Got Jaw Pain? TMJ Awareness Month

Cracking, snapping, or grating sounds when you open or close your mouth. Jaw pain. Ringing or aching ears. Difficulty chewing or the jaw joint locking in place. Headaches or migraines. Do you have some or all of these symptoms? If so, you may have a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder—also known as TMD—which can range from mild to severe. For TMJ awareness month, let’s go into more detail about what TMJ disorders are, what causes them, methods of treatment, and how to prevent symptoms from progressing.

What are TMJ Disorders?

The two joints located near the ears on either side of the jaw are known as the TMJ. It is the dysfunction of these small but essential joints that causes TMJ disorders to occur. Unfortunately, women are twice as likely to be affected by TMD as men, and science has yet to determine the reasons why.

TMJ disorders are incredibly common, affecting over 3 million people in the US alone. Even if you don’t have a TMJ disorder yourself, you probably know someone who does, so spreading awareness of the symptoms can benefit everyone.

You may wonder how TMJ disorders start in the first place. The causes aren’t always apparent, but some potential reasons include:

  • Bruxism (a catch-all term for grinding, clenching, and bracing your jaw and teeth)
  • Jaw injury
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Stress
  • Arthritis

Bruxism most often happens during sleep, and people are often unaware that they are doing it. If you sleep with a partner, ask if they have noticed any grinding sounds. You can also look inside your mouth for a scalloped (wavy) pattern on the sides of your tongue—this can indicate bruxism.

Additionally, certain medications can make bruxism start or become worse. Many common mental health medications like antidepressants and antipsychotics can cause bruxism.

Illustration of a man and woman both clutching their jaws in pain

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you have a TMJ disorder but it doesn’t cause pain or limit the range of motion in your jaw, it probably does not require treatment. For cases that are more disruptive, it is a good idea to be evaluated by a medical professional to get customized advice or to be recommended to a specialist. They will likely do a physical examination of your face and neck, and they may suggest an x-ray or MRI depending on the results.

Here are a few simple at-home treatments you can try:

  • Exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw (such as the ones listed here)
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin
  • Cold or hot packs on the jaw
  • Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing on gum and ice
  • Maintaining good posture
  • Once an hour, mindfully unclench your jaw and place the tongue on the top palette of your mouth behind the teeth

For treatments that are a step above home care, you can get a custom night guard made to help mitigate damage and allow the jaw to relax overnight. Dentists and doctors can also prescribe medications in the muscle relaxer, anxiety reduction, or pain management categories.

More medically invasive options for TMJ disorders include:

  • Prolotherapy, in which an irritant solution is injected with the hope of triggering the body to repair the joint;
  • Arthrocentesis, a minor procedure that can help with inflammation;
  • Botox injections, though there is little evidence that these work to effectively treat TMD;
  • Arthroscopy, a procedure where a doctor makes a small incision with a camera in order to view and treat jaw joint dysfunction;
  • and major surgery, including TMJ implants that replace some or all of the jaw joint. This is a last-resort option reserved for only the most severe cases.

If you think you have a TMJ disorder and home treatments aren’t helping, contact our office for an evaluation so we can help you find a solution!

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

September is National Gum Care Month

September is here, which means welcoming the beginning of autumn, cooler weather, and most importantly in dentistry, National Gum Care Month! You probably already know the importance of good oral health, but you may not know how to give your gums the best care or how to identify the signs and symptoms of gum disease.

Know Your Gum Diseases

There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up and causes gum inflammation and bleeding. Of the two types of gum disease, gingivitis is less severe, and gum disease will start here and progress into periodontitis if left untreated. At the gingivitis stage, it is simple enough to treat and reverse the damage, which is why it is important to keep up with your regular dental cleaning appointments so that your dentist can catch it early.

Periodontitis, the secondary stage of gum disease, happens when tartar accumulates around the gumline and causes the formation of pockets around the teeth. These gum pockets allow bacteria and plaque to spread, destroying the tissues that keep your teeth secure in your mouth. With advanced periodontitis, you can lose your teeth. It’s the number one cause of adult tooth loss, so stopping gum disease in its tracks before it gets to this point is essential!

