Friday, January 29, 2021

10 Things You Didn't Know About Teeth

Here are 10 interesting facts about teeth, human and otherwise.

Other than when it’s time to brush or fix them, you may not think much about teeth. Well, they’re actually pretty fascinating.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Gum Disease and Glaucoma

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, which means it’s a great time to knock out two important preventive health visits – a dental exam and an eye exam. Why? Well, it turns out that your mouth may have a lot to say when it comes to the health of your eyes.

According to the American Glaucoma Society, studies suggest that periodontal (gum) disease and recent tooth loss increases our risk of developing open angle glaucoma (OAG).

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly half (47.2%) of American adults have mild to severe periodontal disease. It’s caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar on your which attract harmful bacteria. It develops gradually over time and can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene and going in for routine dental exams. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to bone loss, chronic bad breath (halitosis), and permanent tooth loss.

Glaucoma has been labeled as the “silent thief of sight,” and consists of a group of disorders which cause slow and irreversible loss of vision that can lead to blindness. OAG is the most common form of glaucoma, accounting for 90% of all glaucoma cases, per the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

Our eyes have small drainage canals that help regulate our eye pressure. OAG occurs when fluid drains too slowly from the eye and causes pressure to build up and, if left untreated, it can lead to blindness. Like periodontal disease, OAG develops gradually over time and can be prevented with routine eye exams.

Tips for preventing periodontal disease:
  • Brush for 2 minutes, twice a day;
  • Floss at least once a day;
  • Stay on top of your preventive dental visits;

Tips for preventing glaucoma:
  • Wear eye protection;
  • Know your family’s medical history;
  • Stay on top of your preventive eye visits;

Talk to your dentist to learn more about your risk for periodontal disease and how to prevent it. Visit your eye doctor to learn more about your risk for OAG and how to prevent it.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Smile! Tips for Proper Tooth Brushing for Kids

Cynthia Johnson, CDA, RDH demonstrates proper tooth brushing techniques for kids, and offers tips for good dental health in children

Monday, January 18, 2021

Folic Acid is Great For Your Teeth - Here's Why!

We’ve finally ushered in a new year (so long, 2020!), and many of us are setting goals for 2021. If you’re anything like the estimated 51% of resolution-makers who vow to improve their diets, then consider upping your intake of vitamins.

And the one to pay extra attention to is folate or folic acid, otherwise known as vitamin B9. This powerhouse nutrient plays an essential role in many functions throughout the body, including maintaining the health of our mouth, teeth, and gums.

With the first full week of January marking Folic Acid Awareness Week, we couldn’t think of a better time to shine the spotlight on this vital vitamin. Learn what exactly folic acid is, how it affects our health, and how much is recommended to keep your smile sparkling each day.

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is necessary for ensuring the proper production of red blood cells. By managing the ways our cells divide and carry oxygen throughout the body, the vitamin is a key component to the health of our hearts, brains, and more, including the soft tissues of our mouths.

Studies have also shown that the vitamin plays a crucial role in the formation of our DNA. A lack of folic acid has been linked to chromosome breakage which can lead to an increased risk for certain cancers and cognitive defects. Other studies have shown that folic acid is even more important for women who are pregnant. Ensuring the proper intake of B9, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, can dramatically reduce the risk of fetal brain and spine defects.

How Folic Acid Affects Oral Health

Vitamin B9 is remarkably important in supporting the cells that make up the gums, as well as the mouth’s ability to fight off inflammation and disease. Those who lack adequate amounts of folic acid can find themselves at risk for early signs of irritated gums such as bleeding, bad breath, and cavities.

If not addressed with proper diet and dental care, these symptoms can lead to advanced periodontal disease, potentially causing loss of teeth, visibly receding gums, and the need for invasive periodontal treatment.

The good news is that a diet high in folate or folic acid could help prevent gum disease from developing. What’s more, those looking to stop receding gums from getting worse can turn to folic acid to stop it in its tracks. And if a patient does end up needing periodontal treatment, folic acid could help with post-procedure healing and may even prevent symptoms from returning later.

How Much Folic Acid Do You Need Per Day?

As with most essential vitamins, it’s best to get as much of your folate as you can from a healthy and balanced diet. However, many people may still benefit from adding a folic acid supplement to their daily routine.

The National Institutes of Health offers the following recommendations by age for daily doses in micrograms (mcg):

AgeRecommended Daily Amount
Birth to 6 months65 mcg*
7 to 12 months80 mcg*
1 to 3 years150 mcg
4 to 8 years200 mcg
9 to 13 years300 mcg
14+ years400 mcg

*Equivalent to the intake of folate in healthy, breastfed infants.

