Freshen Breath for the Holidays with Your West Des Moines Dentist

Soon, we will gather with family and friends to revel in this special time of year. Your breath may be under more scrutiny than usual, being around so many people. Bad breath, or halitosis, can be embarrassing and could keep you from joining in the fun as the New Year arrives. There are ways to avoid unpleasant smells that may stand in the way of togetherness. Don’t let bad breath stop your fun this season. Dr. James Hawks, your West Des Moines dentist, explains bad breath and prevention methods.

Bad Breath Starts Where?

As you may have guessed, bad breath begins in the mouth, but it doesn’t always emanate from there. Odors on the food we chew and swallow are absorbed into the bloodstream during the digestion process. As the smell-saturated blood flows through to our lungs, we breathe out the pungent odors. So, food can still be smelled for some time after you’ve eaten. In fact, until food has completely passed through the body, you can only disguise smells with mouth sprays or brushing and rinsing.

Food can still pose a problem once it’s gone, however. Food particles left between or on teeth can become a breeding ground for bacteria that cause bad breath. Leaving these spawning points for bacteria can lead to gum disease, which also causes halitosis. If your breath smells unpleasant beyond eating and cleaning your teeth, it could be a sign of a health issue. Liver or kidney problems, a respiratory tract infection, or diabetes are just a few health problems that contribute to bad breath. (more…)

West Des Moines Dentist Discusses Baking Soda

The holiday season ramps up with intensity due to December’s pending arrival. During the holidays, you might want to brighten your smile without a store-bought teeth whitening kit. Brushing with baking soda could enable you to notice a cleaner, whiter smile. Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, discusses why baking soda clean teeth well and how to clean teeth with baking soda.

Sodium Style

Baking soda’s medicinal name: sodium bicarbonate. The abrasive nature of baking soda can impact tooth enamel and aid in washing away tough tooth stains caused by coffee, teas, or dark foods. Smoking and tobacco products can also leave teeth noticeably stained or discolored.


West Des Moines Dentist Discusses Oral Health during Sickness

As the holiday season ramps up, many people might suffer from a cold, flu, or other illness. The winter months provide ample opportunity for friends and family members to infect surrounding people during parties or gatherings. Nothing can ruin a holiday party quite like an unforeseen illness. Many people do not consider oral health during sickness, but they should. Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, discusses oral health during sickness.

Too Sick to Brush?

One common problem reported by patients is that patients feel unable to brush when sick. For one reason or another, many people believe they simply do not have the strength or need to brush. However, the mouth contains a world of oral bacteria which can pose potential health risks. Depending on your illness, brushing can limit negative effects of other harmful bacteria and prevent a bacterial proliferation. Many bacteria can cause sickness, so sanitizing your mouth can pay dividends in terms of reduced recovery time for ill patients.


West Des Moines Dentist Asks: Is Your Mouth Kissable?

Nothing compares to a first date. The tingling sensation of new romance, the taste of a fancy meal prepared by a world-class chef, and the swirling questions about whether or not your mouth is fit for kissing. Wondering about halitosis, teeth stains, or food caught between teeth can really ruin the vibe and mood of a great date. Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, discusses how to ensure that you keep your mouth kissable.


One of the best ways to avoid tooth stains and bad breath involves cessation of smoking habits. Other oral tobacco products can also cause halitosis, dry mouth, and stained teeth. When people smoke, the smell can permeate in the mouth for long periods. Chewing gum could alleviate some of the problem, but we recommend that you simply quit your tobacco habit.


West Des Moines Dentist: Headache, Earache Caused by TMJ Disorder?

As we roll into the holiday season, many patients could suffer from an increase in headaches or earaches. Many people will simply assume that the added stress and anxiety cause the sudden uptick in ailments, but these symptoms could link back to temporomandibular joint disorder or “TMJ disorder” (TMD). Stress and anxiety can cause patients to experience TMD symptoms with more regularity. Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, discusses TMD treatments and how headaches and earaches result from TMD.


Dementia Quiz with West Des Moines Dentist

While our population continues to age and live longer than ever before, an increased risk exists for developing dementia. Researchers now focus on isolating oral health links to dementia development. Dementia does not often associate with oral health, but new findings could suggest otherwise. Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, developed a short true/false quiz to test your knowledge on the link between oral health and dementia.

Dementia Quiz

Label the following statements as either true or false.

  • Dementia currently affects 12 million people worldwide.
  • Maintaining the ability to chew hard foods can decrease a person’s risk of developing dementia.
  • Gum disease does not cause tooth loss.

Dementia Quiz Answer Key

The first statement is – false. Current reports indicate that 24 million people worldwide suffer from some form of dementia. Although dementia affects the mental functions, it currently resides in the category of syndrome, as opposed to disease. However, Alzheimer’s disease can cause dementia. Many dementia patients lose their ability to recall family members’ names, faces, and relationship. Some experts estimate that dementia could affect as many as 84 million people by the end of the century unless we develop dramatic treatment options.

The second statement is – true. A recent study measured the health of 557 elderly people to determine if a link exists which connects dementia and chewing ability. The study found that people who retained the ability to chew hard foods like apples showed a lower risk for developing dementia. Chewing provides necessary blood flow to the brain which can increase mental functions.

