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Friday, August 19, 2011

Dental Health Tied to Good Nutrition

Nutrition can have a big impact on the health of your teeth, especially when it comes to the development of tooth decay. Basically, this means what you eat can lead to cavities. There are several aspects of nutrition and dental health to consider:
·        Foods that are starchy or high in sugar increases the risk of cavities
·        Sticky foods (including raisins and other dried fruits) can increase cavity risk because they adhere to teeth.
·        Dairy products like cheese help neutralize acid in the mouth, acting as a buffer between teeth and tooth decay.
·        Eating sweets during meals may help reduce the risk of cavities because increased saliva production helps neutralize and wash away destructive acids.
·        Another good nutrition dental habit is eating legumes, nuts and grains, which contain antioxidants that increase blood flow, improve immunity and strengthen blood vessels.
Nutrition and dental health go hand in hand, especially when it comes to certain vitamins. Vitamins A, C and D are vital to healthy teeth and gums. Vitamin A is linked to the healthy formation of teeth and skin and contains antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals which cause disease. Many foods are rich in Vitamin A, including liver, spinach and carrots. Vitamin D forms after being exposed to sunshine and promotes calcium absorption, which is essential for strong teeth (and bones). Vitamin C offers a variety of dental and nutrition benefits: It promotes healthy teeth and gums, boosts the immune system and is also an antioxidant. Natural sources of Vitamin C include papayas, strawberries, brussels sprouts and broccoli.
One common nutrition-dental myth concerns the health value of bottled water. While it's probably better to drink bottled water rather than sports drinks, sodas, juices and even "fortified" bottled waters, which all contain cavity-causing sugars, most bottled waters aren't fluoridated. When it comes to drinking water, your teeth are more likely to benefit from filtered tap water because most community tap water systems are fluoridated.
The fact is when you pay attention to good nutrition, good dental health is one of the payoffs.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Toothache FAQs

It's true — toothaches come and go, sometimes seemingly without any rhyme or reason. But don't let the transient nature of a toothache pain fool you. It’s usually a clear sign that something's seriously wrong with your teeth.
A toothache can be caused by sensitivity to hot or cold or a more serious problem like a dental cavity, gum disease or a cracked tooth. One thing's for sure: If you've had a bad toothache for more than a couple of days, you should see your dentist!
Q: Isn't it normal to have a toothache now and then?
A: Most people occasionally have mild toothaches, particularly when consuming hot or cold drinks or food. This is the type of toothache pain that may not necessarily be a cause for worry. But a bad toothache — the kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night, throbs all day, or lasts for more than a couple of days — could mean that a more serious problem exists. The worst thing to do is sit around wishing a toothache away. The best thing to do is visit the dentist for help.
Q: I had a toothache, but it went away. Should I still see a dentist?
A: It's never a good idea to gamble with your dental health. So even if you think a toothache was mild, only a dentist can make a proper diagnosis. Pick up the phone and call your dentist - it only takes a few minutes.
He or she will likely ask you a series of questions: Was the toothache pain gnawing or throbbing? Did the tooth ache last a whole day or just for a moment? Can you see holes in the tooth that's causing pain? Do you have swollen gums or neck glands? Depending on the answers, your dentist may ask you to come in for an exam.
Q: Is it OK to take over-the-counter pain relievers for a toothache?
A: Unless you have been advised by a physician to avoid OTC pain relievers, most dentists recommend taking pain medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen as instructed. But if an OTC pain reliever doesn't help alleviate toothache pain, that's a good sign you need to actually see a dentist.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Are You Living with TMJ?

Jaw pain. Earaches. Headaches. What do these problems have in common? They could be the result of rockin' out too hard. Or playing flag football with a little too much zeal. But since we're talking teeth here, you should know that these are all symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ or TMD.
TMJ is caused by habitual teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Adults do it. Even kids do it. Which means that TMJ disorder is one of those equal-opportunity conditions that affect people of all ages. True, the symptoms may come and go and even seem harmless. But why live with chronic pain if you don't have to? Your dentist can help you put an end to the grind.
Patients diagnosed with TMJ share some habits. Many sufferers are grinding teeth while sleeping, awake or both, resulting in chronic headaches, dull earaches or jaw pain. A "clicking" or "popping" sound in the jaw can also be common. In worse-case scenarios, jaw lock was the result of TMJ disorder. Some people may experience swelling on the side of the face or pain affecting their neck, back and/or shoulders. Over time, TMJ can also cause dizziness and vision problems.
You can get some TMJ relief at home by doing gentle jaw exercises or applying cold or hot compresses during the day or at night. But your best bet for long-term relief is to see your dentist for help.
Think you're experiencing TMJ? You'll find the answer in the dental chair. A dental exam will eliminate non-TMJ-related causes of your pain symptoms, such as toothache, sinus issues and periodontal disease. Your dentist may then take X-rays or order an MRI to look at the temporomandibular joints themselves to spot damage.
There are a wide range of treatment options if you are diagnosed with TMJ — everything from physical therapy to surgery. One of the most popular is to be fitted with a custom-made mouthguard to halt the wear-and-tear of stress-related teeth grinding. Many patients find this a highly effective way to manage their TMJ.