Teeth Hurt in the Cold? It is Not Normal

Cut Back Or Combat? Understanding Your Oral Relationship With Sugar

Most people recognize that sugar is bad for many aspects of their health, especially their teeth. Unfortunately, many people do not fully understand the relationship between sugar and tooth decay. Furthermore, current research and dental trends focus on reducing the effects of sugar rather than adopting a holistic approach that eliminates sugar from the diet. Below are the things you need to understand about sugar and your oral health. 

What Does Sugar Do to Your Teeth? 

Have you been told that sugar causes cavities? While it is true that sugar contributes to cavities, it does not cause them directly. Sugar causes bacteria that live in your mouth to produce acid. It is this acid that eats away at your enamel and causes cavities. Each time you put sugar in your mouth, it takes about twenty minutes for the bacteria in your mouth to break down the sugar. While the sugar is being broken down, the bacteria continues to produce acid. This means that if you take a bite of something sugary every twenty minutes as opposed to eating it all at once, you will continually produce acid for an extended period of time, increasing your risk of tooth decay. 

Understanding Current Trends and Research 

Researchers know that sugar consumption is directly related to the development of cavities. In fact, your dentist has probably told you that sugar is not good for your teeth. However, much of the current research is focused on ways to combat the effects of sugar and protect your teeth from your sugar consumption rather than how to recognize and reduce your overall sugar consumption. This is largely due to funding for research paid for by the sugar industry, which seeks to focus on ways that consumers can continue to eat sugar. This means that you are more likely to read articles and hear news about how you can combat the affects of sugar rather than ways that you can effectively cut sugar out of your diet. 

Ways to Cut Back 

The best way for you to protect your teeth from cavities is to reduce the amount of acid produced in your mouth. This means limiting the frequency and amount of your sugar consumption. To reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and keep it out in the long term, you need to make slow, consistent changes to how and what you eat. The first step is to recognize which foods have sugar and when you tend to eat them. Then, figure out ways to meet your psychological and physical needs with foods that do not contain sugar

One thing you should avoid when trying to cut out sugar is artificial sweeteners. These can actually make you crave more sugar, making your battle more difficult in the long run. 

Ways to Combat 

Since it is difficult to completely cut sugar out of your diet, you should still be aware of ways that you can combat the effects of sugar on your teeth. Rinsing your mouth with water or chewing an acid-neutralizing gum can help to reduce the amount of acid that comes in contact with your teeth. Having your dentist place sealants and scheduling regular cleanings to remove the plaque in your mouth can also reduce tooth decay caused by sugar in your diet. Consuming sugary snacks at once as opposed to snacking on them throughout the day can also reduce the damage you face.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent sugar-related tooth decay is to reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet. However, for most people this is an unrealistic goal. In these instances, it is important to know when you are consuming sugar and how to combat its effects. For more tips on your dental health, contact a local clinic like Forest Lawn Dental Centre

Learn More

How To Reduce TMJ Pain During Dental Visits

If you have temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, then your jaw and facial muscles are likely quite sensitive and painful. Your jaw also may pop and feel tight. Arthritis, stress, tooth grinding, and jaw injury can all cause the condition, and you may find it difficult to keep your mouth open for an extended period of time. This can make regular dental visits both difficult and painful. Unfortunately, skipped dental visits can lead to a build up of tartar on the teeth and the formation of cavities. Dental visits can be pain free though.

Ask Your Dentist to Use Supports

Dental visits can be uncomfortable for people with TMJ, because the jaw cannot be opened wide due to tight muscles and tendons around the jaw joints. Also, stress is placed against the jaw when your dental professional rests their hands on the mouth when cleaning the teeth. This can force the mouth open wider than is normally comfortable. Not only is the discomfort bothersome, but routine dental exams can be lengthened significantly when you ask to take breaks during your appointment.  

Jaw Support Devices

Stress, discomfort, and breaks can all be reduced if your dentist uses a jaw support device. Ask your dentist if this type of product can be used during your dental appointments. The jaw support attaches around the shoulders and chest and a foam protrusion sits underneath the jaw. The foam pad is moveable and adjusted to your height. Once adjustments are made, your chin rests on the padding during the entirety of your dental visit.  

