Spring Arbor Dental

The Coolest Teeth In The Animal Kingdom

 

MOST OF US already know that sharks constantly grow new teeth, venomous snakes use their fangs like syringes full of poison, and elephants have enormous tusks. As lovers of teeth of all shapes and sizes, today we’d like to take a moment to spotlight a few lesser known bizarre teeth out there in the wild.

Crabeater Seals

Contrary to their name, crabeater seals’ diets consist almost entirely of antarctic krill, but you probably wouldn’t guess that by looking at their teeth. Where we have our molars, they have some very bizarre teeth. These teeth are like if a normal sharp canine tooth had many smaller canine teeth coming out of it. All together, they look like they’re packing deadly saws in their jaws.

Even though they look deadly, crabeater seals use their teeth in much the same way that we use strainers for pasta: they’ll take a big gulp of ocean water, then squeeze the water back out while their teeth trap all the tasty krill inside. Yum!

Beavers 

You’d be horrified if you woke up with orange teeth, but that’s because you aren’t a beaver. Beaver teeth become orange over time because of the iron in the food they eat. The iron makes their teeth harder, which helps them chew through trees to construct their dams. But even iron doesn’t fully protect against wear and tear, which is why their teeth constantly grow.

Narwhals

Narwhals are often called the unicorns of the sea because of the single spiral horn protruding up to ten feet long from the males’ heads. However, those aren’t really horns. In fact, they are tusks—in this case, elongated canine teeth that grow through the upper lip. Usually only the left one manages to grow that long, but some male narwhals end up with two full-length tusks, and occasionally a female narwhal will grow one or both as well.

As recently as May of this year, scientists still weren’t sure about the tusks’ purpose, but new footage has shown narwhals using their tusks to stun fish, making it easier to eat them. There’s probably more to it than that, though, because the tusks also contain millions of nerve endings, which likely means narwhals use them to sense their surroundings.

Keep Taking Care Of Those Chompers!

We might not be able to bop fish over the head, saw through trees, or strain krill with our ordinary human teeth, but we still need them to be healthy and strong in order to chew our food, speak clearly, and share beautiful smiles with the people we love. Always remember to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss once a day, schedule regular dental appointments, and contact us if you’re having any dental problems in between appointments!

As cool as animal teeth are, human teeth are still our favorite!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Kids’ Dental Health 101

 

 

WE ALL REMEMBER what it was like to lose our first tooth and become “one of the big kids.” Children grow up fast, but the time of greatest change for their teeth is the transition from baby teeth to permanent teeth. If your own children are in or approaching that phase of childhood, there are a few things that are important to understand.

Baby Teeth Serve A Special Purpose

Even though baby teeth only last a few years, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to take care of them, because they serve several valuable functions. First and foremost, they are placeholders for the adult teeth, helping the adult teeth to come in straight. They are also an important part of articulate speech (hence the famous lisp when the two front teeth are missing), and, of course, chewing would be impossible for the first several years of childhood without baby teeth.

Pull Loose Teeth At The Right Time

Things can get very exciting when that first tooth starts wiggling. Kids look forward to the visit from the Tooth Fairy and being able to squirt water through the new gap, but it’s important not to rush things. Let the tooth loosen on its own. If that doesn’t happen, it could be for a number of reasons, including:

  • the baby tooth being stubborn,
  • the adult tooth being impacted,
  • and the adult tooth not coming in directly under the baby tooth.

Whatever the cause, we can address it at our practice.

New Adult Teeth Differ From Baby Teeth

Don’t panic if your child’s brand new adult tooth looks more yellow than the surrounding baby teeth. That’s simple biology. Baby teeth have more of the white enamel layer and less of the underlying yellow layer than adult teeth, which is why they appear more white. A slight difference in color is completely normal, but if you’re worried, we can certainly check them out.

Another difference between baby teeth and adult teeth is that adult incisors have small bumps called mamelons along the tops. Help your child understand that these bumps are perfectly normal and often wear down after a few years.

Keep Taking Care Of Those Teeth!

There are a few essential components of dental care for growing kids, whether they’ve started losing baby teeth or not. First, teach them good brushing and flossing habits. This means brushing twice daily for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and flossing once daily, working gently along the gumline on each side of the gaps between teeth. Second, cut back on sugary snacks, sodas, and fruit juice that dramatically increase the risk of tooth decay. Finally, make sure to bring them in for regular cleaning appointments, as well as dental sealants as soon as the adult molars come in.

