Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)


Cortney Davis, RDH

 

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

            Xerostomia is a medical term meaning dry mouth due to the lack of saliva present in your mouth. Individuals that have a dry mouth don’t have enough saliva to keep their mouth moist. Saliva is important because it is a person’s primary defense against tooth decay and helps maintain the health of hard and soft tissue in the mouth. Saliva also is important because it washes away small food particles and debris that would sit on the teeth, has shown to protect against gum disease, helps carry minerals that help rebuild he enamel surfaces of teeth, and can also help neutralize acids in the mouth during and after eating.

What causes dry mouth? Dry mouth is a common side effect of many non-prescription and prescription drugs including drugs to treat anxiety, pain, allergies, colds, depression, etc.. Another common cause of dry mouth is side effects from certain medical treatments. Many people undergoing radiation to the head and neck and chemotherapy have damage to the salivary glands and it reduces the amount of saliva produced. The last common cause of dry mouth is from side effects from infections and diseases including but not limited to Sjorgrens Syndrome, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and strokes.

Common symptoms of dry mouth include; frequent thirst, a sticky dry feeling in the mouth, problems speaking, chewing and swallowing, bad breath, and a dry red tongue.

If you have dry mouth make sure you drink plenty of water every day to help stimulate saliva flow, talk to your healthcare provider to find the cause of your dry mouth and what your treatment options are, keep up good dental care by brushing and flossing and going to your dentist for routine check-ups, try over-the-counter saliva substitute’s containing xylitol, and try mouth washes and toothpaste designed for dry mouth such as Biotene.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Adult/GeneralInformation/22,DD205

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/expert-answers/dry-mouth/faq-20058424

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-dry-mouth#1

How do I know which Toothpaste to pick?

Sharma Mulqueen, RDH

How do I know which Toothpaste to pick?

When it comes to choosing toothpaste, sometimes it seems like your options are endless. On the drugstore shelves you’ll see dozens of varieties that claim to whiten your teeth, decrease tooth sensitivity, prevent cavities, heal your gums, protect against tartar—even all of the above! But toothpaste doesn’t just polish teeth; it also removes the bacteria that cause dental plaque and bad breath, so it’s important select a brand that is approved by the American Dental Association. Since everyone has different needs, here are some tips that will help you choose a toothpaste to meet your individual needs.

Types of Toothpaste

  • Anti-cavity: This type of toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride not only helps to prevent decay, it also actively strengthens tooth enamel.
  • Anti-gingivitis: If have tender, swollen gums that bleed when you irritate them, this is probably an early sign of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Anti-gingivitis toothpaste helps fight oral bacteria and restore gum health, preventing more serious gum disease.
  • Desensitizing: If your teeth hurt when you consume things like ice cream or cold drinks, this toothpaste can help you. It will provide relief by blocking the tooth’s pain signal to the nerve so that sharp changes in temperature aren’t so painful.
  • Tartar-control: This toothpaste will help control tartar. However, the best way to remove tartar is by scheduling a professional dental cleaning with your Dental Hygienist.
  • Whitening: This toothpaste contains chemicals that are able to help whiten and brighten tooth enamel, thus maintaining the natural color of your teeth. If your teeth are sensitive this is a toothpaste you want to avoid.
  • Children’s: Fluoride or Fluoride free?  When making this decision it is important that you are aware if your child is swallowing the toothpaste.  If they have not learned to spit it out, stick with a non Fluoride toothpaste.  Fluoride is a great benefit for children as it helps remineralize teeth and prevent tooth decay.

It is recommended that everyone brush their teeth twice daily for two minutes and floss daily.  You only need a pea size amount of toothpaste. Today there is toothpaste to meet the oral needs of everyone. But while all of the products on the shelf might seem the same, with a little help from your Dentist or Dental Hygienist, you can determine which is right for you. It is important to schedule dental checkups and professional cleanings twice a year to prevent tooth sensitivity, gum disease, tartar buildup, and tooth decay. We hope to see you soon in one of your dental offices.

Sources:

www.colgate.com

www.ada.com

The Truth About Hookah

Lindsay Olsen, RDH

The Truth About Hookah

Myth: Hookah smoke is better for you than cigarette smoke and not addictive.

Reality: Hookah smoke of various fruity flavors, tastes and aromas can be even more harmful than cigarette tobacco smoke. Also, hookah smoke contains four times more nicotine (an addictive drug) than cigarette smoke. Some people can become addicted to nicotine after using any form of tobacco just a few times, this includes hookah.

