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General Dentistry

Fun Tooth Facts

August 9th, 2018

We've come a long way in our dental knowledge through the years, and it's fun to look back and see what our ancestors thought about our pearly whites. We also know so much more about how teeth develop -- it may happen a lot earlier than you think! Thank you Colgate for this entertaining article!

3 Fun Facts About Teeth

by Wendy J. Woudstra

People today tend to know a lot about their oral health, but the humans of ages past relied entirely on conjecture for answers about their teeth. Here are some fun facts about teeth that our ancestors certainly did not know.

Cavities Are Not Caused by Tooth Worms

In medieval times, most people thought dental cavities were made by tiny tooth worms. These little worms were thought to bore holes in teeth and then hide, out of sight, beneath the surface. The wiggling they did inside the tooth was believed to cause the pain of toothaches.

Today, of course, science has told us the truth about cavities, namely that they are really tooth decay caused by enamel-eroding bacteria in the plaque that builds up around teeth. When we eat sugary or starchy foods, the bacteria feed on the remnants left on our teeth, while simultaneously creating an acid that eats away at enamel.

Thankfully, we also know a lot more about preventing and treating tooth decay today than our medieval ancestors did; with preventative dental care, good oral hygiene, and a tooth-friendly diet, we can keep our teeth healthy for a lifetime. You can learn more about maintaining good oral health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Everyone Has the Same Number of Teeth (Mostly)

The great philosopher Aristotle believed that men had more teeth than women. Even though he was married, he must never have counted, because men and women both develop 20 primary or baby teeth, and when their permanent teeth come in, both sexes receive 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 10 secondary molars.

Things get complicated, however, when it comes to the third molars, often called wisdom teeth. While most people grow wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 21 years old, in about 35 percent of the population, wisdom teeth never develop. Some scientists believe that in the future that percentage will continue to grow until humans no longer grow wisdom teeth at all.

Your Primary and Permanent Teeth Start to Develop Before You're Even Born

You may not realize that although you don't have any teeth visible when you're born, the tooth buds of your 20 primary teeth, as well as the 32 permanent teeth you will one day develop, are already present in your jaw. The only exception is your wisdom teeth, which don't begin to develop at all until adolescence.

All these fun facts about teeth serve as reminders that you can never know too much about taking care of your teeth and gums. Daily preventative care and regular visits to the dentist will ensure that you have a healthy smile for years to come.

Check-ups are for for more than just a cleaning!

August 2nd, 2018

Your mouth is a part of your whole body, and it can tell you a lot about your health in general! In addition to keeping your teeth clean, check-ups with Dr. Smith always include a free oral cancer screening. You can be confident that at Got Smile Dental you are always getting top-notch, thorough oral care!

This article from PatientConnect365 details the importance of an oral cancer screen at each checkup - we agree!

Another Reason Not To Skip Your Dental Visits

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It’s also among the most preventable and curable when caught early.

And, believe it or not, your dentist is a critical partner when it comes to detecting this form of cancer.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, and one of the most serious.

Researchers are not certain as to its causes, but according to studies completed at the University of Minnesota, repeated exposure to the sun is considered a “commonly associated factor.”

That said, even though melanoma is understood in layman’s terms to be a “skin” cancer, we can’t always prevent it by applying sunscreen. Biologically speaking, melanoma can manifest anywhere melanocytes exist, whether that’s in our skin, mouth, heart, or other tissues.

It’s precisely for this reason that maintaining regular visits to your dentist can literally save your life.

How does the dentist help and what are the symptoms?

As with any cancer, early detection is key. And a regular visit to your dentist who can see more areas of your mouth at close range is your best course of action. There are signs and symptoms, however, that should elicit concern if you experience them.

If you have a frequent sore throat, difficulty chewing and swallowing, and red or whitish patches within your mouth, you should see you doctor. Likewise, changes in the color, shape or size of skin pigmentation should prompt a visit to the doctor.

How often do I have to have my mouth checked for this?

Your dentist should review your mouth and neck to look for any abnormalities or changes in tissue at every appointment. This exam often takes place without you even being aware it’s happening, but if you’re ever curious, just ask your dentist to walk you through it during your next appointment.

Due to their ability to detect cancerous lesions early, an oral cancer screening can literally save your life. Your dentist may also offer additional screening opportunities using special medical screening devices. These also help with early detection by illuminating mouth tissue with a special light.

Ask if your doctor has such a device in their office, or can recommend you to a physician who does.

It’s worth repeating …

Your teeth aren’t the only things in your mouth worth protecting. So be sure to visit your dentist regularly for an oral health screening.

Your dentist plays a critical role in the early detection and treatment of oral cancer concerns, so get that checkup!

The Truth About BPA and Fillings

May 17th, 2018

You have undoubtedly heard of the public concerns over BPA. Everywhere you turn there are new "BPA-free" products and packages. But what about dental materials? If you are concerned about BPA in your fillings, this article from MouthHealthy may put your mind at ease:

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Empty, clear plastic bottles

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that has been used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins for more than 50 years. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used in some dental sealants and composites.

Some scientific studies have suggested that BPA, like soy and phthalates (chemicals added to plastics to increase flexibility and durability), may affect reproduction and development in animals by mimicking the effects of the female hormone estrogen. This has raised concerns about its safety. To date, these effects have not been observed in humans. The amount of BPA to which people are exposed is estimated to be much lower than the amount of BPA exposure considered safe by government agencies.

