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For Healthy Teeth’s Sake, Stop Chewing Ice!

THERE’S A GOOD REASON dental health professionals warn their patients not to chew ice. This habit can cause serious and permanent damage to teeth and gums, so what makes it so addicting in spite of the dangers?

A Mental Condition

Compulsive ice eating is called pagophagia. Sometimes it’s a symptom of pica, a psychological disorder in which a person feels compelled to eat large quantities of non-food items, such as dirt, clay, hair, or ice. A nutrition gap could be responsible.

Compensating for Iron Deficiency?

Recent studies suggest a link between anemia and compulsive ice eating. The theory is that chewing ice makes up for the lack of iron (which we need to carry oxygen to the brain) by stimulating blood flow to the head. It’s an interesting workaround but doesn’t address the root cause. Iron supplements would be more effective, without the drawbacks to dental health.

The Damage Ice Can Do

What can ice do to our teeth and gums? The same thing it can do to pavement over repeated freezes and thaws. The problem isn’t how hard ice is, but how cold it is. Tooth enamel is very brittle and can easily fracture due to so many dramatic temperature changes from the contact with ice. The gums are also in danger. The ice numbs them, so it’s hard to notice if they’re getting sliced and damaged.

The Dentist Is Here to Help

If you’re struggling with an ice chewing addiction, the dentist can help, and so can your general physician. It’s important to discover the cause, treat any existing damage, and prevent additional damage by fighting the habit!

We’re here to help you leave the ice-chewing habit behind!

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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.
Childhood Tooth Injuries Are Preventable!

MINIMIZING THE RISK of childhood tooth injuries starts with knowing the most common causes of those injuries. Babies and toddlers are most likely to injure themselves by slipping in the bathtub. Non-slip mats are a great precaution! Projectiles like balls and frisbees can easily cause injuries, so make sure to discuss safety and not aiming at anyone’s head. Hard playground equipment can also be a hazard so extra care should be taken.

Make a Plan in Case of Accidents

Sometimes accidents happen even when we’re being careful, and having an emergency plan is a great way to prepare. Step one of any plan is not to panic. Make a calm assessment of the situation. If an adult tooth is knocked out, try to put it back in the socket. If that isn’t possible, store it in cold milk, but either way, get straight to the dentist. That will give us the best chance of replanting the tooth. Make sure not to touch the root, and don’t try to clean it or store it in ice.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Healthy teeth are harder to injure, which is one more reason to make good daily oral hygiene habits a big priority. That means daily flossing and twice-daily brushing!

The Dentist Is Your Best Resource

We want to make sure our patients (and the parents of our youngest patients) have all the information they need to make wise decisions and take informed action when it comes to tooth injuries. If you have any questions about how to make the environment around your child safer for their smile, let us know. We’re happy to help.

Thank you for making us your partner in lifelong oral health!

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.
Oral Cancer Screenings Should Be a Priority!

THE AMERICAN CANCER Society estimates that there will be over 54,000 new oral cancer cases just in 2024. In recent decades, the survival rate of these cancers has risen considerably, and early detection is a huge part of that. That’s why we’re using Oral Cancer Awareness month to educate our patients about oral cancer’s symptoms and risk factors.

Built-In Risk Factors

There are unavoidable risk factors: men are twice as prone to oral cancer as women and it affects people over the age of 45 much more. Preventative care and early detection are especially important for people in these categories.

Risk Factors We Can Avoid

Other risk factors can be controlled. By far the biggest is any kind of tobacco use. As much as 85% of oral cancer is linked to tobacco. Frequent and heavy alcohol consumption is another risk factor that can be avoided, as is too much sun exposure (which can lead to lip cancer), HPV, and not prioritizing oral hygiene habits.

Signs of Oral Cancer

Symptoms of oral cancer include persistent lip or mouth sores that don’t heal, odd lumps on the lip, mouth, throat, or neck, strange thickness in the cheek, numbness in the tongue or mouth, red or white patches inside the mouth, difficulty chewing or swallowing, a sensation like something is stuck in the throat, and even chronic bad breath. The dentist will often spot the signs before anyone else!

Your Dentist Plays a Crucial Role

Oral cancer is frequently detected in its early stages during routine dental checkups. Beyond looking for cavities and gum issues, dentists play a key role in screening for oral cancer, highlighting another important reason to keep up with your dental appointments. Regular visits to the dentist are not only beneficial for maintaining oral health but also serve as a preventive measure for your general well-being.

We’re looking forward to your next checkup!

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.
What Do Different Cultures Do With Baby Teeth?

WE DENTAL HEALTH professionals tend to be big fans of the Tooth Fairy. We can remember leaving a baby tooth under the pillow and looking forward to finding a nice reward the next morning. Other parts of the world have their own fascinating traditions with baby teeth too.

How About a Tooth Mouse?

