Blog: Oral Health

Baby Teeth and Oral Hygiene: What’s to Lose?

 

brushing for babies

 

There’s a lot to lose by not taking care of baby teeth. Even though primary teeth are temporary, they still matter to your child’s oral and general health. If you’re questioning the effort to get little ones into an early dental routine, these facts show how adopting good habits early can pay off for your child’s oral health further down the road.

Baby teeth help shape speech

The alignment of baby teeth play a big role in forming and pronouncing words correctly. Losing any primary teeth early can increase the risk of speech impediments such as slurring or a lisp. These issues could require a speech pathologist, depending on the severity of issues.

Baby teeth enable proper chewing and eating

Chewing correctly is important to efficiently break down solid foods. In addition, tooth loss or alignment issues can cause complications over time from unnecessary stress to the jaw, and can also affect the development of key facial muscles. Chewing problems could also contribute to a nutritional imbalance if poor oral health starts to impact food choices.

Baby teeth are placeholders for permanent teeth

Primary teeth reserve a spot for a permanent tooth down the road, but the loss of this initial placeholder could cause shifting and result in misalignment of permanent teeth. Regardless of the cosmetic issues, misaligned teeth can result in crowded and/or impacted teeth, make brushing and flossing more challenging, and contribute to jaw disorders such as TMJ.

Healthy baby teeth instill effective dental habits

Teaching good oral hygiene can have a lifelong impact. Introducing healthy dental habits early can establish the importance of preventative dental care, making it easier to stick with these habits throughout adulthood. This promotes a lifetime of good oral health, while significantly reducing the chance for costly dental problems.

Oral Health Tips for Baby Teeth

There is no set timeline for baby teeth to come in, but the American Dental Association provides guidelines for cleaning and caring for baby teeth. While brushing and flossing may not be a favorite activity, introducing healthy habits from the time the first tooth appears can make it easier for the whole family to stick to a routine.

  • From birth (no teeth present): wipe gums clean with a moistened cloth
  • Ages 0-3 (as teeth become present): brush teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small smear (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste, twice a day (preferably after breakfast and before bedtime)
  • Ages 3-6: brush twice daily with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
  • As the teeth touch each other: add daily flossing to your routine

If you’re wondering about training toothpaste, you can skip it! There is nothing in those products to help to protect your child’s teeth from cavities, so begin using toothpaste with fluoride as soon as teeth appear.

And remember, regular dental health checkups are also crucial to a child’s oral health. Call Dental Design Studio to schedule an appointment to keep those baby teeth healthy and in place!

 

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Are You Ignoring Dry Mouth?

woman with dry mouth

Although it may not sound serious, those who suffer from xerostomia (dry mouth) experience significant issues. Many report having a parched, uncomfortable feeling in their mouth, but dry mouth can also lead to difficulty swallowing, talking, and bacterial or fungal infections. Insufficient saliva can cause multiple dental issues. Here are some causes of dry mouth, as well as tips on how to spot it, and treatment options for this common problem.

Causes of Dry Mouth

1. Medications.
Many medications list dry mouth as one of the most common side effects. These medications include both prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, antibiotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, asthma inhalers, sedatives and more. The more medications that are taken, the worse the dry mouth effect.

2. Health Conditions.
Dry mouth can arise due to a variety of health conditions including diabetes, hypertension, cancer, obesity, pulmonary disease, depression or anxiety, fibromyalgia, arthritis, post-traumatic stress and more.

3. Damage to the Salivary Gland.
Saliva production can be reduced due to an injury of the salivary glands from chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or head and neck trauma.

4. Life Stage or Lifestyle.
Dry mouth can be attributed to everyday habits such as smoking or sleeping with your mouth open; health circumstances such as illness, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and other causes of dehydration; oras a part of natural health developments such as aging, pregnancy or menopause.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

The condition varies widely among the population, but there are warning signs that everyone should look for. Talk to your dentist if you have experienced any of the following:

  • A continually parched or thirsty feeling that remains constant even after drinking water
  • Cavities, gingivitis, or bad breath despite regular brushing and flossing
  • Problems swallowing or speaking
  • Mouth pain, soreness and/or hoarseness
  • Pebbled appearances on the tongue, which may also be overly red or shiny
  • Mouth stickiness, with food particles often found in your teeth
  • Cracked lips or blisters, despite being well-hydrated
  • A perceptible change in taste, or newfound difficulty eating spicy or dry foods
  • Noticeable lack of saliva pooling underneath your tongue

Treatment for Dry Mouth

There are multiple causes and varying symptoms of this condition, so you should talk to your dentist about how to help relieve and manage dry mouth.

