Animal Teeth 2020 543
WE’RE THE EXPERTS on human teeth, but there are lots of other interesting teeth out there. You probably already know that venomous snakes have hollow fangs to inject venom when they bite, elephants have massive tusks, and sharks are constantly growing new teeth. Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of the other unusual chompers out there in nature.

Teeth Aren’t Tools…Unless You’re a Beaver

How can beavers get away with chewing through entire tree trunks with their teeth when we can’t so much as open a bottle with ours without risking permanent damage? Well, unlike humans, beaver teeth have two handy adaptations to help them with all that dental carpentry. Chewing through wood does erode their teeth, but where human enamel, once gone, is gone for good, beaver teeth just keep growing! Also, their diet is rich in iron, which turns their teeth orange and makes them more durable.

Narwhal Horns are Inside-Out Teeth

The “horns” that earned narwhals the nickname “unicorns of the sea” aren’t really horns at all. They’re teeth. Specifically, (very) elongated canine teeth, or tusks, that grow through the upper lips of male narwhals (and the occasional female). Most of the time, only the left canine tooth grows this much, but some narwhals end up with two tusks. Unlike normal teeth, they have the nerves on the outside and the hardest tissue on the inside, which makes them kind of like sensory input antennae. Wild!

What is the purpose of having spiral tusks that can grow up to nine feet in length and are covered in nerve endings? We’re still not entirely sure, except that they don’t seem to use them as spears. Instead, there is evidence that they will use them to deliver a blunt, stunning blow to tasty fish they want to eat, making them easier to scoop up. They might also use them to break through ice when coming up for air.

Crabeater Seals Don’t Use Their Teeth for What You Think

From a glance, it looks like crabeater teeth have saw blades built into their jaws. Each tooth is individually serrated, and they fit together in a sinister zig-zag line. It’s even how they got their name, for surely such impressive teeth can crack open crab shells! In fact, crabeater seals eat mostly antarctic krill, and the function of their serrated teeth is simply to work like a pasta strainer. They’ll take a big gulp of krill-filled water, then squeeze the excess water back out while the krill stay trapped inside. Tasty!

Make Sure You’re Taking Care of Your Teeth!

We might not be able to do some of the crazy things animals use their teeth for, but we still want ours to be able to last us a lifetime of smiling, speaking clearly, and chewing our favorite foods. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with daily oral health habits like brushing and flossing, and to make time for twice-yearly dental appointments!

Human teeth will always be our favorites!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Halloween Teeth 2020 543

CAN YOU BELIEVE HALLOWEEN is coming up so soon? It’s always a fun time of year, with the spooky movies, the fun decorations, the costumes, and the tasty treats. We’re not here to drop toothbrushes in anyone’s candy buckets, but we do want to offer some tips on how our patients can make Halloween as healthy for their teeth as possible.

The Worst Halloween Candy for Our Teeth

Hard, sour, and sticky candies are definitely in the bad category. It takes time for hard candy to dissolve, which means an extended sugar bath for the teeth. Sticky candy adheres to our teeth and gums, which brings all that sugar directly to the harmful bacteria. Sour candy is acidic as well as sugary, making it doubly harmful.

Better Treats for Dental Health

So what’s the good news after all that? Chocolate! It contains compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols, which limit oral bacteria, slow tooth decay, and fight bad breath. However, the more sugar there is in it, the more it cancels out the good effects, which is why dentists prefer dark chocolate. If it contains nuts, that’s even better, unless you have a nut allergy or orthodontic appliance.

Gingivitis and more advanced forms of gum disease can actually destroy the supporting gum tissue and bone around the roots of our teeth. This is what makes gum disease the main cause of gum recession. To keep the gums healthy, a daily oral hygiene routine is critical, but so are regular professional cleanings at a dental practice. Only the pros can remove plaque that has hardened into tartar, and the longer tartar is allowed to remain, the more it will irritate the gums.