Myth: Smoking hookah is less harmful than cigarettes because the smoke passes through water, which filters out the chemicals and other carcinogens.

Reality: When hookah passes through water at the base of a hookah pipe it cools the smoke, but does not filter any chemicals out of the smoke. This “cooling” process forces a hookah smoker to inhale twice as deeply as a cigarette smoker, which causes chemicals, cancer causing agents, and other harmful elements to penetrate deeper into the lungs. The charcoal that is uses in hookah pipes adds even more carbon monoxide to the higher levels that already exist in this type of tobacco.

Myth: Smoking hookah is fun, and I only do it socially with friends, its not like I do it every day.

Reality: The reality is 45-60 minutes of hookah smoking is the same as chain smoking 15 cigarettes. Even if you are only smoking hookah for an hour, twice a week, it can lead to nicotine addiction. Something also to consider, when you share the mouthpiece with others you are at risk of getting colds, viruses such as herpes simplex one (cold sores), oral bacterial infections and tuberculosis.

Need help quitting? Speak with your dental hygienist, dentist, or call

1-800-55-66-222, or visit http://www.ashline.org

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

Asotra, Kamlesh. Hooked on Hookah? What You Don’t Know Can Kill You. Burning Issues: Tobacco’s Hottest Topics. Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program Newsletter 7, no 3 (2005) 1-10.

Why Are You Taking My Picture?

AriannaM

Arianna Marsden, RDH

Why Are You Taking My Picture In a Dental Office?

When you come into one of our offices for your first visit, we’ll likely complete a comprehensive exam for you.  As part of the comprehensive exam, our team assesses your teeth, gums, risks for oral cancer, dietary health, and makes recommendations for how to relieve pain, treat active tooth decay and gum diseases, and to improve your general and oral health.  The assessments we complete normally include a full-mouth series of radiographs, or x-rays, a thorough assessment of the health of your soft tissues, including pocket depths, bone loss, inflammation, and recession by your dental hygienist, and a thorough examination of the hard tissues by your dentist.  One important part of our comprehensive assessment, which you may not expect, is a series of photographs.

Normally, we take a series of photos as a record of how your teeth look, and how the lips drape over the teeth when you smile and at rest.  These photos allow us to show you your teeth in a way you’ve never seen them before; they are the most powerful tool we can offer you in making educated, informed decisions about your own dental health.  With these photos, you will be able to see every surface of every tooth, the condition of the gums, any teeth that are wearing or shifting, producing chipped or broken teeth, or unhealthy spacing or crowding of your teeth.  Zoomed-in intraoral photos can also help you to really see conditions that the clinical team identifies in your mouth, such as a filling that is leaking or has created fracture lines in your tooth.

As clinicians, we are concerned about your overall health, and we know that a big contributor to that is the health of your mouth.  We keep meticulous records of the conditions of your mouth, and treatments that have been recommended to achieve and maintain a healthy mouth.  Our records often include detailed written chart notes, but as the old adage states, a picture is worth a thousand words!  With these images, your clinical team can recall and understand what treatment was recommended and why, without digging through chart notes.   These photos also allow us to evaluate the quality of our work, often through before and after photos of a tooth that is being restored, or following a cleaning.   

Providing digital photography is just one of many techniques we utilize to comprehensively assess the health of your mouth, and to involve you in the process of making informed decisions about your dental health!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Why Do We Need to Brush and Floss?

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Andra Mahoney, BS RDH

Why Do We Need to Brush and Floss?

Many of you know two questions that your Dental Hygienist will inevitably asked you when you go in for your regular check-up visit:  “Are you brushing two times a day?” and “How is your flossing going?”

As an Hygienist, we do not asked these questions to get after you.  We promise we do not love nagging you to floss.  We do it because we genuinely care for your health and helping our patients understand how brushing and flossing can keep you healthy is one of our professional goals.

Most of you know the guidelines. For optimum dental health, you should brushing two times a day for two minutes, and floss one time a day.  We know that is what we are supposed to do.  But do we know why?

Plaque (that soft, filmy, white stuff that grows on our teeth) accumulates constantly.  24/7.  It never stops growing.  Even if you do not eat food, it grows (common misconception that plaque only grows when you eat).  Inside plaque lives bacteria.  This is the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease.  It is recommended that we brush two times a day to remove the plaque and disrupt the bacteria’s harm on our mouth.  If we do not remove the plaque, then we are allowing the bacteria to start creating cavities and cause inflammation and infection in our gums.