If you have any questions about your child’s developing teeth or their oral health, feel free to let us know in the comments below or call and make an appointment today!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Bare Bones Of Gum Recession

 

NO ONE LOOKS FORWARD to getting “long in the tooth” because of gum recession.

However, while tooth length might be an accurate yardstick for judging the age of a horse, age is not the culprit behind receding gums in humans. Gum recession is simply such a gradual process that it can take decades before the effects are noticeable.

Not All Gum Recession Is Avoidable

There are many contributing factors to gum recession, and some unfortunately include genetics. Some people simply have fragile gums or don’t have enough jaw bone covering the front of the roots of their teeth to support gums up to the crowns. The good news is that many of the other contributing factors can be controlled, and even if you’re predisposed to gum recession, there are ways to minimize it.

Bruxism Versus Your Gums

Chronic teeth-grinding, or bruxism, causes a whole host of problems for your oral health, and one of them is increasing your risk for gum recession. All that grinding puts too much pressure on the gums, so they begin to retreat. Bruxism can be a difficult habit to break, especially if you’re doing it in your sleep, but you can minimize the damage to the jaw bones, gums, and teeth by using a mouth guard.

Overbrushing Damages Gum Tissue

It might sound counterintuitive, but you can actually brush your teeth too much. Or, at least, too hard. Brushing teeth isn’t like scrubbing the grime out of tile grout; gums are not built to withstand the abrasive assault of hard-bristled brushes (and neither is the enamel on our teeth). Soft bristles are actually ideal for scrubbing away plaque and massaging the gums without damaging them. The same principle applies to flossing; you should definitely floss once a day, but go easy on those gums.

Tartar Buildup And Gum Disease

When plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, it will eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed by dental professionals. This means that the longer you go without a routine dental cleaning, the more tartar builds up along your gum lines, which puts you at risk for gum disease. Speaking of which…

In the early stages of gum disease, also called gingivitis, the health of your jaw bones is not yet at risk, which is good for avoiding gum recession. If your gums are tender, swollen, and bleed easily, it’s likely gingivitis. You can combat it with healthy brushing and flossing habits, but it’s also wise to bring the problem to us.

If untreated, gingivitis advances to become periodontitis. This is when gums start pulling away from the teeth and the integrity of the jaw bones is compromised. There are many risk factors for gum disease, including smoking, hormonal changes (like during pregnancy), diabetes, and dry mouth as a side effect of medications. At this point, better oral hygiene habits aren’t enough and professional treatment is absolutely necessary.

Help Us Help You Keep Those Gums Healthy!

If you’re worried about the structure and health of your gums, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us! We can help you get your gum health back on track and discuss treatment options.

We’re rooting for you!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Looking Back On Our Summer Jobs

 

WHETHER IT WAS DURING high school or college, whether the goal was to have spending money or to pay rent, most of us know the struggles and the joys of working a summer job. Because we are feeling nostalgic as summer draws to a close, we’ve collected summer job stories from members of our team!

Worst Summer Job Ever

Sometimes we find ourselves in summer jobs where the only good thing about them is that they only lasted a summer. Do any of our family friends’ stories sound familiar?

Jackson

I worked in a front desk job one summer, and in my third week all our computers were stolen.

McKall

I worked at a drive-in shake place, and I made shake after shake after shake until I was a splattered mess of Oreo, raspberry, chocolate, and banana from head to toe every day by close. This job cured me of any cravings for ice cream for a while. In the three weeks I worked there, it was enough for me to decide the fast food industry was not for me.

Check out this video from Jimmy Fallon to hear about some more bad summer jobs!

The Good Times

Just as there are bad summer jobs, there are also good ones. Maybe nothing particularly dramatic happened, but they still hold a fond place in our memories.

Mel

I worked at a music store. One of my best friends worked with me and I remember us sitting on the counters, having deep life discussions, and not getting much work done.

Michela

I worked at a booth that sold Dave’s Killer Bread at various Costco locations, and even though it was just a couple of weekends that summer and we didn’t have much time to get to know each other, everyone on that team worked so well together. We were the supervisor’s only team to get the booth completely sold out, which was pretty cool.

Wacky Hijinks

Whether the summer job itself is good or bad, it’s the funny stories and the crazy moments that stand out the most.

