Oral Health

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Effective Tips for Proper Dental Flossing

Floss your teeth regularly and effectively. Regular tooth brushing helps take care of your teeth, but the gum line and the spaces between teeth need something more to keep them clean and healthy. Gum disease forms at the gum line and can also start in the spaces between teeth. A toothbrush cannot reach all the areas, so it is important that you floss every day to maintain your oral health. However, it is important that you floss using the right technique.

Proper Flossing Technique Tips

Follow these techniques to floss properly and effectively.

1. Floss Winding

Take 18 inches of floss and wind around the middle fingers in each hand. Pinch it between the index fingers and thumbs and leave up to 2 inches of length in between. Place the floss between the upper teeth using the thumb. Keep up to 2 inches of the floss length between fingers and guide it between the lower teeth using the index fingers.

When you use your middle digits on each hand for holding the floss, your thumbs and index fingers will be free to work it in between all the teeth. When you do this you will realize that it will be required to use different combinations of the thumb and different fingers to reach all the areas in your mouth.

2. Gliding

Use the zigzag motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Do it gently to avoid the floss from snapping. You should also glide the floss around the tooth’s side.

3. Sliding

It is also important to floss vertically. Slide the floss vertically on the tooth surface. Also slide it between the gum line. Make sure that each tooth is flossed using a clean part of the floss.

When flossing, it is important to keep it gentle to not hurt your gums. If it hurts, it means that you are doing it wrong and it can damage the tissue. There can be some discomfort for a few days in the beginning, but if there is pain or persistent discomfort, you should see a dentist.

If you find it difficult to get the floss to go, use a gentle see-saw motion. It is going to make it easy to slide it through the spaces between the teeth.

It is important to clean each tooth individually and this is achieved best by pulling the floss to create a C-like shape. However, most people never utilize this concept to its best. When you work the floss up/down, make sure that the complete surface of each tooth gets scrubbed.

Essential Surfaces to Clean When You Floss Your Teeth

When flossing, it is important to clean the contact area and the gum line.

  • Contact Area: Plaque can build up at or below the area where two teeth come into contact. This is the area where cavities can form. Flossing can help in dislodging the plaque that may get accumulated here.
  • Gum Line: Another area that is important to clean is under the gum line. If you don’t floss properly, the plaque buildup in this area can have a significant impact on your gum health. It is important to wrap the floss in a C-shape and slide it vertically through the length of the tooth to scrape and remove the subgingival plaque.

The proper technique should maximize the tooth surface that is cleaned. Whenever cleaning the front side, push the floss to the back so that it wraps the front as much as possible. When cleaning the backside, pull the floss to wrap the back as much as possible.

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Basic Tips

Now that you know the technique to floss properly, you should also know about some basics.

  • Frequency: The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing every day. If plaque is not properly removed, it can harden and become tartar or calculus. In this long-term, this can result in cavities.
  • When to Floss: You can floss before or after brushing. You may also floss any time of the day. Choose a time when you have little extra minutes to floss daily without fail.
  • Pressure: Make sure that the pressure of the floss is focused on the side of the tooth. It is also important not to direct the pressure into the gum tissue.
  • Fresh Section: Make sure to use a fresh section of the floss for new areas. This prevents bacteria from spreading between different areas. This also prevents shredded or weaker floss from being used again.

Types of Floss

  • There are several types of floss.
    • Beginner Floss: floss made out of PTFE (Teflon: Glide) are very slippery, they pass through tight contacts easily. Their slipperiness makes them a lot less effective in removing the sticky, slimy plaque.
    • Intermediate floss: Waxed floss is slightly better, yet the wax needs to wear off with several up and down motions against the tooth until the exposed unwaxed threads begins to remove the sticky plaque. There are also stretchy flosses that have a light wax on them that many people like.
    • Expert floss: Woven, knit and unwaxed flosses removes the plaque immediately, but may shred in tight contacts. If shredding, use the PTFE floss to clean up the shreds floss.

Once you have flossed, it is recommended to rinse out using water. While flossing helps dislodge plaque from the teeth, it is required to rinse to remove the dislodged plaque from the mouth. So make sure to follow these tips for effective dental flossing. It’s just one step in preventative care of your teeth.

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Brushing Your Teeth: The Correct Way to Protect Your Smile

When it comes to brushing your teeth, most people use the back-and-forth motion until they feel that the teeth are clean. In fact, most people are unable to do even this minimum-basic to keep their teeth clean. Most people feel that brushing harder is going to clean the teeth better. Doing so is going to remove the essential tooth enamel. It can also damage the gums and cause premature teeth aging. Your teeth will also become more sensitive to hot and cold food items.