According to the CDC, gum diseases are more likely to affect certain demographics. The most at-risk groups are men, senior adults, and people living below the federal poverty line or who did not graduate from high school. Women experiencing hormonal changes such as pregnancy—or even simply using the birth control pill—have increased risk as well. Finally, genetics can also play a role. If your family is prone to dental problems, chances are you will be too.

Graphic of surprised woman and list of symptoms of unhealthy gums that is pulled from article

Healthy or Unhealthy?

Look in the mirror—are your gums healthy? Healthy gums should be pink, firm, and not have any bleeding or swelling when you floss or brush your teeth. Unhealthy gums are likely to have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Tenderness
  • Recession along the gumline
  • Gums pulling away from teeth

If you notice any of these worrying signs, make an appointment with your dentist right away.

Preventing Periodontal Woes

By now, you probably know the drill (pun intended) if you’ve been listening to your dentist, but it bears repeating: brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are the most important habits you can have to maintain good oral hygiene! These are especially important if you have a family history of poor dental health.

Curbing some of your bad habits can help prevent gum disease. Smoking or not getting enough nutrients in your diet contribute to gum disease and dental deterioration. Brushing your teeth too aggressively or with a toothbrush with firm bristles can damage gums and cause the appearance of gingivitis. Also, be sure to replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head once every three months so bristles don’t become too worn to scrub off plaque and massage your gums.

Mouthwashes are an optional step, but these can be a good idea if you are genetically prone to gum disease or have higher-risk habits that you are unwilling or unable to give up. They can reduce the plaque that contributes to gum disease and provide bonuses like whitening teeth and/or freshening breath. There are also mouth rinses that help with dry mouth, and dry mouth can also be a factor in gum disease.

Knowledge is power! Now that you are armed with information, you can create healthy habits that last well beyond September and into the rest of your life.

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

Swim Away from Dental Damage This Summer

Swimming is a good way to beat the heat, but did you know it can have an impact on your dental health? It’s true!

In recent years, it has become clear that there is a link between chlorinated pool water and dental conditions referred to as swimmer’s erosion, swimmer’s calculus, or swimmer’s mouth. When left untreated, these conditions can cause unpleasant effects like enamel loss, tooth sensitivity, transparency around edges of teeth, yellow or brown staining, and tartar buildup. Fortunately, knowledge is power, and we are here to give you details about how you can avoid having chlorinated chompers.

Who Should Be Worried?

Competitive swimmers—defined as people who swim at least two hours each day five days a week—need to be especially mindful of harm caused by pool water. According to a study from the University of Western Australia, children who swim competitively have a significant increase in dental staining as compared to their peers.

On the other hand, if you are only an occasional swimmer, it is unlikely that you need to worry much about the effects on your teeth unless they are already compromised.

People who normally swim in a saltwater pool also have less to worry about. This type of pool still contains chlorine, but not as much as traditional pool water. Aside from being better for your oral health, saltwater pools have the added bonus of being milder for your eyes, skin, and hair.

Everyone, regardless of how much or where they swim, should avoid pools that aren’t regularly tested. Swimmer’s dental conditions will worsen from badly maintained pools with improper chlorine and pH levels.

graphic of woman swimming with excerpt text from the article

Preventing Damage

So, does this mean that you can no longer enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool if you want healthy teeth? Not at all! Swimming is great for your mind and body, and it’s a fun way to increase exercise during the hot summer months. However, taking a few precautions will reduce the chance of dental erosion and staining caused by pool water. Here are some tips to keep your teeth in great shape:

