8 Ways to Sustain Your Family’s Dental Hygiene This Summer

2021-05-25T20:00:30+00:00May 25th, 2021|Dental Trends, Oral Health|

Tips to Help Your Families Dental Health

Summer is around the corner, which means it’s time for all the fun things that come with Summer. Maybe your family is planning to go on a big vacation. Maybe you’re getting geared up for long days at the pool. Perhaps you’re looking forward to some sweet, cold treats to tame the rising temperatures.

But amid the summertime excitement, it’s important not to leave your dental health in the dust. The shifts in routine and the seasonal activities don’t remove your family’s need to maintain good oral hygiene habits. Adam Brown DDS is here with some practical tips and information for how your family can keep your teeth and gums healthy through the sun-kissed days of Summer:

 

  1. Stick to Your Dental Routine 

We’ll start with the basics: keeping up with your normal dental care routine. Even if your kids are out of school and staying up later than usual, don’t let them go to bed without brushing their teeth. And to the adults in the room—don’t allow yourselves to get lax either!

For many families, summer is packed with special events and relaxed bedtimes, but everyone should be brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Also, make sure you are flossing once a day; any two teeth that touch should be cleaned regularly. Many children lack the motor skills to floss until they are more than 10-years-old. If necessary, help your child floss, or invest in a water flosser. 

 

  1. Pack Wisely 

The quickest way for your family to fall behind on dental hygiene is to forget the essentials when you travel. As you plan your vacation, be sure to pack travel-sized items like these:

 

Toothbrush

Like the other items on this list, you can find a selection of travel-sized toothbrushes at most major retailers, grocery stores, and pharmacies. These brushes will fold and easily fit into a carry-on bag. Your travel brush may not be quite as comfortable or effective as your full-sized brush, but it will get the job done. 

 

Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is another essential item that you can’t go without on your trip. If you only took two dental care products when you travel, you would want them to be a toothbrush and toothpaste. 

 

Floss

You can get travel-sized packs of floss, but flossers are even better. Particularly if you have kids, flossers are easier to use on the go, and they’re effective at removing excess food particles and plaque between teeth. If possible, bring a pack of floss in addition to your flosser. 

 

Mouthwash  

While it shouldn’t be used to replace your brushing habit too often, mouthwash can do wonders for killing bacteria and germs in your mouth. You won’t have any trouble fitting travel-sized mouthwashes in your carry-on, and you can use them to freshen your breath when you don’t have a chance to brush. 

 

Toothpicks

Toothpicks are the perfect little gadgets for removing food particles after a meal. Get a travel-sized pack of toothpicks for your trip to use when you don’t have the opportunity to floss. 

 

Wisps

Manufactured by Colgate, Wisp brushes are relatively new. And they’re one of the handiest oral hygiene products you can buy. These pocket-sized, disposable brushes are surprisingly effective at removing food particles and plaque, and each brush comes with a built-in freshening bead that releases toothpaste as you brush. The best part is that you don’t even have to rinse!

 

Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum is great for keeping bad breath at bay, but it also increases saliva production when you chew it. Since saliva is essential for dissolving acids and helping you fight dry mouth, this is a good thing. Stay fresh and avoid cavities by packing sugar-free gum for your vacation. 

 

  1. Consider Sustainable Products 

While travel-sized dental care products are great for taking trips, using eco-conscious products for your everyday routine is a great way to benefit both your oral health and the environment. Here are some of the most popular types of eco-conscious dental care products available today:

 

Toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes typically are not compostable, nor are the packages they come in. That’s why bamboo toothbrushes are gaining in popularity. Not only are the bristles and handles easily compostable, but bamboo brushes can be just as effective for cleaning your teeth and gums as conventional brushes. 

 

Toothpaste  

Natural toothpaste has been around for a long time. But it has come a long way over the years in terms of helping you effectively remove plaque and prevent cavities. Unless you have a high decay risk, your family could benefit your oral health and the environment by using natural toothpaste that comes in a compostable tube. 

 

Floss

The packaging of conventional floss can take years to biodegrade. There are many sustainable, low-waste floss products on the market that come in biodegradable packaging and are just as effective at removing food particles and plaque. 

 

Mouthwash

Alcohol-based mouthwashes may leave you with a feeling of freshness in your mouth, but they can also dehydrate your oral cavity, hinder saliva production, and cause irritation. If you want to add a mouth rinse to your dental care routine, opt for one that contains coconut oil and xylitol, which are known for their antibacterial properties and less harsh on the gums than alcohol. 

 

Whitening

Brushing with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda once a week can noticeably brighten your smile, and it has no impact on the environment! Just make sure it’s not part of your daily routine. When used too frequently, hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical burns on your gums while baking soda can damage your enamel. 

 

  1. Don’t Chew Ice 

Few things are more satisfying than an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day. But if you’re an ice-chewer, know the risks that come with it. Chewing ice, especially large cubes, can cause a variety of oral health issues and even lead to a hefty bill from the dentist or orthodontist. Some common consequences of chewing ice include damaged tooth enamel, damaged dental fillings, cracked or chipped teeth, and broken oral appliances. 

While adults should also take precautions, kids are particularly prone to chew ice subconsciously. Make sure your children know the risks involved and try to prevent the habit if possible. If anyone in your family experiences one of the injuries above to your teeth or oral appliances, contact Adam Brown DDS immediately to arrange an emergency dental visit.  

