Is Biting Your Lip Bad For You?

woman biting lipWhen we accidentally bite our lip, the pain that follows can be concerning. The zing of pain, and maybe even some blood, can certainly cause us to think that we may have just done some serious damage. But is lip-biting actually bad for you? Let’s check in with your dentist in Sacramento to see just how big of a deal biting our lip (or cheek or tongue!) is. 

Biting Is Bad — Sometimes

The truth is, there are really two answers to whether biting the soft tissues in our mouths is bad for us. On one hand, occasional bites typically heal on their own and usually aren’t something to worry over. On the other hand, when biting becomes a habit or you find yourself accidentally biting your lips, cheeks, or tongue a lot, it can cause inflammation, swelling, and sores. These sores can become infected if not treated or if they’re constantly being reopened by more biting. 

Why Do We Bite?

We’ve all experienced those accidental bites we talked about above while chewing or perhaps during a big sneeze. While these one-off biting incidents sure can hurt, even for a few days, they’re often not something to be concerned about. 

However, when the accidental bites happen often, you should see your dentist in Sacramento. Those who tend to bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue a lot while they’re eating or even talking may have something known as malocclusion or a bad bite. A bad bite means that our top teeth don’t line up well with our bottom teeth, and that makes it really easy for a piece of the tongue, lip, or cheek to get stuck in between them (ouch!). Additionally, malocclusion can lead to its own set of problems like headaches, jaw pain, TMJ (temporomandibular disorder), and shifting teeth. 

There are also cases where people habitually bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue. Usually, this is a response to high-stress situations or even when they’re concentrating. Constant biting on the tissues, whether caused by psychological or physical factors, should be stopped before it leads to sores or painful swelling. 

How To Stop

Depending on what’s causing you to bite in the first place, there are things you can do to help yourself stop. 

  • If biting is caused by stress… If you’re one of the people who constantly chew on your lips, cheeks, or tongue, it can be difficult to stop. However, if you’re able to recognize when you bite, you can work to consciously stop. There are also times when a type of behavior therapy can help break the habit. 
  • If biting is caused by a bad bite… Those who don’t purposely bite but find themselves accidentally nipping their lips, cheek, or tongue often can benefit from a trip to their Sacramento dentist. The best way to prevent additional problems is to seek dental help to determine if a bad bite is to blame. Your dental team can help you find the best treatment for your individual case so you can stop biting.

Why Crooked Teeth Are Worrisome

smiling girl with crooked teethMany people, both children, and adults alike, have crooked teeth. Occasionally, crooked teeth can contribute to poor self-esteem and loss of confidence. But even if crooked teeth don’t bother someone mentally, your dentist in Sacramento may still be worried. The truth is, crooked teeth can lead to some oral health (and overall health) complications, some of which can be serious.

Health Problems Caused by Crooked Teeth

Gum Disease – Straight teeth are often healthier teeth because they’re easier to take care of. When teeth aren’t straight or overlap, they can be very difficult to clean thoroughly and properly. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause a whole host of oral health problems such as cavities and gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can progress into periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss and damaged bone. 

Jaw Pain & Chipped Teeth – Those with crooked teeth may also be at greater risk for damaging their teeth because crooked teeth often cause too much wear and tear on teeth. What’s more, is that this increased wear and tear can also put unnecessary stress on the jaw joint, which can lead to jaw pain or even TMJ/TMD.  

Sleep Apnea – Crooked teeth don’t only contribute to problems with oral health, but overall health, too. One of the lesser-known side effects of crooked or overlapping teeth is sleep apnea. Oftentimes patients with a small jaw also have overcrowded teeth, and this combination can make it hard to breathe. When the jaw is too narrow we tend to push our tongues into our teeth or rest the tongue in an unnatural place, which can put unnecessary pressure on teeth and cause them to shift. This lack of tongue space can also cause the tongue to fall back and cover the throat while sleeping, thus causing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that can cause people to stop breathing several times a night and increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.

