If your child has seen the dentist regularly, and brushed and flossed daily, there's a good chance they've avoided advanced tooth decay. But another problem might already be growing right under your nose—a poor dental bite (malocclusion).
A dental bite refers to the way the upper and lower teeth fit together. In a normal bite the teeth are in straight alignment, and the upper teeth slightly extend in front of and over the lower when the jaws are shut. But permanent teeth erupting out of position or a jaw developing abnormally can set the stage for a malocclusion.
Although the full effects of a malocclusion may not manifest until later, there may be signs of its development as early as age 6. If so, it may be possible to identify a budding bite problem and “intercept” it before it goes too far, correcting it or reducing its severity.
Here are 6 signs your school-age child could be developing a malocclusion.
Excessive spacing. If the spacing between teeth seems too wide, it could mean the size of your child's teeth are out of proportion with their jaw.
Underbite. Rather than the normal upper front teeth covering the lower, the lower teeth extend out and over the upper teeth.
Open bite. There's a space or gap between the upper and lower teeth even when the jaws are shut.
Crowding. Due to a lack of space on the jaw, incoming teeth don't have enough room to erupt and may come in misaligned or “crooked.”
Crossbites. Some of the lower teeth, either in front or back of the jaw, overlap the upper teeth, while the rest of the upper teeth overlap normally.
Protrusion or retrusion. This occurs if the upper front teeth or jaw appear too far forward (protrusion) or the lower teeth or jaw are positioned too far back (retrusion).
Besides watching out for the preceding signs yourself, it's also a good idea to have your child undergo a comprehensive bite evaluation with an orthodontist around age 6. If that does reveal something amiss with their bite, intervention now could correct or lessen the problem and future treatment efforts later.
Poor oral health is one of various health ailments that have been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis (usually abbreviated as P. gingivalis) is present in the brain tissue in those who have Alzheimer’s and not present in those who did not have Alzheimer’s. P. gingivalis is most often associated with chronic gum disease (periodontal disease). Experts have several theories on how the P. gingivalis bacteria gets from your mouth to your brain. One is that the bacteria move through nerves in the roots of your teeth through to nerves that connect directly with your brain. A second is that bacteria gain access to the rest of your body by entering through bleeding gums. Researchers are also looking at inflammation as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s, and inflammation is a key issue in gum disease.
Some of your mouth bacteria will cause your gums to become inflamed. Inflamed gums look red or purple (or any color other than coral pink), may be sore, and bleed more easily than healthy gums. These bacteria are held near your gums by plaque, tartar, and calculus. Plaque is soft and can be moved around or removed with your toothbrush and dental floss. Plaque that is left in one spot for a day or more will harden into tartar or calculus and must be removed by your dental professional. The better your home oral care is, the less hard build up there will be for your dental professional to remove—so if you hate the “scraping” brush and floss more in between visits! The less bacteria present, the less likely you are to have gingivitis (what we call inflammation of your gums in the early stages) or periodontal disease (what we call inflammation of your gums when it has also started to affect the bone that surrounds your teeth). And you may also preserve your memory to boot!
You can learn more about your gums in the patient education section of my website www.drjrobb.com
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who would love to help you get your mouth back to your best dental health! Call 440-960-1940 to schedule an appointment. Her office is located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH. She’s also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb
A minority of people are still putting off their dental care because of COVID fears. Unfortunately, I'm seeing an increase in severe dental problems when they do return to the dental office.
Believe it or not, several kinds of facial pain can start in your mouth with your gums or teeth. Most start with infections, though some can be from pathology.
Dental decay or cavities which grow large enough to reach the dental pulp of your tooth, where your tooth's nerve resides, create an abscess. This is often the first time that you will feel pain from a dental cavity. An abscess is a localized infection. Sometimes your immune system can’t keep the infection right around your tooth and as a result, your face or neck will swell. This creates additional pain—pain that is often hard to control.
Infection of your gums (which support your teeth) can also lead to face and mouth pain. Gingivitiis (the earliest stage of gum disease) and periodontal disease (advanced gum disease) are both “infections” and affect 75% of the population. Pain levels can range from soreness or tender areas to severe pain.
