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When you get up in the morning, do you find yourself experiencing a sore jaw? Or do you have a headache that hits you like a ton of bricks before you’ve even opened your eyes? We hate to break it to you, but it’s possible that you’re grinding your teeth at night.

Teeth grinding is often an overlooked condition because many people dismiss it out of hand. To them, it’s nothing more than an annoyance that they are forced to endure. What they don’t realize is that grinding your teeth can lead to damage if you don’t get it under control. It will often case erosion of your tooth enamel and may even cause damage to any dental work you’ve had done, both of which are an obvious concern that can worsen if the problem isn’t handled.

There are a few different causes of teeth grinding — medically known as bruxism — that you should be aware of. The most common causes are physical. Perhaps you have an abnormal bite or crooked/missing teeth. Other causes are mental, primarily stress or anxiety. No matter the cause, it’s a good idea to see a dentist to help you deal with the problem. Until then, you can try these countermeasures:

Relax Your Jaw

Once you’ve been grinding your teeth, your jaw is going to feel sore. What you want to do is help it to relax. You may be surprised to learn that massaging your jaw can do wonders. Doing this throughout the day in short intervals can relieve the pressure and give you a great deal of relief. Also, if you have a habit of chewing on non-food items such as nails or pencils, cut it out. You’re just making the problem worse.

Relieve Your Stress

If there doesn’t seem to be a physical source of your grinding, then you may be under too much stress. We’re not experts at stress, of course, but we’ve learned some things over the years that have helped patients out tremendously. Exercising and meditation are two fantastic ways to lower a person’s stress level. Other treatments include taking a warm bath, splurging on a spa treatment or massage, reading a book in bed, or anything else that relaxes you.

Wear a Mouth Guard

A serious problem often calls for a serious solution. A mouth guard, which can be custom-made by your dentist, can be used to help protect you from teeth grinding in the same way that one can protect an athlete while playing sports. This won’t stop you from grinding your teeth, but will keep your enamel safe when you do. It may appear a bit unsightly and take some getting used to, but this may be your best bet if the problem persists.

Be Aware of the Problem

Most people who grind their teeth during the day have no idea that they’re doing it. What you need to do is pay attention to what you’re doing, and if you find yourself grinding your teeth, relax your jaw. The biggest defense against this specific area of the problem is to stay aware of it at all times. If, however, you’re grinding your teeth at night, a visit to the dentist is the way to go.

Whether you’re grinding your teeth, trying to improve your smile, or need a thorough cleaning, visiting your dentist on a  regular basis will help improve your dental health. Everyone at the office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, is dedicated to giving you the very best service — and the very best teeth — possible. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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We all want to take care of our teeth, but the unfortunate truth is that many people don’t take the steps necessary to do so They always have the best intentions, and perhaps they even make a plan and attempt to stick to it, but the truth is, many people are failing at what should be a simple, yet important, task.

Some people don’t think that proper brushing, flossing, and overall dental health is essential because the worst that can happen is a cavity, which they can get fixed at the dentist in a single afternoon. They treat it like it’s no more eventful than a haircut. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Rather than get into the specifics as to of why a cavity isn’t something to be taken likely, what we’d like to address right now is the fact that there are other dental problems that can be caused by poor care. So if you’re not brushing or flossing your teeth and are thinking that a cavity or two is the worst thing you can experience, this article is definitely for you.

Bad Breath

Whether you’re on a date or simply going to work every day, having bad breath can spell bad news. This is something that doesn’t just affect you — it can affect everyone around you. At some point in our lives, there’s a good chance that we’ll work at a job or have a class where there’s that one person who is known for having bad breath. Of course, no one wants to say anything to him (or her). Instead, the person gets avoided or, even worse, snickered about behind their back. Making fun of someone is never a nice or honorable thing to do, but can you imagine approaching someone and telling the person he or she has bad breath? The embarrassment will be felt by both parties. The good news is that proper dental hygiene will solve most problems with bad breath. If not, then ask your dentist about it, because you could be suffering from gum disease or some other underlying issue.

