Grinding Or Clenching Teeth Can Lead To Costly Repairs, And More.

posted: September 18, 2018

Sometimes, things can occur without being obvious for quite some time. For example, seeing a tire that has abnormally worn down on one side is an indication that it has been out of alignment for an extended amount of time. Or, losing a button means that the threads gave way a while back and gradually became looser and looser.

As a dentist, I occasionally examine a new patient and see signs of worn teeth. Sometimes, the individual has fractures or chips on teeth as well. These are typically indications of clenching or grinding teeth, which often occurs during sleep. It’s rather common, however, that the patient has no idea this has been taking place.

Worn teeth from grinding

Like a tire that’s just slightly out of alignment, minor disparities aren’t always noticeable. Eventually, however, the wear and tear does become obvious. Although it may take years for the signs to clearly emerge, like anything, the sooner you resolve the problem, the better.

Clenching and grinding of teeth is known as bruxing in the dental profession. This action often takes place while the individual is asleep, so they are unaware they are doing it. However, upon awakening, the person may notice jaw joint pain, headaches, difficulty opening the mouth fully, ear ringing, or dizziness.

What causes this?

The most common cause is bite misalignment. When the upper teeth do not meet harmoniously with the lower teeth, it can transfer stress or strain to the jaw joints.

These joints, which lie just in front of the ears, are the joints that hinge the lower jaw to the skull. Known as the temporo-mandibular joints (or ‘TMJ’), these joints are in nearly-constant motion. Every time you speak, eat, laugh, yawn, and even swallow, these joints move. If they do not move fluidly and in unity, they can become inflamed.

Like many parts of our bodies, the jaw joints strive for self-repair. The skin heals itself, the immune system fights infection, and broken bones reconnect. When an imbalance in the joints effects efficiency and comfort, they seek to find a more comfortable position when they have the least interference — during sleep.

During sleep, the jaws attempt to shift and ‘force’ themselves to find a place of harmony. This prompts the action of clenching teeth together or grinding them back and forth.

Although the alignment of teeth may seem unrelated to the balanced movement of the jaw joints, the results of disharmony can be pretty severe – and costly. Broken, fractured or chipped teeth can require crowns or even replacement of teeth. Worn teeth typically need crowning or repair of cavities that has occurred when the protective enamel of teeth has been worn down.

cerec machine

Single visit crowns, bridges and dental implant restorations

For our patients who need these repairs, they have the advanced technology of our CEREC 3D computerized process. This creates crowns and other ceramic restorations (crowns, bridges, implant teeth) in a single visit, saving the patient time and often reducing numbing requirements by half.

Once we verify that your bite is truly out of alignment (and the cause of bruxing), correcting it may be as simple as reshaping selected teeth. Some crowns may be needed and an oral appliance may also be advised. These appliances are custom-made to comfortably fit the unique contours of each mouth and do not interfere with sleep.

When bite misalignment is more severe, we may recommend orthodontic treatment. Although some adults cringe at the need to wear braces, ‘invisible’ options are available that can make treatment more comfortable and seem less awkward than the wires and brackets of traditional orthodontics.

Like a worn tire, the problems of misalignment will only worsen without repair. Let’s restore your bite to a harmonious position so you can avoid the discomfort, costs, and treatment time associated with TMJ disorders. Begin with a free consultation by calling 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.

 

Read More

School Has Begun. Avoid Injuries To The Smiles You Love.

posted: August 29, 2017

With the beginning of the school year, contact sports have parents and grandparents cheering from the sidelines. The last thing we expect is to see a player with a broken tooth, tooth that has been knocked out, or fractured jaw. If that player is one of our own, it’s even worse.

I’ve treated all ages of dental patients over the years, including tending to the unexpected injuries of players from football, baseball, basketball, hockey (field and ice), soccer, gymnastics and even tennis. I’ve seen lips and tongues bitten deeply from activities such as swimming, biking and skiing.

No matter how minor, accidents that involve the mouth can be painful and may cause permanent damage. This is why we encourage wearing a custom-made mouth guard as often as practical.

The advantages of wearing a custom-made mouth guard include:

For a mouth guard to work in the first place, it must be worn in the first place! When a mouth guard is fitted to the unique contours of the mouth, it is typically worn more often since the fit is comfortable.

