Oral hygiene & Nutrition Education
Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.
Whether you are 80 or 8, your oral health is important. Most Americans today enjoy excellent oral health and are keeping their natural teeth throughout their lives; however, cavities remain the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. Some 100 million Americans fail to see a dentist each year, even though regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental disease. Many people believe that they need to see a dentist only if they are in pain or think something is wrong, but regular dental visits can contribute to a lifetime of good oral health. If you are experiencing dental pain, don't put off seeing a dentist. With dentistry's many advances, diagnosis and treatment are more sophisticated and comfortable than ever.
You can practice good oral hygiene by always brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner, replacing your toothbrush every three or four months and by eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks. Don't forget to schedule regular dental check-ups to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy.
Sealant under Age 12
Dental sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. They are a plastic material usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.
Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and may last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.
Key ingredients in preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy mouth are:
- brushing twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste
- cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner
- eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks
- visiting your dentist regularly
Ask your dentist about whether sealants can put extra power behind your prevention program.
Night Guard for Bruxism and Sports Mouth Guard
Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Smiling, talking, eating—everything would suddenly be affected.
Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. Knowing how to prevent injuries like these is especially important if you participate in organized sports or other recreational activities.
When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age. In fact, studies show that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouthguard. While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, you can experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.
There are three types of mouthguards:
- Custom-fitted. These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, usually offer the best fit.
- Stock. These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite. These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-fitted mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard from the drugstore. If you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.
A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, limiting the risk of soft tissue injuries.
Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that will provide the best protection. Although mouthguards typically only cover the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest that you use a mouthguard on the lower teeth if you have braces on these teeth too.
If you have a retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during any contact sports.
Some tips for caring for your mouthguard:
- rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste
- occasionally clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse thoroughly
- transport the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents
- never leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water
- check for wear and tear to see if it needs replacing
Treatment of Snoring
Sleep apnea is a common and serious sleeping disorder that happens when your regular breathing is interrupted during sleep. Snoring is common among patients with sleep apnea but not all snorers have sleep apnea.
There are two main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. The more common form, it is the result of blocked airflow during sleep, usually when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses while you sleep. Health factors, such as obesity may contribute.
- Central sleep apnea. Results from a problem with how the brain signals the breathing muscles. The airway is not blocked, instead the brain fails to signal the muscles to breath. This type of sleep apnea can occur with conditions such as heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.
Sleep apnea can affect any one at any age, although men are more likely to develop the disorder. The risk is also greater for those:
- over 40
- with large tonsils, large tongue or small jaw
- with a family history of sleep apnea
- with a nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies or sinus problems.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems including:
- high blood pressure
- heart failure, irregular heartbeat and heart attack
- worsening of ADHD.
Sleep apnea can be treated. There are several options:
- Adjusting sleeping habits. This may mean simply not sleeping on your back
- Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). This is a device which improves breathing while you sleep. The device supplies air through the nasal passages and the air pressure keeps the airway open while sleeping.
- Oral appliances. Certain oral devices can shift and support the jaw to prevent the airway from collapsing. Research shows that oral appliances can successfully prevent sleep apnea in some mild to moderate cases.
- Surgery. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, upper airway surgery may be recommended when other treatment options are unsuccessful in eliminating the symptoms of sleep apnea. Depending on the location and nature of the airway obstruction, the procedure may be minimally invasive or more complex. It may be necessary to remove the tonsils or other parts of the soft palate or throat.
If you think you have sleep apnea, make sure to speak with your physician or dentist for more information and possible evaluation.
Splint for TMJ Problem
The temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on each side of the head, your TMJ work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- tooth and jaw alignment
- stress and teeth grinding
Diagnosis is an important step before treatment. Part of the dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Depending on the diagnosis, the dentist may refer you to a physician or another dentist.
There are several treatments for TMJ disorders. This step-by-step plan from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research allows you to try simple treatment before moving on to more involved treatment. The NIDCR also recommends a “less is often best” approach in treating TMJ disorders, which includes:
- eating softer foods
- avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- modifying the pain with heat packs
- practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation or biofeedback.
If necessary for your symptoms, the following treatments may be advised:
- exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- medications prescribed by your dentist; for example, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
- a night guard or bite plate to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. Your dentist can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the suspected cause.