Michela

I graded AP exams two summers in a row, and the first year, a crazy drunk guy chased me and two of my friends outside the convention center. The second year was better because we got to see an outdoor Twelfth Night production.

Colin

I spent a summer as a cook at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory when I was 16. Standing over a boiling cauldron of fudge and caramel all day wasn’t the best way to escape the summer heat, but at least I got free chocolate!

Now, It’s YOUR Turn!

What was YOUR most memorable summer job? Share your own experiences in the comments section below or send us a message on our Facebook page!

Thanks for being a part of our practice’s story!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Swimmer’s Ear? More Like Swimmer’s Tooth!

 

HAVE YOUR TEETH ever felt extra sensitive after a swim at the pool? That’s no coincidence, although it can take quite a lot of swimming before the effects become noticeable. What is it about the water in swimming pools that damages teeth?

Chlorine: Good For Sanitation, Bad For Teeth

That’s right: the same chemical that kills many of the germs that love swimming in fresh water as much as we do can also be pretty hard on our teeth if the pool’s pH isn’t carefully regulated. The proper pH for pool water is 7.2-7.8, but it can easily become acidic because of the chlorine.

Swimmer’s Calculus: A Risk For Serious Swimmers

Swimmer’s Calculus isn’t the name of an underwater math class; it’s what happens to tooth enamel after prolonged exposure to acidic chlorine ions. The pH of saliva in a healthy mouth is very close to neutral. It’s the perfect pH to keep your teeth strong (as long as we’re also brushing and flossing).

Acid, like the diluted hydrochloric acid that forms in pools with chlorine, will erode more tooth enamel the longer we swim. This can lead to “swimmer’s calculus,” or yellow and brown stains on our teeth. It can also make our teeth extra sensitive after swimming, because erosion of the enamel exposes the more vulnerable dentin underneath.

Other Underwater Tooth Problems

Maybe you’re not a huge fan of the public pool, but you love snorkeling and diving in natural bodies of water. While you probably won’t have to worry about swimmer’s calculus, those activities come with their own set of tooth-threatening problems.

Scuba Diving And Tooth Squeeze

Diving in the deep end of a pool is enough to make us feel the water pressure in our ears, but did you know that when you dive deep enough, you might feel it in your teeth? Barodontalgia, or tooth squeeze, is what happens when tiny air bubbles trapped in cracks, crevices, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure. This can cause significant tooth pain and it can even fracture teeth. The best way to prevent it is to visit the dentist before diving season begins.

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

Most divers know the inconvenience of the mouthpiece design, but you might not know all the specific ways it’s bad for your teeth. The shape has been described as “one size fits none” because it’s too small and doesn’t really fit most divers’ teeth. Despite the less-than-ideal size and shape, we still have to grip it between our teeth the entire time we dive.

Clenching our jaws for so long, especially when the pressure is mostly on the front teeth, can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which causes jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. A good solution, particularly for a frequent diver, is to get a custom-fitted molded mouthpiece.

To learn more about TMJ and the treatment options available, watch the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTvDdtTd0jg

We’ll Help You Prepare Your Teeth For The Water!

We want to make sure you have a great summer enjoying all of your favorite water activities without fear for your teeth. Schedule an appointment so that we can come up with the best plan to help you avoid these common underwater tooth problems!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions

 

Build Mouth-Healthy Habits For Your Kids

 

AS PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN, you probably feel like you barely have time to take proper care of your own teeth most days, so wrestling your kids into the bathroom to brush their teeth too can seem close to impossible. Parenting will always have its struggles, but this is one we can help you out with.

Yes, Healthy Baby Teeth Are A Priority

Some parents might mistakenly believe that it isn’t important to take care of their kids’ baby teeth—they’re just going to be replaced in a few years, right? While it’s true that they’ll get their adult teeth eventually, baby teeth serve the important function of setting the spacing for those adult teeth.

It’s better to invest the time it takes to properly care for your children’s teeth now rather than increasing the chances that they’ll need years of expensive orthodontics as teenagers.

Watch the video below to learn how to properly brush your child’s teeth:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuLxz5IrZ6Y

Now that we’ve seen the proper technique, how do we get those toddlers to sit still long enough to brush their teeth?

Handy Tricks For Squirmy Toddlers

When it comes to brushing a toddler’s teeth, sometimes things don’t go as planned, but that’s okay! The most important thing is not missing any brushings.