• Having a mouth guard that is made of superior material significantly lessens the damage that could have occurred. It also is less bulky and more comfortable to wear.

• A mouth guard can lessen the impact of trauma to the jaw in a head injury.

• Having a properly-fitted mouth guard can prevent knocked out teeth or broken or chipped teeth. It can also prevent biting the tongue, lips, or inside of the cheek. 

• For patients who wear braces, a mouth guard can prevent cuts and gashes to tender gum tissues inside the mouth.

While we hope you never have to deal with an injury to the mouth, knowing what to do should one occur can help to lessen the severity to a large degree. Below are quick tips so you can pursue the best course of action:

CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to affected areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room.

BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from the injured area with lukewarm water. Place cold compresses over the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and call our office immediately for instructions.

KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Rinse the tooth without touching the root portion while you handle the tooth as little as possible. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and bite gently on a clean gauze or cloth to hold the tooth in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call us immediately. Seek treatment quickly! Time is critical in saving a tooth.

FRACTURED OR BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, go immediately to the nearest emergency room. First, however, prevent the jaws from moving by using a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head.

BROKEN ORTHODONTIC BRACKETS OR WIRES – Cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek, or tongue, try to reach the orthodontist for immediate care rather than attempt to remove the wire yourself. If you cannot reach your orthodontist, call our office and we will assist in an appropriate manner.

Never hesitate to contact us for an emergency need. Our answering service will direct you if after hours.

To inquire about a custom-fitted mouth guard, call 843-871-6351. The health of your smile (and the smiles precious to you) depends on YOU!

Read More

Lower Your Costs In The Dental Office By Re-Looking At Home Care Routine

posted: August 01, 2017

Very few of us were born with a perfect set of teeth. Most people need cavities repaired during their lifetimes and some even lose teeth. Over the years, many people need crowns, tooth realignment, repairs to chips, fillings and even root canals. Yet, the investment into having a healthy, appealing smile is one that sparks generally the same response with most patients of being well-worth it.

For some, however, there can seem to be an ongoing need of dentistry. Of course, this can be costly and time-consuming. This is one of the reasons we structure your 6-month cleanings and exams to help you prevent problems in the first place or catch those that do occur at early stages.

If you feel there is a revolving door on your dentist’s office, take a few minutes to re-examine your daily home care regimen. You may be surprised at how easily you can PREVENT problems.

• Are you brushing properly?

First, look at your tooth brush. It should be a soft to medium bristle tooth brush that’s replaced every 4-6 months. If the bristles are flayed out, however, you’re using too much force to brush. Lighten up so the tips of the brush are swirling over the tops and sides of teeth. Look in a mirror as you brush to make sure you’re not swiping over teeth with the sides of the bristles from pressing down too hard.

Next, be sure you’re using a toothpaste with fluoride, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel. Be sure you brush for at least two minutes twice daily, preferably in the morning and again before bedtime. When you brush, make sure it has been at least 20 minutes since eating or drinking anything (other than water). The reason for this is to also protect tooth enamel. This is because an acid attack begins in the mouth every time you eat or drink. Although this acid is designed to break down foods for digestion, it is also very hard on tooth enamel, actually softening it for 20-30 minutes. If you brush too soon, the abrasive toothpaste and bristles of a tooth brush can wear down enamel. When the protective covering of tooth enamel is worn down, your teeth are more susceptible to decay and other problems.

• Are you flossing daily?

Flossing is difficult for some people. Some people have large hands, some have manual dexterity issues and others simply can’t get comfortable with the technique. Our hygienists are pros at helping people find a comfortable, effective way to floss. However, for those who prefer an alternative, water flossers are now available to make the process both easy and effective. Brushing cannot dislodge some particles that become trapped between teeth, which makes flossing necessary. When debris is left behind, it begins to rot. This adds to oral bacteria levels in the mouth, which is essentially the origin of nearly every oral health problem. Flossing is a beneficial step to brushing to make the best of your time at the sink.

• Are you keeping your mouth moist?

