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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What Builds a Healthy Smile?

WE ALL KNOW how important daily brushing and flossing are to a growing child’s smile. We know about scheduling regular dental appointments, and hopefully we know that cutting back on sugar and keeping it to mealtimes instead of snacks throughout the day is also important. But what about the vitamins and minerals that help build those healthy smiles in the first place? Vitamins for Oral Health What keeps saliva flowing so it can protect our teeth and gums? Vitamin A! Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps our bodies heal and fight inflammation. When kids don’t get enough, their gums could become more prone to bleeding and their teeth can become looser. Vitamin D signals our intestines to absorb vitamins into the bloodstream and helps our bones stay dense and strong. Vitamins B2, 3, and 12 are important for reducing the risk of developing canker sores in the mouth, and

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Quit That Ice-Chewing Habit!

WHAT’S SO BAD about chewing ice? It can actually do a lot of permanent damage to teeth, and yet many people have a habit of chewing ice that can be difficult to quit. Let’s look closer at ice chewing and its effects on dental health. Compulsive Ice Eating, or Pagophagia The scientific name for compulsive ice eating is pagophagia. For some people, it goes beyond the level of a bad habit and actually indicates a psychological disorder called pica. Pica is the compulsion to eat non-food items such as dirt, clay, hair, or ice, and it is sometimes caused by a nutritional deficiency. How Iron Deficiency Anemia Leads to Eating Ice Recent studies have found a connection between the compulsive eating of ice and iron deficiency anemia, a condition that affects 3% of men and 20% of women (a number that goes up to 50% for pregnant women). What do iron levels

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Protecting Kids from Dental Injuries

BEING A KID involves lots of scraped knees and bumps and bruises from running around and discovering the world. Parents want their kids to enjoy everything childhood has to offer, but preferably while avoiding some of its downsides, such as preventable tooth injuries. What can we do to keep our kids’ teeth safe? Here are a few tips to follow. Common Causes of Childhood Tooth Injuries Whether our kids are playing in the backyard or at a playground with friends, there are a few simple ways we can keep their teeth safe. First, it’s important to know the common causes of tooth injuries. Babies and toddlers receive the most tooth injuries in the bathtub, because it’s very easy for them to fall in a wet, slippery porcelain environment. We can minimize the risk by keeping a close eye on them when they’re in the tub. Anything meant to be thrown, like

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The Impact of Chemistry on Oral Health

HOW MUCH DO you remember from learning about the pH scale in science class? Don’t worry; if you forgot all of it, we’ll give you a little refresher, because acids and bases are pretty important when it comes to the health of our teeth and gums. A Crash Course in the pH Scale The pH scale is how we measure how acidic or basic a substance is. The scale goes from 1 to 14. Neutral substances (like water) have a pH of 7, while highly acidic things are lower on the scale and highly basic things are higher on the scale. To give you an idea of where some common substances land, orange juice ranges from 3.3 to 4.2 and stomach acid is all the way down between 1.5 and 2.5. Soap is mildly basic at between 9 and 10, and bleach is a powerful base at 12.5. What pH is best for

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The Role of Saliva

WHAT IS SPIT FOR? It’s a pretty important question in the realm of oral health. People tend to think of saliva in a negative context if they think about it at all, but without spit, we would have a hard time chewing, swallowing, or even tasting our food. We also wouldn’t be able to speak clearly, and our teeth and gums would be much more vulnerable to problems like gum disease and tooth decay. Healthy Saliva Production Our saliva is produced continuously by salivary glands in our cheeks and beneath our tongues, and average output ranges from two to six cups a day. About 98% of saliva is water, but the final 2% is crucial, because it’s made up of proteins, electrolytes, digestive enzymes that start breaking down food, antimicrobial factors that fight germs, and even minerals to keep our tooth enamel strong! Saliva Works in Different Phases Depending on how far

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The First Woman to Earn a Dental Degree

IT’S WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, which makes it a great time to celebrate a pretty awesome lady: Lucy Hobbs Taylor, DDS, the first woman to earn a dental degree in North America. Who Was Lucy Hobbs Taylor? Born in 1833, Lucy developed a passion for medicine in her 20s while working as a teacher. She was rejected by a medical school because of her gender and advised to try dentistry instead, but she faced multiple rejections there too. 😕 Lucy’s Dental Education Undaunted, she found a professor who would teach her privately and opened her own practice at age 28. It didn’t take long after that for her to be recognized by her male peers for her skill and gentle chair-side manner, and she was finally accepted into the Ohio College of Dental Surgery, from which she received her degree in 1866. 🙌 The Student Becomes the Teacher The next year, Lucy

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Canker Sores: Triggers and Remedies

GETTING A CANKER sore can mean days of distracting discomfort. Canker sores are small, shallow sores that develop on the inside of our lips or cheeks, and they can make it difficult to eat and even talk. Where do these awful ulcers come from and what can we do about them? 5 Common Canker Sore Triggers Most canker sores come from one of these five causes: A tissue injury, such as when we bite our lip or cheek. When it swells up, it compounds the issue by making it easy to accidentally bite it again! Prolonged high stress levels put a real strain on the immune system, which makes the mouth more vulnerable to developing sores. Being sick also strains the immune system, which is why we can be more likely to develop a canker sore in addition to the main infection we’re already fighting. When we eat foods that are highly

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Oral Health in Cold and Flu Season

WHAT DOES A TOOTHBRUSH have to do with cold and flu season? More than you’d think! It’s never fun to battle a cold or a bout of flu, but that’s no reason to slack off on taking care of our teeth and gums. Feel Better Through Dental Hygiene It can feel like a lot of work to keep up with brushing and flossing when we’re not feeling well, but it’s worth it. Maintaining these simple daily habits is still important. They help us feel more normal, refreshed, and rejuvenated, and when we feel unwell, they can give us a small sense of accomplishment that does a lot for our overall sense of wellbeing. And getting rid of more oral bacteria can only help by giving your immune system less work to do! Stuffy Noses Can Lead to Cavities? Indirectly, not being able to breathe through our noses does make us more vulnerable

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Eating Disorders Versus Oral Health

WHEN WE THINK of the damage that eating disorders can do, we probably first think of the psychological toll and life-threatening malnutrition. However, eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia can also be very hard on the oral health of those who struggle with them. Healthy teeth and gums require a variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in addition to regular brushing and flossing, so not eating well or enough is a serious problem. How Malnutrition Harms Oral Tissues Anorexia nervosa is characterized by extremely limited food intake, which may be paired with compulsive exercising, purging, or even both. The way anorexia harms oral health is through malnutrition. The bones of the jaw can develop osteoporosis without sufficient nutrients, which increases the risk of tooth loss. Without enough fluids, the salivary glands can’t produce enough saliva, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth makes both tooth decay and gum disease more likely because

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