  • Try to keep your mouth closed while you swim.
  • Brush your teeth before getting in the water so that chemicals don’t stick to plaque.
  • If you own a chlorinated swimming pool, test the water weekly and keep the pH levels between 7.2 and 7.6 to protect enamel while still maintaining the bacteria-killing effects of the chlorine.
  • If using a public pool, there are two main things you can do to check for proper maintenance:
  • Ask questions about the facility’s pool maintenance procedures. If they aren’t testing the water regularly, try to swim in a different pool.
  • Look at structures attached to the pool such as ladders. If they show signs of erosion, chances are good that the water is not maintained properly and will do the same to your teeth.
  • Go for a relaxing dip in the water instead of swimming, and that way you can keep your head out of the water entirely.
  • There is some evidence that chewing xylitol gum three times a day can lower the risk of erosion.
  • If you swim six hours or more a week, tell your dentist and make sure to keep up on your recommended maintenance cleanings so any problems are caught early.
    • One option that the dentist may suggest is a special fluoride treatment for added enamel protection.

Many people are still unaware of the effect swimming can have on teeth, so share this article with a friend to save their smile this summer!

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

Mouthwash: Friend or Foe?

Every dentist will tell you that it is necessary to brush and floss your teeth to maintain your oral health, but what about using mouthwash? Is it an essential part of your dental routine, a neutral addition, or actively harmful? While there isn’t a dental consensus about the necessity of mouthwash, there are certain facts that can help you decide whether it is right for you.

Ingredients Matter

Mouthwashes are not one-size-fits-all, and the ingredients and effects vary. However, according to the ADA, there are two distinct varieties: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Cosmetic mouthwashes are solely used to provide a fresh, clean feeling and to temporarily minimize bad breath for several hours. If you are only looking to use a mouthwash to improve your oral health, these types of mouthwashes are unnecessary.

Therapeutic mouthwashes, on the other hand, have more varied ingredients and can provide a number of benefits including the reduction of bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. They can also whiten teeth and decrease pain.

Here are the most common mouthwash active ingredients to remember and the function of each:

  • Fluoride: strengthens enamel, cavity prevention
  • Chlorhexidine: treats and prevents gingivitis, prevents the buildup of plaque, and lowers the chance of getting dry socket after a tooth extraction (can cause staining)
  • Peroxide: whitens surface of teeth, kills germs
  • Xylitol: dry mouth relief
  • Lidocaine: local anesthetic that provides temporary pain relief
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride: kills bacteria that can cause bad breath

Many of the active ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes are available over-the-counter at your local drugstore, but those that contain chlorhexidine or lidocaine will require a prescription.

text from blog that says "mouthwash cannot replace your regular brushing and flossing routine" with image of toothbrushes and floss

Can Mouthwash Have Side Effects?

Unfortunately, mouthwash use has the potential for unwanted side effects. Formulations containing alcohol can cause dry mouth or canker sores. Chlorhexidine rinses can stain teeth, especially when used for longer than recommended. Additionally, bacteria-killing ingredients can wipe out the natural oral microbiome that helps to maintain healthy gums and teeth, since they can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. If you must use a bacteria-killing mouthwash, use sparingly or at the instruction of your dentist.

Here are a few additional facts to keep in mind if you are considering adding mouthwash to your dental health routine:

  • Mouthwash cannot replace your regular brushing and flossing routine.
  • Kids under the age of six should not use mouthwash due to the risk of swallowing.
  • Look for rinses that have a higher pH value (more alkaline). If a mouthwash is too acidic, it can erode enamel or cause other unwanted effects.
  • If you have dry mouth, avoid using a rinse that contains alcohol.

At the end of the day, while most over-the-counter mouth rinses have beneficial properties, they can only do so much. Mouthwashes are useful for treating minor oral health issues and provide extra help to people who are prone to dental problems. It is a good idea to consult with your dentist for personalized advice and recommendations that will have the most benefit to your oral health.

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

Better Hydration for Better Smiles

With the heat of summer on the horizon, many of us will need to drink more water than ever to stay hydrated. How does drinking water affect our teeth? Here are some ways that consuming water not only increases your overall health, but your dental health, too.

