5 Tips & Tricks for Teeth Grinders

Bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching, affects both kids and adults. While often caused by high levels of stress, bruxism can also be triggered by a misaligned bite and sleep disorders. Regardless of your underlying issue, here are a few tips and tricks to help:

  1. Take Notice – Throughout the day notice if you’re clenching or grinding. Take a few deep breaths and place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This helps the muscles in your jaw relax.
  2. Stop Chewing – On non-food items that is! Pencils, ice, etc. This also includes avoiding gum because it trains your jaw to clench and encourages teeth grinding.Body Image
  3. Cut Back – Avoid foods with added sugar, especially for children. Adults may find drinking alcohol intensify their condition. Cutting out liquor and limiting caffeine is recommended.
  4. Relax! – Especially before bedtime. Take a long bath, listen to mellow music, find what works best for you and enjoy it.
  5. See Your Dentist – It’s important to be properly diagnosed. We’ll partner together to find the best treatment plan for your well being! Call and schedule an exam today 415-682-2368

 

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

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4 Risk Factors of Gum Disease to Discuss with Your Dentist

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Have you ever had something caught in your teeth for days? It’s likely because it was lodged deep between a tooth and your gums. That gum tissue is what keeps our chompers in place. There are three stages of gum disease and all are treatable.

The mild form of gum disease is Gingivitis. This is where plaque and other byproducts irritate the gums. It makes them swollen, tender, and more likely to bleed. Periodontitis is stage two. The gum tissue starts deteriorating as it detaches from the teeth forming pockets around the roots. This leaves teeth exposed and more susceptible to decay. Finally, Advanced Periodontitis can set in. Tooth pockets get deeper as the severe gum recession leads to bone loss causing loose teeth.

Common Risk Factors of Periodontal Disease

  • Genetics – it’s hereditary and some of us are just unlucky! While you may be more susceptible to periodontitis, having a good oral hygiene routine with regular dental visits can help your smile stay healthy. Talk to us about finding the right balance for your needs.
  • Health – underlying medical conditions like diabetes and Crohn’s disease, as well as lowered immunity from illnesses and treatments often affect gum tissue. Medications, hormonal changes and obesity are also culprits and should be discussed.
  • Bad Habits – chewing on ice, not brushing or flossing daily and using tobacco are the most common behavior changes we encourage you to ditch. However, substance abuse and a diet lacking in vitamin C will also impact your smile.
  • Stress – it’s inevitable. But keep an eye on exactly how much it’s weighing you down. High levels or chronic stress can lead to poor hygiene habits. Anxiety can also lower your immune system from effectively fighting off bacteria that causes gingivitis (stage 1).

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Common red flags of gum disease include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Gums look bright red
  • Teeth wiggle

There’s no home remedy to cure gum disease. Only professional treatment can help, so call and schedule an exam today [PHONE].

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Untreated Cavities in the US

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With the vast advancements in the dental field this last decade, it may be surprising to learn that untreated cavities are still a prevalent and persistent issue for many people in the United States. More than one in five Americans has untreated cavities and periodontitis, according to Dr. Bruce Dye, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “It appears that we haven’t been able to make any significant strides during the last decade to reduce untreated cavities” (Dye).  This is in part attributed to economic conditions.  With more Americans relying on Medicaid, most states have eliminated dental benefits in order to ease strain on stressed budgets.

The good news is that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide dental coverage for disadvantaged children, reducing the rates of children needing urgent dental care. Some studies have even suggested that American children are getting the same general level of dental care, regardless of income. The report found that rates of cavities were similar across all age groups, with teens having the lowest rates. Among children aged 5-11, 20% had untreated cavities, compared to 13% of those aged 12-19. Among children and teens, 27% had at least one dental sealant.  (Everyday Health)

shutterstock_14313997While comprehensive dental coverage is an undeniably large factor in the prevention and treatment of gum disease and cavities, you can lower your odds of developing dental issues through healthy lifestyle choices. Practicing good dental hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing is essential. Cutting back on sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks that feed the bacteria that lead to tooth decay is another controllable element in cavity prevention.  Regular dental visits are also paramount. When problems are identified and treated early, it prevents the necessity for more costly and invasive procedures.  If you are experiencing sensitivity or pain, schedule an appointment today.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Do You Have a Dental Disorder?