Many European and Latin-American countries have a Tooth Mouse instead of a Tooth Fairy. She’s called La Petite Souris (“the little mouse”) in France, and “Raton Perez” in Spanish-speaking countries, and the Tooth Mouse swaps teeth under pillows for little gifts or money.

Toss Teeth for Luck

In China and Japan, kids toss their lower baby teeth upwards and their upper baby teeth downwards (or bury them) as a symbol of their hope that their adult teeth will grow in strong and in the right position.

Medieval Superstition

Medieval Europeans used to bury or burn baby teeth so that witches couldn’t use them against the person and so they wouldn’t impact their afterlife. Our Tooth Fairy tradition originated from much later European folklore, with the version we recognize developing in the early 1900s with the help of Disney’s popular fairy characters.

What Are Your Baby Teeth Traditions?

One important thing all these traditions does is help kids feel more excited about the sometimes-scary process of losing baby teeth. Does your family do something different with baby teeth? We’d love to hear more of our patients’ traditions. And no matter what your traditions are, make sure you’re taking great care of baby and adult teeth alike!

Bring us your questions about dental care!

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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.
Learn About Three Dentistry Heroines

WOMEN FACED AN uphill battle establishing themselves in many career fields, dentistry included. That’s why, for Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating three pioneers for women in dentistry.

Lucy Hobbs Taylor

Lucy Hobbs Taylor, born 1833, was the world’s first female dental school graduate. Many dental schools refused to admit her, but the Ohio College of Dental Surgery finally let her in. She married a Civil War veteran who was also a dentist and they opened a practice together in Lawrence, Kansas.

Emeline Roberts Jones

Emeline Roberts Jones, born 1836, came from the apprenticeship tradition of dentistry, which was still common well into the 1800s. After facing a lot of opposition, she was trained by her brother-in-law and established a practice in Connecticut. She was famous for her compassionate care and gentle touch.

Ida Gray Rollins Nelson

Ida Gray, born 1867, was the first African-American woman to become a licensed dentist. She became an orphan in her early teens and went to live with her aunt in Cincinnati. She found the time between school and seamstress work to train under Jonathan Taft, a dentist advocating for women dentists. Gray graduated from the University of Michigan Dental School in 1890 and established a practice in Chicago.

The Enduring Impact of Dental Trailblazers

The indelible contributions of Ida Gray, Lucy Hobbs Taylor, and Emeline Roberts Jones have left an enduring mark on the dental profession. Today, women play a vital role in dentistry, enriching the field with fresh perspectives and innovative approaches that enhance patient care. The legacy of these women serves as a beacon of inspiration, empowering women in dentistry and beyond to reach new heights.

We hope these three will continue inspiring new generations!

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 Teaching Kids to Floss

ON THE LONG list of things parents need to teach their kids in childhood is proper flossing, but plenty of adults don’t know the best techniques themselves! We’re here to help. Daily flossing should be a priority for anyone with two teeth that touch each other because brushing alone cannot remove the plaque and food debris in those spaces. The longer it remains and builds up, the more it contributes to gum disease, cavities, and worse.

Helping Your Child Floss

Parents should floss their child’s teeth for them until they have the dexterity to do it themselves. Make it part of the daily routine. Explain that flossing matters for keeping their smile healthy, and flossing is something big kids do like tying their shoes. Floss picks can also make the process easier instead of using string floss.

The Proper Technique Makes a Difference

Good flossing technique starts with pulling out about a foot and a half of floss and wrapping it loosely around the middle fingers, with an inch or two left in the middle to slip between the teeth. Don’t just snap the floss down onto the gums, curve it around each tooth in a C-shape and gently work down. Then rotate the floss along so that it’s always clean floss being used for each new gap. Dirty floss won’t clean teeth!

The Dentist Can Help!

Incorporating proper flossing techniques into your child’s daily routine is essential for their long-term oral health. If you’re unsure about the correct flossing method or want a demonstration, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’re dedicated to ensuring your child learns to floss effectively and confidently. Let us guide you through the process and make flossing a seamless part of their oral care regimen.

Together, we can train a new generation of effective flossers!

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.
What Does an Eating Disorder Do to Dental Health?

EATING DISORDERS can cause many kinds of damage to the body, including the teeth. Oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits are crucial, but in order to maintain good oral health, we also need a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals every day.

Anorexia Versus Oral Health

An eating disorder like anorexia nervosa can lead to osteoporosis, which increases the risk of tooth loss. It also causes dry mouth, increasing the risk of gum disease. It also makes it harder to avoid bad breath, because saliva washes away food particles.

Bulimia and Acid Erosion

Bulimia can be even more harmful to oral health, because in addition to starving the oral tissues of needed nutrients, frequent purging exposes the teeth to stomach acid, leading to enamel erosion, tooth discoloration, decay, and eventually tooth loss.