The problem with brushing this way is that it is also ineffective. When you brush using this method, the bristles are just bouncing between the teeth. The bristles are not entering and cleaning the spaces in between. Lack of proper cleaning in these spaces can increase the risk of gum disease and cavities.

Importance of Proper Brushing Technique

Brushing hard and fast may seem to be an effective way to keep your teeth clean. The technique not only removes the enamel, it also causes the buildup of debris between the teeth and gums. The right technique will involve making the most of the toothbrush bristles.

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your teeth, use the following tips:

  • Start by cleaning the front surface of the upper teeth and then the lower teeth.
  • Then clean the inside of the upper teeth and then the lower teeth.
  • Then clean the surfaces used for chewing.
  • When brushing the gum-line, the brush should be tilted at 45 degrees to the gum-line. Sweep the brush away from the gum-line.
  • You should also brush your tongue.
  • Better yet, buy a good Sonicare powered brush and keep it in place, as it gently and thoroughly cleans your teeth.

When brushing, make short and gentle strokes. Make sure that you don’t miss the hard to reach areas behind the teeth, the gum-line, and also the area around the crown (if you have any). Using precise and gentle strokes ensures that there is no trauma on the gums. It also makes it similar for you to clean the hard-to-reach areas.

It is widely known that brushing twice a day is the best practice. However, most people don’t follow this basic rule. Make sure to adhere to this principle.

toothbrush visual

Choosing the Right Toothbrush & Toothpaste

It is not just the brushing technique that matters. The toothbrush and the toothpaste also matter.

Toothbrush

Dentists worldwide recommend soft-bristled brush. Look for small-headed toothbrushes because they can be used even in hard-to-reach areas. Look for a brush with bristles having different levels of height. You may also consider a powered toothbrush with these features. The right toothbrush should clean your teeth, break the plaque, and also stimulate the gums.

It is also important to replace the toothbrush every 3 months. In fact, you should also replace it if you have a cold because it can cause germ buildup on the bristles. Or better yet, place it in your dishwasher to sanitize it. If members of your family are sick, do this for everyone!

Toothpaste

The first time you learned how to brush, it is highly likely that you didn’t know how to choose the right toothpaste. You used whatever was used in your home. It is interesting that there are pastes for different dental conditions and needs. For example, you can find toothpaste for high sensitivity, cavities, stained teeth, or other conditions specific to you. There are also pastes for removing tartar. Other options include tooth whitening and even flavored pastes. Fluoride-based toothpaste help in strengthening the teeth and preventing cavities. It will be best to consult your dentist for a recommendation. The American Dental Association (ADA) offers a seal of approval for those tooth pastes where the fluoride is effective. Without the seal, the fluoride may not work.

Toothpastes are ranked by their Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). This is important. The lower the RDA number, the less abrasive, too high of a number and the toothpaste will not only remove stain, but your enamel and dentine too.

Brushing Your Teeth Time

Besides the technique, the duration of brushing is also going to affect its effectiveness. Make sure that you brush for at least 2 minutes every time. On an average, most people never get close to this duration. This is an important factor – so much so that all the other factors cannot ensure effective cleaning without it. Using a stopwatch is an excellent way to ensure that your teeth get a proper cleaning. Another option is to use a toothbrush with an automatic timer.

When it comes to oral health, it is not just the teeth that you should be concerned about. You should also clean your tongue, something that most people overlook.

About Your Gums

You really should not brush your gums. Instead, brush slowly at the gum line so the bristles will sweep below the gum line. Let your tooth brush stay in one place and wiggle it around will allow the bristles to slip below the gum line and clean them. Just like cleaning under your fingernails with a similar soft brush. The electric Sonicare does this wonderfully.

So make sure to follow the tips mentioned here to keep your teeth and gum-line clean and healthy. Brushing your teeth is easy, but it requires daily care. It is also recommended to visit your dentist every 6 months. This will help in detecting any dental conditions and take preventative measures. Contact Smiles At France to set up your next dental visit at (612) 824-7033.

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You’re on Life Hack: Brushing Your Teeth the Correct Way to Protect Your Smile

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How can athletes protect their smiles with mouthguards

Mouthguards used to be reserved for the sports noted for violent collisions. In short fashion it was learned that mouthguards, not only protected your smile, but also had other safety benefits. Read on for the benefits of mouthguards, when they should be worn and what to look for.

