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AAAHH!! The dreaded brain freeze  (also called an ice cream headache)…we have almost all experienced it when drinking an ice cold drink or eating ice cream way too fast.

Brain Freeze Marielaina Perrone DDS

The Dreaded Brain Freeze!

But, did you know that the dreaded brain freeze is actually considered a short duration headache? Do you know what causes brain freeze or how to stop it?

What Is A Brain Freeze?

A brain freeze is a form of  cold stimulus headache. The medical term for this type of headache is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgiaThe brain freeze occurs when something cold touches the roof of our mouths (also called the palate). The sudden onset change in temperature of the tissue stimulates nerves to cause rapid dilation and swelling of blood vessels. There is an attempt by the body to direct blood to the area and warm it back up. The dilation of the blood vessels triggers pain receptors, which release pain-causing prostaglandins, increases sensitivity to further pain, and produces inflammation, while sending signals through the trigeminal nerve to alert the brain to the problem. The trigeminal nerve can sense facial pain, strangely the brain interprets the pain signal as coming from the forehead. When the body senses pain in a different area than the source this is called “referred pain”.

Generally, the headache appears in about 10 seconds after placement of cold in the mouth and usually lasts around 20 seconds, although some people may experience much longer instances of pain. The sensation can become intense and hit fast as nerve endings go into overdrive. Only about a third of the population ever experience brain freeze from eating or drinking something cold, though most people are susceptible to a related headache from sudden exposure to a very cold climate.

Can Brain Freeze Be Prevented?

Since the brain freeze is caused by the rapid chilling and subsequent warming by the body, there are a few ways to help prevent brain freeze. They are as follows:

Brain Freeze Marielaina Perrone DDS-Eating ice cream or drinking cold drinks slower instead of rushing through.

-After drinking or eating something cold use your tongue to warm the top of your mouth. This can alleviate the onset of brain freeze.

-Tilting your head back for about 10-15 seconds allows blood flow to equilibrate and not rush to the area as quickly.

-Drink a liquid that has a higher temperature than whatever caused the brain freeze.


A brain freeze is not really a serious issue but it is annoying. Recent research has also shown that those who experience migraines seem to be more susceptible to brain freeze. This can possibly lead research teams to develop new medications that help prevent or treat the vasodilation that is causing the headaches. These drug therapies could  lead to significant advances in many peoples lives.

Just about everyone will grind their teeth from time to time. Grinding of your teeth (bruxism is the medical term for this) on rare occasions generally does not cause any harm. But when teeth grinding and clenching occurs on a regular basis damage can occur to the teeth, surrounding tissues, and other oral health complications can present themselves.

What is Teeth Grinding?

teeth grinding

Bruxism is the term that refers to a constant grinding and clenching of the teeth and jaws, unintentionally, and at inappropriate times. Bruxers (people with bruxism) are often unaware that they have developed this terrible habit. They often do not know or realize that treatment is available until damage to the mouth and teeth has already been done. Bruxism damage can present itself in a variety of ways. Every individual may experience symptoms a little differently.

Stress and anxiety are often thought as the major culprits of grinding. But it often occurs during sleep and is just as likely to be caused by an abnormal bite alignment (occlusion) or missing or crooked teeth.

Bruxism is considered to be a habit rather than a normal reflexive chewing activity. Reflexive events are responses to various stimuli and always occur without you being able to stop them (like the little hammer on the knee which makes your leg kick). Chewing and clenching can be controlled either consciously or subconsciously by the brain. During sleep, and often during daytime awake hours when we are distracted, our subconscious can take over allowing teeth grinding to happen. Bruxism can be quite rhythmic in nature. Researchers have classified bruxism as a habitual behavior and a sleep disorder.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism or teeth grinding can include:

-Anxiety, stress, and/ or tension. This can include tense musculature of the face and jaws. Waking up with an ache in the jaws face or teeth, or a headache.

-Teeth appear worn down or loose. Wear occurs from the aggressive movement of the teeth against one another. Although all teeth may show this type wear, it is especially noticeable when a person has front teeth that appear having theteeth grinding same length, as if they were somehow filed down.

-Chipped or cracked teeth. As teeth become worn, the edges of front teeth and the cusps (or corners) of back teeth will begin to show tiny fractures or cracks. These cracks generally can not be visualized by x-rays. It takes magnified vision or use of a dental microscope to diagnose them. Teeth with these type of fractures may eventually require further extensive treatment to restore their function. This could include large fillings, crowns, or even root canal therapy. Root canal treatment would be needed if the nerve was so inflamed that it could no longer heal itself, or a fracture extended into the nerve or pulpal area of the tooth allowing bacteria to leak in.

Tooth sensitivity that is quite pronounced. Can be a constant ache, sensitive to touch or chewing,  hot, cold, or even sweet sensitivity.

Receding gums and/or teeth with notches in them at the gum line. Most people have been told or assume that receding gums occur because of age, aggressive brushing or the presence of periodontal disease. In the majority of cases this is wrong.Bruxism These are called abrasion areas. When teeth grind hard against each other over time, the teeth will flex at the gum line and the enamel (which becomes quite thin in this area) micro fractures away. You end up with an area at the gum line that you can catch your fingernail in and can get very sensitive to touch and/or cold due to exposure of the root and closeness to the nerve endings.

-Jaws falling out of normal position or locking.

-Wearing away of the tooth enamel, exposing the dentin under the enamel.

-A popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

-Damage to the inside of the cheek tissues and tongue. Sometimes a bruxer will actually bite themselves on inside of the cheeks and tongue, (especially in the back part of the molar area).