No Sugars, No Acids

Water is the best beverage partly because of what it doesn’t contain instead of what it does—that is, sugars and acids! These can erode your enamel over time and cause tooth decay, but drinking water helps cleanse your mouth and remove these substances from your teeth. It can reduce the amount of damage done over time and help keep your smile looking younger.

Decreases Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common occurrence that can be lessened by drinking enough water. It can lead to uncomfortable side effects like bad breath, sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. It is important to note that increased water intake is not a permanent solution to dry mouth but is a first step toward better oral health. It is a good idea to talk about permanent dry mouth solutions with your dentist at your next appointment.

Fantastic Fluoride

If you are reading this, then the odds are good you live in a town or a city that includes added fluoride in their drinking water! According to the CDC, as of 2016, over 200 million people drink fluoridated water, which has been proven safe over the span of more than 75 years to help reduce cavities. To find out whether you have fluoridated water in your area, you can contact your local water utility provider or check if your state participates in the My Water’s Fluoride program and look up the information on the CDC’s website. If your water does not have added fluoride, speak to your dentist about how you can best supplement fluoride in your routine.

carbonated water

Carbonated Water

For people who prefer fizzy drinks, carbonated water is a popular way to stay hydrated and healthy. But does carbonated water make an ideal substitute for plain water? Mostly, the answer is yes, but there are some differences to keep in mind.

  • Sparkling water is more acidic than regular water, with a lower pH value. However, the good news is that studies have shown that the lowered pH value of plain carbonation is not enough to erode enamel! This can vary slightly depending on the flavor of the water—citrus flavors, because of their naturally occurring citric acid, are more likely to cause mild enamel erosion.
  • As a rule, carbonated waters do not contain added fluoride, nor do most plain bottled waters, so consuming a lot of sparkling water can mean you are not getting enough fluoride to provide cavity protection. This is a good reason to mix up your water intake and include tap water.
  • Some sparkling waters add sweeteners for flavor, and this takes carbonated water from a healthy beverage to one that can increase your risk of cavities.
  • Plain sparkling water or non-citrus, unsweetened flavored sparkling waters are the best for pearly white and healthy teeth, though citrus unsweetened waters are fine in moderation.

As you can see, staying hydrated is full of dental benefits, and is an all-around excellent idea for your health. Keeping up on your water intake can lead to a happier, healthier you!

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

Aging and Oral Health: Know the Facts

It’s a fact that getting older results in changes to our dental health, so have you ever wondered what you can do to make sure that your teeth withstand the test of time? Is it inevitable that as we age, we will lose teeth and require dentures? Let’s talk about aging and the realities behind senior dental hygiene!

A leading reason for tooth loss amongst seniors is gum disease. What starts as mild gingivitis can advance to a severe gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of teeth and irreversible gum damage if left untreated. According to the CDC, “70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease,” which is not a comforting statistic! However, it is a myth that senior adults need to lose their teeth, and with preventative care, there is no reason that gum disease leading to tooth loss cannot be kept in check.

Another age-related oral health occurrence is stained and weakened enamel. Our teeth aren’t immune to showing the signs of aging, and years of eating and drinking will eventually make themselves known on the surface of your teeth. Acids and sugars wear away enamel over time. This, too, can be slowed down significantly through measures such as a balanced diet with less acidic foods and standard oral hygiene.

A few more things to watch out for are decreased nerve sensitivity, dry mouth caused by medications, and gum recession. Decreased nerve sensitivity can lead to an absence of pain, but that does NOT mean that no problem exists–this can mask issues and lead to delays in treatment. Dry mouth can cause gum infections and increase the chances of tooth decay. Gum recession can expose the sensitive root of a tooth and provide a haven for bacteria to accumulate.

Unfortunately, in addition to all of the above, aging and its associated health problems can create physical limitations that make it more difficult to properly maintain oral health. Chronic health conditions can lower morale and lead to mental health issues like depression, which can make daily tasks more likely to fall by the wayside. Lower energy levels can mean prioritizing other health needs instead of oral care. In order to combat these factors, consider ideas like using a water flosser, setting tooth-brushing alarms on a phone or an alarm clock, and using a toothbrush with an extra-large handle.

