Archive for August 2013
"Keep a stiff upper lip" or "get a grip!" That's often the advice we get -and give- on how to cope with stress. If you take it literally, the result could be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. It's called bruxism, and often it happens as you sleep.
Teeth grinding can be caused not just by stress and anxiety but by sleep disorders, abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked. The symptoms of teeth grinding include:
* dull headaches
* jaw soreness
* teeth that are painful or loose
* fractured teeth
Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth during sleep. If stress is the cause, you need to find a way to relax. Meditation, counseling, and excercise can all help reduce stress and anxiety.
Teeth grinding is also common in children. However, because their teeth and jaws change and grow so quickly it is not usually a damaging habit that requires treatment and most outgrow it by adolescence. Although in adults teeth grinding is often the result of stress, the same is not always true with children. Other possible causes of teeth grinding in children include:
* irritation in the mouth
* misaligned teeth
If you are concerned about teeth grinding, ask your dentist about potential causes and, if necessary, the possible solutions.
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphates to help strengthen tooth enamel.
The only varieties of gum with the ADA Seal are sugarless. They are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol. Of course, chewing sugar-containing gum increases saliva flow, too, but it also contains sugar which is used by plaque bacteria to produce decay-causing acids. Further research needs to be done to determine the effects of chewing sugar-containing gum on tooth decay.
Don't let chewing sugarless gum replace brushing and flossing. It's not a substitute. The ADA still recommends brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interdental cleaners.