How to Whiten Your Teeth

Ashamed woman hiding her smile in a conversation with a friend

Everyone wants whiter teeth. They boost our confidence, widen our smile and make us feel healthier and, yes, better looking. Fortunately, there are a number of home remedy and retail product options to help you whiten your yellow teeth, remove coffee or tobacco stains and even help with teeth stains from medications. For more difficult tooth discoloration, or for faster and more effective results, there are advanced solutions provided by your dentist, available thanks to today’s sophisticated technologies and treatment methods.

Below we discuss a few of the teeth whitening options available. No matter what you choose to do, take time to discuss teeth whitening with your dentist at your next regular visit as he or she can help you choose the most appropriate teeth whitening alternative for your situation. After all, your dentist knows your teeth better than anyone.

Causes of Tooth Discoloration

smiling woman with yellow dirty teeth holding cigarette

There are two forms of tooth discoloration—extrinsic (on the surface) and intrinsic (inside the tooth). As a rule, extrinsic stains can normally be improved or removed while intrinsic stains are generally much harder to deal with. Below are some common causes of these two types of tooth staining.

Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration — There are numerous causes of extrinsic teeth staining, surface discoloration left by foods and substances you eat or smoke, including:

  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Medications
  • Various antihistamines
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Mouth injury (causing teeth to generate more dentin, a darker layer beneath the enamel)
  • Many foods and beverages can contribute to, or cause tooth stains, including:
    • Coffee
    • Black or green tea
    • Soda
    • Red or white wine
    • Blackberries or blueberries
    • Pomegranates
    • High-sugar snacks
    • Marinara or barbeque sauces

Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration — Permanent tooth stains that originate in the inner structure of the tooth are referred to as intrinsic stains. This form of tooth discoloration is much more difficult to reduce or eliminate. Some causes of intrinsic discoloration include:

  • Taking antibiotics during childhood — Young children who were exposed to antibiotics such as tetracycline or doxycycline in the womb or as an infant may develop discolored teeth as adults.
  • Chemotherapy — Chemotherapy as well as radiation of the neck and head can darken the teeth.
  • Aging — The natural aging process can bring discoloration of teeth, due to a variety of lifestyle, dental maintenance, and/or medical conditions.
  • Genetics — Some genetic conditions can cause or contribute to intrinsic teeth discoloration.

Stain-Preventive Tooth Care

Happy young woman using electric toothbrush in bathroom

Of course, the most recommended strategy for getting back a smile with bright white teeth is to maintain effective daily care of your teeth. Here are four simple things that can make a big difference in the color and health of your teeth:

  • Brush and floss twice daily to help prevent stains from forming
  • Switch to an electric toothbrush to get a better clean
  • Use tooth whitening toothpastes containing very mild whitening agents
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush to help maintain gum health and avoid damaging tooth enamel

Natural Ways to Whiten Teeth

teeth whitening before and after concept. comparision between yellow and white teeth

The least expensive of the long-tested approaches for teeth whitening are natural methods. Some of these simple methods can help with extrinsic staining:

  1. Hydrogen peroxide — Most home teeth whitening systems contain this bleaching agent. The inexpensive pharmacy variety contains a very low percentage of the agent. Note that the American Dental Association has suggested that rinsing with this solution is likely to irritate gums faster than it whitens teeth. However, using a gel containing a higher percentage of the agent (6% hydrogen peroxide) may whiten teeth after two weeks of routine application.
  2. Baking powder — Baking powder is a mild abrasive agent, effective for scrubbing away teeth stains. You can add a little tap water to create a baking soda paste and use the paste to gently brush your teeth. This method can remove light stains and brighten teeth. However, brushing teeth with toothpaste products that contains baking soda over time may work better to reduce surface stains.
  3. Oil Pulling – used commonly in traditional ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling is simply swishing an oil like sesame or coconut oil around in your mouth for a period of time, usually 10-20 minutes. While this seems a lot of time commitment, it is effective at removing bacteria and surface contaminants from your teeth and tongue. But oil pulling has to be done regularly to have an effect on removing extrinsic tooth stains.

