Best Foods to Prevent Cavities

Posted by on Mar 14, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

We all seek to take the best care of our mouth and teeth as possible. Sometimes this task can feel daunting, especially if you have had difficulty with cavities and other dental decay. While a faithful dental care regimen (including regular dental cleanings and daily brushing and flossing) lays the foundation for a happy mouth, the foods you eat also play a significant role in your oral health. Some foods have a greater tendency to cause tooth decay, while others are helpful in preventing oral decay.

In general, sugary and starchy foods are some of the greatest culprits to damaging your teeth and causing breakdown and decay. These foods feed the bacteria that live within your mouth, which in turn causes plaque and wears on the enamel covering on your teeth. To help keep your mouth healthy and cavity free, here are some suggestions on foods that will aid in oral health:

Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber-rich foods tend to have a cleansing effect on your mouth. These foods tend to also create more saliva in your mouth, which in turn can reduce the effect of acids and bacteria as well as restore minerals to teeth. Examples of some of the most fiber-rich foods include: split peas, lentils, beans, artichokes, broccoli, berries, oatmeal, and barley, however, most all fruits and vegetables will be significantly higher in fiber than other food groups.

Cheese and Dairy

Due to the saliva-producing qualities of cheese and dairy, these foods are another great option for helping to prevent tooth decay. As well, casein (a protein in cheese) can help protect your tooth enamel against the effects of acid erosion.


Sugar-free chewing gum made with xylitol is quite helpful in preventing cavities. The xylitol is helpful because it breaks down the cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. In order to be effective, it should be consumed 3-5 times daily (to reach 5 grams per day). When choosing sugar-free gum, be sure that xylitol is the primary ingredient to make sure the amount of xylitol in the product is enough to be effective.

Green and Black Tea

Both green and black tea contain polyphenols that interact with plaque bacteria. These polyphenols attack the bacteria, preventing it from growing or producing damaging acid within the mouth. When the damaging acids are not present, teeth are more protected from decay.

Keeping a healthy mouth can feel like a daunting task. We at River Valley Smiles are here to help. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been in for your bi-annual cleaning, please feel free to call our friendly office staff at 479.646.0706 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request HERE. We’d love to help you get back on the road to long-term dental health.

Amalgam vs. Composite Fillings

Posted by on Mar 7, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

As a dental patient, you have a number of choices when receiving care from our office. When filling cavities, for instance, there are more than one type of filling from which to choose. The two primary options are amalgam fillings and resin composite fillings. Although our dental team will always offer our professional input and answer any questions you may have when determining a treatment plan, we want you to be educated regarding your options for if/when you need to receive such care.

Amalgam Fillings

An amalgam filling is better known as a silver filling. The amalgam is a mixture of tin, copper, mercury, and silver. Mercury is the prominent metal, making up as much as 50% of this compound, and it helps to bind the filling together to effectively fill the tooth. One of most significant benefits of an amalgam filling is its strength and durability over time. Other benefits of this type of filling are 1) how easily it fills a cavity, minimizing treatment time, and 2) the low cost of this type of filling, saving you money. One of the downfalls of amalgam fillings are that they are visibly silver. Because of this, they are most often used as fillings for teeth in the back of the mouth where it is less noticeable. As well, although the ADA maintains that dental amalgam fillings remains a safe, affordable, and durable cavity filling choice, some have developed concerns over the safety of the mercury compound within the body over time.

Resin Composite Fillings

Resin composite fillings are made from a compound of ceramic and plastic. These fillings differ from amalgam fillings in a number of ways, the first being that they are tooth-colored fillings in contrast to the silver amalgam fillings. This makes them an especially great choice for fillings in the front of the mouth. The downfall of resin composite fillings is that they are not as durable as their amalgam counterpart, making them less reliable for long-term durability (especially in the back of the mouth where teeth endure the greatest high-pressure grinding and chewing). As well, resin composite fillings require a very specific, dry environment within which to set. This translates to a more lengthy and pricier procedure when undergoing dental work. As well, not every dental insurance plan covers the cost of resin composite fillings.

The choice between amalgam and composite is not always clear. While many of our patients choose amalgam fillings due to their durability and low cost, we also have patients that choose resin composite fillings due to their cosmetic benefits as well as a potential health benefit. As your dental team, we honor and respect the choice of each of our patients and will work with you to make the decision that is best for you. We will help you take into account the type, size, and position of the cavity within your mouth as well as health, cost, and cosmetic concerns. Our dental team is here to help you make an educated decision to ensure you have the best treatment possible.

To set up an appointment, feel free to call our friendly office staff at 479.646.0706 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request here.


Teeth Getting Worn Down?