If the plaque is left in an area for a while then it will harden and calcify.  This is what we can tartar build-up, or you may even hear us refer to it as calculus.  While plaque is soft and can be removed with a toothbrush and floss, tartar is like a rock cemented onto your tooth.  You can brush and floss all day long, once it’s turned into calculus, it’s not going any where.  The biggest down side of that is that it still has the bacteria inside of it.  Now it’s stuck on your tooth, not going anywhere, with all this bacteria.  Even better for gum infections and things to occur.

Don’t worry, your awesome Hygienist will save you.  We have the tools and know-how to remove that calculus and get your mouth back to health!  But, so do you!  You can brush and floss every day, remove that plaque, and prevent that calculus from even forming!

Now many of you do brush your teeth.  Which is fantastic!  We love when you do that!  However, not as many of you floss.  I’m not sure why.  It’s just as important, and doesn’t really take that long.  Here’s something to remember when you want to skip flossing tonight… You can be THE most amazing brusher in the whole world, but you will never be able to clean between your teeth with just a toothbrush.  It’s a fact.  The best technique will not maneuver those toothbrush bristle to places they cannot physically reach.  Floss is the only way to clean the remaining 35% of your tooth that the brush did not get.  Floss is a toothbrush’s best friend.  They go hand in hand.  One just as important as the other.

I hope this helped you understand a bit more why we always ask these two simple questions.  If you have any other questions, we are here for you!  Just ask!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing

http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/teeth.html

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Teethcleaningguide.aspx

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-if-you-dont-brush-and-floss-your-teeth-2014-2

Keeping That Holiday Smile

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Cortney Davis, RDH

Keeping That Holiday Smile

There is a lot to be excited about and look forward to during the holidays; time with family, friends, giving and receiving presents, world peace (hopefully), service, and food. In my opinion food is the main ingredient in the recipe for a great Christmas. This time of year we are surrounded by delicious food. From holiday ham to endless desserts and treats, there are so many kinds of foods and drinks we consume while merrymaking with friends and family and soaking up as much “holiday spirit” as possible. So, eating and drinking your way through December is the norm. With all this yummy food around there is always one thing I remember to do, take care of my mouth. Yes, I admit a lot of yummy goodness goes into my overly-enthusiastic stomach, but that “gateway” needs some extra maintenance this time of year.  So here are a few tips to help keep your mouth healthy for the holidays.

My first tip is to enjoy sweets in moderation. During the holiday’s sweets are serious temptations. Holiday cookies or hot chocolate may be fun to eat and drink, but can certainly wreak havoc on your teeth. Rather than preventing yourself from eating all those treats altogether, consider saving them for special parties or occasions. By controlling your consumption of these sugary foods, you can minimize the damage to your teeth.

Another effective tip that I recommend is to reduce the possibility of staining one’s teeth. Red is a festive color, and it can also cause teeth stains. There are many different foods and drinks consumed during Christmas that can stain your teeth, such as cranberries, desserts, beets, red punch, or wine. After I consume food or drink that has the potential to stain my teeth, I like to slip into the bathroom and rinse with a small amount of water to ensure I don’t end up with heavy staining on my teeth.

The third tip, which is hard for me to follow is to remember to brush and floss after a big meal. This is very hard for many (myself included) because I tend to find myself sitting down and falling into a food-induced coma.  I have been known to have eaten holiday ham followed by apple cider and pie then finished it off with a pound of left over mash potatoes and after slip into a deep, restful nap on the couch. Then, I remember waking up to the feeling of gross, fuzzy plaque on my teeth, which didn’t feel so great. Leaving food on your teeth for too long can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. So remember, even if it’s flossing that extra roll out from in between your teeth just try and get as much of the food out of your teeth without waiting too long.

My final tip is to not delay dental treatment or emergencies during the holidays. Yes, we get very busy during the holidays, between cooking, shopping, going to family functions, or enjoying the holiday season it is easy to put off treatment you may need. It’s also easy to say to yourself that you will do it after the holidays. But, prolonging treatment or being late on a dental appointment could make things worse. Delaying dental treatment can cause more serious problems, and if you suspect something is wrong or have been diagnosed with something needed to be treated, it is best to get it done before it gets worse. Luckily for our patients, we still have nights and weekend appointments available during the holidays!!

