, fat-free or low-fat milk, plain yogurt, and leafy greens: They provide the nourishment you need for healthy teeth.
  • Eat protein like eggs, fish, meat, and poultry: This will help protect the enamel on your teeth and improve bone density.
  • Eat foods high in water content and fiber, like fruits and vegetables: They not only stimulate saliva — which helps wash away food particles, neutralize acids, and prevent decay — but also help to balance out the sugar you may be consuming in other foods.
  • Drink water! Your best beverage option is always water. Drinking water flushes away food particles from hard-to-reach places, and promotes saliva production, both of which keep your teeth clean and harmful bacteria at bay.

Warning! Don’t forget to avoid foods that contain sugar and little nutritional value — candy, sweets and savory snacks like crackers or chips. These are among the worst foods for your dental health. Sugars and carbohydrates in these foods stick to your teeth, providing a feast for the harmful bacteria that cause plaque and cavities.

For more information about sugar, visit the Delta Dental of Washington blog post The Truth Behind Sugar’s Bad Rap. For good nutrition information, follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines, which include recommended amounts of dairy, protein, grains, and fruits and vegetables.

Other resources:



Preparing for Your Home Oral Health Routine

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington.

Sounds easy right, but there is more to this simple daily routine! Not only do good oral health habits help protect you from gum disease and cavities, but a twice-daily brushing and flossing can actually save you serious money. One study performed by Delta Dental states that practicing good oral health hygiene can save $2,187 for every cavity prevented in your lifetime.

Let’s look at the top three things to do.

  1. If nothing else brushing your teeth twice a day will help fight off cavities and gum disease. Removing the plaque with your brush removes the sticky film that contains harmful bacteria. When this becomes hardened it is called tartar and will take more to remove. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a toothpaste with fluoride. Check out the ADA website.
  2. We know we are supposed to floss after meals because it is crucial in preventing gum disease and periodontitis. Building this habit into your routine will help remove food particles from between teeth where brushing cannot reach. The good news is flossing can be achieved many ways:
    • Tiny brushes
    • Pointed rubber tips
    • Powerful water flushing tools
    • Pre-threaded flossers
  3. Mouthwash washes away any particles left behind from flossing. This way you are ensuring nothing gets left behind in your teeth. So, using a mouthwash should come after you floss and before you brush your teeth. There are many to choose from with many different flavors. Look for the ADA seal of approval, meaning scientific evidence of safety and efficacy has been provided. Remember children younger than 6 are not recommended to use mouthwash unless directed by a dentist as there is the possibility of them swallowing too much.

For full details on each of these topics visit the Delta Dental blog, where our Tooth Fairy will also share best practices through a video.

Tips for Teaching Kids Good Oral Hygiene

From Business Health Trust dental provider Delta Dental of Washington.

Teaching a kid good oral hygiene is probably the last battle you want to take on at the end of a long day, especially when just getting them to bed can be a struggle. However, brushing and flossing is an extremely important part of children’s oral and overall health.

Start good habits at an early age and clean your baby’s teeth by wiping them with a soft cloth or brushing with a small soft toothbrush and water. This gets them used to establishing a tooth brushing routine. When children are around 18 months of age, they can be introduced to daily brushing by using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, and encouraged to spit, but not rinse. By age 2, or when teeth start touching, kids should be introduced to flossing. Tip: Some parents find flossing sticks much easier to start with than traditional floss.

Here are three more tips for teaching a child good brushing and flossing habits:

Tip #1: Use Visuals

Flossing and brushing doesn’t automatically make sense to kids. To demonstrate the importance of flossing and good oral health, have your child watch as you dig your teeth into some chocolate. Next, brush and floss your teeth to demonstrate how well both activities remove leftover food particles. Once they’re thoroughly intrigued, break out a toothbrush with their favorite TV character on it or a dental flosser pick (little kids find these easier to handle) and try it out on their teeth.

Tip #2: Give Rewards

As a parent, you know how well positive reinforcement works on kids. They love when something fun waits for them at the end of a task. Why not use this same idea for your children’s oral health? Create a chart and give your child a gold star each day they brush or floss. At the end of the week, reward them with a fun activity or a small toy (not candy). They’ll consider it a fun game, but you’ll know that, secretly, they’re building solid habits and learning how to take care of their smile.

Tip #3: Create Activities

Activities are a great oral health motivator for kids of all ages! All you need is play dough, a large Duplo block, and some yarn. The block represents the teeth, the play dough represents food and gunk caught between teeth, and the yarn is the floss. Use the yarn just like dental floss to show your kids how easily it removes food from teeth. This is a great visual, and kids love jamming the dough in the blocks. Plus, not only do you teach your child how to floss, but you’ve found a way to occupy her for a solid ten minutes — win, win.

If you need help finding a pediatric or family dentist visit our find a dentist tool and use the drop-down tool to select the type of dentist you’re looking for.

Sign up for MySmile to access your dental benefits, get reminders, find your ID card and access the cost estimator for treatment planning.

Avoid the Emergency Room – Get Preventive Dental Visits

Preventive dental care isn’t only about keeping your smile perfect — it’s also about saving you money and time.

The time it takes to see a doctor in an emergency room can last anywhere from 30 minutes to hours at a time. Even so, 79 percent of people who go to the emergency room seeking dental-related care will be told to visit a dental office.

Research shows that if these emergency room visits were replaced with preventive care visits, there would be a savings of nearly $1.7 million dollars per year — enough to put toward dental premiums or other treatment.

Business Health Trust members enrolled in dental benefits through Delta Dental of Washington can get preventive care started with MySmile. Use your MySmile account to:

  • Find a dentist near you
  • Check your benefits
  • Get treatment estimates
  • View treatment history

For more oral health tips, visit Delta Dental of Washington’s oral health blog.

Is Your Diet Damaging Your Smile?

Dieting is more convenient and popular than it’s ever been, with around 45 million Americans dieting each year.

But not every diet is a win-win situation for your body. In fact, some of the most mainstream diets — like the keto diet and intermittent fasting — can help slim your waste line, but they may also do harm to your oral health. For example, the keto diet is known to cause bad breath. The best way to know whether your diet is hurting your smile is to go see a dentist.

Ready to find a dentist near you? For Business Health Trust members enrolled in dental plan through Delta Dental of Washington, you can use your MySmile Account!

In addition to helping you find a dentist, your MySmile account can also help you:

  • Track your benefits
  • Calculate treatment costs
  • Locate a dental specialist
  • Review treatment history

For more tips like this, visit Delta Dental of Washington’s oral health blog.