Certain groups may need even higher doses to get the full effects of the folic acid. These might include:
  • Women who are pregnant or lactating as the body’s demand for folate increases;
  • People with malabsorptive conditions such as celiac disease or IBS;
  • People with limited diets who might not be getting enough folate for whatever reason;
  • People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol as alcohol interferes with folate absorption;

Keep in mind that, while folic acid certainly has its benefits, taking too much could have potentially negative side effects. This might be especially true for people who eat high volumes of folic-fortified foods or take other daily supplements. (A typical multivitamin already has the recommended dose for most adults, so an additional supplement may not be wise.)

As for your oral health, eating a diet of folate-rich foods — along with making regular trips to the dentist and staying on top of proper at-home care — is your first line of defense for keeping your mouth happy and healthy. But should your teeth and gums still need a little help, speak with your dentist to see if a folic acid supplement could be right for you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

How To Stop A Toothache And Get Out Of Pain Fast

I call this the 3-3-3 method for getting out of tooth pain fast, until you can see your dentist to do something about the toothache. Be sure to discuss with your doctor or dentist before you take ibuprofen (the generic name for Advil) and remember that tooth pain almost never goes away on its own -- if you're in pain, you'll have to see a dentist.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Cracked Tooth: Symptoms and Repair

Inside our teeth is a dense network of nerves and blood vessels known as the pulp. When the pulp is irritated it can make our teeth one of the most sensitive parts of our body. This sensitivity means we may experience pain as a symptom of a cracked tooth.

A cracked tooth can be serious business. Ignoring the symptoms of a cracked tooth can lead to further dental problems down the road, including infection and even tooth loss.

Why Teeth Crack

Just like a chipped tooth, there are several reasons teeth crack. A strong tooth sometimes cracks because of an accident or a blow to the mouth. But more often than not, a tooth is weakened first before it eventually cracks.

As you age, your teeth weaken from the daily forces of chewing, biting, and grinding. In some cases, you might not even realize the exact moment in which your weakened tooth finally cracks.

Different Types of Cracked Teeth

There are actually several distinct types of cracked teeth. The way your dentist addresses your cracked tooth depends on which type of crack you have, its location in your mouth, and its severity.

The five types of cracked teeth are:

  • Craze lines: A shallow, hairline crack in the enamel of a tooth. Craze lines are common in adult teeth and don’t require treatment.
  • Fractured cusp: A crack in, and including, the chewing surface of a back tooth.
  • Cracked tooth: A crack extending from the chewing surface down toward the root. The tooth is still in one piece.
  • Split tooth: A tooth split into two separate parts.
  • Vertical root fracture: A crack in the root of a tooth.

Diagnosing a Cracked Tooth

It can be frustratingly difficult to locate and diagnose a cracked tooth. This is because cracked teeth may not be visible during a dental exam or show up on an x-ray. It also turns out that our brain is bad at locating the exact source of tooth pain within our mouth. Is the pain coming from the top teeth or the bottom teeth? Sometimes the brain just doesn’t know. As a result, cracked teeth can be confused with sinus pain, headaches or earaches.

To pinpoint the location of a cracked tooth, your dentist will have you bite down on a small item like a plastic stick or a wood dowel, one tooth at a time. He or she may also place a light directly on your tooth or use dark-colored dye to highlight fracture lines.

How to Fix a Cracked Tooth

Treating a symptomatic cracked tooth as soon as possible improves the chances of saving the tooth. Even if the crack in your tooth is small, it can expand with the pressure of biting and eating, eventually turning from a cracked tooth to a split tooth. If the crack in your tooth becomes large enough, it could become vulnerable to decay. If untreated, tooth decay can spread to the pulp and cause a larger infection, eventually leading to a dead tooth or even tooth loss.

How your dentist repairs your cracked tooth depends on the location and type of crack. Some don’t need repair, some might require filling the crack or place a crown over the tooth to protect it from further damage.

If a tooth splits, your dentist will need to remove part of the tooth and repair it with bonding, an onlay or a crown. If the split is severe, the tooth will need to be extracted.

Since there is a range of severity for cracked teeth, the best thing to do is call your dentist right away if you feel pain or suspect a cracked tooth. And of course, maintaining your healthy smile with twice annual oral exams can help your dentist diagnose a problematic crack before it becomes unmanageable.

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