You can also try modifying your daily routines to help ease the discomfort of dry mouth:

  • Try breathing through your nose as much as possible with your mouth closed.
  • Try sugar-free lozenges or candies to combat extreme dryness
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water frequently to replenish moisture in your mouth
  • Use fluoride-fortified toothpaste and mouthwash to protect your teeth
  • Consider using a humidifier at night if you breathe through your mouth while sleeping

“Dry mouth is one of the most frustrating conditions we deal with in the dental office. There are no magical cures for dry mouth, and it is extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, dry mouth leads to a sharp increase in tooth decay and gum disease,” said Dr. Jenkins, the newest member to the Dental Design Studio team in Norman. “Patients who have not had dental issues in the past may start to experience cavities and periodontal problems quickly once dry mouth sets in.”

Depending on the underlying cause, dry mouth can be a temporary or long-term issue. But no matter how long you’ve been dealing with this issue, protect yourself against tooth decay and other costly oral health problems by talking to your dentist about treatment of dry mouth.

Call Dental Design Studio today at 405-321-6166 to schedule a consultation if you are experiencing any symptoms of dry mouth.  Let us help you keep healthy smiles for life!

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Techniques to Handle Adult Dental Anxiety

We all know that dental health is very important, but for some adults, dental anxiety can hinder their ability to get necessary treatmentWith further understanding of dental anxiety, and with advanced dental care techniques, we can help patients feel more comfortable visiting the dentist

adult dental anxiety

How To Tackle Common Triggers

Needles are the #1 fear in the dental office. To help alleviate this fear, numbing alternatives such as topical anesthesia are used to help numb the gums in the area that will receive anesthesia. Dental Design Studio uses a device called The Wand to administer anesthesia. The Wand delivers a computer-regulated flow of anesthesia. This allows for a more comfortable numbing experience. Patients love The Wand! 

Some patients feel anxiety because they would like more control over their treatment. We encourage patients to play an active role in their dental care.  Our dentists, hygienists, assistants and office team are happy to walk you through your treatment plan and present all the options. You can feel free to ask anyquestions in order to feel better prepared. It can be calming to have open communication with your dentist and to walk through each step of the procedure. You can also develop signs or signals to indicate the need to stop during the procedure. 

If you’re worried that your current dental health is “embarrassing”- don’t be! Let us know about your dental health and history, even before your first visit. It’s understandable to feel anxious with someone working in your mouth, but getting everything out in the open can help ease fear of being judged, making you more relaxed for the care you need.

Preparation Is the Key!

Open communication with your dental team can go a long way in alleviating your fears, but self-preparation can also be empowering. Here are a few tips to stay calm throughout the visit. 

  • Meditate or practice breathing exercises before your visit
  • Wear comfortable clothing to your appointments
  • Bring calming activities, such as music, books or magazines, to distract you before and during dental treatment

Frequency is Important

The more you visit your dentist, the better you will feel over time – it may be difficult at first, but it will become easier as your dental treatments become more regular. Also, more frequent dental visits can help lower your chances for more invasive procedures. Regardless of your past experience, your oral health is worth working through your anxiety. You may be pleasantly surprised with the advancements in dental treatment and how relaxed and friendly your dental visit can be!

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Single Tooth Loss

Losing a tooth due to injury or decay can have big effects not only for the space previously occupied, but also for the surrounding teeth and gum tissue. Learn more about the aftermath of single tooth loss and what you should review with your dentist to reduce the risk of damage to gum tissue and mouth structure.

 

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The Causes of Teeth Grinding and Preventative Steps You Can Take

woman grinding teeth

Teeth grinding is more common than you may think! And it can come in many shapes and forms. While occasional grinding is unlikely to do any long-term damage, constant teeth grinding and/or clenching can affect your health in several ways.

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is difficult to diagnose because it most often occurs while sleeping in younger adults. But it can also occur in older adults subconsciously throughout the day, during periods of prolonged task focusing and problem solving. Symptoms are a dental issue, but the cause is more challenging to address. By understanding the cause and prevention of teeth grinding, you may be able to find relief from this pesky condition and thereby protect your teeth, oral muscles and jaw joints.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is characterized by the clenching and/or grinding of the teeth. The condition most often affects younger individuals at night, specified as sleep bruxism, but can also occur during the day. For many, it can go unnoticed until symptoms begin to surface, which include:

  • Teeth clenching or grinding, which is often loud enough to wake others
  • Flattened, chipped, fractured, or loose teeth
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Soreness or tightness in the jaw or face
  • Dull or extreme headache or earache
  • Ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus
  • Deep grooves along the gum line of your teeth caused by flexural forces from clenching/grinding

Why Does It Occur?