Commercial Teeth Whiteners

If you want to whiten your teeth more q uickly and with products specifically formulated for that, you can use commercial over-the-counter teeth whitening products. Some of these work well for moderate tooth whitening needs, and, though not as cheap as natural products, they’re relatively inexpensive. Some popular types include:

  1. Whitening toothpastes and treatments – a number of commercial products available over the counter can help with whitening your teeth. Simply ask your dentist for his or her recommendation so you  can get the best one for your situation, budget and lifestyle. Below are two examples.
  2. Carbamide Peroxide — An ADA accepted bleaching gel, some over-the-counter (OTC) products contain this chemical. These products may also contains potassium nitrate to help prevent increased sensitivity from the treatments and promote strengthening of tooth enamel. Check for the ADA seal of approval before buying any OTC teeth-whitening products.
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide — Some commercial whitening products available online and in stores contain 10% hydrogen peroxide in a gel that is administered on thin plastic strips, one on the upper and one on the lower teeth. An example is Crest 3-D Whitening Strips (and other whitening strips of this kind) which are molded around the front surfaces of the teeth. The strips are effective, and the lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide is more appropriate for people with sensitive teeth.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Dentist performing GLO teeth whitening procedure with woman dental patient

There are circumstances under which you should leave your teeth whitening to your dentist. It may be time to consult with your dentist about having teeth whitening treatment performed at a dental office, if you encounter problems like:

  • Unsuccessful whitening attempts — The discoloration does not improve by using any of the following usual methods:
    • Increasing the consistency and quality of your routine dental hygiene
    • Changing your diet to eliminate tooth-staining foods and/or beverages
    • Trying natural tooth whitening agents
    • Using commercial whitening products
  • Extreme discoloration — You may have intrinsic or serious extrinsic staining, requiring professional application of stronger whitening products.
  • Teeth or gum sensitivity — You have sensitive teeth or gums. Most home whitening agents will cause discomfort and irritation.
  • Tooth damage — You have damaged teeth or apparent tooth decay.
  • Risk of over-whitening — You are concerned about mistakes such as over-whitening. This error can actually cause additional tooth discoloration, causing your teeth to turn a slightly gray color.

Your dentist will use his or her best judgment in choosing a method for whitening your teeth. This will involve considering the type of staining, your overall dental/medical situation and your budget. The dentist will choose from a number of approved procedures, including the latest laser whitening technology and advanced bleaching processes.  Be sure to go over the entire program with the dentist so you understand the cost, timeline and your responsibilities as far as care at home.

Dr. Jesús Medina Jr. DDS — GLO Teeth Whitening Treatment

Patient with perfect white teeth and smile satisfied after dental treatment in a dentist office with medical equipment

Dr. Medina offers a convenient, pain free and fast teeth whitening service. The GLO (Guided Light Optics) technique uses advanced laser technology to speed up the teeth whitening process and produce a better-looking result. GLO is an innovative teeth whitening technology allowing pain-free treatments that won’t result in increased tooth sensitivity. The treatments are also simpler to administer than other types of professional whitening procedures, which has made the teeth whitening process more convenient for patients. This system is safe and highly effective.

GLO combines light and heat to applied with a simple device to activate a special tooth gel. This process provides results in one treatment that is only possible in professional dental office teeth whitening treatments. And, it provides the convenience of very simple and effective at-home maintenance.

Dr. Medina and his caring dental office staff provide a full range of dental services to his patients, including general care and cosmetic and restorative dentistry. If you would like more information about your options for teeth whitening, or to make a dental appointment, contact Dr. Medina’s Las Vegas dental office by calling (702) 368-3627 or request an appointment. Once you’ve seen Dr. Medina, you’ll love your bright new smile!

How Does Your Diet Affect Your Teeth?

Closeup shot of young woman eating fresh salad at restaurant. Healthy african girl eating salad and looking away. Smiling young woman holding a forkful of salad.

If you’ve recently received some disappointing or expensive news from your dentist, you may be wondering if what eat might be partly to blame. We all know about candy and sugar, which generally can increase the likelihood of cavities and other trouble with your teeth. But what positive things can you do with your diet to actually help your teeth?

