While the current percentage of Americans who smoke cigarettes is the lowest it’s been in decades, those who continue the habit remain at risk for heart and lung disease. Additionally, while we know smoking is also bad for our oral health, most don’t understand just how bad it is…
More Than Just Stained Teeth
From its seemingly mild side effects (bad breath, tooth discoloration, buildup of plaque and tartar), to the more sinister (increased risk of oral cancer, loss of bone within the jaw, gum disease and any number of resulting complications) – tobacco is indeed an oral health risk.
Tobacco can cause serious health issues by breaking down the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. Because of this breakdown, the use of tobacco makes smokers much more susceptible to infection and diseases. In fact, 90% of people who have cancer of the mouth, throat, or gums admit to using tobacco in some form.
Typically, when a parent brings a young child to the dentist, the last discussion they’re expecting to have is one centered on braces and orthodontic appliances. Yet, even at ages three and four, a talk about braces, sagittal expanders, and retainers can indeed be front and center when a child is diagnosed with a crossbite. The question then is what to do about it, how soon should intervention take place, and what the complications are that can arise if nothing is done at all. Let’s get some answers.
What Exactly Is a Crossbite?
Imagine for a moment you’re sitting in front of a nice soup bowl with a wide flat brim, and inside that bowl is hearty chowder you’d like to keep warm until you’re ready to devour it. So, you grab another bowl designed exactly like the first, and hover it upside-down over the bowl containing the soup. As you slowly lower it, you try to line up the brims so when they rest together they form a nice even seal. Unfortunately, given the soup is hot, you don’t quite get the brims to line up perfectly, and the edge of the top bowl ends up resting just slightly to the left of the lip on the bottom bowl. The way these two bowls now rest unevenly atop one another is exactly what you would see in a person with a crossbite. A crossbite can affect several teeth, or a single tooth, and can occur on either one side of the mouth or both. Simply put, if any one tooth (or several teeth) lies nearer the tongue or cheek instead of coming together evenly, you’re likely dealing with a crossbite.
So, What To Do About It And When?
The dental community is split on when to initiate treatment for a crossbite, with some suggesting treatment should begin as soon as it is noticed (sometimes as early as age three), while others suggest parents should wait until a child’s sixth year molars have arrived. Despite the difference of opinion as to when treatment should begin, dentists and orthodontist are in agreement that the condition cannot be left untreated. Doing so presents a host of complications for the child later in life including gum and tooth wear, uneven jaw development that can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and facial asymmetry – something no parent or child wants. At Freedom Dental Care, we will review each case independently and always provide the most honest evaluation. The decision on how to proceed will be one made together in the best longterm interest of the individual with a crossbite diagnosis.
What Does Crossbite Treatment Look Like?
Crossbite treatment generally involves adjusting the spread of a child’s teeth with dental appliances so the bite pattern matches evenly on all sides. Depending on the type of crossbite a child has, this can be done with dental expanders that resemble orthodontic retainers, and include a screw that is tightened nightly to “spread” a child’s bite to the prescribed width. Additionally, dental facemasks, braces and clear aligners may be used – particularly when a single tooth is out of alignment. Crossbites are generally regarded as genetic in nature, and they’re not overly common. It is, however, a condition that needs to be treated before permanent damage to a child’s facial and oral development occurs. So, if you find yourself at the other end of a discussion about having your little one wear a dental expander, be sure you listen and get however many opinions regarding that advice as you require. Your child, and your wallet, will thank you long into the future
Most of our patients know a thing or two about stress. Whether you’re dealing with chronic stress, or a brief stressful life circumstance, we all encounter it from time to time. Most people associate stress with heart attacks or ulcers, but do you know how stress can affect your oral health?
Stress may negatively affect your oral health in indirect ways.
For starters, stress can cause folks to reach for coping strategies that aren’t so good for your teeth (or the rest of your body).
Junk food, sweets, cigarettes, or alcohol are just a few examples. When these substances interact with your teeth, they can do a lot of damage in the way of gum disease and tooth decay.
Secondly, when we are stressed, we tend to stop making positive health behaviors a priority. Let’s say you’re in the hospital after a car accident; your brushing and flossing routine will not be forefront on your mind.
Even a minor bout of stress from a tough day can have us reaching for our cozy bed and some relieve instead of taking the time to brush first.
And of course, keeping up with routine dental visits may fall completely off our priority list while under stress. This can prevent us from finding the early signs of decay and can cause more pain and stress later on.
How does stress affect our mouths directly?
Well, lots of folks grind their teeth as a physical way to deal with stress. You may be doing it without even realizing it! Ask a partner or someone who knows you well to tell you if you have this habit. Our doctors may suggest that you purchase a nightguard from your local pharmacy. If an over the counter option doesn't seem to do the trick, a custom fitted nightguard may be recommended to you, which can be molded and form for comfort and functionality by our lab technicians.
Also, when we are stressed we have higher levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that put our body in a “flight or fight” state. This causes our blood pressure and blood sugar to increase, and our digestive and immune function to decrease. When our immune system isn’t functioning as it should, this can make periodontal disease more likely. It can also slow down the healing of other oral issues or injuries we may have.
What can you do about it?
The best thing you can do to prevent the stress of oral health issues is to maintain good dental hygiene and visit us regularly for routine visits. We want what’s best for you — and that includes a healthy mouth for a lifetime! You can always give us a call at 410-795-0055 or message us on Facebook if that is more convenient for you.
Ever seen those videos where someone puts a baby tooth in a glass of soda and watches it decay? Well, the effect of soda in an actual mouth is a bit different. You have your saliva to help wash away the sugar, you eat other things throughout the day, and brush at least twice a day to remove debris or plaque. Nevertheless, soda is not something we recommend you consume more often than a once-in-awhile treat. Here’s why:
Soda has an extremely high sugar content. The bacteria that cause tooth decay feed off of sugar and excrete acid, which is what causes tooth decay. The more sugar our teeth have to interact with, the more prone to decay they will be.
Think diet soda is a better alternative? Even though it contains zero sugar, it can still contain acids such as phosphoric acid or citric acid. Acid eats away at a tooth’s enamel and leaves it prone to decay.
Caramel color, Yellow 5, etc. Any type of artificial coloring can cause tooth-staining. If you prefer your teeth sparkling white, it’s best to stay away from soda. How about some sparkling water or plain water infused with fresh fruit?
When you do drink soda, make sure to rinse with water afterwards. And, as always, keep up with regular brushing and flossing to protect those precious teeth!
When it comes to tooth decay, it’s important to know the main culprit – acid. Acid is what eats away at our enamel and causes cavities.
Acid can enter our mouths in one of two ways: either directly through what we eat (citrus fruits, for example), or as a byproduct when oral bacteria consume the sugars that we eat.
Ultimately, a simple way to identify foods that cause tooth decay is to ask whether it’s acidic or sweet/starchy.
Acidic foods include things like citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, kombucha and sour candy.
Sweet/starchy foods include things like candy, soda or sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit, bread, cereal, pasta and crackers.
The longer these things interact with your teeth, the greater the chance for tooth decay to occur.
For example, sipping on soda throughout the day, or chewing a gooey caramel treat, increases the amount of sugar that coat your teeth. Bacteria love to feast on this sugar, creating an acidic environment and putting your teeth at risk for decay.
To help protect your teeth against tooth decay:
And, as always, make sure to visit us regularly so we can remove tartar buildup and assess for early signs of decay. We recommend visiting Bupperts Doran's Chance Farm, http://www.bupperts.com/ for your healthy eating needs.
Here you will find contributions from the Freedom Dental Care team and it's affiliates.