The ADA believes any concern about potential BPA exposure from dental sealants or composites is unwarranted at this time. When compared with other sources of BPA, these dental materials pose significantly lower exposure concerns.

Jaw Pain

March 29th, 2018

We all have heard the acronym - TMJ. But what is it exactly? More accurately, it's called TMD, and it can cause a lot more than just popping and clicking of the jaw joints! AsktheDentist has a wonderful and thorough article that provides all the information you need to understand TMD:

The Complete Guide to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD, TMJ)

If you have TMJ pain, I think you’ll agree with me that it’s one of the most frustrating conditions to have. It can be jaw pain, ear pain, neck pain, or even a headache—and you never know when it’s going to show up.

Not only is it painful, it can feel impossible to treat—you’ve probably been told to stop chewing gum and just “wait and see” if it gets better. The lack of a clearcut solution combined with intense, unpredictable pain is enough to drive anyone crazy.

The key thing with treating TMD is to go slowly. I’ve outlined everything you need to know and do, step-by-step, below.

But first, what is TMJ disorder? Is it the same thing as TMD? How do you know if you have it? What are treatment options? Who do I see for treatment? We’ll break down this and more in this article.

What is TMJ Disorder (TMD)?

TMJ is the anatomical abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint connecting your lower jawbone to the base of your skull. It allows us to form words and chew food, and open our mouths for breathing. The TMJ is referred to as single joint, but there are actually two hinge points in front of each ear that enable movement. To accomplish all of these movements, the joint has the ability to rotate in several different directions and essentially create a hinging, or translatory, gliding movement. One example of this motion is chewing. The TMJ allows for rotation, gliding and hinging all at the same time by being relatively mobile within the socket. And this is where it gets complicated. There are a series of complex tendons, muscles and joint pads (called the meniscus) that help move and help protect the joint while it is in motion. Because of this anatomical and functional complexity, the TMJ is susceptible to having many things go wrong.

Because this joint is one of the most frequently used joints in the body, when it gets inflamed, it can be very painful and impact many aspects of normal activities. Problems with the TMJ are called TMD, temporomandibular disorder, or TMJ disorders. But people (and often even dentists) often simply refer to this condition as “TMJ”.

More than 15 percent of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain, such as jaw pain, headaches or earaches all of which may be related to TMD. The disorder disproportionately affects women ages 20-40. Sometimes it only lasts for a few weeks or months before resolving on its own, but often it can last indefinitely.

What are TMD symptoms?

TMD affects many people differently. Many sufferers end up seeing multiple doctors for various other symptoms before realizing that they are originating from the TMJ. Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness around jaw, cheeks, ears, and neck
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Popping, grating, or clicking jaw
  • Earache
  • Inability to open jaw completely, locking jaws
  • Painful chewing
  • Tired feeling in face
  • Change of facial expression
  • A change in how your lower and upper teeth fit together, e.g., can’t make one side of one’s bite or the other meet

How is TMD diagnosed?

Unfortunately, no one type of doctor is responsible for diagnosing or treating TMD. Many TMD sufferers may be become frustrated by the amount of time it takes to diagnose, since they may have previously visited an ENT for ear pain, their dentist for tooth pain, or a neurologist for headaches.

If you suspect you have TMD, talk to your primary care physician or your dentist. They will be able to check for symptoms and help you develop a treatment plan. You may consider visiting a TMD specialist in your area for further treatment if the problems persist.

If you truly believe your symptoms are due to TMD your best choice for a correct diagnosis and efficacious treatment is to seek out a dentist that specializes in the treatment of TMD (link to a TMD list of doctors?) To diagnose, the dentist will ask you questions about symptoms and areas of pain, and will physically inspect the joint as you move your jaw around. They will check your bite to inspect how your teeth come together.

In checking your bite, the dentist may check for a CR/CO discrepancy. CR stands for “centric relation” and CO stands for “centric occlusion”. In layman’s terms, CR is the ideal state of your upper and lower jaw positioning and CO is the actual state of affairs. To simplify this concept, consider this analogy…. if the front wheels of your car are not in alignment the suspension joints will wear prematurely and cause other alignment issues with your car. Similarly if your TMD is out of alignment the joint will wear prematurely and cause cause pain and inflammation.

In some cases, your doctor or dentist may recommend other tests to rule out other possibilities, such as lupus, arthritis, or gout. They may also recommend imaging tests, such as x-rays, CTs, MRIs, or ultrasound to look more closely at the joint and surrounding tissue.

What causes TMD?

There is no one cause of TMD. Anything that causes tension in the jaw and temporal muscles or a CR/CO discrepancy can lead to problems with the TMJ. There are often multiple factors that coincide to cause the disorder and pain. These could be:

  • Injury to the jaw or neck (e.g. hit in the face or whiplash): This is one of the most frequent causes of sudden onset of severe pain
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth (also called bruxism)
  • Sleep disordered breathing occurring when your airway collapses while you’re asleep blocking your breathing. the lower jaw’s instinct is to clamp down or thrust forward in an attempt to open the airway
  • Arthritis: arthritis can occur in any joint, including the TMJ
  • Dislocation or erosion of the joint
  • Improper bite alignment
  • Poor dentistry, such as high crowns or fillings, that change how your teeth are coming together

Stress is often considered a cause of TMD. However in my experience I have seen stress as exacerbating a condition that already exists.

