Posts for: April, 2018
Lots of people don’t know that April is National Stress Awareness Month; don’t fret if you’re one of them. For many, stress is already a common feature of everyday life. According to the American Psychological Association, 62% of Americans are stressed at their jobs, and stress has been estimated to cause the loss of some 275 million working days every year.
In addition to its other negative physical and mental consequences, stress can also spell trouble for your oral health. It may lead to the problems of teeth clenching and grinding, which dentists call bruxism. A habitual behavior that can occur in the daytime or at night, bruxism is thought to affect perhaps one in ten adults. While the evidence that stress causes bruxism is not conclusive, there’s a strong case for the linkage.
Bruxism sometimes causes symptoms like headaches, soreness or pain in the jaw muscles or joints, and problems with fully opening the mouth. It can be detected in the dental office by excessive tooth wear, and/or damage to tooth surfaces or dental work. Grinding or tapping noises heard at night may indicate that someone is grinding their teeth while sleeping. In children, nighttime bruxism is common and not necessarily a reason for concern; in adults, it may be more troubling.
So what can you do if you’re experiencing this problem? If you find yourself clenching and grinding during the daytime, simply becoming more aware of the behavior and trying to limit it can help. A bit of clenching during times of stress isn’t abnormal, but excessive grinding may be reason for concern. Many of the same techniques used to relieve stress in other situations—such as taking a step back, talking out your issues, and creating a calmer and more soothing environment—may prove helpful here as well.
Occasionally, prescription drugs may cause bruxism as an unwanted side effect; in this case, a medical professional may recommend changing your medication. The use of stimulants like coffee and mood altering substances like alcohol and illicit drugs have also been associated with teeth grinding—so if you’re having this issue, consider foregoing these substances and making healthier lifestyle choices.
There are also a number of dental treatments that can help protect your teeth from excessive grinding. The most common is an occlusal guard or “night guard.” This is a custom-fabricated appliance made of plastic that fits comfortably over your teeth. Usually worn at night, it keeps your teeth from actually coming into contact with each other and being damaged. Occasionally, additional treatments such as bite adjustment or orthodontics may be recommended to help solve the problem.
If you would like more information about teeth clenching and grinding, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Grinding” and “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”
If you're ready to put the "pizzazz" back into your smile, your dentist may be able to help. It's possible your dull, dingy smile could be transformed with teeth whitening.
Teeth whitening or bleaching is a technique that applies a solution with a bleaching agent (usually up to 35% hydrogen peroxide in an office setting) to the teeth to whiten them. Although there are Do-It-Yourself home whitening kits you can use, there are a few good reasons why you should first consider a whitening procedure in a dental office setting.
To begin with, you should first have your teeth examined by a dentist to determine why they're discolored. Certain foods and beverages we consume or tobacco habits are the usual culprits causing stains on the enamel, the outermost tooth layer. These are the kinds of stains targeted by most whitening solutions.
But the interior of a tooth can also become discolored for reasons like trauma, past dental work or tetracycline use at an early age. If your staining is internal (intrinsic) rather than external (extrinsic) reducing that discoloration will require an invasive procedure only a dentist can perform—a home kit won't be able to do the job.
Another reason for having your teeth whitened by your dentist (even extrinsic staining) involves your time and the degree of brightness you'd like. Because dentists use stronger bleaching solutions (home kits usually use a weaker solution of 10% carbamide peroxide) it takes fewer sessions than home kits to achieve results—and they may last longer. In addition, dentists have more control over the level of brightness to match your expectations of a more subdued, natural look or a dazzling "Hollywood" smile.
A dentist can also help you navigate special circumstances like matching and managing natural teeth whiteness with dental restorations (which don't bleach) or special whitening situations like a single discolored tooth.
Even if you eventually decide to go the home kit route, consulting with a dentist first can still prove helpful. You'll get expert advice on products, tips on how to apply them and how to prolong the whitening effect. Whichever way you go, home kit or dentist, you can gain a brighter, more confident smile with teeth whitening.
If you would like more information on teeth whitening, 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 “Important Teeth Whitening Questions…Answered!”
No one wants to look in the mirror and see a dull, yellow smile. Unfortunately, stains on teeth are hard to avoid. Every time you sip a glass of wine, enjoy a cup of coffee or even eat a handful of healthy blueberries, dark pigments from those foods and beverages become lodged in your tooth enamel. Fortunately, tooth whitening offers a simple, safe way to get rid of your dental stains. Burlington and Jericho, VT, dentists Drs. Paul Dunkling and Greg Penney of Dunkling and Penney Dentistry explain how whitening can brighten your smile.
Teeth whitening gets rid of tooth-darkening pigments
No matter how well or often you brush your teeth, you can't rid of the dark pigments foods and beverages leave behind. Pigments seep deep into microscopic pores in your tooth enamel and can't be reached by your toothbrush bristles. Although it's not possible to brush away those stain-causing pigments, they can be eliminated by applying a hydrogen peroxide whitening gel. The gel breaks apart the pigments, removing the stains.
It's all about the hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide strength varies depending on whether you take advantage of professional whitening treatment or use over-the-counter products. Professional formulations dentists use are much stronger than those used in the products you'll find online or at a Burlington or Jericho drugstore. If you choose professional whitening, you enjoy these benefits:
- Quick Results: Your teeth will be much whiter after just one professional whitening session, although occasionally a second session may be needed. Drugstore products can take weeks or months to lighten your teeth.
- A Brighter Smile: After a one-hour professional whitening treatment, you can expect your teeth to lighten by three to eight shades.
- A Safer Experience: Tooth sensitivity can be a problem after whitening, particularly if your teeth or gums accidentally come in contact with the hydrogen peroxide gel. When you opt for an in-office whitening treatment, your gums will be protected by a rubber shield or a layer of protective gel. Your cheeks and lips will also be held away from your teeth with comfortable plastic retractors.
- Two Options: At-home whitening kits are also available from the dentist's office. The kits contain a supply of whitening gel and custom-made whitening trays.
Lighten your smile with teeth whitening! Call Burlington and Jericho, VT, dentists Drs. Paul Dunkling and Greg Penney of Dunkling and Penney Dentistry at (802) 863-3479 for the Burlington office and (802) 899-3973 for the Jericho office.