11/5/2018 5:22:28 AM
Andra Mahoney, RDH BSDH
Are you a grinder? You may be, and not even know it!
Do you ever wake up in the morning with sore teeth and jaws? You could be grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding is usually done unconsciously in your sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake. It is common to find people that clench or grind their teeth occasionally throughout their lives. However, chronic clenching and grinding can cause long term damage and problems with your teeth and mouth in general.
Why do people grind their teeth?
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth (malocclusion/malalignment). It can also be caused by a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea.
How can you tell if you grind?
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. Here are some common signs that you may be a grinder:
- Wake up with Headache/Sore Jaw or teeth
- Significant Other hears you grind in your sleep
- You notice flattening of your teeth
- Broken teeth/fillings
- Increase in teeth sensitiviy
A dental professional, like your Dentist or Dental Hygienist, will be able to tell the last three, as well. If they haven’t mentioned it to you already, feel free to ask if this is something that may effect you.
Why is it harmful to grind?
Most people clench or grind at night. When you are asleep, so is the function that regulates the jaw’s power. In the day time, your brain puts limitations on how hard you can bite or clench. When you are asleep, so is this part of your brain. That means you are biting way harder than you are able to while you are awake. Those that clench or grind while they are awake, are usually doing it subconsciously. Usually when they are extremely focused or concentrating on something else.
The biggest concern with clenching or grinding is the wear on your teeth. Once you have worn through the enamel, the hard outer structure of your tooth, the wear will increase! The dentin, the inner structure of your tooth, is not as strong as enamel and will wear a lot faster. This will result in wearing your teeth down to stumps. If the wear gets to this point, and no preventative treatment has happened, it can be a very long and expensive problem to fix. Your Dentist can talk to you about crowns and other treatment to restore the height and function of your teeth.
Another concern would be breaking teeth or fracturing your natural teeth or restorations, such as fillings, and crowns. We want to prevent fracturing so that the tooth does not break in a non-restorable way.
As we get older, we will wear on our jaw joint (temporomandibular joint, TMJ), that is a natural process. However, when we are constantly and continually clenching or grinding, that will accelerate the wear. The faster the wear, the increase of problems that can occur: jaw pain, clicking, popping, jaw deviation, or locking open/closed.
What can you do about it?
If you are having these symptoms and concerns, schedule an appointment to visit your Dentist. They can confirm if this is the case. If so there are options.
If you are clenching or grinding your teeth due to malalignment, the Doctor may recommend Invisalign or traditional orthodontics. Putting the teeth in their proper spot will help the jaw align properly as well. It will also prevent fractures or breaks since the teeth will be biting on even surface instead of placing constant and uneven force on the teeth.
A mouthguard, also know as night guard, is a great help. A nightguard is a thick, hard material that does not allow your jaw to clench all the way together. This will prevent advanced wear of your TMJ. Also, clenching or grinding will occur on the guard, instead of your teeth, thus saving your natural and restored tooth structure.
10/31/2018 3:32:28 AM
Maria Ambra, RDH
Is Fluoride safe for my kids?
Parents are often concerned and refuse fluoride applications for their children during their dentist appointment, thinking that fluoride may be toxic or be harmful.
Fluoride is a natural substance found in water that has an important role in the prevention of tooth decay; it can reverse early stages of decay and contribute to healthy tooth development.
Tooth decay is caused when bacteria, found in plaque, produces acids that dissolve the hard enamel surfaces of teeth. Cavities weaken teeth and can lead to pain, tooth loss, and even infection in the most severe cases.
Fluoride prevents tooth decay in two ways:
• When it is ingested it incorporates into the structure of developing teeth
• It protects when it comes in contact with the surface of the teeth.
Fluoride prevents the acids in our mouth from dissolving or demineralizing the enamel, which is the hard, shiny substance that protects teeth. Fluoride can often reminiralize teeth, can reverse low levels of tooth decay and prevent new cavities from forming.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
• more than 25% of 2- to 5-year-olds have one or more cavities
• half of kids 12 to 15 years old have one or more cavities
• tooth decay affects two thirds of 16- to 19-year-olds
For more than 60 years, water fluoridation has proved to be a safe and cost-effective way to reduce dental caries. Today, water fluoridation is estimated to reduce tooth decay by 20%-40%.As of 2012, CDC statistics show that more than 60% of the U.S. population receives fluoridated water through the taps in their homes.
Several organizations have questioned its safety and effectiveness; however, there has been little evidence to support these concerns.
The American Dental Association (ADA), the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the World Health Organization (WHO), among many other national and international organizations, support community water fluoridation. The CDC considered fluoridation of water as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
At what age and how much fluoride kids should have?
