gum health chauvin lafayette

The link between gum health and heart health

You’ve always heard that gum disease and heart health are linked, even though you may not understand exactly how. And, while there definitely seems to be a correlation, some scientists are not 100% on what causes it yet. Here is what we know.

The correlation could simply be overall wellness in general

Robert Bonow, MD and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine says, “If it’s true that people with poor oral health have more heart attacks, it doesn’t mean the poor oral health leads to them. People with good oral hygiene may just be taking better care of themselves.” In essence, perhaps the link between oral and heart health is simply that people who brush and floss regularly just take better care of themselves. This does not mean that if you have poor oral health that you’re an unhealthy person! There are many factors that contribute to oral health such as genetics, diet, oral hygiene habits, etc.

Bacteria from the mouth can spread to other parts of the body

Our mouth is a gateway to the rest of our body, directly to our internal organs. Gingivitis, which is the beginning of gum disease, happens when the gums become inflamed and bacteria take over the mouth. These bacteria can travel from the mouth to the heart, causing inflammation and damage. This can turn into endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart.

Inflammation causes hardening of the arteries

When arteries harden and eventually become blocked, it’s due to a buildup of plaque. It’s not the same type of plaque as dental plaque though:

  • Dental plaque is a white film of bacteria that naturally builds up over time in the mouth and is removed with regular brushing up to a certain point. Eventually it hardens, necessitating removal by a dentist.
  • Arterial plaque is made of fat, calcium, cholesterol, and scar tissue, and builds up on the artery walls.

And although it’s not the same type of plaque, there is a correlation between the two. In fact, patients with gum disease have almost double the risk of having heart disease.

Warning signs of gum disease include:

  • Swollen, sore, and red gums
  • Gums that bleed when brushing, flossing, or eating
  • Pus or other signs of infection around the gums and teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth

Delta Dental has confirmed evidence of two links to gum and heart disease. The first, moderate or advanced gum disease presents a greater risk for heart disease. And the second, your oral health can exhibit warning signs for a wide variety of other conditions, including heart disease. If you’re concerned about your oral health, and want to reduce your risk for heart disease, contact Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment!

electric toothbrushes chauvin dental lafayette la

Are electric toothbrushes better

We have all been there. Standing in the toothbrush aisle, trying to choose from a very wide variety of toothbrush. Some have tongue scrubbers, others have gum massagers, some are soft bristled, some are not, there are electric and regular ones, and they have multiple size options. It can be overwhelming! The biggest choice you have to make is electric or regular, right? Well electric toothbrushes aren’t just a gadget designed for lazy folks, they actually come with a host of benefits you may not have considered!

They’re fun!

Do you struggle to get your children to brush their teeth every day? If so, you aren’t alone. Some kids absolutely hate it! A possible solution? Electric toothbrushes make it fun for them. It tickles, and is therefore infinitely better than a regular old toothbrush. Additionally, the electric toothbrush will do most of the heavy lifting and get their teeth much cleaner than they would on their own with a normal one. And just like normal toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes for children come with all sorts of fun characters and colors. You’re bound to find one that your child will love.

They’re effective.

If you are a stellar brusher and flosser of teeth, then you probably won’t see a big difference between a regular and electric toothbrush. However, if you are not the best brusher, an electric toothbrush can make a big difference. Up until recently, the two were considered on par with each other. After a series of studies published in 2014, electric toothbrushes actually have the upper hand. Electric toothbrushes also reduced plaque 21% more, and gingivitis 11% more than manual toothbrushes after three months of use.

They’re easier to use.

For some people, the proper brushing technique is difficult to manage. For example, people with arthritis or other manual dexterity problems could have a hard time making the small circles you’re supposed to brush your teeth with. Enter the electric toothbrush, and now the majority of the work falls on the toothbrush.

Should you switch?

Dental professionals that monitored patients using electric toothbrushes reported that a staggering 80% of their patients noted a positive effect on their overall dental health. With those numbers, it’s safe to say that electric toothbrushes are definitely superior to manual toothbrushes. If you would like to switch, but have more questions about the type you should buy, contact Dr. Chauvin’s office. We’ll make sure you make the best choice for your oral health.

burning mouth syndrome chauvin dental lafayette la

What is burning mouth syndrome

Have you ever experienced a burning, tingling, or scalding pain in your mouth for seemingly no reason? Or perhaps your mouth felt numb, tasted strange, or was overly dry? If so, you may have BMS (burning mouth syndrome).

Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome:

People can have a variety of different symptoms, as BMS affects each person differently. For the most part, you may experience the following:

  • Taste loss
  • Changes in taste
  • Dry mouth accompanied by increased thirst
  • Scalded, burning, or tingling sensation that typically affects the tongue, but can also affect the gums, palate, lips, throat, or entire mouth

Additionally, BMS can initially present itself differently from person to person. Some folks just wake up one morning with a fully fledged case of it, while in others it develops gradually over time. It can also last for months or years, although in rare cases, the symptoms will go away on their own. Eating or drinking can also temporarily alleviate the symptoms.

What causes Burning mouth syndrome?

There are two types of burning mouth syndrome, primary and secondary. If there are no abnormalities that can be identified, a person has primary or idiopathic burning mouth syndrome. There is some research that suggests it’s related to taste and sensory nerve problems.

Secondary burning mouth syndrome is caused by an underlying condition, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Other oral conditions (thrush, etc)
  • Deficient nutrition
  • Dentures
  • Allergies or other reactions
  • Acid reflux
  • Medications
  • Certain oral habits
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Excessive mouth irritation
  • Psychological factors

If you are a woman, are over the age of 50, or are postmenopausal, your risk for BMS is greater. And complications of BMS include trouble sleeping and eating, depression, and anxiety.

Treating BMS:

If you suspect you have BMS, see your doctor or dentist. They will have to run a variety of different tests to rule out all of the secondary causes. Once they know what’s causing it, when it comes to secondary BMS, the underlying condition will be treated. If no abnormalities are found, you’ll be given a medication to help alleviate the pain, or dry mouth. It’s a complex disorder, so it may take a few different types of treatment before you find one that works.

In the meantime, if you’re experiencing discomfort from BMS, try drinking something cold, sucking on ice chips, or chewing sugarless gum. And avoid spicy and hot foods, tobacco, alcohol, mouthwashes with alcohol, and foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices. Do you suspect you have BMS? Set up an appointment with Dr. Chauvin’s office today!

types of dentist chauvin dental lafayette la

How many different types of dentist are there

Think about how many different types of doctor there are. You’ve got your general practitioners, pediatricians, podiatrists, neurologists, and so on. Each different type of doctor focusing on a different aspect of the body. In a similar fashion, there are many different types of dentist! And the different dentists specialize in different things. For example:

General Dentist:

This is the person you should be seeing at least once a year. Your general dentist takes x-rays, cleans your teeth, fills cavities, and performs all of the preventative services to keep your mouth healthy. Your general dentist is like your general practitioner for your mouth. They see you regularly and have a baseline established for what your healthy mouth looks like. That way, if something is wrong, they can either correct the issue, or refer you to someone that can.


The endodontist is primarily concerned with the pulp and nerves of your teeth. They are “concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases or injuries” to those parts of the tooth. They handle root canals and other root procedures that involve surgery.

Oral Pathologist:

These health care providers concern themselves with diseases that affect any oral structures, and in some cases, parts of the face and neck. These are the folks that will examine and diagnose a biopsy or other tissue sample that was sent by another oral health care professional.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon:

Did you have your wisdom teeth removed? Most likely, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon handled the procedure. They take care of many different surgical procedures in the mouth, face, and jaw. In addition to things like wisdom teeth removal and dental implant surgery, they also perform reconstructive surgery on people that have had facial injuries. They can also remove cysts and tumors from the jaw. They do a lot of different procedures.


This dental doctor specializes in bite correction. Whether the cause is hereditary, from missing (or extra) teeth, or jaws that are out of alignment, the orthodontist will straighten your bite. They use wires, bands, braces, retainers, and other tools to force teeth to move back through the bone to the correct position.

Pediatric Dentist:

This is the person who you’ll take your children to. Pediatric dentists specialize in children’s teeth, from age one, up through young adulthood.


