Category: General Tooth Care Info

Toothpaste, Mouthwash – Does it Expire?

Have you ever stocked up on household and personal care items during a great sale? At some point, we all have probably done this to save a few dollars on commonly used items such as shampoo, bar soap, paper towels, toothpaste and other necessities. When it comes to oral hygiene products though, have you ever wondered about how long they might keep while awaiting use?

Does Toothpaste Expire?

In short, toothpaste and mouthwashes do indeed have a shelf life and expiration dates, especially if you are using a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash containing fluoride. To the surprise of many, The FDA (Food and Drugtoothpaste expired Administration) classifies toothpaste in the same category as cosmetics, which is required to include a list of actives as you can see on the back of a box or the tube of toothpaste. Under these regulations, they are also required to list an expiration date, usually found along the crimped edge of the tube and also on the box. Toothpastes also carrying the seal of approval by the ADA (American Dental Association) are required to list expiration dates.

Expiration of toothpaste comes about 2 years after manufacture date, which might also be found on the box or tube of toothpaste in the form of a number sequence. Manufactures of food and product often use a 3-digit number from 001-365 which represents the day of the year, usually preceded by the last digit of the year. For example: a product made on March 1, 2015 would be coded 3015, for example). If your toothpaste contains a number sequence rather than a clear date, you can often decipher the numbers similarly to determine when the product was made.

Beyond the listed expiration date, there can be loss of effectiveness and stability in the active ingredients, such as fluoride. Active ingredients as well as flavor can also crystallize and separate causing not only an inconsistent product, but like one that doesn’t taste or feel too pleasant. Most brands have a shelf life of at least two years, so if it’s a toothpaste you and your family use regularly, go ahead and stock up on a few tubes, just take note of the expiration dates, especially if you use a recommended fluoride toothpaste.

 

Is it dangerous to use expired toothpaste?

While it isn’t advised, using an expired toothpaste or mouthwash will not harm you given the expiration is within reasonable time. We wouldn’t suggest using a couple years post expiration! The toothpaste or wash just might not taste or feel as smooth or consistent as it would if it was within the shelf life span. The concern is really in the effectiveness of the active ingredients such as fluoride and triclosan. So go ahead and get an extra tube or two next time your favorite toothpaste or mouthwash is on sale. Chances are that with regular use, those extras will be gone long before expiration. As always, happy brushing (and flossing)!

 

Caring for Your Tongue: Why you Should Clean your Tongue and How
Caring for Your Tongue: Why you Should Clean your Tongue and How

While brushing and flossing alone reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth, did you know that over 50% of oral bacteria sit on your tongue? This bacteria is often responsible for bad breath and can also contribute to tooth decay, so properly removing it can greatly reduce the occurrence and keep breath fresh, for much longer. Caring for your tongue is just as important as the teeth and gums, so don’t leave it behind!

Why it’s important

The mouth is one of the main gateways for pathogens into your body and is also the beginning of your digestive tract. Your tongue is actually the first organ of digestion, aiding food down the esophagus as you swallow. It is also a mode of detoxification and is part of the first line of immune defense. Since up to half of oral bacteria can sit on your tongue, if you’re only brushing teeth and gums, you are leaving behind quite a bit of bacteria in your mouth as well as swallowing some of it, sending it back into your body. Bacteria isn’t the only thing on your tongue either. Food debris and dead skin cells often find their home on the surface of your tongue.

Bacteria buildup on the tongue can begin to look quite obvious. Have you ever noticed a coating on your tongue or that of your child’s? This coating is an accumulation of mostly bacteria and toxins from the body’s cleansing and detoxifying process. During sleep, the body works to eliminate toxins and waste in your system, some of which deposit on the surface of your tongue. This is often why you can see this coating primarily in the morning.

Kids generally have pretty clean, pink tongues.  As we get older though, we consistently develop this coating on the back of the tongue which can vary in color from yellow, white or even orange. Breast or bottle fed babies can also develop a coating as well.

When this coating isn’t removed, not only can we reabsorb the bacteria and toxins, but it often results in bad breath, increased risk for cavities and gum disease. This coating also Keeping your mouth and tongue clean is not only important to your oral health, but also that of your digestive and immune health.

 

Why buy a scraper?

Dental research has long concluded that scrapers are far more effective at removing bacteria and toxins than a toothbrush. Tongue scrapers are uniquely shaped to fit in the back of the mouth, where the coating generally accumulates the thickest. They are made of metal in a long, flat, and thin “U” shape. It is designed for ease of use and to clean more thoroughly than scrubbing with a toothbrush. Many modern toothbrushes are designed with raised rubber or plastic scrapers on the backside of the bristle head as well.Tongue scraper

You may also use the edge of a metal spoon or the backside of a butter knife. Using a toothbrush to scrub the tongue not only takes far more time and work to accomplish, but is also quite prone to cause gagging, which no one is too fond of, and can be difficult to clean out of the bristles. You can find scrapers at most health stores or drug stores in the oral hygiene section.