• Kids under the age of 6 months do not need fluoride supplements.
• Fluoride-containing toothpaste with the ADA’s seal of acceptance should be used.
• Kids ages 3 and up should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
• Kids under age 6 should never use fluoride-containing mouth rinses, however older kids at high risk for tooth decay may benefit from them.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
10/21/2018 3:00:18 PM
Becky Larson, RDH
I am 34 years old and I have never had a cavity. I have 4 siblings, none of whom as ever had a cavity either. It wasn’t because we were lucky or because we cleaned our teeth really, really well. In fact, I never flossed regularly until I was in dental hygiene school. I was an athlete in high school and college and I was constantly eating, creating the type of environment that caries (cavity) bacteria thrive in. Combine that with just mediocre home-care and I should have had at least one cavity at some point. But I have never had a cavity! Why?
The answer is simple: fluoride. My dad is a dentist and my mom is a dental hygienist so naturally, they were concerned with our teeth. They started giving us fluoride tablets that we would ingest (like vitamins) before our permanent teeth started coming in. The result was super strong, cavity resistant enamel and no cavities!
There are many views and opinions about fluoride. In excess, fluoride can be harmful to teeth, but in correct amounts, it is extremely advantageous in preventing cavities. Nowadays, fluoride tablets are not necessary as many areas contain fluoride in the drinking water. The benefits of fluoride in drinking water include:
- Prevents tooth decay in all ages – Fluoride prevents at least 25% of tooth decay in children and adults
- Saves money – It has been said that water fluoridation is the single-most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay (the average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water supply is less than the cost of one dental filling)
- Fluoride is natural – Fluoride is naturally present in oceans and groundwater. Water fluoridation includes adjusting fluoride amounts to recommended and safe levels, similar to fortifying foods and beverages with vitamins and minerals
Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel portion of the tooth and making it resistant to acidic bacteria and sugars in the mouth that can cause cavities. It can sometimes reverse early signs of decay. As previously stated, fluoride is often found in drinking water. If you are like me and like to drink filtered water, you can get the benefits of fluoride in other ways, including using fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes, and getting regular fluoride varnish treatments at your dental or dental hygiene visits. Many times, insurance will only cover fluoride treatments for children, however, everyone can benefit from regular fluoride treatments and they are usually inexpensive. Ask your dentist or hygienist how you can benefit from fluoride today!
Want to learn more? Visit us at
10/16/2018 3:54:09 AM
Lindsay Olsen, RDH BSDH
The Truth About Hookah
Myth: Hookah smoke is better for you than cigarette smoke and not addictive.
Reality: Hookah smoke of various fruity flavors, tastes and aromas can be even more harmful than cigarette tobacco smoke. Also, hookah smoke contains four times more nicotine (an addictive drug) than cigarette smoke. Some people can become addicted to nicotine after using any form of tobacco just a few times, this includes hookah.
Myth: Smoking hookah is less harmful than cigarettes because the smoke passes through water, which filters out the chemicals and other carcinogens.
Reality: When hookah passes through water at the base of a hookah pipe it cools the smoke, but does not filter any chemicals out of the smoke. This “cooling” process forces a hookah smoker to inhale twice as deeply as a cigarette smoker, which causes chemicals, cancer causing agents, and other harmful elements to penetrate deeper into the lungs. The charcoal that is uses in hookah pipes adds even more carbon monoxide to the higher levels that already exist in this type of tobacco.
Myth: Smoking hookah is fun, and I only do it socially with friends, its not like I do it every day.
Reality: The reality is 45-60 minutes of hookah smoking is the same as chain smoking 15 cigarettes. Even if you are only smoking hookah for an hour, twice a week, it can lead to nicotine addiction. Something also to consider, when you share the mouthpiece with others you are at risk of getting colds, viruses such as herpes simplex one (cold sores), oral bacterial infections and tuberculosis.
Need help quitting? Speak with your dental hygienist, dentist, or call
1-800-55-66-222, or visit http://www.ashline.org
Want to learn more? Visit us at
Asotra, Kamlesh. Hooked on Hookah? What You Don’t Know Can Kill You. Burning Issues: Tobacco’s Hottest Topics. Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program Newsletter 7, no 3 (2005) 1-10.
10/8/2018 12:45:19 PM
Lora Cook, RDH
A Closer Look at Tooth Enamel
Tooth enamel is one of the toughest structures of the human body: however, it still needs protecting. What exacting is tooth enamel? It is the outer layer of your tooth and the hardest substance in your body. Enamel is translucent and can stain from the food, drinks, smoking and chewing tobacco. Enamel cannot be regrown by our bodies. Once it is chipped cracked or eroded or worn away it cannot be replaced naturally.