Posted by on Mar 1, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

Ideally, your teeth should last you for a lifetime.  With proper care, cleaning, and preventive maintenance, the teeth that you have as a teenager should be the same ones you have as a senior citizen.  However, teeth do wear down as the years pass, and there are some things that make this wear happen quicker than it needs to.  If any of these items seem familiar to you, come see us at River Valley Smiles and let us help preserve the longevity of your teeth.

An Uneven Bite Causes Excessive Wear

If your teeth do not come together evenly and uniformly when you close your mouth, one of the results will be an excessive wearing of those places that do touch together.  This can eventually cause severe damage to your teeth and expose you to a greater risk of developing cavities.  If the situation gets bad enough, it can even result in chipped, cracked, and broken teeth.

Grinding Your Teeth As You Sleep

Many people experience bruxism, or the grinding of their teeth while they sleep.  Bruxism causes your teeth to wear out much more quickly, and can even result in broken teeth if it is severe enough.

While there can be a number of causes of bruxism such as stress, anxiety, or nervousness, even people who seem to be calm and worry-free can experience it.  The best way to treat it is by using a specialized mouthguard to protect your teeth as you sleep.  This mouthguard can protect your teeth as well as prevent the headaches and other complications of bruxism.

River Valley Smiles Can Help You

We’re here for you, and we look forward to talking with you.  We will closely examine your teeth and determine what exactly is causing the excessive wearing.  Then, together, we can explore prevention methods as well as treatment options in the case of damage that has already occurred.

Give us a call, or drop by our office.  We’re here to help you have a happy and healthy smile, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Oral Cancer Screenings

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

When you last visited our office for your regular cleaning, you likely received an oral cancer screening. Many of our patients may not know or understand what an oral cancer screening is, or why we perform them. The oral cancer screening is a visual and physical exam of the oral cavity and connected tissues to identify any early signs of oral cancer. Whether or not you are at risk, it is common procedure for one of our dental professionals to perform these 10 second screenings at your regular dental cleaning visit.

The reason that oral cancer screenings are standard procedure is that there is a significant advantage to catching oral cancer before symptoms begin to show, and it is a brief and simple check that is extremely effective in identifying oral cancer in its early stages.

When performing the brief exam, one of our dental professionals will examine your face, neck, lips, and nose area for any asymmetries, bumps, discoloration, or other abnormalities. A brief physical exam will follow to ensure the mouth, cheeks, jaw and neck area are free of nodules or irregularities, which may be a cause for concern.

As this is a precautionary measure, not a diagnostic measure, any causes for concern may simply initiate a request for further screening at regular intervals or follow-up, especially if you engage in lifestyle practices such as tobacco or alcohol use that may increase your risk level.

The Oral Cancer Foundation has initiated a campaign this year called “Check Your Mouth,” which encourages individuals to also perform at-home oral cancer screenings in between dental visits. If you are at high risk for oral cancer, you are especially encouraged to visit for a simple how-to video on self-screening to get you started.

We at River Valley Smiles care about your overall oral well-being and will partner with you to ensure you remain in the best health possible under our care. If you have any questions or concerns at any time about any oral health issue, we would be glad to discuss them with you to ensure they are properly addressed. Call us today to set up your next appointment, or visit our site to request an appointment online:

We Care About Your Heart!

Posted by on Feb 14, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

We all know that taking care of our teeth is important, but did you know that your oral health can significantly affect your long-term heart health?

If you suffer from gum disease at a moderate or advanced stage, you are at greater risk for heart disease than a patient with healthy gums. This is due to the spread of bacteria from your mouth to other parts of your body through your bloodstream. These bacteria can cause inflammation which leads to a varying range of cardiovascular conditions.

Warning Signs of Gum Disease:

-Red, swollen gums that are sore to the touch

-Bad breath or a “bad taste” in your mouth

-Gums appear as if they are receding or “pulling away” from the teeth

-Bleeding gums, especially when eating, brushing, or flossing

-Loosening of permanent teeth

There is good news, though. We can help you prevent and treat gum disease to help prevent long term issues.

In addition to regular dental visits and cleanings, we recommend brushing with a soft bristled brush twice daily and flossing between your teeth daily. Even then, however, there are other factors that can affect your oral health. That’s why Dr. Liggett and Dr. Johnson and the rest of our dental team are here.

If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, please contact our office to discuss treatment options so we can help you get back on track to the best health possible.

Oral health is a much bigger concern than simply ensuring the longevity of your teeth. Your oral health is important for your entire system to function the way it is intended.  We at River Valley Smiles care about your overall health and want to do our part to help you maintain the best possible well-being by helping you take care of your teeth and gums.

Call our office today, or visit us here (make an appointment ) to schedule your next appointment!