 

How to do it

Scraping is best done daily before brushing and flossing in the morning hours, say, after breakfast before you brush and floss for the day.

  • Whether you are doing this yourself or you are doing so for your child, with a scraper in both hands, hold out your tongue or ask you child to and gently press the scraper on the tongue and pull lightly in a downward motion, but enough to pull the coating off. Repeat as needed until the tongue is clean and clear.
  • Rinse the scraper and store in a clean place.
  • If you are using a built-in toothbrush scraper, a spoon, or butter knife edge, you may need to repeat several times to cover the surface of the tongue.

 

Tooth Sensitivity – Top Causes and What You Can Do About It
Tooth Sensitivity – Top Causes and What You Can Do About It

Tooth sensitivity can be a pain in the… mouth. It can take root, quite literally, and linger for awhile, making anything hot or cold quite uncomfortable to consume. If you’ve ever experienced sensitivity in your teeth, you can only imagine what it might be like for your little ones.

Sensitivity is often the result of loss and wear of the protective outer layer of the tooth known as enamel. Enamel covers the cementum of the tooth, or the surface layer of the tooth root. When this is worn away, your tooth’s dentin is exposed which is full of tiny tubes with nerves running through them, and exposed nerves lead to sensitivity and pain when anything hot, cold, or sugary comes in contact. There are several reasons why this could happen to you or your child’s teeth:

Top Causes of Sensitivity

Cavities…

Cavities are a result of decay and breakdown of the enamel and tooth itself, especially if left untreated. They are the most common cause for dental pain.

Brushing too roughly

kids can be a bit rough with their toothbrush which can gradually wear away on the enamel. Kids with braces tend to brush roughly in a back-and-forth motion near gum lines which can also cause inflamed gums along with sensitive teeth. Be sure to replace toothbrushes often and purchase soft-bristled ones. Teach your child to brush softly so not to “squish their bristles”. A good way to know if your child is brushing too hard is to take a look at their toothbrush. Have the bristles splayed?

Receding gum line

Decay can cause gum disease and also receding gum lines. If your child complains of sensitivity or pain near their gum line, this could be the cause.

New teeth!

Depending on your child’s age and growth and loss of adult teeth, this could also cause some temporary sensitivity. New teeth are not accustomed to air and differing temperatures of food and beverages but should acclimate within a couple weeks.

Grinding

Grinding teeth or clenching the jaw can cause microfractures in the tooth, as well as a sore jaw!

Sinuses

Pressure from mild sinus infections, allergies, or bacterial congestion can cause a feeling similar to tooth sensitivity. If there is history of allergies or sinus trouble in your family, the two could be related. Tapping the tooth lightly may help determine if the sensitivity is related. If a sensation is present, it likely isn’t sinus or allergy related.

Acidic food and drinks

It may not seem obvious, but acidic foods and drinks can break down the enamel over time and give way to sensitivity. Think oranges, pickles, juice, soda… limit some of these foods and also remind your child to drink some water after eating, which is always a good habit to practice, and brush after meals.

What you can do:

Scheduling an appointment with your child’s doctor or pediatrician can help determine the cause of sensitivity. Of course, sensitivity can be bothersome with meals, intake of fluids and even breathing, so what can you do in the meantime?

  • Brush gently! Use a soft brush and brush in small, circular motions. Also, brush with lukewarm water to prevent irritating the tooth.
  • Note which tooth or teeth are sensitive and around what part of the tooth. Advise your child to chew on the alternate side of their mouth
  • Drink room temperature water and warm teas or other hot-serve beverages. Refrain from sugary and acidic fruit drinks.
  • Advise your child to breath through their nose, especially if it is cold outside!
  • In the case of a sinus infection or allergies, encourage your child to fully sneeze; not to hold their sneeze or plug their nose.
  • Try a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, as they contain less abrasives. Do this under the recommendation of your dentist though, as some products are not for use in children under 12.
  • Talk to your dentist about a mouthguard if your child grinds their teeth, and help them find a new sleep position. Remind them to “not let their teeth touch” apart from chewing to help them understand how to relax their jaw.

If you or your child are experiencing sensitivity, consider all causes such as those we listed and consult your dentist or doctor! He or she can help you determine the cause and give you further tips to help heal and prevent decay and sensitivity.