 

  1. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks 

We get it—Summer is meant to be enjoyed. And sometimes that includes chomping on yummy foods that are not so good for your teeth. Try to moderate your consumption of sugary foods and beverages, as they can significantly hinder your oral health routine. For example, sodas, juices, and ice cream can erode your enamel and cause cavities. Even acidic fruits like blueberries and pineapples can harm your enamel. After eating foods like these, be sure to rinse your mouth, brush, and floss as soon as possible.   

 

  1. Embrace Healthy Summer Foods 

Now that you have an idea of what foods to limit in your summer diet, let’s talk about some foods that can specifically benefit your oral health:

 

Salmon 

Salmon is not only a versatile fish for recipes, but it’s also one of the best foods you can eat for vitamin D. And without vitamin D, your body won’t be able to absorb nutrients like calcium. Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical in the prevention of periodontal disease and fostering overall health. 

 

Cheese 

For most people, this one doesn’t take a lot of convincing. Obviously, cheese is best eaten in moderation because it’s high in fat content, but it’s a wonderful source of calcium. And calcium is perhaps the single most beneficial nutrient for teeth, as it helps to keep your enamel strong and your jawbones durable. Moreover, cheese contains casein—a protein that provides a protective layer on your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. 

 

Bananas

Bananas are one of the most beneficial fruits you can eat for your dental health. They have a low acidic content, and they’re high in potassium, which helps to maintain jawbone density and tooth strength. Yes, bananas have sugar in them, but they won’t stick to your teeth like candy and other sugary foods. 

 

Oranges

Vitamin C plays a critical role in helping your gums fight off gingivitis and other oral infections, and oranges offer a beaucoup of vitamin C. Boost your gum health, and you’ll significantly lower your risk of loose teeth. 

 

Apples

If nature had a toothbrush, it would be an apple. Along with containing vital nutrients (e.g., potassium, vitamin C, fiber, etc.), apples massage the gums, increase saliva, and remove plaque. Making apples a part of your daily diet will help you maintain a clean mouth, fresh breath, healthy gums, and strong teeth. 

 

Carrots

Carrots are also a wonder for cleaning your teeth and gums. They contain lots of keratin, which combat plaque and tartar, and they massage your gums. They also have beta carotene, a nutrient that converts to vitamin A, which increases saliva production and enables oral wounds to heal more quickly. 

 

Kale 

This superfood is known for its incredible array of nutrients, and it’s one of the best foods you can eat for your oral and overall health. Kale has high levels of vitamin K, which helps to protect your bones and enamel, boost your immune system, and foster healing. It also helps the body absorb osteocalcin—another nutrient that benefits bones and teeth. 

 

  1. Drink Plenty of Water 

Water is essential for keeping you hydrated in the heat. But it also comes with specific dental benefits. For instance, it helps to keep your mouth clean by washing away leftover food and residue that would otherwise attract bacteria, in turn reducing the risk of cavities. Furthermore, water dilutes the acids produced by oral bacteria. Start your morning off with a glass of water, and always keep a refillable water bottle with you so that you can sip throughout the day. 

 

  1. Prepare for Accidents 

Finally, accidents happen. While you want to take every precaution, such as having your child wear a mouthguard while playing sports, you may not always be able to avoid injury. That’s why it’s essential to prepare a kit of supplies for your child to keep nearby in the event of a dental emergency. Whether they’re playing a contact sport, engaging in an individual physical activity, or hanging out at the pool, make sure they have easy access to a kit with these items:

  • Gauze
  • Saline solution
  • OTC pain medication
  • A small container (for a knocked-out tooth)
  • The number to their dentist 

 

Conclusion

Summertime may be when the living’s easy (especially for kids), but your family’s dental health still matters. Along with maintaining your regular oral hygiene routine, look for new products that can benefit your smile and the planet. Avoid chewing ice, consume sugary foods and beverages in moderation, and incorporate dental-friendly foods in your diet. Lastly, be sure to drink a lot of water, stay prepared for dental emergencies, and book your back-to-school appointments now at Adam Brown DDS!

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Oral Piercings and Dental Health

2021-03-22T16:34:40+00:00March 22nd, 2021|Dental Trends, Oral Health|

Oral Piercings and Dental Health Monroe, NC

There is no denying the fact oral piercings have become more prominent over the years. Today, you can find people of just about any age or gender who have a tongue or other oral area pierced. But even though this way of self-expression may be trendy, oral piercings can cause dental complications if they are not properly cared for. Is your piercing negatively affecting your oral health? 

All piercings need to be cleaned regularly, but for oral piercings, this cleaning needs to be extra thorough, because they can attract unwanted reactions and infections that can then cause trauma to your overall oral health. This means it is so important that you maintain a regular hygiene regimen throughout the process of having the piercing.

What sort of reactions can your mouth have to an oral piercing? There are a number of things to watch for—here are the most common:

  • Oral Infections. Since our mouths are filled with bacteria (mostly the good kind), any sort of oral piercing is subject to infection since it is in continual contact with the saliva and bacteria in your mouth. If the bacteria in your mouth manages its way into your bloodstream, through the hole your piercing is in, a condition called Endocarditis can occur. This is an oral infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and, as you can imagine, this can cause serious health problems—beyond oral.
  • Chipped and Broken Teeth. Piercings located close to the gum tissue can rub and wear at the roots of your teeth. This may not be a noticeable problem at first, but over time this constant friction will cause your gums to recede, exposing the sensitive nerves to your teeth. From this point, as the piercing continues to rub at the base of the gum, the teeth can become brittle and begin to crack. Once there is a crack or break in the tooth it may need major dental work such as a repair filling and a root canal.

