Meyer & Johns Dental Blog

Advice and Education on Your Dental Health

Blog

The Changing Face of Fillings

Take a look at new alternatives to traditional metal fillings
New developments in materials and techniques are improving the appearance and performance of dental fillings.

For the vast majority of Americans, tooth decay is a fact of life. A study published in 2015 by the Centers for Disease Control showed that 42 percent of children have at least one cavity (medically known as a dental caries). And it gets worse with age – By the time we reach 65, all but 4 percent of us has experienced a cavity and (hopefully) a filling of the damaged area.

History

The first recorded filling of teeth occurred in Europe in the early 1800s. 20th-century advancements took the artistry of filling teeth from its infancy to the host of advanced options available to today’s dental patients. From the soft metals in the early days, to the amalgams developed during 1900s, to modern porcelain and composite resin fillings used today, the techniques for repairing tooth loss are continuing to evolve.

Amalgams are the most widely used filling substance world-wide, despite growing concerns over radiant health risks associated with Mercury that many contain. In the U.S., metals have generally lost their luster as a surface material for damaged areas. This is partially due to those Mercury concerns, but also because amalgams darken over time and become more noticeable. The aesthetically-oriented nature of U.S. dentistry is driving numerous research efforts focused on improving the delivery, performance and appearance of fillings.

New Developments

Modern composites are applied to damaged teeth as a fluid substance, and then ‘cured’ to hardness with ultraviolet light. New UV light activators allow a more complete repair of deeper cavities in teeth, and the addition of reinforced silica fibers to acrylic-based composites is reducing the shrinkage of fillers during the curing phase.  Lithium disilicate glass-ceramic composite shows promise for its strength, durability and chemical properties that match the natural coloration of teeth.

Beyond traditional fillings, Meyer & Johns patients have many more choices for repairing damaged teeth, with options that include onlays, crowns and veneers. These options are especially important for filling cavities or damage on highly-visible front teeth. If you think you have a cavity, schedule an appointment today – we’ll find the problem, and offer a solution that will look and feel great!

Anxiety Bites

Does stress have you gritting your teeth?
It may be a bigger problem than you think.

TMJ disorders can affect overall health

TMJ pain can affect your bite, how you chew… even your sleep patterns!

 

From political upheaval, economic uncertainty, and social change, there is more than ever to be stressed about. From workplaces to schools, social media is also increasing scrutiny and self-consciousness, especially on our children and teens. In fact, one study in Psychology Today study showed that modern high school students experience anxiety levels equal to the average patient in 1950’s mental institutions.

Some health professionals are are pointing out that one of the less-obvious results of higher stress levels is an increase in Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle disorders, collectively known as TMDs. In our popular blog post last year, we showed how the long-term effects of teeth-grinding (Bruxism) and other TMJ-related disorders can be detrimental to your overall health.

What is TMJ?

The TMJ connector is one of the most complex joints in the body, combining both a typical ball and socket with a sliding hinge that allows us to effectively chew a variety of foods. TMDs are typically classified in three categories:

  1.  Myofascial pain – discomfort or soreness around the muscles controlling jaw function
  2.  Internal joint derangement – involves a displaced disc, dislocated jaw or injury to the condyle, the rounded end of the jawbone
  3.  Arthritis – degenerative/inflammatory disorders that can affect the joint

The pain from minor TMJ problems may sometimes resolve itself, but persistent discomfort can be a telltale sign of more serious TMD. Common complaints include:

•  Headaches (similar to migraines), earaches, or pain/pressure behind the eyes

•  Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth

•  Pain that comes while yawning, widely opening the mouth or chewing

•  Jaws that feel like they “get stuck,” lock up or pop out of place

•  Consistently sore or tender jaw muscles

•  Sudden change in your bite, or how your upper and lower teeth fit together

TMD can have long-lasting negative impacts on your oral and overall health. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to have our professionals at Meyer & Johns Dental assess your situation.

BONUS TIPS:

The top ways to alleviate TMD symptoms, according to Colgate’s online Oral Care Center:

•  Medication – try to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication, such as muscle relaxants, aspirin, other over-the-counter pain-relievers/anti-inflammatory drugs.

