Wellness Blog

Posts for: May, 2018

THE FOOD WE EAT provides our bodies with the building blocks to maintain healthy cells, tissues, and organs and the energy to work, learn, and do the activities we love.  It is crucial that we eat enough food (and preferably the right kinds) in order to keep everything working properly, which is why eating disorders are such a serious threat.

Malnutrition And Overall Health

Eating disorders are a group of psychological disorders that can have a devastating impact on the mental, physical, and emotional health of those who suffer from them.  No system in the body is spared, and that includes oral health.  That is why we want to educate our patients on the dangers of eating disorders and encourage anyone suffering from one to seek help returning to healthy eating habits.

Anorexia: Starving The Oral Tissues

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremely restricted food intake, and may also involve purging and compulsive exercising.  The main risk to oral health with anorexia is malnutrition.  Insufficient nutrients can result in osteoporosis, which weakens the jaw bones, leading to tooth loss.  The gums may also bleed easily, and the salivary glands may swell up and produce insufficient saliva, resulting in dry mouth.

Bulimia: Stomach Acid Versus Teeth

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by periods of overeating (binging) followed by forced elimination of food through vomiting or laxatives (purging).  Frequent vomiting exposes the teeth to stomach acid on a regular basis, which erodes the protective layer of enamel and can lead to discoloration, decay, and even tooth loss.

Preventing Additional Damage

Maintaining a good dental hygiene regimen is an important part of keeping teeth and oral tissues healthy in any circumstance, but particularly while recovering from an eating disorder.  One important caution to take if your teeth have been exposed to acid, whether from acidic food and drink or from regurgitated stomach acid, is to wait thirty minutes to brush.  Immediately after acid exposure, tooth enamel is weaker and can be scrubbed away by brushing, so it is better to rinse with water and wait to brush.

The Road To Recovery

Eating disorders are very serious, and recovery is about getting the right help — from supportive friends and family as well as licensed psychologists.  If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, a good first step on the road to recovery would be contacting the National Eating Disorders Helpline.  The dentist also plays a role in minimizing and repairing the damage from malnutrition and acid erosion, so make sure to schedule an appointment.

Your overall health and wellness are important to us!

 

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.


May 22, 2018
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The Different Types Of Teeth

YOU HAVE PROBABLY NOTICED that your teeth are not all the same shape, but do you know why?  Humans have four different types of teeth, and they each serve specific purposes, both in helping us chew and in giving us our beautiful smiles!
 

Types Of Teeth And What They Do

The reason we need so many different types of teeth is that we are omnivores, which means we eat both plants and meat. We need teeth that can handle all of our favorite foods!

Incisors

At the very front of the mouth, the top four and bottom four teeth are the incisors.  The middle ones are central incisors, while the ones on the sides are lateral incisors.  Incisors are built for slicing.  When we take a bite out of an apple, for instance, our incisors shear off a tasty chunk of fruit, but they are not the teeth we actually chew with.

Canines

Next to the lateral incisors are our canines, which are the sharpest and longest teeth in our mouths.  This enables them to grip and tear food, particularly meat.  Unlike incisors, we only have four canines.  Their long roots and their position at the “corners” of our dental arches also make them some of the most important teeth in our smiles, because they provide much of the arch shape.  Another name for canine teeth is eyeteeth.  That might seem weird, but it is because these teeth are directly beneath our eyes!

Premolars

After the canines, we have our premolars.  You can think of premolars as hybrids between canines and molars.  They have sharp outer edges, but they also have flat chewing surfaces, which means they can help the canines with tearing food and the molars with grinding it up.  We do not have any premolars as children; our eight adult premolars are actually the teeth that replace our baby molars!

Molars

Finally, we have the molars.  Molars are our biggest teeth, with multiple roots and large, flat chewing surfaces.  We have eight baby molars and up to twelve adult molars, depending on whether or not we have and keep our wisdom teeth.  Molars are the teeth that do most of the chewing, because those flat surfaces are perfect for grinding and crushing food until it is ready to be swallowed.
 