Minimizing Sugar’s Effects on Your Teeth

If you have a sweet tooth that won’t be denied, there are other ways to fight back against the effect sugar has on teeth, such as:

  • Keep the candy consumption to mealtimes. Snacking on it between meals gives oral bacteria an all-day sugar buffet, but only eating it at mealtimes gives your saliva a chance to wash away traces of sugar and neutralize your oral pH.
  • Follow the candy with a drink of water. That will rinse off some of the sugar.
  • Don’t slack on brushing and flossing! These daily habits are essential to keep sugar from doing lasting harm to tooth enamel.

Make Use of the Dentist

Another resource you have for keeping your teeth healthy even with all the candy Halloween brings is the dentist. Make sure you’re sticking to your usual twice-yearly appointments so the dentist can make sure you don’t have any post-Halloween cavities!

Wishing all our patients a healthy, happy Halloween!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Sugar And Teeth 2020 543
SUGAR IS THE GREATEST nemesis of the dental profession and anyone who wants to maintain a healthy smile. Why? Because the harmful bacteria in our mouths love to eat it, then excrete acid onto our teeth as a waste product. That leads to enamel erosion, tooth decay, and gum disease. This is why we encourage our patients to cut back on sugar intake…but it’s not always as simple as it sounds.

Sugar Goes by Many Names

When you think of sugar, you probably picture candy, soda, and desserts above all, but are you also picturing fruit juice, flavored yogurt, granola bars, and barbecue sauce? So many of the foods we eat contain significant amounts of added sugar, and it isn’t always called sugar in the list of ingredients. It’s always a good idea to check the “added sugars” line in the nutritional facts, but we recommend learning to recognize the different names for sugar as well.

How to Find Sugar on Food Labels

Obviously, anything that includes the word “sugar” is something to watch for, whether that sugar is powdered or coarse, brown or coconut, but another giveaway is the word “syrup.” Every syrup, from high-fructose corn syrup to rice syrup, is a type of sugar-based sweetener. That’s not all; evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, honey, fruit juice concentrate, and even 100% fruit juice are also sugar.

Then there are the more scientific names. Don’t be fooled by the long, difficult-to-pronounce chemistry words. An easy way to identify these sugar aliases is to look for the suffix “-ose” at the end of the words, such as in fructose, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, lactose, and maltose. These are all names for types of sugar molecules.

Is There a Healthy Amount of Sugar?

Ideally, we’d all be able to avoid sugar entirely, but with it hiding in so many of the foods we buy, that can be a very difficult goal to achieve. If it isn’t possible to cut sugar out altogether, then we recommend following the American Heart Association’s guidelines. Women should try to consume no more than 25 grams (or six teaspoons) of sugar per day, and men should try to keep it under 36 grams (nine teaspoons).

It’s also important to control when and how we consume our sugar. Whole fruit is a healthier option than fruit juice because the sugar in the fruit is trapped with water and fiber, making it harder for our bodies to absorb it. Whole fruit is also more filling than juice, so we’re less likely to overdo it. (If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between natural and processed sugars, that’s it.) Finally, it’s better for our teeth to consume our sugar only during meals.

Sweeteners for a Healthier Mouth and Body

If you simply can’t go without some delicious sweet treats, there are plenty of sugar-free sweeteners to try, such as monk fruit sweetener, stevia, xylitol, and erythritol. Working with these substitutes can be tricky when baking, but many recipes work well with applesauce, mashed bananas, dates, or figs in place of sugar.

The Dentist Is Your Teeth’s Best Ally Against Sugar

Limiting sugar intake and finding healthier substitutes are great ways to promote oral health, in addition to a good daily brushing and flossing routine, but the dentist can help too! If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment, make sure to schedule one!

We have the sweetest patients!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Gum Recession 2020 543

PEOPLE USED TO THINK that gum recession was an inevitability of getting older, but that’s not necessarily true. What is gum recession? It’s when the edge of the gum tissue recedes from around the crown of the tooth, exposing more and more of the root. We often think of it as age-related because it’s typically such a gradual problem that it takes years or even decades to become noticeable, but gum recession can start as early as childhood. In many cases, it can also be prevented.

A Factor We Can’t Control: Genetics

For an unlucky few, gum recession is caused by genetics. They may have more fragile gum tissue than average or weaker jaw bones that can’t support enough gingiva to keep the roots of the teeth fully covered. However, there isn’t a gene for automatic gum recession, so even people with genetic risk factors can do a lot to keep their gums healthy and minimize recession.