Balancing a Busy Lifestyle with Kids
Balancing a Busy Lifestyle with Kids

This is the time of year for things to get a little crazy busy, especially if you have kids! School is back in session, Halloween and all the Holidays are near, and sometimes you just don’t have room to cut back on what takes up your time and energy. There is no need for us to tell you that life is indeed, busy! This is especially so when you have multiple school age children of  various ages. Babies keep you busy, around the house and through the night, while older children typically have sports, clubs, and other school activities they may participate in along with homework each night. Whatever your family dynamic may look like, life is busy and seems to pack a few more punches in your schedule. When you are balancing your to-do’s with your family activities, it can be tough to find and maintain a balance! Here are some practical tips for balancing a busy life, because we know that sometimes life doesn’t slow down!

Make Time to Rest

This seems cliché, but if it wasn’t imperative to a healthy life, it wouldn’t be so widely declared. Getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night will do a world of good for you and give you the energy necessary to tackle your busy schedule. If you don’t wake up early with your kids already it would be a good habit to adopt, along with hitting the pillow a little earlier. Numerous studies have shown that rising early can help you be more productive and get that quiet moment you need before starting the day. 

Plan Ahead, Organize

Depending on your work schedule and how much time you have at home, plan ahead for things like meals, shopping, birthdays, holidays, and dates with your spouse. You can then organize according to your game plan. Here are some tips for planning:

  • Keep a calendar or planner, whether written or on your phone to remind yourself of special dates in advance! Give yourself a few days to weeks even
  • Schedule appointments, such as check ups and dental cleanings, for the same afternoon back to back.
  • Plan meals and keep a grocery list of meal-specific ingredients. Take a little time to make a list so you don’t forget things and require additional trips to the store.
  • Grocery shop at one or two stores, make a weekly trip
  • After dinner, prepare breakfast and lunches for the next day. Have kids lay out their clothes and backpacks for the next day before bedtime.
  • Make designated places for things you and the kids will need the next day, set them out the night before so you aren’t scrambling for it the next morning.
  • Designate a day for laundry or do one load a night.
  • Keep a bathroom drawer for everything you use on a daily basis.

Taking care of the little things in advance can add minutes to your day, and those minutes add up!

Prioritize

Making priorities will not only help you stay on track, but also help you stay organized. Decide what your most important tasks are and learn to say no to things that will put you on overload. Realize that you can only do so much in one day, so slow down to examine the standards you hold for yourself and make realistic goals for each day.  

Enjoy Some Family TimeFamily time

Relationships are intentional and grow with time and attention. Don’t wait for the weekend, stay connected by setting some family time aside each night and make it an important part of your day, even if it is only half an hour! Dinner time or even breakfast is a perfect time to do this. If you are a full time working parent, this is particularly important; not only for your kids but also for yourself! Without a doubt, kids and parents feel more connected and optimistic when they take the time to do something fun apart from work and school. If you are like many families who run short on time, try including your family and kids in your tasks! Let young children “help” you fold laundry, grocery shop, stack dishes, help cook (as much as they can safely handle), etc. Almost any daily task can be turned into a game or lighthearted competition between siblings with some creativity.

Maintain a Basic Routine

Keyword here is “basic” because we all know that planning every detail can take a lot of time and cause much unneeded stress, especially since we have no control over what can happen around us and needs change. Keep a routine bedtime schedule for you and your kids.

Remain Flexible

As a parent, you know how quickly your day can turn in a different direction. Accidents happen, forgetfulness is a common occurrence, and life happens! The critical thing here is to practice flexibility, take things as they come, but keep your priorities in place.

Schedule with Caution

The American Academy of Pediatrics found in a 2006 study that organized activities can help children gain skills and self-confidence, but too much structured activity can contribute to anxiety, stress, and depression in children and cause kids to become self-critical perfectionists. Over scheduling is proven to not only cause you stress, but also your children. Make sure they are not over scheduled in their activities as well as yourself, it is okay to cut back. If you feel like your children need to be in activities because the neighbor kids are, or they need to stay busy, remember that they also need downtime for relaxation and stress management, and it is also important for learning and mental development. 

Riding the fast track seems to be inevitable nowadays, but balancing a busy lifestyle is not impossible and it does involve some intention, it doesn’t just happen. With these tips you can simplify your life and learn to find opportunities in every moment.

 

Pediatric Dentists: Why Your Child Needs to See One
Pediatric Dentists: Why Your Child Needs to See One

Your child’s dental health has a direct relation to his/her general health, especially in the early years. Hence, the American Dental Association recognizes the specialty of Pediatric dentistry which is dedicated to looking after children’s oral health from infancy until adolescence, usually up to 18 years of age. Dentists who specialize in children’s dentistry are classified as Pedodontists,  though they are more commonly called Pediatric dentists, to keep things simple.

 

Why Should You Take Your Child to a Pediatric Dentist?