I prefer to DIY. What are some at-home remedies for TMD?

Many doctors and dentists will recommend at home treatments as a first step for treating mild TMJ disorder. Since it is a joint, with tissue and muscle, like any other in the body, the treatments are similar to how you would treat any other inflamed joint or muscle with rest and relaxation.

Here are some easy, at-home treatments to try:

  • Rest the joint: eat soft food, avoid gum chewing
  • Apply ice in the beginning and later heat packs to decrease muscle inflammation
  • Experiment with different pillows to allow for proper neck support. Practice jaw exercises to stretch and relax the muscles
  • Over-the-counter pain medicines or anti-inflammatories can help provide short term relief
  • Correct your posture: slouching can push your lower jaw forward, putting stress on the TMJ. This often happens with people who spend many hours at a desk
  • THC/marijuana treatment (if you’re in a state where it’s legal)
  • In addition to direct muscle relaxation, decreasing your stress levels can help treat the symptoms and causes of TMD. Practicing stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness are great additions to any TMD treatment plan.

What to discuss with your dentist and doctor: TMD Treatment Options

Since TMD symptoms can involve the jaw, ear, nose, throat, face, neck, upper back, and even eyes, dentists and ENT doctors often pass TMD patients back and forth, not really knowing what to do with them or how to treat them. This makes things difficult when deciding which TMD treatment is right for you. Take it slow and make sure you fully understand your options, and any potential side effects, before agreeing to treatment.

I’ve listed these treatments for TMD in the order you should approach them—start at the beginning of the list and work your way down. It’s best to conservatively treat in the beginning to see if TMD symptoms go away first before getting to the more serious treatment options, like surgery. All of these should be chosen in consultation with your dentist, TMD specialist, or ENT doctor, or a combination.

Also be aware: There are several things that can be the root cause. Sometimes TMD can heal quickly on its own, and sometimes it can take months of treatment or even surgery to resolve. For some people, it never fully resolves, and it’s a matter of learning how to reduce the pain so you can get back to your life. Depending on your unique situation, your doctor or dentist may recommend more than one treatment.

Give your jaw a break: In many milder cases, TMD symptoms will go away just by letting the overworked jaw muscles rest. If you’re getting clicking or popping when you yawn or open your mouth wide, try not to open wide for the next several days. Cut smaller pieces of food so that you don’t have to open as wide to take a bite or chew as hard. Limit the amount of tough chewing with a softer diet. Cut out chewing gum.

Treat it like a muscle injury: Try treating your jaw the same way you would a pulled muscle. Massage the jaw muscle, put a hot washcloth on it, take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen, and let it rest.

Try muscle relaxation exercises: Just like a muscle that cramps from overuse, the jaw can cramp from too much use. Simple exercises can help you learn how to correct abnormal jaw positioning and relax tense jaw muscles that can contribute to TMD pain. All exercises should be done during times when you do not have any pain. If your jaw starts to hurt while you are performing the exercises, stop and rest. Jaw positioning exercises should be done in front a mirror so you can watch your progress. Many people who have TMD have a deviation in the way the joint moves, but are capable of learning a new, more correct position. Put a small sticker on the middle of your chin and open your mouth. If your jaw shifts to the side when you open your mouth, the sticker will shift also. When you see this happening, make a conscious effort to keep your jaw perfectly aligned when you open your mouth. It may feel unnatural at first but over time it will feel more normal and you may notice a reduction in your joint pain. Muscle relaxation and stretching exercises can be done anywhere, at home, in the car or while you read a book. Gently open your mouth as wide as you can without discomfort. Close your mouth slowly. Once your muscles have loosened up, you can use your hand very carefully to open your mouth a little bit wider. This type of stretching can prevent your jaw from becoming locked or unable to open and close smoothly.

Check your posture: Poor posture places the spine in a position that causes stress to the jaw joint. When people slouch or hunch over, the lower jaw shifts forward, causing the upper and lower teeth to not fit together properly, and the skull moves back on the spinal column. This movement puts stress on muscles, joints and bones and, if left untreated, can create pain and inflammation in muscles and joints when the mouth opens and closes.

Get a sleep study: TMD is often caused by grinding the teeth at night, which is a sign that you’re struggling to keep your airway open while you sleep. Recent studies are showing that TMD symptoms are often indicators of a larger disorder – and that includes sleep apnea. A mandibular advancement device, which is made by your dentist and used to treat sleep apnea, often cures TMD because it positions the jaw in a such a way that forces it to relax completely. Assuming the device is worn at night, eight hours of forced relaxation every day can be very effective in reversing TMD symptoms.

Check your stress levels: We often clench without realizing it—and TMD can often be resolved by treating a root cause of major stress, unhappiness in work or at home, etc.

Bite guards: Many dentists will recommend custom bite guards to reduce clenching and grinding of teeth at night to reduce stress on the TMJ. These guards will help the jaw alignment so that the joint can rest. However, make sure that you and your dentist have ruled out sleep apnea as a night guard has the potential to interfere with your sleep and make your grinding worse.
Sleep apnea treatment: A sleep apnea specialist will work with you to design a specific treatment plan if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. Grinding all night long to keep your airway open is not conducive to TMJ health.
Medical marijuana: if you’re in a state where medical marijuana is legal, your doctor may be able to prescribe it for stress and pain relief. This is palliative only and will not treat the root cause of your TMD.