Signs of enamel problems.
Darkening: As enamel wears away this can cause the tooth to become darker.
Sensitivity: Your teeth may become hypersensitive to hot, cold, sweets or sour foods.
Notching: There may be notching at the gum line
Cracks and chips: Irregular or jagged tooth surfaces, also fracture lines can appear.
Protecting your enamel.
Custom night guard:
The power of our bite is incredible. Out incisor can have 55 pounds of pressure or biting force, while our molars have 200 pounds of pressure. Clenching and grinding your teeth during times of stress or at night while sleeping experts excess force and wear on your teeth. Over time you can literally grind away your enamel layer. Ask your dentist about a custom night guard to protect your enamel for a lifetime.
MI Paste Plus:
This is not a tooth paste to brush your teeth with. This is a paste to coat your teeth with in order to put minerals back into your enamel to help remineralize the enamel. MI Paste plus contains calcium, phosphate and 900ppm of fluoride.
“MI Paste and MI Paste Plus contain RECALDENT (CPP-ACP); Casein Phosphopeptide (CPP) are natural occurring molecules which are able to release calcium and phosphate ions and stabilize Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP)”
These minerals help to strengthen and remineralize the enamel.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
9/30/2018 4:00:56 PM
Amanda Orvis, RDH
Early Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment
Often time’s orthodontic treatment is recommended before all of your child’s primary (baby) teeth have even fallen out. Early orthodontic treatment can alleviate future, possibly more invasive, orthodontic corrections.
Here are a few reasons for early interceptive treatment:
- Corrective positioning for a better prognosis of how the permanent teeth with develop.
- To correct any oral habits that cause developmental problems such as thumb sucking, pacifier use, and tongue thrusting.
- To correct malocclusions, or poor bite relationships, such as overbites, under bites, open bites, cross bites, crowding, spacing, teeth erupting out of sequence, or missing teeth.
- To correct growth problems such as narrow palates.
- To guide the growth of the jaw bones to a more favorable position for permanent tooth eruption.
“The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that all children receive an orthodontic screening by the age 7. Permanent teeth generally begin to come in at age 6 or 7. It is at this point that orthodontic problems become apparent.”
If you are unsure about the need for early interceptive orthodontic treatment for your child, it is a good idea to visit with an orthodontist to familiarize yourself with treatment options. If you are concerned with the appearance or development of your child’s teeth, or if you have questions please do not hesitate to call our office and schedule an appointment to discuss treatment options and referral information.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
9/24/2018 3:19:38 PM
Lacee Hogle, RDH
What causes white spots on teeth and how do I get rid of them?
Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed irregular chalky white patches on your teeth? If so, you’re not alone. This is a common concern for many patients. There are several possible causes for white spots on teeth including dental fluorosis, enamel hypoplasia, poor dental hygiene, and eating too many acidic or sugary foods. There are also many ways to treat white spots including enamel microabrasion, teeth whitening, dental veneers, MI paste, and composite resins. In this article, we will elaborate on the possible causes for white spots and the different ways we can treat it.
Dental Fluorosis– Fluorosis is caused by ingesting large amounts of fluoride while the permanent teeth are still forming but have yet to erupt. A major cause of fluorosis is the inappropriate use of fluoride containing products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses. In addition, fluorosis can be caused by a high level of fluoride in the drinking water. A mild form of fluorosis is characterized by small, opaque, white areas scattered irregularly over the tooth.
Enamel Hypoplasia – Hypoplasia can be either a distinct spot on a tooth (sometimes called Turner’s tooth, which might have been caused by trauma or other unknown disturbance to the area during the mineralization of that tooth), or diffuse streaks or cloudy opacities on all the teeth which was some kind of systemic disturbance over a long period of time. Hypoplasia also results from nutritional deficiencies, high fever and medicinal side effects while the tooth is forming.
Poor oral Hygiene– Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause in the formation of white spot lesions. The adherence of plaque to the enamel surface is what initiates the decalcification process. In a matter of four weeks, chalky white spots could develop. Fortunately, this is easily prevented just by brushing and flossing daily.
Eating too many acidic or sugary foods– Another thing that can cause you to get white spots on your teeth is having too many acidic foods such as sour candy and lemons. Acidic drinks, such as lemonade, can also cause white spots. These acidic foods and drinks will work to remove the enamel on your teeth which will result in white spots.
Dental Veneers– A dental veneer is a thin, protective covering that attaches to the front surface of a person’s tooth. A veneer can conceal white spots and other blemishes very effectively.