Despite the well-meaning effort of parents in looking after their child’s teeth, cavities and erosion can still occur and may not visible to the untrained eye in most cases. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that parents take their children to a pediatric dentist within 6 months of eruption of first baby tooth, and no later than the first year. It is never too late to see a dentist, but making the first visit within 6 months to 1 year decreases the chances of developing early cavities and increases the probability for a positive association with the dentist, which can be scary to youngsters! A Pediatric dentist’s office is ready with equipment, usually further specialized for children, such as dental x-rays and exposing solutions that can detect small cavities in the beginning stages, then manage it accordingly by removing it and restoring with a suitable filling material. Similarly, your pediatric dentist can recognize any future tendency of misalignment in your child’s teeth, and can initiate early management by alongside an orthodontist.

 

Pediatric Dentist or Family Dentist?

Why is it important that your child sees a Pediatric Dentist? They are specially trained exclusively in the anatomy, growth, and developmental problems associated with children. Pediatric dentists take two to three years of additional specialty training specifically for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs. There is a lot to know! Children are not like adults who know and understand why a stranger’s hands are in their mouth. Pediatric dentists know how to talk to and handle small children who are uncomfortable and insecure about having their teeth touched. Offices are also decorated more elaborately along with the equipment to help your child feel as comfortable as possible, compared to a general or family dentistry office. Often, these offices will also have TV’s or pictures placed on the ceiling above the chair and headphones available to listen to audiobooks or music. Pretty fancy!Pediatric Dentist

 

What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?

The primary role of a Pediatric dentist is not only to care for, but also educate parents and children on how to care for their teeth! They monitor your child’s oral growth, teach your child the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene, and the necessary brushing and flossing habits for lifelong tooth and gum health. Frequent checkups by a Pediatric dentist will help greatly in prevention, early diagnosis and management of those dreaded cavities, before they become a big problem. Similarly, toddlers and adolescent children frequently experience dental injuries while playing outdoors, such as tooth avulsion, loosening and soft tissue injuries, all of which are managed by a Pediatric dentist. Emergencies are never planned and can’t be foreseen!

In addition, a Pediatric dentist can also help parents create a preventative diet plan for their child that not only provides them with all the required nutritional components, but also reduces the incidence of caries. Similarly, they can recommend and prescribe fluoride or other necessary supplements to enhance development and health of your child’s teeth.

A Final Word

Not only is it important to have your child under the care of a pediatric dentist, but it’s even more imperative that parents are educated about the health and proper care for their child’s teeth to ensure a healthy check-up. Working together, children can have happy, healthy smiles for a lifetime to come. If you haven’t scheduled your child’s first appointment, or they are due for a follow up, call today! Happy brushing!

Dental Care for Asthmatic Children
Dental Care for Asthmatic Children

Asthma and What it Means for Oral Health

Asthma affects around 1 of 10 children, and those numbers seem to be climbing in recent years. Patients with asthma taking medications have an increased risk of cavities, bad breath, and gum problems since they tend to be mouth breathers. Medications such as corticosteroids can reduce saliva flow, causing a dry mouth which further causes the bad breath. Since saliva has a cleansing effect in the mouth, ashtmatic children can then be more susceptible to cavities. If thorough and consistent care isn’t taken, this could then lead to gum disease. With this, it is important to remain under routine dental care and regular visits if your child has asthma and requires medication. Dental care does stay relatively the same, depending on the severity of your child’s condition and their triggers for asthmatic attacks. Asthma is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, based partially on the regularity and intensity of symptoms during daytime, exercise resistance, and symptoms during night-time.The goal in managing a patient with asthma is to prevent an acute asthmatic episode during the routine cleanings or other dental procedures such as fillings. When you visit the dentist, be sure to let the hygienists and the dentist know about current medications, changes in the doses or frequency, and your child’s triggers for attacks.

Preparing Your Child for Their Visit asthma medication

We know that dental visits should start at the first eruption of a baby tooth. Cultivating a positive relationship with your child’s dentist is not only vital for every child, but especially those with asthma since anxiety of others is a common cause for asthma episodes. Studies have proven that the most important factor in overcoming dental anxiety is good dentist-patient communication. So, how can you help your child overcome and work through anxiety?