You Have Allies in Your Fight for Your Health

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. The road to a healthier relationship with food and weight can be long and difficult. Sympathetic family members, friends, and licensed mental health professionals are key allies on that journey, and dental health professionals can help safeguard oral health along the way.

One of Those Allies Is the Dentist

The impact an eating disorder can have on the teeth and gums is severe enough that dentists may be some of the first to know that something is wrong. Recognizing the signs of an eating disorder and seeking timely intervention are crucial steps in protecting oral health and promoting overall wellness. Your dentist wants to help.

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.
Learn the Basics of Lip Ties and Tongue Ties

BEING TONGUE-TIED isn’t just an expression; for many people, it’s an actual medical condition, and a similar one is being lip-tied. We all have thin, stretchy pieces of tissue that connect our tongues to the floor of our mouths and our lips to our gums. Sometimes those pieces of tissue are unusually thick or tight, which restricts the movement of the lip or tongue.

Effects of Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

Someone with a tongue tie might not be able to touch the roof of their mouth with their tongue, making it hard to chew, swallow, or pronounce words effectively. Someone with a lip tie might have a big gap between their two front teeth and be at higher risk of gum recession. Babies with a lip or tongue tie often struggle to latch effectively to breastfeed.

The Solution: Frenectomies

The treatment for a lip or tongue tie is a frenectomy, a quick and simple procedure with a short recovery period. It is usually performed by a periodontist or oral surgeon. After the area is numbed, a small incision (sometimes made with a laser) releases the tissue, which stops all of the symptoms. Super easy!

The Dentist Can Help!

If you believe you or your child have a lip or tongue tie, schedule a dental appointment so that we can verify it and make a plan for how to correct it. Don’t let it continue to get in the way!

We love taking care of our patients’ smiles!

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.
Follow These Sensitive Tooth Tips

1 IN EVERY 8 Americans (including kids) has sensitive teeth. To understand why, we’ll need to take a look at dental anatomy.

Erosion and the Layers of a Tooth

Every tooth has nerves at the center. When the tooth is healthy, the nerve is protected by the outer layers. If the tooth enamel erodes enough, it can expose the porous dentin layer and subject the nerves to much more input than they’re supposed to get. That tends to make temperature changes or even a sudden burst of sour or sweet flavor very uncomfortable or even painful.

Other Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Erosion is the main cause of tooth sensitivity but not the only one. Exposed roots can be very sensitive because roots rely on gum tissue to protect them, not enamel. Gum recession (which is most often caused by brushing too hard) can leave roots exposed and vulnerable. Damage to a tooth, whether through an accident or cavities, also leads to sensitivity.

Ways to Minimize Sensitivity

There are several things to do for sensitive teeth. First, throw out the hard-bristled toothbrush and get a soft-bristled one. It doesn’t take much pressure to clean away plaque when we brush, but too much can scrape away enamel and gum tissue. Switching to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth should also help, and cut back on sugar intake and very acidic foods and drinks.

The Dentist Can Help!

If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, make sure to bring it up with the dentist. We can determine the cause of the problem and recommend or prescribe a toothpaste that could help or schedule any necessary treatment. Every bite of food or swallow of drink you enjoy shouldn’t come at the price of a nasty jolt!

We look forward to helping find your tooth sensitivity solution!

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.
Let’s Answer Some Dental FAQs Before the New Year!

WE HEAR A LOT of the same questions from patients and parents of patients, so let’s wrap up the year by answering three of them.

#1: My tooth doesn’t hurt, so why do I need a filling?

Cavities aren’t always painful. They form when tooth enamel is eroded away until a hole forms. As the hole gets deeper, it can reach the dentin and even the pulp chamber at the center of the tooth, but in the early stages, they usually don’t hurt. While the best option is preventing a cavity from forming at all, it’s much better to treat a cavity before it hurts than allow it to reach that point. By then, a filling alone might not be enough!

#2: How important is it to keep baby teeth healthy?

Just because baby teeth are temporary, that doesn’t mean they don’t serve an important purpose. Kids need them to speak clearly, chew effectively, and master the lifelong brushing and flossing habits that will protect their adult teeth. They also hold the places for those adult teeth.

#3: Should I be worried about the effect of pacifiers and thumbsucking on my child’s teeth?

Pacifier use and thumbsucking can indeed contribute to significant problems, but not when the child is very young. Babies and toddlers often find these habits very comforting, and they usually grow out of them on their own. If they’re showing no signs of stopping by age three, parents should consider strategies for discouraging the habit, like clipping the pacifier. We can help find the right solution.

Did We Miss Your Top Question?

When our patients are educated about their teeth and gums, they are more empowered to stay in control of their dental health, so if you have any questions we didn’t cover, make sure to ask them at your next appointment!

There’s nothing better than seeing our patients’ smiles!

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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