How to protect your teeth, reduce concussions and temporal mandibular joint trauma if you play sports?

Safety is the most important reason why hockey players, football players, lacrosse and other players suit up with all that gear. Gloves, shin guards, helmets, and leg guards are just a few of the items athletes use to protect themselves. Whether you are a professional athlete or a hobbyist, you value your teeth. It is not just about your smile; your pearly whites are essential to your overall health. This is why it is important to add one more gear to your kit – a mouthguard.

Mouthguards are essential for keeping your teeth safe when participating in different kinds of sports. These guards protect your teeth from chipping, cracking, and breaking in case of an impact. There are different types of mouthguards, including readymade, boil and bite, and custom made. If you have dental restoration work or braces, you should ask your dentist how you can use a mouthguard for protecting your teeth.

Sports can be dangerous for your teeth – and it’s not just the usual suspects

Sports, by its innate nature, comes with a wide range of potential risks even when it is all about fun and thrill. It is not just the usual suspects like football and hockey that have high injury risks, basketball and soccer players are also at risk. Even a casual game of fun can be dangerous for your teeth. Mountain bikers and skiers also have frequent injures to their teeth and jaws. The kind of damage you can suffer from includes cracked, chipped and lost teeth. Such injuries can be expensive to fix and some may also affect your smile and looks in the long-term. Other serious injuries happen to your jaw joints; concussions are worsened by the shock wave traveling between unprotected teeth.

You should have a plan to protect your teeth, joints and head from concussions even when you are participating in sports that might result in collisions. Just because there is no risk of bat, ball or another person’s arm or foot hitting you in the tooth, there is still the potential risk of falling or running into a hard object.

What a mouthguard can do?

A mouthguard is a dental appliance that shields and protects both hard and soft tissues including the teeth, lips, jawbones, gums, cheeks, and tongue from forceful blows. Usually, contact sports make it necessary to have a mouthguard, but it is recommended to use it in all competitive and solo sports. Studies show that high-quality guards when properly fitted can minimize or prevent potential risks of tooth injury and concussions from blows to the head. These guards stabilize the oral cavity and thus protect your smile too.

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When should it be worn?

It is recommended to use the protective guard in all kinds of sports where there is a risk of blow to the mouth or head. This includes sports like boxing, football, lacrosse, basketball, soccer, rugby, wrestling, baseball, biking, skiing and ice hockey among others.
What makes a good mouthguard?

In order to provide optimal protection to your precious ivories, it is important that you choose the right mouthguard.

Learn about wearing a mouthguard with braces.

What Makes the Perfect Mouthguard

  • Comfort & Perfect Fit: It is most important that the guard you choose is comfortable to wear and fits perfectly. It is also important that the guard doesn’t interfere with speaking and breathing. Look for a unit that has good retention and doesn’t require you to keep clenching it in place with your teeth. It should intimately hug your teeth without binding or rocking.
  • Design: There is the single-arch design and the dual-arch design. The dual-arch design will fit over both the upper and lower jaws, unlike the single-arch design that covers only the upper jaw. It is also considered to provide additional level of protection for the jaw joint.
  • Shape & Outline: Besides comfort and design, it is also important to choose a mouthguard that properly covers your teeth. Its outline should go beyond the teeth and over to the gum tissue. This helps in spreading the forces from a blow away from the teeth. This can also protect the lower jaw.
  • Proper Thickness: Different kinds of sports involve different levels of potential forces that a player may have to face. For example, as a boxer, you are much more likely to face blunt force on your teeth and mouth compared to being a baseball player. Guards have different levels of thickness depending on the sports they are meant for. Mouthguards can range in thickness from 2 mm to 4 mm.

Care and Replacement of Mouthguards

Mouthguards should be stored in a hard case to prevent distortion and thoroughly cleaned after every use. If they look disgusting, they are disgusting! Oral fungus and bacteria will grow on them if not cleaned properly. For growing kids, they should be replaced after every season so jaws can continue to grow unimpeded by a mal-fitting guard. Adults who use them less and are done growing, replace after 6-18 months.

Other Considerations

It is also important to consider the resilience and stiffness of the guard. Resilience refers to the level of sponginess of the piece and it is important for absorbing the force. There should also be some level of flexibility in the mouthpiece, making it comfortable to wear. Stiffness or rigidity is a factor that plays the key role in distributing the forces over a larger area. This factor helps in preventing the force from getting focused on a particular area or tooth.