  • Schedule the appointment for the morning, while they are alert but still relaxed and before any events of the day might cause stress. If your child seems more relaxed in the afternoon, by all means schedule for the time that is most comfortable and accommodating for you and your child.
  • Give yourself ample time for the appointment, don’t schedule on a day you might be rushed.
  • Give your child a higher protein breakfast which has a calming effect. Avoid sugary foods such as cereal and pancakes with syrup.
  • If your child needs asthma medication prior to the appointment, encourage them to drink some water to minimize the effect of it on their teeth. This would also be a good routine practice.
  • Bring your child’s inhaler to the appointment in the event your child has an attack. Better to have it and not need it!
  • Bring earplugs if excessive noise might be a problem and your child is comfortable with them. We also have head phones in our office for noise
  • Distractions.  Our staff is well trained in keeping children distracted from the procedure. If you have something your child would be well distracted with such as a stuffed animal or picture, bring it with you!
  • Encourage your child to take deep breaths if this is okay for them or as much as they are able. Have them breath with you.
  • Listen to some fun music they like in the car on the way to the appointment.
  • Reassure your child that the dentist help their teeth stay strong and healthy!

 

In preparation for your appointment and to keep your child’s thoughts positive about dental care, also try to avoid conversations with others who fear the dentist or who had bad experiences with the dentist. Keep positive reinforcement going and let your child form their own opinion about visiting the dentist according to their own experience. Along with preparing your child for their visit to the dentist, we ask that you would prepare the dentists and hygienists as well! Of course, depending on the severity of your child’s asthma, be prepared with the following information:

What your Dentist Needs to Know Positive experience at the dentist

  • First, let your dentist know about the asthma prior to the appointment and upon arrival. Include information about when they were diagnosed and the severity of it
  • Give your child water to drink before the appointment to help cleanse their mouth.
  • Tell your dentist about medications they are currently taking and how often, how much
  • Explain how you handle asthma attacks and your child’s common triggers and the time of the last attack.
  • Explain your oral care routine of your child’s teeth
  • Keep the office updated about medication changes or condition changes so that care can be altered accordingly

Tips on caring for your child’s teeth

Between appointments, there are some tips we have for you to maintain your child’s oral health and some things to keep in mind. Depending on the kind of medication  your child needs to manage asthma symptoms, it is very important to give your child water immediately after taking the medication. The mouth is the fist to have contact with medication and that is the reason for the higher risk of dental complications. Water will reduce the amount of medication that sits on the teeth and will have the cleansing effect that might be missing from decreased saliva production.

Brushing teeth regularly is a must as some dry powder inhalants contain some sugar in order to make the medication tolerable. We know that sugar is quite destructive to the enamel and the surface of the tooth, so frequent brushing is needed. Also, depending on the frequency of medication, it might be advised to have your child brush three times daily.

 

While dental care may not be too different for children with asthma as it is for those who do not, it is a condition that your dentist will need to know about in detail in order to reduce the likelihood of an attack during routine visits. Keeping your dentist updated about your child’s physical well being and emotional state regarding the dental chair will further help us to help you and keep those smiles bright!

 

Benefits of Using a Mouth Guard and Tips for Choosing the Right One
Benefits of Using a Mouth Guard and Tips for Choosing the Right One

With summer just about here, your children are likely to be active in sports and other fun activities such as summer camps. It’s easy to get caught up in the bustle, but be sure not to neglect the importance of protecting your child’s teeth by properly using a mouth guard.

There’s no doubt that children are highly susceptible to tooth loss or other kind of oral injuries during sports and play. Even when they sleep at night, some present signs of abrasion and wear caused by the constant grinding of their teeth together. To ensure that your child’s teeth are protected from damage in any of these situations, many dentists suggest that you get your children mouth guards for sports or  night guards for sleep.

 

Mouth guard

You Can Find These Mouth Guards in Three Varieties

  1. Ordinary mouth protectors are prefabricated and ready to wear. They are low-priced and can be acquired at most stores that have sporting goods,  specialty health stores, and online. However, they can be a challenge to adjust to fit, they are often bulky due to generic fit, make speaking and breathing difficult, and they bring little or no safety. These types of mouth guards are not typically recommended by dentists, but they can work in a pinch.
  2. Boil and bite mouth guards may also be acquired from sporting goods stores, and can offer a superior fit as compared to ordinary mouth guards. The “boil and bite” mouth protectors are made from a thermoplastic material that is placed in boiled water to soften, then introduced in the mouth and molded around the teeth using tongue and finger pressure.
  3. Personalized mouth protectors are individually created and produced in a dental office or a specialized laboratory following your dentist’s instructions. First, your dental practitioner will make an imprint of your child’s teeth and a mouth protector is then shaped over the mold using a special material. By using the special material and due to the supplemental time and work, these personalized mouth guards are more expensive than your other options, but it grants the most protection and comfort.

Who Needs a Mouth Guard?

Mouth protectors may be used by anyone – children and adults – who play sports that involve physical contact such as boxing, basketball, soccer, football, ice hockey, field hockey or lacrosse. However, even those playing sports without contact(such as gymnastics) and any recreational exercise (e.g.mountain biking, skateboarding) that may present a risk of harm to the mouth can benefit from using a mouth protector.

