Sunnybrook Dental - Olathe, KS Dentist Blog
When they say “age is all in your head,” they’re probably right. But then, your teeth ARE in your head -- so you likely can’t escape having to pay a little more attention to them after the age of 50. Although some oral health concerns are seen as common as we age, if you adopt a proactive mindset and educate yourself, these concerns do not have to be common for you. Anticipating and recognizing changes in your mouth can help you be on top of your health in this area -- so let’s take a look at the main ones you have to watch out for.
Dry Mouth: The most common oral health concern you’re likely to experience as you age is dry mouth. In the medical world, dry mouth goes by the name xerostomia, and can be brought on by a number of contributing factors, including the over-consumption of drying beverages like coffee and alcohol, as well as the frequent consumption of salty foods. Another big offender is the medication we take over a lifetime to treat various illness. And the list isn’t a short one – there are at least 400 medications that can contribute to xerostomia, including medications for high blood pressure and depression.
Ill-fitting Dentures: First off, it’s important to note that the need for dentures is not a must as we age. Today, healthier living and better access to dental care has reduced the percentage of seniors wearing dentures to 27% from nearly 50% just a few decades ago. That said, should dentures be a part of your life, or that of a loved one, wearing properly-fitting dentures is critical.Sometimes, all that’s needed is a denture reline. Dentures that cause pain or shift in the mouth tend to alter a person’s eating habits, which can lead to nutrition deficits if healthy, but hard-to-chew, foods are avoided. Ill-fitting dentures can also cause thrush.
Physical Obstacles to Good Oral Care: As we age, we sometimes find ourselves having to contend with physical ailments that limit our desire to maintain good oral care. Arthritis, vision loss, or injuries are a few of the most common. To combat these concerns, using a floss pick to get between teeth can be helpful, and the regular use of oral rinses can assist in dislodging difficult-to-remove food debris, while adding to the overall health of one’s mouth and gum tissue. Here’s how to choose the best mouth rinse for your needs!
Naturally Receding Gums: The old expression “long in the tooth” isn’t just a quaint idiom about how one accumulates wisdom with age – it also refers to how our teeth appear to “lengthen” as we age. In other words, it’s a fancy way of saying our gums are receding. While some degree of gum recession is indeed natural as we get up in years, this predisposes us to cavities along the root structure of the tooth where enamel doesn’t exist. So, as one ages, flossing, brushing and rinses are more important than ever.
Gum Disease: Natural gum recession is one thing, and a part of “growing up,” if you will. Gum disease, however, is preventable. So if it's been longer than 6months since you've come to see, give us a call sooner than later! Each of the above items in this list can contribute to gum disease, and good oral care can prevent it. Failing to do so can lead to a need for dentures at its most extreme, and pain and swollen gums at its least. We’d prefer you experience neither concern!
Tooth Loss: If a tooth is lost due to trauma or decay, and not replaced with an implant or other prosthetic, it can have serious complications for the health of the jawbone. Teeth can shift out of place and fall out, and bone tissue can be resorbed back into the body. Not a good thing.
Loss of Insurance Coverage: Retirees without dental coverage can sometimes cover the expense of dental care on their own; sometimes they cannot. But a lack of funds to take care of one’s teeth can be devastating to the health of our mouths, and our overall health. So we need to plan for two things: a care routine that allows us to take care of our teeth as much as humanly possible and some sort of financial backup plan for when problems do arise. We have a number of options for you, if you are in this position! Please call us, and we'll be happy to discuss the options with you.
Do you wake up some mornings with a headache of origins you can’t define? Do you experience vague muscle pain in your face? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of bruxism. What’s bruxism? You likely know it by its more informal name – two names, actually: “clenching” and “grinding.” It’s also not something you’ll want to ignore, because bruxism wears down the surface of your teeth and sets you up for cavities and tooth fractures. Severe cases can even contribute to tooth loss. Let’s find out how to stop this menace in its tracks.
What Causes Bruxism?
At Sunnybrook Dental, we’ve seen many factors can combine to create a bruxism habit. Stress and anxiety are believed to be leading causes, as are a misaligned bite, missing teeth, and sleep abnormalities. Some medications can also trigger episodes, as can neurological or musculature illnesses. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort due to bruxism, give us a call at (913)829-7000.
Why Should I Be Concerned About Teeth Grinding? Isn’t It Normal?
Teeth grinding may be common, but it’s not “normal,” per se. Because the stresses of bruxism affect the entire jaw, this pressure can create cracks and chips in teeth, and over time can contribute to a shortening of lower face height due to bone loss. If that sounds scary, it should. It’s also a change you’ve seen before – in individuals who have lost all their teeth and do not wear dentures. We’re pretty sure that’s not a look you’re aiming to achieve.
How Do I Know I Have a Problem, and What Treatments Are Available?
In many cases, we’ll be able to see evidence of bruxism in your X-rays – and on the surface of your teeth – and will alert you to the problem long before you exhibit a single symptom, particularly if you sleep alone. Occasionally however, you may start to clench and grind between visits and begin to notice symptoms on your own. If that’s more like your situation, and you find that you often wake with a sore jaw, a headache that goes away shortly after rising, or if a loved one tells you your teeth are making clickity-clankity noises all night, mention it the next time you’re visiting us.
As far as treatment goes, because the causes of bruxism are varied, the treatments vary as well. If we determine stress is the primary cause, we’ll likely recommend you abstain from excessive caffeine and alcohol, and attempt some form of daily relaxation. Even something as simple as a warm bath before sleeping can work wonders.