The range of possible dental disorders is wide and many and some are more easily recognized than others. It could be a bit perplexing to consider you may have a dental disorder without realizing it, but it’s actually more common than you might think. Some disorders have obvious symptoms that may have you running to our office. Others can be more subtle. Do you feel tired, easily irritable, or have difficulty focusing? Do you have facial soreness or pain? Surprisingly, these may be the result of a dental disorder. Our goal is to educate our patients on common and uncommon symptoms that may be a sign to visit our office and receive the required care to remedy these conditions.

A dental disorder is a disruption of your body’s natural process relating to your oral health. Despite its origins, it is important to understand symptoms may be experienced elsewhere in the body. For this reason, many suffer from ailments they don’t consider relevant to tell their dentist. However, as we are a medical provider we encourage you to share things that may not seem related – you never know! Here are a few to keep on the lookout, so you can better identify signs should something be amiss.

Dentist Looking Glass TeethRedness and swelling of the gums may indicate the presence of gingivitis, or early-stage gum disease. Left untreated, it can progress into full blown periodontitis that can threaten your smile and even cause tooth loss. Bleeding from the gums, tooth mobility, and soreness are all signs of periodontitis and should be checked.

Simple bad breath, or halitosis, is very common among adults and teens. While it usually isn’t cause for too much concern, we understand it can weigh on your self-esteem. We care about your health and happiness, and would love to work with you to address the root of the issue. Restoring healthy smiles is what we do; restoring confidence is a happy side effect.

Additionally, a dry mouth may not seem like a dire situation. However, if your mouth constantly feels dry it can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay. Saliva plays an important role in ridding your mouth of bacteria, it also aids in digestion meaning it can evolve into issues that transcend the health of your smile.

While scary to confront, oral growths are a condition that can emerge as serious. It is possible for oral growths to be completely benign and harmless, but in other cases they can be the beginning stages of cancer. For this reason it’s important a medical professional diagnose and treat the growths accordingly. Even if you are certain it’s harmless (for example, perhaps you suffered trauma to the face that injured your mouth), it’s still worth an appointment to ensure you’re not at an increased risk for infection or other potential issues.

We understand some conditions may seem complex. Rest assured we are here to work with you to find a solution to your unique needs. If you feel one or more of these conditions may apply to you or a family member, call our office to begin seeking relief today. We are here for you.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Deep Cleaning: What it means to you

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You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.

A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention when it comes to matters of plaque and tartar, which can be difficult to remove fully with a toothbrush and floss alone. The odds are that if you are brushing and flossing every day, and taking any other steps recommended by your doctor, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.

Deep cleaning, a necessity?

A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease (or ‘periodontitis’). To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to have tight and healthy seals around your teeth to protect them and keep them firmly in place. A standard part of your regular cleaning is your doctor using a diagnostic tool called a ‘periodontal probe’ to ensure this is the case; the probe is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth. Typically 1-3mm is considered normal, and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Upwards of 4mm is a sign that you are developing ‘pockets’, which are a space between the teeth and gums that becomes prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away left on the teeth for more than 24 hours can become tartar, which only your dentist can remove. Left unattended, these pockets can deepen and compromise the tooth and the surrounding bone structure. If the dentist uses the probe and measures 4mm or more, and/or there is significant bleeding and signs of inflammation, then a deep cleaning will be scheduled to help you get your smile back on track.

Deep cleaning is not a scary process.

Oftentimes, your dentist will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth, this is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention so that you’ll be numbed in only smaller sections of your mouth each time, making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are ‘scaling’ and ‘root planing’. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A scaling instrument, on the other hand, removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the root of your teeth, which is below the gum line and not visible. These tools are the only thing that can removed built up plaque, as even floss cannot reach far into deepened pockets. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.