The Problem with a Bad Bite

Many times, the solution to overcoming a crooked smile is some sort of orthodontic treatment. But there are times when a visually straight smile can also benefit from orthodontics. You see, if someone’s teeth appear straight, they can still have an underlying problem of a bad bite, also known as malocclusion. If not treated, a bad bite could be painful and contribute to long-term complications. Such as: 

  • Increased risk for chipped teeth
  • Speech impairment in kids
  • Severe headaches
  • Damage to tooth enamel

Your dentist in Sacramento can help determine if you have a bad bite even if you have straight teeth and recommend the best treatment. 

Causes of Crooked Teeth

There’s no one, concrete thing that causes crooked teeth. In fact, there are many causes of crooked teeth, some of which may be unavoidable. Crooked teeth can be caused by: 

  • Poor habits as a child such as thumb sucking
  • Early tooth loss before an adult tooth is ready to erupt
  • A small jaw
  • Facial injury
  • Genetics
  • Mouth breathing
  • Incorrect tongue posture 

If you’re curious about whether your teeth could benefit from some form of orthodontia, we encourage you to call your Sacramento dentist to schedule a consultation to talk about your concerns and options.

The Great American Smokeout & Your Oral Health

cigEvery November, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout to encourage smokers to quit. As we all know, smoking can lead to serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. Your dentist in Sacramento also wants you to know that smoking can have a negative effect on your oral health, too. Let’s take a look at some of the ways smoking can cause problems in your mouth. 

Oral Cancer

One of the most serious ways smoking can affect your oral health is by increasing your risk of developing oral cancer. While oral cancer doesn’t only occur in smokers, smoking does greatly increase the chances. In fact, smokers are six times more likely to get oral cancer than non-smokers. Like any cancer, oral cancer can be deadly if not caught and treated quickly and appropriately. This is one reason why seeing your Sacramento dentist at least twice a year is so important. Your dental team will check for signs of oral cancer at every appointment so if something suspicious does show up, you’d catch it early and when treatment is often more successful. 

Gum Disease

Another serious oral health problem that oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with smoking is gum disease. Gum disease can affect anyone but smokers are 50% more likely to get it than non-smokers. It’s a serious oral health problem that can lead to tooth loss and even other health are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

Bad Breath & Discolored Teeth

Smokers often have a clear giveaway that they smoke — their breath. Smokers’ breath isn’t something that goes away easily and it can linger around for quite a while. Bad breath may seem like no big deal but it can affect relationships and health. What’s more, the ingredients in cigarettes (such as tar and nicotine) can easily stick to any plaque that may be on your teeth, gums, or tongue. When too much of these sticky substances are introduced to the mouth, they can actually change the color of your teeth into a dull, dingy yellow. These stains are also tough to remove and sometimes even professional tooth whitening isn’t enough to get rid of them. 

Dry Mouth

Smokers may experience the discomfort of dry mouth more often than non-smokers. While dry mouth may seem like simply an annoyance, the truth is, it’s actually pretty bad for oral health. In order to stay healthy, your mouth needs to produce enough saliva to rinse away bacteria and neutralize acids that would otherwise lead to decay and cavities. But when the mouth is dry there isn’t enough saliva to do its job correctly, leaving your teeth exposed to all of the dangerous bacteria and plaque acid.  

As you can see, the risks of smoking go well beyond the commonly known risks and can certainly take its toll on oral health. But there’s hope. Your dentist in Sacramento wants to encourage all smokers to pick a quit date and work towards a smoke-free life. We understand quitting smoking can be very difficult, and it may take a few tries to finally kick it. Don’t give up. Quitting smoking now can save your smile and your life. 

Top Tips To Keep Your Family Healthy This Flu Season

woman with the fluIt’s that time of the year again when the sounds of sneezes and sniffles, and coughs and congestion, are in the air. That’s right, it’s flu season, which can be a concerning time for all of us. At our dental office in Sacramento, we want you to know that you don’t have to suffer this year. There are some easy tips you can try to keep your family healthy all the way to spring. 