Pregnancy Complications

Who would’ve thought that oral health was somehow linked to pregnancy complications? It may sound odd, but it’s true — studies that shown that poor oral health can lead to certain complications. The fears typically include premature birth and a low birth weight, but improper oral health of the mother can also put the infant at risk of tooth decay. You obviously don’t want to start a child’s life off in this way, so it’s important that an expectant mother be diligent when it comes to proper care of her teeth and gums. It’s also a good idea to schedule a dental visit in order to discuss extra steps that can be taken for even better protection for the baby.

Various Medical Issues

When you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, the inside of your mouth isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Truth is, outside of your mouth has plenty to worry about as well. Poor oral and dental health have been linked to such problems as dementia, pneumonia, kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes. Some of the precise links are unclear, so it’s best to be on the safe side by brushing and flossing on a regular basis to improve your overall dental and oral health.

Do you have cavities that need to be taken care of or any other possible dental problems? Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, is ready to help you take control of your dental and oral health by finding ways to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

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Your alarm clock goes off to alert you to the beauty of yet another day. You drag yourself out of bed and stumble down the hallway, bleary-eyed and barely awake. You walk into your kitchen, brew up your tastiest coffee blend, and take a big ol’ sip from your favorite cup. Just another typical day of damaging your teeth.

Wait… what?

We’re sorry to break it to you, but certain beverages that you love are unhealthy for your teeth. As hard as it may be to hear, we’re going to give you some tough love and provide you with some examples:

Coffee

Oh, sweet coffee. The aroma. The warmth. The caffeine. Drinking a cup of coffee — or four — has become part of what millions of people refer to as their “morning routine.” Unfortunately, coffee has two negative effects on your teeth. First, it will stain your teeth. Second, the highly acidic nature of coffee will erode the enamel, leaving your susceptible to cavities and other problems.

Tea

We won’t be too harsh on tea, because studies have shown that it has a number of health benefits, including the possible reduction of gum disease. Plus, it doesn’t damage your teeth enamel as much as other acidic drinks. That being said, keep in mind that tea can also stain your teeth. To keep the negative effects low, we suggest that you avoid loading it up with sugar.

Orange Juice

Many people turn to orange juice as a healthy alternative to other morning beverages, especially when kids turn up their noses at drinking milk. That’s why it’s so disconcerting to learn that many types of orange juice should be avoided. That’s because they’re often loaded with sugar and can be as unhealthy for your teeth as a can of soda thanks to its acidity. If kids are making a stink about drinking milk, we suggest that you provide them with water, even if it’s a zero calorie, sugar-free flavored water from time to time.

Energy Drinks

For years, energy drinks have been touted as healthy alternatives to soda and other beverages. That’s why so many people have been drinking them as a way to start their day. But have you ever taken a gander at the nutrition label on the back? You know what you’ll find on the majority of them? That’s right… SUGAR! And even if you select a sugar-free option, the drink’s acidity and carbonation can damage your enamel.

Soda

Whether you prefer to call it soda or pop, one word we can all agree on to call this type of drink is simple: unhealthy. Although you may not think of soda as a morning beverage, many people do grab a soda in the morning. Many of them will nurse the drink for hours, which means you’re constantly bathing your teeth in acid. Do your body and your teeth a favor, and at least cut down on how much you drink.

Are we saying that you should completely cut out all of these beverages? While some like soda and energy drinks should definitely be considered a part of your “do not drink” list, it really comes down to moderation. A daily routine of coffee might keep you going throughout the week, but it’s important to know the negative effects and do what you can to avoid them.

The best way to ensure dental and oral health is to follow common sense when it comes to care, in addition to visiting your dentist on a regular basis. If you’re in need of a check-up or dental work, we encourage you to contact Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, right away.

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Halloween is in a few days, so it won’t be long before ghosts, goblins, and ghouls will be in our midst. As adults, the holiday can be a whole lot of fun, but for parents, the real focus is toward their children.