Yes, It’s Possible to Brush Too Hard

A major cause of gum recession is actually overbrushing. If your toothbrush tends to end up with the bristles bent outwards after a while, you might be brushing too hard, and it can do a lot of damage to both the gum tissue and tooth enamel over time. Our gums and teeth are not built to stand up to frequent, harsh scouring.

That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for brushing twice a day! Aim for a Goldilocks approach. Do brush twice daily, but also make sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles and only apply gentle pressure when you brush. The same goes for flossing. Definitely floss daily, but be gentle on those gums!

Grinding Teeth Impacts Gum Tissue Too

Bruxism, or chronic teeth-grinding, leads to a wide array of oral health problems, from the damage to the teeth themselves to increasing the risk of gum recession. Grinding puts a lot of strain on the gums, so they may begin to recede over time. Bruxism can be a difficult habit to break, especially if it happens at night. The good news is that you don’t have to fight a grinding habit alone. The dentist can help!

Gingivitis Makes Gums More Vulnerable

Gingivitis and more advanced forms of gum disease can actually destroy the supporting gum tissue and bone around the roots of our teeth. This is what makes gum disease the main cause of gum recession. To keep the gums healthy, a daily oral hygiene routine is critical, but so are regular professional cleanings at a dental practice. Only the pros can remove plaque that has hardened into tartar, and the longer tartar is allowed to remain, the more it will irritate the gums.

Even Kids Can Get Gum Recession

It’s uncommon, but kids aren’t immune to gum recession just because they’re young. The same causes can affect gum tissue in kids as in adults: overbrushing, poor oral hygiene, and bruxism. Another cause is oral injury. The best treatment for kids as well as adults is prevention by maintaining good oral health habits.

Healthy Gums for Healthy Smiles!

The hygienist will check your gum pockets for signs of inflammation or recession at regular dental appointments, so make sure to schedule those twice a year! If you have any questions about gum recession, how to prevent it, and how it can be treated, just ask. We want all of our patients to have the information and tools they need to maintain healthy gums.

We’re rooting for our patients’ teeth and gums!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Dental Fads 2020 543

GENERALLY SPEAKING, INFLUENCERS are not a great source of health advice. One person’s experience with a technique or product is not going to be universal, and real understanding of the way the human body works comes from years of study and training, not a quick google search. With that in mind, there are a few specific oral health fads and cosmetic dental trends we want to warn our patients about.

Cosmetic Dentistry Don’ts

1. Don’t widen a tooth gap for a “cuter” look.

Enamel reshaping can be a very legitimate procedure. If a tooth has a minor chip or is oddly shaped, enamel reshaping can help it match its neighbors. Enamel reshaping can also smooth out the little bumps (mamelons) on the ends of adult teeth if they aren’t wearing away on their own. But to widen a gap just to look cute, as happened on America’s Next Top Model? The (alleged) cosmetic appeal does not outweigh the potential damage to the teeth and how they fit together.

2. Don’t get vampire fangs.

It seems a different movie monster is popular every decade, but that doesn’t mean we should try to look like them. Changing the shape of your teeth to make them look like fangs is going to remove a lot of enamel, which won’t grow back. A better idea is to get a good pair of removable custom fangs to go over your normal, healthy teeth.

3. Don’t get gems embedded in your teeth.

We all want sparkling smiles, but we don’t recommend taking that as literally as getting gems surgically implanted in your teeth. That’s a recipe for cavities and regret.

Dental Health Don’ts

1. Don’t clean your teeth with lemon juice.

As part of the “all-natural remedies” craze, some people are trying lemon juice and other household substances like apple cider vinegar and baking soda to clean their teeth. Lemon juice is highly acidic. Tooth enamel might be very hard, but it is extremely vulnerable to acid erosion, so acidic substances make very counterproductive toothpastes.

2. Don’t clean your teeth with activated charcoal.

While charcoal can indeed be used to absorb toxins, including in some types of poisoning, it doesn’t zero in on only harmful chemicals. Its highly porous texture means that it absorbs everything, both good and bad! It’s also very abrasive, and there is no evidence that it helps teeth more than it harms them.