Remineralization/MI Paste– MI Paste is a product that restores the minerals that cause the white spots.
Composite restoration– The white spots on your teeth sometimes sink below the surface of the enamel creating a sunken area. If this happens, then a composite restoration is a way to deal with the problem. Composite restoration is dental procedure that uses a special type of resin. The resin is applied to your teeth over the white spots. The resin can be colored to match the rest of the teeth.
Teeth whitening– Whitening or bleaching teeth can help to reduce the appearance of white spots.
Enamel Microabrasion– This procedure involves gently removing a thin layer of surface enamel. This professional treatment is typically followed by teeth bleaching, which can make the teeth appear more uniform in color.
If the white spots have been present since childhood, your white spots are likely due to fluorosis or interruption during the formation of the enamel. If you’re an adult and your just noticing white spots, it’s likely they’re a sign of plaque buildup known and decalcification. Regardless of the cause, treatment options are available. Please discuss this concern with your dentist so that both you and your dentist can determine what treatment is best for you.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
9/17/2018 3:28:46 PM
Maria Iavarone, RDH
What is your Dental Hygienist or Dentist looking for when they do an oral cancer screening?
Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells that invade and cause damage to the surrounding tissue. Oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancers start in the mouth and the throat. Oral cancer comes in many forms and there are several different types of oral cancer. As a dental hygienist, we are not only cleaning teeth, but we are also checking for any abnormalities in the mouth and the surrounding areas. The dentist also screens for oral cancer when they come in to do the examination. A dentist cannot diagnose oral cancer, but screening for oral cancer is a crucial part of their job. The dentist will address any suspicious-looking areas. If a suspicious lesion is found, the dentist may request to reexamine you in about 1-2 weeks if the area looks like it could possibly heal. However, they may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and to have a biopsy done. The biopsy is necessary to confirm that the lesion is actually cancerous. It’s estimated that approximately 51,540 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer and cancers of the throat, tonsils and back of the tongue this year (ADA, 2018).
Visual Oral Cancer Screening
With our visual oral cancer screening we typically have you stick out your tongue as far as you can so we can inspect the back of the throat and the back of the tongue. We will check the lateral borders of the tongue, as well as, underneath the tongue and the floor of the mouth. We will also look at and palpate the inner lining of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, the gums and around the lips, feeling for any irregularities. We will then feel around the neck and under the jaw for any lumps or enlarged lymph nodes.
Advanced Oral Cancer Screening
We can also do a more advanced oral cancer screening in the dental office using fluorescence technology. Fluorescence technology can detect cancerous or precancerous lesions that may not be noticeable to the naked eye. Your dentist may have the VELscope or Identafi 3000 in their office. These tools allow for distinction between normal and abnormal tissue. Under these lights abnormal tissue will appear dark brown or black and normal tissue will appear green or blue dependent upon which fluorescence-based technique your dentist is using. Having an exam done with fluorescence-based technology can help with early detection, which in turn can increase your survival rate.
What we are looking for when we do a visual oral cancer screening?
-Any red or white patches
-A sore that does not heal or bleeds easily
-A lump or a thick or hard spot
-A roughened or crusted area
Some other symptoms of oral cancer that should be shared with your dental professional:
-Pain while swallowing or chewing
-Difficulty swallowing or chewing
-Jaw pain or stiffness
-Loose teeth for no apparent reason
-Changes in the way your teeth fit together
-A sore throat that won’t go away
-A feeling like there is something stuck in your throat
You may be at increased risk of developing oral cancer if you:
-Use or have used tobacco products
-Consume alcohol heavily
-Are exposed to sunlight on a regular basis for a prolonged amount of time
-Have poor nutrition, having a diet low in fruits and vegetables
-Stop using tobacco products
-Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
-Wear UV protection
-Eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables
-Inspect your own mouth for sores on a regular basis
-See your dentist regularly for check ups
-Do an advanced oral cancer screening with your dentist
Inspecting your own mouth for lumps or sores is a great way to be proactive. Schedule an exam with your dental office as soon as possible if you are concerned. Even with inspecting your own mouth, some cancers can be difficult to see on your own. Most cancers are found at a late stage which lowers the survival rate. It is important to see your dental hygienist and dentist for regular continuing care every 3-6 months, not only for good oral health, but to be monitored for oral cancer as well. Early detection is key. Ask your dental professional to perform an oral cancer exam and about using fluorescence technology to detect early signs of cancer.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
9/10/2018 3:24:48 AM
Ruth Jones, RDH
When asked what could improve their smile, most adults say “whiter teeth”. It’s no wonder there are so many whitening options on the market today! The most basic and important way to have white teeth is using proper oral hygiene including brushing two times a day for two minutes and cleaning between the teeth (like flossing) at least once a day. But because we are constantly eating and drinking foods that leave strain on our teeth, we may want to add an extra step for whiter teeth. From something as simple as a specific toothpaste to something that will give great results like professional whitening in the dental office, there’s a wide range of approaches. To understand the best option for you, we’ll look at how whitening products work starting with the simplest method and move towards methods with the most noticeable results.