I hope you enjoyed these helpful tips. I also hope everyone has a great holiday and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.deltadentalin.com/medialibraries/global/documents/grinmagazine-holiday13.pdf

http://www.dewda.com/blog/infographic-how-to-keep-your-smile-merry-and-bright-during-the-holiday-season.html

Basic Tongue Problems

AnnC

Ann Clark, RDH

Basic Tongue Problems

The tongue is often known as the “strongest muscle in the body”.  It is made up of a group of muscles and allows us to swallow, talk, taste, and clean the mouth.  A healthy tongue is pink and covered with small bumps we call taste buds or papillae.

When your tongue experiences soreness or discoloration it can be frustrating due to its constant use.  The majority of tongue problems are not serious and most can be cared for quickly; however, sometimes a discolored or painful tongue can be something more serious like a vitamin deficiency, oral cancer, or AIDS.  Any persisting concerns should have medical advice.

White tongue:
-Leukoplakia: this condition causes excessive cell growth in the mouth causing white patches to grow.  Although not always dangerous they can be a precursor to cancer so let your dentist be the judge.  It can develop from irritation and is more often found in those using tobacco products.
-Oral thrush: also known as candidiasis.  This is a yeast infection of the mouth.  It shows up as white patches like cottage-cheese.  It is more common in infants and the elderly, especially denture wearers or those with weakened immune systems.  Medical conditions like diabetes, or inhaled steroids for asthma or lung disease can increase your risk.  Antibiotics can kill off “good” bacteria resulting in this condition.  Eating plain yogurt and medications can combat this infection.
-Oral lichen planus: this manifests itself as lacey-white lines on your tongue.  Although hard to determine the cause, it often resolves on its own.  Keeping up good hygiene and avoiding tobacco can help the healing process.
Other Conditions: 
-Scarlet fever: contact a doctor if you have a red tongue along side a high fever.  An antibiotic is necessary for this condition.
-Geographic tongue: this is known dentally as benign migratory glossitis and looks like a map pattern of reddish spots with a white border;  their location often shifts.  They are usually harmless and acidic foods can often sting.  If discomfort persists you can be prescribed a topical medication.
-Red or strawberry tongue: many factors can cause a normally pink tongue to turn red or even look strawberry-like with enlarged, red taste buds.  Vitamin deficiencies like B12 and folic acid can cause such an appearance.
-Black hairy tongue: although this looks scary it is typically non-serious.  The small bumps on your tongue grow continually in your lifetime and in some people become excessively long, making it easier to harbor bacteria and cause a dark “hair-like” appearance to form.  This is more commonly found in those with poor hygiene, individuals on antibiotics or chemotherapy and those with diabetes.
-Sore or bumpy tongue:
*Trauma can usually occur from biting or burning your tongue. Grinding and clenching can irritate the sides
your tongue.
*Canker sores or ulcers cause soreness.  Their cause is unknown but stress can aid their development.
*Burning tongue syndrome can occur in post menopausal women.
*Smoking is an irritant to the tongue manifesting in soreness.
*Medical conditions like diabetes and anemia can result with a sore tongue.
*Enlarged papillae can result from irritated taste buds.
*Oral cancer- a spot that doesn’t resolve in a 2 week period needs to be checked.  Many oral cancers do not
hurt in the early stages so don’t assume a lack of pain means you are okay.

Please consult your friendly dental office for an evaluation if any of these conditions arise.  It’s better to be safe.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tongue-problem-basics-sore-or-discolored-tongue-and-tongue-bumps?page=3
University of Maryland Medical Center: “Tongue Problems”
University of Maryland Medical Center: “Oral Cancer”
American Dental Association: “Common Mouth Sores”
Familydoctor.org: “Mouth Problems”
Familydoctor.org “Canker Sores:  What they are and what you can do about them”
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine:  “Black Hairy Tongue”
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine:  “Painful Papillae of the Tongue”

IV Sedation Dentistry

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Andra Mahoney, BS RDH

IV Sedation Dentistry

It is very common that people are nervous at the dentist office.  While we do everything we can to make your appointments run quickly and smoothly, sometimes people need a little extra help.  We offer several different options to make your appointments easier.  If applicable, you can be prescribed a medication to help calm your nerves.  You can be given Nitrous Oxide, also know as laughing gas.  And finally, IV conscious sedation.  All of our Signature Dental Offices offer IV sedation dentistry.

What is IV Sedation?

IV stands for intravenous. Medication is administered through the veins and because of its rapid effects, many patients prefer this option.

How does IV Sedation work?