Wash Those Hands

There’s a reason you’ll find posters in every bathroom stressing the importance of proper handwashing and why your dentist in Sacramento stresses washing those hands regularly — because it works! A little bit of soap and warm water can go a long way in keeping you healthy and flu-free. Make sure to wash your hands after using the restroom, touching another person, touching anything in public (think escalators and doorknobs!), and before every meal or snack. While soap and warm water work best to kill those pesky germs, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can work well in a pinch.

Clean Often

Having clean hands is one thing that can certainly help reduce the risk of catching the flu, but having a clean house is also important. Pay attention to the areas where your family spends the most time, like the bathrooms (don’t forget the toilet handles!) and kitchen. Sanitize things that are often overlooked, such as remote control, faucets, and toys. When in doubt, give it a quick wipe down with an antibacterial cleaner. 

No Hands to the Face

Hands touch so many things throughout the day, and even if you’re washing them regularly, there’s still a chance germs are lingering around. In fact, the CDC states that one of the most common ways germs are spread is by touching a contaminated surface, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. These body parts have mucus that can easily transport germs into the body and make us sick. 

Take Care of That Toothbrush

The truth is, toothbrushes can play host to all sorts of gross germs that can make you sick. But with proper care, those germs don’t stand a chance. Make sure the bristles are getting a thorough rinsing with warm water after every use to help flush bacteria down the drain (where they belong!). When it comes to storage, keep all toothbrushes in an upright position with the bristles at the top and allow them to air dry. Avoid using those little plastic toothbrush covers — they create the ultimate home for bacteria because it’s wet, cold, and dark. Keep family members’ toothbrushes separated from each other to avoid cross-contamination, and of course, never share toothbrushes. 

Drink More Water

Water is the best thing for everyone to drink, but even more so during flu season. The truth is, a well-hydrated body is better equipped to fight off any infection. Try your best to have each member of your family drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. During flu season, if you can get them to drink a little bit more, it can only help. 

Follow these tips this flu season to help keep your entire family healthy all winter long. However, sometimes pesky germs find their way inside and make us sick. If that happens, your Sacramento dentist encourages you to use sugar-free medicines to help alleviate symptoms.

National Dental Hygiene Month is Here!

gentleman in dental chair with hygienist standing behind himThere’s a lot to be thankful for as we move into this part of 2019, but October is also a time when the entire nation comes together to observe National Dental Hygiene Month. This is a special part of the year when you, along with your dentist is Sacramento, can take some time out to talk about all of the wonderful things dental hygienists bring to dentistry. 

Without further ado, let’s give dental hygienists everywhere the respect they deserve for a job well done in dental offices across America. Let’s learn a little more about what they do and how you can even help make their life a little easier when you come in for your regular cleanings.

A Little Hygiene History

According to Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine, a new type of dental “nurse” began to help with teeth cleanings to prevent decay and disease dating all the way back to the 1880s. Dr. Albert C. Fones trained his assistant Irene Newman to act as an apprentice. Her early duties mainly involved scaling and polishing teeth, much like modern hygienists. Fones could not wrap his head around the term “dental nurse,” so he started calling his students dental hygienists instead. A whole new, exciting, and vital part of the dental field was born. (What would we do without them?)

National Dental Hygiene Month first started being recognized in October back in 2009 courtesy of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and Wrigley gum. Together, both organizations saw the need for more Americans to put a heavier emphasis on keeping their teeth healthy.

This year, there’s even more to celebrate as the ADHA is partnering with Walgreens and LISTERINE® to promote further the benefits of good oral health and the incredible, life-changing work done by dental hygienists across the nation. There’s even a new, #DoTheSwish campaign happening at participating stores where you can snap a selfie with specially-marked LISTERINE® mouthwash displays for a chance to win some sweet prizes!

How Can I Observe National Dental Hygiene Month?

The best way to show your dental hygienist some love is to come into our Sacramento dental office for a cleaning. While you’re there, be sure to share how much you appreciate the kind of care your hygienist provides for your smile. 

When you’re at home, you can do these things to help maintain all of the hard work dental hygienists and dentists do to keep your teeth healthy.