  • Don’t feel like you can only brush their teeth in the bathroom. If you have a toothbrush on hand, you can use it wherever you are. It’s easier to ambush the three-year-old when you don’t have to drag him all the way to the sink.
  • Out of toothpaste? Brush anyway! Maybe you can’t find it one day, maybe you ran out, or maybe the entire bottle was used to make a portrait on the bathroom mirror or floor. Just brush their teeth without toothpaste until you can restock.
  • Encourage them to “brush” a toy’s teeth if they’re too young to brush their own teeth without help but old enough to understand what a toothbrush is for. Help your kids see how important dental hygiene is by having them take care of their favorite toy’s smile! Use an old toothbrush and skip the water and toothpaste.
  • Play fun music or use an hourglass to get them to that two-minute goal. These might work better than a digital timer.
  • Brush in front of the mirror. Instead of parking them on the toilet to get them to hold still, let your child see the tooth-brushing process in the mirror, like they will when they can do it themselves. They’ll feel much more involved this way, and they won’t associate brushing with using the potty.
  • Treat brushing like a priority. Don’t act impatient about it around your kids, or they’ll get the message that brushing is an inconvenience.
  • Have fun! Brushing shouldn’t feel like a punishment for them. Even if they sometimes make the process difficult for you, the more you can act like brushing their teeth is fun, the happier they’ll be to cooperate!

Building A Life-Long Habit

Brushing your children’s teeth is about instilling them with good habits they’ll maintain for the rest of their lives. Do you have a good tooth-brushing routine already? We’d love to hear about it. Otherwise, let us know which of these strategies helped you and your kids the most!

Thank you for being part of our practice

Top image by Flickr user Abigail Batchelder used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Get Screened For Oral Cancer

WHEN PEOPLE GO TO THE DENTIST, it’s generally because they have a toothache, they need some dental work done, or they want to get their teeth cleaned. But this month being Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we want to emphasize more than ever how important regular, twice-yearly dental exams are. Of course your dentist will make sure you don’t have any cavities, but what you may not realize is that regular dental exams could actually save your life.

What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer

Some people think oral cancer is rare, but here are the facts: approximately 132 individuals are diagnosed with oral cancer each day in the United States alone, and someone dies of oral cancer every hour. It is a particularly deadly cancer–only about half of oral cancer patients survive five years past their initial diagnosis. But what we really want you to remember is that early detection saves lives. When oral cancer is detected early, survival rates increase by 80 to 90 percent!

Be Aware Of The Risk Factors

Certain lifestyle activities can put you at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Familiarize yourself with these risk factors:

  • Tobacco use–Smoking and other tobacco use makes you three times more likely to develop oral cancer
  • Alcohol consumption–Drinking alcohol more than doubles your risk of oral cancer
  • Excessive sun exposure–Frequent and prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays increases your risk of developing lip cancer
  • Age–Two-thirds of individuals with oral cancer are over age 55

While knowing the risks can help us prevent oral cancer, it still occurs in people without any of the above risk factors. In fact, it is becoming increasingly more prevalent among non-smoking, healthy individuals. The reason for this shift is the rise of HPV, or human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted infection. Individuals with HPV are 32 times more likely to develop oral cancer–even more so than tobacco users.

Get Screened Regularly At Routine Dental Exams

Oral cancer often begins as a painless sore in the mouth. We encourage doing frequent self checks at home as well as visiting your dentist regularly, where you will receive routine oral cancer screenings. Come and see us immediately if you experience any lumps, white or red patches, numbness, or a sore that doesn’t heal within two weeks in and around the mouth and throat.

As dental professionals, we are the first line of defense against this awful disease. Next time you’re in our office, ask us more about how we screen for oral cancer. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

Help Us Raise Awareness

Unfortunately, we don’t hear as much about oral cancer as we do other cancers, and many people are unaware of their need to get screened on a regular basis at routine dental exams. As your trusted oral health care providers, we want to change that. Help us spread oral cancer awareness this month by sharing this post with your friends and loved ones.

We love being the dental practice you trust! Thank you!

Top image by Flickr user John Ragai used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Ever Wonder How Teeth Whitening Works?

 

IT IS NOT UNCOMMON for your teeth to lose their luster over time, which is why so many people are interested in whitening them!

Teeth Get Yellow For A Number Of Reasons

Teeth becoming yellow over time is as normal as graying hair–it is a natural part of the aging process. As we get older, our tooth enamel begins to thin due to everyday wear and tear. This causes the layer beneath our enamel, called the dentin, to show more, giving our teeth a more yellow appearance.

