How Stress Can Harm You: From the perspective of your oral and vision health

by MikeMeehan 4/18/2017 1:31 PM

We talk about it, hear about it and complain about it. The phrase “I’m stressed out” has become so overused, we may even dismiss it. Despite the abundant information and worn out terms, the harm stress can cause is worthy of the overemphasis. So we are going to use the occasion of Stress Awareness Month to bring attention to the ways stress can affect your oral and vision health. You may associate stress with lack of sleep and feeling overwhelmed, but two common physical symptoms of stress are associated with your oral health — jaw pain or clenching and teeth grinding. Stress can also affect your vision temporarily. Stress and Oral Health Here are 4 ways stress can affect your mouth: Gum disease or periodontal disease is a bacterial infection caused by inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue. Warning signs include red and swollen gums, gums that pull away from your teeth and persistent bad breath. When you are under stress, your ability to fight off infections (like gum disease) is affected. Bruxism is the technical term for the condition of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw which can be caused by stress. Symptoms include headaches, tooth sensitivity and a sore jaw.  Canker sores are small ulcers in the mouth and may be caused by stress. The severity can vary. Also, if you chew on your tongue, cheeks or inside of your mouth, you could be susceptible to canker sores. Temporomandibular disorders, more easily referred to as TMD (or TMJ), are a range of conditions that affect the muscles and joints in your jaw and neck. Symptoms include jaw pain and soreness, clicking of the jaw and discomfort when you move your jaw up and down. Stress may cause or aggravate TMD.  Stress and Vision Health When you think about stress, you might not associate it with your eyes or vision. Here are some symptoms: Tunnel or blurry vision: Lose of peripheral vision and a slight blurriness can occur when your stress levels increase. Eye twitching: That annoying spasm occurring in your eye could be a sign of stress. Eye strain: Recently, we covered digital eye strain from prolonged time in front of a screen, but the stress occurring in your life can also cause eye strain and fatigue. Eye floaters: Spots and specks that float across your field of vision are not necessarily a cause for concern, but you may notice them during times of elevated stress. Solutions with a dental and vision focus While stress reduction methods like yoga, physical activity and breathing exercises have been abundantly endorsed, here are some recommendations specifically for your oral and vision health. From the perspective of your oral health, talk to your dentist if you have jaw pain or if you grind your teeth. You may not be aware that you grind your teeth at night, so a visit to the dentist could discover the problem and will prompt a discussion about possible treatments. During stressful situations, try to relax your face, neck and shoulders to avoid clenching your jaw. Avoid gum and tough foods that cause extra chewing and effort from your jaw. Practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining your regimen, even during the difficult times, will help prevent dental issues. Daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque buildup can help the fight against gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis. And try not to turn to caffeine or sugar when you are feeling stressed. Both choices are detrimental to your oral health. From the perspective of vision health, if you continue to have some of these stress-related eye problems, be sure to visit your eye doctor. But since most stress-induced eye problems are temporary, find the most effective stress reducing tactics that work for you personally, and give yourself some time for the symptoms to subside and go away. Looking for more ways to alleviate stress, or more information on the ways stress affects your smile or eyes? You can find more articles like this on our website and more information from our oral health library.

Which Type of Toothbrush Should You Use?

by MikeMeehan 3/1/2017 10:20 AM

What’s the difference between extra-soft, soft, medium and firm-bristled toothbrushes, and which one should you use? Though there are a variety of bristles available, almost everyone should opt for toothbrushes with soft bristles. It’s easy to assume that firm and medium-bristled toothbrushes provide more cleaning power, but the truth is that brushing with stiffer bristles can actually damage the gums, root surface and enamel. Your dentist may recommend extra-soft bristles if you experience tooth sensitivity or other issues, but stick with soft unless you’re told otherwise. We do have one use for firm-bristled toothbrushes: They’re great for household cleaning!

A Pain in the Tooth: What to Do if You Suffer from Tooth Sensitivity

by MikeMeehan 2/9/2017 9:17 AM

Do your front teeth hurt when you breathe in the cold winter air? What about when you warm up with a healthy Veggistrone soup? Does brushing and flossing make you wince? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might suffer from sensitive teeth. A Couple of Reasons You Might Experience This Common Problem According to the Mayo Clinic, tooth sensitivity is very common, affecting more than 3 million people in the U.S. a year. It can occur for a couple of reasons: ·       The enamel on your teeth thins out. Enamel is the outer part of your teeth and covers a part called dentin. Dentin contains tiny nerve endings. If enough enamel wears away, the dentin can become exposed. So that hot Veggistrone soup — it could be touching exposed nerve endings. ·       Your gums recede. Your gums also cover dentin. If they recede, they can expose the nerve endings. Seven Possible Causes Why Your Teeth Might Be Hurting Causes for thinning enamel or receding gums can include (but aren’t limited to): 1.     Using teeth improperly. Sometimes, with home projects, we need an extra hand, so we’re tempted to use our teeth to hold a non-food object. But teeth don’t make a good “third hand,” as we might unconsciously place too much pressure on our teeth. What’s worse is if we use our teeth to tear electrical tape, or strip insulation from copper wiring, or snap plastic label tags from clothes, or pop a pull tab on a can of soda. When we do, we consciously exert an undue pressure on our teeth. 2.     Brushing too aggressively. Brushing too hard might make you feel like you’ve gotten your teeth extra clean, but your teeth won’t be thanking you. Using too much force can wear down enamel. 3.     Eating or drinking acidic foods or drinks. Coffee may be essential to the morning routine, and spicy foods may taste delicious, but both can wear down enamel. If you can’t give up coffee, though, consider drinking it through a straw, so you can avoid contact with your teeth. 4.     Vomiting. Yes, gross, but with vomiting, stomach acid comes in contact with the teeth. This can be especially problematic if it happens regularly, as with the victims of some eating disorders. 5.     Grinding teeth. This condition, called bruxism, can rub off enamel from your teeth. It could be caused from higher levels of stress. 6.     Using tobacco. As if there aren’t already enough reasons to give up tobacco (both smoking and smokeless), tobacco can restrict oxygen and nutrients from reaching the gums, which can cause them to recede. 7.     Suffering from gum disease. Gum disease is the No. 1 cause of receding gums. Five Ways You Can Treat Your Hurting Teeth Luckily, you can treat sensitive teeth. Five tips include: 1.     Understand the cause. This is half the battle. Some of the causes come with specific solutions. For example, if you brush too hard, you would want to brush in softer strokes. Or if you grind your teeth, you could wear a mouth guard when you go to sleep. 2.    Monitor what you eat. This isn’t too different from understanding the cause of your sensitive teeth. Not only can acidic food and drink wear down enamel, alternating between hot and cold foods can cause issues, too. So, while it might sound awesome to sip a hot latte and eat ice cream simultaneously, you might not be doing your teeth any favors. 3.     Apply fluoride. Drinking tap water can be a source of fluoride. Some toothpastes contain fluoride. Your dentist might apply a fluoride varnish. Whatever way you get it, it can help your sensitive teeth, as fluoride strengthens enamel. 4.     Brush twice a day and floss daily. A regular brushing and flossing routine can keep your gums and teeth healthy and properly functioning. If your teeth are already sensitive, brushing and flossing can prevent further damage. 5.     Visit your dentist. Schedule at least two checkups a year with your dentist. Sensitive teeth can be painful. But by knowing what to look for and by maintaining a healthy routine, you can brighten the world with your smile!

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