*TIP: It’s a good idea to use plastic or other softer materials for oral piercings if possible. Hard metal piercings that rub at your gums and teeth have a high possibility of causing damage.

  • Scratches and Rashes. Lip piercings and other piercings close to the jaw and gum line can cause gum tissue scratches, which do heal but the scratch itself can get infected. Rashes can also break out and other wounds, which open up the possibility for a host of oral infections.
  • Negative Reaction. Speaking of rashes and wounds, since most mouth piercings contain nickel, an allergic reaction can come about if you aren’t sure how your body reacts to the metal. This is why it is so important to make sure you are not allergic to nickel prior to getting a piercing.
  • Ingesting a Piercing. Since oral piercings are inside the mouth there is always the chance of swallowing a piercing or a piece of it. Piercing studios will tell you that swallowing a piercing is harmless, as it will safely pass through your stool, there is no guarantee this is true.
  • Complications with Swelling. Tongue piercings especially like to swell since the piercing itself is damaging nerves and tissue. Some people swell more than others, and for those who do swell a lot, this can be dangerous because the tongue can balloon up enough to make breathing difficult, or even block your airway completely. If you are thinking of getting your tongue pierced, make sure you have quick access to medical attention if needed!

 

What is Your Body Telling You?

Our bodies are amazing machines that like to communicate with us when they are healthy and when there might be something wrong. If we pay attention, our bodies are giving little tells all the time indicating our current levels of health. This information is likely nothing new, but at Adam Brown, DDS we think it’s important for you to recognize a not-so-common sign that your oral health may be in danger, whether that danger is due to a piercing or anything else.

Paying close attention to your gums is incredibly important for analyzing your own oral health. If we have piercings, we know the importance of keeping them clean, we all know the necessity of flossing and brushing and making sure those gums are not receding, but what about when areas of the gums begin to turn white? What is your body trying to tell you when this happens? White spots on the gums are more common than not, but most people do not understand the possible dangers that could arise because of them. 

Unfortunately, noticing a white coloration on your gums could mean a number of different things, and they all have varying levels of seriousness. They can be caused by irritations due to piercings, but they can also come from a lack of proper oral care. That being said, as long as you catch it in time and know the possible reasons, you can get your oral health right back where it needs to be.

Here are some possible reasons for white gums:

  • Leukoplakia: This is an oral disease where white or gray coloration appears on or around the gums. These light spots are created due to mucous membranes that are sensitive and quite painful. Think canker sores, only on your gums! Leukoplakia is often caused by long-term tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, poorly fitting dental appliances, mouth injury, or bodily maladies such as cancer and HIV. If you find painful, white sores on your gums, the best thing to do is see a dentist immediately. Whether it is leukoplakia or not, your gums should never be white.
  • Anemia: This is a tough one because it can produce in many different forms, making it difficult to identify. The best way to diagnose anemia is to notice if the white coloration on your gums is paired with any of the following happenings:

-cold hands and feet

-constant fatigue

-chronic headaches

-spells of dizziness

-shortness of breath

-bodily weakness

-spells of irregular heartbeat

Another tell to anemia is the sudden whiteness of skin beyond just the gums. Some common causes of anemia include vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. This is definitely one you want to take care of right away. If you feel any of these symptoms could be true for you, make a dental appointment as soon as possible.

  • Mouth Ulcers: noticing white spots on your gums could indicate oncoming ulcers. This is much less serious than the previous causes of white gums, but these sores are no fun at all. If you feel the white spots on your gums could be connected to ulcers, it’s a good idea to begin washing your mouth out with saltwater. This is a great way to keep them away and the inside of your mouth healthy. Some causes of mouth ulcers are sugary foods and drinks, as well as, tobacco use. There is no need to completely cut these out of your diet, but regulation is a must.
  • Gingivitis: this is a mild form of gum disease that is fairly common among American adults. If you notice your gums beginning to recede and turn white, gingivitis is most likely the culprit. A few other signs include swollen and bleeding gums, even painful irritation, and loose teeth. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral care, so if you have fallen off the wagon a bit, it’s best to get right back into the routine of brushing and flossing regularly to keep from this uncomfortable situation.
  • Lichen Planus: this chronic autoimmune condition can inflame the gums and begin to turn them white in lacy patches. Symptoms of lichen planus are similar to gingivitis, but regular dental check-ups can keep this condition from inflammation.
  • Candidiasis: simply put, this is a yeast infection that causes creamy white sores on the gums. This type of infection is usually seen in babies and older adults and is often brought on by diabetes. If you happen to fit any of these categories, it is best to maintain a strict teeth-and-gum cleaning schedule and keep up with your dental appointments. Two appointments a year is recommended, but in this case, you might benefit more from three or four check-ups a year.
  • Oral Cancer: if you ever notice white bumps or growths on your gums, or if you suddenly find it difficult to chew or swallow, see a dentist right away. Most importantly, though, don’t panic. White growths or raised sections on the gums do not always equate to cancer, and even if they do, the faster you get them looked at the better your chances of having them safely removed.

Oral piercings or not, it is of the utmost importance to keep up on proper oral health. Whenever in doubt to what your body is telling you, contact us at Adam Brown, DDS. We are always here to help!

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Sensodyne or the Knock-Offs: Which Sensitivity Toothpaste Should You be Using?

2021-02-23T20:03:45+00:00February 23rd, 2021|Oral Health, Sensitive Toothpaste|

Sensitive Toothpaste

Sensodyne, though a little pricier than the average sensitivity toothpaste brand, is worth the extra cost, and we can tell you why. 

