Author: Dr. Chea Rainford

Keep Waking Up With Headaches?

 

If the first thing you feel in the morning is a headache or pain behind your eyes or pain in your neck and shoulders, come in for a visit. What you’re experiencing could be the result of problems in your mouth. These are common symptoms of a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which basically means that your jaws don’t align properly. This misalignment stresses the jaw joints, putting pressure on nerves and muscles – which can result in morning headaches, migraines or facial and neck pain.
Not everyone with TMJ disorder shows symptoms. And not everyone has headaches or pain; TMJ disorder can also lead to broken teeth or fillings, loose teeth and toothaches. What is certain is that if you do display any of these symptoms, they won’t get better without professional help.
Many people find that resting the jaw helps ease the pain. You can do this by eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum and hard candies. We can also show you jaw exercises to stretch the jaw joints and relieve stress. For most people, the most effective treatment is a custom dental splint that fits over your upper and lower teeth. This reduces the damage done from repeated clenching of the jaw or teeth grinding.
If these conservative methods don’t work, you still have other options. The temporomandibular joints can be flushed out, or an injection of cortisone can help relieve inflammation and pain. Worse-case scenario, you might need surgery. Come in for a visit and we’ll help you find the right solution.

Should You Worry if Your Kids Are Grinding Their Teeth?

It’s estimated that up to 30% of kids age 4-10 develop bruxism, a condition commonly known as teeth grinding. But how can you tell if your little ones are grinding? Listen closely while they sleep; you’ll be able to hear a soft grinding noise. Or take note when your kids complain of jaw pain or headaches in the morning. Both could be a sign of teeth grinding.

Fortunately, most cases of childhood grinding resolve on their own before kids lose their baby teeth, so there’s little risk of permanent tooth damage. In other cases, though, teeth grinding can lead to enamel damage and chipped teeth. The best way to approach grinding symptoms is to err on the side of caution: If you see any signs, visit your dentist.

Relief for Teeth Grinders

The causes of childhood bruxism are not completely understood, but most experts believe that stress and/or dental problems may be at its roots. In cases where stress could be the problem, it could help to ask your child if there is anything he or she is worried or upset about and offer gentle reassurance. Also make sure that your child does not eat or engage in physical activity within an hour of bedtime. Generally, the fewer stimuli your child comes across the more relaxed bedtime will be.

Your child could also be a good candidate for a custom dental night guard, which can help prevent tooth damage and jaw stress. A complete dental exam may also be in order; if teeth grinding is due to misalignment or other dental problems, we can create the proper treatment for your little one.

Them Bones, Them Bones…

Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth! You’ve heard it before, but how much calcium are you actually getting?
An extremely important mineral for dental and overall health, calcium aids in preventing dental problems and osteoporosis. Actually, 99 percent of the calcium found in our bodies is located in our bones and teeth! But calcium does so much more — it also helps with blood clotting, sending nerve signals, releasing hormones and enzymes, as well as muscle and blood vessel contraction and relaxation.

Much like we change our hairstyles or clothes to resemble the latest fashions, our bones are constantly reinventing themselves. Our bones are continuously undergoing a process called resorption, which is the breakdown of bone tissue. When bone is lost, calcium is deposited to help new bone form. In order to best utilize new bone formation, calcium needs to be taken continuously, and over a long period of time.

As we age, we tend to lose more bone, and it becomes harder for calcium to keep up with our changing bodies. If there’s not a significant amount of calcium, our bones can become brittle and porous in old age. The weaker our skeletal systems, the greater our chances of ending up with bone fractures or jaw deterioration, which leads to tooth loss. And the more the jaw deteriorates, the harder it is for your mouth to support dental restorations, such as dental implants and dentures.

Calcium is equally important to your periodontal health! According to the American Academy of Periodontology, a diet low in calcium can increase your chances of getting gum disease. An infection caused by bacteria that attack your gums, periodontal disease will eventually break down your gum tissue and destroy the surrounding bone. As calcium supports your jawbone, it strengthens it against the bacteria that lead to gum disease and eventual tooth loss. Combined with gum disease treatment, a significant calcium intake can prevent gum disease from progressing. Consuming at least three servings of calcium-laden foods will help you meet your daily requirements.

Setting Priorities For Good Dental Health

Many people have bleeding gums, and they don’t think twice about it. They view it as a minor inconvenience. If you were bleeding from any other part of your body, you wouldn’t hesitate to see a physician. If you lost a body part you wouldn’t hesitate to have it replaced. We have 32 teeth – they are all body parts.