If your dentist does not have a jaw support device, consider bringing a pillow with you that can be placed comfortably underneath your chin. Your dental professional can place two or three rolled up towels on your chest and under your jaw as well to provide added support.

Take Muscle Relaxants

If you have a mild or moderate case of TMJ, then your doctor or dentist may ask you to take NSAID pain relievers alone to treat your condition. This can reduce normal discomfort, but the medications cannot reduce pain during high stress situations. Muscle relaxants can relax your jaw muscles during these times. Muscle relaxants help to reduce muscle spasms that can occur when the mouth is open for an extended period of time. The drugs work within the brain to stop the motor neurons from becoming excited. This stops the brain from sending messages that the jaw muscles should contract.

Muscle relaxants have a sedative effect on the entire body, so they can reduce general stress during dental exams as well. You may feel sleepy when taking the medication though, so make sure to arrange for a ride to and from the dental office if your physician prescribes muscle relaxants for use during dental appointments.

Massage the Jaw

Medical professionals often indicate that TMJ can be assisted with the use of facial massage. Massaging the jaw joints and muscles can loosen the tissues and reduce stress and discomfort. You can massage your own jaw, and this is a good idea before dental appointments. Use your fingers to gently rub your face where your top and bottom jaws come together. Use circular motions and extend the massage across the upper cheek and lower jaw area.

Once you complete the massage, stretch your jaw muscles by opening your jaw as wide as you can.  Hold your jaw in place for 15 seconds and close your mouth. Repeat the process 10 times to make sure your jaw muscles are as loose as possible. You can also place a warm cloth on your face for several minutes to help soothe and loosen your jaw muscles as well.

If you have TMJ, then dental visits may be extremely uncomfortable for you. Fortunately, they do not have to be as long as you ask your dentist to use a jaw support and you take muscle relaxants before appointments. Massaging your jaw can offer assistance too.

Learn More

Break Your Child’s Soda Habit Now To Avoid Lifelong Dental Problems

As a parent, you probably already know that soda is an unhealthy choice for your child. However, once your child gets into the habit of drinking soda regularly, that habit can be tough to break. Many parents allow their children to continue drinking soda simply because they’re not sure how to wean them off it is successfully. As a result, many of those children suffer from lifelong dental problems such as tooth decay and weak tooth enamel.

If your child reaches for soda on a daily basis, it’s essential that you break this habit now. Waiting will only make the habit harder to break and will give dental problems more time to set in. Don’t feel guilty that your child has developed this habit; you’re not alone. Studies have indicated that at least one in four school children consume at least four servings of soda a day! What’s important now is that you act quickly to make your child one of the four out of five who don’t drink that much soda.

Why Soda is So Bad For Teeth

The sugar in soda is notoriously bad for teeth. It feeds oral bacteria, which produce acids that cause tooth decay. The effects of sugar are even worse when your child drinks soda between meals, since the sugars may sit on the teeth for hours before your child eats something else or brushes his or her teeth again.

There is a second, lesser-known reason why soda is so bad for teeth, and it has to do with the soda’s acidic qualities. The acid in soda helps it maintain its fizz, but it’s also terrible for teeth. It can erode tooth enamel, especially on the front teeth, since they come into direct contact with the soda as your child drinks.

Some parents mistakenly think it’s okay for their children to drink soda when they are young, since they still their baby teeth will fall out anyways. However, this is not the case. Your child’s baby teeth play an important role in guiding the adult teeth into place as they erupt, and it is essential that you keep them in good health.

How to Break the Soda Habit

A good way to break the soda habit is to slowly decrease your child’s intake over time. Like any other habit, this one is hard to quit cold turkey. However, if you wean your child off of soda slowly, he or she will have an easier time adapting to the change. Start by identifying how often your child drinks soda right now. Perhaps he or she drinks one soda with each meal, or maybe it’s just one soda a day.