A periodontist specializes in soft tissue and supporting structures. So your gums and the bones of your mouth. They treat gingivitis, periodontitis, and can also perform simple and deep pocket cleanings, root planing, crown lengthenings, soft tissue/bone grafts, and a few other procedures.


The prosthodontist handles the repair of teeth and the replacement of missing teeth. They use artificial teeth, crowns (gold or ceramic), or implants. They also work with patients that have deformities by replacing missing parts of the face and jaw.


Past Procedure Care

Having dental work done is an investment! After all, you only get one set of adult teeth, so you want to take care of them. That’s why proper dental hygiene, as well as regular dental checkups, are so important. If you have had dental work done, you need to make sure you follow the instructions your dentist gave you to ensure your full recovery. Properly caring for past procedures will greatly increase the lifespan of your dental repairs.


The most important thing you can do after braces is wear your retainer. Your bones will want to try to put things back to the way they were. Wearing your retainer at night prevents your teeth from wandering back into their old positions. Beyond that, normal dental hygiene will keep your teeth looking beautiful and straight!

Dental implants

Dental implants involve surgery, and require very special care immediately after the procedure. You have to take antibiotics, use a special mouth rinse, drink lots of fluid, and eat soft food for a day or two. Physical activity should be avoided as well until everything has healed. Once it’s all healed up, you treat your dental implant as if it were a normal tooth. Proper dental care will ensure that your implant lasts a long time.

Root canals

After a root canal, it’s important to not eat anything until the numbness has worn off (lest you bite your cheek or tongue). Your new crown can be treated like an ordinary tooth once it’s all done. So brush and floss your teeth like usual after a root canal. You may experience sensitivity to pressure or extreme temperature at first, but that will fade as time goes on.

Cavity fills

Cavity fillings have the easiest post procedure care – treat it like a normal tooth. Like the root canal, you may have some pressure or temperature sensitivity immediately afterwards, but this will go away with time. Make sure you brush and floss to prevent more cavities from forming, and let your dentist know immediately if the filling falls out!

In many cases, dental procedures leave you with tooth repairs or replacements that can be treated just like normal teeth once the procedure is complete. Then you just have to take good care of your teeth! Your dental repairs should last for years under the right circumstances. Not sure what the post procedure care is for something not listed here? Give Dr. Chauvin’s office a call. We’ll tell you what you need to do.

dental implant dr chauvin lafayette la

Can my body reject my dental implant

When you lose a tooth as an adult, there are several options available to you for tooth replacement; removable dentures, fixed bridges, and dental implants. Dental implants are the best option, as they’re a permanent solution that’s fully functional. They have a very high success rate, as they are made with titanium – the most biologically compatible of all metals. Can your body reject your dental implant? Yes, although it’s far more likely that your implant failure is due to one of the following.

Failed Osseointegration

This means that your jaw did not take to the implant. Osseointegration is a term that describes the development of a connection between an artificial implant and the bone. Broken into its root Greek, the word literally means bone integration. This is determined by the implant either falling out, being excessively loose, or has shifted more than 1 mm after a year. Dental implants must be placed into a healthy jaw. There should be enough bone density and volume in order for the implant to fully osseointegrate. In some cases, a bone graft or a sinus lift is necessary for a dental implant, in order to create more bone mass.

Infection (Peri-Implantitis)

As you know, the human mouth is loaded with bacteria, and not all of it is good. With any surgery, and having a dental implant installed is a surgery, there is a risk of infection. The bone and gums around your implant can also be infected by improper dental hygiene, or if any dental cement from the implant gets caught in the gums. In rare cases, the infection can be treated and the implant left alone. However, if infection occurs, it’s most likely that the implant will have to be removed.

Teeth grinding

Grinding your teeth, normally very harmful anyway, can be devastating to dental implants (especially new ones). It takes a long time for bone to heal, as anyone who has ever broken a limb can tell you. Since dental implants are drilled into the bone, the jaw has to recover, and create new bone mass around the implant to hold it in place. Grinding your teeth can shift the implant, or wear it down. If you are a habitual teeth grinder, it would be wise to wear a mouthpiece at night in order to protect your dental implant.