Half of all adults take at least one prescription drug daily and one in five say they take four or more. Hundreds of medications have side effects that causes oral dryness. Add to this the fact that oral dryness can also be caused by caffeine, alcohol, smoking, spicy foods, aging, mouth breathing (including snoring) and some illnesses. When saliva flow is depleted, oral bacteria are not being rinsed efficiently from the mouth. This allows them to accumulate. Ideally, sipping filtered water during the day will help to keep your mouth moist. However, some oral dryness needs the aid of a mouth rinse to replenish moisture. These are available over-the-counter for a reasonable cost. Just be sure to pick one that does not contain alcohol. Again, alcohol is a drying agent to oral tissues.

• What are you eating and when?

We’ve all known someone who sips from a can of cola during the day or goes through several cups of coffee in the morning with added cream and sugar. Many of us like a snack in the afternoon or may even indulge in a bowl of ice-cream while we watch television at night. As mentioned prior, each time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth. When these acids are fueled by sugar, carbs and even more acid (from coffee, colas, citrus, etc.), the potential for damage increases. Although it’s not my place to alter your diet, just be mindful of what you’re eating and how often you consume. A good way to lessen the ill-effects of snacks or long periods of cola sipping is to rinse the mouth with water periodically after indulging.

• Are you proactive when it comes to your smile?

When something is wrong with your oral health, it’s not likely to repair itself on its own. For example, when a tooth is full of fillings and a crown is advised, it’s recommended to help preserve the natural tooth. Should the tooth fracture below the gum line, it will likely require removal. This sets in motion a long list of decisions – and expenses – that could have been avoided had a crown been placed to protect the tooth. While some expenses in dentistry may seem harmless to delay, many can easily become more complex issues – with greater costs. Look at periodic repairs like crowns, bite guards, etc. as necessary maintenance, just as you would for an automobile. After all, replacing brake pads isn’t cheap but not something wise to delay.

A healthy mouth, once established, is actually easy to maintain with proper at-home care and regular dental check-ups. Begin with an examination by calling 843-871-6351 and let’s create a smile you love!

Read More

Daylight Savings Time Is Here Again. Is The Time Adjustment Worth It?

posted: March 09, 2017

Again, most of the nation is preparing for Daylight Savings Time’s “spring forward,” which begins in 2017 at 2:00am on March 12th. If the transition of losing an hour’s sleep each Spring seems like an extended period of jet lag, you are not alone. Losing just one hour of sleep can alter one’s energy level, alertness, motivation and hunger.

Daylight Savings Times began during World War I as an effort to conserve energy. The time changed back to normal after the war ended but was reinstated when World War II began. After the second world war, the time changed back again, sparking the terms “War Time” and “Peace Time.”

For many reasons, these time switches back and forth became a dilemma. Thus, the Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966. However, individual states were allowed to opt out of daylight saving time, if desired.

Today, those passing on the time change include Arizona and Hawaii along with U.S. territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands. Residents of Utah may also drop Daylight Savings Time when it is brought to a vote in 2018. Across the globe, there is no Daylight Saving Time in South America, Africa and Australia or the majority of Asia.

The growing debate today is – Is there sufficient savings or other benefits to justify the mental and physical drag created by disrupting our sleep patterns?

Daylight Savings Time originated as an effort to make more efficient use of energy. When households set their clocks ahead in the spring, they found they could reduce awake time between sunset and bedtime. A century ago, it was felt that minimizing the awake hours after sunset would require fewer lights and a savings of energy needs per household.

Back then, light bulbs were the only thing that used electricity in most households. Today, think about the standard electricity-powered items that are ‘on’ at all hours of the day and night. For items such as televisions, computers, microwaves, refrigerators, heaters, air conditioners, hair dryers, and security systems, darkness has far less to do with usage. Light bulbs (which are also highly efficient today) are but a minute part of a home’s electrical consumption.

Some studies estimate the actual savings attributed to Daylight Savings Time is 1 or 2 percent. Is that worth it? If the transition of Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time seems to restore your internal clock to normal, you are not alone. Some studies question the need for DST for more reasons than its paltry savings.

Our internal body clock operates by circadian rhythms that coincide with the earth’s natural light-to-dark cycles and seasonal changes. When you set your clocks back each fall, your circadian rhythms instill an urge to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than the normal pattern of daylight and nightfall.

There are ways to ease into the DST transition, such as pre-adjusting your internal clock. A week before you ‘spring forward,’ get extra sunlight exposure in the morning. Before ‘falling back,’ absorb more late afternoon sun.

