Tips to Keeping Your Smile Bright For a Lifetime

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Keep your family’s gums and teeth healthy for a lifetime by following these 10 tips for good oral health. You’ll help them keep their smiles bright, avoid toothaches and cavities, and even improve their overall health.

Good oral hygiene can be maintained by spending a few minutes each day on flossing and brushing, along with making smart choices about what you eat and drink. In fact, just about all gum disease and tooth decay can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. Additionally, recent research has linked gum disease to other health issues, including an elevated chance of heart disease.

Here’s 10 tips to help your family maintain good oral hygiene from their early years to retirement and beyond.

Begin at an early age. Your child’s first tooth will appear around six months, and that is when you should start your child’s dental care. Start by wiping their teeth with a clean, damp cloth or an extra-soft toothbrush. Once they reach the age of 2, let them try brushing their teeth themselves while you supervise. If you begin when they are young, you can help your child not be one of the 50 percent of kids between 12 and 15 who have cavities.

Get sealed. Dental sealants are thin protective coatings that your dentist applies to your child’s back teeth to prevent decay. A good time to do this is when you child’s permanent molars come in, which is usually around 6.

Be a friend to fluoride. The good news is that three out of four citizens of the United States drinks water that is fluoridated. But if you drink mainly bottled water, you’re skipping the fluoride, and missing out on the enamel-strengthening fluoride provides. Most toothpastes and mouth rinses have fluoride in them, and you can ask your dentist about having fluoride applied to your teeth the next time you are in for a visit.

Practice a 2+1 regimen. Get in the habit – and stay in the habit – of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Plus, be sure to switch to a new toothbrush every three months.

Be a swisher or a chewer After meals, swish your mouth with an antibacterial rinse and/or chew sugar-free gum. The antibacterial rinse will kill bacteria in your mouth, and they are the initial culprit in the formation of a cavity. Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva to your mouth, and saliva washes away that dreaded bacteria and the acids they produce.

Use a mouth guard. If you have a son or daughter playing contact sports, then invest in a custom-fitted mouth guard to ensure their future oral health. Your dentist can make a custom fitting and order a mouth guard for them at an affordable cost.

Give up the tobacco. Tobacco and good oral health do not go well together. Smoking – or chewing tobacco – inevitably leads to stained teeth and boosts your risk of gum disease and oral cancer. If you use tobacco, stop. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start.

Be a smart eater. Your teeth and gums will love you if you eat a healthy diet. Your gums and teeth will get all the nutrients they need if you stick to a well-balanced diet heavy on whole foods. And eat fish – the omega-3 fats found in fish have been shown to reduce inflammation, which will lower your risk of gum disease.

Say no to sugary foods. The bacteria in your mouth (remember them) love sugar, because they consume it and then produce acids. Those acids attack your tooth’s enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. Two sugar-filled items to really avoid are sugary drinks (soft drinks and fruit drinks), which you tend to sip and thus raise the acid levels in your mouth for an extended period of time, and sticky candies, which attach to your teeth.

See your dentist regularly. Make sure to see your dentist every six months for a hygiene visit and a check-up. That way, any plaque that you haven’t been able to remove will be removed, and any signs of decay will be spotted. Your dentist will also check for any signs of oral cancer or gum disease, and if you are grinding your teeth.

SOURCE: WebMD

What You Need to Know About Bruxism

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If you are one of those folks who regularly grind your teeth, then your condition is called bruxism. It can lead to damage to your teeth and other oral health issues.

So why do people grind their teeth? Generally, teeth grinding or clenching is from stress or anxiety and it usually occurs at night when you’re sleeping. You’re more apt to suffer from bruxism if you have an abnormal bite or if you are missing teeth or have crooked teeth.

You probably suffer from bruxism if you have a constant, dull headache or your jaw is regularly sore. Also, your loved one may hear you at night when you are sleeping and grinding your teeth. If you do think that you may have bruxism, consult with your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He will examine your jaw and mouth for signs of grinding and look for abnormalities and/or tenderness in your jaw and teeth.

We see some patients at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs who come in with teeth that have been fractured, loosened or are even missing because of a long-term history of grinding their teeth. Sometimes their teeth have been ground down to mere stumps. The solution? Crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, and partial or full dentures.