What About Herbivores And Carnivores?

Our teeth are the way they are because we are omnivores.  Herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters) have very different teeth.  Herbivores typically have chisel-like incisors and large, flat premolars and molars for chewing plants, while their canines are small, if they have them at all.  Carnivores tend to have much bigger canine teeth than we do, but their incisors are much smaller, and while they still have premolars and molars, they are often serrated like knives, built for shredding rather than grinding.

Biannual Visits

What do all four types of your teeth have in common?  They need regular attention from a dentist! Keep bringing those incisors, canines, premolars, and molars to see us every six months so that we can make sure they are all staying healthy.  In the meantime, you can do your part by remembering to brush twice a day, floss daily, and cut back on sugary treats!

We look forward to seeing you again!

 

Top image by Flickr user _zhang 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.


GROWING BODIES NEED a lot of fuel, and that means a lot of after-school snacks.  The nature of those snacks can have a big impact on a child’s oral health during this critical period when they are losing baby teeth and growing in their permanent set.  So which snacks are the best ones if you are trying to watch out for your children’s oral health?
 

Snacks To Avoid

Most children would eat cookies and candy and drink soda pop all day if they could, but these tasty treats are not just bad for their health, they are bad for their teeth.  Many types of bacteria live in our mouths, some good, some bad.  Sugar happens to be the bad bacteria’s favorite food, and after they eat it, they excrete acid onto our teeth as a waste product, which can dissolve our enamel and lead to tooth decay.  Carbonated drinks contain acids that can harm our teeth too, and most fruit juice has as much sugar as soda.

We know it is unreasonable to suggest that you forbid your child from all sugary foods and drinks forever.  However, a great way to reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities is limiting their consumption of these kinds of treats to special occasions, instead of using them as daily snacks.

The Right Snacks

If sugary foods and drinks are the wrong kinds of snacks for healthy teeth, then what are the right ones?  You cannot go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheese and nuts are great snacks too!  Foods like apples and strawberries can actually scrub our teeth clean as we eat them.

If your child is picky about eating fruits and veggies, then try some yogurt with berries mixed in or hummus dip to go with the carrots and celery sticks.  Do not forget to wash those snacks down with a refreshing glass of milk or water!  Beyond being a good source of calcium, milk is a mild base and can reduce the impact of eating acidic foods.

Timing Matters Too

After we eat, it takes about half an hour for saliva to neutralize any leftover acids and wash away any remaining food particles from our latest meal or snack.  However, if we constantly snack throughout the day, our saliva will not be able to do its job.  This is why it is better for our children’s oral health if they stick to designated snack times instead of always having something to munch on throughout the day — even when the snacks in question are healthy ones.

Snacks Are One Part Of The Equation

Making sure your children eat healthy after-school snacks is an important part of keeping their teeth healthy and teaching them good dental habits for life, just like brushing their teeth twice a day, flossing, and coming to see the dentist every six months.  We look forward to seeing them again soon, and make sure to bring any questions you have about healthy snacks when you bring them in!

We love having you in our practice family!

 

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.


HAVE YOU EVER woken up with a sore jaw, tooth pain, or a headache?  These are common symptoms of sleep bruxism, or teeth-grinding.  The American Dental Association estimates that 10-15 percent of adults struggle with sleep bruxism, and children can experience it too.  Because it happens during sleep, it can be difficult to control or stop.  One way to protect the teeth from the damaging effects of grinding is to wear a night guard.
 

What Night Guards Are

Night guards come in hard, medium, and soft varieties, with the soft ones resembling mouth guards for sports and hard ones resembling clear plastic retainers, though they are much sturdier and you usually only need one for the upper teeth.  Wearing a night guard provides a cushioning effect so that the upper and lower teeth cannot wear away at each other.  It will protect your teeth from external damage caused by grinding, such as chipping and erosion, but as long as the grinding still happens, other symptoms like jaw pain may not change.  At our office, we customize our night guards so that your back teeth cannot touch, giving your jaw muscles an opportunity to relax while you sleep.
 