It’s not hard to feel the effects of getting too little sleep (or sleep of poor quality). Not enough sleep can cause daytime fatigue, feeling foggy, being more accident prone, nodding off easily and feeling less social. Even worse, sleep deprived drivers are said to be more deadly than drunk drivers.

Adequate, sound sleep is necessary to your health and supports your overall system Research has shown that REM sleep periods allow the brain to clean out toxins and regulate hormones. Without good sleep, you risk some pretty serious – and even deadly – health problems. Sleep disorders (such as Sleep Apnea) have been associated with heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, migraines and headaches, obesity, and impotency.

If sleep is alluding you, a simple FDA-approved oral appliance may be all you need to restore your sleep quality. These comfortable, custom-made mouth pieces can help to open air passages during sleep, restoring oxygen intake and restful, rejuvenating sleep. Heavy snorers also benefit greatly (as do their mates!) from these custom-made appliances.

Begin with a free consultation. Call toll free 1-877-966-9009 to arrange a time to discuss the best options to help you overcome sleep problems affordably and effectively.

Read More

How Sleep Quality Effects Weight

posted: February 09, 2017

As the new year approached, I watched commercials on TV touting weight loss programs and products. Everything from gym memberships to meal plans to home fitness equipment were being promoted as effective solutions for weight loss. And, losing weight has become big business in America.

The number of obese Americans (those who are beyond fat) is at a whopping 35%, which is more than a third of the population. Yet, in spite of all these weight loss options, there is often a cycle of one-step-forward-two-steps-back for adults struggling to lose weight and keep it off.

There has been a growing awareness of the hazards of America’s excess sugar consumption. When you consider the amount of sugar in foods (even those not categorized as sweets, such as Catsup) and beverages (from colas to energy drinks to fruit juice), adults are learning to make wiser choices with what they put into their bodies.

With this awareness has been a growing trend in ‘eating natural.’ While some food and beverage manufacturers have distorted what is deemed ‘natural,’ more Americans are leaning towards organic, antibiotic free, and ‘grass fed’ in spite of their higher prices.

Yet, every January, fitness centers fill up and calorie-counting begins. By Easter, however, the drop-off rate of those who dove enthusiastically into the new year with weight loss goals is drastic. While an estimated 40% of Americans make new year’s resolutions, a mere 8% actually achieve their goals, according to 2013 research at the University of Scranton (read article published by Boston University: http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/about-those-new-years-resolutions/).

Losing weight is a long, slow process that requires commitment to a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, new studies are now revealing that losing weight may be made more challenging for those who have sleep disorders.

The battle to lose weight often becomes a battle of willpower. But does ‘willpower’ work against those who have sleep disorders? While diet and exercise are certainly factors that influence weight, studies now show that Sleep Apnea can alter the brain so it is actually working against us.

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that deprives the body of sufficient oxygen during sleep. Sleep Apnea sufferers can experience unconscious pauses in breathing for up to a minute. These pauses can occur hundreds of times per night. Not only does this depletion of oxygen to the heart and brain pose an enormous health risk, it has been found to alter the brain’s ability to regulate hunger controls.

Common symptoms of Sleep Apnea are daytime fatigue, nodding off easily, feeling less alert and energetic, and being more accident prone. It has been said that Sleep Apnea sufferers behind the wheel are more dangerous than drunk drivers.

It’s difficult to talk yourself into hitting the treadmilll when your body is begging for a nap. And, it’s also difficult to reach for a carrot when your brain is craving a cookie. In addition to lacking the energy and drive to exercise, Sleep Apnea patients also endure a reaction in the brain that revs up cravings for a quick fix of energy.

After consuming sweets and carbohydrates, we experience a temporary boost of energy. The brain knows this will perk you up when sleep deprivation drags you down. When carb cravings are triggered by the brain to keep you going, weight gain is the natural result. Thus, those who are trying to lose weight under these conditions are fighting an uphill battle.

Modern research has found that the brain is actually very active during sleep. In REM sleep, the brain is busy removing toxins and other elements that have accumulated during the day. During this time, the brain can restore itself to peak efficiency to properly regulate hormones and other functions in the body. Some hormones trigger hunger cravings and others signal feeling full.