1) Brush Twice a Day

Remember, the golden rule to brushing is doing it twice a day for two minutes. Make sure you’re using a soft brush where the bristles are free from wear and tear. Regular brushing is going to keep bad breath away, help keep teeth free from decay, and make your dental hygienist’s day the next time your due for a cleaning. 

2) Floss Once a Day

As funny as it seems, flossing made headlines a while back when there was a debate about whether or not it’s necessary. Your Sacramento dentist (and dental hygienist) will tell you that it’s OK to floss every day. Flossing can reach up to 30 percent more of your tooth surfaces where brushing can’t reach. You’ll be able to get rid of nasty food particles that can lead to decay and disease down the road.

3) Rinse Your Mouth

Mouthwash is a great way to seal the deal on your at-home oral health routine so that you know your teeth are protected and healthy. It also helps to keep your breath fresh. Aim to make rinsing with mouthwash something you do each day after you finish flossing and brushing. An excellent antimicrobial rinse can work wonders for your mouth and breath!

We hope you learned a little something about dental hygienists and what they do. We also hope you reach out to us either by phone or online to learn more about taking care of your smile. If you’re scheduled to see your dental hygienist this month for a cleaning, share a big smile and thank you with them for all that they do for you!

Everyone Can Do These Three Things to Relax at the Dentist

young woman in dental chairYour dentist in Sacramento knows how incredibly unnerving a trip to have your teeth checked or cleaned can be for some patients. If this sounds like you, it’s essential to know that you’re not alone. Besides the fact that millions of Americans struggle with anxiety about seeing the dentist, you’ve got an extended family at our office who cares about your comfort and happiness.

We thought it might be a good idea to devote a blog to different ways you or someone you care about can alleviate your dental anxiety and relax in the chair. There are a few things we tell our patients that are sure to work for you too.

#1 – Talk it Out

No matter what age you are or where you’re at in life, one of the most significant, most effective ways to overcome dental anxiety is to talk to us. Communication with your Sacramento dentist will help to lower your stress levels associated with dental visits and make you feel less anxious about scheduling an appointment with us. Your dentist treats patients every day who are not too excited about having to sit in the dental chair, even for as something as routine as a cleaning. We have the right tools and training to make sure you’re always feeling comfortable and at ease.

Remember, starting with the first phone call if you’re a new patient, share your questions and concerns with our dental team. We can adapt to fit your needs and your schedule, to make seeing the dentist an experience that’s stress-free (and dare we say, enjoyable).

#2 – Relax and Breathe

It may seem a little silly having your dentist remind you to breathe, but so many people tense up when they’re at the dentist. Sometimes when we do this or we’re feeling anxious, we hold our breath and don’t breathe properly. This decreases oxygen levels and can further increase your feeling of anxiety or panic. 

Whether you’re on your way to the office for an appointment or if you’re getting ready to sit down for treatment, you can always practice deep, meditative breathing. It’s easy! Just try focusing on your breath. Keep taking steady, slow inhalations and exhalations. When you develop a more rhythmic breathing pattern, you’re able to focus on that more than your feelings of dread from having to see the dentist. Focusing on our breathing helps dramatically reduce stress levels

#3 – See Your Dentist in Sacramento Regularly

It may seem a bit strange, but the best way to avoid the dentist is to see your dentist regularly. If you can overcome your anxiety and get through regular, routine checkups and cleanings, then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to avoid more extensive, time-consuming procedures in the future.

Also, remember this if you’re in the chair having work done: it’s OK to have a signal to stop and take a break if you’re uncomfortable. This puts you in control of the procedure and alerts your dentist if you need a time out for a minute or two. 

We hope these tips can help provide you some relief from your dental worries and anxiety. Like we mentioned earlier, please don’t hesitate to call our Sacramento dental office and explain your feelings to us. There’s a solution for every patient, for every smile! We’re happy to help you find what makes you comfortable. 

Fluoride For a Healthy Smile

fluorideWhen it comes to the oral health of you and your family, you may have heard about the importance of fluoride. You may have also heard a few arguments against it. At our dental office in Sacramento, we want to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about fluoride, what it is, why it’s crucial for our smiles, and yes, even discuss a few risks. 