At Adam Brown, DDS we recommend Sensodyne to all of our customers. Whatever your experience with sensitivity is, it is always a good idea to safeguard yourself against potential pains since there are no negative effects of using a sensitivity toothpaste. Not only does Sensodyne protect against pain, but it also comes without the addition of added chemicals that can erode enamel and damage your gums.

But more on the health benefits of using Sensodyne here in a bit. Let’s look at that price difference.

At Adam Brown, DDS we took to the internet to find out how Sensodyne typically compares with a leading sensitivity competitor, Aquafresh sensitive. The first thing we looked at is the difference in price between the two kinds of toothpaste:

  • Sensodyne rings up at just over $4.00 at Walmart, where Aquafresh runs at about $2.75.

That price difference can be enough to initially turn you off to the idea of using Sensodyne, but it’s important to remember that sometimes with higher prices you are paying for higher quality—and this is one of those times.

In order to analyze the quality of each toothpaste, we had different reviewers use the two different kinds of toothpaste for one week each. Each of the reviewers spent one week with Sensodyne, switched to their normal toothpaste for one week then used Aquafresh for a week.

The results ended up being a great indication as to which one of the brands provided the best sensitivity relief. One reviewer, who had suffered from sensitive teeth before trying the kinds of toothpaste, wrote “With Sensodyne, you can feel the sensitivity going away with the very first brush stroke. My teeth have never felt better! I couldn’t feel any difference after the first use of the Aquafresh, and after a week I felt very little sensitivity relief compared to what I had felt before using Aquafresh.”

One reason Sensodyne is so effective is its ingredients, including those not included. Since Aquafresh includes whitening agents in its toothpaste—“Gently whitens while you brush!”—there is the danger of these agents eroding your enamel, causing sensitivity issues. So, ironically, this sensitivity toothpaste could end up causing more problems with tooth sensitivity.

This isn’t to say you should not whiten your teeth. It can be safe to use whitening products, but this is best done under the supervision of a dentist like Adam Brown. It is especially harmful to use whitening products if you already have sensitive teeth since whitening products tend to exacerbate sensitivity.

 

What About the Taste?

Another one of our reviewers commented on the taste of Sensodyne compared to Aquafresh, stating “The Sensodyne has a strong taste, but it is still pleasant despite its strength. The aftertaste is great too. That toothpaste flavor goes away shortly after brushing but isn’t terrible while you’re waiting for it to go away. The Aquafresh had a much grittier and unpleasant taste. The aftertaste was equally strong.”

Reviewers on Amazon.com tend to agree. Sensodyne has nothing but good reviews: “Almost overnight I had two teeth become so sensitive to sweet, cold, heat, even just breathing through my mouth that just eating was painful. After two days of Sensodyne things were much better and after four days almost back to normal. Very happy with the results.” –Michael Sean

Even other dentists recommend the use of Sensodyne: “My dentist recommended his and I’ve been using it for three years now. The sensitivity of my teeth has definitely improved and I can’t imagine not continuing with it forever.” –Stevenzac (Long Island), Amazon.com

Sensodyne is the most trusted brand here at Adam Brown, DDS and we highly recommend it for your home as well. Visit our website or contact us directly with any of your oral healthcare questions.

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COVID Is Cracking Teeth: How to Keep it from Happening to You

2020-12-02T16:11:03+00:00November 17th, 2020|Oral Health|

Cracked teeth are common. If a cracked tooth is left untreated, it can lead to physical ailments like severe pain, discomfort, and infection, not to mention a slew of mental health issues (e.g., stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc.). The most serious cases may even require the extraction of a tooth. 

While cracked teeth have always been common, they’ve become even more so in the COVID-19 era. Dentists across the country (and the world) have noticed a significant uptick in cases. Many dental offices are experiencing an increase of about 30% in cases, while others are exceeding a 500% increase on some days. That’s right, 500%! 

Let’s put that into perspective: If dental offices treated one fractured tooth per day before COVID came around (which was pretty normal), some of those offices are now seeing five cases each day. Whew, that’s a big change.

So, what’s behind the rise in cracked tooth cases? Below, we’ll answer this question and discuss the different types of cracked teeth, how to know when you should see your dentist, how you can prevent a cracked tooth from happening or worsening, and much more. 

 

WHY THERE ARE MORE CASES OF CRACKED TEETH 

No, COVID-19 doesn’t directly cause cracked teeth. However, the general rise in stress and anxiety brought about by the pandemic is considered by many medical experts to be the primary culprit for the uptick in cracked tooth cases. In short, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to brux your teeth. Bruxism refers to the act of grinding or clenching your teeth, and over time, the pressure of bruxing can lead to cracked teeth, as well as muscle pain in the head and neck. 

There are numerous concerns that the average American is dealing with during these challenging times. Along with the fear of contracting the coronavirus (for themselves and/or their loved ones) and dealing with overarching medical issues, many people are navigating significant changes in their job demands, finances, and social lives. 

If it sounds like a reach to say that these stressors can lead to cracked teeth, keep in mind that bruxism was a common condition before the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head and that it’s only becoming more common. And a lot of people don’t realize when they are bruxing their teeth. Actually, some dental health professionals estimate that about half of their patients are unaware that they grind or clench their teeth. This is because most bruxing happens during sleep—when you’re not fully conscious and able to relax your muscles. 