These are just a few of the ways a dental implant can fail. In most cases, your body doesn’t reject the implant. There are other factors that have caused your implant to fail. Have more questions? Contact Dr. Chauvin’s office!

why is your bite important dr chauvin lafayette dentist

Why is your bite important

Think about when you were a kid and you lost a tooth. You kept fiddling with the missing spot with your tongue and it drove you nuts! For a few hours anyway. Then you adjusted to it and didn’t even notice the missing spot, right? Our bodies ignore certain things after a certain point – it prioritizes new stimuli over existing ones. For example, you can always see your nose! Your brain just ignores it.

Well when it comes to your bite, we don’t really notice the way our teeth fit together. As a result, our bite could be off and we wouldn’t even know it! Your bite is very important though, as a misaligned bite could lead to a host of other issues.

What could a misaligned bite cause?

When something isn’t right in our body, a host of other, in some cases seemingly unrelated problems can emerge. For example, sinus problems or digestive problems could be caused by an off-kilter vertebrate in your back! If your bite doesn’t line up correctly, you could experience:

  • Headaches
  • Tooth wear that is excessive
  • Sore muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the head and neck
  • Gum recession
  • Broken or loose teeth

There’s also the self-esteem factor to consider; if your bite is off your smile could be crooked. The good news? A misaligned bite can be fixed.

How can my dentist fix my bite?

Depending on what is causing your bite to be off, there are a variety of solutions your dentist can employ. In some cases, a missing tooth is causing a bite to be off, or a poorly fitted crown. Genetics could also be a factor, some people just have mouths that are too small to fit all of their teeth comfortably. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to keep up with regular dental checkups so your dentist can notice the signs of a misaligned bite and take steps to correct it before extreme measures are required. Some options your dentist may consider include:

  • Replacing any missing teeth
  • A dental mouth guard
  • Bite splints
  • Adjusting teeth (for example, shaving down problem areas)
  • Braces or other orthodontic methods can be used to straighten the teeth that are out of alignment

The solution used by your dentist will be entirely dependent on the issue causing your bite to be misaligned. If you are experiencing headaches or any of the other issues mentioned above, contact Dr. Chauvin’s office! We can take a look and see what is going on.



Baby bottles and tooth decay

Babies will start getting teeth around six months of age. Dentists recommend that infants are seen before their first birthday in order to assess dental health. Without proper dental care, baby bottle tooth decay occurs. It’s a common problem, also known as early childhood cavities. The good news is, as with most dental issues, the sooner you catch it, the easier it is to treat.

How does baby bottle tooth decay happen?

Kids drink a lot! As a result, the teeth are exposed to lots of sugar. It comes from what they drink and what they eat, including:

  • Formula
  • Milk
  • Fruit juice
  • Other sweet drinks
  • Fruits
  • Sugary snacks

When children (and especially babies) drink, the sugars will pool in their mouth around their teeth, creating a perfect environment for cavity and plaque causing bacteria. As time goes on, each time the child eats or drinks something with sugar – their teeth are attacked by acid. This weakens the enamel, and makes it that much easier for cavities to form.

Preventing baby bottle tooth decay:

Basically you prevent baby bottle tooth decay the same way you prevent cavities in adults! With proper dental care. For a toothless infant, you need to clean their gums daily with a clean, wet rag. Wash your hands, wrap the washcloth around your finger, and then gently wipe and massage the gums. This helps keep your infant’s gums healthy, and gets them used to you cleaning their mouth (which will be a very good thing when it’s time to start brushing teeth and going to the dentist). And never leave your infant with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice at night.

Once the teeth begin to erupt, you’ll switch to a toothbrush. Make sure to get an appropriately sized brush, with soft bristles. You will also need a fluoride free toothpaste until they are old enough to spit. Use a pea sized amount, and gently brush their teeth and gums. When they can spit, switch to a toothpaste with fluoride. Modifications to your child’s diet can also help prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Offer water instead of sugary drinks, limit sugary snacks, and acidic foods.

It’s important to instill good dental habits at a young age, that way your children will take care of their teeth for the rest of their lives. Is it time for a dental checkup, or do you suspect baby bottle tooth decay? Call Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment.