Once you know how often your child drinks soda, it’s time to scale back. For example, if your child drinks three sodas per day, start by cutting out one of those sodas. When your child gets used to this change, eliminate an additional soda, followed by elimination of the final soda after several weeks. Replace the sodas with healthier choices, such as milk and water. Remember that even diet soda is not a healthy choice, since it still contains the acids that erode tooth enamel.

Your child may be reluctant to reduce his or her soda intake. To help get him or her on board, spend time time discussing the dangerous of soda. You can also ask your family dentist to reiterate to your child how bad soda is for the teeth. Often, hearing advice like this from someone other than a parent will make a child more willing to follow it.

Another way to motivate your child to quit drinking soda is to offer him or her some type of reward when soda is no longer a part of the daily routine. Perhaps you could take your son or daughter to the new skate park or to see a movie in the theater to celebrate the accomplishment.

It’s never too late to quit soda and prevent future dental problems. Whether your soda-sipping child is three or thirteen, make today the day you start weaning him or her away from this dangerous beverage.

Learn More

You Brush Your Teeth, But What About Your Tongue?

Your oral health plays a direct role in your overall physical health. While most people focus on caring for the teeth and gums, your tongue shouldn’t be neglected, either. In fact, brushing your tongue has been shown to be incredibly important for a number of reasons. Below, you’ll learn why your dentist tell you your tongue needs attention and how you can best keep it clean each and every day.

What Role Does the Tongue Play in Oral Health?

The tongue plays a very important role in your overall oral health. In fact, when the mouth is unhealthy, the tongue will reflect the issue by looking red, swollen, dried-out or even textured. An excellent example of this is oral thrush, a yeast overgrowth in the mouth. When it occurs, the tongue becomes extremely painful and develops white, raised sections.

The tongue itself also houses thousands of nerves, taste buds and glands that help you properly wash away food debris. When it’s not working correctly, particles will hang around the mouth longer, where you lose their nutritional benefit. Food debris is also a major cause of the development of cavities and an attractant for bacteria.

This makes brushing really important, if for no other reason than to help keep it clear of debris.

Removing Bacteria From the Mouth Helps, Too

As a segue from the previous question, debris isn’t the only thing that needs to be removed from your tongue when you brush. Bacterium also accumulates and should be brushed away.

It’s not the bacteria itself that smells, it’s the chemicals and metabolites they release.

According to this article, “The dominant bacterial species in dental plaque are Streptococcus sanguis and Streptococcus mutans.” Both of these are found in oral plaque as well as on the tongue. An overgrowth of the first will make your breath smell fishy, while an overgrowth of the second will make your breath smell pungent and strong.

Both can also speed up tooth decay, which can cause bad breath all on its own.

While plaque typically collects on the gum line and in or around the teeth, and not on the tongue itself, having bacteria on the tongue means it can more easily spread to problem areas. This is where most people fail; they thoroughly brush the teeth, gums and gum line, but neglect the tongue.

About 30 minutes later, any bacteria left on the tongue simply migrates back to the teeth. Plaque develops, and this time it’s insidious because you think you’re doing everything right.

How to Brush Your Tongue Properly

Now that you’ve heard a convincing argument for tongue brushing, it’s time that you learned how you can do it properly. At its most basic, you can just grab your toothbrush and a bit of cold water and gently scrub in straight lines from the back to the front of your mouth.

But this is far from the most effective way for you to get the job done!

Use a Tongue Scraper and Scrubber

For the best possible cleaning, you should seek out and use a tongue scraper and scrubber. If you’ve ever purchased a new toothbrush and found that its head has a small, rounded rubber spot on the back, you’ve seen a scrubber.

To Use The Scrubber

To use the scrubber itself, just rub it in slow circles all over your tongue. Be sure to rinse and spit afterward to clear the mouth of loosened debris and bacteria.

To Use The Scraper

The next step up is to use a tongue scraper. They do look a little bit odd–almost like a toothbrush handle with a small triangle shape on the end. You’ll find them in the tooth care aisle at any drugstore.

A scraper will apply firm pressure to the surface of the tongue, forcibly evicting anything that might have been hanging around.

While they’re really effective, some people find them too abrasive. Because of this, it’s best to just start by moving the scraper around in your mouth to test it out. Graduate to gently running it over the tongue from the front to the back, rinsing each time.