Besides bruxism, there are other common causes of cracked teeth to be aware of. These include eating hard foods (e.g., nuts, hard candy, ice, etc.), getting large dental fillings that can weaken the integrity of a tooth, and subjecting your mouth to extreme temperature changes, such as burning your tongue with hot food or liquid and drinking ice water to cool it down. Also, physical trauma to the mouth—such as a sporting injury, automobile accident, or fall—can cause teeth to crack, as can age (most cases are in people 50 or over). 

 

THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CRACKED TEETH 

According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), there are five types of tooth cracks/fractures, all of which vary in severity and treatment possibility/requirements:

  • Craze lines
  • Fractured cusp
  • Cracked tooth (extending to the gum line)
  • Split tooth
  • Vertical root fracture

Knowing about these different types can help you to better identify issues and determine what steps to take when you experience certain symptoms. Here’s a little detail on each type of cracked tooth:

Craze Lines

This is the most common and least severe type of cracked tooth. In fact, all teeth have craze lines, which are essentially micro-cracks in the enamel. Since these cracks don’t reach the dentin (the tissue beneath the enamel) or cause pain, no treatment is necessary. 

 

Fractured Cusp

Another type of cracked tooth that generally doesn’t cause pain is a fractured cusp. This typically occurs when a patient has a dental filling and the surrounding area of the tooth undergoes a small fracture. A fractured cusp doesn’t impact the pulp (the tooth’s center that holds the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue), which is why it’s usually painless. In most cases, crowning can fix a fractured cusp. 

 

Cracked Tooth (Extending into the Gum Line)

When a tooth has a vertical crack all the way through but it doesn’t enter the gum line, it’s typically savable through bonding or crowning. But treatment options become murkier if the crack has extended into the gum line. At that point, it really depends on how far into the gum line the crack has grown. Consulting a dentist and acting quickly is the best way to save the tooth; if too much time passes, extraction may be necessary.

 

Split Tooth

Going a step further, a split tooth is when a crack has extended well into the gum line—enough to where the tooth can be divided into two segments. If you have a split tooth, chances are you will not be able to save the whole tooth, but your dentist might be able to preserve a portion of the tooth. Again, the faster you act, the better your chances are for avoiding extraction. 

 

Vertical Root Fracture

This is the most severe type of cracked tooth. A vertical root fracture grows upward, from below the gum line through the top of the tooth. The prognosis for a vertical root fracture is generally not good; in most cases, the entire tooth will need to be extracted. 

 

SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS, AND TREATMENT 

Sometimes, people are not able to tell when they have a cracked tooth, particularly in the early stages. Obviously, this is unfortunate because it can hinder you from seeking treatment early on. But oftentimes, there will be symptoms, and it’s important to know what to look out for. 

For instance, if you notice a heightened sensitivity to temperatures or sweetness when eating or drinking, or if your gums are swollen around a particular tooth, it could be a sign of a cracked tooth. Also, if you experience pain while biting or chewing, it’s essential to get checked out by a dentist, even if the pain is inconsistent. Most pain from a cracked tooth comes with the release of biting pressure. 

When it comes to the diagnosis process, it can help to know what to expect. Though x-rays can reveal poor pulp health (which can indicate a crack), they often don’t actually show cracks in teeth. Therefore, your dentist is likely to take several other steps to get to the bottom of things, such as:

  • Going over your dental history (do you regularly eat hard foods or clench/grind your teeth?)
  • Using a magnifying lens to examine your teeth for cracks. 
  • Using a dental explorer on your teeth to feel for cracks. 
  • Applying dental dye, which can reveal cracks. 
  • Asking you to bite down on something in order to pinpoint the pain. 
  • Examining your gums for inflammation. 

 

There are four primary forms of treatments for a cracked tooth. The one that is best for you will depend on the crack’s location and the extent of the damage wrought:

Bonding. In mild cases, a dentist can use bonding to fix a cracked tooth. This process includes applying a plastic resin to fill the crack, which can help the tooth to look and function like normal for years to come. 

Crowning. Porcelain or ceramic crowns are used to either fit over or cap a cracked tooth. To make this prosthetic device, your dentist will probably need to make an impression of your tooth and send it off to a lab that will manufacture the crown. The dentist will also need to take a little enamel off of your tooth so that the crown will fit properly. 

Once the crown comes back from the lab (usually in a couple of weeks), the dentist will fit the crown over your tooth and use cement to permanently bond it. Crowns can last a lifetime when taken care of properly. 

Performing a root canal. If your tooth crack has reached the pulp of your tooth, you may be advised to get a root canal. This procedure is typically performed by a dentist, oral surgeon, or endodontist, and it involves the removal of damaged pulp. By reestablishing some integrity in the tooth, a root canal can help you avoid further weakening or infection. 

Extracting. This is the last resort. But when a tooth crack is severe enough, removing the tooth can help you prevent a whole host of other health problems. Your dentist might recommend extraction if there is simply too much damage done to the tooth’s structure, nerves, and roots. 

 

HOW TO PREVENT BRUXISM 

So, now that you know that bruxism is the leading cause of cracked teeth, how do you keep yourself from grinding and clenching your teeth? Well, there are some practical steps you can take each day to prevent bruxism or at least mitigate its effects. 

For example, incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and/or massage. Try to maintain proper posture when sitting (especially while working), as an aligned spine and relaxed jaw can reduce clenching. Be aware of how you’re holding your jaw during the day; remember that your teeth should not be touching unless you’re eating or speaking. 