What mouthguard works best for your athlete?

There are different types of mouthguards and what works best for you depends on the kind of sports you participate in and what may be more convenient for you. The different options are as follows:

  • Stock: As the name suggests, these are readymade mouthpieces that are not made to fit your teeth. You will have to find a size that is close to your requirements. These are slightly better than nothing at all and only used in an emergency.
  • Boil & Bite: These mouthguards are meant to be softened in boiling water at home so that they fit your teeth when worn. These are minimally acceptable.
  • Custom-Made: Custom-made mouthguards are designed by your dentist and are the perfect fit for your teeth. These are a lot better than both boil and bite and stock mouthpieces. These pieces can also accommodate any dental work such as braces if you are using them. These have varying designs and can provide optimal protection and comfort.

There are many advantages of using a mouthguard. You may be a professional athlete or someone who likes to participate in sports occasionally. If you are serious about protecting your teeth and maintaining your smile, make sure to choose the right type of mouthguard.

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Dr. David A. Cook provides family, preventive dentistry and cosmetic dentistry services from his offices where Minneapolis meets Edina at 50th and France. Set up an appointment to see him by calling (612) 824-7033.

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Sleep Apnea: Understanding this Sleeping Disorder

Sleep Apnea is very prevalent in the U.S. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from different types of sleep apnea. In fact, 20% of adults have mild obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, and almost 7% suffer from severe OSA. And these are the figures for only those who have been diagnosed with this sleep disorder. There are millions of people who never find out that they have this condition. So what is this sleep condition, how does it affect your body, and what are the treatment possibilities?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that interrupts your breathing during sleep. If you suffer from this condition, you are going to have brief sessions during sleep when you stop breathing. So this condition has the potential to reduce the amount of oxygen that your body and brain gets. Despite its seriousness, this is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people.

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Body?

Sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing repetitively during your sleep. In some severe cases, such cessations in breathing can occur up to hundreds of times during a sleep. This can cause you to partially awake because the brain exits deeper sleep to restart breathing. The result is that your sleep quality decreases and a wide range of potential medical conditions can develop. Many people never find out that they are suffering from this condition.

Dangers of Sleep Apnea

OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) can prove to be a serious problem in the long-term. It can give rise to a wide range of medical conditions that can complicate your health. And many of these conditions can aggravate to become life-threatening.

These conditions include:

  • High Blood Pressure: This condition can worsen existing high blood pressure. Since the condition can force you to wake up many times during sleep, it increases the stress on your mind and body. This can affect hormone production in the body, leading to different types of imbalances including changes in blood pressure levels. Since the oxygen level in the blood decreases, this can further aggravate the problem of high blood pressure.
  • Heart Disease: Studies show that people suffering from sleep apnea have higher risks of developing heart disease. The stress caused by waking up too often and lower oxygen levels in the body can result in heart problems. It can also result in related conditions like atrial fibrillation and strokes. This sleep problem adversely affects the supply of oxygen to the body. This complicates how the brain controls blood flow in the arteries.

Other Conditions

  • Obesity: If you are already overweight, OSA can further worsen the condition, not to mention that it can make it even harder to lose weight. Besides, obesity itself can further deteriorate this sleeping problem. The accumulation of fat in the neck area can affect your breathing during sleep. It has also been found that this condition can further release a hormone known as ghrelin that can increase your cravings for carbohydrates. So the combined result can be disastrous for overweight people.
  • Diabetes: If you are suffering from sleep apnea, you are more likely to develop Type II diabetes. If you are overweight and suffer from the sleep condition, you are at an even higher risk of developing diabetes. So even if diabetes may not be directly linked to the sleep disorder, other related conditions can cause it. However, lack of proper sleep due to the condition can actually interfere with the body’s use of insulin and thus increase the potential risks.
  • Motor vehicle accidents. Daytime tiredness may cause you to node off when driving. This can be fateful for many.

OSA has also been linked to increasing the risks of asthma in adults, acid reflux, and several other conditions.

Signs you have a Sleep Disorder

clock imageAs already mentioned, many people who are already suffering from sleep apnea may never know that they have this condition. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor to determine whether you have this sleep disorder or not.