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that’s found in nature, specifically in soil, water, plants, and the air we breathe. In the world of dentistry, fluoride is used to help strengthen tooth enamel and protect teeth against decay and cavities. It can also help repair early decay caused by demineralization. 

Demineralization occurs when acids from bacteria and foods linger around and actually begin to eat away at the protective layer of enamel. But enamel isn’t the only thing affected during demineralization. Our teeth can also lose minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. These minerals are essential to keeping our teeth tough and strong to fight off decay…  so it’s important to replace them either through the foods we eat or from fluoride treatments from your Sacramento dentist

Who Should Get Fluoride?

When you think of fluoride, you may assume that it’s only important for kids. But nearly everyone’s smile can benefit from fluoride. Your dentist in Sacramento will most likely recommend that both you and your children receive a fluoride treatment at every dental appointment to help build strong teeth and protect against cavities. These treatments are typically either a varnish, foam, or gel that are applied in the dental office. 

Where to Get Fluoride?

Besides having your dental team apply a fluoride treatment, there are other ways you can help your teeth get enough fluoride. Most public water supplies have added fluoride, and it can be found in some foods you eat. There’s also fluoride in many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride supplements are also available and may be recommended if you don’t have fluoridated water or if you need an extra boost of fluoride. 

Is Fluoride Safe?

Fluoride is safe for children and adults in recommended amounts, which will vary based on things such as risk, need, and age. However, fluoride can be hazardous if it’s used too much. This risk is extremely low as it’s extremely difficult to expose yourself to dangerous levels of fluoride through fluoridated water, toothpaste, and fluoride treatments from your dentist. A good rule of thumb is to remember to always follow your dentist’s recommendations, don’t swallow toothpaste or mouthwash, and monitor children’s brushing habits at home. 

If you’re unsure if fluoride is right for you or your family, or if you have questions about fluoride, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office and schedule a visit. We’re here to help!

How to Pick the Best Dental Floss

dental flossWhen you walk down the oral health care aisle at your local supermarket, it can quickly become overwhelming. There are just so many different types of toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, bottles of mouthwashes, and packets of floss to pick from. How in the world are you supposed to pick the best products for you? Don’t worry, today the team at our Sacramento dental office is here to help narrow your options for one of the most important tools in your oral hygiene toolbox — floss. 

Flossing can sometimes be overlooked as a crucial part of your oral health, but the truth is, flossing every day is incredibly effective at lowering your risk for cavities and gum disease. This means that you need to choose a type of floss that you will use regularly and properly. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common types of floss recommended by your dentist in Sacramento

Traditional Floss

The most common type of floss is the traditional string floss found in those little, compact containers. This time-tested original can work really well for many people as it’s what they first learned to floss with, so it’s comfortable to use. However, those who may have trouble using their hands or fingers may not be able to reach around each tooth or back into the molars. This is when an alternative option should be considered.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are those little plastic tools that have a small piece of floss threaded between two posts. They’re pretty inexpensive and can be just as effective as traditional floss if used properly. However, while some people may find floss picks easier to use, others find just the opposite. So essentially, there’s no real right or wrong answer when it comes to which is better. The best way to decide is to try both options and see which is easier for you to use. Keep in mind, floss picks only use a small section of floss so you may need to use a few flossers each and every time you floss. 

Water Flosser

A newer and more high-tech flossing option that’s making its way into bathrooms across the country is electric water flossers. These tools are highly effective at removing plaque and bacteria, and many studies suggest that they may be the most effective of any flossing device. But they don’t come without a few potential cons. Water flossers need to either be plugged in or charged, so they aren’t incredibly convenient. They’re also larger in size so storage and traveling may pose a few complications. Lastly, they can be pricey, although they do last a long time and reduce waste.   

What matters most to your dentist in Sacramento isn’t necessarily which type of floss you use, but rather that you floss regularly and properly. If you’re finding that flossing is challenging and you’re looking for a better solution, we welcome you to call our dental office in Sacramento. We’re always happy to help find the best tools for each one of our patients. 