IV sedation medication is delivered through a very small needle placed in either the top of your hand or within your inner elbow.

Some people have a fear of needles, that is not uncommon.  Due to that, some patients are not able to tolerate IV sedation. However, most people describe the sensation as a small pinch or prick. Also, dentists can further reduce the feeling by giving you an oral sedative beforehand and/or applying a topical anesthetic where the needle will be placed.

What are the benefits to IV sedation?

Just like other forms of sedation dentistry, IV sedation is designed to relax you and make you completely comfortable. IV sedation also eliminates your anxiety and pain. Although you may lie back in the dental chair with your eyes closed, you will not be asleep during your appointment and will still be able to respond to verbal cues from your dentist. Because you are completely relaxed, your dentist can accomplish more high-quality dentistry in less time. IV sedation can benefit you if you have a sensitive gag reflex or difficulty sitting in a dental chair for long periods of time. You’ll be so relaxed that you’ll be unaware of the sights, smells, and sounds of the dental office. Patients remember little-to-nothing of their appointment by the next day.

IV sedation gives your dentist optimal control of the amount of medication administered and allows them to readily increase or decrease your level of sedation as needed, quickly and comfortably.

An additional benefit of IV sedation includes faster onset of the sedation medications, meaning you’ll be able to feel the effects of the medication quickly.

What dental procedures are recommended for IV sedation?

Mainly, people prefer to use it for taking out wisdom teeth and appointments that need to have a lot of treatment accomplished in one sitting.  Those that have high dental anxiety also prefer IV sedation.  However, IV sedation can be an option for any treatment that needs to done!

What is the recovery time after IV sedation?

There is no set amount of recovery time because every patient is different. However, many patients begin to feel more alert soon after the IV medication is stopped. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the end of your appointment. If you experience any nausea after treatment, your dentist can usually provide a prescription to help. Patients are encouraged to sleep and drink plenty of water and clear fluids for the remainder of the day. In regards to recovery from the actual dental work itself, your dentist will give you individualized instructions for aftercare. Many sedation patients report significantly reduced pain levels the day after their treatment. There are multiple theories for why this is, but the common thought is that because a sedation patient is relaxed and not tense during their appointment, the dentist can often use less force as well as access the mouth more easily.

Does Dental Insurance cover IV sedation?

Patients have different insurance plans, so there is no single answer. Generally speaking, most dental insurance plans do cover part or sometimes even all of the cost of IV sedation. It’s best to check with your insurance provider prior to your appointment to confirm your plan’s benefits.

If this is something that interests you, your dentist can review your particular needs and your medical history to see if you are a good candidate.

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://evsedation.com

Halloween Sugar Facts

KatieM

Katie Moynihan, BS RDH

Halloween Sugar Facts

Happy Halloween! Although Halloween is a fun holiday to dress up in your favorite costume, it also comes with consuming large amounts of candy and sugar. According to the US Census Bureau, the average American eats 25 pounds of candy every year with most of that consumed during Halloween time. All that sugar hidden in a small piece of candy can add up quickly. If you or your child eats 12 treats, that is equivalent to about 30 packets of sugar. It is important to take a closer look at the nutritional facts before indulging as it is guaranteed to spook you!

Halloween Candy Comparison

  • Almond Joy, Snack Size – 80 calories, 8 g sugar
  • Butterfinger, Fun Size – 100 calories, 10 g sugar
  • Gummie Bears (Haribo) – 8 pieces, around 65 calories, 21 g sugar
  • Heath Bar, Snack Size – 76 calories, 9 g sugar
  • Hershey Kisses – Average 25 calories, 2-3 g sugar each kiss
  • Hershey’s Miniature Bars – Average 42 calories, 4 g sugar each bar
  • Jolly Rancher – a serving of three Jolly Ranchers is 70 calories, 11 g of sugar.
  • Kit Kat, Fun size – 60 calories, 6 g sugar
  • Peanut M & Ms –  Snack Sixe – 5 g of fat and 9 g of sugar.
  • Almond Joy – Fun Size – 80 calories for a mini-Almond Joy or Mounds.
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Snack Size – 110 calories, 11 g sugar per peanut butter cup
  • Skittles, Fun Size – 60 calories, 11 g sugar
  • Smarties – 1 roll, 25 calories, 6 g sugar
  • Snickers, Fun Size – 80 calories, 4 g of fat and 8 g of sugar
  • Sour Patch Kids, Mini Bag – 50 calories, 10 g sugar
  • Starburst, Fun Size – 2 candies, 40 calories, 6 g sugar
  • Three Musketeers Minis – 64 calories, 2 g of fat and 11 g of sugar
  • Tootsie Pops & Charms Blow Pops – 60 calories, 13 g of sugar.
  • Twix Minis, 1 bar – 50 calories, 5 g sugar
  • Twizzlers (Strawberry Twists) – 2 pieces, 50 calories and 6 g sugar