What Night Guards Are Not

While hard night guards might look like retainers, they are not necessarily interchangeable.  You should never use a normal retainer as a night guard, because it does not have the necessary thickness to withstand the pressure.  You should also be careful about using night guards as retainers.  If you have a hard night guard that is properly fitted to your teeth, it can serve as a retainer, but a soft night guard will not prevent your teeth from shifting.

Where To Get Yours

You can either buy your night guard over-the-counter or get a custom night guard from the dentist.  A typical over-the-counter night guard requires you to shape it to your teeth by boiling it, allowing it a moment to cool, and then gently biting into it.  If you obtain your night guard through your dentist, the added comfort and quality will be worth the greater price.  These night guards are made in a laboratory from an impression of your teeth taken by dental professionals.

Cleaning And Storing Your Night Guard

If you do not want to end up with a night guard that is smelly and gross, it is important to clean and store it correctly.  Always rinse your night guard after you take it out, then brush it with your toothbrush and a mild soap (but no toothpaste).  In order to prevent bacterial growth, a night guard should never be stored wet, so give it time to air dry before placing it in its case, and it might be better to leave it on the nightstand instead of in the bathroom.  Be sure to keep your appliance out of the reach of any pets you may have (particularly dogs and cats), as they can use it as a chew toy!

Ask Us About Your Night Guard

If you think you might have bruxism, do not wait; come talk to us about it.  We can get you your perfect night guard, and we can also help you with other methods of reducing the symptoms, such as discussing ways to reduce stress levels and recommending an orthodontist if misaligned teeth are contributing to the grinding.

Thank you for trusting us to take care of your dental needs!

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.


TEETH ARE A LOT more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we are using this post to provide a brief dental anatomy lesson.  The easiest way to do this will be to divide that anatomy into two main categories: the crown and the root.
 

Something To Chew On: The Crown

The crown of a tooth is the part that is above the gumline, and it consists of three layers.  The outermost layer is the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body.  It needs to be so that we can chew our food!  However, enamel is not made of actual cells, which means it cannot repair itself if it wears down.  Good brushing and flossing habits, regular dental visits, and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink will help preserve that enamel for life.

Beneath the enamel is dentin, which is a lot like bone, consisting of living tissue that is calcified.  It contains microscopic tubules that run from the pulp at the core of the tooth to the outer enamel.  That is why we can feel temperature in our teeth!  If the enamel has worn down, that normal sensation turns into painful tooth sensitivity.

At the very core of each tooth is the dental pulp chamber.  The pulp includes the blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and nerves that provide sensation — including pain receptors that let us know when something is wrong.  If tooth decay becomes severe enough to reach the dental pulp, you will definitely feel it, and that is a great time to schedule a dental appointment, if not sooner!

Beneath The Surface: The Root

The root is the long part of the tooth that connects to the jaw bone.  Tiny periodontal ligaments hold each tooth in place, and gum tissue provides extra support.  The roots are hollow, with canals that link the nerves and blood vessels in the dental pulp to the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

The main difference in the structure of the root compared to the crown is that the root lacks enamel.  Instead, it is protected by a thin, hard layer of cementum.  As long as the gum tissue is healthy and properly covers the root, the lack of enamel there is not a problem, but this is why exposed roots from gum recession are more susceptible to decay.
 

Protect Those Teeth!

Every part of a tooth’s anatomy plays a critical role in keeping it strong and healthy so that you can use it to chew your food and dazzle everyone around you with your smile.  That is why it is so important to keep up a strong dental hygiene regimen.  Keep on brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure to keep scheduling those dental appointments every six months!

Thank you for choosing us to play a role in keeping your teeth healthy!

 

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.