Several physical and psychological causes have come to the forefront:

  • Emotions – Stress (both good or bad), anxiety, frustration, or anger can trigger bruxism.
  • Focus or Coping Strategy – Some individuals clench or grind teeth to relieve pressure or help them focus. While this can happen during the daytime, most people are completely unaware that they’re doing it.
  • Oral Structure – Those with poor teeth alignment, also known as malocclusion, may develop bruxism.
  • Sleep Conditions – Individuals with sleep apnea may experience bruxism as part of their apnea condition.
  • Other Medical Issues – Grinding can also be caused from other medical disorders, by various anti-anxiety medications medications, or even acid reflux.

Three Major Treatment Options for Relief

Talk to your dentist about your teeth grinding – it can be a serious condition! Some young adults/children eventually “grow out” of the disorder, or there could be such minimal disruption such that no treatment is required.

If treatment is needed, there are several options available:

  • Dental Treatment – Dentists can make impressions for splints and mouth guards to prevent damage to your teeth. Your dentist can also determine if misalignment is causing your problems and, if so, offer appropriate treatment solutions.
  • Therapies – If bruxism is caused by stress factors, therapies such as stress management, behavior therapy, increased physical exercise and/or biofeedback may help address the underlying cause and reduce teeth grinding in the process.
  • Medication – While not common, bruxism can be treated with medication in some extreme cases. Doctors can sometimes prescribe medication or Botox injections to relax the muscles in prolonged spasm.

By understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments of teeth grinding, you can find relief and protect your smile from damage. Treating bruxism can help you to rest easy knowing that teeth grinding is no longer wearing down your teeth or their supporting structures – and ensuring you keep a healthy smile for life!

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Steps to Fresher Breath in the Morning

morning breath

Your regular morning routine might get you out the door quickly, but could be causing bad morning breath, or “halitosis”. We have some tips on how to have fresher breath in the mornings. 

1. Cut out the caffeine.

While it may jumpstart your day, your morning dose of caffeine is also inhibiting saliva production, which can help fight off bad breath. Coffee isn’t the only culprit – caffeinated teas and energy drinks can have the same effect. When your mouth is dry, oral bacteria is easier to flourish, which can cause halitosis. Instead of caffeine, try morning stretches to get your blood flowing and energy level up. If caffeine is absolutely necessary, be sure to hydrate. And if you need to brush after coffee, be sure to wait 20 minutes to allow for the acidity to subside. 

2. No smoking please.

Besides the health risks associated with tobacco use, smoking can stain your teeth and cause bad breath – a double whammy! Your breath can end up tasting and smelling bad due to the combustion of chemical additives and tiny smoke particles left on your tongue, throat and in your lungs. Smoking can cause worse health issues than just bad breath, so quitting tobacco is your best bet for improved overall and oral health. 

3. Bon Appetit

While we recommend you pass on caffeine and tobacco, don’t skip on breakfast! Your mouth can benefit from a boost in saliva production after a long night’s sleep, and a nutritious meal is the perfect means. 

4. Don’t rush the brush.

When trying to get out the door in the morning, your dental hygiene routine is one thing you shouldn’t rush. Not brushing could leave stuck food particles, which contribute to decay and gingivitis (which can also cause bad breath). If the usual brushing and flossing doesn’t do the trick for fresher breath, you can get a deeper clean by scraping your tongue and using mouthwash. If you sometimes forget to brush when hurrying out the door, get a travel-sized dental kit to leave in your bag, car or at the office – Dental Design Studio can help with travel-size toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash!  

5. Check your sleep.

Most of the time, you can notice bad breath from the moment you wake up. It may not be your diet or dental routine, but how you breathe at night. Breathing through your mouth while you sleep can create even more oral bacteria (due to the dry mouth), resulting in a parched feeling and unpleasant breath. Depending on your diagnosis, we can review treatment options, which can include something as simple as a glass of water, lozenge, or humidifier, and in more severe cases, surgery to correct oral issues.

We’re here to help!

If morning breath persists despite a change in routine, it may indicate something more serious – from tooth decay and infections, to more serious health issues such as diabetes, liver and kidney problems. Just to be safe, visit with your dentist to determine and treat the root causes of halitosis. We can provide you with a personalized treatment plan to help create a cleaner mouth and fresher breath!