The solution to avoiding most dental pain is simple—finding and addressing problems before they are so far gone that they cause you pain! See your dentist regularly for a dental check-up and cleaning. Discuss with your dentist how often you should have dental x-rays to check for cavities in areas we can’t see. If your dentist finds a problem, treat it sooner rather than waiting. If you wait “until it hurts”, you may find yourself going through some miserable days where nothing seems to touch the pain you have—and no one wants that!
You can learn more about dental decay and gum disease in the patient education section of my website located at www.drjrobb.com
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees children and adults at her practice located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940. Dr. Robb is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb
Dorit Kemsley isn't shy. Best known to fans as an outspoken and sometimes outrageous cast member of the reality show Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kemsley is never reticent about “mixing it up” with fellow castmates or their significant others. Recently, though, she confessed to something that left her less than confident: her smile.
Kemsley has been self-conscious about her smile because her teeth looked noticeably short, worn down from an unconscious habit of grinding her teeth. Although teeth grinding is more common among children (who normally grow out of it by adolescence), it can persist into adulthood, usually from difficulties managing high stress (a likely component in the fashion designer/reality show star's busy life).
Stress-induced teeth grinding can occur during waking hours or, more likely, during deep sleep. The accumulating, long-term effects from the habit can lead not only to worn teeth but to weakened gum support, a high risk of tooth fracture or jaw pain and dysfunction.
So, how do you know if you grind your teeth, especially if it's only happening at night? Typical signs include sore jaws after awaking from sleep, increased tooth pain or sensitivity or, like Kemsley, a noticeable difference in your tooth length. Your family or sleeping partner may also complain about the “skin-crawling” noise you make during the night.
There are ways to lessen the effects of teeth grinding. The first step is to have us verify the underlying cause for the habit. If it's tension from stress, then you might reduce the habit's occurrences by learning better stress management or relaxation techniques through individual counseling, group support or biofeedback therapy. We can also fit you with a mouth guard to wear at night or through the day that reduces the force generated during teeth grinding.
And if you've already experienced accelerated tooth wear like Kemsley with a resultant “small teeth” smile, you might pursue the same solution as the RHOBH star: dental veneers. These thin, life-like wafers of porcelain are custom-made to mask imperfections like chips, staining, slight tooth gaps and, yes, worn teeth.
Veneers are often less expensive and invasive than other cosmetic techniques, yet they can have a transformative effect, as Kemsley's Instagram followers have seen. In conjunction with other dental treatments needed to repair any underlying damage caused by a grinding habit, veneers are an effective fix for the smile you present to the world.
If you suspect you may have a grinding habit, see us for a complete examination. From there, we'll help you protect your teeth and your smile.
Despite momentous strides in recent years in the fight against cancer, treatments can still disrupt normal life. Both radiation and chemotherapy have side effects that can cause problems in other areas of health—particularly the teeth and gums.
If you or a loved one are undergoing cancer treatment, it's important to get ahead of any potential side effects it may have on dental health. Here are 4 things that can help protect teeth and gums while undergoing cancer treatment.
Get a preliminary dental exam. Before beginning treatment, patients should have their dentist examine their teeth and gums to establish a baseline for current dental health and to treat any problems that may already exist. However, patients should only undergo dental procedures in which the recovery time can be completed before starting radiation or chemotherapy.
Be meticulous about oral hygiene. Undergoing cancer treatment can increase the risks for developing tooth decay or gum disease. That's why it's important that patients thoroughly brush and floss everyday to reduce bacterial plaque buildup that causes disease. Patients should also reduce sugar in their diets, a prime food source for bacteria, and eat “teeth-friendly” foods filled with minerals like calcium and phosphorous to keep teeth strong.
Keep up regular dental visits. The physical toll that results from cancer treatment often makes it difficult to carry on routine activities. Even so, patients should try to keep up regular dental visits during their treatment. Besides the extra disease prevention offered by dental cleanings, the dentist can also monitor for any changes in oral health and provide treatment if appropriate.
Minimize dry mouth. Undergoing cancer treatment can interfere with saliva production and flow. This can lead to chronic dry mouth and, without the full protection of saliva against dental disease, could increase the risk of tooth decay or gum disease. Patients can minimize dry mouth by drinking more water, using saliva boosters and discussing medication alternatives with their doctor.
It may not be possible to fully avoid harm to your oral health during cancer treatment, and some form of dental restoration may be necessary later. But following these guidelines could minimize the damage and make it easier to regain your dental health afterward.
If you would like more information on dental care during cancer treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”
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