3. Oil pulling probably won’t hurt, but it won’t help either.

One of the stranger trends we’ve seen is oil pulling, or swishing a small amount of oil in your mouth for twenty minute stretches in hopes of achieving whitening effects. Unlike the other items on this list, it won’t do any harm to your teeth, but it’s a lot of time to spend on something that has no proven benefits.

For Trustworthy Advice, Start With Us!

The main takeaway here is that no matter what seems cool or effective in the moment, it’s always better to consult with actual dental health professionals before making big changes to your dental hygiene routine or the appearance of your teeth. If you’ve been hearing a lot about some new fad, run it by the dentist the next time you come in for a cleaning!

Let the pros help you choose science over the fads!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Which Toothbrush 2020 543

CENTURIES AGO, PEOPLE didn’t have many options for how to keep their teeth clean. Some cultures used chewing sticks and early toothbrushes had bristles made of horse hair. These days, we have a wide range of options for what tools to use for cleaning our teeth. How are you to find the one that’s best for you? We’d like to offer a few tips to narrow things down.

How Stiff Are Those Bristles?

When we’re doing chores around the house, it can often take some elbow grease to do a good job of cleaning various surfaces, but leave that idea behind when it comes to brushing your teeth. Brushing too hard can do serious damage to the gum tissue. It’s actually a major cause of gum recession! The firmness of the toothbrush bristles plays a role in that too. That’s why we recommend avoiding firm-bristled toothbrushes in favor of ones with soft bristles.

Stick With Manual or Spring for Electric?

Early electric toothbrushes didn’t do a much better job than manual ones at cleaning teeth, but modern electric toothbrushes have lived up to the original idea and often outshine their non-electric counterparts, cleaning out more plaque from hard-to-reach places. Good electric toothbrushes can eliminate up to 21% more plaque than a manual toothbrush and even reduce the risk of gingivitis by 11%! They also make it easier to last the two full minutes and brush gently.

Okay, but What Kind of Electric Toothbrush?

f an electric toothbrush sounds like something worth trying, there are still a lot to choose from. The two main varieties are oscillating and sonic brushes. Oscillating brushes spin rapidly, while sonic brushes vibrate side to side. They both work great! The most effective ones tend to be on the pricey side, but if you’d like our recommendation, just ask the next time you come see us!

Make Sure to Take Good Care Of It!

Once you have your ideal toothbrush, it’s also important to store it properly and replace it (or the head, if it’s electric) regularly. We would discourage using toothbrush cases except when you need them for traveling, because the best way to store a toothbrush is upright where it can dry out between uses. If it stays damp, it becomes a breeding ground for germs! Then make sure to replace it every few months, especially if the bristles become frayed or bent!

It’s Not Just About the Tool, but How you Use It

Having the best toothbrush for you is one part of the equation, and taking good care of it is another, but the most important thing is to maintain a good routine by brushing twice a day for two full minutes. Even the fanciest toothbrush can only prevent tooth decay effectively when it’s being put to good use. If you have any questions about which toothbrush to choose, just let us know!

The last part of the equation is having a good dentist!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Dental Emergency 2020 543

A LITTLE BIT OF PREP work makes a huge difference when an emergency happens, including a dental emergency such as an oral injury. What exactly can we do to prepare for something like an unexpected injury? It depends on the specific situation.

Broken Tooth

If an injury results in a broken, chipped, or cracked tooth, the best thing to do is head straight to the dentist. If you can find the broken pieces, bring them along in a glass of cold milk to protect them. It’s also okay to rinse your mouth with water.

Even if a crack or chip seems minor, don’t ignore it! If the damage reaches the pulp chamber, it puts the tooth in serious danger of infection. Even if it doesn’t, it can work like a cavity and give bacteria a space to grow until it does reach the pulp chamber. That’s how dental infections start, leading to pulp death, painful abscesses, loss of bone tissue in the jaw, and even the risk of the infection spreading to the bloodstream.

Knocked Out Adult Tooth

If the whole tooth gets knocked out in one piece, this, too, is a situation that requires immediate attention from the dentist. There is a limited window (not much longer than an hour) in which a knocked out tooth can be successfully replanted, so the faster you get to the dentist, the better its chances are. To give it its best shot, put it back in the socket on the way there and hold it in place with a washcloth or gauze. If that isn’t possible, store it in cold milk.