•  Night guard – reduce the harmful effects of tooth clenching/grinding with a night guard or splint.

•  Relax – learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest you seek training or counseling to help eliminate stress.

Tooth Enamel: Tips for keeping yours healthy

What Is Enamel, and Why Is It Important?

Enamel is the smooth, hard exterior surface of your teeth. It protects the interior dentin, which is softer and contains nerves and blood vessels. Tooth enamel is translucent, allowing the color of the interior dentin to show through. An easy way to think of it is like a suit of armor, protecting the dentin and pulp of your teeth within from the ravages of decay.

Needless to say, it’s pretty important to your overall dental health.

How Does Tooth Enamel Erode?

There are many threats to the health of your tooth enamel.
Your tooth enamel is targeted for damage by many common foods, beverages and medicines.

The biggest contributors to enamel erosion may not be what you’d expect. Acidic foods are one of the biggest culprits, as they can weaken enamel and leave it vulnerable to bacteria that cause tooth decay.

A surprising (and therefore potentially dangerous) contributor to erosion is dry mouth. Saliva protects your enamel by naturally controlling the growth of tooth-attacking bacteria. When your mouth is dry, these bacteria can grow unchecked and cause long-term damage.

Of course, many other factors can work against your enamel, from acid reflux to prescription medications, drug supplements and even over-brushing your teeth.

How Should You Care for Enamel?

Comprehensive oral health must include enamel care. Some tips for keeping it strong include:

  • Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, as stiff brushes can actually wear away your enamel
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, particularly after meals high in acid (this includes many fruits!) or sugar.
  • If you can’t brush your teeth immediately after meals, give your mouth at least a good rinsing with water to reduce the acidity.

And of course, visit Dr. Meyers or Dr. Johns at least twice a year for professional cleaning and a full exam to catch any enamel issues early.

Can Enamel Be Repaired?

Unfortunately, enamel loss is permanent. But even thought it won’t grow back, there are many cosmetic dentistry procedures that can help to mitigate its loss. Bonding, veneers, and crowns are all safe, long-lasting solutions to problems associated with enamel loss and damage.

Worried about your enamel or have other dental concerns? Contact us today and we’ll happily discuss what Meyer & Johns can do for you.

 

Oral Cancer: Hidden causes and prevention

Most people don’t think much about oral cancer, but we do. Consider this – 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year with cancer of the oral cavity or pharynx, and one in five of those people will die from it, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. That’s why every time we look into your mouth, we’re watching for signs of cancer, just to be sure you stay healthy.

And during every regular checkup/exam/cleaning at Meyer & Johns Dental, we specifically conduct an oral cancer screening. It’s that important.

Oral cancer screenings save lives
  Regular dental screenings can spot signs of oral cancer before they surface.

How Can You Tell?

Oral cancer generally presents itself in obvious and painful ways; sores or growths in your mouth that don’t heal after two weeks, lumps or swollen lymph nodes under you jaw or in your neck, unexplained numbness or bleeding in your mouth, difficulty or discomfort swallowing, or changes in how your bite feels.

Monthly self-exams can help identify problems early. Regularly look at the inside of your mouth, and feel your cheeks and neck for lumps or painful swelling. If you find something unusual or uncomfortable, visit us right away or contact your physician.

Oral Cancer’s Risk Factors

The risk is higher in men than in women, and increases significantly after age 40, but it can appear in anyone. Many factors can heighten your risk of developing oral cancer, including:

·      Tobacco use (either inhaled or smokeless)

·      Heavy alcohol consumption

·      A diet low in fruit and vegetables

·      HPV (Human papilloma virus) infection

·      Excessive sun exposure (particularly as a child)


The Good News

You can mitigate your risk by eliminating tobacco use, drinking only in moderation, eating balanced meals, and using sunscreen. Your body will thank you for these actions, regardless of the risk of oral cancer.

Also, it’s a very treatable disease. American Cancer Society statistics show that the 5-year relative survival rate for localized stage oral cancer is 83%. Radiation therapy is the most common method, although chemotherapy is occasionally used as well.

But early detection is your best defense, and another reason that regular dental visits are so important. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We want you – and your mouth – to be as healthy as possible.