Additionally, health issues stemming from bruxism’s impact on your jaw can include hearing loss, worsening of TMD and TMJ, and changes in your face’s appearance.

So what can you do to stop grinding your teeth or reduce its impact?

Have your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs fit you with a night mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

Find ways to reduce your stress if that is a contributing factor to your bruxism. Depending on your personal situation, counseling for stress, regular exercise, physical therapy, and prescription muscle relaxants are some of the options you may consider.

Cut back from your diet– or cut out – foods and drinks that have caffeine. These include colas, coffee and coffee.

Skip the alcohol because you grind your teeth more intensely after consuming alcohol.

Avoid chewing anything that isn’t food – thinks like pencils or pen caps. Chewing gum can also be a problem since it makes your jaw muscles more used to clenching and increases the likelihood that you will grind your teeth.

Teach yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. If you position the tip of your tongue between your teeth while you’re awake, you’ll train your jaw muscles to relax. At night, hold a warm washcloth against your check in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles.

SOURCE: WebMD

Is Bruxism Impacting Your Oral Health?

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Unless you work in the dental profession, the odds are good that you don’t know what bruxism means. But if you suffer from the problem, you definitely know you have it and probably wish you could find effective treatment.

So what is bruxism? Simply put, it is teeth grinding. A little of it won’t hurt your oral health and is fairly common. But if you are someone who constantly grinds their teeth (primarily at night when you are asleep), you can wear your health down in multiple ways. Because most people grind when they are not awake, it generally isn’t obvious what dental issue is being created by their problem.

But once you get some insight into what causes bruxism and how to prevent it, you can begin to work with your dentist to address the issue and improve your oral health (and overall health).

So What Exactly is Bruxism?

In short, bruxism is a condition characterized by the clenching or grinding of teeth. When it affects you at night, it is called sleep bruxism. However, you may also suffer from this condition during the day when you are wide awake. Symptoms may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching (often loud enough to wake others)
  • Teeth that are chipped, fractured, flattened or loose
  • Sensitivity of the teeth
  • Tightness or soreness in the jaw or face
  • A dull earache or headache
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

What Causes Bruxism?

Medical science hasn’t quite figured out the exact cause of bruxism. Often health professionals find it extremely difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for bruxism.

However, a number of physical and psychological causes have been strongly linked to bruxism:

  • Emotions – Anxiety, anger, stress or frustration are all triggers of bruxism.
  • Concentrating on a Task – Some people grind or clench their teeth to reduce pressure or help them concentrate. Often the person is unaware they are doing this.
  • Malocclusion – Poor teeth alignment (malocclusion) may develop bruxism.
  • Sleep Apnea – This condition can exacerbate bruxism.
  • Additional Complications – Specific psychiatric medications, complications from other medical disorders, and even acid reflux can exacerbate teeth grinding.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Don’t panic if you suffer from bruxism. Often people grow out of the disorder, while others suffer a minimal form of the condition and don’t need treatment. But if you do need treatment, there are a range of options to choose from:

  • Dental Approaches – A visit to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can give you access to splints and mouth guards to prevent damage to your teeth. Of course, you can also consult your dentist to determine if misalignment is causing your problems and, if it is, you can determine an appropriate treatment solution.
  • Therapies – For bruxism due to psychological factors, stress management, behavior therapy, and/or biofeedback may help address the underlying cause and eliminate teeth grinding in the process.
  • Medications – Medications aren't a common treatment for bruxism but in some extreme cases, doctors will prescribe muscle relaxants or Botox injections to relax the muscles and prevent grinding.

By better understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments of bruxism, you can ensure that you find the relief you need, protect your smile from damage, and rest easy knowing that grinding isn't wearing down your health.

Sources: MayoClinic.org, WebMD.com

Is Bruxism Damaging Your Health?

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Grinding Your Teeth – Bruxism – Can Lead to a Host of Oral Health Issues

Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.

How Do I Find Out if I Grind My Teeth?

Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.

Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?

In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear their teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.

Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.

What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?

Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.

If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.

Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:

  • Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
  • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid excessive chewing of gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

 

 

 

 

SOURCE: WebMD