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New Year’s Dental Resolutions That We WISH Everyone Made

Dental resolutions
Maybe your 2018 goals include eating healthier or exercising regularly. We have some resolution suggestions for your mouth.

As we begin the New Year, almost half of Americans will make a New Year’s Resolution. Unfortunately, 80 percent of those resolutions will fall by the wayside within six weeks, according to a U.S. News article.  But the good news is that for one out of every five people who make a positive change, they will stick with it long enough to become a habit.

The most common areas targeted for improvement are health-related and include weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and stopping smoking. But if Doctors Meyer and Johns could put together a list of resolutions for our patients, it would include:

Brush and floss daily

Sure, it’s a no-brainer. But we see a lot of patients who aren’t as consistent as they think they are. More than the occasional missed brushing can be the beginning of bad habits.

Pay attention to your gums

As we’ve mentioned, gum disease can be caused by a variety of factors. Make sure you to check for any discoloration or soreness, and point out any problem areas at your next appointment.

Cut the sugar

This may go hand-in-hand with one of your other resolutions. Limiting processed sugar intake is a simple way to improve overall health. Plus, reducing the number of sugary drinks (soda, sports drinks, sweetened/frozen coffees) positively impacts the overall amount of plaque that can accumulate between brushings.

Don’t ignore pain

If you have discomfort in a tooth, gum or jaw, call us! Sudden or persistent pain can be a sign of something seriously wrong in your mouth, so don’t wait to get it checked out.

Whatever your resolution, or even if you don’t make one at all, each of us at Meyer & Johns Dental wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. Celebrate safely, and we’ll see you in 2018!

 

Show Me… Your teeth?

Missouri dental health
Missouri scored in the bottom half of a recent national study of dental health.

29th Runner-Up

A recent study ranked Missouri 30th in the nation for quality of dental health. “So what?” some of you will say. “That’s pretty close to average.” Sort of… it’s a 42nd percentile ranking, right on the lower-middle end of the bell curve.

But the study also highlighted other, more disturbing Missouri statistics. The black marks on our state report card included a tie ranking as one of the states with the lowest percentage of teenagers who had visited a dentist in the prior 12 months. We are also tied with Mississippi for the fourth-highest percentage of adult smokers.

By the Numbers

The study employed broad survey categories of Dental Habits & Care, and Oral Health. Within those, statistical responses to weighted survey questions determined overall state rankings. Areas that were measured and compared included:

  •   Demographic info – Dentists per capita, percentage of adult smokers, etc.
  •   Local Resources – water fluoridation and school-based dental programs
  •   Symptoms & Effects – percentage of population that reported dry mouth, oral pain, sleeping problems or work absence due to oral conditions

In looking at the broader data, there were interesting trends that emerged. Minnesota had the top ranking, and the Upper Midwest was the highest-rated region, with those states occupying 7 of the Top 10 slots. The South was the poorest-faring region in the survey, with 8 states in the bottom 10 – including our neighbor Arkansas, which logged the 4th-worst overall rating.

More Dental Health Data 

Can’t get enough numbers? If you’re a stat-head who loves factoids and the trends behind them, you should definitely visit the resource pages on the websites of the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

 

Grinding all night, every night?

bruxism
Bruxism can be a symptom of more serious health issues.

Just noisy…

Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw, neck, mouth or a headache? If so, you may suffer from Bruxism – often referred to simply as teeth-grinding. If you’re married, chances are your partner may have heard or seen your jaw clenching away in the night.

… or more serious?

But it’s more than just an annoyance to spouses. Grinding can be a symptom of a bigger health issue. Sleep experts note that their studies show that both bruxism and GERD (acid reflux) have been linked to health risks including stroke, heart disease, arrhythmias and esophageal cancer.

Plus there is the disruption in sleep that comes with teeth-grinding. Ongoing lack of quality sleep can cause a host of problematic symptoms, including depression, memory loss, hypertension and weight gain, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

An increasing number of mouth, nose and throat disorders are being linked to unusual cranio-facial development. Additional research is also showing that teeth-grinding may be symptom of obstructed breathing during sleep. Known as upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), this collection of conditions can be serious. They can be a precursor to the more serious sleep apnea— where breathing actually stops for seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times each night.

Treatments

Regardless of the cause, bruxism has serious side affects (cracked or broken teeth, damage to existing dental work, loss of sleep) and shouldn’t be ignored. The good news is that there are numerous options that not only prevent nighttime grinding, but also help with UARS.  If you find yourself clenching or grinding during the day, relax! Dr. Meyer specifically recommends a simple repetitive reminder of “Lips together, teeth apart.”

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, or have unexplained tooth wear or damage, talk to us. We’ll check for problems and recommend a mouthguard, splint or other solution that can help.

 

No smoke? You’re still playing with fire.

vaping and teeth
Vaping may be better for lungs, but what about your teeth?

Despite the host of other damaging effects, evidence of smoking is usually most obvious on a person’s teeth. But what about “ Vaping ” — the recent trend of smokeless electronic devices? They deliver a vapor-based dose of nicotine, tobacco’s addictive stimulant, while eliminating the harmful and annoying by-products of smoke.

The Evils of Tobacco

And there are a lot of those. Tobacco smoke produces tar (burned plant residue) and hundreds of other harmful chemicals. Many of these cause cancer and other health issues for smokers and those around them. Public awareness of the dangers has cut the nationwide number of smokers by 20% in the past decade, and by nearly 70% since 1965.

Since vaping was introduced in the U.S. in 2005, it has steadily gained popularity. In fact, as early as 2014, it had surpassed of all other tobacco products (including conventional cigarettes!) in total number of current users. More disturbingly, its use among young people has increased exponentially, with the number of current users among high school students tripling in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaping Risks

While vaping won’t blacken your teeth like cigarette smoking, nicotine can negatively affect your oral health. The chemical itself is a vasoconstrictor, which limits blood flow to the topical areas of the mouth by causing the blood vessels to contract. This prolonged lack of blood supply can lead to receding gums. Nicotine has also been shown to contribute to dry mouth and cause an increase in bacteria, which can play a part in everything from tooth decay to periodontal disease.

If you are one of the millions of Americans using a vapor device to quit conventional smoking, CONGRATULATIONS! Be sure to talk to us at your next appointment about getting rid of those last remnants of tobacco stains from your teeth. We have a variety of whitening options for bringing your smile back to its natural, tobacco-free color.