While we may not need our teeth to live like one needs a heart, we need our mouth to be pain-free and functional to enjoy a good quality of life.

But like exercising, dieting or anything that requires a routine, many of us fall short of a sustained effort to accomplishing long-term results. Why do we run out of toothpaste, floss, toothbrushes vitamins, etc. when we know their importance? Why do we have problems maintaining an oral hygiene regimen? Perhaps, we don’t make the answers priorities.

We in this dental office believe in the philosophy espoused by Dr. F. Harold Wirth who said, “The mouth in its entirety is an important and even wondrous part of our anatomy, our emotion, our life; it is the site of our very being. When an animal loses teeth, it cannot survive unless it is domesticated; its very existence is terminated; it dies. In the human, the mouth is the means of speaking, of expressing love, happiness and joy, anger, ill temper, or sorrow. It is the primary sex contact; hence it is of initial import to our regeneration and survival by food and propagation. It deserves the greatest care it can receive at any sacrifice.”

This is our passion. Make it yours and the rest will fall into place. Call and ask us how we may help you achieve your oral hygiene and health goals and ensure a greater quality of life.

Considering Dental Implants?

Important Facts to Help Make Your Decision

Many people are unaware of the consequences of losing their teeth or the effects of wearing partial or full dentures upon their jaws and bones. When teeth are lost, the surrounding bone immediately begins to shrink [atrophy]. Implant treatment, for tooth replacement therapy, can be the optimal treatment plan. Here are some important facts to take into consideration.

 Wearing dentures [plates] accelerates bone loss, and old dentures become loose because of this bone loss. It is possible to watch and wait for bone to disappear to the point where treatment success of any kind is in doubt.

 At the end of a five-year period, only 40% are still wearing the original partial denture made for them. This is not a great testimonial for value and utility. Those lucky enough to have a functioning partial denture after 5 years are still losing valuable supporting bone.

 Of those patients who wear a partial denture, 50% chew better without it.

 One study showed that after 8 years, 40% of the supporting teeth [abutments] that the partial hooks onto were lost through tooth decay or fracture.

 Patients with natural teeth can bite with about 200 pounds of force. Denture wearers can bite with approxiametly 50 pounds of force. Those wearing dentures for 15 years or more can bite with only about 6 pounds of force, and their diet and eating habits have had to been modified accordingly.

 The average lower full denture shifts from side to side during chewing and is a significant problem that new denture wearers must get use to and accept.

 Denture wearers have decreased nutritional intake, a ten year shorter life span, and 30% of denture wearers can only eat soft foods.

 The single tooth implant success rate is above 98%, and unlike a bridge, the teeth adjacent to the implant are no more at risk than if no teeth were missing.

 Implant-supported bridges or dentures have 95% success rates over 10 years without the severe loss of supporting bone.

 

For bone maintenance, the health of adjacent teeth, the longevity of the restoration and patient comfort, implant therapy is the treatment of choice. Implants can restore chewing function to the equivalent of someone with natural teeth. If you have questions or want to know if you are a good candidate for implant tooth replacement therapy, please call our office.

Brushing And Flossing Especially Important During Orthodontic Treatment

As you are aware, plaque (the whitish build-up of food material, and bacteria) is the cause of cavities, tooth scarring (white lines as stains, also technically known as enamel decalcification) and gum disease, which may occur if teeth are not kept clean. In order to prevent the above problems from occurring, several techniques have been developed to reduce or eliminate plaque build-up on your teeth. You should brush your teeth immediately after every time you eat, even after snacks. We recommend a soft toothbrush and any brand of toothpaste which contains flouride. Tooth brushing and oral hygiene must be excellent at all times, especially next to the gumline. When oral hygiene is poor several things happen:

 Gum infection (gingivitis) is recognized by puffy, swollen, red gums which bleed easily. This can lead to more severe disease (periodontal disease), which eventually leads to tooth loss.

 Permanent white spots (decalcifications) may also be left on the teeth after appliances are removed if plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth during treatment. Extra care must be taken in the area between your gums and the braces. We call this “The Danger Zone”. Food and plaque that collects around your braces and wires can cause stains and cavities as well as unpleasant odors, so be sure to keep your teeth clean. Take time and do it right. If you have difficulty brushing, an electric toothbrush may be recommended. A “proxy brush” is a small pipe-cleaner type of toothbrush and is recommended for brushing under your wires and between brackets in addition to a regular toothbrush.