We all know it is nearly impossible to avoid Halloween candy altogether; however, there are some simple ways in which you can minimize the sugar overload after trick-or-treating is over. Always be sure to brush away the treats! Whether your child eats one piece of candy or ten, it is important to brush properly to prevent tooth decay. Make a candy plan to avoid going overboard with candy consumption. Set a limit on the number of candy that can be eaten each day, or a limit on the number of houses that they can visit. A candy swap is a great way to let your child enjoy the fun of trick-or-treating without overloading on sweets. You can trade small amounts of candy for a non-sugar reward such as a toy or sticker. We hope these tips will get you on track to a happier and healthier Halloween!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/cavities/article/how-to-prevent-cavities-from-halloween-candy-1013

http://www.childrenshospitaloakland.org/main/news/halloween-candy-calorie-and-sugar-comparison-212.aspx

Oral Parafunctional Habits

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Becky Larson, RDH

Oral Parafunctional Habits

We all need to move our jaw and teeth to do normal everyday activities such eating, talking, and breathing.  However, some individuals use their teeth and/or jaw for other purposes, which are not considered normal activities.  A para-functional habit is the habitual exercise of a body part in a way other than the most common use of that body part.  Some oral para-functional habits include clenching or grinding the teeth (bruxism), tongue thrusting, and thumb sucking.  Oral para-functional habits can cause problems with the teeth and/or jaw and should be addressed as soon as they are discovered.

Clenching or grinding of the teeth is referred to as bruxism.  Teeth are meant to clench and grind during the process of mastication (eating) but not in the absence of food.  Occasional teeth grinding doesn’t usually cause harm.  However, grinding on a regular basis can cause extensive damage to the teeth as well as other oral health complications.  Grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety but occurs most often during sleep.  Because of this, most people are unaware they grind their teeth.  Symptoms of bruxism include a dull, constant headache and/or a sore jaw upon waking up.  Usually a spouse or loved one will also hear the grinding at night.   Your dentist can examine your teeth and jaw for signs of bruxism.  Chronic teeth grinding can result in tooth fractures, loosening of the teeth, tooth loss, or teeth worn down to stumps.  In these cases the dentist may place bridges, crowns, implants or perform root canals.  Severe grinding can cause pain in the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint).  Wearing a mouth guard while you sleep can prevent excessive wear on the teeth.  Having a custom fit mouth guard is the best option as it is made from impressions your own teeth.  While a mouth guard does not stop the clenching and grinding from happening, it prevents wear on the teeth by putting a barrier between the biting surfaces of the teeth.  Usually mouth guards will last a few years before needing to be replaced.

Tongue thrusting is where the tongue protrudes near or through the front teeth during swallowing, speech, or while the tongue is at rest.  The correct position of the tongue should be on the roof of the mouth (or palate) when swallowing.  Symptoms of tongue thrusting include:

  • Dental malocclusion (teeth don’t align correctly)
  • Poor facial development
  • Mouth breathing
  • Periodontal problems
  • Other oral para-functional habits (bruxism and/or thumb sucking)
  • Drooling
  • Limited tolerance to food textures or limited diet
  • Difficulty swallowing pills
  • High palatal arch

Tongue thrusting can also be related to thumb sucking.  Children often begin sucking thumbs or fingers at an early age.  It is a reflex that provides comfort and relaxation and as such, many children practice this habit while sleeping.  While this habit is generally stopped around 2-4 years of age, some children continue thumb or finger sucking into elementary school.  Most dentists will advise to break this habit before permanent teeth begin to erupt.  Pacifiers are great substitutes for thumbs and fingers because they can be taken away at the necessary time.  Both tongue thrusting and thumb sucking can be detrimental to the development of facial structures, jaw and teeth.

Please talk with your dentist if you are experiencing problems with any of these para-functional habits.  He or she can recommend treatment to help prevent un-necessary tooth damage.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/parafunction

http://orthowny.com/parafunctional_habits/

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/teeth-grinding-bruxism#1

http://tonguethrust.weebly.com/