Join a support group: The TMJ Association is a non-profit organization that focuses on patient advocacy. Especially for severe sufferers of TMD, this is important because you don’t want doctors and dentists pressuring you into treatment you don’t need.
Invisalign: If the root cause of your TMD is an occlusion issue, Invisalign may be able to fix the alignment your jaw, and thus help TMD symptoms. Also, many Invisalign patients achieve immediate relief from their TMD symptoms as the liners prevent you from biting in a misaligned position.

Take over-the-counter meds: Taking ibuprofen, or another anti-inflammatory, can give you immediate relief by reducing swelling or tenderness in the jaw, face, head, or neck. This kind of treatment, however, won’t work in the long term. Being dependent on painkillers is no way to live your life. Pain is also the body’s way of telling you to stop hurting yourself—and taking this away can cause you to further damage your body. Painkillers are great for immediate relief, but be sure you are searching for and treating the root cause. Be wary of any TMD specialist, dentist, doctor or medical professional that advises you to treat your TMD with painkillers alone.

Try occlusional equilibration: This method can take several visits that are weeks apart until the muscles adjust and find a new position. What your dentist will try to do here is aim to equilibrate your bite in a way that gets rid of your jaw pain or other TMD symptoms. Many people have an “actual” bite that differs from their “ideal” bite. Bringing the two positions into harmony is key in treating TMD. This requires strong 3D thinking and premodeling on a model by your dentist in order to treat your TMD and make the teeth less of a trigger point for grinding. A stable well balanced bite puts less stress on the jaw joint. You may need work done to reshape your teeth or jaw through braces or other appliances. A dentist can also fit you with a mouth guard that will help you stop clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth at night. Think of this like an orthotic shoe insole for the mouth. It works to attain that balance and comfort, at least while you’re wearing it.
Orthodontic treatment to adjust for proper bite: In some cases you will need regular metal braces to expand the arches and reverse improper facial development and to improve the bite.
Surgery: Surgery should only be used as a last resort after trying multiple other, non-invasive treatments. However, in extreme cases, surgery on the jaw or on the joint may be necessary. This should only be as a last resort after going through all of the treatment options above, experimenting with different combinations of treatments, working closely with your dentist, and getting a second (or even a third) opinion. Surgery on the actual joint has fallen out of favor. Orthognathic surgery, while an extreme option, may be necessary. As with everything, research your options and understand what TMD is and what causes it before committing to any heavy duty treatment. Depending on the severity of your TMD, you might need to go through some trial and error to figure out which treatment or combination of treatments works for you, but that’s where a good dentist, TMD specialist, or ENT doctor should take care of you and be your advocate throughout the process.

TMD is a complicated condition with many possible combinations of causes and symptoms. Do not get discouraged if your symptoms do not go away quickly after trying one treatment option! It often takes some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. But with patience and diligence, your symptoms can either be well-managed or completely healed.

Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

What other questions do you have about TMD? How were you able to cure it or reduce the pain? Let me know in the comments—I read them all!

Read more at Ask the Dentist: https://askthedentist.com/tmd-treatment/

 

The Best Home Remedies for Dental Pain

November 10th, 2017

Awesome article from EverydayHealth with great advice on how to temporarily sooth mouth/dental discomforts from home!

Got a toothache, jaw pain, or an agonizing canker sore? To ease the ouch, look no further than your kitchen cabinet.

Toothaches may be small in size — but they can cause a colossal amount of pain.

“Pain is your body’s way of telling you to go to a doctor,” says John Dodes, DDS, a dentist in Forest Hills, N.Y., and author of Healthy Teeth. If you have a severe or persistent toothache or other mouth malady, you should visit your dentist in case it’s a serious dental health issue that needs treatment.

However, some minor toothaches and pains can be treated right at home (or at least mitigated while you wait to see your dentist). Next time your mouth is troubling you, give these home remedies a shot.

Toothache Cures From Your Kitchen Cabinet

Grab some clove oil. Oil of clove is an age-old home remedy. It works thanks to the chemical eugenol contained in the oil, which has anesthetic and antibacterial properties. To use it for tooth pain, soak a cotton ball with a mixture made of two to three drops of clove oil and ¼ teaspoon of olive oil. Put the cotton ball in your mouth near the tooth that hurts and bite down to keep it in place. One caution: Don’t go to sleep with the cotton ball still in your mouth. The FDA no longer considers this treatment effective enough to recommend it, although some dentists still believe it has benefits.Clove oil is available at pharmacies and health food stores.

Pop in a cough drop. Cough drops or lozenges usually contain a small amount of anesthetic (menthol and sometimes benzocaine) — which means they may relieve minor tooth pain, too. Pop one or two in your mouth and suck on them (don’t chew!). Another solution? Apply a dab of Vick’s VapoRub on the outside of your cheek where your tooth hurts, then place a paper towel on your pillow and lie down on that side.

Flush it out. Sometimes, the root of your toothache is food that’s trapped between your teeth. In this case, try flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, or using interdental brushes (small brushes shaped like Christmas trees that work between the teeth). In fact, this home remedy can save you a trip to the dentist’s office — but if food is constantly getting stuck in your teeth, talk to your dentist, because there could be an issue with your gums that needs medical attention.

