When Stress Takes a Toll on Your Teeth

When you are stressed, you may feel it in your teeth. Your muscles tend to tighten; the same concept applies to your jaw muscles and can result in teeth grinding and/or clenching in some individuals. While grinding and clenching can occur subconsciously, there are many self-help techniques you can embrace to decrease these detrimental habits. Below are some suggested exercises for stretching the jaw muscles and reducing tension in the jaw to help you relax when and where you need to.

Self-Massage:

Massaging your jaw can help your jaw muscles relax and reduce the tension in this area. Additionally, holding a warm towel against your jaw can also promote muscle relaxation.

Personalized Nutrition:

Personalized nutrition involves tailoring a diet specific to your own particular needs. Decreasing the intake of caffeine and alcohol can help. These two substances can augment grinding and clenching problems. Also, consuming mainly soft foods and avoiding tough/hard food items and gum chewing can help prevent overuse of your jaw muscles.

Relaxation Techniques:

For many, clenching and grinding are directly related to struggles with properly managing stress. Utilizing methods to reduce stress can be an effective way to combat bruxism, the medical term for clenching and grinding. Many relaxation techniques exist. Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage, progressive muscle relaxation, prayer, short naps, and drink plenty of water. Exercise can help release the tension in your entire body allowing your jaw to relax as well.

Jaw Exercises/Mindful Teeth Placement:

  • Open the mouth as wide as comfortably possible and touch tongue to front teeth. This action relaxes the jaw muscles.
  • Do not allow your top and bottom teeth to make contact except when chewing. To prevent the teeth from touching, say the letter “n” to position the tongue and keep your mouth in this position as you work to avoid clenching.

The bottom line: Take time for yourself when you feel the stresses of the world taking a toll on your teeth. Relax for a moment. Your teeth will thank you!

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Instant Smile Makeover?

How long is your dental wish list? If you’re like most people, you’ve considered several cosmetic dentistry treatments to help whiten, straighten or reshape your teeth — but for a total smile makeover, natural-looking dental veneers may be the fastest way to create a beautiful new smile.

Veneers are thin, porcelain shells that are attached to your existing teeth to meet a variety of cosmetic goals. Your dentist can match them to your natural or desired tooth color for a uniform, authentic appearance. Porcelain veneers are also highly stain-resistant and may actually strengthen your natural teeth.

There are many reasons you and your dentist may choose porcelain veneers, but if you have any of the following dental problems, you may find them especially helpful:

• Dull or stained teeth
• Crowded or crooked teeth
• A diastema (gap) between your front teeth
• Teeth that are misshapen, too small or too big
• Chipped or broken teeth

Rather than spending years with dental braces and multiple appointments for dental bonding, teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures, your dentist can completely transform your smile with teeth veneers in only two dental visits.

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Are Baby Teeth Important?

Baby teeth are very important to your child’s development for several reasons. Not only do they encourage the development of the jaw bone – and reserve space required for the permanent teeth to follow – baby teeth also enable your child to chew solid food and assist in speech development. Moreover, they contribute to your child’s positive feelings about his or her appearance and help build confidence.

Therefore, it is important to begin a daily oral care routine for your child before the first tooth appears. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a warm, wet cloth or a small gauze pad to remove excess food and bacteria. As soon as the first teeth appear, brush them with a small, soft-bristled brush moistened with warm water. When teeth begin to touch each other, add daily flossing to the routine.

With adult supervision, most children are able to brush and floss their own teeth by about age four. However, we recommend assisting your child at least once a day to ensure a thorough job. You should continue to monitor your child’s oral care throughout childhood. Remember, with your own healthy oral care habits, you serve as an important role model for your child.

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Gum Disease: No Big Deal-Right? Wrong!

While many value the benefits of having healthy teeth and do all the right things to keep their gums in shape, there are those who feel, “Hey, they’re only teeth.”
The latter, while never volunteering to have their teeth removed, do not attribute any major importance to them. For instance, untreated periodontal disease
may lower birth weights of newborns. Now studies find that periodontal (gum) infections may contribute to the development of heart disease, which is the
nation’s number one killer. If that weren’t enough, gum infections pose a serious threat to anyone whose health is already compromised due to diabetes or
respiratory disease.