This may all sound grim, but the good news is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowing how to find and treat problems is most of the battle when it comes to dental health. Plus, technology is always advancing, and new treatments will only get better with time. Following the below tips can help make sure your natural teeth will last for a lifetime!

consume enough calcium, stay hydrated, use a soft-bristled electric toothbrush
  • Make sure you have adequate calcium intake to support your teeth.
  • To treat dry mouth and prevent enamel loss, stay hydrated and moderate your intake of beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
  • To minimize gum recession, gently brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and speak with your dentist to see what mouthwash may be right for you.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush to be sure you are brushing more thoroughly and for a long enough time.

And, of course, two of the most crucial ways to maintain your overall dental health as you age are also the most obvious:

  • Visit your dentist on schedule, ideally every six months, for routine cleanings
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily

With care, knowledge, and a bit of luck, you can keep your entire mouth feeling healthy and looking fantastic no matter your age!

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

5 Causes of Sensitive Teeth

2022 is here, and so is winter! January is a very cold month; with the stormy weather, we may notice that the cold air is causing a sharp pain at the base of a tooth… or two. What exactly does that mean and why is it happening? The most common answer is tooth sensitivity.

    What is tooth sensitivity? It is exactly how it sounds, pain or discomfort in the teeth as a response to hot or cold temperatures. When the enamel in our teeth starts to wear down, exposing the dentin, or if our gums are receding, it will expose the layers where the nerves are. This is what triggers it. The pain could be temporary, or it may linger a bit becoming a chronic issue. It can affect one tooth or multiple teeth at the same time. So, what triggers tooth sensitivity? The cause of it could be for multiple reasons:

  • Tooth decay (dental caries/cavity): Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in our mouths that create acid attacks on the surfaces of teeth. An untreated cavity can lead to an infection in your tooth, this is referred to as a tooth abscess.
  • Cracked teeth: Chipped or broken teeth become filled with bacteria from plaque and will start to enter the pulp, which causes inflammation.
  • Teeth grinding: Chronic grinding or over clenching our teeth can cause tooth enamel to wear down over time. This leads to the dentin underneath being exposed.
  • Brushing too hard: Over time, brushing our teeth roughly or using a hard-bristled toothbrush (use the soft ones!) can also wear down the enamel and cause the dentin to be exposed. Did you know that using a hard toothbrush can also cause a receding gum line?
  • Acidic foods: Certain food, especially ones with a high acid content can also make our teeth sensitive. Foods such as citrus fruits, sour candies, tomatoes, pickles, and tea can cause the enamel to wear down.

    Sometimes, other conditions will lead to tooth sensitivity that we wouldn’t even think about. One could be gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus that connects our mouth and stomach. Acid that is constantly coming into our esophagus can wear down our enamel over time. It is important to always be aware of what can potentially damage our teeth.

If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity or if you’re ready to have your teeth checked out, schedule your appointment today. We’ll check to see if there are any potential problems and catch them while they’re small. Remember, often cavities and tooth cracks show up on x-rays long before we feel that they’re there.

    Fear not, having sensitive teeth is very common and treatable. The treatment you receive is based on what is causing the sensitivity. If the sensitivity you’re feeling is mild, several over-the-counter options can help alleviate the discomfort. Changing your toothpaste can make a difference. Remember to choose a toothpaste that is made specifically for sensitive teeth. These will have desensitizing ingredients that help block the discomfort. Sensodyne is a great example of a toothpaste that can help with sensitivity. Other common treatments for sensitivity include:

  • Alcohol-free mouthwash: The absence of alcohol, it’ll be less irritating for sensitive teeth. Some mouthwash use fluoride as the main ingredient to help strengthen the enamel and minimize sensitivity. These are also a good choice, especially for kids.
  • Root canal: If decay is present in the root, your tooth needs cleaning out, and then re-packed with a filling. After that, a crown is set on top to protect the tooth from further damage.
  • Surgical gum graft: This is used when root exposure is the cause of sensitivity. Soft tissue is taken from another part of your mouth and used to fill in the gaps. Since there are many types of gum recession, your oral surgeon will work with you to recommend the best treatment for your oral health.