In addition to the recommended dental hygiene routine of brushing your teeth twice per day, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist for a checkup every six months, paying just a little extra attention to the foods and drinks you consume will help you keep your healthy smile glowing for a long time.

Foods That Improve Your Teeth

It’s probably not a surprise that a generally well-balanced diet will help your teeth and gums just like it does for the rest of you, so use common sense when choosing what you eat. In addition, here are a few especially tooth-friendly foods you can add to your diet to help strengthen your teeth and improve your gums.

close-up of beautiful teeth a girl biting an apple

  • Leafy greens – Greens like collards, spinach, kale and bok choy contain high levels of calcium and vitamin K, improving your bone density which helps strengthen your teeth and gums.
  • Firm fruits like apples and pears – Although these fruits (like all fruits) have a fairly high sugar content, they also have enough water to dilute the effect of this sugar on your teeth. Apples and pears are also loaded with vitamins, ensuring good gum health.
  • Cheese – In addition to being loaded with calcium, cheese can neutralize the effect of many of the other acids and other enamel-eroding elements in the food you eat, protecting your teeth in the process.
  • Nuts – Nuts are another food that can help your overall tooth and gum health. By being loaded with phosphorus, an essential mineral, nuts like peanuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts can preserve the delicate capillaries that supply blood to your teeth and gums.

Foods That Can Harm Your Teeth

Gummy bear invasion mother and son among large gummy bears symbolizing foods bad for your teeth

While it’s ok to eat whatever you want in moderation, eating or drinking too many of these treats and foods can cause dental damage:

  • pouring green soda into glass with ice from bottle symbolizing junk food bad for your teethLollipops  – If, like many, you tend to eat lollipops wedged in one cheek, you may be exposing these teeth to pure sugar, increasing your risk of cavities. When you eat lollipops, avoid having them in direct contact with your teeth, and be sure to brush or at least rinse your mouth with water after you’ve finished to avoid tooth damage from sugar left behind.
  • Gummy snacks – Chewy fruit snacks or gummy candy can also be harmful to your teeth — these candies tend to become lodged in the small spaces between your teeth, leading to bacteria growth that may eventually cause a cavity.
  • Coffee with sugar or honey – Although black coffee won’t cause any dental damage other than a slight staining of your teeth, coffee sweetened with sugar or honey — or the use of sugar-based coffee creamer — can cause many of the same issues present with lollipops and other high-sugar items. Consider sweetening your coffee in a different way or even phasing out sweetener altogether.
  • Soda – Heavy consumption of carbonated soft drinks can cause a high rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) in your blood which causes vital calcium to leach out of your bones, including your jaw. This can increase your risk of osteoporosis and other bone density disorders. In addition, many types of soda contain citric acid or another type of preservative acid, which can cause additional erosion of your dental enamel and increase your risk of cavities and tooth decay.
  • Pickles – or any other high-pH foods, like lemons and other citrus fruits — can erode your dental enamel. These foods are all very acidic, making them bad news for dental enamel unless mixed with neutralizing fats that can minimize the total acid level of the food you’re eating.

Eat a Variety of Real Food for Dental Health

Close Up Of Man Eating Healthy Snack Of Brazil Nuts

Your body was built to find all the nutrients it needs to keep you healthy, including your teeth and gums, from foods that nature provides. The best way to keep your mouth healthy is to keep this in mind. Look for foods that are not processed in a factory but processed instead in nature. This means a real peach instead of peach cobbler, corn on the cob instead of corn flakes and, well, you get the idea. In general, stay away from foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce, or ones with lots of added sugar, and your smile will be brighter than ever before because you and your teeth will feel and look better.

Celebrate World Oral Health Day, March 20, 2017

A Day to Appreciate Your Healthy Teeth and Gums

Anyone who’s ever shied away from bad breath instinctively knows the importance of good oral hygiene. But we don’t see our own teeth much, so it’s easy to let them slip out of sight, out of mind, when other things in life demand your attention. Well, here’s an opportunity to give a little thought to your oral health.

March 20 is World Oral Health Day, the perfect time to remember just how important good oral health is, for everything from self-esteem to its impact on your overall health, not to mention your ability to enjoy eating and everyday activities without pain.