If you notice your teeth clenching, start placing your tongue between your teeth. The sensitivity of your tongue will encourage you to stop clenching. When it comes to bruxing during sleep, which is when it most often happens, look into products that can help. For instance, wearing a night guard can prevent your teeth from touching, even if you’re subconsciously grinding and clenching. And research the various customized pillows and neck positioners on the market that can relieve stress and pressure from your jaws and neck during sleep. 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOING TO THE DENTIST

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if anyone else in your life notices that you’re bruxing your teeth, it’s essential to contact your dentist right away. The quicker you respond, the greater the chances that you will be able to fix the problem before it gets to the point of extraction. Dental offices across the country, including Adam Brown Dentistry, are taking painstaking precautions to keep patients and staff members safe during the pandemic, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment today!

 

PRACTICING DENTAL HYGIENE AT HOME

Finally, as with any other dental/oral health issue, one of the best ways to prevent cracked teeth is to practice daily dental hygiene. Be sure to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and use mouthwash regularly. Also, be conscious of your diet, as the foods and drinks you consume can have a significant impact on your dental health. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the lives of countless Americans in many ways—one being that more people are experiencing cracked teeth. Continue to practice good dental hygiene each day, take any necessary steps to prevent bruxism, and be on the lookout for any symptoms that could indicate a cracked tooth. And of course, call Adam Brown Dentistry today to schedule an appointment!

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Should You Be Smooching Your Dog?

2020-06-11T13:19:15+00:00March 24th, 2020|Oral Health|

We love our pets, and as we find ourselves spending more time at home these days, an upside is being able to hang out with our little (or big) furry friends. But, if you are a dog owner could your oral health be at risk? Studies indicate those sweet doggy kisses we look forward to every day might be negatively impacting our gums and teeth.

 

Recent research shows that pets, such as dogs and cats, share the same type of bacteria as humans that causes periodontal (or gum) disease. However, despite the fact we share the same or similar oral bacteria, there is no scientific evidence showing that humans can actually develop gum disease directly from a pet. In fact, there have been certain defenses found in the mouths of humans that actually combat outside germs, such as those from dogs and cats, and prevent them from developing into gingivitis, cavities, gum disease, etc. But, simply knowing there is a chance of contracting something like gingivitis from your dog means we should look into it more.

Gingivitis is not something anyone wants, as it is a mild form of gum disease that is fairly common among American adults. If you notice your gums beginning to recede and turn white, gingivitis is most likely the culprit. A few other signs include swollen and bleeding gums, even painful irritation and loose teeth. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral care, so if you have fallen off the wagon a bit, it’s best to get right back into the routine of brushing and flossing regularly to keep from this uncomfortable situation, especially if you are a pet lover.

The fact is, your dog’s mouth is disgusting and teeming with germs. Simply relying on your body’s own defense systems to keep you healthy may not be wise. And it’s not just your oral health that could be at risk.

 

What You Could Catch

The odds are slim you will get sick from kissing your pet, but there is still a chance. So what could you catch?

According to the CDC, campylobacteriosis is the most common infection given to humans from their pets. Campylobacteriosis sounds like a good time, but it is actually an infection transmitted by the stool of an animal—an animal that may or may not seem or look sick. As we all know, animals tend to lick their rear-ends causing them to pick up particles of stool into their saliva, and well…there you go.

Once this is transmitted to a human, it can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain.

Giardia is another infection that can be transmitted from our pets. This is a tiny, intestinal parasite that can cause the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Vomiting

Giardia is spread by the animal swallowing stool particles containing the parasite and passing it on to you; however, the risk of contracting this infection from your dog or cat is extremely low.

 

Keeping Your Mouth Clean

The good news is there are ways to build up your own defenses against these nasty infections, and the best way to maintain a healthy relationship with your pet is by maintaining your own oral health. Follow these procedures and keep your mouth clean!

 

  • Begin by brushing correctly. The best way is to brush in small, circular motions. This will keep the toothbrush bristles from pushing your gums away from your teeth, which causes irritations that can lead to any of the conditions previously listed.

 

  • Floss every day. Flossing is incredibly important for your oral health. This keeps food from resting between your teeth, which begins to rot and aid in gum disease. Floss every morning or at night right before bed. Be sure not to jam the floss down on your gums. Use soft, clean motions, going back and forth. Hit every area between the teeth and rinse with water or mouthwash after.

 

  • Watch your diet. Sugary drinks and foods, alcoholic beverages, even fatty meats can all have negative effects on your gums. You don’t necessarily have to cut these things out of your diet completely, but if you are the type of person who enjoys these on a regular basis, try and cut back a bit. At the very least, make sure you brush your teeth right after eating or drinking sugary or fatty substances.

 

Carolina’s Dental Choice wants you to keep up on your oral health and show your pets the attention they need.

 

*Source: https://www.self.com/story/kissing-pet-health-effects

 

 

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Water: The Best Beverage for Your Health

2020-06-11T13:20:37+00:00February 24th, 2020|General, Oral Health|

It is remarkable the role water plays in our lives when you stop and think about it. Hydrating ourselves has become so habitual it’s second nature to fill a glass of water and chug it down. But do you ever stop and think about the importance water plays in our lives? And as it turns out, more and more people are thinking about the importance of hydration these days, and rightly so since our bodies are made up of 60% water and it is a necessary component to our survival.

 

In a recent episode of “Man vs Wild” host and survivalist, Bear Grylls mentioned what he called “The Rule of 3s,” which is this: humans can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter, and three minutes without oxygen.

One of the most famous football players to ever play the game, Tom Brady, claims to drink anywhere from 14 to 37 glasses of water a day! Of course, he is a professional athlete, and this could be highly dangerous for a non-athlete to drink this much, but Brady’s water intake is just another indication of the importance of drinking water.