The symptoms of bruxism can resemble other conditions or medical problems.

How is Bruxism Diagnosed?Teeth grinding

During routine dental examinations, your dentist will examine the teeth for evidence of bruxism. This often noted by the damage to the teeth. If the signs are present, the dentist may ask you some follow up questions to see if you have any of the other symptoms, such as snoring.It has been found that patients who both snore and grind have a much higher chance of developing sleep apnea.


The goals of treatment are to reduce or remove pain, prevent permanent damage to the teeth, and to decrease the actual clenching. Treatment generally includes a custom made nightguard. The night guard is made for you to hold your teeth in a better position and protect your teeth when you grind to absorb the force of biting. This guard may help to prevent future damage to the teeth and aid in changing the patient’s behavior over time.

As always maintain a regular schedule of visiting your dentist so that these issues can be diagnosed in a timely manner should they arise. Also, of note is that this can affect children as well.


Halitosis is the medical term used to define bad breath. The word halitosis was first introduced to the world in the 1870’s but made popular in the 1920’s by the Listerine company. The correct scientific term for bad breath is oral malodor. Halitosis can be a very embarrassing problem to have. Americans spend approximately $500 million attempting to treat halitosis every year. It’s no surprise then that store shelves are stocked full with gum, mints, mouthwashes and other products designed to counteract bad breath. But many of these products are merely temporary measures and do nothing to treat the condition in the long term. The makers of these products have made a lot of money out of the general population’s desire for fresh breath. These products promise that your breath can be minty fresh. However, it is only temporarily beneficial at best in controlling breath malodors. Actually, many often contain sugar and alcohol, which may lead to tooth decay and may aggravate certain mouth conditions.

The irony of halitosis is that most people have no awareness that they even have halitosis. This is because the cells in the nose that are responsible for the sense of smell actually become unresponsive to the constant flow of bad odor emanating from your mouth. If you have bad breath, you may need to be told, or you may begin to pick up the facial expressions of other people when you’re just too close!

Most halitosis originates from something in your mouth. Food can stick in between your teeth, around the gums and on your tongue. This food will breakdown and combine with bacteria to form plaque.  If not cleaned off properly thru proper brushing and flossing, the plaque will cause a foul smell in your mouth. Plaque and the bacteria which feed off of it can cause periodontal disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). Periodontal disease definitely causes a distinctive type of bad breath we call “perio breath”. Other dental causes of halitosis include ill fitting dentures, yeast infections of the mouth, tooth cavities, and tobacco use. Smoking actually causes your mouth to dry out and creates its own unpleasant mouth odor. Tobacco users are also more likely to have periodontal disease(about 50% of all smokers have some form of periodontal disease).

Halitosis can also be made worse by the types of foods you eat. Many foods may cause bad breath which can include onions, garlic, cheese, certain spices, orange juice and soda. Once these foods become digested, their oils are absorbed into your bloodstream and carried into the lungs. The odor is given off in your breath until all of the food is out of your body. If you eat foods with strong odors, brushing and flossing, even mouthwash simply is a temporary cover up. The odor will linger with you until the foods have passed through your body completely.

Dry mouth or xerostomia can also cause halitosis. Saliva is needed to wet and cleanse the mouth by neutralizing acids produced by plaque and washing away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. If they are not removed, these cells decompose and can cause bad breath. Dry mouth may be caused by the side effects of various medications (for example, some antidepressants, anti psychotics, antihistamines, decongestants, and medications to reduce high blood pressure), salivary gland problems, snoring, sleep apnea, or continuous breathing through the mouth. A lack of saliva at night deprives the mouth of oxygen, which can promote the spread  of anaerobic germs. This is why most everyone suffers from what’s commonly  referred to as “morning breath”.

The bad odors do not come from the mouth in approximately 10% of the cases. Many other diseases and illnesses may cause halitosis. They include, respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and liver or kidney disease. Some of these conditions can have their diagnosis confirmed (along with other medical tests) by the presence of their halitosis. Diseases, such as some cancers and metabolic disorders, can cause a breath odor that is distinctive as a result of the chemicals they produce. Diabetics with uncontrolled glucose levels can have a fruity breath odor from chemicals called ketones. And chronic reflux of stomach acids has also been associated with halitosis.

Treatment and Prevention of Halitosis

Closys Halitosis spray

Closys Halitosis Spray

The most effective way to treat halitosis is thru maintenance of proper oral hygiene along with regular appointments with the dentist. Regular brushing, flossing, rinsing, and scraping of your tongue can also help keep halitosis at bay. There is one product that will not just cover and mask the odor by actually neutralizing the chemicals at the back of your throat. This product is called Closys.

Helpful hints for getting rid of Halitosis:


Halitosis – Tongue Scraper

-Tooth brushing 2-3 times per day. Change tooth brush as recommended.

-Before bedtime, clean your tongue with toothbrush or use a special tongue scraper. This will remove any particles and bacteria lodged in folds of the tongue. A good example of this is the GUM dual action tongue cleaner.

-Use an electric toothbrush, such as the Rotadent, to be more effective in your brushing.

-Keep your nose and sinuses clean.

Halitosis-Stimulate salivary flow by chewing sugarless gum during the day. This will keep the mouth awash with saliva. This can include Trident white among others.

-Drink lots of water daily to keep your mouth wet and to help rinse away odor forming bacteria and food particles.

-Lower coffee and alcohol drinking.

-Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether your medications are causing problems of dry mouth that may be leading to bad breath.

-Schedule and maintain regular visits to your dentist.