Managing That Halloween Sweet Tooth

HALLOWEEN IS OUR favorite spooky time of year, but when it comes to sugar’s effects on teeth, all that candy can be downright scary. The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that it feeds harmful oral bacteria that excrete acid, and the acid erodes enamel and leads to tooth decay. So how can we keep our costumed Halloween adventures clear of tooth decay?

Ranking Candy On Dental Health

Very few houses give away treats like sugar-free xylitol gum to trick-or-treaters, so the chances are slim that the candy will actually be healthy. However, some types of sugary candy are worse than others or present different kinds of problems.

  • Hard candy is a problem because there’s a risk of breaking our teeth if we chew it, but sucking on it isn’t safe either because that means holding a source of sugar in our mouths for an extended period.
  • Sour candies are like a double attack against dental health, because not only do they contain a lot of sugar to feed the bacteria, but they are also highly acidic so they can harm our enamel directly!
  • Sticky or gummy candy is especially bad for teeth because it remains stuck there, feeding the bacteria for a long time and giving them a larger opportunity to attack the enamel.
  • The good news is that the least harmful sugary candy is chocolate! It doesn’t stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar will be in it, so aim for dark chocolate.

Reducing The Candy Quantity

Being picky about which types of candy we eat is one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but an even better way to do that is by simply eating less candy. As parents, we can help our children out with this by coming up with a plan before trick-or-treating time. We could let them trade the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize or limit the number of houses they visit. We just have to make sure to discuss the plan with them in advance.

More Tooth-Healthy Strategies

There are a few other simple things you can do to reduce the dental effects of all that Halloween candy. You can drink more water to rinse out the sugar, limit the frequency of candy consumption more than the quantity, and wait thirty minutes after eating candy to brush your teeth. The reason for that last one is that it takes your saliva about half an hour to stabilize the pH of your mouth after eating sugar.

Keeping Teeth Healthy Year-Round

The Halloween season will come to an end, but the job of keeping our teeth healthy is never done! Make sure you’re always brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, keeping those sugary treats to a minimum, and scheduling regular dental visits!

Have a spooky Halloween!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Rescue Your Tooth With Root Canal Therapy

TEETH ARE ALIVE, just like every other part of the body. That means they are susceptible to infection. Whenever an infection becomes severe enough, the tainted part has to go or else all the surrounding tissue will be compromised as well and the patient’s life will be at risk! That’s where a root canal comes in.

 

What Is A Root Canal?

Root canals are a way of getting rid of the infection in a tooth without getting rid of the actual tooth. A root canal won’t save your tooth—by the time you need one, it’s too late for that, but it will allow you to keep it.

A dentist or endodontist will drill into the tooth to reach the infected pulp at its core. Next, the pulp is removed, leaving the tooth hollow. After the space is flushed out, the root is filled with sealer and the crown with cement, and the whole tooth is capped off with an artificial crown. This procedure ensures that no more bacteria can get inside the tooth and minimizes the chances of the tooth breaking.

To get a better understanding of what’s involved in root canal treatment, check out the video below:

When Do You Need One?

The way teeth become infected is through decay, cavities, or cracks from an injury, which means it’s usually an avoidable problem. If you’re brushing and flossing properly, your teeth are unlikely to reach a level of decay that allows bacteria to reach the living dental pulp inside them. However, some people are genetically more susceptible to tooth decay.

Infection can lead to an abscess at the tooth’s root or death of the pulp. If you have tooth decay extensive enough to require a root canal, you’ll probably be experiencing significant pain in and around the infected tooth. With an abscess, there will also be swelling and inflammation. Tooth pain alone isn’t always a sign of an infection, but it’s always worth checking out to make sure.