  • Always Feeling Tired: When you are unable to breathe properly at night, the quality of sleep gets affected. This means that you get only lighter stage of sleep and not the deeper level of sleep that involves Rapid Eye Movement (REM). REM is the high-quality sleep that helps your mind and body to relax. When you spend lesser time in deep sleep, you always tend to feel tired during the daytime.
  • Trouble staying awake while driving, reading or watching TV. These are signs of not getting the restorative sleep that sleep apnea disrupts.
  • Snoring: Most people who snore never know that they do so. If your partner begins to complain that you snore excessively during sleep, you should get a checkup for OSA. Snoring causes limited blockage of air floor through the airways. It is a common symptom of the sleep disorder, but it doesn’t mean that everyone who snores suffers from it, but many do.

More Indicators

  • Being overweight: If you are overweight and are unable to lose weight, you should go see a doctor to find out if you have sleep apnea. The excess buildup of fatty tissues around the throat can be the underlying cause.
  • Often waking up from sleep: If you often wake up from sleep, panting for breath, it is highly likely that you are suffering from this sleep disorder.
  • Your dentist might observe white line ridges on the inside of your cheeks or scalloping ridges on the sides of your tongue. These are highly correlated with sleep apnea.

If you constantly feel irritated, have difficulty in concentrating, and have an increased appetite, these could also be signs that you have OSA.

Treatment Possibilities

If you are suffering from sleep apnea, your doctor can recommend a treatment based on the underlying condition. Some of the potential treatments for addressing this disorder are as follows:

  • Weight Loss: Almost 7 in 10 people suffering from the problem are overweight or obese. If you belong to this group, your medical practitioner is going to recommend you to lose weight to improve the condition. Most doctors claim that losing weight can have a significant positive impact on OSA and snoring.
  • Surgery: Depending on the condition, your doctor may recommend surgery for clearing any blockages in the airway. In fact, surgery is not exactly a direct treatment for OSA, but for snoring. Surgery may be suggested along with other treatment options.
  • Oral Appliances: Oral appliances are gaining more and more popularity as treatment options for sleep apnea. In fact, there are dozens of oral appliances that have been approved by the FDA for treating OSA and snoring. Such appliances keep the airway open to allow unobstructed breathing during sleep. They also protect the teeth from harmful nighttime teeth grinding that frequently occurs with sleep apnea.
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). To keep the airway open, CPAP uses small amounts of air pressure.

Read more about at the Mayo Clinic website.

If you or your spouse is having difficult time sleeping, especially if either or both of you have witnessed snoring, you should see a qualified dentist to determine whether you are suffering from this sleep disorder. Contact Smiles At France today at 612.824.7033, or send us an email at info@smilesatfrance.com to set an appointment or for information.

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Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth?

Are you clenching and grinding your teeth?

Adverse Effects of Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth

Lots of folks clench and grind their teeth unconsciously, usually during the night. Unfortunately, this can have severe adverse affects on your teeth. Many times, sufferers don’t even realize that it’s happening. The results of clenching and grinding can include chipped teeth, cracked teeth, loosened teeth, and increased wear and tear on all of your teeth. And, it can lead to non-tooth problems like headaches, painful jaws, restless nights of sleep, and migraines.

Dr. David A. Cook’s Expertise

Treating these symptoms and developing a prevention plan is one of Dr. David A. Cook’s expertise areas. His 35 years of experience of successfully treating patients has prepared him well to treat your teeth. Call (612) 824-7033 today to set up your appointment.

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What to Eat for Healthy Teeth

They say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So for those who are looking for strong teeth, one of the questions is, “What to eat for healthy teeth?”

When it comes to maintaining healthy teeth, eating good things is very important. Instead of focusing on the negative – things you shouldn’t eat too often – we’re going to take a look at the types of food and drink that promote healthy teeth.

Food and Drink that Promote Healthy Teeth

1.) Tea.

Polyphenols found in black and green teas slow the growth of bacterias associated with cavities and gum disease. A Japanese study found that drinking green tea everyday reduced gum recession and bleeding – both are indicators of gum disease.

2.) Cheese.

Cheeses help neutralize plaque acid. Plus, the calcium in cheese helps put minerals back in your teeth that may have been lost from eating other foods.

3.) Raisins.

Phytochemicals in raisins kill cavity-causing plaque bacteria. Phytochemicals are antioxidants found in plants. A study found that they fight the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

4.) Carrots, cucumbers and apples.

Crunchy food clear away bacteria stuck on your teeth. The action of chewing crunching water based foods produces saliva in your mouth which rinses away bacteria.

5.) Fish and almonds.