If your bite is a concern, we may suggest you visit an orthodontist for an evaluation, and if prescription medicine or neuromuscular illnesses are believed to be the cause, referral to the appropriate specialist would be part of your plan to break the habit.
In each of these cases, though, we’ll likely recommend a splint, or occlusal mouth guard to protect your teeth and bone from further damage. These protective devices are easy to wear, and contrary to what you may believe, will not impede your ability to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, they tend to enhance the quality of your sleep so you’ll wake up more refreshed... and your spouse will, too :)
So, the next time you’re sitting in one of our super-comfy chairs at Sunnybrook Dental, ask if some sort of guard may be right for you. Many people go years without being aware they’re clenching and grinding since it takes time for symptoms to show in your mouth. Getting a mouthguard or splint once you know you have this habit, though, will help you with headaches and muscle pain now – and tooth trouble down the road. And, we make some beautiful, comfortable mouthguards here!
â€‹During the winter months, our friend the sun tends to disappear on us. When it is out, we might be at work or it’s
just too cold to go soak up some rays. With less sunlight during the winter months than the rest of the year, we get shortchanged on our natural supply of vitamin D. At my dental office in Olathe, we like vitamin D because it helps keep your smile healthy.
The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow (or we hope so!)
The sun is a powerful thing. It not only keeps our planet from going into a deep freeze, it also provides quite a few health benefits. Getting a daily dose of sunshine can boost your mood, improve your immune system, and kickstart vitamin D production.
So What’s So Great About Vitamin D?
Since vitamin D helps to regulate your immune system, it is your first line of defense. Studies have shown that vitamin D can help your pancreas make insulin, lower blood pressure, and aid in the absorption of calcium. Since calcium makes our teeth and bones super strong, a healthy supply of vitamin D is extremely important for a healthy mouth.
No Sun? Eat Your Vitamin D!
The sun isn’t the only source of this nutrient. You can also increase your intake of vitamin D by eating foods that contain a lot of it such as:
Fatty fish like Salmon
No matter how, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Research shows that a lack of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis, increased risk for type 1 diabetes, and even serious cancers of the breast, colon, or prostate.
Make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your smile healthy, including eating a healthy, well balanced diet and visiting my Olathe dental office regularly.
â€‹Perhaps it’s ice cream or a breath of crisp air, or maybe it’s a cup of hot tea or a cozy bowl of soup. No matter
what it is, hot and cold tooth sensitivity is a commonailment experienced by many people. At my dental office in Olathe, we’d like to answer some of the questions we get asked regarding tooth sensitivity to both hot and cold foods and drinks.
“Why are my teeth sensitive?”
Tooth sensitivity is caused when the outside of teeth, or the hard enamel, wears down or gums recede and the tiny tubes in the tooth dentin become exposed. Each of those tiny tubes contains a lot of nerve endings, and when they’re left open, it can hurt when you put hot or cold things in your mouth. A lot.
“What causes the enamel to wear away?”
Most often, tooth enamel wears away due to eating of too many acidic foods or drinks, excessive acid reflux, brushing too hard, or by clenching or grinding.
“How can I ease the pain?”
Choosing the right toothpaste and toothbrush can go a long way in easing tooth sensitivity. When looking for a toothbrush, select one that has soft bristles and brush gently when using it. If your bristles are pointing in several directions, you’re probably brushing too hard. For a toothpaste choice, avoid anything that contains sodium pyrophosphate as that can contribute to sensitivity. Many whitening toothpastes and tartar-control pastes have this ingredient. Instead, select a desensitizing paste. Finally, mind your food choices. Having water instead of acidic drinks like soda or juices, and even avoiding acidic foods like certain tomato- or olive-based pasta sauces can help.
“What will my dentist do to help?
There are multiple treatment options that may be helpful in reducing tooth sensitivity including:
Sealants or other desensitizing agents
Your dentist in Olathe will determine the most appropriate option for you following an in depth discussion about your pain, your habits, and the treatments available.
If you’re still experiencing sensitivity related pain, come to my Olathe dental office. We’ll discuss what could be contributing to it and work with you to provide the best way to ease it.
Whether it’s out of boredom, nervousness, or your nails just get too lo
ng and nail clippers aren’t handy, biting your nails is one of the most common habits. While nail biting may seem to ease stress, at my Olathe dental office, we want you to know that it’s not only a great way to transfer germs that could make you sick, it could also lead to a variety of dental problems.
Chips. We’re not talking about the salty, crunchy kind. We’re referring to the tooth enamel damage caused by nail biting. Fingernails are hard, and gnawing on them can lead to chips or cracks in the teeth.
Wear and Tear. Like the rest of your body, your teeth need to take periodic breaks. If you’re constantly putting stress on them by nail biting, teeth may begin to wear down and could become uneven.
Jaw Issues. Biting your nails may lead to TMJ Disorder, which causes painful headaches, locking or popping of the jaw, or jaw pain. Because of the abnormal way your jaw needs to move around to nibble off a nail, it may throw the alignment out of whack, leading to TMJ Disorders.
Back to the Grind. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) states that nail biters may be putting themselves at greater risk for bruxism, or unintentional grinding or clenching of teeth. Grinding and clenching can lead their own host of problems including jaw issues, headaches, and tooth damage.
Dental Bills. Since there is such a strong correlation between nail biting and dental problems, it’s not surprising that those who are chronic nail biters end up having higher dental bills than non-biters. According to the AGD, people who bite their nails end up paying an additional $4,000 in dental bills throughout their lifetime.
If you’ve been biting your nails and can’t seem to stop, give my dental office in Olathe a call. We can talk about ways others have successfully broken the habit, check your mouth of any potential side effects, and work with you to get your mouth healthy.
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