Adults and children who grind or clench their teeth at night should wear a night guard made to avoid tooth injury.

While mouth guards for play and sleep are useful in preserving tooth integrity for all ages, choosing a suitable one for your child finally concentrates on balancing cost with comfort.

The ideal mouth guard must:mouthguard

  • Allow talking and not restrict breathing.
  • Stay firmly in place amid action.
  • Provide a high rate of fit and comfort.
  • Be long lasting and easy to clean.
  • Be resilient, tear-resistant, odor-free and flavorless.

Mouth guards will take care of your children’s teeth while they enjoy their favorite sports, so you won’t have to worry any more about injuries.

Out of Place: Understanding TMJ Disorders
Out of Place: Understanding TMJ Disorders

If you or your child have suffered from occasional pain in your jaw joints, such as tightening or a sore sensation when you talk or chew, you are not alone! At some point, everyone experiences some pain in their jaw, because it is the most constantly used joint in the body!

TMJ jaw pain

What is TMJ?

The Temporomandibular (TMJ) joint is the primary joint in your face that allows you to talk, chew, and open wide for the dentist. It’s hard to miss, it is the joint connecting your jaw to your skull. To feel these joints in action, simply place your fingers in front of your ear and open your mouth. What you feel is the rounded end (the joint) of the lower jaw roll along the the joint socket of the temporal bone connected to the skull. The temporal bone also contains the inner ear and the temple, which is why you can feel your ears “pop” sometimes when you open your mouth.

On average, people speak thousands of words a day, each one requiring movement of this joint. Thankfully, we don’t need WD-40 like a squeaky door when its had a lot of use. We do, however, get sore and over exerted muscles that make communication or family dinner a painful task. Oftentimes, the symptoms will reside in a few days with a little relaxing of the muscles. Other times, people can develop more intense, ongoing pain. This is referred to as Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) or a TMJ disorder and requires some corrective treatment.

How Can I Get TMJ?

TMJ doesn’t have any known direct causes but, rather contributing causes. Strain of the soft disc between the joint and socket can cause wear or displacement of the joint, often leading to TMJ disorders. Grinding and clenching of the teeth can cause misalignment of your bite and wear on the muscles used for chewing. Many people are unaware that they clench or grind their teeth, whether it is a coping mechanism for stress or a sleep habit.

With that being said, stress is a common cause for TMJ disorders since people tend to tighten the muscles  or grind their teeth when they undergo physical and mental stress alike.

Dental problems, such as poor teeth alignment, arthritis, muscle problems, a malformed TMJ, or injury/trauma, can also contribute to TMJ disorders.

 

Do I have TMJ?

The symptoms associated with TMJ are often severe and pronounced, since this condition affects a significant part of daily functions such as talking and eating. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Pain in the jaw joint, face, and even through the neck and shoulders
  • Limited ability to open the mouth very wide, like a stiff hinge
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening, closing, or chewing (which may or may not be painful)
  • Exhausted feeling in the face, muscle fatigue
  • Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite – as if the the teeth are not aligning
  • Heat and/or swelling in the joint area

Other symptoms that may be a result of TMJ disorders include headaches, dizziness, tooth aches, numbness, earaches, neck pain, or ringing in the ears. If these are symptoms either you or your child experience, talk to your dentist about how they can be corrected.

What Can I Do About It?

First things first, Let your dentist know; the sooner TMJ problems are addressed, the better. If you suspect you or your child may have a TMJ disorder, your dentist will do an exam and may order imaging, such as x-rays or an MRI, to look at the joint and confirm the condition.

 

If symptoms are moderate or occasional, treatment may not be needed and it could be a matter of resting the jaw muscles for a couple days. You may wonder how its possible to “rest” the most commonly used joint in your body! Focus on maintaining a relaxed state, try not to clench or grind your teeth and massage the joint area as long as there is no swelling. Here are some tips to go about treatment for TMJ disorders:

 

  • Ask your dentist about exercises and relaxation techniques you can do to relive tension, practice them as instructed.
  • Application of ice packs or heat may help relieve discomfort.
  • For pain and swelling, try taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve). Your dentist can prescribe a higher dose if needed.
  • Eat foods that are soft, avoid those that may aggravate the TM joint (steak, apples, taffy, etc).
  • For clenchers and grinders, muscle relaxants can greatly help, but are available by prescription only.
  • Use a night guard to prevent clenching and grinding at night.
  • Restrain from opening your mouth too wide, forcing the joint to pop, and excessive chewing motions such as chewing gum.
  • Talk to your dentist about corrective dentistry. This includes braces, crowns, or bridges to properly align and balance the biting surfaces of your teeth.
  • Keep your teeth slightly apart in order to relieve tension on the TM joint.

