Posts for category: Oral Health
Lots of people don’t know that April is National Stress Awareness Month; don’t fret if you’re one of them. For many, stress is already a common feature of everyday life. According to the American Psychological Association, 62% of Americans are stressed at their jobs, and stress has been estimated to cause the loss of some 275 million working days every year.
In addition to its other negative physical and mental consequences, stress can also spell trouble for your oral health. It may lead to the problems of teeth clenching and grinding, which dentists call bruxism. A habitual behavior that can occur in the daytime or at night, bruxism is thought to affect perhaps one in ten adults. While the evidence that stress causes bruxism is not conclusive, there’s a strong case for the linkage.
Bruxism sometimes causes symptoms like headaches, soreness or pain in the jaw muscles or joints, and problems with fully opening the mouth. It can be detected in the dental office by excessive tooth wear, and/or damage to tooth surfaces or dental work. Grinding or tapping noises heard at night may indicate that someone is grinding their teeth while sleeping. In children, nighttime bruxism is common and not necessarily a reason for concern; in adults, it may be more troubling.
So what can you do if you’re experiencing this problem? If you find yourself clenching and grinding during the daytime, simply becoming more aware of the behavior and trying to limit it can help. A bit of clenching during times of stress isn’t abnormal, but excessive grinding may be reason for concern. Many of the same techniques used to relieve stress in other situations—such as taking a step back, talking out your issues, and creating a calmer and more soothing environment—may prove helpful here as well.
Occasionally, prescription drugs may cause bruxism as an unwanted side effect; in this case, a medical professional may recommend changing your medication. The use of stimulants like coffee and mood altering substances like alcohol and illicit drugs have also been associated with teeth grinding—so if you’re having this issue, consider foregoing these substances and making healthier lifestyle choices.
There are also a number of dental treatments that can help protect your teeth from excessive grinding. The most common is an occlusal guard or “night guard.” This is a custom-fabricated appliance made of plastic that fits comfortably over your teeth. Usually worn at night, it keeps your teeth from actually coming into contact with each other and being damaged. Occasionally, additional treatments such as bite adjustment or orthodontics may be recommended to help solve the problem.
If you would like more information about teeth clenching and grinding, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Grinding” and “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”
In aggressive cases of gum disease, a surgical procedure is often needed to reverse the progression of bone loss. But it’s not always necessary to have invasive periodontal surgery to cure gum disease if you have it treated in the earliest stages. You may be a candidate for the non-surgical treatments available at Apple Valley Dental serving Lucerne Valley, CA.
Gum Disease Signs and Symptoms
While tooth decay generally threatens a tooth from the inside, gum disease threatens it from the outside. The supporting gum structure that holds the tooth in its socket becomes compromised by bad bacteria, causing the tooth to lose its stability over a period of time. Here are a few of the signs and symptoms of gum disease:
- The gums look red and irritated.
- Blood frequently shows up after brushing or flossing.
- The gums start to separate from the teeth, creating deep pockets.
- The mouth has an unusually unpleasant taste and odor.
In serious cases of gum disease, periodontal surgery may not be avoidable. But in the earlier stages, your Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley dentist will likely try one or more of these non-surgical treatments:
- Scaling and root planing (a deep cleaning that removes hardened calculus).
- Laser therapy (laser targets bad tissue while leaving good tissue unharmed).
- Antibiotic therapy (medication that controls the bacteria that causes bone loss).
- Gum grafting (adding natural or artificial gum tissue to make the gumline stronger).
Preventing Gum Disease
If you have a family or personal history of gum disease, there are steps you can take to prevent gum disease in the future. Observe these tips:
- Floss as often as you brush to stop plaque in its tracks, and do a very thorough job each time.
- Eat foods that promote good bone and gum health, including calcium, potassium, and vitamin A, C, and D.
- Join a smoking cessation program so that you can eliminate tobacco products from your routine.
Explore Your Options
Find out more about the non-surgical solutions available for patients who have been diagnosed with gum disease. Call (760) 247-6007 today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Samuel Kim at Apple Valley Dental serving Lucerne Valley, CA.
In February, the American Dental Association sponsors Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of good oral health for kids of all ages. It’s a great time to focus on concerns unique to children—teething, for example. This stage of development can be stressful for children and parents alike. Just ask tennis legend (and new mom) Serena Williams. When her baby daughter recently began teething, the Olympic gold medalist and multi-Grand-Slam champion asked her instagram followers for help:
“Teething… is so hard. Poor Alexis Olympia has been so uncomfortable. She cried so much… I almost need my mom to come and hold me to sleep cause I’m so stressed. Help? Anyone?”
We certainly sympathize with Serena’s plight. The process of teething—where a child’s primary teeth start to emerge (erupt) from below the gum line—can make both baby and parents irritable in the daytime and sleepless at night. While a few infants are born with tiny teeth already showing, most kids’ teeth begin emerging at age 4-7 months.