The third statement is – false. Gum disease acts as the leading cause of adult tooth loss in America. The effects of gum disease can wreak havoc throughout the body, but chewing ability can suffer from substantial tooth loss. Preventing gum disease requires a commitment to impeccable oral hygiene. Make sure to brush twice daily for at least two minutes each time. Always ensure that you floss daily, and rinse your mouth out with an ADA-approved antimicrobial mouthrinse to aid in fighting plaque and gingivitis.

Schedule Your Visit

Interested in learning more about the importance of chewing ability? Looking to replace missing teeth? We recommend visiting our 50266 dentist office to discuss your options. Contact your West Des Moines dentist by calling (515) 225-6665 to schedule an appointment today. We welcome patients from Des Moines, West Des Moines, and all neighboring communities.

West Des Moines Dentist on New Toothpaste Evaluation Methods

Different teeth call for different toothpastes. Some people require specially-designed toothpaste to reduce sensitivity in teeth. Many people strictly use toothpastes to protect teeth against acid erosion, while others use toothpaste meant for producing dramatic whitening results.

The cleaning components contained within toothpaste known as “abrasives” can potentially pose damage to tooth enamel. Abrasivity describes the abrasive levels of toothpaste. Up until now, concrete and accurate abrasive tests somewhat eluded mainstream studies due to varying results and a complex means of testing. Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, discusses measuring toothpaste’s abrasivity and the importance of the new toothpaste evaluation method.

Previous Toothpaste Evaluation

Up until recently, scientist measured abrasivity through a series of complex test involving radioactively marked dentin samples. The process involved several radioactive tests which all proved to widely vary from lab to lab and from study to study. However, the scale for measuring abrasivity remains the same. Radioactive dentin abrasion (RDA) levels range from 30 to slightly over 200.


Sinus Infection or Toothache with West Des Moines Dentist

As flu season emerges each year, sinus infections can surely follow. One common problem related to sinus infections is the presence of toothaches or pain. A painful tooth can cause a variety of problems. Day-to-day activities can be difficult to manage when trying to deal with tooth pain.

However, determining the source of the tooth pain might not be as simple as labeling it as a sinus infection. Some patients simply assume that minor toothaches are no big deal. Your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, details the pain related to sinus infections and toothaches.

Throbbing Upper Teeth Pain: Toothache or Sinus Infection?

Constant, throbbing pain can be associated with sinus infection. Determining the location of the pain can go a long way in determining the cause. Typically, if throbbing pain is present in the upper back teeth, the possibility exists that the pain is related to a sinus infection. Following the development of a cold, the sinus cavity can fill with bacteria-laden mucus and fluid.


How a Toothbrush Can Save Your Heart

healthy heartAt first glance, it might seem like the health of your mouth and the health of the rest of your body are unrelated, but nothing could be further from the truth. Maintaining oral health has benefits that extend far beyond the mouth itself.  In fact, failure to care for your mouth by brushing and flossing regularly can lead to serious problems in places you wouldn’t expect, according to your Des Moines dentist.

Oral Bacteria and Endocarditis

One of the ways lack of oral hygiene can affect the rest of your body is by spreading bacteria from your mouth to your heart. Endocarditis is inflammation of the heart chambers and heart valves, commonly caused by harmful bacteria.  Occasionally, the bacteria that cause endocarditis originate from the mouth, where they also cause gum disease. Bacteria in the gums that are left unchecked can lead to the most advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis. At this stage there is very noticeable inflammation and the chance of inflammation spreading beyond the gums increases.  One of the best ways to avoid the spread of bacteria and inflammation is to simply maintain good oral hygiene, and get checkups at least twice a year.

How to Keep Your Mouth Clean

One of the first steps in oral hygiene is keeping your gums and teeth clean. The best way to accomplish this is by brushing twice a day, flossing, and scheduling checkups and dental cleanings twice yearly with Dr. Hawks. Don’t be afraid to include mouthwash or a tongue scraper to your regular routine.

Contact Our Des Moines Dental Office Today

It’s important to stop these symptoms from spreading as early as possible.  Sometimes this means taking preventive measures to ensure no potential damage occurs in your mouth.  For this reason, it is important to schedule regular checkups with your Des Moines dentist.  If you live in Des Moines or the surrounding area, give Dr. Hawks a call at (515) 225-6665 and schedule an appointment today.

Your Des Moines Dentist Discusses Toothbrush Basics

You’ve been told ever since you were a child about the importance of brushing your teeth. This is advice that doesn’t change as you age. Whether you are a child or an adult nearing retirement age, regular tooth brushing is fundamental to good oral health. Today, your Des Moines dentist refreshes some toothbrush basics.

How Frequently Should I Brush My Teeth?

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. Don’t forget to floss as well. Flossing right after dinner or before bedtime is an excellent habit to acquire.

Although rarely discussed, one mistake is to brush your teeth too often. There is no need to brush your teeth more than three times a day, and doing so can cause excessive abrasion and loss of enamel.

Electric Or Manual Toothbrush: Which Is Better?

Many people love the consistent reliability of a soft bristled manual toothbrush. And as long as you remember to replace it every three months—or more frequently if you wear braces—a manual toothbrush is a fine way to go. However, for folks that are suffering from arthritis, or others that might have fallen into bad brushing habits, an electric toothbrush is a great fit. Some electric toothbrushes come with an automated beep that signifies when it’s time to stop brushing. This is great for those with toothbrush abrasion that tend to over-brush or brush too long. The ergonomic grip and soft rhythmic vibration of an electric toothbrush is great for the elderly or anyone else that has limited hand mobility. (more…)