Here’s a great guide, Mouth Smart provided for World Oral Health day that shows you how easy it can be to take care of your dental health.

The Downsides of Poor Dental Hygiene

Everybody knows that feeling of dread that comes when the dentist starts an exam by saying “Well, you’re going to need…” It’s equal parts fear for ourselves — after all, there’s no escaping the reality of having someone drill away at your teeth when it’s happening right in your face — and fear for our pocketbooks. The financial struggle is real: Americans spend some $110 billion every year on oral care, a Portrait of a handsome young Hispanic man brushing his teethcost that could be greatly reduced if we all did regular preventive care and reduced our risk factors for oral disease.

As tempting as it might be to put off fillings or other restorative care until they become an emergency, consider this: In extreme cases, oral disease is associated with everything from pain and anxiety to disfigurement and poor quality of sleep, and it can even interfere with your ability to do everyday tasks like eating or speaking. If you’ve suffered at toothache, you’re not alone.  According to the CDC, 27% of adults and 17% of children have untreated cavities in their teeth, a problem that, left untreated, can lead to loss of the tooth.

Flossing and brushing after every meal will go a long way to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. As many dental hygienists say, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.” But just in case that’s not enough motivation to keep that smile nice and bright, consider this: Oral health is an important indicator of your general health and well-being. It’s no coincidence that the same risk factors that cause oral health problems (tobacco use, harmful alcohol use and a poor diet, especially if it’s rich in sugar) also elevate your risk of developing conditions like heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic respiratory problems. And poor dental hygiene allows harmful bacteria to enter your body, which can lead to heart disease and other major health problems.

The Good Side of Oral Health

Now, the flip side: When you have the privilege of showing off a bright, healthy smile to the world, it’s Cute girl cleaning teeth by floss in bathimpossible not to feel good about yourself. Social interactions become easier, because you’re not worried about letting people see your teeth. Your immune system doesn’t have to struggle against persistent inflammation or infections. You won’t have to worry about pain when you eat or drink.

Just make time for regular preventative dental care. Make it a habit to eat a healthy diet that’s low in sugar.  Floss daily, and brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time.  With those simple habits, you’ll save money on dental care that you won’t need. But perhaps the most importantly of all, you’ll have the use of your teeth for many years to come.

So thank your teeth and gums on Monday March 20th, World Oral Health Day, for all they do for you, and remember to be good to them from now on!

 

Laser Dentistry: better for your teeth and gums

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laser dental treatment for a little girl

You do everything you can to care for your teeth and gums. You want them to be there for you throughout your lifetime and you know they are an important part of taking care of your overall health. Dental care starts at home with regular brushing and flossing, and of course, we all need regular cleaning and checkups at the dentist.

But, problems with teeth and gums can develop over time.  When you do need additional procedures, it’s good to know that modern dentistry has come a long way. With the equipment, training and procedures available today, going to the dentist doesn’t have to be painful, and our dental care is more effective than ever.

One recent development is the use of laser dentistry for some procedures.  With its gentler approach, laser dentistry can reduce pain and healing time.  Less invasive and more precise, laser dentistry means less damage to surrounding areas that don’t need treatment. Laser procedures may also help minimize bleeding and swelling. When used in conjunction with traditional treatment, laser dentistry is a great option for a number of common dental procedures.

What is Laser Dentistry?

Lasers are beams of light that use heat to cause a reaction on whatever surface they touch.  Used for many things as precision tools, they have also proven to be a safe and efficient way to repair teeth and gums for some dental procedures. It works because laser heat is minimal and so precise it is able to remove only diseased tissue, leaving healthy tissue around it intact and undisturbed. The laser may also be used for “curing” a filling, that is helping it bond to the surface of the tooth, and in tooth-whitening procedures where the laser’s heat helps to activate the bleaching agents.

Laser Dentistry is Better For Your Teeth

Laser dentistry is better for your teeth in two primary ways.

