Wellness Blog

Posts for: August, 2018

THERE ARE SO MANY things that can make us smile, from seeing an old friend to watching a good movie to randomly remembering a great joke we heard years ago.  Well, we are about to give you another reason to smile: it is good for your health!  Smiling has actual health benefits, so prepare to flash those pearly whites as you read all about them!

Smiling And The Feel-Good Hormone

When we smile, it triggers a chemical reaction in our bodies: the release of endorphins.  Endorphins are natural hormones that inhibit pain and produce feelings of euphoria.  We get them after a good workout, and we also get them when we are happy.  What is neat is that our brains associate smiling with happiness so strongly that even a fake smile will trigger that endorphin release.  If you get injured, take advantage of this trick to reduce your pain levels!

Smile To Reduce Your Stress

Another benefit of endorphins released by smiling is that they help relieve stress.  When we become stressed, our heart rate increases.  Smiling (fake or real) has been proven to bring heart rates back down more quickly and lower blood pressure.

A study from 2012 involved giving subjects a stressful task to complete.  One group had to complete the task while clamping a pencil between their teeth, forcing them to smile the whole time.  The other group had to grip the pencil between their lips, forcing them to maintain a more neutral face.  Those with smiles returned to their resting heart rates the fastest!

Strengthen Your Immune System With Smiles

The more endorphins we get from smiling and the more we reduce our stress, the easier it is for our immune systems to keep us healthy.  Our cells become less rigid when we are less stressed, and this makes quicker paths for our immune response cells to react to pathogens and other threats to our health.  It can even lower our chances of getting cancer by reducing the number of stress-induced mutations in our cells!  The cumulative effect of all of this is that we can even add years to our lives by smiling!  So get started earning those laughter lines!

Bonus Benefit Of Smiling: Productivity Boost!

When we are in a good mood, we tend to get more accomplished.  Because we can actually make ourselves feel better just by the physical act of smiling, we can improve our productivity at work by smiling more!  Your coworkers could even catch the smiling bug, because we all know how contagious smiles are!

Let Us Give You Reasons To Smile

Even with all these benefits, it can be difficult to smile with confidence without healthy teeth and gums.  Make sure to maintain those good brushing and flossing habits to keep your smile in good shape and visit your dentist twice a year for a deep-clean and to stop any dental problems in their tracks!

We love seeing our patients’ smiles!

 

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.


THE WORLD IS A big, new, confusing place for a young child, so it should not come as much of a surprise that they like having something familiar to help them cope.  Sometimes this means a stuffed animal or favorite blanket they carry everywhere, but for many children, it is a pacifier or a thumb.

As parents, it is important to be able to strike the right balance for our children when it comes to thumb-sucking or pacifier habits.  Forcing them to stop too early can bring them unnecessary stress, but allowing them to continue sucking that thumb too long can cause significant problems for their oral health.

When Thumb-Sucking And Pacifiers Are Beneficial

Sucking on things is a reflex babies develop before birth, and it can be very comforting for them.  Sucking their thumb or a pacifier will help them feel safe and happy in their earliest years of life.  Benefits to thumb-sucking or pacifier use at this stage include helping them sleep (which also helps you sleep), keeping them calm when separated from you, and reducing the risk of SIDS.

When Is It Time To Stop?

Many parents worry that their toddler’s thumb-sucking or pacifier use will cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked, but there is no need to worry at this age.  Most children stop sucking their thumbs on their own by age four, and when they begin school, the desire to appear as grown-up as their peers will encourage them to stop.

If they do not stop on their own around kindergarten age, this is when it is important to intervene.  Once the permanent teeth start coming in, vigorous thumb-sucking can lead to changes in the shape of the palate and an open bite between the upper and lower teeth, which can mean expensive orthodontic treatment down the line.
 

Tips For Discouraging Thumb-Sucking

Bite and dental alignment problems are less common with pacifiers because parents can simply take the pacifier away if the child does not stop using it on their own by age three, but if your child is getting close to age six and still sucking their thumb, here are a few safe strategies you could use:

  • Praise their successes rather than scolding them for continuing to suck their thumb.
  • Create a rewards chart so they can see the progress they are making and what they are working for.
  • Keep their hands and minds occupied with activities like arts and crafts.  Sometimes they thumb-suck because they are bored!
  • Cover their hands with socks at night to keep them from thumb-sucking in their sleep. (You may need to tape these in place so they cannot remove them.)

Do not forget that these strategies are for kindergarten-age and older children, not toddlers!  Toddlers are too young to understand why you want them to stop sucking their thumb, so attempts at discouragement will likely upset them.

Come To Us With Your Concerns

If you are worried about your child’s pacifier use or thumb-sucking habit, do not hesitate to talk to us!  We can answer your questions and help you develop an effective strategy to ensure your child’s healthy dental development.

We love having you and your child as part of 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.


THERE’S NOTHING BETTER than a swim in the pool to cool down during the hot summer months.  Before we dive in, we should be aware of how our time in the pool can impact our oral health.  That is right: the chlorine in swimming pools does not just cause dry skin and eye irritation, it can also affect our teeth.
 

Chlorine Versus Our Teeth

The reason swimming pools contain chlorine is that it helps to decontaminate the water from microbes and other unpleasant things that could pose health and sanitation risks to swimmers.  However, when chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid, and unless the pool’s pH is carefully regulated, that acid can lead to a condition called swimmer’s calculus.

Swimmer’s calculus is yellow and brown stains that can develop on teeth enamel after too much exposure to chlorine.  It is also what can make our teeth feel more sensitive after swimming, because enamel erosion leaves the dentin underneath more vulnerable.  When we have good oral health, our saliva works to keep our mouths as close to a neutral pH as possible, thus protecting our enamel from erosion, but acid exposure can harm enamel before the saliva can do its job.

This is not usually a problem for casual swimmers, but anyone who is a serious swimmer or participates in water sports should be aware of the possibility of developing swimmer’s calculus.  The best ways to prevent chlorine damage to your teeth are to maintain a good oral health routine with daily brushing and flossing, drink plenty of fresh water to flush out the chlorine residue, and keep your mouth closed while swimming!

Dental Concerns Of Scuba Diving

If swimming pools are not your thing but you love snorkeling and diving, your teeth will be safe from the effects of chlorine, but they may still face other problems.  Barodontalgia, commonly called tooth squeeze, is when tiny air bubbles trapped in cracks, crevices, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure.  This pressure change can result in significant tooth pain and can even fracture teeth, and a good preventative measure is a dental appointment before diving season begins!

Most divers are familiar with how uncomfortable those “one size fits none” mouthpieces can be, but do you know they can be bad for your teeth?  Divers with poorly-fitting mouthpieces have to clench to keep them in place, and this can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which causes jaw pain and headaches and makes it uncomfortable to chew.  If you are a frequent diver, you might want to invest in a custom-fitted mouthpiece.

Getting Those Teeth Ready For The Water!

We want all of our patients to have a wonderful summer enjoying their favorite water sports and activities without fear for the effects on their teeth.  Schedule a dental appointment so that we can make sure your teeth are healthy and answer any of your questions about underwater tooth problems and how to avoid them!

Take time to cool off this summer! You deserve it!

 

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.