 

In sever cases of TMJ disorders, surgery or invasive techniques may be required if common corrective dentistry is not enough. Most always, TMJ disorders can be corrected by your dentist and most kids don’t need surgery.

 

To Put Things In Place

Many people, particularly children and young adults, develop TMJ disorders or occasional joint pain due to unconscious habits of grinding and clenching. You can control these habits or help your children by making them aware of the habit and instruct them on how to stop. Teach children to recognize when they practice this bad habit (at school during a test, when angry or upset, etc.) so they can consciously put an end to it. Ask your dentist for tips on how to nip this habit in the bud and if any corrective dentistry  work is needed. Braces have often been the hero for those who struggle with persistent  TMJ pain by greatly reducing or even eliminating the problem all together! No one should live feeling like they got a punch in the face, talk to your dentist about putting things back in place.

An Ancient Practice We Shouldn’t Put Aside: Oil Pulling
An Ancient Practice We Shouldn’t Put Aside: Oil Pulling

If you haven’t heard of oil pulling, you may be thinking it sounds a little contradictory. Many of you probably know that oil is more of a slippery substance with little ability to really “pull” anything, but that is not the case with this type of oil pulling. Despite the advanced technology we have today, this ancient practice of oil pulling has come back from the old days to spike popularity and usefulness once again.

Oil Pulling

What is Oil Pulling?

The oil used for this process is typically coconut, sesame, sunflower, grapeseed, vegetable, or olive oil; it will work with whichever you choose. So what exactly do you “pull” with oil? Well, oil pulling isn’t what it seems, in fact, it is basically the use of oil as a mouthwash! The term “pull” is just another word for swishing liquid in your mouth, pushing and pulling it between your teeth.

This ancient ritual originated in Indian culture as a folk remedy for healing oral diseases and maintaining oral health, after all, tooth brushes and anti-cavity pastes have not been around forever! So what did people use to keep their mouth clean? Some discovered the powerful properties of rinsing oil in the mouth, particularly coconut oil. Of all the oils you can use, coconut oil has been studied and proven to be the most beneficial to your oral health. This is because it is high in fatty acid known as Lauric acid, which has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Coconut oil is best unrefined, as is any oil you decide to use for oil pulling, since this is the purest, most natural form.

 

How Does Oil pulling Benefit Your Oral Health?

Did you know that your mouth is full of bacteria, good and bad? The truth is, there are a lot of germs in your mouth and they tend to sit on your teeth throughout the day between brushings. Certain bacteria can cause harm to your teeth, resulting in plaque buildup, the gum disease gingivitis, and cavities. Bacteria creates a film know as “biofilm” on your teeth which hardens and turns into plaque. Plaque must be scraped off your teeth at your routine dental cleanings and can cause many problems for your gums if too much of it is allowed to build. So you may be wondering, what part does oil have in the improvement of oral health? Interestingly enough, oil has the ability to “catch “ bacteria and act as a disposal trap. Coconut oil, compared to others, is preferred for pulling since it has antibacterial properties which add effectiveness to the practice. It also tends to taste better than that of olive or sesame oil.

 

Does It Really Work?

There are many testimonies from people who have tried oil pulling for themselves, with a vast majority containing positive feedback! In case you prefer the scientific evidence, there are also plenty of studies that have proven the claimed results of oil pulling. Here are a couple to get you started:

A study published in 2008 by the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry has shown: 20 adolescent boys who used oil pulling (using sesame oil) caused a reduction in the number of Streptococcus Mutans (bacteria responsible for tooth decay) in the plaque in as little as 2 weeks.

Another study compared oil pulling and regular mouthwash in 20 adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and the mouthwash were effective against their gingivitis.

 

How Does it Work?

Each time you swish the oil around in your mouth, it removes bacteria and has even been proven to remove plaque on and between the teeth.

An additional benefit to adopting this practice is that oil pulling also reduces bad breath. The chemical gases produced by the bacteria in your mouth are greatly reduced when you oil pull and, in a study of 20 adolescents, oil pulling reduced bad breath just as effectively as regular mouthwash!

 

So Why Not Give it a Try?

If you are curious and convinced that this could work for you, its really quite simple!

  • Choose an oil that is unrefined or organic, these tend to work the best.

  • Take about one teaspoon and put it in your mouth, begin to swish it around. Coconut oil is a butter-like consistency with a low melting point of about 78 degrees, so it will turn to oil rather quickly.

  • Swish the oil for about 15-20 minutes.