If you have a cavity, it needs to be taken care of quickly. Without treatment, your tooth will decay further, causing pain and eventually the loss of your tooth. In the past, the dentist relied on a drill to remove large chunks of the tooth in order to make sure all the decay was gone. But, with this method, the drill takes out a big part of the tooth, not just the decayed part. You can end up losing too much of your tooth to remove a cavity that is very small. Once it’s weakened, that tooth is more likely to eventually have to be replaced with a more costly dental implant.

Laser dentistry helps address that problem. It’s precise, and it does little external damage, focusing only where it is needed. The healthy part of the tooth stays intact, assuring it will have a better chance of lasting longer.  And, this saves you, the patient, money and inconvenience down the road, because it’s less likely you will have the pain and expense of a tooth that has to be removed and replaced.

Laser Dentistry is Better for the Gums

The second way that laser dentistry helps protect your teeth is by helping to keep your gums healthy. When gums are severely inflamed, they separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria to go deep into the roots. Eventually that tooth will fall out.  So, healthy gums mean healthier teeth.

If you have periodontal disease, or gum disease, during treatment a dental hygienist would typically use various hand instruments to break up the plaque under the gumline and remove the pockets of nasty bacteria. The gum must be pulled away from the tooth in order to scrape this material out from under the gums. But this procedure is also damaging to the gums, delaying healing and often resulting in discomfort and occasionally bleeding.

Dental laser treatment for gums, on the other hand, uses a gentle beam of light to gently dissolve pockets of bacteria at and below the gumline. The laser can more effectively target tight areas that dental tools struggle to reach without causing pain. Since the laser can be finely targeted, damage to the gums is minimal and the procedure is pain free, needing no anesthetic or extended healing time.

The American Dental Association looks “positively” on the dental laser procedure for its potential to reduce the need for local anesthetic, which besides the nuisance factor of having a numb mouth for hours also carries some minor medical risks.  Laser dentistry means fewer times the dentist needs to use local anesthetic, which everyone can appreciate.

While laser dentistry is still in the early stages, it is widely used for a number of procedures where it has proven to be both effective and comfortable for patients.  We expect that its uses will increase as new way are found to use this tool to better care for your teeth and gums, and make a visit to the dentist easier than ever before.

Waterlase treatment available now

Dr. Medina offers Waterlase dental laser treatment for a number of procedures including dental fillings, root canals, gum treatment and more.  Learn how Waterlase works and call Dr. Medina today to see if you can benefit from pain free Waterlase dental laser care.

5 Tips from Your Las Vegas Dentist For Good Dental Health

We’re all so busy and sometimes we forget about our teeth. But neglected teeth will remind you – sometimes very painfully – that they are there and need attention. Good oral care begins at home, with Smiling little girl in dentists chair being educated about proper tooth-brushing by her paediatric dentist. Early prevention raising awareness oral hygiene demonstration concept.regular brushing after meals and maintenance, like regular flossing. Taking care of your teeth is really easy to learn and it doesn’t take a lot of time.

Of course good dental care includes regular visits to your Las Vegas dentist, to catch those things that you can’t monitor from home, like spotting cavities, checking gum and root health, and testing for loose caps or fillings.

Remember, regular care at home and visits to your dentist for checkups will help prevent an emergency toothache or other painful, unpleasant situation, and can save you money on expensive procedures needed later due to lack of regular dental care.

Five Home Care Tips for your Teeth

Here are five tips for home care of your teeth recommended by dentists to avoid gum disease and tooth decay:

  1. Brush your teeth after each meal. You’ve heard it since you were a kid, but it bears repeating–brushing after every meal goes a long way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease by eliminating food residue which builds up plaque. If you can’t brush after every meal, rinse your mouth out, or even better, gargle with mouthwash. If you can’t brush after a meal because you’re out and about, you can opt for a “liquid lunch” like a power smoothie, or a healthy snack like carrot sticks, apple, Happy young woman at her Las Vegas dentist office flossing teeth.or other food which will not leave a plaque-inducing residue. Crunchy fruits and veggies will actually help clean the teeth!
  2. Floss regularly. This is another one you’ve heard all your life, and for good reason. Flossing helps rid your tooth and gum surfaces of food residues which create plaque and all kinds of trouble in your mouth unless removed. Proper flossing technique includes using approximately 18 inches of floss wrapped around the middle fingers of each hand; then, run the floss between teeth and down to gum surfaces–careful not to cut into the gum surfaces! Gently move the floss between each tooth you can reach, then rinse your mouth out with a good mouthwash. Do once a day, or every other day for optimum dental health.
  3. Use a highly-rated toothbrush and the proper brushing technique. Here’s one you probably haven’t heard as often as the previous two: Using a higher-end, dentist-rated electric brush like the Oral-B Smart Series or Pursonic Rechargeable will get you huge points for preventive dental maintenance. You will want to use the proper brushing technique as well, whichTeenage Girl Brushing Teeth Braces with Electric Toothbrushconsists of making sure the bristles hit your teeth at a 45-degree angle; use short, circular motions, making sure to hit the back sides of the teeth as well. Brushing the tongue and gum lines is also important for a thorough cleaning.
  4. Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. This is one dental tip many forget about. Don’t end up with a virtually useless toothbrush that has bent, frayed bristles: make sure to buy a good quality toothbrush, or switch out your electric brush heads every season. This will help make sure your bristles hit your dental surfaces right on the mark and do their job as they were meant to do.
  5. Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Making sure your toothpaste and mouthwash contain the necessary fluoride level to help eliminate plaque from your teeth and gums is also essential to maintaining good dental health. This is one you are likely to hear from your Las Vegas dentist, along with the other steps.

Your Las Vegas dentist says: Don’t get caught with poor dental health, which can lead to things like gingivitis, bad breath, tooth decay, painful cavities and abscessed roots, and even heart problems, according to some studies linking poor dental health and heart disease.  Spend a few minutes  a day with your teeth and they will love you for it!

If it’s time for your dental check-up, give Dr. Jesus Medina, your Las Vegas dentist, a call.

Preventing Gum Disease: Care and Treatment

Could you be one of the 47.2 percent of American adults age 30 years and older with some form of gum, or periodontal, disease? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that gum disease is more common in men than women, and if you’re 65 or older, your chances increase to over 70 percent.

The main culprit behind gum disease is the bacteria found in the sticky film, or plaque, that accumulates between your teeth and gums. Excessive plaque can build up and harden, forming tartar.

Periodontitis inflammation of the gums detailed illustration. Healthy tooth Gingivitis and at the end advanced Periodontitis

If left unattended, the tissue that supports your teeth becomes inflamed and infected. As the inflammation progresses, mouth tissue and bone can be severely damaged, leaving your teeth unsupported and often loose — or even lost. It’s important to seek dental treatment at the first sign of gum infection to ensure the healthy life of your teeth and the surrounding bone structure.  

What are the early symptoms of gum disease?

Although some people don’t show signs of early-stage gum disease until it progresses to a serious condition called periodontitis, there are usually common warning signs:

  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or chewing hard food
  • Swollen, red, or tender gums or mouth sores
  • Receding gums that are pulling away from your tooth surface
  • Pain or sensitivity while chewing
  • Frequent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Loose teeth

How does gum disease affect my overall health?

Medical research indicates that there is a strong connection between gum disease and other chronic diseases and health conditions. It is believed that inflammation in the mouth is directly linked to the inflammation behind heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.  

Gum disease increases the risk of heart disease, and it also may worsen existing heart conditions. It raises the blood sugar in diabetics, putting them at greater risk for complications. Studies have found that men with gum disease are 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, 49 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer, and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers. Gum disease is also linked to respiratory disease: the bacteria in the mouth can be drawn into the lungs and cause pneumonia.

Can I prevent gum disease with care and treatment?

Yes! The most important thing you can do to safeguard the health of your teeth and mouth is to remove plaque before it has a chance to harden into tartar. Your dentist and hygienist can help you reverse gingivitis with a deep cleaning method called scaling and root planning, but there are many steps you can take at home to prevent gum disease and maintain the health of your mouth after a professional cleaning:

  • Brush after each meal and every snack with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss every day to remove the food and plaque between your teeth that your toothbrush misses.
  • Use a plaque-fighting mouthwash.
  • Lower stress. It’s a known risk factor for gum disease.
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco use is strongly associated with the development and progression of gum disease.