For added bonus, use a little bit of toothpaste on the tongue, too.

Taking care of your teeth is important for so many reasons. Your permanent adult teeth are the only natural teeth you’ll ever have, so it makes sense to do everything you can to keep them in great shape. For questions about oral hygiene, contact your dentist today.

Learn More

4 Habits That Harm Kids’ Dental Health

Every morning and night, you lovingly command your kids to brush their teeth.  You also schedule regular checkups for them at the dentist.  Despite your vigilance about their dental hygiene, they may be engaging in behaviors that can harm their teeth.  If you have young kids at home, consider helping them break the following 4 destructive dental habits.

Chewing on Hard Objects

Do your young kids constantly plop hard objects into their mouths in order to chew on them.  Some kids regularly chew on their:

  • Pencils
  • Pens

  • Eating utensils

  • Finger nails

  • Blocks

While this habit is common among youngsters, it can be harmful to their oral health.  Some of the problems associated with chewing on these items include:

  • Tooth erosion – Tooth erosion occurs when a person’s tooth enamel is broken down.  Tooth enamel is the hard outer surface of your teeth.  Constantly biting hard objects can cause premature tooth erosion in children.

  • Illness – When kids chomp down on hard objects, they unknowingly cause germs and bacteria to enter their mouths.  These destructive substances can cause unwanted illnesses such as the common cold or the flu.

  • Dental trauma – Your young children may be constantly on the move.  Sadly, when children fall with hard substances in their mouths, serious dental trauma can occur.  For example, broken teeth or puncture wounds may result.

Consuming Toothpaste

Do you often marvel at the big messes your kids make while engaging in daily activities such as eating or brushing their teeth?  While your children may look funny with foaming toothpaste all over their mouths, eating it can be detrimental to their oral health.  The reason stems from the addition of fluoride in most over-the-counter toothpastes.

When consumed in small amounts, this mineral is beneficial to your kids’ teeth.  Fluoride can help prevent cavities.  However, if your children swallow too much of this substance, it can cause brown and white patches to develop on their teeth.

If your young kids are still in the toothpaste swallowing stage, shop for a toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride.  To ensure that your young ones still consume the proper amount of this mineral each day, talk with your dental professional about fluoride supplements.   

Grinding Teeth

Have you heard your kids grinding their teeth?  This common occurrence is prevalent among children.  In fact, as many as 15% of kids participate in this destructive behavior each day.

If your kids grind their teeth, they might be subjecting themselves to future:

  • Chipped teeth

  • Tooth erosion

  • Jaw pain

  • Headaches

  • Earaches

  • Sensitive teeth

Kids usually stop teeth grinding on their own before they reach their teenage years.  Unfortunately, irreversible dental damage might already be done by then.  If you suspect your kids grind their teeth, make an appointment with their trusted dentist today. 

Dentists often prescribe a custom made mouth guard for kids who grind their teeth.  By wearing this protective appliance, your children can protect their teeth and jaws from unnecessary damage.  Besides obtaining a mouth guard, lowering your kids’ stress levels and caffeine intake might also prevent teeth grinding.  When kids are relaxed, they tend to grind their teeth less.   

Thrusting the Tongue

Before swallowing, some kids unconsciously thrust the top part of their tongues onto their lips.  This improper method of swallowing causes the front teeth to withstand an enormous amount of pressure.  This undue pressure often misaligns the front teeth resulting in an overbite. 

If a child’s tongue thrusting habit is severe, speech issues can arise.  If you notice that any of your kids thrust their tongues when swallowing, contact your dentist immediately.  This dental expert may recommend that your children see a speech pathologist.  Often, this type of individual can help kids break this harmful pattern by teaching them a new method of swallowing.

Because your kids’ dental health is important to you, you probably want to do everything in your power to safeguard their teeth for the future.  By encouraging your children to break the aforementioned 4 harmful habits, you can protect your young ones’ oral wellbeing.  To learn more about these habits or other worrisome behaviors affecting your kids’ teeth, contact your local trusted dentist today.

Learn More