8 Ways Your Teeth Affect Your Physical Health

We’ve all heard the adage “Your body is a temple.” We know that we need to take care of it and we know that what we eat, how much we exercise, how often we see a doctor, and a whole host of other factors can have major effects on the rest of our body. But did you know that brushing your teeth and going to the dentist regularly can affect more than just the number of cavities you get? Research is coming out all over the place that shows that having a healthy smile will increase your likelihood of having a healthy body as well! Here are just 8 ways that the health of your mouth will affect your overall health.

periodontitisPeriodontitis – When bacteria builds up on your teeth it can make your gums more prone to infections. When your immune system senses the infection it will move in to attack. This attack will cause your gums to become inflamed. Long-term inflammation and the chemicals it releases can eat away at your gums and the bones that hold your teeth in place. This is called periodontitis.

Diabetes –If you have diabetes, your body is already struggling to process sugar due to a lack of insulin. Periodontal disease complicates the issue by further impairing your body’s ability to use insulin. To make things even worse, high blood sugar contributes to ideal conditions for infections to grow. This starts a really vicious cycle that can rapidly get out of control.

Heart Disease – There is still some debate on the exact correlation, but research indicates that up to 91% of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis. Among people without heart disease, only 66% have periodontitis. This would suggest that there is a stronger connection beyond similar risk factors like smoking, excess weight, and unhealthy diets. Some experts theorize that inflammation in the mouth also causes inflammation of the blood vessels. This increases the risk for heart attacks by allowing less blood to travel between the heart and the rest of the body, increases blood pressure, and raises the risk of fatty plaque breaking off of a blood vessels wall and traveling to the heart.

Pregnancy Complications – Some research shows that gum disease is a contributing factor to premature labor. Studies have shown that infections and inflammation, in general, interfere with fetal development. Hormonal changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy can also increase the risk of periodontal disease. It’s always a good idea to have a comprehensive periodontal exam if you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant so that you can catch any trouble before it becomes a real problem.

Osteoporosis – Periodontitis, and osteoporosis have one big thing in common – bone loss. Beyond that though experts are divided. Some experts point out that osteoporosis affects the long bones in arms and legs and is more common in women than in men. Periodontitis affects the jaw bone and is more common among men. Despite these differences, some studies have found that women with osteoporosis are more likely to have gum disease than women without it. Researchers are also testing a theory that inflammation caused by periodontitis could weaken the bones in other parts of the body as well.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Studies have shown that treating the periodontal disease can reduce the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis! Patients with RA have also been shown to be at higher risk for periodontal disease. A number of similarities have been found in the joint and oral tissues as well as the way they become inflamed.

Lung Conditions – Increased bacteria in the lungs from periodontal disease can make pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse.

Obesity – Periodontitis has been shown to progress more rapidly in the presence of higher body fat.

The impact of oral health on the rest of the body is still a fairly new area of study. New mouth-body connections are still being discovered and investigated. But from just this short list we feel it’s safe to say that having a healthy smile will definitely increase your overall health. Come in to see Dr. Mandanas and let us make sure you’re as healthy as possible!

13 Tips to Survive Your Child’s First Dental Visits

We all know the importance of regular visits to the dentist but the prospect can be a scary one for toddlers that have never gone before or even for parents that have had their own negative experiences. Here are some tips to help smooth your child’s first trip to the dentist.

istock_000012796663xsmallTheir first appointment should happen by their 1st birthday. It’s not a bad idea to make the first appointment after the first few teeth come through though.

  • Schedule for a time when your baby is normally happy and easy going. Avoid scheduling during their normal nap time or when they usually get hungry.
  • Let the Dentist know about any sucking habits like pacifiers, thumbs, or bottles. This will help them to properly diagnose any issues they see.
  • Examine your baby’s teeth as often as you can. This will help them get used to the feeling of fingers poking around in their mouth.
  • Avoid letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. Pooling liquids will promote tooth decay.

Their first Toddler appointment should happen around two years old. By this time all their baby teeth should have come in.

