Stress and Our Mouths

MENTAL WELL-BEING or lack thereof can often have an impact on physical health. Among those impacts are the ways that oral health can be affected by stress, and we want to make sure our patients are aware of the connection so they have more tools to fight back. Grinding Your Teeth? Stress May Be Behind It. The technical term for habitual teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching is bruxism, and clenching and grinding are natural responses to stress and frustration for some people. Common signs of bruxism include flattened chewing surfaces of the teeth and a sore jaw, and the risks to oral health from this habit are significant. People with bruxism may not even realize they’re doing it, especially if they do it in their sleep rather than during the day. Stress Can Compound TMD Symptoms Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a disorder of the jaw joint, muscles, and nerves associated with chronic facial

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5 Weird and Fun Mouth Facts

HOW MUCH DO you know about your mouth? Prepare to know a lot more, because we’re about to share a bunch of strange and fascinating mouth trivia. Let’s get started! #1: Our sense of taste needs saliva to work! We have approximately 10,000 taste buds in our mouths, most of which are on our tongues, but they can’t taste anything until molecules from the food we eat dissolve in our spit! Only then can the chemicals be detected by receptors on taste buds. #2: The bumps on the tongue are called papillae. You might think that the little bumps on your tongue are your taste buds, but they’re actually structures called papillae. Many taste buds are located on these papillae, along with temperature sensors, but individual taste buds are too small to see. Papillae give our tongues their texture, which is important for eating. The downside of papillae is that the rough texture

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Coronavirus Health and Safety Tips

CORONAVIRUS IS AFFECTING all of our lives right now as we work together to slow the spread of the virus, keep everyone safe, and stay positive. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of misinformation going around, and we want to make sure our patients are well-informed. Symptoms and Testing The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, shortness of breath, a dry cough, and sometimes tiredness. Don’t confuse it with seasonal allergies, which mostly involve congestion, itchy throat, and sneezing, or the flu, which involves vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, aches, and fatigue. Until tests for COVID-19 are widely available, only people exhibiting the typical COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing. The number of confirmed cases is likely to go up as more tests become available. Higher numbers might seem alarming, but remember that it won’t represent an increase in the number of people who have COVID-19, it will represent an increase in

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Sleep Apnea, Jaws, and Gums

IN JUST THE UNITED STATES, sleep apnea affects over 18 million adults and up to 20 percent of children who habitually snore. Sleep apnea is a disorder involving brief, repeated interruptions to normal breathing during sleep. In addition to being potentially life-threatening, this disorder can be very harmful to oral health. The Different Types of Sleep Apnea There are different ways sleep apnea can occur. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), caused by a blocked airway — typically the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which then collapses against the back of the throat, leaving no space for air to get through. A rarer form is central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to signal the respiratory muscles to keep breathing. Some people experience a combination of the two, which is called complex sleep apnea. In any type of sleep apnea, the brain reacts with alarm to the lack of

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Oral Health and Eating Disorders

OUR BODIES NEED a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in order to function effectively, all the way to the cellular level. Eating enough food and the right types of food is crucial to stay healthy, and this is a big part of what makes eating disorders such a dangerous problem. Not only is it harmful to overall health, though; it can also damage teeth and gums. The Role of Malnutrition in Poor Overall Health Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, are often devastating to the mental, emotional, and physical health of the people who struggle with them. They impact the entire body, including the mouth. The dental health effects aren’t always the first ones people think of when discussing eating disorders, but as dental health professionals, we want to give our patients as much information about this as possible. How Anorexia Starves the Oral Tissues The eating disorder anorexia

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Spotlight on Men’s Oral Health

WE SHOULD ALL BE taking good care of our teeth and gums, but did you know that this can mean different things for men than for women? That’s right: one of the ways men and women are different is their oral health, which is why we’re giving guys some tips for how to keep those handsome smiles clean and healthy. Make Brushing and Flossing a Priority One major difference between men and women’s oral health is that men have a tendency to be less diligent in taking care of their smiles than women — up to 20 percent less likely to brush twice a day, and less likely to change their toothbrushes regularly. This is such a simple problem to address: just make sure you’re taking the time every morning and evening to brush! Flossing once a day is important too. Oral Disease Risk Factors for Men On average, men are more likely

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What to Do When a Toothache Strikes

TOOTHACHES CAN HAPPEN for a number of reasons. It’s important to know what to do about them, because they don’t always happen when the dentist’s office is open. Do you have a plan for how to deal with an after-hours toothache? Major Causes of Toothaches Tooth decay is the main culprit behind a painful tooth, but there are others too, from gum disease to pulp inflammation to dental abscess to an actual injury to the tooth. Teeth that are impacted in the jaw can also be painful. In addition to all these, tooth sensitivity can be uncomfortable, and sometimes the problem traces back to simple congestion or a sinus infection. (INSERT VIDEO HERE)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1t56abWNJQ Managing Dental Pain Until the Appointment If at all possible, come to us right away with your dental pain, but as we mentioned before, toothaches don’t always respect office hours. Here are a few things you can do to

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What Makes Teeth Sensitive?

IF YOU CAN’T REALLY enjoy ice cream because every bite sends a nasty jolt through your teeth, then you know what it’s like to deal with tooth sensitivity. You aren’t alone in that; at least one in eight people in the U.S. has sensitive teeth, including kids. So why does this happen to so many of us? Dental Anatomy 101 To understand how teeth become sensitive, it helps to know a little about the structure of a tooth. The part above the gums is the crown, which is made of three layers. The outermost layer is the tooth enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body. Beneath that is the softer dentin layer, which is a lot like bone. The innermost layer is the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Exposed Nerves and Tooth Sensitivity The way the nerves in our dental pulp detect what’s going on at the surface

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Fluoride and Cavity Prevention

IF YOU LOOK AT ANY tube of toothpaste with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, you’ll see fluoride listed as the active ingredient. Trace amounts of fluoride are also added to the drinking water in many communities to further promote strong and healthy teeth. But what is fluoride and how does it work? A Brief History of Fluoride in Drinking Water First, let’s take a look back at the fascinating history of this mineral. It all starts in Colorado Springs at the turn of the 20th century. Dentists in the town encountered numerous cases of “Colorado brown stain” — tooth discoloration that, bizarrely, was connected to a lower rate of cavities. Today, we call that fluorosis. Eventually, they traced it back to the water supply and discovered naturally occurring fluoride to be the cause. Dentists were curious to see whether it was possible to keep the cavity prevention without any of the staining

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Bleeding Gums: Causes and Treatment

BLEEDING GUMS ARE the most common symptom of gum disease, but that’s not the only thing that can cause this problem. Let’s take a closer look at bleeding gums, the various causes, and what we can do about it. Gingivitis and Periodontitis Over time, plaque (a sticky, bacteria-filled film that coats our teeth) builds up along our gumlines if we aren’t careful enough in our brushing and flossing routines. Eventually, plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates the gums, making them more likely to bleed and leading to gingivitis, or the early stage of gum disease. More advanced gum disease is periodontitis, where the infection impacts the jaw and supportive tissues connecting the teeth to the gums as well as the gums themselves. Tooth loss is a major concern at this stage, so don’t let it get this far! Vitamin C and K Deficiencies If your gums are bleeding but you don’t have gum

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