Sunnybrook Dental - Olathe, KS Dentist Blog
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Most of our patients know a thing or two about stress. Whether you’re dealing with chronic stress, or a brief stressful life circumstance, we all encounter it from time to time. Most people associate stress with heart attacks or ulcers, but do you know how stress can affect your oral health?
Stress may negatively affect your oral health in indirect ways.
For starters, stress can cause folks to reach for coping strategies that aren’t so good for your teeth (or the rest of your body). Junk food, sweets, cigarettes, or alcohol are just a few examples. When these substances interact with your teeth, they can do a lot of damage in the way of gum disease and tooth decay.
Secondly, when we are stressed, we tend to stop making positive health behaviors a priority. Let’s say you’re in the hospital after a car accident; your brushing and flossing routine will not be forefront on your mind. Even a minor bout of stress from a tough day can have us reaching for our cozy bed and some relieve instead of taking the time to brush first.
And of course, keeping up with routine dental visits may fall completely off our priority list while under stress. This can prevent us from finding the early signs of decay and can cause more pain and stress later on.
How does stress affect our mouths directly?
Well, lots of folks grind their teeth as a physical way to deal with stress. You may be doing it without even realizing it! Ask a partner or someone who knows you well to tell you if you have this habit. And if you do, you should definitely be wearing an occlusal guard to help protect your teeth while you sleep. Chronic grinding will wear down the teeth, and it can break fillings/crowns/bridges, and/or cause sensitivity and inflammation.
Also, when we are stressed we have higher levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that put our body in a “flight or fight” state. This causes our blood pressure and blood sugar to increase, and our digestive and immune function to decrease. When our immune system isn’t functioning as it should, this can make periodontal disease more likely. It can also slow down the healing of other oral issues or injuries we may have.
What can you do about it? The best thing you can do to prevent the stress of oral health issues is to maintain good dental hygiene and visit us regularly for routine visits. We want what’s best for you — and that includes a healthy mouth for a lifetime!
Typically, when a parent brings a young child to the dentist, the last discussion they’re expecting to have is one centered on braces and orthodontic appliances. Yet, even at young ages, a talk about braces, sagittal expanders, and retainers can indeed be front and center when a child is diagnosed with a crossbite. The question then is what to do about it, how soon should intervention take place, and what the complications are that can arise if nothing is done at all. Let’s get some answers.
What Exactly Is a Crossbite?
Imagine for a moment you’re sitting in front of a nice soup bowl with a wide flat brim, and inside that bowl is hearty chowder you’d like to keep warm until you’re ready to devour it. So, you grab another bowl designed exactly like the first, and hover it upside-down over the bowl containing the soup. As you slowly lower it, you try to line up the brims so when they rest together they form a nice even seal. Unfortunately, given the soup is hot, you don’t quite get the brims to line up perfectly, and the edge of the top bowl ends up resting just slightly to the left of the lip on the bottom bowl. The way these two bowls now rest unevenly atop one another is exactly what you would see in a person with a crossbite. A crossbite can affect several teeth, or a single tooth, and can occur on either one side of the mouth or both. Simply put, if any one tooth (or several teeth) lies nearer the tongue or cheek instead of coming together evenly, you’re likely dealing with a crossbite.
So, What To Do About It And When?
The dental community is split on when to initiate treatment for a crossbite, with some suggesting treatment should begin as soon as it is noticed (sometimes as early as age three!), while others suggest parents should wait until a child’s sixth year molars have arrived. Despite the difference of opinion as to when treatment should begin, dentists and orthodontist are in agreement that the condition cannot be left untreated. Doing so presents a host of complications for the child later in life including gum and tooth wear, uneven jaw development that can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), and facial asymmetry – something no parent or child wants.
What Does Crossbite Treatment Look Like?
Crossbite treatment generally involves adjusting the spread of a child’s teeth with dental appliances so the bite pattern matches evenly on all sides. Depending on the type of crossbite a child has, this can be done with dental expanders that resemble orthodontic retainers, and include a screw that is tightened nightly to “spread” a child’s bite to the prescribed width. Additionally, dental facemasks, braces and/or clear aligners may be used – particularly when a single tooth is out of alignment.
Crossbites are generally regarded as genetic in nature, and they’re not overly common. It is, however, a condition that needs to be treated before permanent damage to a child’s facial and oral development occurs. So, if you find yourself at the other end of a discussion about having your little one wear a dental expander, be sure you listen and get however many opinions regarding that advice as you require. Your child, and your wallet, will thank you long into the future.
Dr. Dan practices a certain scope of orthodontics with Invisalign treatment, and he would be happy to answer any questions you might have about crossbites and orthodontics! Ask us at your next appointment!
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.