Here are a few important don’ts for knocked out teeth:

  • DON’T touch the root.
  • DON’T let it dry out.
  • DON’T scrub or clean it with soap, alcohol, or peroxide.

Any of these could kill the root, making the tooth impossible to replant.

Knocked Out Baby Tooth

Most of the time, when a baby tooth gets knocked out, it isn’t an emergency. Typically we wouldn’t replant a baby tooth because that might create problems for the permanent tooth underneath. However, if it wasn’t loose beforehand, we recommend at least giving the dentist a call for some advice. There might be less obvious damage than what happened to the tooth.

We’re Prepared for Patient Emergencies Too!

Another essential part of your dental emergency plan, besides what to do in different emergency situations, is to know where to go for help! If you’d like to learn what our practice can do for dental emergencies, just give us a call and we can tell you about our end of the equation. Hopefully you’ll never need to make use of this information and the only times we’ll see you will be for normal appointments, but preparation is key!

Thank you for putting your trust in our practice!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Medication And Teeth 543

WE ALL KNOW that medications can have side effects. If you tried, you could probably hear the voice in pharmaceutical commercials rattling off some of the most common ones in your head. We bring it up because those side effects often include oral health problems.

Medicine and the Chemistry of the Mouth

Some of the medications and even vitamins we take can be directly harmful to teeth. This is more of a problem for children, since adult medicine mostly comes in the form of pills to be swallowed. Medicine for children, on the other hand, often takes the form of sugary syrups and multivitamins. That sugar feeds oral bacteria and can contribute to tooth decay.

Adults and children alike may experience oral side effects from inhalers — particularly oral thrush, or white patches of fungus on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and inside the cheeks, which can be irritating or painful. A key preventative measure for patients who use inhalers is to rinse with water after using the inhaler (also a good idea after taking cough syrup or multivitamins).

The Indirect Impact of Medicine on Oral Health

Even if a medication makes it past the mouth without causing direct harm, those side effects can still kick in later. For example, blood thinners can make the gums more prone to bleeding while brushing. A number of medications can cause inflammation in gum tissue, increasing the risk of gum disease.

While this may not be an actual health concern, several medications can affect our sense of taste, causing a weird bitter or metallic taste or other changes. There have been rare instances of drugs for osteoporosis compromising the bone tissue in the jaw, which increases the risk of gum recession and tooth loss.

Dry mouth is the most common oral side effect of prescribed and over-the-counter medications alike. Dry mouth, in addition to making chewing and swallowing difficult and reducing the ability to taste, leaves the teeth and gums vulnerable. Saliva is the first line of defense against oral bacteria, and without it, it’s much harder to defend against gum disease and tooth decay.

Keep the Dentist in the Loop

Make sure you know about the side effects of any medications you may be taking, and make sure your dentist knows too! It may be possible to adjust a prescription to minimize the negatives, but that can only happen if all health care professionals involved are properly informed of your situation.

Dentists are a wonderful resource, so make sure to use them!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

John Greenwood 543

AN ESTIMATED 23 MILLION Americans have none of their teeth left, and another 12 million are missing all the teeth of one arch. As dental health professionals, we do our part to help those numbers go down, but that’s still quite a few people who need replacement teeth. There’s a long and fascinating history that got false teeth to where they are today.

Ancient False Teeth

False teeth have been a solution for tooth loss since at least 2500 B.C. The oldest examples we know of were discovered in Mexico and made of wolf teeth. Nearly two thousand years later, the ancient Etruscans were using gold wire or bands to attach human or animal teeth to a person’s remaining teeth, and the tomb of El Gigel in Egypt contained two false teeth made of bone and wrapped in gold wire.

The Last Few Centuries of Dentures

Bringing things into the modern age, the Japanese began using wood as a material for false teeth in the 1500s, but carved ivory became a popular material by the 1700s. Ivory turners, goldsmiths, and barber-surgeons would craft dentures out of ivory, human teeth, and animal teeth.

Guess Who Didn’t Have Wooden Dentures?