Try these other kitchen staples. Some other home remedies that have proven to help toothaches include applying a hot tea bag directly to the tooth. Tea contains tannic acid, which reduces swelling. Other solutions: A cucumber slice placed on the tooth or a cotton ball soaked in brandy - alcohol has numbing properties, too. Some people also report that garlic, onions, spinach, wheat grass, or a simple salt water rinse relieves tooth pain.

Home Remedies for Your Other Mouth Maladies

Canker sore? Use these OTC concoctions. Canker sores usually go away on their own — but the pain can be excruciating in the meantime. While you’re waiting for one to heal, you may find relief by applying a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half water to the sore with a cotton swab, then follow with a dot of Milk of Magnesia; you can repeat this up to four times a day. Another home remedy to try is a mixture of equal parts Milk of Magnesia and liquid Benadryl; gently swish the mixture around your mouth for 60 seconds and then spit it out.

Sensitive teeth? Try this toothpaste. If your tooth feels sensitive to pressure, or when it’s exposed to hot or cold temperatures, whitening toothpaste is a no-no (it can just make your teeth more sensitive). Instead, try this simple solution: Switch to a no-frills toothpaste or consider buying toothpaste made especially for sensitive teeth, Dr. Dodes says. “They have chemicals in them that desensitize the tooth,” he explains. If sensitivity persists, talk to your dentist, who can investigate the cause.

Got jaw pain? Eat this. Until you can get an appointment with your dentist to check out your jaw pain — or while you wait to see if the pain resolves on its own — switch to a diet of softer foods. “Don’t eat big, overstuffed sandwiches or hard bagels,” Dodes says. “Give yourself five or six days of eating a soft-food diet and see if it gets better. If you twisted your ankle, you wouldn’t run hurdles, would you? If it hurts, give it a break.” Just be sure to call your dentist if the jaw or tooth pain doesn’t go away.

Got swelling? Take these steps. Mouth pain is sometimes caused by swelling of soft tissues in the mouth. Swelling should be checked by a dentist because it could be a serious dental health issue, Dodes says. In the meantime, try taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). “Still, if you’re in enough pain that you need a pill,” Dodes says, “you better get to a doctor because dental pain tends to get worse and worse.”

Broken tooth? Do this ASAP. If you break a tooth, get to your dentist as soon as possible — this pearly-white problem needs immediate assistance. If you find the piece of tooth that broke off, you can preserve it at home by putting it in water or milk — don’t leave it on a counter, for instance, and never scrub it with cleanser, Dodes says. Sometimes dentists can bond the tooth back on. “By putting it in milk, you’re helping to keep the cells alive so that they will re-grow when it’s reattached.”

Diabetes and Your Smile

August 17th, 2017

By Laura Martin, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine

See original article from the ADA on MouthHealthy

Did you know that 29.1 million people living in the United States have diabetes? That’s 9.3% of the population. Approximately 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year—and 8.1 million people living with diabetes don’t even know they have it.

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. All food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.

So what does this have to do with that smile of yours — and how can you protect it? First, it’s important to understand the signs of diabetes and the roles they play in your mouth.

The Symptoms of Untreated Diabetes

The warning signs of diabetes affect every part of your body. After a blood test, you may be told by a doctor that you have high blood sugar. You may feel excessively thirsty or have to urinate a lot. Weight loss and fatigue are other common symptoms. Diabetes can also cause you to lose consciousness if your blood sugar falls too low.

If diabetes is left untreated, it can take a toll on your mouth as well. Here's how:

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry. (Dry mouth is also caused by certain medications.)
  • Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities.
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis).
  • You may have problems tasting food.
  • You may experience delayed wound healing.
  • You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

Why People with Diabetes Are More Prone to Gum Disease

All people have more tiny bacteria living in their mouth now than there are people on this planet. If they make their home in your gums, you can end up with periodontal disease. This chronic, inflammatory disease can destroy your gums, all the tissues holding your teeth and even your bones.

Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed. Especially with increasing age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk for gum problems.  In fact, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar control. As with all infections, serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums.

How Your Dentist Can Help You Fight Diabetes

Regular dental visits are important. Research suggests that treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar control in patients living with diabetes, decreasing the progression of the disease. Practicing good oral hygiene and having professional deep cleanings done by your dentist can help to lower your HbA1c. (This is a lab test that shows your average level of blood sugar over the previous three months. It indicates how well you are controlling your diabetes.)

Your Diabetes Dental Health Action Plan

Teamwork involving self-care and professional care from your dentist will be beneficial in keeping your healthy smile as well as potentially slowing progression of diabetes. Here are five oral health-related things you can do to for optimal wellness:

The Four Types of Teeth and How They Function

August 3rd, 2017

This article from EverydayHealth is so interesting! We all know the basics of what a tooth is, but do you know what they are made of?

Your teeth and the structure of your mouth play important roles in your ability to eat and speak and stay healthy.

Written by 

Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD

Most of us take our teeth for granted … until something goes wrong. Our teeth help us chew and digest food, play an important role in speech, and impact our health overall. And by brushing up on your dental health knowledge, you’ll be taking the first step toward giving your teeth the attention they deserve.

How much do you know about your pearly whites?