The intake of sufficient oxygen levels during sleep allows the brain to reset itself to keep these hormones operating efficiently for the coming day. When you wake up refreshed from a good night’s sleep, your brain has no need to trigger carbohydrate cravings to pull you out of sluggishness. Nor does it need to urge you to eat more when you really don’t need it.

In addition to fatigue, sleepiness, feeling foggy and food cravings, Sleep Apnea has been linked to a number of serious health problems. These include heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, and impotency.

Once diagnosed, a common therapy for many Sleep Apnea sufferers is sleeping with a CPAP device. This is a mask worn over the face during sleep. It is attached to a fan that pushes air into airway passages. Although CPAP is an effective oxygen delivery system, it is estimated that only 22% of those who have been prescribed CPAP are consistent users. Many claim they are unable to get comfortable in bed with the mask, find the devices noisy, feel claustrophobic, find them inconvenient and feel embarrassed by having to wear them.

For mild to moderate Sleep Apnea sufferers, there is an alternative. We offer a small, custom-designed oral appliance that eliminates the need for CPAP. Our Oravan mouth pieces are FDA-approved and comfortable so they don’t interfere with sleep. They are also effective for heavy snorers (a common precursor of Sleep Apnea).

Oravan Sleep Appliances – Small, Comfortable & Affordable

If you are a heavy snorer or suspect you suffer with Sleep Apnea, these problems will not go away on their own. It is vital to your health to restore your sleep quality and ensure you are taking in sufficient oxygen.

Begin with a no-cost Consultation to discuss these comfortable appliances. If desired, we can put you in touch with patients who use our Oravan mouth pieces and now sleep restfully and wake up feeling refreshed. Call 1-877-966-9009 to schedule or to learn more.

Read More

Lessen Impact Of Dental Emergencies

posted: November 03, 2016

School has resumed and the season for contact sports is in full swing. However, it’s not just football and ice hockey that create the most risk to a smile. As a dentist who has treated patients of all ages for years, I’ve seen a number of mishaps from activities such as swimming, skiing, biking, skating, soccer and basketball.

These injuries include broken teeth, teeth that have been knocked loose or out, fractured jaws, cut lips and gums, bitten tongues and everything in-between. Accidents, although unexpected, can lead to unpleasant results. No matter how minor, accidents that involve your mouth can be painful and result in permanent damage. football-tackle

The value of wearing a mouth guard is priceless. Even when mishaps do occur while wearing these, a custom-fitted mouth guard made of the right material significantly lessens the damage that could have occurred.

Knowing how to respond to common dental mishaps can save you greatly in the severity that occurs. Some tips include:

TOOTH ACHE – Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm, salt water or use dental floss to gently dislodge trapped food or debris. If the face is swollen, apply a cold compress. Take acetaminophen for pain and call our office as soon as possible. Do not place aspirin on the gum or the aching tooth.

CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to affected areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room.

BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from the injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses over the area of the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and call our office immediately for instructions.

KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Handle the tooth by the top portion rather than the root. Rinse the tooth, but do not clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and hold it in place by biting gently on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call us immediately. Time is a critical factor in saving a tooth.

BROKEN BRACES & WIRES – Fortunately, most loose or broken appliances do not require emergency room attention. If the appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If not, cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek, or tongue, do not remove it. Try to reach the orthodontist for immediate attention. Or, call our office and we will assist in an appropriate manner.

COLD OR CANKER SORES – For most cold and canker sores, over-the-counter preparations are usually sufficient to provide relief. However, some serious diseases may begin as sores and a prompt dental evaluation is necessary if these sores persist. Any red, white or unusual sore in the mouth that does not heal within 2 weeks should be examined immediately.

FRACTURED OR BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, use a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head. This will help to keep the jaws from moving. Go immediately to the nearest emergency room.

Our goal is to help you avoid problems or greatly lessen the impact of those that do occur. Never hesitate to contact our office for assistance. If after hours, our answering service is set up to provide instructions for emergency needs.

If you do not wear a custom-fitted mouth guard during sports and other activities, call toll free 1-877-966-9009 to inquire about the process to have one created. This small investment can save you enormously when it comes to the health and appearance of your smile.

Read More