Despite what we know about the important relationship we, humans, have with H20 there are still those who fail to see the necessity for regular hydration. Even those of us who do drink water every day, we are probably not drinking enough. Part of the problem is most people know water is important, but they don’t really know why. Sure, it hydrates—but what does that even mean? How much water does it take to be hydrated? And is that all water does—are there other benefits?

What role, more specifically than, “important!” does water play in our lives? In particular, what is its effect on our oral health?

 

The Basics

Here are just a few of the important things water does when we drink it:

  1. Creates Saliva. Saliva is mostly water mixed with electrolytes, enzymes, and mucus and it helps breakdown food particles and keeps your mouth healthy. By drinking water, on a regular basis, you are able to maintain the correct amounts of saliva in the mouth. As we get older, however, the amount of saliva in our mouths begins to reduce, which is all the more reason to drink water—even more of it as we get older.
  2. Regulates Body Temperature. When we get hot, either from weather conditions or physical excursion, our bodies begin to sweat as a method of cooling the body temperature down. The sweat produced is from the water in our bodies, and if we do not replenish that water we become dehydrated. This is why it’s so important to drink plenty of water when you find yourself sweating.
  3. Helps Protect Your Body. Water actually lubricates your cushions your joints, spinal cord, and body tissues. This, in turn, helps to keep your body young and spry and helps keep you from becoming injured during physical activity.
  4. Aids in Ridding Your Body of Waste. Our bodies need water in order to sweat, urinate, and have bowel movements. By drinking plenty of water, your kidneys are better able to break down waste so that it can be properly excreted.
  5. Allows for Maximum Physical Performance. While performing in physical activity, it is common for the body to perspire up to six to ten percent of body weight. Drinking water during these times keeps your body regulated. Water also keeps up your strength and endurance while performing.

Exercising without hydrating can be fatal. Blood pressure can decrease, hyperthermia can set in, and in extreme cases, extreme dehydration can cause seizures.

  1. Keeps You Regular. A healthy intake of fiber helps prevent constipation, but drinking plenty of water is important as well. Bowel movements need to contain a certain amount of water in order for the movement to work successfully (that is, ridding your body of waste left over from what has been taken in). Without enough H20, constipation can set in.

*(Tip: if you are experiencing constipation, drinking carbonated water can help.)

  1. Aids in Digestion. Experts have recently confirmed that drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down food more easily, which helps your body successfully pull out the most nutrients.
  2. Helps You Lose Weight. Studies show that, particularly for young girls and women, drinking plenty of water helps the body rid itself of extra fat cells. So drinking water while dieting is even more powerful, which is why it’s so important to have a glass of water before, during, and after every meal—even if that meal is a healthy one.

 

The list of benefits to staying hydrated goes on and on, and as experts pay more attention to the effects of water on our health, even more revelations come to light. Let’s take a closer look at the effects water has on our teeth.

 

Water and Your Teeth

Drinking water, on a regular basis, actually strengthens your teeth. What’s more, drinking water with fluoride is one of the easiest ways to prevent cavities (but more on fluoride in a bit).

By keeping your mouth hydrated, you are able to strengthen the teeth by keeping them clean and clear from leftover food particles, which can cause decay and disease. Water will also wash away excess sugar left over from meals or drinks. This sugar, when left in the mouth, can combine with other chemicals to create a dangerous acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth. But a quick glass of water can keep this from happening—remember, water before, during, and after each meal!

The same goes for the gums inside your mouth as well. Food and the chemicals from the food we eat love to attach themselves to our gums. This is why it’s a good idea to swish the water around in your mouth when you drink, especially after meals.

 

 

Fluoride: A Dangerous Chemical, or A helpful Agent?

It’s tasteless, odorless, and it prevents tooth decay—it even has whitening agents to help keep your smile nice and bright. So why would anyone want to remove fluoride from water? Well, ever since the mass introduction of fluoride into our pubic water systems back in the 1940s, there just hasn’t been much hubbub about it. Sure, there have been the naysayers since the beginning, but they never got loud enough to cause any real question. But now, in 2020, new findings are being revealed about the effects of fluoride, and the information coming to light may be worth your time.

What really seems to have gotten people to start questioning the benefits of fluoride is the popularity of home water filtration systems. People are becoming much smarter about their health these days, and the foundation for any healthy human being is a pure water source. At the same time we want to keep healthy, we also want to reduce our use of plastics, which has caused many to look elsewhere for freshwater, besides buying plastic bottles every week.

 

What Studies Show Us About Fluoride

According to the Harvard Public Health Magazine, a study done shows that fluoride does indeed help prevent tooth decay from children; however, there was absolutely no evidence that it had any positive effects on adults. The study also indicated that the research done back when fluoride was first introduced (the 1940s) is quite flawed, which indicates we don’t have clear evidence for the overall effectiveness of this (natural) chemical added to our water.

The Harvard article goes on to question that just because we have superficial evidence of fluoride helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities—for youngsters, at least—why are we drinking it? By ingesting fluoride we are allowing it into our bloodstreams, our brains! We are, and have been for some time, drinking a chemical of which we do not know everything about. Could there be negative side effects we’ve been living with for years?

 

The Good and the Bad

The truth is we just don’t know enough about the effects of fluoride—which does seem a bit ridiculous, as we have been incorporating it into our diets for decades. But, we can give a quick breakdown of what we do know. Here’s what is good about using fluoride:

  • As mentioned above, it has been proven to help prevent tooth decay.
  • It protects from cavities.
  • Even though we do not know a lot about the effects of fluoride, in the past seventy years of its implementation, it has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • It saves money and trips to the dentist.
  • Fluoride, in and of itself, is a natural chemical found in groundwater and the ocean.