Teething is an important milestone in baby’s growth…but it’s one that’s not always cause for celebration. It can lead to pain, drooling, gnawing, and biting; ear rubbing and gum swelling; decreased appetite and disrupted sleeping patterns. And did we mention that irritability and stress are common as well? But if you notice fever, diarrhea, or widespread rash, it may be wise to consult your dentist or pediatrician.
What can you do to ease the discomfort of teething? The American Dental Association (ADA) has a few recommendations: Try soothing the gums by rubbing them gently with a clean finger or a cool, moist towel or washcloth; or let your baby chew on a cold (but not frozen) teething ring or pacifier.
If your pediatrician recommends it, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used for persistent teething pain—but make sure to use the correct dosage and wait the proper amount of time between doses.
There are also a few things you should NEVER do. Don’t give alcohol to a baby in any form, and don’t rub any medications on baby’s gums. Don’t give a baby anything to chew on that’s unsafe (bones, breakable items, etc). And don’t use teething gels containing benzociane, lidocaine or certain homeopathic ingredients: According to a recent FDA warning, they may pose a danger to infants, including risks of rare but serious medical conditions. Feel free to check with us if you are not sure whether a particular remedy is safe for your baby.
There’s no doubt that teething can be stressful. But it’s a sign of normal development—and in time it will pass…like babyhood itself. If you’re concerned about your child’s teething or would like more information, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teething Troubles.”
It's a big transition when your child enters college — for both of you. You may find “cutting the apron strings” a little rocky at times.
But like most parents, you'll soon condense what you still want your college kid to do down to a few major habits and choices. Be sure to keep health, diet and lifestyle choices on that list, areas which could have the most effect on their long-term health and well-being.
That should include dental care. Hopefully, they've already developed good hygiene habits like daily brushing and flossing and regular dental visits. But, on their own now, they're faced with other choices that could affect their dental health.
For example, eating a balanced, nutritious diet is necessary for a healthy mouth. That includes limiting sugar intake, especially when snacking. Disease-causing oral bacteria thrive on carbohydrates like sugar. These bacteria also secrete acid, which at consistently high levels can erode tooth enamel.
Tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol affect teeth and gums because both can inhibit secretion of saliva. Besides containing antibodies that fight infection, saliva also neutralizes mouth acid. A dry mouth caused by these habits, could put their mouth at higher risk for disease.
Your college student might also be influenced by the fashion of their peers to display piercings. Mouth piercings with lip or tongue hardware in particular can damage teeth. The constant movement and friction erodes enamel or may even cause a tooth fracture. If possible, try to steer them to self-expression that poses less risk to their dental health.
There's one other area that, believe it or not, could impact dental health: sex. While each family handles this particular subject differently, be sure your child knows that some forms of sexual activity increase the risk for contracting the human papilloma virus (HPV16). Among its many destructive outcomes, HPV16 profoundly raises the risk of oral cancer, a rare but deadly disease with a poor survival rate.
Going from home to college is a big step for a young person — and their parents. As a parent, you can help steer them to practice good habits and make wise choices that will protect their lives and health and, in particular, their teeth and gums.
If you would like more information on helping your college student maintain their dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Health Tips for College Students.”
Dental emergencies can cause even the most calm, cool, and collected individuals to panic. Luckily, your dentist can help you prepare for these uncomfortable situations and know exactly what to do to save your tooth and dental health. Find out everything you need to know about dental emergencies and more with Dr. Samuel Kim at Apple Valley Dental in Apple Valley, CA.
What is considered a dental emergency?
Dental emergencies often involve injuries to the mouth which do serious damage to one or more teeth. In addition to damage to the teeth, a dental emergency can also include damage to the oral tissues like the cheeks, tongue, or gums. One of the most common dental emergencies occurs when an injury or accident knocks a tooth from the mouth, fractures a tooth, or significantly loosens the tooth. However, dental emergencies can also occur when a tooth becomes severely infected and abscessed.
What should I do during a dental emergency?
It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible after a dental emergency. If the tooth has become dislodged or come out completely, retrieve the tooth and rinse it if it is dirty. However, try to hold the tooth by its crown and do not scrub any remaining tissue off of the roots. Place the tooth in a small container of milk or a store-bought solution like Save-A-Tooth. If the tooth breaks into pieces, retrieve the pieces and place them into the solution or milk and bring them with you to your emergency dental appointment. If you have a toothache or abscessed tooth, try swishing with warm salt water until you can get into your dentist’s office.
Dental Emergencies in Apple Valley, CA
The best thing you can do during a dental emergency is to stay calm and remember the best practices for the situation you find yourself in. For more information on dental emergencies or what you should do during one, please contact Dr. Kim at Apple Valley Dental in Apple Valley, CA. Call (760) 247-6007 to schedule your emergency appointment.