  • Use positive language leading up to and when talking about the visit. Focus on the good things, like the prizes at the end of the visit. Don’t say “It won’t hurt.” This dentist in New Hampshire has some great suggestions for positive language.
  • Talk to them about exactly what will happen, from the check in process, to the exam, and especially the prize at the end of the visit.doc4f999b7334d1c7318583221
  • Let them come with you to your own cleaning so they can see firsthand what’s going to happen and that you’re comfortable.
  • Know when to walk away and reschedule.
  • Stay with your child to offer comfort and reassurance. Strangers can be scary.
  • Practice brushing often so they get used to the feeling.
  • Use a pea size amount of toothpaste. This is the perfect amount for adequate fluoride coverage, but nowhere near enough for over-ingestion.
  • Use a soft kid sized tooth brush.
  • f15f3f715a3bf213db60e9fd869aaab4Find a fun, over-sized model to allow the kids to practice brushing teeth they can see. Pinterest is an amazing resource for free ideas.

Tips to avoid dental issues.

  • Brush often.
  • Avoid sugary and starchy foods that will stick to teeth long after eating and promote decay.
  • Rinse with water after meals if they can’t brush.
  • Stop sucking habits as early as possible.
  • Find ways to make oral hygiene fun with timers and fun brushes.

6 Reasons to Let Your Smile Shine

As if the spring sunshine isn’t enough reason to smile, here are six more reasons to flash your pearly whites at the world!

happy couple

Flashing a smile makes you more attractive. A study by The American Psychological Association showed when a person sees someone they’re attracted to smiling it stimulates their orbitofrontal cortex (the part of the brain associated with sensory rewards.) In other words it makes them want to approach you so they can keep being rewarded with smiles. Even E-Harmony believes smiling is an integral part of attractiveness! Smiling also makes you look reliable, relaxed, and sincere – all attractive traits in a partner.

Smiling fights off stress. The University of Kansas asked three groups of participants to perform a stressful test. One group was asked to smile and another was given chopsticks to hold in their teeth which formed a smile. A comparison of physiological responses showed both genuine and chopstick-induced smilers had lower heart rates and faster cardiovascular stress recovery than the non-smiling control group.

Smiles can be a mood booster. Smiling releases neuropeptides in your brain. Those are the tiny molecules that allow your neurons to talk to each other and spread the message to the rest of your body that you’re feeling something. Some neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are also released when you smile. These chemicals all relax your body, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and make you happy. Seratonin in particular is an anti-depressant and mood booster – and when you smile you get it without a prescription!

Smiling acts as a pain reliever. Studies have been done where they asked participants to smile, remain neutral, or frown during painful procedures. Participants that smiled through the ordeal reported feeling lower levels of pain! Smiling releases endorphins, which act as a natural pain reliever. So next time you are getting a tight hair-do, feeling sore from a workout, or getting a tattoo, put on a smile and you’ll feel better!

Old couple laughingA smile can lengthen your life. A study by Wayne University in Michigan using 230 photographs of baseball players from 1952 showed those who smiled lived the longest. Researchers separated the photos in non-smiling, partial smile, and full smile. Straight faced players lived and average of 73 years, partial smilers lived an average of 75 years, and the players with full blown smiles lived an average of 80 years! You can do a lot of extra living and laughing in 7 years!

When you smile you make other people happier. When you see someone smile your cingulate cortex is unconsciously activated. This is the part of your brain responsible for smiling when happy and mimicking other people’s smiles. A study in Sweden showed that when participants were shown photos of smiling people, and told to frown, their facial expression went automatically to imitating the smile. It took conscious effort for them to frown while looking at someone smiling. So smile at everyone you see, it will make them smile back at give them an immediate boost of those fun neurotransmitters that make them feel good!

If you aren’t comfortable with your smile, we’d love to help you change that! Everyone should feel confident with themselves but sometimes it can be hard. Our offices offers many options, including 6 Month Smiles, to give you the confidence you need to smile every day.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Braces at Any Age

I am fortunate to be able to make people smile for a living!

Teri Before 6 Month SmileMany times I cannot get my guests to show any teeth in their “before” or pretreatment photos. Honestly, I so feel lucky because by the time we are done (or even close to done) with treatment, they are finally able to smile- something they haven’t actually done in years or sometimes their whole adult life.

I would like to introduce you to Teri. She came in for multiple reasons but her main concern was a front tooth that had started to stick out “like Nanny McPhee” she said. She just wanted to be able to smile, but due to other dental health concerns, she didn’t think anything could be done.