 

Now, here’s the bad:

  • Excessive intake can cause Dental Fluorosis. This can visibly show as white spots on the teeth, or in more serious cases, as brown spots that can weaken the teeth.
  • Ingesting excess amounts of fluoride can also cause skeletal Fluorosis. This type of fluorosis is actually a bone disease created by an accumulation of fluoride in the bone and is known to be very painful.
  • In some cases, taking in excess amounts of fluoride has caused major thyroid problems.

 

The Result

Research on the effects of fluoride seems to be a bit shaky. But even though reports conflict—some say it’s useful for children but of no use for adults, while others say it’s good for all—Carolina’s Dental Choice does have some advice for you:

  1. Don’t overdo it. If you have fluoride in your water, maybe get toothpaste that doesn’t have it.
  2. Try incorporating fluoride-free water into your diet as a change and see if you notice any differences.
  3. Since this is a topic growing in popularity, it’s a good idea to keep up on what research has been, and continues to be, done.
  4. See your dentist. The most important thing to do is see a professional who can look at your teeth and their reaction with fluoride and then advise on what to do moving forward.

 

If you have any questions regarding your water intake, or the effects fluoride is having on your oral health, don’t hesitate to contact us at Carolina’s Dental Choice. And in the meantime, keep drinking water!

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TMJ Issues – What You Need to Know

2020-06-11T13:21:55+00:00October 22nd, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, General, Oral Health|

If you’ve ever experienced acute jaw pain, you’re not alone. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is a common issue that currently affects over 10 million Americans. Women tend to be more prone to this disorder than men although researchers don’t yet fully understand why. The good news is that the majority of TMJ disorders do not indicate serious, long term issues and the associated pain is typically temporary in nature. Understanding what TMJ disorder is can help those suffering to better treat and manage any discomfort that might arise.

 

What is TMJ

Your temporomandibular joint is a complicated joint that works to connect your lower jaw to your skull. It acts like a sliding hinge and allows your mouth to move in various directions which, in turn, supports your ability to eat, yawn, smile and more. Due to its design and location within the body, the TMJ is one of the more difficult joints to access and treat. Disorders of the temporomandibular joint typically present in one of three ways:

  1. Pain or discomfort occurring in the tissues that control jaw function
  2. Injury or dislocation within the area of the jaw
  3. Arthritis or inflammation within the joint

Individual causes of TMJ disorder can be difficult to diagnose as there can be a mixture of reasons why a person experiences jaw pain.

 

Causes and Symptoms

While some cases of TMJ disorder can be initiated by injury, most causes are less evident and the origin unknown. Because the disorder is found to be more prevalent in women versus men, researchers are currently studying whether female hormones might play a potential role.

While teeth grinding and jaw clenching can potentially trigger TMJ pain, it isn’t considered to be a definitive cause. Braces and other methods of alignment have also not been proven to bring about TMJ disorder.

People who experience TMJ pain commonly suffer from one or more symptoms including:

  • Pain or discomfort when eating/chewing food
  • Pain in or around your ear (sometimes feels like a dull earache)
  • Inability to fully open and close your mouth
  • Pain traveling in and around the area of the face

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

As of today, there are no set methods for diagnosing TMJ disorder. When assessing the problem, your dentist will observe your jaw, feel in the area of the temporomandibular joint for any clicking or popping, and potentially order an x-ray if he/she feels additional observation is needed. It’s also a good idea to visit your family doctor in addition to your dentist to rule out alternative reasons you might be experiencing craniofacial pain.

Often times, the pain associated with TMJ disorder will go away on its own. However, if treatment is needed, there are a handful of options typically available to most patients.

  • Over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Common medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol will go a long way toward providing relief for most occurrences of TMJ disorder. However, if your case is more serious, your dentist may prescribe a clinical dose to help alleviate the pain.
  • Stabilization splints (Bite Guards). A bite guard is one of the more common solutions that a dentist can provide to help with the pain of TMJ disorder. This appliance fits over either the upper or lower teeth and is typically worn full-time for a short period followed by a short stint of wearing while eating and/or sleeping. While it is not fully understood why this appliance helps it is believed that stabilizing the muscles in the mouth can help to repair any potential damage that might have occurred over time within the temporomandibular joint.

There are also a number of ways that you can control the discomfort of TMJ disorder through specific methods of self-care.

  • Practice facial relaxation techniques. Tightness and pulling of the jaw muscles can aggravate and increase discomfort in your temporomandibular joint. When you begin to feel pain, be aware of whether or not you’re clenching. Practice releasing the tension in your jaw.
  • Avoid exaggerated or repetitive movements of the jaw. Activities such as gum chewing or excessive yawning/yelling can exacerbate TMJ pain and should be avoided if possible.
  • Stay away from hard food. Focusing on eating soft foods when experiencing TMJ pain can help to keep discomfort to a minimum.

 

While there is currently no hard and fast solution to the issues associated with TMJ, there are several ways that you can manage and control the discomforts associated with it. If you are concerned you might have TMJ disorder, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for more information.

At Carolina’s Dental Choice, our dentists are experts in the management of TMJ disorder and are ready to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to call our office to learn more about the ways we can help.

 

Works Cited

“TMJ Disorders.” National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Health, Sept. 2017, https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-12/tmj-disorders.pdf.

“TMJ Disorders.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Dec. 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350945.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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