Meyer & Johns Dental Blog

Advice and Education on Your Dental Health

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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.

 

 

Got a Faker in the house?

child's brushing
Some kids act out by not brushing. Here’s how to spot them.

Have you ever been surprised by multiple cavities at your child’s dentist visit? You insist that they’ve been brushing their teeth… but are you really sure? After all, just because they stand at the sink with a toothbrush doesn’t necessarily mean they’re brushing well, or even at all. Besides waiting for cavities to show up, how can you check up on your child’s brushing?

Go Old School

Remember those tablets you chewed as a child that colored your teeth pink where there was plaque? Yep, they’re still around. They have been joined by rinses and swabs, each of which highlight spots missed during brushing. All three options are great for locating problem areas, but what they’re really telling you is that you need to…

Establish Good Brushing Habits

We’ve written about it HERE, and specifically for kids HERE. But beyond the mechanics of a child’s brushing, there are things you can do to help engage young kids in the process.

  • Brush Early – As you know, bedtime can quickly turn into tantrum-time when a child is tired. Don’t let their brushing routine get caught in the cross-fire.
  • Give them choices – From toothpaste flavors and packaging, to brushes featuring movie characters, there are more options than ever. Let them pick their favorites.
  • Use a Chart – Just like adults, children get satisfaction from completing tasks. Provide a consistent way for them to visually track their progress
  • Make it FUN! – Sing while brushing, read a short story or make one up… any two-minute routine will do to entertain without distracting from the job at hand. There even a variety of timer apps that can help keep your little brusher amused and on-task.

If you’re still having trouble, ask at your child’s next regular appointment. We have a few other tricks that may help.

 

 

How to take the Perfect “Selfie”

selfie smile
The key to a perfect Selfie? Your smile!

You’ve seen kids taking them on the street, in movies theaters, by themselves and in groups. Maybe you’ve even taken a few of your own. We’re talking about a Selfie — a self-taken picture where the subject and photographer are the same person. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms are full of them. In fact, sociology experts predict that Millennials and Generation Z (those people born after 2000) will take an average of 25,000 Selfies during their lifetime.

And many of them will be awful pictures. From heavy shadows to unfocused faces, blurry movement or heads out-of-frame, there are 101 ways to take a bad Selfie. However, Meyer & Johns Dental wants to share few tricks to make sure you put your best face forward while taking a photo of it.

Tips for Selfie-takers

  •  Keep the camera slightly higher than your line of vision
  •  Look either directly at the camera lens or deliberately away from it
  •  Dip your chin slightly and look up— don’t raise your eyebrows to avoid forehead lines
  •  Natural light is best— aim for the “golden hours” of sunrise or sunset
  •  Choose an interesting background— stay away from blank walls, and mirrors or
    windows can cause unwanted reflections.
  •  Face your light source— Avoid direct side lighting, which can cast harsh shadows
    on your face
  •  Tap the image of your face on the phone screen before taking— most phones will use
    that point to automatically adjust focus, depth and exposure.
  •  SMILE!

Of course, everyone knows how to do this last one. But if you feel like your smile isn’t ready for a close-up, Meyer & Johns Dental can help. From teeth whitening, to same-day crowns, to porcelain veneers, we have the right choice to make sure your smile looks great– both in-person and at arms-length!

To discuss cosmetic options for your teeth, contact us or talk to Drs. Meyer or Johns at your next regular appointment or contact us to explore the options.

 

Yoga for the Body, Mind, and… Mouth?

Yoga offers a variety of full-body benefits… including your teeth! 

More studies are beginning to prove a direct link between Yoga and bone health, but what about your teeth? Can exercise really help a part of the body that isn’t even being exercised? The answer is Yes.

Yoga the 1500-year-old practice that combines physical, mental and spiritual aspects. It is comprised of a series of poses, stretches and transition movements focused on increasing strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga includes non-impact combinations, coupled with controlled breathing that complements the body’s motion. Similarly, yoga seeks to bring internal balance and tranquility to the busy, anxious mind that is common in today’s fast-paced world. There are various yoga disciplines or styles, including vinyasa, hatha, ashtanga, and the trendy bikram (or “hot yoga”).

Yoga Benefits

Yoga has been shown to help everything from back pain to diabetes, from digestive issues to stress and anxiety. But really— your teeth? How can breathing, bending and balancing possibly improve oral health? Here are three ways:

Posture

Most of us spend much of our time at school, work and home staring at a computer monitor or device screen. Unless you take direct action to sit and look up, our new digital lifestyle leads most of us to slouch or slump— both while sitting in chairs and standing. This creates improper neck/spine alignment, which in turn causes the lower jaw to imperceptibly shift forward. This causes misalignment that between lower and upper teeth, as well as compressing the atlas/axis joint that connects your skull and spine. The resulting tension on the surrounding bones, joints and muscles can cause inflammation and pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). If unchecked, this can lead to serious TMJ disorders that can have negative effects on your overall health.

Yoga naturally improves posture by strengthening the core muscles that hold your torso upright. A consistent, gentle yoga practice can actually help realign the spine after years of improperly sitting at work or at home, and many yoga practitioners have reduced or eliminated chronic back pain without surgical procedures or medication.

Stress

The most obvious benefit is less stress. As we noted in a recent post, high levels of anxiety are common among today’s children, youth and adults. Many professionals think that this increase stress may be contributing to a corresponding increase in teeth-grinding and associated jaw disorders.

Yoga has been shown to reduce anxiety by one-third, and cut symptoms of depression by half, according to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

Saliva

The biochemical balance in your mouth impacts bacteria growth, which plays a critical role in plaque buildup and tooth decay. Certain breathing patterns and mouth positioning techniques in yoga can actually increase saliva production, helping to flush away cavity-causing food particles and maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth.

“But I’m too busy for a full hour-long yoga practice!” many of you will say. If you can’t make it to a 60- or 90-minute class, there are other options. Many simple poses can be done anytime— on the couch, at your desk, during stoplights in traffic or really anywhere. Try these desk yoga moves, or discover your own set of poses from Pinterest.

If you’ve got a yoga story, share it with us at your next appointment. If you’re overdue for a cleaning, schedule it here. Until then, breathe, bend and be well. Namaste.