Let’s first talk about how the gums relate to the heart. If you have a healthy heart, this doesn’t pertain to you. Getting your teeth cleaned or having a gum abscess
does matter if you have a weakened heart valve, as in mitral valve prolapse or aortic stenosis. Why? Bacteria from the mouth find their way into the circulatory
system. They may be introduced when your teeth are cleaned or can arise from an infection. In either case, these “circulating” bacteria are normally gobbled up
by the white blood cells before they do any damage. Should they pass through the body and make it to the heart unscathed, the chance exists that they will
colonize on a weakened valve and cause a severe problem (bacterial endocarditis). For this reason, patients with any of the above conditions are suggested to
pre-medicate with antibiotics when receiving dental care.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without it and that diseased
gums released significantly higher levels of bacterial pro-inflammatory components, such as endotoxins, into the bloodstream in patients with severe periodontal
disease compared to healthy patients. Circulating bacteria can also impact on coronary artery disease. The walls of the coronary arteries can thicken due to the
build-up of fatty proteins. Often blood clots form in these narrowed coronary arteries and normal blood flow activity is obstructed. This depletes the heart of the
nutrients and oxygen it needs to function properly. Scientists now believe that bacteria found in the oral cavity can attach to these fatty plaques once they enter
the bloodstream. Clinging to the heart walls, these bacteria may contribute to clot formation.

When it comes to diabetes, gum disease cannot be ignored. The link between the two has been well-documented. We have always known that diabetics are prone
to more infections and heal slowly. Now studies find that periodontal disease may make a pre-existing diabetic condition worse. It has been shown that diabetics
require less insulin once their gum condition has been treated. Since periodontal disease is a risk factor for the progression of diabetes, physicians should
consider the periodontal status of their diabetic patients who have difficulty with glycemic control.

If you experience any pain, swelling, bleeding or recession of your gums, make an appointment for an oral examination.

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Toothpaste and Orange Juice – Not a Good Match

 Ever wonder why orange juice tastes so bad after you brush your teeth?

You can thank sodium laureth sulfate, also known as sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES),
or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) for ruining your drink, depending on which toothpaste you use.
Both of these chemicals are surfactants — wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid —
that are added to toothpastes to create foam and make the paste easier to spread around your mouth.
They’re also important ingredients in detergents, fabric softeners, paints, laxatives,surfboard waxes and insecticides.
While surfactants make brushing our teeth a lot easier, they do more than make foam. Both SLES and SLS
mess with our taste buds in two ways. One, they suppress the receptors on our taste buds that perceive sweetness,
inhibiting our ability to pick up the sweet notes of food and drink. And, as if that wasn’t enough,
they break up the phospholipids on our tongue. These fatty molecules inhibit our receptors for
bitterness and keep bitter tastes from overwhelming us, but when they’re broken down by the
surfactants in toothpaste, bitter tastes get enhanced.
So, anything you eat or drink after you brush is going to have less sweetness and more bitterness than it
normally would. Is there any end to this torture?
Yes.
You don’t need foam for good toothpaste, and there are plenty out there that are SLES/SLS-free.
You won’t get that rabid dog look that makes oral hygiene so much fun, but your breakfast won’t be ruined.

Can Cold Weather Make My Teeth Hurt?

Tooth pain in cold weather is definitely a real thing. In response to
extreme heat or cold, your teeth expand and contract. As the inside and
outside of your teeth adjust, little cracks can emerge. These are sometimes
the result of your teeth’s response to extreme temperatures. These tiny
cracks can leave the microscopic tubes beneath your enamel exposed
causing sensitivity. Weather sensitivity can occur regardless of how well
you care for your teeth. Sometimes however, this sensitivity can be related
to a more serious issue such as a cavity, receding gums, or even a chipped
or cracked tooth. There are measures you can take to minimize tooth
sensitivity. It’s worth a dental visit during the cold months to find a solution
that will work for you. Click here for an appointment with Dr. Matt.