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Stress is the body’s internal and external reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional response. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or anxious.

Too much stress is known to be bad for us but did you know that stress can also cause issues to your dental health?

Dental Issues That Can Be Caused By Stress

Poor Dental Hygiene

When a person is under stress they tend to lose focus on basic habits and this includes being diligent with maintaining their dental hygiene. If you do not take care of your dental hygiene, your dental health as well as your general health will begin to suffer. This is especially true if you already suffer from periodontal disease as skipping any part of your dental hygiene program can worsen the periodontal disease. Another issue with being under stress is your nutrition changes. Most people dealing with stress tend to develop very unhealthy eating habits. This can include snacking on larger than normal amounts of sugary foods and drinks. These changes will increase your risk for tooth decay.

A good way to combat stress in your life is to maintain a routine of regularly exercising. Exercising regularly can help you relieve some of that stress and give you an extra energy boost. Exercise will also boost your immune system which is always a plus.

Teeth Grinding (also called Bruxism)

One of the main reasons why people grind their teeth is due to stress. Bruxism can occur day or night but it is usually a subconscious act. Stress is not the only cause of bruxism but it does make it worse. Some of the dental issues associated with bruxism include:

-Headaches

-Ear Pain

-Worn Down Teeth.

-Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues

Sensitive Teeth

-Chipped or cracked teeth

Receding gums or teeth with notches in them at the gum line

Your dentist may recommend a night guard to wear while you sleep to minimize the damage caused to your teeth. Usually, if stress is the cause the bruxism will stop when the stressor is removed.

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores come in many forms. These can include:

-Canker sores. These are small ulcers with a white or grayish base and bordered in red.  There has been vigorous debate regarding what causes canker sores. Some believe it is an immune system issue, bacteria, or even a virus. Consensus is that stress can increase the risk of them showing up. Canker sores are not known to be contagious.

Canker sores generally last about 7-10 days. Spicy foods as well as highly acidic foods should be avoided as they tend to irritate the sores. One of the best forms of relief comes from a dentist prescribed medicine called Debacterol. This medicine is applied directly to the sore and can reduce symptoms as well as the length that the sores are present.

-Cold sores (or fever blisters). These sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious. Cold sores are blisters that are filled with fluid that often appear on or around the lips. They can also appear under the nose or around the chin area. Emotional stress can trigger an outbreak. Other triggers include fever, a sunburn, or skin abrasion.

Cold sores often heal on their own in about a week’s time. Treatment is available, including over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs. Ask your doctor or dentist if either could help you. It is important to start treatment as soon as you feel or notice the cold sore forming. The sooner you start treatment the effects of the cold sore will be reduced.

Periodontal Disease

Stress can lead to depression. And studies have shown that patients who are depressed have twice the risk of a poor outcome from periodontal disease treatment compared to those who are not in a depressed state. You can not make depression or the stress disappear, of course. But most experts agrees that learning healthy coping strategies can help reduce the risk of periodontal issues getting worse.  Also, people who are depressed tend to have poor overall hygiene and that includes dental hygiene.

Conclusion

Keep in mind we all have stress during the course of our day. Developing proper techniques for dealing with that stress can make a world of difference in the maintanence of our dental health as well as our overall health. As always, see your dentist regularly for dental examinations along with professional cleanings to ensure you keep your smile as healthy as can be!

Remember, eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene help reduce your risks of periodontal disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss daily.



As children grow and become more active in contact sports, it is important to keep them fully protected. This might include the proper fitting helmet, proper pads for their shoulders, and even shin guards. One very important item is often overlooked,  the mouthguard. Many parents believe that the one you buy at the local sporting goods store is just as good as a custom made one. Recent research may prove otherwise.

Custom Mouthguards Protect Against Concussions?

Recent research published in an issue of General Dentistry may prove that custom mouthguards can reduce the risk of concussions while playing contact sports. The study followed over 400 high school football players from multiple teams. Approximately half the athletes were fitted with custom made mouthguards while the other half received the standard, over the counter, one size fits all, mouthguard. Helmet was not a factor as all participants wore similar style helmets. A player wearing an over the counter mouthguard had a doubled risk of concussion. About 8% of the players wearing over the counter mouthguards were diagnosed with concussions.

This is significant because while there are many factors that go into a player recieving a concussion, a custom made mouthguard can reduce that risk. The reduction in risk is believed to be from the custom mouthguard absorbing some of the shock, stabilizing the head and neck, and limiting movement of the jaw when applied with a direct force. One key factor the researchers found was in the thickness of the mouthguard. Most standard over the counter mouthguards are only about 1.65 millimeters in thickness while custom mouthguards are over 3.5 millimeters. That is a significant difference and may help explain the benefits of a custom mouthguard.

Types of Sports Mouthguards

Athletic mouthguards come in a few varieties. These include the following:

Stock Athletic Mouthguards. This mouthguard is typically the least expensive and offers the least protection for your athlete.  It is readily available in most sporting goods stores. Their prices range from a few dollars to about 25-30 dollars maximum. These sports mouthguards are ready to be used right out of the package. This type of sports mouthguard has some serious drawbacks. They tend to be quite bulky and lack any real retention. These tend to interfere with speech as well and breathing. These mouthguards  often need to be modified by the user and thus reduce protection and retention.