Even though wood was used as a denture material in some places, George Washington’s mouth was not one of them. Thanks to a combination of a poorly balanced diet and (likely) genetics, Washington suffered a lifetime of dental problems, losing a tooth a year starting in his twenties. By the time he was inaugurated, he only had one tooth left!

Washington’s dentist, Dr. John Greenwood, made several sets of dentures for the first president, and they were pretty advanced for the time. He made them out of hippo ivory, gold springs, and brass screws attached to human teeth. As good as Greenwood was at his job, Washington still experienced a lot of pain with them and was very insecure about the way they made his face look.

A cool detail about Dr. Greenwood is that, where most of his contemporaries probably would’ve pulled Washington’s remaining tooth, he carefully crafted the dentures to accommodate it, for he believed that a dentist should “never extract a tooth…[when] there is a possibility of saving it.” Greenwood would be in good company today!

False Teeth Today

Here in the 21st century, patients have far better options than George Washington did. Modern dentures are usually made of acrylic resin or plastic, and sometimes porcelain. They are available as partial dentures or full sets, and they can be removable or anchored in place by implants. Implants can also serve as anchors for orthodontic treatment.

Patients can even have each missing tooth replaced by an individual implant, though this is a very expensive option. Better yet, more and more teeth can be saved through root canal treatment, meaning that a replacement tooth isn’t needed at all!

Good Strategies for Keeping Our Teeth

As far as false teeth have come over the course of history, we’d all prefer to keep our teeth and keep them healthy. Going to our regular dental appointments, avoiding sugary foods and drinks, and maintaining good daily dental hygiene routines are all essential components of keeping our teeth healthy and strong for life!

We love our patients’ healthy smiles!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Nail Biting 2020 543

TOOTH ENAMEL RANKS between steel and titanium on the Mohs Hardness Scale. That makes it harder than any other substance in the human body, and it also makes it harder than iron! However, it’s still fairly brittle and very vulnerable to acid erosion, and there are plenty of daily habits we might have that can put it at risk.

This One’s a Nail-Biter (But You Shouldn’t Be)

If you ask most people what the harms of a nail-biting habit are, they’ll probably start with ragged, damaged fingernails, but the effects on teeth and overall oral health can be just as serious, if not more so. Tooth enamel might be harder than keratin (what fingernails are made of), which means enamel is going to win the battle, but over time, keratin will win the war.

Habitual nail-biting can erode, crack, and chip teeth. It can shift them out of proper alignment, resulting in gaps and bad bites. It could even lead to root resorption, or the breakdown of the roots of the teeth! The risk of resorption is also higher in someone with braces. At the same time, the fingernails are the dirtiest part of the hands, and all the dirt and germs under there transfers to the mouth in a nail-biting session. This can lead to gum disease.

Avoid Mouth Breathing Whenever Possible

Thanks to the popular show Stranger Things, “Mouth-Breather” has become a more popular insult in recent years, but there are a lot of good reasons to avoid habitually breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. Mouth breathing can cause a variety of problems, both in the short term and over time:

Lower oxygen levels: nose breathing triggers the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps our lungs absorb oxygen. Mouth breathing skips that step, so we can’t get as much out of each breath! That results in less energy for mental and physical tasks.

Dry mouth: the constant airflow in the mouth dries it out, which is a big problem, because saliva is the first line of defense against oral bacteria. Dry mouth leads to chronic bad breath and tooth decay.

Sleep apnea: with habitual mouth breathing comes the increased likelihood of sleep apnea, which makes it difficult to get restful sleep and over time increases the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Altered bone growth: when the mouth is closed, the tongue provides the right pressure for a child’s dental arches and facial bones to develop well. Mouth breathing removes the support structure and leads to narrow arches, flat features, drooping eyes, and a small chin.

Worse orthodontic problems: narrow dental arches are very likely to feature a lot of crowding. In order to make room for the full set of teeth, orthodontic treatment will usually be necessary.

Let’s Break Those Habits!

Whether you’re personally struggling with nail biting, mouth breathing, or both, or you’ve noticed that your child does, we can help! Just give us a call. We want you to have all the information you need about the ways these habits impact oral health, and we want you to have all the tools you need to fight back!

We love our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.