 Finally, cavities can occur before, during or after treatment if hygiene is poor. Fortunately, all of these are preventable simply by brushing and flossing. We reserve the right to remove braces and stop treatment if hygiene is repeatedly poor and we feel that high plaque levels are damaging teeth and/or gums. Remember, during your orthodontic treatment you must see your dentist every 4-6 months for your cleanings and dental check-ups.

Remember that although your braces and wires are metal, they are fragile and can be damaged by eating the wrong foods.

Crossbite: It’s A Mix-Up

The word “crossbite” is one of the few dental terms that is almost self-explanatory. An individual with a crossbite will have teeth that are out of place when biting. One set of teeth will fall either inside or outside the opposing set when they are in contact; therefore, a crossed bite. The most common crossbite is one in which one or more of the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth. Another type occurs when the upper teeth bite completely outside of the lower teeth. A third type of crossbite also exits which is a combination of the first two.

There are many reasons that crossbites develop. For example, an upper primary tooth that is late in exfoliating [getting loose and coming out] can cause the permanent tooth to erupt inside or outside its correct position. Another example occurs when upper permanent teeth are very crowded. Because of this lack of space, one or more of the newly erupting teeth will have to go inside their correct position. This adverse position of the upper tooth/teeth will cause the bite to be inside the lower teeth. Conversely, if the lower teeth are crowded, one of them can erupt to the outside of its normal position locking its correctly positioned upper mate to the inside.

Crossbites are responsible for many serious conditions. An example is a larger upper front tooth biting inside a smaller lower front tooth. This situation can cause a loss of support bone on the front of the lower tooth. If this condition remains untreated, the lower front tooth can lose enough of the support bone to necessitate its removal. Unfortunately, that can occur before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Another problem can occur if the crossbite interferes with the proper positioning of the lower jaw on closing. Again, if not treated, temperamandibular joint and growth problems can arise. Other problems that can develop are uneven wear of the teeth, difficulty in chewing, uneven or reduced growth of one or both jaws, problems in getting the teeth clean because of the improper alignment and a self conscience smile.

The younger a crossbite patient is treated, the more positive will be the results. Treatment should be initiated even if the condition is noted when only the primary teeth are present. The ability of the jaws to grow and mature as nature intended is the best result a child can get.

Patients with crossbites in their permanent teeth, teenager or adult, can also be successfully treated to an excellent outcome. However, the correction will be different for this type of patient than it would be for a younger one. Once we reach an age that growth has mostly or completely occurred, the orthodontist has limits to the types of treatment that can be used. That is why early treatment is recommended and encouraged.

Another type of crossbite develops when the lower jaw hereditarily develops further forward than the upper jaw. When this happens, usually all of the lower teeth are forward of their normal position in relation to the upper teeth. The facial profile is concave and the lower front teeth usually all bite forward of the upper front teeth. When this growth pattern occurs, it is urgent that complete orthodontic records [models, head x-rays and photos] be secured as early as possible. Then our trained doctors can develop a long-range treatment plan to treat the particular patient. Early diagnosis and treatment can sometimes avoid surgery when growth is completed. Again, early treatment is best.

Mitral Valve Prolapse Ain’t What It Used To Be

The prevalence of Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) has been estimated to range from 5-35 percent of the population, with the predominance occurring in women. Furthermore, people with MVP have been told that they are at greater risk for a myriad of problems including stroke, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, mitral valve regurgitation requiring surgery, and infections from dental procedures, in particular. Now a study coming out of the well-known, long-term Framingham Heart Study challenges many of these notions.* Researchers in this study examined 1845 women and 1646 men for MVP using more precise methods – three dimensional imaging rather than two dimensional imaging – used in previous studies. Their results were striking. Only 47 subjects had classic MVP and 37 subjects had non-classic MVP (this adds up to 84 subjects, or 2.4 percent of those in the study). Fifty out of the 84 subjects diagnosed with MVP were women and thirty-four were men. Distribution by age was equal in all decades of life from the twenties to the eighties. When it came to being vulnerable to the various risks such as stroke, etc., the MVP group had no greater frequency of problems than the other 3407 subjects (without MVP) in the study. The study concluded that the numbers of persons with MVP was lower than previously reported and that the sequelae commonly associated with this diagnosis was also low. Knowing this does not change the need for patients with MVP to premedicate with antibiotics when receiving dental treatment, and the current American Heart Association standards still apply. What this study does imply is that further testing may reverse a previous diagnosis of MVP that will eliminate exposure to antibiotics and undue concerns.