    With sensitive teeth, it’s very important to remember to keep up with your daily dental hygiene. It is very common and can affect anyone. Brush 2x a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, use fluoride mouthwash, and floss daily. Our teeth should always be a priority because our smile is the first thing people notice about us… after we unmask!

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

5 Holiday Stocking Stuffers to Make a Smile Brighter!

 The Holidays are now in full swing. It’s getting colder, the sun is setting a little earlier, but the decorations are out and shining bright. The holidays are a time where people get together and celebrate friends, family, good health, happiness, and festive foods! With all the holiday sweets and desserts that we usually eat around this time, we don’t stop to think about the effects all that sugar can have on our teeth. Just like you, we know it’s not easy staying healthy over the holidays. For this Christmas, we’re striving to be more mindful of our oral health, do what we can to prevent any sugar overload, and invite you to take that on as well. Since we’re thinking about our oral health and what we can give out for gifts (because there’s still time!), let’s discuss some healthy and useful stocking stuffer options, that are also affordable for all budgets.

  • Toothbrush covers: When we’re done brushing our teeth, our toothbrushes sit uncovered, and they start to collect all kinds of bacteria before we start using it again. It’s super gross to think about it, but a simple toothbrush cover can help protect the bristles. It’s also convenient to have, especially when traveling. The cover is a great idea to give as a gift because it can keep our brushes hygienic and dust-free. PRO TIP: Just like your toothbrush, remember to replace them frequently.
  • Sugar-free gum: Candy is a common stocking stuffer and whether it’s sugar-free or not, who doesn’t love gum?! Sugar-free gum is the healthiest option for teeth, especially kids. Gum also helps us produce more saliva. More saliva prevents dry mouth and helps clean bacteria and clear food particles that tend to linger after meals.
  • Travel toothpaste and mouthwash: Small, travel size toothpaste and mouthwash are convenient to have around. Be it preparing for a trip, sleep over, or unexpected guests.
  • Fun Flossers/Floss Picks: If we want to start them off early, fun flossers are a way to encourage kids to start flossing daily. Fun flossers brands like DenTek and Plackers come in unique shapes and colors to make flossing more fun for kids. Some flossers out there even come in different flavors with fluoride coating, which we all need for our teeth! Floss picks are another option that we can give out to people who procrastinate with a flossing routine. Stick a container of floss picks in their stockings, the picks are much easier to use than the regular traditional string floss.
  • Electric toothbrush: Electric toothbrushes clean teeth and gums much better than the traditional manual ones we’re used to. Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter OBE says people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay, and also keep their teeth for longer. There are also ones for kids that come in different colors and cartoon characters, that’ll get them excited to start brushing their teeth. PRO TIP: unsure if electric is for you? Try the battery powered ones.

    That should take care of our stocking stuffer gifts, but what about when we’re with our family and friends? We should be able to enjoy the holiday season without worrying about cavities or plaque. If you need a list to keep you on track to maintaining a clean and healthy mouth, we got that covered! Check out our list of what we can do this holiday season to keep our teeth healthy.

  • Avoid overdoing it: Candy canes, cookies, cakes, and popcorn, all the wonderful classics we’ll eat during Christmas time. All the sticky, hard, gummy, and chewy foods are tasty, but can be difficult to get out and off our teeth. If we’re constantly snacking on something, we run a higher risk of tooth decay. Let’s try slowing down on the sugar and brushing after every meal. PRO TIP: Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal, can also help for those times you don’t have a toothbrush handy.
  • Eat more of the healthy foods: If we’re worried about eating too much sugar, we can eat more fruits and vegetables just to balance out what we’re eating. Winter favorites like apples, carrots, and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breaths.
  • Stick to our daily routine: Brushing and flossing may sound tedious, but if we want to keep our teeth in great shape, we must stick to our daily routine. By brushing twice daily, flossing, and using mouthwash, we can keep up our good oral habits. PRO TIP: just brush and floss the teeth you’d like to keep!
  • Drink plenty of water: We all know that drinking water has many benefits, and those benefits can work for us especially around the holidays. When we’re going out to see friends and family, it’s very important to stay hydrated. Aside from hydration, water can freshen breaths and it’s a quick way to get rid of debris in our teeth.

