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Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

Many of us have bad habits that may seem harmless. One of those habits is chewing on ice cubes. You may believe this habit is relatively harmless since ice is just water. However,  the impact of chewing that ice can be devastating to your dental health.  Below are a few of the top reasons why.

Reasons Why Chewing Ice Cubes Harms Your Dental Health

-Increased Pressure On Your Teeth. Our teeth are made up of an outer layer called enamel. This layer is extremely hard and not very flexible. Chewing on an ice cube can wear down the enamel over time or chip and fracture your teeth.

-Chewing Ice Causes A Constant Hot and Cold Change. These sudden and extreme changes in temperature can cause micro cracks in your enamel. Also, your tooth’s enamel expands at a different rate than fillings.  If you have a composite (white) filling, it will expand and contract much faster than the tooth when exposed to hot and cold temperatures.  This could possibly lead to a breakdown of the seal between the tooth and the dental restoration and may shorten the life of the restoration possibly leading to tooth decay, root canal therapy, or even tooth loss.

-Beware Of Chewing Ice With Orthodontic Braces. Chewing ice cubes might break off an orthodontic bracket or move a wire. This can set back your orthodontic treatment until the issue is resolved by your orthodontist. It can also lead to oral trauma.

-Oral Tissue Trauma. Ice chunks are hard and some can be pretty sharp.

Why Does An Ice Chewing Habit Develop?

Any habit can be caused by a variety of reasons. For ice chewing, it could be a sign of stress or a more serious medical condition. Research has shown chewing ice ( also called pagophagia) is often associated with iron deficiency anemia, although the exact reason is unclear. At least one study indicates that ice chewing might increase alertness in people with iron deficiency anemia.

Odds are you are just chewing on ice cubes because you are bored and still sitting at the table after you have finished your food.  There are also some people who just like chewing ice.

Healthier Options To Beat Ice Chewing Habit

Once you find out why you are chewing ice cubes or chips, you can try to do something to treat the cause of your ice chewing habit.  For example, if stress or social anxiety causes you to chew ice, learn some new techniques to handle these stressful feelings differently.

If you just like chewing ice because of the crunchy noise or the satisfying feeling of chewing through something hard, you can try eating something crunchy, like carrots or apples.

Conclusion

A better option instead of chewing ice cubes is to simply suck on them instead. This can still cause extreme temperature changes in your mouth which could shorten the life of your dental restorations, it is much better to suck on ice than it is to chew on it. If you develop any abnormal sensitivity and are an ice chewer consult your dentist to ensure there is no permanent damage to your teeth.

TMD is another name for temperomandibular joint disorder. This joint (also called TMJ) is located on either side of the face connecting your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull. This joint along with the surrounding muscles allows you to open and close your mouth as well as moving side to side. It is believed that bewtween 5-10% of the population suffers some sort of TMJ dysfunction.

What Is TMD?

TMD occurs when the temperomandibular joint is damaged in some way causing a change in the movement of the lower jaw. These changes can be quite painful due to muscle spasms in the area. The cause of TMD is unknown at this time. But a variety of factors can lead to its development. These include trauma, improper bite relationship between teeth, and stress. TMD appears to be more common in women than men.

Common TMD Symptoms

-Pain emanating from jaws in the morning or late afternoon.

-Pain upon chewing, biting, or yawning.

-Clicking, popping, or grating noises from joint area when opening and closing your mouth.

-Difficulty opening and closing your mouth.

-Presence of arthritis in the joints.

-Sensitive teeth not associated with any dental problems.

-Stiffness or locking of your jaw upon use.

-Neck pain or headaches.

-Swelling.

-An earache not associated with an ear infection.

TMD Treatment

Treatment for temperomandibular joint disorder can be very difficult. Your dentist will first diagnose the issue by performing a thorough examination. This examination will include a panoramic x-ray along with a manual palpation of the joints. A panoramic X-ray will allow your dentist to see the entire jaw, TMJ, and teeth to make sure other problems are not causing the symptoms. At times other imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computer tomography (CT), may be needed. The MRI views the soft tissue, such as the TMJ disc, to see if it is in the proper position as the jaw moves. A CT scan helps view the bony detail of the joint. During the manual examination your dentist will be looking for any tenderness, clicking or popping sounds, or difficulty moving the jaw. Some lifestyle changes can help alleviate the symptoms of TMD. These can include:

-Avoiding biting your nails or chewing gum.

-Using over the counter pain relievers (like motrin or alleve) to manage pain.

-Use of heat packs over the affected area to manage pain.

-Choosing to eat softer foods.

-Practice good posture.

-Utilizing relaxation techniques to relieve stress.

If the case is more severe, more treatment will be needed. This can include physical therapy, use of a dental appliance, corrective dental work, or stronger prescription medications.

Alternative TMD Treatments

-Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This uses low-level electrical currents to provide pain relief by relaxing the jaw joint and facial muscles.

-Ultrasound. Ultrasound treatment is deep heat that is applied to the TMJ to relieve soreness or improve mobility.

-Trigger-point injections. Using injections of pain medication or anesthesia directly into tender facial muscles called “trigger points” to relieve pain.

-Radio wave therapy. This creates a low level electrical stimulation to the joint, which increases blood flow. The patient feels relief of pain in the joint.

TMD Conclusion

TMD can be a debilitating condition that is not easily treated. It is important to see your dentist as soon as you have any changes in this area as the symptoms can be managed easier early on.