*Freed, L.A., et all: Prevalence and clinical outcome of mitral-valve prolapse. New Eng J Med 341: 1-7, 1999.

Dental Sealants Prevent Decay

 application of systemic or topical fluoride since the early 1970’s has lowered the incidence of tooth decay on the smooth surfaces of the teeth. However, about 90% of the decay found in children’s teeth occurs in tooth surfaces with pits and fissures. To solve this problem, dental sealants were developed to act as a physical barrier so that cavity-causing bacteria cannot invade the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of back [posterior] teeth.

A sealant is a plastic resin material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This material is bonded into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces and acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from attack by plaque and/or acids.

Dental sealants are usually professionally applied. The dentist, hygieniest or assistant cleans and dries the teeth to be treated; then paints a thin layer of liquid plastic material on the pits and fissures of the tooth. A blue spectrum natural light is shined on the applied material for a few seconds to cure the plastic. Some brands of sealants cure chemically.

After curing, the plastic becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the incredible pressures placed on teeth during chewing each day, dental sealants often remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and should be checked at regular intervals. If sealants wear or become damaged, they can be repaired or replaced simply by applying new sealant material to the worn or damaged portions.

Children should receive sealants shortly after the eruption of their first permanent molars, around age 6 and again at age 12 when their second molars appear.

During the child’s regular dental visits, we will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.

How to Ease Dry Mouth Syndrome

Most people would rather not talk about saliva. Too much saliva can be unsightly and embarrassing; too little can cause dry mouth syndrome. And without an active supply of saliva to help defend your mouth from bacteria, fungi and viruses, you can become especially vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.

The good news is there are many dry mouth home remedies that can provide you with some much-needed relief. However, if you suspect that you have dry mouth syndrome but haven’t been examined by a dentist or physician, it’s important to talk to them first — they’re the experts and can help you get the dental treatment you need to feel happier and healthier again!

Combating Dehydration

Aging plays a major role in dry mouth syndrome. Over time, the salivary glands secrete less saliva and the brain becomes less responsive to thirst cues, leaving your mouth and body feeling dehydrated. Although the following dry mouth remedies aren’t exactly a “fountain of youth,” they can certainly help counteract the effects of dehydration.

Drink plenty of water. The Institute of Medicine recommends drinking three liters of water per day for men and two liters for women. Keep in mind that the amount of water you need depends on how much exercise you get, the climate of your environment, and whether you have health conditions such as heart, liver or kidney disease, which can limit your intake of water.

Eat water-rich foods. Ideally, the foods you eat should provide about 20 percent of your fluid intake. Eat foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, peaches, nectarines and even popsicles, to ensure that you’re getting the fluids you need.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol are dehydrating and can exacerbate dry mouth. Instead of reaching for soda, coffee or tea throughout the day, drink water or juice. When drinking alcohol, be sure to have at least one glass of water after every cocktail, beer or glass of wine.

Use a humidifier. Living in a hot, dry climate can leave you feeling more dehydrated than if you lived in a temperate environment. Use a humidifier while you sleep to help boost moisture in your mouth and on your skin.

Pleasing Your Palate

Your eating habits can either help or harm dry mouth syndrome. But don’t worry — you don’t have to sacrifice taste for dry mouth relief. Some simple changes to your diet can help bring back the taste of sweet and savory to your dry mouth.

Drink papaya juice. Papain, an enzyme found in papayas, can help thin the thick oral secretions associated with dry mouth. Drinking 100% papaya juice is an easy way to get your daily dose of papain.

Add broth or sauce to your meals. Dry mouth can inhibit your ability to eat and swallow easily. Get moisture back into your mouth by adding milk, sauce, broth or gravy to your meals.

Avoid dry, salty foods. Snacking on crackers, toast and pastries can exacerbate dry mouth syndrome — nosh on healthy snacks such as fruit or smoothies instead.

Load up on lemonade. Lemonade is the perfect drink to quench your thirst on a hot, summer day. And it’s also great for stimulating saliva activity and relieving dry mouth.

These dry mouth home remedies are safe for everyone, but remember that your dentist and physician are the experts, so be sure to get professional advice about your specific symptoms.