Other symptoms of tooth infection include:

  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to pressure (particularly when chewing)
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes under jaw
  • Rush of foul-tasting fluid and pain relief if abscess drains

Before You Get A Root Canal…

Don’t fear a root canal, the experience is often surprisingly positive with no pain and less noise than many other dental procedures.  We perform many root canals in our practice and send you to a specialist if we are not able to complete the procedure for you in a timely manner.  If you decide not a proceed with a root canal you will need to explore all your tooth replacement options including removable partial dentures, porcelain bridges, and dental implants.  You would not want to remove the tooth without knowing what replacement option you will pursue, you also would want to be sure to have the socket of the tooth preserved to allow for the tooth replacement.  Without socket preservation and tooth replacement, you will loose jaw bone and teeth may shift jeopardizing other teeth and your oral health.

Keep Those Teeth Healthy!

Remember that preventing the problem is always better than needing a solution! Healthy teeth don’t need root canals, so keep brushing twice a day and flossing daily and cut back on sugary drinks so that your teeth will stay healthy!

We love our patients! Thank you for choosing our practice.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

The Daily Grind Of Bruxism

MOST PEOPLE GRIND OR CLENCH their teeth briefly when annoyed or in a tense situation. That level of teeth-grinding isn’t really something to worry about. It’s when you do it far more frequently, often without even realizing it (you might even do it in your sleep!), that it can potentially become a serious problem. The medical term for this kind of teeth-grinding is bruxism.

Bruxism: What and Why

Sleep bruxism (or nocturnal bruxism) can happen as a side-effect of snoring and sleep apnea, and awake bruxism (or diurnal bruxism) can happen as a side-effect of stress in your daily life. However, not everyone with a sleep disorder or a stressful life has bruxism, and not everyone with bruxism has a sleep disorder or a ton of stress. Another possible cause is improperly aligned teeth.

Because there isn’t one clear cause, treatment can sometimes be tricky, and the focus is often on the symptoms and minimizing the damage more than curing the underlying condition. Even if you aren’t aware that you’re grinding your teeth, any of the following symptoms could point to bruxism:

  • Sore jaw (with sleep bruxism, your jaw will be most sore when you wake up, whereas with awake bruxism, it’ll be most sore before you go to bed)
  • Frequent headaches from all the strain
  • Hypertrophy in your jaw muscles (because you’re giving them quite the workout!)
  • Shifting teeth
  • Flattened chewing surfaces of teeth
  • Exposed dentin and increased tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped/cracked/split teeth
  • Tooth loss

Your Next Steps

Depending on which type of bruxism you have, there are a variety of treatments or approaches to either reduce the grinding or the damage it causes.

Behavioral Therapy

With behavioral therapy or habit-reversal techniques, you can become more aware of your clenching/grinding habits and consciously work to stop. This one works better when you have awake bruxism than sleep bruxism because it’s obviously much harder to control your jaw muscles in your sleep.

Relaxation

Particularly for stress-related bruxism, relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, massages, warm baths, calming music, and a full night’s sleep can help you de-stress and stop grinding.

Wearing A Mouthguard

A mouthguard or splint serves as a pillow between your upper and lower teeth. It won’t stop the grinding, but it protects your teeth from damage.

Medication As Prescribed By Your Doctor

Muscle relaxant medication, as prescribed by your general practitioner, might help you unclench while you sleep. However, medicine is rarely used to treat bruxism, especially if other treatments are helping.

Check out this video for more information and a few other ideas on how to combat bruxism or minimize the damage:

We Can Help!

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be due to bruxism and you should schedule an appointment so we can make a plan for how to address it. You don’t want to leave it untreated until it gets to the point where it’s damaging your teeth.

We love our patients!

Top image by Flickr user Sean_Wright used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Build Mouth-Healthy Habits For Your Kids

AS PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN, you probably feel like you barely have time to take proper care of your own teeth most days, so wrestling your kids into the bathroom to brush their teeth too can seem close to impossible. Parenting will always have its struggles, but this is one we can help you out with.

Yes, Healthy Baby Teeth Are A Priority

Some parents might mistakenly believe that it isn’t important to take care of their kids’ baby teeth—they’re just going to be replaced in a few years, right? While it’s true that they’ll get their adult teeth eventually, baby teeth serve the important function of setting the spacing for those adult teeth.