    The holidays are always a great time, we spend 11 months looking forward to this time of year. While we are having fun and enjoying ourselves, we can also be mindful about caring for our teeth. Keeping up with our daily routines and going the extra mile can assist in preventing dental problems down the line. Share these helpful tips with family and friends so they can be aware of what to do around this time and support you as well. Happy Holidays and keep those teeth shining bright!

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

5 Easy Tips to Keep Your Teeth Healthy for Halloween

Halloween is approaching and we’re all looking forward to celebrating a little more freely this year! Vaccinations are out and people are feeling more comfortable going outside and participating in the festivities. Halloween brings out our inner child. It gets us excited to dress up, decorate the house, and share candy. It is also a time where we all feel comfortable enough to eat as many pieces of candy as we want, because what’s Halloween without sweets?

Kids come back home with hefty bags of candy, and it’s very hard to resist the temptation as we help them sort through it all. Candy is quite tempting, more so for some than others. Maintaining our oral health is vital, especially during these coming holidays that revolve around sweets. Remember, eat the candy that you like, BUT don’t let it ruin your smile! With that in mind, here are 5 easy tips to keep your teeth healthy for Halloween:

  • Eat candy at a specific time: The saliva in our mouth increases when we start to eat, and saliva helps cancel out the acid that gets produced by bacteria from the bits of food that linger after a snack or meal. The prime time for eating candy is right after lunch or dinner. Being full from a meal will also help with portion control while satisfying that sweet tooth. PRO TIP: Rinse away any left-over food particles with water once you’re done eating anything. 
  • Choose candy carefully: It’s very important to choose wisely what type of candy to eat especially if you’ve experienced dental problems in the past. Avoid those hard candies or the ones that stay inside of our mouths for too long. Anytime sugary foods linger; we are at risk for tooth decay. PRO TIP: Sugar-free candy is always a great option for kids and adults. 
  • Avoid sticky situations: A lot of us love sticky candy, so let’s all be mindful to this fact. Sticky candy clings onto our teeth, making it very difficult to remove even with regular brushing and flossing. This has candies like taffy, marshmallows, caramel, and gummy bears take longer to get washed away with our saliva. When candy gets stuck in our teeth, we’re at a higher risk for tooth decay. PRO TIP: Save these for special occasions
  • Drink water: Since we’re all concerned about tooth decay, one of the things that we can easily do to avoid it while eating candy is drinking more water. Drinking water helps keep our teeth healthy and free of food debris. PRO TIP: Drink water with fluoride. Fluoride helps alleviate some of the sugars from sticking to our teeth.
  • Brush and floss daily: With Halloween approaching, we must remember to brush our teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. We have to make sure that we get out all of the candy and food particles so we can keep a clean, healthy mouth. Flossing should also help with getting in between the places that our toothbrushes cannot reach. PRO TIP: Remember that flossing cleans about 40% of your teeth surfaces!

With all these helpful tips being shared, we also want to take a moment to share that October is National Dental Hygiene Month. Truly a time to reflect on our habits and double the efforts on those we may be casual about. Since we’re all getting ready for Halloween, let’s be sure to schedule an appointment to maximize our dental benefits before they expire at the end of the year.

Be safe out there, have fun, and remember to protect your teeth!