The best insurance against gum disease is to schedule an appointment with your dentist once or twice a year for regular check-ups and thorough cleanings.

Do you have bad teeth due to teeth grinding?

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Find out how teeth grinding affects your teeth

Tooth grinding is a condition that is often overlooked and can lead to serious dental and other problems. Find out know what tooth grinding is, how you know you have it, and the treatment.

What is teeth grinding?

Boy in red hat grinding his teethTeeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a disorder in which you clench your jaw and grind your teeth together, putting pressure on your teeth and jaws. The condition may be voluntary, involuntary, or both.  With voluntary teeth grinding, you habitually clench or grind your teeth during times of stress or anxiety. Involuntary teeth grinding, on the other and, causes you to grind your teeth during sleep. Many people experience both voluntary and involuntary teeth grinding, since one can lead to the other.

What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?

If you have voluntary tooth grinding, you are already aware there is a problem. However, if you have involuntary teeth grinding you may not know you have this condition since it happens while you sleep. Here are warning signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Your teeth seem flatter or more worn than they used to
  • You have chipped or loose teeth that weren’t caused by injury
  • Increased teeth sensitivity
  • Sore or tight jaw
  • Pain or tightness in face, especially in the mornings
  • Earaches
  • Headaches
  • Pain and swelling on insides of your cheeks as if you’ve bitten them, but you don’t remember doing so
  • Fatigue
  • Fatigue in sleeping partner if the sound from tooth grinding wakes your partner

What causes tooth grinding?

There are various reasons you may grind your teeth. Here are the most common causes:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Misaligned bite
  • Missing or crooked teeth
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleep apnea
  • Neurological diseases
  • Medication side effect 

Why is it important to treat bruxism?

Broken tooth dental symbol and toothache dentistry concept as a single cracked damaged molarBruxism may seem like just an annoying bad habit. If you are noticing symptoms, though, you may wonder if the condition needs treatment or if you should wait for it to go away. Teeth grinding can cause serious dental issues if it’s not treated. The constant force and pressure from your jaw muscles can damage your teeth. Here are possible complications of tooth grinding:

  • Fractured, broken teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Damage to existing dental work including crowns and bridges
  • Jaw disorders,including damage to temporomandibular joints (TMJ)
  • Headache

What can you do at home to prevent teeth grinding?

If you have voluntary bruxism, you need to become aware of your jaw and teeth. If you catch yourself grinding your teeth, take a deep breath and relax your jaw muscles. If you seem to be frequently under stress, find a way to relieve the stress before bedtime with exercise, meditation, and relaxation techniques. Here are other ways to help reduce your tooth grinding:

  • Avoid products that stimulate the nervous system and can cause anxiety such as coffee, soda, and chocolate
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol
  • Avoid activities that simulate teeth clenching or grinding as these can lead to both voluntary and involuntary forms, like chewing gum or ice, or nervous habits such as chewing on the ends of pens and pencils.
  • Whenever you notice your jaw tightening, relax it and position your tongue between your teeth or use your tongue to push on the roof of your mouth.
  • Use a warm washcloth on your face and cheeks to encourage muscle relaxation before bed

See your Dentist for help with Teeth Grinding

Doctor Presenting a Mouth Guard with his handWhen home remedies aren’t enough, or you are experiencing jaw or dental pain, it may be time to ask your dentist for help. A dentist can create a custom mouth guard that prevents damage to your teeth from sleep grinding. You simply use the mouth guard every night while you sleep. Mouth guards minimize the damage done to your teeth while you use other methods like stress management to reduce your bruxism. If your teeth grinding is caused by a misaligned bite or crooked teeth, dental work to correct these problems will help.

Tooth grinding may seem like a harmless condition, but it can cause big dental problems as time goes on.  When you wear your teeth down and damage them, you end up needed major repair or replacement of the damaged tooth with procedures like:

  • Crowns
  • Root canals
  • Bridges
  • Partial dentures
  • Implants

If you suspect you may have tooth grinding, make an appointment to see your dentist and work together on a plan to repair any damage and a solution to stop the tooth grinding for good.