Teri After 6 Month SmileWe decided to place Teri in short term orthodontics and in my office I work with an orthodontic company called 6 Months Smiles. Teri’s case was VERY short term. She started in early February 2015 and we finished her treatment in April 2015. She was so happy with the results and tired of feeling like a teenager that I agreed to take them off and place a permanent retainer.

Sometimes I forget how blessed I am and forget to take pictures of me and my guests, but here is a shot that I love!

An Amazing Alternative to Traditional Braces!

Sometimes there are things you find out about in your career that defy or are against everything you supposedly learned during your many years of professional education.

If you aren’t paying attention you might miss out on an idea that can change your calling and alter the path of what you thought you were supposed to be doing! For me it was stumbling across an orthodontic appliance called the Ortho-Tain. This device has changed, in a most positive way, the way I see orthodontics and the way I practice dentistry.

For some reason training in orthodontics during dental school is very minimal. I was fortunate, however, to have spent over 8 years in Nome getting to do orthodontics under the tutelage of Dr. Michael Beck, an orthodontist from New Mexico. Dr. Beck has traveled rural Alaska for over the last twenty years helping clinics in Bethel, Kodiak, and Nome. I learned about the Ortho-Tain from Dr. Beck, but we never had much success with it due to compliance issues so I basically swept its power and potential “under the rug.”

Fast forward 7 years to my moving and starting my own small practice in Anchorage. At this point I now I have a 7 year old who, one day, appears with a smile in cross bite, i.e. his new upper front teeth are growing behind his back teeth.   As a mother and a dentist, I think, “This cannot be!!!!” (Even though I personally spent 3 miserable years myself in braces: 7th, 8th and 9th grades—ugh!). Here is my son when he was seven:


I immediately think back to this Ortho-Tain appliance, contact the company and start my son in treatment.

SO let me introduce to you to the Ortho-Tain appliance. There are actually multiple appliances that the company Ortho-Tain makes, but they are all very similar. They are all a mouth-guard type appliance that basically guide teeth into their correct position through a few hours of daily wear and through night-time sleep. In many cases, if the child is young enough, it can guide the teeth in straight before teeth are ever crooked. What I used on my son is the Occlus-o-guide appliance.

His cross bite was actually corrected in a few short weeks of only sleeping in the appliance and now that he is 11 years old he regularly just sleeps in it to guide the rest of his teeth in straight.

This picture was taken when he was 9, but correction was much earlier, I just never recorded it!  Note that he never wore any wires, but only slept in the Occlus-o-Guide and would wear it during night-time reading.


I want to make it clear that because this appliance exists, does not mean that traditional wired braces is a thing of the past. I still enjoy and practice band and bracket orthodontics as a general dentist.  And I still refer many people to orthodontic specialists if need be.

However, I am absolutely obsessed and impressed with the appliance! If you have any questions, please call me and would be happy to discuss its benefits.

Overcoming Your Fears

shutterstock_152466515For some people a fear of Dental work is a very real thing and it can affect their whole lives. Poor Dental health can lead to problems in their physical health as well as creating insecurities about their appearance.

One of the goals in my practice is to make sure that everyone feels comfortable in my chair having work done. I want coming to see me to be a fun occasion that we can both enjoy. So here are some quick tips to help overcome a fear of seeing a Dentist.

Come in for an initial meeting. This is something that I think a lot of people overlook. If you’re not comfortable with your dentist on a personal level, then you won’t feel comfortable with them poking at a sensitive part of your body. Schedule an initial appointment to come in and meet your dentist. Ask questions. Talk to them. Make sure that you two can communicate clearly with each other in a way that you can both listen effectively. Communication is an excellent place to begin feeling comfortable.


Make an extra long appointment. If you know that you’re going to need some extra time to get your anxiety under control or will just need some time to work through things slowly, then make sure it’s scheduled. If your dentist has set aside a longer block of time than normal for your procedure than they won’t feel rushed to push you through things so they’re not late with their next patient. And if you schedule a longer lunch hour or make sure your schedule is clear well after your appointment then you won’t feel pressured to rush through things. Remember, if you push yourself through something you’re not quite ready for you will only be reinforcing that fear. Take your time!