Dr. Randall Deaton

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371

From Tooth Decay to Tooth Loss

September is almost finished! Which means fall is right around the corner. It’s National Gum Care Month, and it’s a great time to brush up on routines that can keep our mouths clean and healthy. A simple action, like brushing teeth, is very beneficial to our oral health and overall wellness. Skipping out on a good oral hygiene routine can cause a lot of problems down the line. Especially choosing not to go to the dentist for checkups. That always leaves us with unnoticed problems until it’s too late. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment that everyone should be able to do. For us to take care of our mouths and gums, first, we must go over what could happen if we don’t have the proper oral care.

    According to the National Institute of Health, our mouths can carry up to 700 strains of bacteria. So, what happens when bacteria are left to linger inside our mouths? Well, it happily feeds on the sugar from the food and drinks that we consume throughout the daily. Bacteria also likes to break down tooth enamel, which in turn, making the enamel weaker and leading to tooth decay. Tooth decay and cavities are some of the most common health problems, but this can also lead to gum disease as well. 

    Our gums are not supposed to bleed when we brush or floss our teeth. If that does happen, you may have gum disease. Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums that when left untreated can deteriorate the jawbone supporting our teeth. Gum disease starts because of the bacteria that form and stays on teeth. If the bacteria are not removed daily with brushing and flossing, the plaque builds up and the bacteria starts infecting the gums and teeth. Left untreated, teeth will eventually start to fall out or will require professional extraction. There are three stages of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.  

  • Gingivitis: This is the earliest stage of gum disease. If plaque builds up at the gum line, it will cause inflammation and the gums can become swollen and red. If the plaque is not removed, it can irritate the gum tissue that is around our teeth, which causes gingivitis. At this early stage of gum disease, you might notice bleeding gums after brushing or while flossing. If caught early enough, this stage of gum disease can be cured with your dentist.
  • Periodontitis: This is the second stage of gum disease. At this stage, the tissue and the bone that holds our teeth in place are damaged. When bacteria stay on teeth long enough, plaque builds up, which then turns into tartar, and tartar is a lot harder to clean off of our teeth. At this stage of gum disease, if it is not treated, periodontitis heavily recedes the gums and tooth loss is imminent.
  • Advanced Periodontitis: This is the final and severest stage of gum disease. At this point, the tissue and the bone that hold our teeth in place are well deteriorated. The gum tissue has pulled away from teeth, which then creates pockets for even more bacteria to build up and cause further damage and infections. When this happens, it’s very easy for teeth to become dislodged and fall out.

How to Stop Gum Disease

Now, the best way to stop gum disease is to prevent it from starting. Brushing and flossing twice per day and using fluoride toothpaste are the best we can do at home to keep gum disease from developing. However, if symptoms of gum disease are already present, visiting a dentist or a periodontist, a dentist that specializes in gum disease, is the best option for getting back on a healthy track. When you come in for a perio appointment, the first step is a consultation exam to develop the best treatment options to fit your needs. This may include non-surgical and/or surgical methods.

  • Nonsurgical Treatments: Some nonsurgical treatments can help the early stages of gum disease. Deep cleaning, where scaling and root planning are used to remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line.
  • Surgical Treatments: Some of the surgical treatments that periodontists can perform to help with gum disease include bone grafting, flap surgery, and tissue regeneration.

So far, we’ve talked about oral care and what could happen if we don’t take the time to properly care of our teeth. As adults we know this, but what about kids and teens? It’s important for them to know what they can do to take care of their teeth and gums. While conversations with your children and their health will vary by age, here are the best examples of what to share and demonstrate with them at home:

  • Brush their teeth twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • See the dentist at least twice a year
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Be mindful with sugary drinks and snacks

It has been said before that the mouth is the gateway to our overall health, so we should try to protect it as much as possible. Practicing good dental health doesn’t start at the dentist’s office, it starts with us. Us taking care of our teeth at home is where the real magic happens. Maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is a lifelong commitment that we can all commit to… and it’s always OK to re-commit as well! 

Happy National Gum Care Month

Dr. Randall Deaton

Adamsville Family Dentistry
518 East Main
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: (731) 632-3371