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Are X-Rays Really Necessary?

x-rays
We understand that patients have concerns about potential risks from exposure to radiation from x-rays [radiographs], and we want to provide you with our policies at Dental Design Studio and our dentists’ intentions in using x-rays during oral exams.

Dental Design Studio’s philosophy is that x-rays are a necessary part of comprehensive dental care when they will help to diagnose or treat oral disease. If x-rays are required, our dental staff take complete caution in covering you with appropriate body shields before taking any x-rays.

Taking x-rays allows our dentists another view of your teeth to help us better interpret the signs of disease or potential dental issues that we can’t see through direct observations in our visual exam. They help us locate impacted, extra, or missing teeth. They could also help us discover cysts, abscesses or tumors. X-rays can indicate the incidence or degree of periodontal [gum] disease. They can also help us pinpoint the location and severity of cavities that we can’t see with the naked eye. Ultimately x-rays provide us with a “behind the scenes” view of the mouth structure and condition of your teeth, as well as the soft tissue and bone. Without x-rays, we run the risk of inaccurate diagnoses or incomplete treatment.

With new adult patients, we will take a full series of x-rays to serve as a frame of reference for future developments. Follow up x-rays, type and quantity will be based on your individual needs and oral health – usually between 6 and 18 months. For children, we consider their growth and development when determining if x-rays would be helpful in treatment.

X-rays may also be necessary in conjunction with certain procedures or conditions, such as a root canal, periodontal disease or implants. We are sensitive to your concerns and our office continues to keep up with the latest radiological advances. We only utilize techniques and x-ray technology that will minimize risk and maximize your personalized dental care to keep healthy smiles for life.

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Cantankerous Sores?

smiling-young-woman-covering-mouth-on-white

Canker sores and cold sores are the same thing, right? Not at all! They are quite different in both where they appear and if they are transmittable. While not necessarily the most pleasant topic, it’s important to know the difference and be aware of treatment options. 

Canker sores [apthous ulcers] are found inside the mouth on the tongue, cheeks, gums, or floor of the mouth. They are not “contagious” and cannot be transmitted from one individual to another.

Cold sores are only found outside the mouth, usually on the lips. However, they can also occur on the chin, nostrils, or outside of the cheekTypically cold sores start as a red blister that bursts and crusts over, with a 7-14 day cycle to healThey are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, whichmost people carry but stays dormant most of the time. Cold Sores are contagious, transmitted by direct contact. This type of viral sore most often occurs in adolescents and young adults, declining in individuals over 35. Outbreaks can be prompted by stress, fevers, colds and sunburn. 

To minimize exposuredon’t touch or irritate the blister, wash your hands before touching others, and avoid kissing when the blisters are visible. You should also use sunscreen on your lips if spending time outside. Avoid hot or spicy foods that will irritate the sores. Treatment includes applying phenol-containing ointments, which can be purchased over-the-counter. There are also anti-viral antibiotics that can shorten the healing cycle, but cannot prevent an outbreak.

Canker sores inside the mouth often begin as small red circular bumps that rupture, or ulcerate. These sores typically become white and are surrounded by red swelling, which as an open sore, can be quite painful to the touch. The healing cycle can last 8-10 days. 

About 20% of the population is affected by canker sores and there is no identified causeThey may appear more often in stressful situations, or follow from cuts or abrasions in the mouth. Highly acidic foods such as citrus and tomatoes can also irritate the skin or mucous membrane, resulting in canker sores. Canker sores are usually first seen between the ages of 10-20, although it is possible in younger children. It’s not uncommon for them to occur 3-4 times a year, but typically becomes less frequent or stops all together in adulthood.

You can treat canker sores by applying an ointment that contains a topical anesthetic to relieve the pain. You should also avoid foods that have a rough texture, or hot or spicy foods that can irritate the sore. Try not to touch them with your toothbrush or eating utensils. 

And as with all things concerning oral and dental health, call our office for more recommendations!

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Is Gum Disease Really a Big Deal?

gum disease

Most of us care about healthy teeth and a whiter smile, but do we really pay attention to our gums? It turns out that keeping gums in shape is not only important to our smile, but to our overall health as well. Studies now find that periodontal infections, otherwise known as gum disease or gingivitis, may contribute to the risk of heart disease, the nation’s top fatality. Untreated periodontal disease can pose a serious threat to those whose health may already be compromised by respiratory disease or diabetes.