There are other factors that can cause teeth to yellow other than aging however, such as:

  • Tobacco use
  • Food and drink
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Dental trauma
  • Certain medications

If you want to prevent your teeth from yellowing as best you can, we suggest you change some of your lifestyle habits. If you use tobacco in any form, quit. Consume acidic food and drink in moderation and monitor your intake of beverages that can stain your teeth such as wine, coffee, tea, soda, etc. And as always, brush up on your oral hygiene habits and make sure you’re getting frequent cleanings!

The Way You Whiten Your Teeth Depends On The Stain

There are two types of stains that you can have on your teeth. Surface, or “extrinsic” stains, caused by smoking and diet occur on the surface of the enamel. “Intrinsic” stains are deeper, and happen inside the tooth.

You can remove surface stains on your teeth by using a whitening toothpaste. These kinds of toothpastes usually contain special abrasives that gently polish the teeth as well certain chemicals that can help break down stains. These toothpastes can be tough on tooth enamel, so make sure to always read labels when using them–some should only be used temporarily.

Intrinsic stains can’t be helped by whitening toothpastes. To get that brighter smile, you’ll need to actually change the color of your teeth. You can do this using a bleaching agent. The bleaching agents most products use are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These chemicals break stains into smaller pieces, making their color less concentrated and leaving your teeth much whiter! Some of the most common ways to bleach your teeth are whitening strips and gels, tray-based tooth whiteners and in-office whitening services supervised by a dentist.

We Would Love To See You At Our Office

At our practice, we offer in-office whitening that will get you the white smile you’ve been dreaming of in half the time or less than other whitening options. We will also carefully monitor the whole process to ensure its safety and efficacy.

Or, if you’re looking to use a tray-based whitening system, we can customize your mouthpiece to exactly fit your teeth! This will protect the soft tissues of your mouth, especially your gums, as well as ensure maximum contact between your teeth and the whitening solution.

Either way, we’d love to see you, whether that’s for a cleaning, checkup, or whitening treatment!

Have any questions? Call us or let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading our blog!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Seasonal Allergies? Take Care Of Your Smile

 

 

SPRING IS ON THE HORIZON and we couldn’t be more excited! Chirping birds, blooming flowers, and warmer weather are just a few of the things we look forward to when spring comes around. We have to admit though, there is one thing about the season that’s not particularly appealing, and that’s allergies.

Be Aware Of These Dental Side Effects During Allergy Season

Many of you have experienced it, red, itchy and watery eyes and the constant sneezing and congestion. The effects of seasonal allergies can go even further, however, and may even affect your oral health! Here are some mouth-related symptoms to be on the lookout for when seasonal allergies strike.

Tooth Pain

When your body reacts to allergens in the air, you often end up with congested sinuses. Sinus pressure in the maxillary sinuses can sometimes cause the upper molars to ache. Treating your allergies and the congestion should relieve tooth pain. If the pain persists, however, make an appointment with your dentist. It’s important to make sure any aching teeth aren’t the result of tooth decay.

Bad Breath

All that mucus your body is creating can also be bad news for your breath. When you’re congested, mucus from the sinuses leaks into the back of the throat–we call this “post-nasal drip.” Not only can post-nasal drip lead to a sore throat, it can also be the cause of persistent bad breath.

Dry Mouth

Many of you will reach for antihistamines to keep your allergies under control this spring. As helpful as they are, they can often lead to an unpleasant side effect: dry mouth. Saliva is our number one defense against cavity-causing bacteria, so when your mouth is dry, you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay.

Protect Your Mouth This Spring

We want your mouth to stay healthy, even during allergy season. Here are some helpful tips to help you protect your mouth this spring:

  • Continue to practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day, and floss on a daily basis!
  • Take allergy medication as recommended by your physician, but remember to drink plenty of water to compensate for dry mouth.
  • Try gargling with salt water to help with congestion. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water and gargle for a few seconds before spitting it out.

To get a more in-depth look at what causes those pesky allergies and what you can do to avoid them, check out the video below!

Don’t Let Allergies Get The Best Of You

We know how difficult spring can be for some of our patients because of allergies. Keep practicing good oral hygiene and call us if you need anything! We’re here to get you through allergy season with a smile on your face.

Thank you for ACHOO-sing our practice! (Gesundheit…)

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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