The Development of Teeth

Humans have two sets of teeth, primary (or baby) teeth and then permanent teeth, which develop in stages. Although the timing is different, the development of each of these sets of teeth is similar. Here are some facts about how people develop teeth:

  • Teeth tend to erupt in parallel, meaning that the top molar on your left side should grow in at about the same time as the top molar on the right.
  • Tooth development begins long before your first tooth becomes visible. For example, a baby’s first tooth appears at around six months of age, but development of those teeth actually begins during the early second trimester of pregnancy.
  • The crown of a tooth forms first, while the roots continue to develop even after the tooth has erupted.
  • The 20 primary teeth are in place by age 3 and remain until around 6 years of age when they begin to fall out to make way for the permanent set of teeth.
  • Adult teeth start to grow in between 6 and 12 years of age. Most adults have 32 permanent teeth.
  • Permanent teeth are larger and take longer to grow in than primary teeth.

The Parts of the Tooth

A tooth is divided into two basic parts: the crown, which is the visible, white part of the tooth, and the root, which you can’t see. The root extends below the gum line and anchors the tooth into the bone. Your teeth contain four kinds of tissue and each does a different job. These include:

  • Enamel. Enamel is the visible substance that covers the tooth crown. Harder than bone, enamel protects the tooth from decay. Enamel is made up of phosphorous and calcium.
  • Dentin. Underneath the enamel you find dentin, which is calcified and looks similar to bone. Dentin is not quite as hard as enamel, so it is at greater risk for decay should the enamel wear away.
  • Cementum. This tissue covers the tooth root and helps anchor it (cement it) into the bone. It is softer than enamel and dentin; the best way to protect this softer tissue from decay is by taking good care of your gums. Cementum has a light yellow color and is usually covered by the gums. But with inadequate dental care, the gums may become diseased and shrink, exposing the cementum to harmful plaque and bacteria.
  • Pulp. Pulp is found at the center of your tooth and contains the blood vessels, nerves, and other soft tissues that deliver nutrients and signals to your teeth.

Types of Teeth and What They Do

Teeth help you chew your food, making it easier to digest. Each type of tooth has a slightly different shape and performs a different job. Types of teeth include:

  • Incisors. Incisors are the eight teeth in the front and center of your mouth (four on top and four on bottom). These are the teeth that you use to take bites of your food. Incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt, at around 6 months of age for your first set of teeth, and between 6 and 8 years of age for your adult set.
  • Canines. Your four canines are the next type of teeth to develop. These are your sharpest teeth and are used for ripping and tearing food apart. Primary canines generally appear between 16 and 20 months of age with the upper canines coming in just ahead of the lower canines. In permanent teeth, the order is reversed. Lower canines erupt around age 9 with the uppers arriving between 11 and 12 years of age.
  • Premolars. Premolars, or bicuspids, are used for chewing and grinding food. You have four premolars on each side of your mouth, two on the upper and two on the lower jaw. The first premolars appear around age 10 and the second premolars arrive about a year later.
  • Molars. Primary molars are also used for chewing and grinding food. These appear between 12 and 15 months of age. These molars, also known as decidious molars, are replaced by the first and second permanent premolars (four upper and four lower). The permanent molars do not replace, but come in behind the primary teeth. The first molars erupt around 6 years of age (before the primary molars fall out) while the second molars come in between 11 and 13 years of age.
  • Third molars. Third molars are commonly known as wisdom teeth. These are the last teeth to develop and do not typically erupt until age 18 to 20, and some people never develop third molars at all. For those who do, these molars may cause crowding and need to be removed.

Your mouth is important. Don’t take your teeth or oral health for granted. For good dental health, brush and floss your teeth regularly, don't smoke, eat a healthy diet, and see your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and checkups. A healthy mouth makes for a healthy body ... and a pretty smile.

Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use – MouthHealthy

May 18th, 2017

Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use

View original article on Mouth Healthy!

Photo of child sucking thumb

Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for children. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects may make babies feel secure and happy and help them learn about their world.

Young children may also suck to soothe themselves and help them fall asleep.

How Can Thumbsucking Affect My Child's Teeth?

After permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

Pacifiers can affect the teeth essentially the same ways as sucking fingers and thumbs, but it is often an easier habit to break.

The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether or not dental problems may result. If children rest their thumbs passively in their mouths, they are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. Some aggressive thumbsuckers may develop problems with their baby (primary) teeth.

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children usually stop sucking between the ages of two and four years old, or by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. If you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth, or are concerned about your child’s thumbsucking consult your dentist.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumbsucking?

  • Praise your child for not sucking.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.
  • Your dentist can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

If these tips don’t work, remind the child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe a bitter medication to coat the thumb or the use of a mouth appliance.

Great article from MouthHealthy on Mouthguards!

April 20th, 2017

Mouthguards Prevent Dental Injuries - Association.

Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Smiling, talking, eating—everything would suddenly be affected. Knowing how to prevent injuries to your mouth and face is especially important if you participate in organized sports or other recreational activities.

Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. “Your top teeth take the brunt of trauma because they stick out more,” says Dr. Thomas Long, a private practice dentist and team dentist for the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team. “Your bottom teeth are a little more protected because they are further back.”

When Should You Wear a Mouthguard?

When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age.

While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, any athlete may experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.

Types of Mouthguards

The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-made mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard from the drugstore. Learn more about each option:
-Custom-made: These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions because they are individually created for fit and comfort.
-Boil and bite: These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. Always follow the manufacturers' instructions. CustMbite MVP and CustMbite Pro are a boil and bite mouthguards that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
-Stock: These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.

Protecting Your Braces

A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, which will help you avoid injuries to your gums and cheeks.

Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that will provide the right protection. Although some mouthguards only cover the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest that you use a mouthguard on the lower teeth if you have braces on these teeth.

If you have a retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during any contact sports.

Mouthguard Care and Replacement

Talk to your dentist about when is the right time to replace your mouthguard, but replace it immediately if it shows sign of wear, is damaged or ill fitting. Teens and children may need to replace their mouthguards more often because their mouths are still growing and changing.
-Between games, it’s important to keep your mouthguard clean and dry. Here are some tips for making sure your mouthguard is always ready to go
-Rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
-Regularly clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water. Then, rinse it thoroughly.
-During your regular dental checkups, bring your mouthguard for an evaluation. Your dentist may also be able to give it a thorough cleaning.
-Store and transport the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents so it can dry and keep bacteria from growing.
-Never leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water.
-Check fit and for signs of wear and tear to see if it needs replacing.
-Some mouthguards have fallen victim to family pets, who see them as chew toys. Store your mouthguard and case somewhere your pet cannot get to it.

Check out more from MouthHealthy and the American Dental Association

How much do you know about your toothbrush?

October 22nd, 2012

Taking care of your smile is nothing new! People have been brushing their teeth for thousands of years. In fact, the first “toothbrush” was created around 3000BC! Ancient civilizations used a thin twig with a frayed edge to rub against their teeth for cleaning.

The first toothbrush with bristles – similar to today’s toothbrushes – was invented in 1498 in China. Brushes were made out of bone or bamboo with bristles made from the hairs on the back of a hog’s neck.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the first nylon bristle toothbrush was introduced and people quickly became aware of practicing good oral hygiene.

Here are some other interesting facts about your toothbrush (and toothpaste):
• Most people are said to use blue toothbrushes over any other color
• The first toothpaste was used in 500 BC in China and India
• On average, children smile about 400 times per day
• Your toothbrush should be replaced every two months
• The first known toothpaste was used in 1780, Crest was introduced in 1955 and Colgate in 1873

Cold season is here, be prepared!

October 15th, 2012

Cold and flu season is here yet again. The folks at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that a common cold usually includes sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and coughing. Symptoms can last for up to two weeks.

To promote a healthy and clean environment, our entire staff give a great deal of attention to sanitation and sterilization in our office at all times, as well as following all requirements for sterilizing instruments and work surfaces. For the protection of other patients and our staff, we always ask that patients reschedule their appointments if they have any type of cold or illness that can infect others.

And remember to constantly wash your hands and avoid contact with those who are ill! Stay Healthy!

Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes: What’s the Difference?

September 25th, 2012

Everybody is jumping on the electric toothbrush bandwagon in recent years, with many experts in the dental field claiming electric toothbrushes provide superior dental care. It’s true that electric toothbrushes are recommended for those who can’t do a good job brushing manually or who have arthritis or other conditions. But manual toothbrushes do have some advantages, according to an article we recently found including:

• Cost. While electric toothbrushes may be expensive for many people, manual toothbrushes are both inexpensive and accessible.

• Less pressure on your teeth & gums. While we can feel the amount of pressure we’re using as we grasp our manual toothbrush, we can’t feel the pressure nearly as well with an electric toothbrush. Placing too much pressure on our teeth can wear away at the tooth enamel, which causes pain, sensitivity, as well as an increased risk of tooth decay.

• Simple to pack. Manual toothbrushes are easy to carry around for those business or family trips. People are less likely to let their good dental care habits lapse on vacation with a toothbrush that they can easily bring along!

• Better for kids. Learning at a young age how to properly use a manual toothbrush helps children get a feel for how to properly take care of their oral hygiene.

Electric toothbrushes, on the other hand, are more effective in removing plaque and are considered a better alternative to maintaining gum health. Remember, whether you choose a manual or an electric toothbrush, our team encourages you to choose one with soft bristles and be sure to change the bristles on the electric brush when they become worn down. We also encourage you to replace your toothbrush every three months, when the bristles are no longer straight and firm or after you recover from a cold.

Give our team a call if you have any questions. Or, feel free to connect with us on Facebook!

Happy brushing!

Proper Brushing and Flossing Techniques

September 18th, 2012

When it comes to the care of your teeth, proper brushing and flossing techniques do make a difference in the health of your mouth. Establishing a daily oral care routine should not be difficult. Unfortunately, you face an overload of information from advertisements touting the latest in brushing and flossing products.

Types of brushes:

Toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes and bristle styles. Here are some tips to help you choose.

- The ends of the bristles should be rounded; jagged ends can damage your gums.
- Most individuals will benefit from a soft bristled brush. Softer bristles will be gentler on tooth enamel, even if you have a heavy hand when brushing.
- The head of the toothbrush should fit comfortably in your mouth. If the head is too large, you may not be able to properly brush your back teeth.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Frayed or worn out bristles will do more damage than good.


Brushing techniques:

While getting your teeth clean is important, over-brushing can actually be damaging to your teeth and gums. Brushing too hard can wear away the tooth enamel and cause sensitivity.

- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface.
- Use short, gentle back and forth strokes.
- Clean all of the surfaces of your teeth. The inside, outside, and chewing surfaces are all important.
- To brush the inside surfaces of your front teeth hold the brush vertically. Use gentle up and down brush strokes.
- Do not forget to brush your tongue.
Types of floss:

- Floss is available as waxed or unwaxed string. Waxed floss may glide more smoothly between your teeth.
- The flavoring in floss is designed to make the process more enjoyable.
- Floss tape is used in the same manner as string.
- Floss picks can be useful in reaching back teeth or if you have dexterity problems.
Flossing techniques:

To use string floss you will need a piece that measures about 18 inches in length. Wrap the ends a couple of times around your middle or index fingers. Gently work the floss back and forth between each of your teeth. You should be making a “C” shape against the tooth surface.

Be careful not to cut into your gums while flossing. If you notice any bleeding of your gums, consult your dentist. We recommend that you floss your teeth once a day. The time of day and the brushing and flossing sequence do not matter.

Every individual does have different needs and we will work with you to determine what works best for your situation. If you have questions regarding brushing techniques or which floss or toothbrush to use, ask at your next visit. Keeping your mouth healthy will make your checkups a pleasant experience.

The Truth Behind Six Popular Dental Myths

September 4th, 2012

Myths about dentistry and general dental care abound. These myths are passed on by word of mouth and are presented as being factual; although they are typically inaccurate. There are dangers associated with dental misconceptions. By believing in these dental myths, you are placing your oral health at risk and you may not be receiving proper dental care. Find the answers behind many popular dental myths.

Myth: It is not important for young children to care for their baby teeth.

Fact: Although baby teeth are not permanent, long-term problems with permanent teeth can develop if baby teeth are not properly cared for. The malpositioning of permanent teeth, misalignment issues, and early orthodontic treatment are just a few of the concerns related to losing baby teeth too early as a result of tooth decay. It is crucial that children learn the basics of proper oral hygiene at an early age. Doing so will help them form permanent habits that are essential for oral health.

Myth: If you are not having problems with your teeth, seeing a dentist is not necessary.

Fact: Most dental issues are not evident in the early stages. It is only when they have progressed further that you start to notice there is a problem. In most cases, only a dentist can detect when there is a problem. Scheduling an appointment in our office twice a year for regular cleanings and exams is a vital component to your dental health. In this way, dental problems can be treated early before they become a serious concern and require a more advanced form of treatment.

Myth: You should avoid brushing and flossing if your gums are bleeding.

Fact: If your gums are bleeding, it is usually a warning sign of gum disease or gingivitis. You should continue to brush and floss your teeth gently during this time since poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of bleeding gums. If the bleeding worsens or continues to be a problem, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Myth: Chewing sugar-free gum is a good substitute for brushing your teeth.

Fact: Although chewing sugar-free gum offers the benefits of freshening your breath and minor teeth cleaning between meals, it should not be considered a substitute for brushing and flossing. Dental plaque and food particles can only be thoroughly removed by brushing and flossing.

Myth: Cavities are only a concern when you are a child.

Fact: Cavities can develop at any age. There are many situations and conditions that place both adults and elders at risk for the development of cavities. As an adult, you are more prone to developing receding gums, which can quickly result in tooth decay. Many adults and elders also take prescription medications that cause dry mouth. This can cause tooth decay as there is an insufficient amount of saliva within the mouth to wash away bacteria and neutralize acids.

Myth: Once you treat a decayed tooth, it will not become decayed again.

Fact: It is possible for other areas of the tooth to become decayed; although proper brushing and flossing will prevent the treated area of the tooth from becoming decayed again. If a filling gets old and begins to break down, there is a possibility that bacteria can become trapped inside and cause tooth decay.

Four Common Causes of Toothaches

August 29th, 2012

If you have ever suffered from a toothache, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Tooth pain is usually caused by irritation to the nerves in the roots of the teeth, although there are other potential sources of the pain as well. Fortunately, there are ways to both prevent and resolve a toothache, regardless of its cause.

 

Causes of Tooth Pain

Some of the most common causes of tooth pain include:

1) Tooth Decay – Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when bacteria erodes the enamel of the tooth, which can eventually expose the nerve. This is the most common cause of tooth pain.

2) Gum Disease – Also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria populate along and below the gum line.

3) Injury – An injury can include a small chip or a large break in the tooth.

4) Impaction – Teeth often become impacted beneath the surface of the gums. This condition is most common in molars, such as the wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth may cause no pain at all, or it could become extremely painful if it begins to affect the nerves and teeth around it.

 

Pain Resolution

Determining the source of your pain starts with a trip to the dentist. Usually, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination that may include X-rays. If your X-rays or examination reveal tooth decay, the solution may involve a simple filling, a root canal or even a tooth extraction. Your dentist will decide which option is best for you based on how advanced the tooth decay is, as well whether an infection is present within the tooth.

If, however, gum disease is causing your tooth pain, the solution may be as simple as a root planing and scaling, followed by administration of oral or topical antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your symptoms. If you have a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, your dentist may resolve your pain by either filling the crack, or covering the tooth with a crown designed to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If your dental X-rays reveal that you have an impacted tooth, you will most likely need to have it extracted to avoid causing damage or misalignment to the other teeth. Impacted teeth can also become infected, which is why it is important to remove impacted teeth before they begin to cause problems.

 

Prevention

Although there are ways of treating a toothache, the best way to treat it is by preventing it altogether. Some causes of tooth pain are not preventable, such as an impacted tooth or a predisposition to tooth sensitivity. However, tooth decay and gum disease are easily prevented by using good hygienic practices at home and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. By brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, as well as wearing protective mouthguards when participating in high impact activities, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing tooth pain in the future.

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