Vitamin rich foods like fish and almonds help keep tooth enamel strong and healthy. Harvard scientists have tied omega-3 acids found in fish with lower incidents of gum disease. Apparently, the Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation. Nuts, like almonds, have good amounts of fiber and other vitamins. The calcium in almonds is also beneficial to teeth and gums.

6.) Sugarless gum.

Chewing sugarless gum boosts saliva secretion which helps clear away bacteria. As long as your gum is sugarless, you’re strengthening your teeth and reducing tooth decay.

7.) Milk.

Milk helps lower levels of acid in the mouth. Your teeth get healthier and stronger from milk because of the calcium it contains. Calcium also keeps your jaw bone strong and protect your teeth against gum disease.

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While it doesn’t replace regular brushing and flossing, eating right is part of the equation to promote healthy teeth. So, when you take a bite into that apple today, you can feel good that you’re doing something positive for your teeth.

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Smiles at France provides cosmetic, restorative, implant and preventive dentistry from their office at 50th and France – where Minneapolis meets Edina. Dr. David A. Cook and team are dedicated to helping you keep your teeth for a lifetime, in optimal health, comfort, function and appearance.

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TMD Problems and How to Prevent Them

Studies show that over 15% adults in the United States suffer from chronic facial pain. The most common of these pains include jaw pain, earaches, and headaches. And these pains have been linked to temporomandibular disorders (TMD). These disorders occur in the temporomandibular joints located on the side of your head. Read on to learn more about TMD problems and how you can prevent them.

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular disorders or TMD are disorders associated with the temporomandibular joints, jaw muscles, and the nerves linked to chronic facial pain. The disorder can arise when there is a problem preventing the system of these joints, muscles and bones working in tandem.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joints, also referred to as TMJ, are the joints connecting the lower jaw and the skull. These two joints consist of the temporal bone and the lower jaw (mandible) and slide/rotate near the near ear. These two joints are considered among the most complex types of joints in your body.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the TMJ works in combination with different muscles to allow the lower jaw to move in different ways. The ideal alignment of the mandible with the muscles allows smooth chewing, swallowing, yawning, and talking without any issues. But when there is lack of alignment between the teeth, mandible, muscles, jaw bone, ligaments, and temporal bone, it can create various problems.

What Causes TMD?

The exact causes of TMD have not yet been established. However, dentists are of the view that the condition arises due to issues of the jaw muscles or the parts of the joint. TMJ disorders can also be caused due to injuries to the jaw, the TMJ or even the muscles of the neck and head. Even whiplash can be a cause behind this condition.

Some of the other causes of this condition include the following:

  • Injury to the teeth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum chewing
  • Jaw or teeth misalignment
  • Poor posture
  • Arthritis
  • Stress

According to Mayo Clinic the following factors can increase the risk of TMD:

  • Grinding or clenching the teeth (if you have been doing it for a long time).
  • Different types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Some types of connective tissue diseases that may cause problems for the TMJ.
  • Injury to the jaw.

Common TMD Problems

The problems associated with TMD go beyond the scope of pain to the jaw, muscles, and the joint. Two of the common TMD problems reported include the following:

  • Problems of the Digestive Tract: According to a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts, people having temporomandibular joints were more than 112% likely to have digestive problems compared to those who didn’t have this disorder. Improper mastication has been considered the main cause behind TMJ patients suffering from digestive problems. When you are unable to chew your food properly, it becomes harder for the gut to absorb the nutrients effectively. In fact, there is also increased risk that food particles can end up within the blood.
  • Immune Dysfunction: Studies have also shown that TMJ can increase the risk of immune dysfunction. According to a leading study, conducted at the Kyushu University in 2008, TMJ has been connected to allergies and osteoarthritis. There are two main reasons for this connection. Firstly, chronic stress has been found to be the common factor in TMJ and immune dysfunction. Stress can also cause night grinding and teeth clenching. Stress also creates fight-or-flight response and its signals are sent in the form of hormones to different bodily systems including your immune system. Gradually, this will weaken the body’s immune system and increase the risk of diseases. Secondly, improper mastication itself can trigger immune dysfunction due to TMD. Most of immune system’s functioning is triggered within the gut. Thus, undigested food can be seen as foreign body, causing the immune system to fight it. This can lead to inflammation, food sensitivities, and autoimmune conditions.

What Are The Treatments For TMD?