How do gums relate to the heart? For healthy hearts, gums only matter in terms of helping you stay healthy and eat right. But if you have a weakened heart valve, such as mitral valve prolapse or aortic stenosis, keeping your gums clean is critical because bacteria from your mouth can work its way into your circulatory system. Patients with these conditions should contact their dentist ahead of treatments, as it may be suggested to pre-medicated with antibiotics before receiving dental care to avoid any infection from cleanings or gum abscesses.

Studies show that individuals with gum disease are nearly twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without. Diseased gums release considerably higher levels of bacteria, such as pro-inflammatory endotoxins, into the bloodstream. This bacteria circulating in the blood stream may also impact coronary arteries, which can thicken with the build-up of fatty proteins. Blood clots can form in the narrowed arteries and obstruct normal blood flow, depleting the heart of oxygen and important nutrients. Mouth bacteria can cling to the fatty proteins, furthering the risks of blood clots.

It is especially important for diabetics to pay attention to the risk of gum disease, as they are more prone to more infections and slower to heal. Studies have shown that gum disease may make a diabetic condition worse, and that diabetics may require less insulin once they’ve been treated for periodontal disease.

Healthy smiles, as well as healthy implants, require healthy gums. Contact us today for an examination and to learn how to better care for your gums – all leading to healthy smiles for life!

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Dental Issues to Be Aware of If You’re Over 50

smiled-senior-couple-on-tropical-beach-close-up

Because we are keeping our teeth far longer than ever before, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and be aware of age-related risks that threaten the optimum health of our teeth. With vigilance, oral health tips and routine dental care, Dental Design Studio can help ensure healthy smiles for later in life.

Gum Disease Can Lead to Tooth Loss

Your gums can become more susceptible to gum disease as you age. Untreated gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, a more severe and destructive form of gum disease with can lead to tooth loss. To fight against gum disease, it’s important to brush twice daily, floss each day to clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet to maintain overall health, and schedule regular hygiene appointments.

The Problem of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a lack of adequate saliva production that can make your mouth dry. Saliva is highly beneficial for our mouths. Without it, your teeth are at greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging, but many medications taken later in life can result in the side effect of dry mouth. It’s important to consult with your physician on these issues and tell your dentist about any medications you are taking.

To ward off dry mouth, you can increase the amount of water you drink throughout the day. You may even wish to chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production. Drinks that exacerbate dry mouth symptoms include coffee, tea, alcohol, soda, acidic fruit juices and energy beverages. With severe dry mouth, we may also recommend fluoride varnish or special antioxidant mouth rinses, gels and toothpastes, to further protect your teeth from decay.

Oral Cancer Risks Increase

As we get older, the risk of oral cancer may also increase. Oral cancer is associated with alcohol consumption and tobacco use, however, everyone should have your mouth screened, even if you don’t smoke or drink. Symptoms of mouth or throat cancer can include sores that bleed easily or are difficult to heal, lumps or hard/thick spots, crusted areas that don’t heal, numbness or pain, mouth tenderness or a difference in your bite. Our dental staff will look for signs of the disease in order treat them in the early stages, a time when cancer can be treated more easily.

The Problem of Crowded Teeth

The shifting of teeth can lead to crowding as we age, which makes your mouth more difficult to keep clean. Crowding also puts added stress on the teeth and gums. You can maintain the health of your smile by having more frequent hygiene appointments. In some cases, orthodontic treatment may be required to correct the crowding of the teeth.

Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a common issue, with pain or discomfort from hot or cold foods and drinks. There are several possible reasons for sensitivity, including cavities, broken teeth or leaking fillings, worn tooth enamel, or exposed tooth root.

Dental Design studio can help with these issues. We frequently recommend sensitive toothpaste or a more personalized treatment plan based on the cause of your tooth pain. Routine oral hygiene may help in preventing and dealing with tooth sensitivity.

Be Part of the Change, Share This Information & Get Screened

Share this information with the people you care about. Your aging family members need to be aware of these increased risks. Even those under the age of 50 need to prioritize your dental health and get screened for oral cancer along with routine hygiene appointments and dental evaluations. The better your teeth are maintained when you are younger, the easier it may be to maintain the health of your smile as you age.

If you have questions about age-related dental risks or other dental concerns, be sure to contact our staff. Make an appointment so we can help keep your teeth at their healthiest for many years to come!

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Dental Design Studio, LLC 561 Merchant Drive Norman, OK 73069 Phone: (405) 321-6166