The Surprising Summer Activity That Can Harm Your Teeth

kids swimmingSwimming is a popular summertime activity, and it’s good for you too! It’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise, it’s easy on the joints, and it’s a sweet way to cool off on those hot days. But the team at our Sacramento dental office knows that there could be some harm lurking in your pool water that you probably don’t know about. 

Swimming Pools & Your Teeth

Many pools use chlorine to keep pool water free of dangerous bacteria that could be harmful to humans. But this chlorine may also put another part of your body at risk for damage — your teeth. 

Research dating back to the 1980’s studied the negative effects of chlorine on your oral health, particularly your tooth enamel. Part of what chlorine does is help level out the pH balance of pool water, so it’s safe for families. For most situations, pool water should have a pH between 7.2 and 7.8. But when this drops below this ideal range, the water actually becomes acidic. If this happens and you spend a lot of time in the pool, or a lot of water gets into your mouth, the acid can wear away tooth enamel and even cause tooth discoloration. 

Why Is Tooth Enamel Important?

Tooth enamel is the super-strong protective layer of our teeth. It helps keep dangerous plaque and bacteria from eating away at the teeth and causing cavities. If tooth enamel erodes, whether it’s from an improperly chlorinated pool, drinking too many acidic drinks like lemonade, or brushing too hard, teeth are at increased risk for decay, wearing down, and sensitivity. 

Who Is At Risk?

While anyone’s teeth can suffer from enamel erosion, the cases in which the erosion is caused by chlorine is often found in competitive swimmers or those who spend a lot of time in pools. The truth is if you only swim occasionally, you’re probably not at risk. 

Signs of a Problem

Two of the first signs that a pool’s pH is too low are irritated skin or burning eyes while swimming. Over time, you may start to notice brown spots on your teeth (known as swimmer’s calculus) or experience increased tooth sensitivity. If you notice any of these changes, visit your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can.

Protecting Your Tooth Enamel

Besides proper brushing and flossing, there are steps you can take to help protect your enamel against erosion — and no, you don’t need to give up swimming. Just make sure you test the water for proper pH levels regularly and try to keep pool water out of your mouth as much as possible. Of course, it’s also important to see your Sacramento dentist at least every six months for regular checkups and professional cleanings.

Do Wisdom Teeth Need To Be Removed?

wisdom teethWisdom teeth can be a pesky problem, whether they need to be removed or not. While there are times when your dentist in Sacramento may suggest keeping wisdom teeth around, it’s most common to have wisdom teeth removed. In fact, over 90% of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed. So when can they stay and when do they have to go?  

Reasons Wisdom Teeth Need to be Extracted

 

  • There’s No Room For Them

 

The top reason wisdom teeth need to be removed is that there’s no more room in your mouth for four more teeth. If this is happening, your dental team will be able to identify it early through dental x-rays. When there’s simply not enough room for your wisdom teeth, extraction will be recommended. If treatment is not completed and the teeth start to erupt, a whole host of issues can occur including overcrowding, crookedness, and jaw pain. Your wisdom teeth may also become impacted, which is just a way to say that the teeth become stuck. Once wisdom teeth are impacted, the surgery is a bit more complicated but still fairly easy.

 

  • Proper Care Becomes Difficult

 

If you’re one of the rare cases where your wisdom teeth grow in straight and healthy, your Sacramento dentist may still recommend having them removed. This is to prevent additional problems such as cavities and gum disease in the future. You see, wisdom teeth are way in the back of the mouth and are very difficult to brush and floss properly. This can cause bacteria and plaque build-up, which will put you at an increased risk of decay.

When Don’t Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?

Even though 90% of Americans need to have their wisdom teeth out, there are a few cases when wisdom teeth grow in just fine. If your wisdom teeth have enough room to fully erupt without disrupting the neighboring teeth and you’re not having trouble taking care of them, you may just be able to keep them. Remember, your dental team will continue to monitor their health to make sure they’re still ok where they are, and that your mouth and smile are staying healthy.

Seeing your dentist regularly is the best way to determine whether or not you should have your wisdom teeth removed. If you think you may need to have your wisdom teeth checked out, give our Sacramento dental office a call to schedule an appointment today.