When it comes to treatment, the practitioner will determine the best treatment based on the underlying factors. They will take the following main factors into consideration when finding the most effective treatment:

  • Your health and medical history
  • Age
  • Your body’s capacity to handle medication and therapies
  • Expected duration of the condition
  • Your own preferences

The different types of treatments for TMD are as following:

  • Providing rest to the temporomandibular joint
  • Stress management techniques
  • Pain relievers and/or other medications
  • Posture training
  • Physical therapy
  • Changes to behavior for stopping teeth clenching
  • Use of orthopedic appliance for reducing teeth grinding
  • Changes to diet to provide rest to jaw muscles

Surgery may be needed if other treatments do not work.

Types of Surgery

There are three types of surgery performed for treating TMD. Surgery is usually the last consideration. The details of these surgeries are as following:

  • Arthrocentesis: This is a minor surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. It is usually used for reducing swelling in the temporomandibular joints or if the jaw locks. It involves washing out the joint by inserting needles filled with certain fluid.
  • Arthroscopy: This type of surgery is also done under general anesthesia. A tiny instrument having a lens and light is inserted into the area for examining the TMJ. After identifying the problem with the affected tissue, the surgeon can take the right step. The recovery time is shorter and there is lesser discomfort in this surgery.
  • Open-joint surgery: If the surgeon determines that the cause of temporomandibular disorder cannot be addressed with arthroscopy, they can suggest open joint surgery. In this case, a long incision is made for a more elaborate surgery. This type of surgery is the only treatment for TMD when tumors are found, the bone structures show signs of wear, or when there are severe bone chips or scars in the joint. This type of surgery takes much longer to heal.

Signs and Symptoms of TMD

The following signs and symptoms are associated with temporomandibular disorders:

  • There may be pain in your jaw joints and facial muscles that extend up to your neck or even the shoulders. There can also be muscle spasms and joint overstretching. You find it difficult to chew, talk or yawn due to the pain.
  • The pain can be around the front of the ear and even move to your face, jaw, temporal area, or scalp and cause headaches or show signs similar to migraines.
  • Temporomandibular disorders can also lead to ear pain or ringing sensation in the ears. In fact, it may even cause hearing loss. Often, the pain due to TMJ is taken to be an ear disorder.
  • If you hear sounds when your joints move, it may also be a sign of TMD. It can mean that the disc is not in the right position.
  • In some cases, the jaw can lock or get stuck, either in the closed or open position.
  • TMD may also be associated with headaches and dizziness, which further lead to nausea.
  • You might have pain in the front of your throat from tongue pressing during clenching or grinding.

These are the common signs and symptoms of temporomandibular disorders, and if you find yourself or a loved one suffering from them, you should see a specialist healthcare provider.

Preventing Temporomandibular Disorders

The most effective way to prevent temporomandibular disorders is to reduce the risk factors. If you feel stressed, you should take it seriously and find ways to manage the stress in a better way. It is also recommended to avoid chewing gum. It can put a lot of stress on the jaw and can increase the risk of TMD. One of the biggest drivers or TMD is unconscious nighttime or daytime teeth clenching or grinding.

Schedule a Visit

If you find out that you grind your teeth in sleep or have any other concerns, you should schedule a visit with Dr. David A. Cook. The Smiles at France office serves patients from Minneapolis, Edina, and the entire Twin Cities metro area. Dr. David Cook’s expertise includes treating TMD and TMJ and any associated teeth clenching or grinding. Call Smiles at France today at 612-824-7033.

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Keeping Your Teeth Healthy

Your dental hygienist and parents have had always emphasized on the importance of maintaining good oral health and keeping your teeth healthy. When you brush and floss regularly, it does much more than keeping your teeth clean. When you maintain a proper schedule, and ensure that your teeth are clean and healthy, you are also preventing many serious diseases.

The Importance of Healthy Teeth

Keeping your teeth healthy can help in preventing gum disease, which is mostly caused by plaque development. Clean teeth also mean there will be reduced chances of stroke or heart attack. So how often should you brush and floss, what you should eat and what should you avoid, and how should you protect your teeth to maintain optimal oral health?

Find out how to keep your teeth healthy in this guide.

Brushing Your Teeth

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should brush your teeth twice daily. Make sure to use a fluoride-based toothpaste. Proper brushing will help in removing the layer of food and plaque off your teeth. This layer also contains harmful bacteria and fungus. If plaque is not removed, it can harden and form tartar. This layer will make it much harder to clean your teeth. If plaque is allowed to stay, every time you eat something containing sugar, the bacteria and fungus will create acids and toxins that can cause harm to your tooth enamel and gums.