Over-the-counter toothpastes work using a mechanical action rather than chemical. They remove surface stain with safe but abrasive ingredients such as silica and Calcium Pyrophosphate. There is no “bleaching” agent or active ingredients for whitening the teeth. These are great to use on a regular basis for people who build up stain due to coffee and tea.
Charcoal toothpastes have been trending in recent years. These should be used with caution as there is very little research on their efficacy and safety.
The other methods for whitening work by chemical action to whiten deeper into the teeth rather than just the surface. These methods will use either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the whitening agent. Carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, meaning it’s a slower release and usually left on the teeth longer and will be in higher concentrations.
White strips are disposable plastic coated with whitening gel. They contain hydrogen peroxide. Each product will have specific instructions but usually are recommended to be worn 30-60 minutes a day for 2-4 weeks.
Whitening Trays with Gel
Whitening gels come in either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide and in all different concentrations. The benefit of using gel is that you will have custom trays made that will fit more comfortably than a plastic strip and you can use them for several years! You can get gel refills as needed. Like the strips, depending on which gel you use, it will have specific instructions on how long to wear and use the gel. Because of the large variety of concentration and ingredients, they may be recommended 30 minutes – 8 hours. It’s important to know the specific instructions for what you’re using. Full results usually take about 2 – 3 weeks.
Professional Whitening in a Dental Office
Having your teeth professionally whitened in a dental office will give the quickest results. The appointment will be 1-2 hours. Usually using a carbamide peroxide in a high concentration, the gel is essentially painted on the teeth and left for 2-3 sessions of 20 minutes. Because the concentration is so much higher is works faster but can also be harmful to your gum tissue which is why it’s only used in a dental office.
The results of each option will vary based on each individual’s oral hygiene habits, foods that they eat, dark drinks such as coffee, tea and soda, and use of tobacco products. With great oral hygiene and minimal dark drinks, results can last up to a year.
Chemical whitening products can cause sensitivity of the teeth which is why it’s important to use as instructed for each product. You can talk with a dental professional about ways to minimize the sensitivity with products such as an anti-sensitivity toothpaste, fluoride or MI paste.
It’s also important to remember that no whitening products will change the color of dental restorations.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
8/19/2018 11:24:53 PM
Sharma Mulqueen RDH
Does my child really need a sports mouthguard?
School is back in session and sporting events. I get asked by parents, “Should my child wear a sports mouthguard?” We recommend all children wear a mouthguard if they are involved in any sport or activity where they can come in contact with other players or hard surfaces.
A custom fitted mouthguard not only protects the teeth from a sporting accident but also helps to absorb & spread the impact from a blow to the face or mouth.
Several types of injuries can happen when mouthguards are not being worn. Some of these injuries include teeth which have been cleanly knocked out, chipped & broken teeth, fractures or breaks to the jaw & lacerations to the lip, gum or soft tissue. These however only name a few.
In today’s market there are two types of mouthguards available however only one our practice recommends being a custom made & fitted mouthguard. This type of mouthguard will require an appointment with a dentist as plaster dental impressions are required. A custom made mouthguard is far superior than an over the counter mouthguard as it offers a higher level of protection and a far superior fit due to the mouthguard being fabricated from an exact model of your teeth. A custom fitted mouthguard takes 3-7 days to be made. You can pick your color of mouthguard to match your school colors.
The second type of mouthguard available is an over the counter mouthguard also known as a boil & bite mouthguard. These are stock mouthguards that do not require fitting by a dentist. This type of mouthguard is placed in hot water and is then self-fitted by biting into it. While a boil and bite mouthguard may be less expensive it is less expensive for a reason. Do not be fooled into thinking it offers you the same level of protection as a custom fitted mouthguard as it does not. A boil and bite mouthguard has a habit of dislodging and not fitting properly which is something I would think most of you would want to avoid during a sporting match.
In conclusion, it definitely pays to invest in a custom fitted mouthguard as the cost of an injury to the teeth or jaw far exceeds the cost of the mouthguard. Please call our office and we can get you scheduled.
Want to learn more? Visit us at