Toothache! Some Causes and Home Remedies

There’s no denying that tooth pain can be really overwhelming. It seems to radiate everywhere and when you have it, it’s hard to think of anything else. All you can really think about is relief.  If you can’t get to a dentist right away, what can you do?

What Causes a Toothache?

blond young woman with tooth pain holding hand to her face

Toothache can be the result of a number of tooth and gum related problems. Some may come on suddenly, and some may have been developing for a long time. Here are some causes of tooth pain:

  • abscess – this is a painful inflammation caused by bacterial infection inside the tooth or between the gum and the tooth.  A dentist may perform a root canal to clean out the infection (don’t worry, root canals today are virtually painless).
  • broken tooth – even if it’s not painful right away, a broken tooth may become infected. See your dentist as soon as possible to get it repaired.
  • tooth decay/cavities – especially if you haven’t seen a dentist regularly, tooth decay can develop and then suddenly result in pain when the decay exposes a nerve in the tooth.
  • damaged or lost fillings – be proactive if you lose or break a filling to get it repaired before further damage or severe pain occurs. If it’s a crown, save it and bring it to the dentist to be reset. You may even be able to reset the crown temporarily on the tooth, just be sure to wash it first and then use a bit of dental adhesive.
  • tooth grinding – many people grind their teeth in their sleep, which can lead to broken, loose or damaged teeth. Ways to reduce this tendency are to cut back on caffeine and alcohol and don’t chew gum. You can also practice relaxing your jaws when you feel yourself tensing up. Or, try holding a warm cloth to your jaws before bed.
  • gum infections – gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontal disease (retreat of the gums over time due to chronic inflammation) occur when plaque, or bacteria on the teeth, damages the gums. Eventually, the gums retreat from the teeth and the pockets cause decay of the tooth.

Is your tooth pain just temporary?

Temporary tooth pain, including hot or cold sensitivity, is common. Sometimes chewing gum or ice can cause a flair up. Usually this pain doesn’t last more than a few minutes. Gum irritation from chewing or brushing may make an area temporarily more sensitive. However, tooth pain that lasts more than one or two days is generally a sign of a larger problem and should be addressed by a dentist.

Home Remedies for Tooth Pain

While all toothache ultimately needs the expert attention of a dentist, if you can’t get in right away and need relief, here are a few home remedies you can use to help stop the pain.

  • Oil of cloves in a brown glass dropper bottle with scattered cloves isolated over white background. Alternative remedy for toothache.Cloves – Cloves have been used for the treatment of tooth pain long before there were dentists on every city block. Why? Cloves contain both antiseptic and anesthetic properties to help eliminate germs that may be the cause of a gum infection and help with the pain. Use clove essential oil and apply to the affected area with a cotton ball.
  • Tea bag – apply a warm tea bag to the tooth. Tannic acid in tea helps reduce inflammation. Tea bags also help to stop the bleeding of a broken tooth.
  • Brandy – no, don’t drink it! Rub it on the area affected instead. The brandy acts as a topical numbing agent to help relieve the pain.
  • Warm salt water – Swish warm salt water around in your mouth and then spit it out. If the pain is severe, just hold the warm water in your mouth for 30 seconds to a minute.  Repeat it as often as needed. Don’t swallow the saltwater and don’t use this method if you’re on a reduced salt diet.
  • Hot or cold compresses – Depending on which feels better for you, consider using hot or cold compresses. Hold the compress against the affected area of your face for ten minutes. Then rest ten minutes. Do this three times during the course of an hour.
  • Over the counter meds – for temporary pain relief try Benzocaine ointment, or use over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol),  ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). Follow all instructions and don’t take an excess dose because you have severe pain. Your dentist may be able to prescribe something stronger if it’s needed for temporary relief until you can get the treatment you need.

In general, toothache home remedies are only temporary solutions to a bigger underlying problem. The best course of action is to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to prevent a small and manageable dental problem from becoming something much bigger.  And get rid of your toothache pain for good!

Dr. Jesus Medina Jr, DDS in Las Vegas can help with your tooth pain. Give us a call now for an appointment.