Posts for: August, 2012

By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
August 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth wear   grinding  
UnconsciousHabitsCanWearDownTeeth

If your teeth have a worn appearance, it's possible you have a habit you're not even aware of: clenching or grinding your teeth. Also called “bruxism,” this destructive action causes your top and bottom teeth to come together or scrape past each other with a force that's many times what is normal for biting and chewing.

So what's normal? This can be expressed in terms of pounds. An adult usually exerts a force of 13-23 pounds to bite or chew food. But we have the potential to generate as much as 230 pounds of force, or 10 times what's normal. A “parafunctional” force of this magnitude applied repeatedly is bound to stress your teeth and other areas of your oral system. Besides wearing away the enamel of your teeth — and maybe even some of the softer dentin layer underneath — you may experience muscle spasms or pain in your jaw joints. Serious cases of wear can lead to “bite collapse” in which your face actually changes shape as your cheeks and lips lose support. This can make you look prematurely aged.

What can be done? To prevent further wear, we can fabricate for you a thin, plastic mouthguard that will protect your teeth at night or during times of intense stress. We can also recommend ways to temporarily relieve the discomfort that your grinding/clenching habits can cause. Heat and/or anti-inflammatory medication, for example, can be helpful.

If your tooth wear is minor (raggedness along the biting edge of a tooth or teeth) you may not need any restorative work. However, if tooth wear has already caused changes to your teeth and bite that you find aesthetically or functionally unacceptable, we can restore lost tooth structure in a variety of ways. Veneers and crowns are two examples.

If you have any questions about tooth wear or grinding habits, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How And Why Teeth Wear.”


By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
August 23, 2012
Category: Oral Health
GrrrFAQsaboutTeethGrinding

Grinding, clenching, and gritting your teeth are common reactions to stress — but their results can be quite complex. Here are some questions and answers that will fill you in on what you may not know about this widespread problem.

My dentist said I was bruxing. What does that mean?
Bruxing means that your teeth are grinding upon each other. Many people carry out this habit subconsciously and are not even aware that they are doing it.

Is bruxing or gritting harmful?
Such habits are called “parafunctional” (from para, meaning outside, and function, meaning purpose). This is because these stress habits exert much larger biting forces — as much as ten times more — than in normal biting and chewing activities. This excess pressure can cause damage to jaw joints and muscles, resulting in muscle spasm and pain; and to the teeth, resulting in wear, fractures or looseness. They can also cause headaches, earaches, and even neck and backaches because of the pressures on various structures in the face and mouth.

What is the usual treatment for problems arising from these stress habits?
The first thing we want to do is relieve your pain and discomfort. Second, we want to stop future damage. Application of heat or cold is helpful, and mild anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant drugs are prescribed for pain and muscle spasm. To prevent future occurrences, we may treat you with biofeedback or refer you to someone who can offer psychotherapy.

What is a night guard and how can it help?
A night guard is an unobtrusive thin plastic appliance that is made to fit over the biting surfaces of your upper teeth. These guards are so unobtrusive that they can even be worn during the day if your stress level is so high that you grind your teeth during the day. The guard is adjusted to leave the lower teeth free to move against the surface of the guard, but they cannot bite into the upper teeth. This prevents wear on the teeth and lets the jaw muscles relax, preventing the pain of muscle spasm.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about stress and tooth grinding. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress & Tooth Habits.”


By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
August 03, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
TheDangersofTongueampLipPiercingtoDentalHealth

Tongue and lip piercing is a growing popular trend for some young people and adults; however, did you know that they could wreak havoc on oral health? In fact, some people soon discover that before they can even enjoy their new piercing they are faced with issues ranging from bleeding and infection to nerve damage. Tongues and lips are highly vascular — that means they have lots of blood vessels that can bleed easily and are not always easy to stop once they start bleeding. Many tongue and lip bolts can initiate problems such as tooth sensitivity, gum disease and recession, chipped teeth and more. In addition, not all tattoo parlors and tattooists are properly licensed to do piercings. Therefore, sterile techniques are not always guaranteed if they do not come under the scrutiny government agencies. Unfortunately, these potential concerns are rarely discussed prior to receiving a piercing.

So what can be done if you already have a tongue or lip piercing?

If you already have piercings, it is critical that they are closely monitored by your health professionals to make sure they are not doing damage. It is also important that you have routine dental exams to ensure that you do not have any silent problems causing issues that you haven't noticed. However, your best option is to consider removing these oral piercings. The good news is that most often the hole in your tongue or lip may heal itself; otherwise, a minor corrective surgery may be required.

A note of warning: Before you contemplate a piercing, get as much information as you can about them and the person who will do them. This includes asking about their risks, benefits and better alternatives. And then think twice to make sure they will not become permanent and negative reminders of temporary emotions!




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