How we perceive our smile and appearance affects our self-esteem, our moods and how we function in social and business relationships. Common conditions that impact negatively on your smile include broken, cracked or worn teeth, discolored teeth, missing teeth, crooked teeth, decayed teeth, gaps between your teeth and/or “gummy smiles.” Each patient and each specific circumstance must be evaluated on its own merits. Factors such as occlusion [bite], oral habits, available space, health of the gum tissue, severity of the problem and patient expectation must be taken into consideration while planning your cosmetic makeover. Worn teeth are not only cosmetically displeasing, but they can result in functional problems also. This situation may lead to headaches, oral pain or periodontal [gum] conditions.
When teeth are worn down severely, there is loss of vertical height of the overall bite. This can be detrimental to one’s face, portraying a “collapsed” appearance. The muscles that open and close one’s mouth get use to certain patterns and degree of mouth opening. When trying to restore the normal bite and vertical height of one’s teeth, patients are often kept longer in temporary restorations to be sure that their muscles can tolerate the size of their new teeth. With a proper, carefully thought out treatment plan, the cosmetic and functional results can be dramatic. Call our office if you think you’re a candidate for this type of procedure.
Ever use someone else’s toothbrush? You may think twice about doing it again after reading this:
• Toothbrushes can be a source of repeated dental infections.
• Toothbrushes can cause a bacteremia (bacteria entering the bloodstream) that may result in an endocarditis (a heart infection).
• Toothbrushes can harbor and transmit viruses and bacteria.
• Toothbrushes can retain 50% of the herpes simplex virus for one week.
• Gingival [gum] inflammation can be reduced by changing toothbrushes biweekly.
Still think it’s sexy to share a toothbrush? How about sharing food? Kissing? Certain bacteria can be transmitted from site-to-site in the mouth via dental instruments or from person-to-person sharing someone else’s eating utensil. In juvenile periodontitis, virulent bacteria can move from an infected site to an uninfected site in the same mouth. Certain bacteria can be transmitted between spouses. Certain bacteria can be transmitted between parents and children. Certain bacteria can be transmitted from dogs to children.
So you see, bacteria once thought to be localized to specific sites in the mouth, can be migratory. We’re not advocating that you stop tasting a scrumptious morsel or two at a four-star restaurant; we are advocating that everyone maintain good dental health not only for themselves but for the sake of those they love.
As far as ridding toothbrushes of bacteria, soaking them in a mouthrinse containing essential oils for 20 minutes kills 100% of the bacteria on the bristles. Ultraviolet light also sanitizes toothbrushes. But when researchers* tested the efficacy of using a toothpaste containing a common disinfectant compound – triclosan – they found little benefit when it came to eliminating the offending bacteria attached to the toothbrush bristles.
So what can you do about bacterial contamination from toothbrushes? Soak them in a suitable mouthwash, expose them to ultraviolet light, or from a practical stance, change them frequently. As for kissing someone, the benefits may still outweigh the risks …as long as you have an inkling as to their periodontal status!
*Warren DP, Goldshmidt MC, Thompson MB, Adler-Storhz K, and Keene HJ: The effects of toothpastes on residual microbial contamination of toothbrushes. JADA 132:1241-1245, 2001.
Chronic symptoms of the head and neck can often be attributed to:
• Headache — the temporalis muscle (it closes and clenches the jaw)
• Sinus pressure and pain — the lateral pterygoid muscles (it moves the jaw side to side and/or forward)
• Neck stiffness and pain — trapezius muscle (it stabilizes the skull during jaw clenching and grinding)
Dental offices have treated and helped more and more people with their headache problems. For years, we assigned all of these names to headaches, like muscle tension headaches, neuralgia, migraine and so on, and it seems that many headache patients share one very common trait- They clench or grind their teeth at night!
Most medical research has shown that headaches, even people with classical migraine headaches, have no physical reason, no vascular problems and no neurological problems; in fact their physician’s exam will give no physical reason for the pain. Many patients have had CAT scans and MRI’s that were negative, and find that drugs really don’t help their problem; instead the medication makes them groggy and “drugged out.”
What we have discovered is that people who can control their nighttime clenching and grinding will get tremendous relief for their headaches and neck aches. Many people do so much unconscious clenching of their jaw muscles that when they wake up, their teeth are sore, their muscles are already tired, and they are set up for the beginning of a headache from the start of the day, if they don’t wake up with one.
One effective treatment utilizes an NTI appliance (short for nocioceptive trigeminal inhibition), a dental device that fits between the upper and lower front teeth. (Detailed information can be gotten from the website at http://www.headacheprevention.com/ ) The simple fact is that this device reduces the intensity of nighttime parafunction by 70 percent immediately, which can explain why so many patients wake up feeling better very quickly.
A traditional dental mouthpiece, or splint, reduces the resistance to side-to-side movement, thereby, reducing the effort and resultant strain to the jaw joint and sinuses (so long as clenching intensity isn’t too intense). However, the same splint also provides an ideal clenching surface, where maximum clenching intensity may increase and/or allow jaw joint problems to perpetuate.
Many patients run the gamut of the medical world’s attempts to control their headaches- with multiple drugs, injections and so on, without ever thinking that the pain might be muscular in origin. But just like back pain is often muscle spasm, the pain we call TMJ, as well as headaches of many sorts are very much caused by overuse of the muscles of closing the jaws.
We would recommend that if you or a loved one has chronic headache problems, that you go to the web site, or give us a call and let us take a look. It can do no harm, and it might very well make a huge difference in your lives!