Baby Steps. If fear of the Dentist has been a problem for too long then a lot of damage can happen. And a lot of damage can mean a lot of work. This can be really intimidating. Don’t feel like you need to take care of all of the problems all at once. Start with one thing at a time and give yourself a chance to begin to feel more comfortable in the Dentist’s chair. Start with a simple exam. Come in to talk about your treatment plan – sometimes just sitting in the chair without any work being done can train your mind to realize it’s not always going to be a horrible experience. Then come in for a basic cleaning. Don’t jump right in to the root canals or extractions until you  feel as though your trust in you Dentist is in place.


Bring headphones. Studies have shown that music can reduce pain and anxiety levels. When you come in for your procedures bring your iPod, old Walkman, phone, or whatever you use to listen to music. Not only will the music help you to relax but it can also block out any noises that might be an additional source of anxiety. Just make sure that you’ve worked out a way to communicate with your dentist without hearing – prearrange a signal to pause the music.


Get professional help. For some people the Dental phobia is too strong to work out on their own, and that’s okay. Many people have benefited from seeking the help of a therapist to help them overcome their fears. I’ve also heard of people having great success with alternative treatments such as hypnotherapy or even acupuncture.

An Overdue Introduction

Welcome to my dental blog.  Which I’ve had, but welcome to me actually writing it.

10359153_10152896763561800_2400321310519550711_nWho am I?  Dr. Owen Mandanas. I am a wife, a mother of two cool hockey playing young boys, a Filipina dentista who grew up in the Deep South (South Cackalackey), and a struggling vegan wannabe.  All in that order of importance… maybe.

First and foremost I love my family. Then my career as a dentist. And then sometimes I find time for myself.

As this is my dental blog, I will start this first overdue entry with the fact that I truly love being a dentist and hopefully I will write things in this blog that can help you with whatever dental problems or concerns you may have.

I’m not sure that you want to know my dental story (a little bookkeeping), but here goes…

In 2000 I graduated from Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago. I spent the first 8 ½ years of my career in Nome, Alaska. This was an incredible time in my life and I loved everything about it all.  What a huge change from 10 years of living in the Windy City!

I loved everyone I worked with in Nome- all of my dental assistants and the dentists with whom I spent hours working in village trips and in the hospital in Nome. I gained invaluable knowledge not just on dentistry and teeth, but on working hard (10-12 hour days on village trips) and treating people with respect. I don’t think I was really very good at it at first. The transition of a life in the city to a life in the Alaska bush translates to plenty of room for personal growth. But they welcomed me and taught me well,

Now I am in Anchorage, AK raising a family and nurturing a growing dental practice. It’s an amazing ride and hope that my dental insights can be of help to you!

Do Genetics Play a Role in the Overall Health of Teeth?

dentist AnchorageThe nature versus nurture debate is one found throughout the physical and social sciences, and it has even made its way into dentistry. It’s easy to blame genes for bad luck with a variety of health-related issues, whether the genes are fully to blame or not. While genetics are not solely responsible for the overall health of teeth and gums, genetic factors can influence oral health, and behaviors acquired through parents and family members can also play a role.

When it comes to oral health, genetics can play a role in development and resilience, affecting teeth growth and sizes, as well as the gums. Inherited malformations of the jaw and possible genetic factors that affect teeth crowding among other problems can have an effect on overall oral health. While these conditions are not genetically inherited, per se, patients can inherit a predisposition to developing certain types of dental problems. Having a genetic predisposition for gingivitis and other gum diseases also affects the oral and overall health of the patient.

Cavities are caused by bacteria that gradually eat away at teeth. When the enamel on teeth is weak, the bacteria in the mouth has a much easier time getting through the enamel to the middle of the tooth and creating a cavity. Genetically speaking, it is possible to inherit thinner enamel layers, which can make the development of cavities, also known as dental caries, more prominent in some patients.

There are other ways enamel can be weakened. Acids weaken enamel, and many highly acidic foods or beverages, such as berries, juice, coffee, or tea, are known to increase surface staining on teeth. To reduce the setting in of stains, patients will sometimes brush immediately after consuming these things, when the enamel is weakest. This brushing wears down the enamel faster.