Periodontitis is a progressive disease, and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately, the treatment is typically straight forward and as long as you follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions, the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels and your gums should return to normal and lose any signs of redness. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call us. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you, if you have any concerns about your oral health just remember that a professional evaluation is never harmful and may offer you some great information.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

The Dangers of Crunchy Munchies

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Easter means many things to different families everywhere, but one thing that remains consistent is the appearance of candy! Whether it’s hidden in eggs or just passed around, it comes at a nice nearly halfway mark in the year from Halloween. Sweets make for some excellent treats, and there is no reason not to indulge (in moderation of course)! However, all candies are not created equal, and it may be worth knowing which ones you can have relatively guilt free, and which could spell trouble for your wonderful smile.
When it comes to Easter indulgences, chocolate may make it onto the nice list – we know, this is great news to many of you. The less forgiving candies are the ones that make that all-too-familiar CRUNCH! Hard candies, like lollipops or jolly ranchers, can be an awfully tempting treat to bite. But best case scenario is they can pack hard-to-reach pieces of sugar into your gums that end up sitting there, as saliva can have a difficult time breaking them down. Worst case scenario, that crunch sound may be coming from a broken tooth, and sending you straight from your Sunday activities into our office.
We do love seeing our patients, but not at the expense of their healthy smile! It happens more often than you think, and it’s not just because of the sugar – even some who are prone to absentmindedly crunching on ice have discovered the dangers of biting down on crunchy munchies when they find a piece of their tooth broken off. Your teeth are durable for normal eating and chewing, but anything that causes too much stress can run the risk of chipping or breaking one of your pearly whites. Before you try to impress your friends with breaking that jaw breaker in half, remember that it’s earned that name for a pretty good reason.
Even if you resist that satisfying crunch, there are still a few other points of concern for hard candies that you don’t run into with other options (like chocolate!). Hard candies that you suck on tend to spend a concentrated period of time in a single location, which over-exposes particular areas of your mouth to sugar and lead to a very concentrated build-up of acid, which can be a quick way to damage the enamel. Consider this next time you find yourself unwrapping that tootsie pop or after-meal mint, and perhaps enjoy a stick of gum instead. It’s not often that the solution for a sweet treat is yet another sweet treat, but you’re in luck because this time it is! After enjoying your holiday treats, consider enjoying a piece of sugar-free gum – the increased saliva productions while chewing can actually help dislodge and break down the remaining sugar in your mouth.
Overall, we don’t want to take the enjoyment out of candy-filled holidays – enjoy your time with your friends and family, and definitely don’t be afraid to pop open that plastic egg and see what treats hide inside. If you do find yourself going crazy for the crunchy candies, we hope you chew safely…and if things go wrong, you always have your friends at our office to set things straight (:

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Dental Health and Pregnancy

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Pregnancy changes a lot about the female body, which is no surprise considering all the physical and hormonal effects that take place over the course of those 9 months. All that considered, the profound connection between pregnancy and dental health can still be a shock to many.

As an example, the rapid surge in hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can alter the manner in which gum tissue reacts to plaque. Plaque buildup affects everybody, so it’s always important to make sure your teeth are being cleaned thoroughly. However, ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ is a condition that affects the vast majority of mothers-to-be and should be carefully monitored. Prevention is always more useful than treatment, and for that reason we encourage a diet high in Vitamin C and B12 – don’t forget, baby’s teeth are developing too so it’s important to have a diet that’s nutritious for your teeth and theirs! Be sure to brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss each evening as well.

In addition to ‘pregnancy gingivitis’, pregnant women are also at risk for ‘pregnancy tumors’. These tumors are inflamed, but non-cancerous, growths that may develop when the gums become swollen and irritated. Usually the tumors will resolve themselves post-birth, but if you find one and it’s uncomfortable or painful, don’t hesitate to call our office so we can help you proceed with the right treatment for you.

In general, if you are either currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should always let your dentist know immediately in order to best proceed to minimize the risk of pregnancy-related complications. If needed, most procedures can be performed during pregnancy, particularly if you are in pain or have any concerns. However, we do not recommend any elective procedures until after the baby’s birth in order to minimize health risks to you or the child. Pregnancy does come with health concerns to be monitored, but as was the case before you received the news about your bundle of joy, consistent and thorough cleaning is always your best bet. Above all else, relax and enjoy this special time!

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368