Over time, our smiles change and may begin lose their youthful appearance. These changes can include a change in smile esthetics due to  loss of teeth. Teeth may be lost as a result of trauma, periodontal disease, fracturing, infection, and tooth decay. In the past, the only options for tooth replacement were a permanent cemented dental bridge or  a removable tooth or teeth set into some form of denture. Luckily, that has changed with the widespread use of dental implants. Dental Implants give the dentist and patient a better way to restore that smile and return it to its youthful appearance.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants have been researched and improved upon for quite some time now. Implants have been shown to be safe and successful (over 90%success rate) for the long term replacement of missing teeth.  A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth.  Dental implants can be used in a variety of situations including replacement of a single tooth, as support for a dental bridge, or as support for a denture (allowing it to be more comfortable and secure). Dental implants are a major part of cosmetic dentistry today. Only you and your dentist will know you have dental implants.

Best Options For Dental Implants

Dental implants, like most of dentistry, is highly personalized. The treatment plan will depend upon how many teeth are missing as well as the available quantity and quality of bone present. Below you will find some of the situations where dental implants can replace lost teeth:

-Loss Of A Single Tooth. The replacement of a single tooth with an implant can be done quickly and easily if there is adequate bone support. At one time, replacing a tooth meant wearing a removable appliance (commonly called a “flipper”) or removing natural tooth structure from surrounding teeth to create a fixed bridge of dental crowns. The flipper can be quite uncomfortable to wear and may affect speech and taste. The dental bridge, while a good option, may compromise the support teeth by having them do the work of the lost tooth, and by increasing the possibility of tooth decay over time. The long term success rate is lowered due to difficulties in cleaning under and around the bridge. A single tooth dental implant, when completed properly, will last a lifetime. The dental implant will function and look just like your lost natural tooth.

-Loss Of Multiple Teeth. When missing multiple teeth in a single area, dental implants can be used to form a fixed bridge. The beauty of this arrangement is stability and the ability not to affect the natural teeth in any way.

-Replacing All Teeth. In the past, the only way to restore a full dentition was to fabricate a removable denture that snapped into the implants. With newer techniques, dental implants have the ability to restore natural function and esthetics  and stay fixed tightly in the mouth. The new technique used is an all on four dental implants denture. Four dental implants are strategically placed to allow for a more secure, comfortable, immovable denture.

Dental Implants Conclusion

It has long been known that a full complement of teeth conveys beauty and youth. When teeth are missing we smile less and and are less confident in ourselves. Dental implants are a way to restore that youthful smile and confidence.

As we get go down the inevitable path of aging, health problems arise that we never expected. This includes oral health changes that can be kept at bay with proper care. Below you will find a list of some of the common dental health issues seniors face.

Common Dental Health Issues For Seniors

-Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). This occurs when salivary flow is reduced. This can occur from many factors such as medications, Sjogren’s syndrome, or even from radiation therapy to the head and neck area. Saliva is the body’s natural defense against the bacteria and food debris that can build up in our mouths. Without proper flow, tooth decay and periodontal disease has an increased chance of developing creating problems for your oral health.

-Darker Smile. This is a  cumulative effect of thinning enamel (exposing more of the underneath layer, the dentin) and a lifetime of eating and drinking stain causing food and drink. For many a simple teeth whitening can bring back the bright, white shine for others it may require more extensive cosmetic dentistry.

-Decay Along The Roots Of Teeth. As we age and are not as diligent over time with our dental hygiene, the gum tissue surrounding our teeth can recede as we lose bone. This recession will expose portions of the tooth known as the root. These areas are much less protected and more vulnerable to developing tooth decay. Simce this area is thinner, this tooth decay can progress rapidly leading to tooth sensitivity and possibly the need for root canal therapy.

-Changes In Taste. We have all heard the sayings how our tastes change as we get older. We make different choices in our nutrition as we get older. Other items that can contribute changes to our taste sensation include disease, medications, and even dentures.

-Periodontal Disease. This is not just a disease for young or old. It affects both equally but tends to rear itself more in the older population. This is due to usually slow progression of the disease. It is important to note keeping periodontal disease at bay will stave off tooth loss as we age. A full smile is a youthful looking one.

-Tooth Loss. This can occur for many reasons including periodontal disease, trauma, or untreated tooth decay. It is important to replace lost teeth whenever possible as it prevents your bite from shifting creating issues with your Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ).

-Temperomandibular Joint Disorder. This is generally a slow developing disorder. Hence, it seems to be more likely in an older person than a younger one. The bones and the disc in this joint will break down over time from bad habits like teeth grinding or even chewing hard candy over a long period of time.

-Denture Induced Stomatitis. This is simply an inflammation of the tissues beneath a denture. This is caused by dentures that do not fit properly, poor oral hygiene, or can even be caused by a fungus (Candida Albicans, also known as thrush).

What Can Be Done To Combat These Issues For Seniors?

The main thing is to maintain dental hygiene throughout life. This includes brushing at least 2x per day, flossing at least 1x per day, and using an antibacterial rinse. Dental hygiene tends to become more difficult for many as they age due to arthritis. This makes hands dexterity and strength an issue. Luckily, there are many wonderful products on the market to help with these situations. And it is also important to keep up with your scheduled dental visits for examinations (including oral cancer screenings) and professional cleanings. Doing the right things can be hard sometimes but doing them will pay off over the long run leading to a happy, healthy more youthful looking smile as we age.