What is the Difference Between Periodontitis and Gingivitis?

Everyone has heard of gingivitis – it’s mentioned in practically every commercial for dental products! It’s like the boogeyman of the dental realm, but unlike the boogeyman – gingivitis is very real. Less commonly talked about is periodontitis. The two are related, but what’s the difference between periodontitis and gingivitis?

What is Gingivitis

This is the precursor to periodontitis. Gingivitis is a term that means “gum inflammation” and occurs when enough plaque has built up to allow bacteria to thrive in the mouth. The irritation in the gumline is most noticeable when brushing, as the gums bleed very easily. The good news is, gingivitis is reversible, and no permanent damage has occurred at this stage. Signs of gingivitis include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Reddened gums (healthy gums are pink)
  • Gums that bleed during brushing
  • Receding gums
  • Tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Soft, puffy gums

If you experience any of the symptoms above, it’s important to seek dental care to prevent the disease from developing any further. Typically, a professional cleaning will clear up gingivitis, as long as proper steps are taken at home to reverse the effects of gingivitis. This includes brushing at least twice daily, flossing once a day, and using an antiseptic mouth rinse. However you should be doing those things anyway! If you don’t catch gingivitis in time…

What is Periodontitis

You’ll wind up with periodontitis – gum disease. At this stage, your gums will begin to pull away from your teeth, creating small pockets where food, plaque, and other debris will build up. As these pockets fill, they become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. And bacteria just loves to destroy healthy tissue. The bone and connective tissue that is normally protected by your gums will start to break down. The longer it goes untreated, the more damage is caused. Periodontitis eventually results in tooth loss – because the bone and connective tissue anchoring the teeth in place gets destroyed. As a matter of fact, gum disease is the number one cause of adult tooth loss.

There are other factors that can contribute to gum disease, including:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Decreased immunity due to certain illnesses
  • Certain medications
  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Smoking
  • Old age
  • Certain viral or fungal infections
  • Substance abuse
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poorly fitted dental restorations

In the case of either gingivitis or periodontitis, it’s important to visit the dentist immediately in order for proper treatment. Without it, you could lose one or more teeth! If any of these symptoms sound familiar, call Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment today.


The dangers of sleep apnea

Imagine being sound asleep and suddenly you stop breathing. So you startle awake. You start breathing again, and fall back asleep. And it happens over. And over. And over. Over the course of one night, a person may stop breathing hundreds of times! This is the painful reality for people who suffer from sleep apnea, and results in the brain and body not getting enough oxygen. The dangers of sleep apnea include:

High blood pressure

Sleep apnea causes your body to be very stressed, as it essentially goes into a panicked state every time it needs to restart your breathing. Your hormones go on overdrive, increasing your blood pressure. Couple that with the reduced oxygen level and you are a prime candidate for high blood pressure.

Heart disease

The stress of waking up often, alongside the low oxygen levels, make a person much more likely to have some form of heart trouble. It may be atrial fibrillation, strokes, or heart attacks. Since the brain is receiving less oxygen, it has a hard time maintaining all of the background functions that keep us alive – including controlling blood flow to the heart and brain.

Type 2 diabetes

Did you know that if you don’t get enough sleep, your body can’t use insulin correctly? This can ultimately result in type 2 diabetes, and of everyone with type 2 diabetes, at least 80% of them have sleep apnea.

Mental health issues

Not getting enough sleep has a drastic effect on your mental health. It can present as simply being cranky, or as serious depression or anxiety problems. There is good news though, treating the sleep apnea can greatly improve your mental well-being.

Weight gain

Extra weight not only makes you more susceptible to sleep apnea, if you have sleep apnea, it’s harder to lose weight! Luckily, treating sleep apnea will give you more energy – making it easier to lose those extra pounds.

Dentists are often the first medical professional to notice the signs of sleep apnea, since they typically interact with their patients on a more regular basis than a general practitioner. If you are experiencing any of these side effects:

  • Lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring, choking, or gasping in your sleep
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and impaired mental/emotional functioning

Then your dentist may send you to a sleep specialist to be evaluated. If this sounds familiar, call Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment, as there are other signs that a dentist can look out for in diagnosing sleep apnea.