  • Spit out all the oil and brush your teeth

It is best to do your oil pulling on an empty stomach before you brush your teeth. Some of you may think that 15-20 minutes is a long time to swish slimy liquid in your mouth, but if you do it in the shower, while you make breakfast, or get ready for the day, it will be over before you know it. Relax your face and jaw and gently “push and pull” the oil around in your mouth to prevent your jaw from becoming sore. Be sure to spit out all the oil since it will contain plaque and bacteria from your teeth! Oil pulling is not recommended for young children since they are susceptible to swallowing the oil.

Give this practice a week or two and watch how it can whiten your teeth, freshen your breath, and help prevent cavities! If you have dental problems such as cavities or sensitivity, try oil pulling and see how it can help your teeth. Oil pulling is effective and beneficial to your oral health, so why not give it a try?

 

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Fluoride and it’s Importance for Children’s Dental Health
Fluoride and it’s Importance for Children’s Dental Health

Fluoride is a mineral that ensures a healthy development of your children’s teeth. It strengthens the tooth enamel and protects it from tartar and plaque which cause cavities. Children need fluoride supplementation after the age of 6 months. Research has proved that fluoride can diminish cavities on both children and adults. It also aids repairing the preliminary stages of tooth decay even previously the decay becomes noticeable. Unfortunately, numerous people continue to be misinformed about fluoridation and fluoride. In the same manner as other nutrients, fluoride is effective and safe when used correctly and used in smaller amounts.Toothpasteonbrush

What fluoride supplements can you can give to your children?

Fluoride ion is found naturally in soil, water, foods, and several minerals. The food intake ranges from 0.2 to 0.5 mg. Besides the amount ingested, age is important too.  Infants ND children need less than the average adult. Infants can retain as much as 75% of their intake, while older children retain only 50% of the intake, storing it primarily in the hard tissues (bones and teeth) and in the kidneys.

Fluoride is administrated in two forms: topical and endogenous.

Topical application of fluoride contributes to the re-mineralizeation of the enamel after acid attacks of the diet or plaque.

Fluoride treatment is done by 3-4 applications every week and repeated 2-4 times per year. Number of applications and the intervals between them differ depending on the product used. You can use solutions, varnishes, and gels applied on isolated teeth or in special trays. The procedure is easy and pain-free: after a professional cleaning, the doctor applies a solution of gel or special varnishes with a high content of fluoride, usually in a tray, for 1-2 minutes. After treatment, the patient should not rinse mouth or consume food and liquids for 30 minutes.

The success of treatment depends on maintaining a thorough dental hygiene routine: brushing teeth two to three times a day, flossing and mouthwash, plus regular visits to the dentist.fluoride trays

Your doctor may prescribe toothpaste and mouthwash with a lower concentration of fluoride for weekly or daily use at home, but these home treatments are contraindicated in children under 6 years, and you should seek guidance from your doctor before using home treatments. Remember that most toothpastes and mouthwashes contain fluoride, so parents should closely monitor their children’s oral hygiene to ensure that they do not swallow fluoridated products. Flavored toothpastes are particularly “attractive” for the taste of children, so caution and supervision should be exercised.

It is commonly known that children, typically 7 and younger, but each child is different, can not brush or rinse their mouth without swallowing toothpaste. Almost half of the toothpaste on the brush can be swallowed on each brushing session. Children younger than 5 years have not yet learned to spit when tooth brushing, which, along with fluoride supplements, can cause fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride during the first eight years of life.) Precisely for this reason, fluoride mouth rinses are not recommended for children younger than 6 years, because more than likely they will swallow the mouthwash.

The endogenous (internal) administration of fluoride with tablets has the advantage of individual dosage by age, depending on the concentration of fluoride in water and food. This is generally not recommended, since fluoride in food, water, dental care products, and dental treatments is enough. For those in need,  fluoridd tablets should be started early. There are doses individualized according to age, diet, etc. Fluoride treatment may be recommended to future mothers (pregnant woman starting with 4th month of pregnancy) and continued to breastfeeding mothers to prevent cavities in baby teeth of children. This treatment in the form of tablets administered internally can continue daily until the child reaches the age of 14-15 years. This type of fluoride is considered to be the most effective, but should be only under the supervision of your child’s dentist and/or doctor. The need for tablets is also dependent on the individual needs, genetics, diet, and dental care received.

Sealants and fluoride

Sealants are filling materials with plastic properties (easy to apply on deep pits and fissures), especially on posterior teeth on their contact surface. Sealants have the property of isolating the dental surface from the environment of the oral cavity in order to prevent the formation of cavities. Also, sealants have the property to gradually release fluoride. The higher quantity of fluoride released is in first 24 hours after application. Sealing, fluoridation treatment, and a good oral hygiene routine can work together for keeping good oral health and diminishing the risk of cavities.