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Monthly Archives: May 2021

A Snoring Habit Could Mean Sleep Apnea

AROUND 1 IN 5 children with a snoring habit get it from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes repeated brief interruptions to breathing during sleep. This disorder, as well as being potentially life-threatening, can have serious consequences for oral health.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA for short) happens when the airway is blocked, usually by the tongue and soft palate collapsing against the back of the throat, closing it off. At this point, the brain forces the person to wake up and take a breath, which can happen hundreds of times in a single night. Sleep apnea makes it very hard to get a restful night of sleep.

Sleep Apnea’s Impacts on Oral Health

How is oral health connected? Beyond the effects of sleep deprivation (irritability, hyperactivity, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating at school), a child with sleep apnea will also be more vulnerable to oral health problems like gum disease and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD).

Studies have shown that when the throat relaxes in a sleep apnea episode, the jaw reflexively clenches to prevent the airway from closing off. Problems associated with TMD include pain when chewing, soreness in the jaw, chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and even worn, cracked, or broken teeth.

The dentist often spots the sign of sleep apnea first!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Tips for Parents With Teething Toddlers

DO YOU REMEMBER what it felt like when your adult molars were coming in? Sore, puffy gums and a lot of tenderness when chewing? Well that’s what teething is like for toddlers too, except it’s the first time in their lives anything like this has happened, and it can be very upsetting for them — and their parents. Here are a few tips to follow to help a teething child.

#1: Learn to Recognize the Signs of Teething

Be on the lookout for incoming teeth starting around the six month mark. The lower front teeth usually appear anywhere between then and the first birthday. During this time, you might notice some changes in your child’s behavior that are actually symptoms of teething.

They might be less willing to breastfeed, drool excessively, reject foods they used to enjoy, have difficulty sleeping, or become generally irritable. They might also avoid biting, chewing, or sucking on things — or start biting, chewing, and sucking on everything they can reach!

#2: Also Recognize what ISN’T a Sign of Teething

Not everything is a teething symptom, and it’s important to be aware of the difference because it could mean something else is wrong. A runny nose, fever, or diarrhea aren’t connected with teething, but they may be symptoms of a virus. If they continue or get worse, take your child to see the pediatrician.

#3: Be Familiar With the Stages of Teething

Teething happens in stages, not just all at once or all in the same way. The eruption stage is when the baby teeth travel up through the gum tissue from the jaw bones. After eruption comes cutting, when the teeth finally break through the gum tissue to become visible. These stages are both painful, but babies and toddlers don’t have the words to explain that. Instead, they will probably act cranky and tired, and they might get picky about their food and eating times.

#4: How to Soothe a Teething Baby

There are a few ways we can help teething babies and toddlers through this uncomfortable stage of development. If possible, continue breastfeeding, which can reduce the pain of teething. Make sure to give them something to chew on, like a teething toy. It can help the teeth cut through the gums faster while soothing the discomfort.

#5: Choosing the Right Teething Toys

Be careful to avoid teething toys that contain PVC, BPA, or phthalates. These chemicals are meant to make toys last longer, but recent studies have shown that they can be harmful if a child consumes them.

Is the toy solid or gel-filled? If the latter, is it sturdy enough to stop your child from getting to the gooey center not meant to be consumed by humans? It might be good to look for a toy that can be chilled in the fridge and has a clip to fasten it to your child’s clothing.

Bring Us Your Teething Concerns

We’re here to answer any questions parents have about teething and the troubles that come with it. And don’t forget that as soon as the first tooth appears, it’s time for baby’s first dental checkup!

Let’s make sure your child’s oral health journey gets off to a good start!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

3 of History’s Strangest Teeth Traditions

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, different cultures have come up with some pretty unusual solutions for dental health problems. Let’s take a look at a few of the weirdest ones.

1. Mice for Pain Management?

These days, when we hear the word “painkiller,” we generally think of little pills. Ancient Egyptians were more likely to think of mice. They made a pain-relieving paste, and mice were on the list of ingredients. If someone got a toothache, they would rub this paste over the tender area.

2. Stopping Bruxism With Skulls

What did ancient cultures do about bruxism, or chronic teeth-grinding? The ancient Babylonians believed that demons were to blame for a grinding habit. Their solution was to place a human skull right next to their head while they slept. The skull could supposedly scare away the demon and, by extension, the bruxism.

3. Pitch-Black Smiles

These days, having sparkling white teeth is the beauty standard many of us strive for, but it was the opposite in a lot of Asian cultures in the past. Until the end of the Meiji period, many Japanese women and samurai blackened their teeth in a process called Ohaguro. Black teeth were considered more attractive, and they even believed that the process made teeth more resistant to decay.

(Do not try any of these at home.)

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Quit That Ice-Chewing Habit!

WHAT’S SO BAD about chewing ice? It can actually do a lot of permanent damage to teeth, and yet many people have a habit of chewing ice that can be difficult to quit. Let’s look closer at ice chewing and its effects on dental health.

Compulsive Ice Eating, or Pagophagia

The scientific name for compulsive ice eating is pagophagia. For some people, it goes beyond the level of a bad habit and actually indicates a psychological disorder called pica. Pica is the compulsion to eat non-food items such as dirt, clay, hair, or ice, and it is sometimes caused by a nutritional deficiency.

How Iron Deficiency Anemia Leads to Eating Ice

Recent studies have found a connection between the compulsive eating of ice and iron deficiency anemia, a condition that affects 3% of men and 20% of women (a number that goes up to 50% for pregnant women).

What do iron levels have to do with eating ice? Ice doesn’t contain iron, so how would eating it help with an iron deficiency? It’s actually pretty fascinating. Our red blood cells require iron to be able to effectively carry oxygen throughout our bodies. A person who is iron deficient doesn’t get as much oxygen to their brain. By eating ice, they stimulate the blood flow to the head (and consequently the brain), giving them a temporary boost in alertness and mental clarity.

How Ice Affects Our Teeth and Gums

All of that might seem like a clever workaround for iron deficiency, but it comes with serious drawbacks. Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body, but it’s very brittle. Ice isn’t dangerous to chew merely because it is hard, but specifically because it is cold.

Crunching and grinding ice cubes (no matter how much or what their texture is) makes the enamel expand and contract like pavement in places that get a lot of snow. Just like that pavement, the enamel will develop cracks over time.

The weaker the enamel is, the more vulnerable the rest of the tooth is to painful sensitivity and decay. Chewing ice isn’t good for gum tissue either. Because of its temperature, it creates a numbing effect while chewing, which makes it harder to notice an injury if it slips and slices the gums. Ice can even chip or break teeth.

How Can I Break My Ice-Chewing Habit?

Before fighting the symptoms, it’s important to learn the cause. If the pagophagia is due to iron deficiency, iron supplements may remove the cravings to chew ice and the habit will go away on its own. If the problem is pica, a variety of interventions, from therapy to medication, are available.

If the craving is less about the ice than the crunch, we recommend replacing ice with baby carrots or apple slices. If it really is about the ice but not connected to pica or iron deficiency, try letting the ice melt on your tongue instead of crunching down on it.

Dental Professionals Can Help!

The dentist is a great person to go to if you struggle with an ice chewing habit. Another is your general physician. We can figure out what’s causing it and treat existing damage to the gum tissue and teeth, as well as preventing additional damage by helping you kick the habit.

It’s time to put your ice-chewing days behind you!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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