Use Fluoride Toothpaste: It is recommended to use fluoride toothpastes because they are more helpful in preventing tooth decay. The higher the concentration, the more effective they are in protecting your teeth. There are toothpastes with over 1,500 ppm of fluoride, but you will have to get a prescription to get them. It is best to ask your dentist to suggest the toothpaste with the right fluoride amount for your teeth.

Flossing

Flossing is crucial to maintaining healthy gums and teeth. It helps in removing plaque, fungus and bacteria that can form between your teeth. Flossing helps reach areas where your toothbrush cannot. Even when the main objective is to help clean the gums, you should keep the focus on the tooth. Plaque will first build up on your tooth and then gradually move down into your gums. So when you remove plaque from your teeth, you prevent the harm to the gums. It is recommended to floss just once daily, but make sure it is done thoroughly and slowly.

Eating For Keeping Your Teeth Healthy

If you want to maintain healthy teeth in the long run, it is also important to eat the right food. In fact, you have to be careful about not only what you eat, but when you eat to maintain your dental health. It is recommended to follow a balanced diet plan and avoid or limit the snacks you munch on between meals. Take plenty of water and eat a wide range of foods that cover the major food groups like whole grains, lean protein sources, fat-free/low-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to snacks, it is best to stick to healthy options like fruits and vegetables. Studies show that foods taken as part of your meal don’t cause as much harm to your teeth as foods taken as snacks. This is due to the reason that more saliva is produced when you take a meal and it helps in washing foods end reducing the effects of acids that erode your teeth and increase sensitivities.

Regular and proper brushing and flossing should also be followed with protective strategies to ensure that your teeth’s enamel remains intact. It is recommended to follow these tips to protect the enamel:

  • Reduce the amount of drinks and foods that have acidic content in them. This includes sodas, juices, and citrus fruits.
  • Make sure to rinse your mouth every time you have taken something.
  • It will be best to finish your meals with some cheese or milk. This can help in neutralizing the acids.
  • If you drink sodas or juices, use a straw. This will prevent the acidic fluids from coming in contact with your teeth. There is evidence that this may not be as true as once thought.
  • Use a soft toothbrush that will not harm the enamel. Brush slowly, do not scrub!

Problem of Grinding Teeth

Teeth grinding can be caused due to many reasons. Crooked teeth or an unusual bite may not cause grinding, but can greatly influence the damage and pain from grinding. Teeth grinding is worsened from anxiety and stress. It is a problem commonly seen during sleep. Teeth grinding are often associated with sleep disorders. If you are suffering from chronic teeth grinding, it may cause teeth loosening, fractures or even tooth loss. It can wear your teeth and cause serious damage in the long term. If left untreated, it can be painful and expensive.

You can visit your dentist to find a solution to the problem. The dentist may fit a special mouth guard that prevents your teeth from grinding. If the underlying cause is stress, you should also see a doctor to help reduce stress. If is a sleep disorder, that could be addressed.

Are You Not Happy with Your Teeth?

If you are not happy with your teeth, you should consider cosmetic work to improve their looks. A dentist specialized in cosmetic dentistry can help you enhance your dental health and beauty. There are many advantages of considering cosmetic work for your teeth.

  • When you invest in improving your teeth’s looks, you will become more motivated to maintain the results. You will get another stronger reason to maintain proper diet plans to ensure that your teeth remain healthier and beautiful for longer. This will also help in improving your overall health because the foods that harm your teeth also cause harm to your health.
  • Cosmetic work can also help you have a beautiful smile, thus improving your confidence and self-esteem. You will feel more encouraged to engage in social interactions. Improved confidence will also make you happier, thus reducing the stress levels.

Keeping your teeth healthy will also save you money in the long term. You will be preventing a wide range of dental problems and other associated health problems. Thus, healthier teeth will not only help improve your dental bills, but also your overall medical bills. Thus, the benefits of maintaining dental health go beyond and extend to your overall well-being. Make sure to follow the above-mentioned tips to maintain healthy teeth and enjoy a better life.

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Smiles at France is conveniently located at 50th and France, where Minneapolis meets Edina. Free parking is available at the lower level of our offices at 4999 France Avenue So, Suite 230.

Dentist Dr. David A. Cook and team provide preventive, cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry to patients from around the Twin Cities metro area. Schedule your appointment today by contacting us at (612) 824-7033.

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