-“Boil and Bite” Sports Mouthguards. This is the most common type of sports mouthguard in use today. These are available at most sporting goods and drug stores. This type of guard is fairly inexpensive. These are better fitting and more protective than the stock athletic mouthguards. These tend to fit better since they are form- shaped by each athlete’s mouth and teeth. Hot water is all that is needed to adjust the plastic comfortably around the teeth and gums. These sports mouthguards are made from a thermoplastic material that is immersed in boiling water and then formed in the mouth using biting, finger, and tongue pressure. Even this can be a challenging task for some so it may be best to contact your dentist when using even these to ensure they fit properly and cover the teeth sufficiently for protection. These sports mouthguards come in only a few stock sizes so they may not fit all participants the same. Many studies have shown that these boil and bite sports mouthguards do not adequately cover all the teeth in a high percentage of high school and collegiate athletes.

Custom Fit Sports Mouthguards. These sports mouthguards are custom designed and fit just for each individual athlete. These are available thru your dentist. The entire process takes about one week to complete. The initial visit will include taking an impression of the upper teeth. This allows the dentist to create a model of your teeth which is then sent off to a dental laboratory. The laboratory technician will make a custom sports mouthguard adjusted  to fit each athlete’s preferences and needs. The sports mouthguard should cover all teeth on the upper arch to be considered to be offering adequate protection. The major advantages to a custom nightguard include:

-Protection of teeth, jaw, and from concussions.

-Increased retention

-Breathability. The custom appliances have been shown to allow for a better airway to help get the air you need.

-Thinner material to allow for better breathing while maintaining the protection.

-Longer lasting. While custom sports mouthguards will cost more it will last a significantly longer time than the other versions mentioned earlier.

-Personalized. You may choose your color so that you know it’s yours, or team colors/logos. You can also have your name imbedded in the sports mouthguard (a good example of this is the proform sports mouthguards) so that it can be readily identified. You do not want to mistakenly put someone elses sports mouthguard into your mouth!

-More hygienic. the higher quality material is less likely to embed bacteria within your sports mouthguard.

-Comfort. The custom fit allows for a much more comfortable feel.

Tips For Caring For Your Mouthguard

-After each use, brush and rinse your mouthguard with a toothbrush and cool water.

-Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use. Your dentist will give you a colored case for your mouthguard.

-Stay away from excessive heat. Do not store your mouthguard in direct sunlight or in a hot car. The heat can melt the mouthguard, altering the way it fits in your mouth and resulting in less protection.

-When you see your dentist twice a year for your regular cleanings, bring your mouthguard with you. Your dentist can give your mouthguard a thorough examination and cleaning. This will ensure it is in proper form.

-Contact your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about your mouthguard.

Conclusion

Concussions and facial trauma are a big issue in professional sports as well as youth athletics. More research is needed, but the above study shows the value of having a custom mouthguard fabricated for your child by your dentist. The benefits of protection will far outweigh the cost from an injury (either medical or dental). Talk to your dentist about custom sports guards for your little athlete, you’ll be glad you did.




TMD is just another name for temperomandibular joint (TMJ) 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.

Botox For TMJ. Botox has been found to be effective for managing pain and symptoms of TMJ.

-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.



We have all heard the rules about dental care including having regular dental cleanings every 6 months. Many people neglect this advice and go far longer between visits. This can be quite dangerous to our teeth as well as our overall health. Below you will find some of the top reasons to see your dental hygienist regularly.

Top 8 Reasons To See Your Dental Hygienist

1. To Diagnose Oral Cancer Early – Statistics show that someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States alone. The best way to stop oral cancer in its tracks is to catch it early. Regular dental visits will include an oral cancer screening. These screenings will include manually feeling around the head and neck, examination of the oral tissues for changes, and the use of a special light (Velscope) to see beyond what our eyes can see. The difference truly is life and death. Choose life.

2. To Prevent Periodontal Disease – Periodontal disease is an infection in the gum and bone tissues surrounding your teeth. Periodontal disease is very treatable and manageable in its earliest stages. This early stage is known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible but once it progresses past this stage (into periodontitis) it is not reversible and becomes much more difficult to treat. Regular dental checkups, dental cleanings, along with proper brushing and flossing can keep periodontal disease at bay.

3. To Keep Your Teeth – Regular dental cleanings will help you keep all of your teeth for your entire life. Poor dental hygiene will lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. Having regular dental cleanings will help ensure that you live a long life with all of your teeth intact.

4. To Maintain Overall Health – Recent research has been mounting showing that periodontal disease has been related to heart disease, strokes, and even diabetes. Keeping a regular dental schedule will lead to better overall dental health. According to the research, a dental cleaning every 6 months helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy and could possibly reduce your risk of heart disease and strokes.

5. To Prevent Bad Breath – This is also called Halitosis. This is a major problem for millions of people around the world. Walk into any drug store and you will see shelves full of products that claim to help with bad breath issues. The best way to maintain your breath is thru regular dental cleanings and diligent at home dental care. This includes brushing, flossing and use of an anti bacterial mouth rinse.

6. To Keep Your Teeth Whiter – Your dental hygienist can remove most tooth stains, including tobacco, coffee and tea stains. During your cleaning, your hygienist will be able to polish your teeth to a beautiful shine. The end result? A whiter and brighter smile! This will lead to even more smiling on your part.

7. Early Detection Of Any Dental Problems – Early detection of any dental issues can lead to easier and cheaper care to fix the problems. If tooth decay or periodontal disease is left untreated it can lead to larger dental procedures such as root canal therapy, periodontal gum surgery or removal of teeth.

8. To Use Your Dental Insurance – Your dental insurance usually covers a dental examination and dental cleaning every 6 months. Also, most dental insurances cover 100% of this cost. If you have the dental insurance benefit why not stay healthy at the same time.

Conclusion

The reasons above should give you all the evidence you need to maintain good dental hygiene. It is far simpler to see your dentist for an hour or so every 6 months than to neglect your dental care. Neglecting dental care will lead to bigger more costly and painful issues.