Teeth grinding has been found to include some modest genetic factors, meaning it may be an inheritable condition despite being considered a behavioral condition. Patients may inherit a predisposition to develop bruxism, teeth grinding, at some point, just as some patients are more affected by stress in their everyday lives. Bruxism is typically associated with comorbid conditions – that is, another condition occurring alongside the teeth grinding. Patients that grind their teeth may also have a sleep disorder, manage stress poorly, experience significant anxiety, or any of a number of other conditions. Teeth grinding wears down teeth over time, especially molars, and can result in cracks, broken fillings, and other damage that affects overall oral health.

For more information on how genetics and learned behaviors can impact oral health and development, contact our experienced dentist office today!

Tooth Loss Can Have Far-Reaching Effects on Your Dental Health

dental implants AnchorageThe loss of a single tooth can profoundly affect overall dental health. A tooth can suffer damage from impact or trauma, and if the damage is extensive, the dentist may recommend extraction. If a tooth is heavily damaged from dental caries (cavities), infection, abscess, or weakened from bone loss and/or receding gums, the tooth may require extraction or it may fall out on its own. The loss of a tooth, however, does not have to be permanent. With the innovative design of modern dental implants, the jawbone, gingiva (gum tissue), and adjacent teeth can thrive even after the tooth is lost.

In cases of trauma or injury, depending on the type of damage sustained by the tooth, the surrounding structures in the mouth may also suffer damage. Serious impact from playing contact sports, a vehicle accident, chewing on things that a person shouldn’t, or suffering a fall can result in a chipped or broken tooth, or even loosen a tooth within the jawbone. If treatment is sought immediately, the dentist may be able to save the tooth but in some cases the tooth is extracted to prevent further damage to the surrounding teeth, bones, and tissue.

When a tooth is infected, abscessed, or heavily damaged from a large cavity, its overall strength is reduced and the likelihood of the tooth breaking or falling out increases. To reduce the risk of the tooth falling out on its own, it is usually extracted if treatment becomes too complicated. Without a tooth to hold that portion of the jaw and gums, the body sees that space as less important and it begins reassigning resources to more important structures, like the remaining teeth.

Regardless of the cause, the missing tooth creates a vulnerable spot in the jawbone. The neighboring teeth will often start to move in an attempt to close the space where the lost tooth existed. Opting for a dental implant can preserve the jaw, gums, and adjacent teeth. The dental implant is surgically placed within the jawbone, serving the same role as the roots of the missing tooth. The crown attached to the top of the implant supports the adjacent teeth and keeps the bite balanced to prevent uneven impact.

For more information on dental implants, contact the office of Owen C. Mandanas at 907-276-5522 and schedule your professional consultation today.

Orthodontic Alternatives to Conventional Braces

orthodontics AnchorageRegardless of age, the decision to undergo orthodontic treatment can come easier once patients are informed of the options available. Traditional dental braces were once the only option for treatment, but with advances in dentistry and orthodontics have come a variety of alternative treatment methods that can accommodate a wide range of patients and cases. Depending on the needs of individual patients, treatment can range from six months to several years and the treatment options greatly influence the timeline.

Using traditional braces is often an option, but braces require a significant commitment to the treatment process. After assessing the patient, the dentist carefully bonds metal brackets or alternative style hardware to the surfaces of teeth, and then connects the brackets with an archwire. If the brackets are traditional style, small wires are used to tie the archwire in place. The presence of the orthodontic hardware requires time to adjust, and the hardware stays in place throughout the entire treatment process.

Innovative treatment options for children and adults requiring orthodontic intervention include Ortho-Tain, a contemporary alternative that offers a metal-free approach to treatment. Unlike traditional braces that remain in place, Ortho-Tain utilizes a custom-made removable appliance that gradually aligns teeth where needed. Ortho-Tain treatment options go beyond straightening, however, and the treatment approach can be used to correct temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and other TMJ problems. For patients simply looking to improve their smile and confidence, Ortho-Tain offers customizable treatments that deliver satisfying results.

Adult patients that require more extensive orthodontic corrections may opt for Six Month Smiles. Through the use of clear orthodontic brackets and tooth-colored wires, adult patients can see marked improvement in as little as six to nine months. The Six Month Smiles system is similar to traditional braces but with a less aggressive adjustment approach and an aesthetic design that reduces self-consciousness associated with braces in adulthood.

To learn more about orthodontic treatment options and improving smiles and confidence, contact our skilled dentistry team today!