It’s better to invest the time it takes to properly care for your children’s teeth now rather than increasing the chances that they’ll need years of expensive orthodontics as teenagers.

Watch the video below to learn how to properly brush your child’s teeth:

Now that we’ve seen the proper technique, how do we get those toddlers to sit still long enough to brush their teeth?

Handy Tricks For Squirmy Toddlers

When it comes to brushing a toddler’s teeth, sometimes things don’t go as planned, but that’s okay! The most important thing is not missing any brushings.

  • Don’t feel like you can only brush their teeth in the bathroom. If you have a toothbrush on hand, you can use it wherever you are. It’s easier to ambush the three-year-old when you don’t have to drag him all the way to the sink.
  • Out of toothpaste? Brush anyway! Maybe you can’t find it one day, maybe you ran out, or maybe the entire bottle was used to make a portrait on the bathroom mirror or floor. Just brush their teeth without toothpaste until you can restock.
  • Encourage them to “brush” a toy’s teeth if they’re too young to brush their own teeth without help but old enough to understand what a toothbrush is for. Help your kids see how important dental hygiene is by having them take care of their favorite toy’s smile! Use an old toothbrush and skip the water and toothpaste.
  • Play fun music or use an hourglass to get them to that two-minute goal. These might work better than a digital timer.
  • Brush in front of the mirror. Instead of parking them on the toilet to get them to hold still, let your child see the toothbrushing process in the mirror, like they will when they can do it themselves. They’ll feel much more involved this way, and they won’t associate brushing with using the potty.
  • Treat brushing like a priority. Don’t act impatient about it around your kids, or they’ll get the message that brushing is an inconvenience.
  • Have fun! Brushing shouldn’t feel like a punishment for them. Even if they sometimes make the process difficult for you, the more you can act like brushing their teeth is fun, the happier they’ll be to cooperate!

Building A Life-Long Habit

Brushing your children’s teeth is about instilling them with good habits they’ll maintain for the rest of their lives. Do you have a good tooth-brushing routine already? We’d love to hear about it. Otherwise, let us know which of these strategies helped you and your kids the most!

Thank you for being part of our practice

Top image by Flickr user Abigail Batchelder used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Filling In The Gaps: Dental Implant Basics

DENTAL IMPLANTS ARE permanent false teeth designed to look just like your other teeth. They’re a popular alternative to dentures or bridges, and the American Dental Association considers them to be “one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years.”

How Do They Work?

Unlike dentures and bridges, which don’t feel or look entirely real and must be removed and cleaned outside of your mouth daily, dental implants are surgically affixed to your jaw. In place of the roots your native teeth have, the new tooth is held in place by a surgical screw. The crown is carefully selected to match the shape and color of the surrounding teeth, so it blends right in.

There are two basic types of implantendosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are surgically attached directly to the jaw bone with a titanium post, and the entire implant structure (apart from the crown itself) is hidden under the gums and looks and feels just like any other tooth. Subperiosteal implants consist of a metal frame that fits onto the jaw bone rather than screwing into it, and these are a good option if you lack the bone structure necessary for endosteal implants.

Watch the video below to see how titanium implants are made:

Who Are They For?

If you’ve lost teeth due to injury or disease, dental implants could restore your smile more effectively than other options. However, not everyone with missing teeth is a candidate. Just as with real teeth, oral health is crucial to successful implants. Before you get an implant, you need good, strong bone and healthy gums to support it, and once it’s in, you have to keep it clean by brushing and flossing.

But What About Braces?

If you don’t already have your implants but need orthodontics to straighten your teeth, it’s usually best to do braces first. Because implants are screwed into your jaw bone, they will not move, which can make them excellent anchors to help move your other teeth where they need to go—but only if they’re in the right place to begin with. If not, your existing implants may need to be removed and then reattached after you’ve finished with your braces.

Still Have Questions? We Have Answers!

If you’re thinking about getting dental implants or know someone who is, we can answer any questions you may have about them. We’re here to help you achieve the smile of your dreams!

We love our patients!

Top image by Flickr user Sharon Mollerus used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.