There are numerous safety concerns that are tackled each year, from avoiding costumes with masks to wearing reflectors if kids are going to be walking up and down neighborhood streets. Being a dentistry website, though, what we’d like to take on is the aftermath of Halloween — the candy feast!

What can you do to ensure your children’s dental health while they scarf down their Halloween candy like there’s no tomorrow? We suggest that you try these simple tips:

Limit the Amount of Candy

There is absolutely no reason for your child to be given full access to dozens of pieces of candy. Eating an entire bagful of candy will not only harm your child’s teeth, it’s likely to make them sick if they gorge themselves. Instead, tell them to pick out a certain number of their favorites, whether it’s 10, 15, or maybe more. To avoid arguments, it’s best to inform them of this plan before Trick ‘r Treating and make their agreement to this idea contingent on getting the candy in the first place.

Set a Treat Time

No matter how well-behaved your child is, the allure of candy may turn them into a ravenous beast who will lie, cheat, and steal to obtain it. You can help prevent this by setting a specific treat time. This goes for all instances of treats — not just Halloween. When your child knows that they will be able to enjoy a piece of candy at a given time, they are less likely to attempt a coup and eat your hidden stash.

Organize a Brushing Schedule

This is something every parent should do, regardless of the impending holiday. Children do best when they are provided with a structure around certain activities. Brushing and flossing both fall into that category, so it’s important to establish a daily brushing schedule and stick to it as much as you can. And obviously, don’t allow your children to eat any of their Halloween candy after their teeth have been brushed for the night.

Check Their Teeth with Disclosing Tablets

Many parents have never heard of disclosing tablets, and they’re definitely something to be aware of. They are chewable tablets that will temporarily stain plaque on a child’s teeth so that you can see the build-up of such plaque for yourself. It’s a good idea to schedule a weekly “disclosing session”, and if you don’t like the use of tablets for whatever reason, there are swabs and solutions you can pick up as well.

Make Brushing Fun

Whether it’s Halloween or not, young children are more likely too brush their teeth regularly if you make the activity fun. A great way to do this is to purchase a toothbrush of their favorite character. You should be replacing the toothbrush every few months anyway, and Halloween is a great opportunity to switch it out with something they’ll like. And if you let them choose the brush, even better.

Are you interested in more ways to help maintain your child’s dental health? Do you have an adult sweet tooth and plan to eat a lot of candy in the next few days? Are you using your children to help you score said candy on Halloween? Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, cares about a person’s dental and oral health, so if you’re ready to get started on making improvements for you and your children, contact us right away for an appointment.

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Let’s talk about a topic today that many people shudder to think about — oral cancer. Other types of cancer get a lot more attention, but the truth is that oral cancer is a big problem in our country. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s difficult to diagnose and by the time you receive a diagnosis, the cancer is late in its development. This increases its mortality rate substantially. In fact, once diagnosed, there is a 57 percent chance that a person will succumb to the disease within five years.

We’re not trying to scare you — at least not too much — but this is an important issue that should be addressed, and one that many people don’t even think about until it’s too late. Each year, several thousand people die from oral cancer, and while that might not seem like a lot compared to other cancers, it comes out to roughly one related death every hour. And even if you do survive oral cancer, you are likely to spend a lot of money for treatment and may find yourself disfigured and in need of reconstructive procedures.

Did we say that we weren’t trying to scare you? Sorry about that. But this is an important topic.

The good news is that there are ways to help avoid oral cancer. Here are some actions you can start taking today:

Avoid Tobacco

It will come as no secret to anyone that smoking tobacco is bad for you. Smoking causes many types of health problems and one of the greatest things you can do for your body as a whole is to quit. Oral cancer is also very common for those who use chewing tobacco, so if this is something you enjoy — stop right now! But whether it’s smoking or chewing that you’re trying to stop, you’re not alone in getting help. These days, there are support groups, gums, and many other helpful ways to stop.

Eat the Right Way

A lesser concern, but one that you should think about, is the ingestion of processed meats. These meats contain nitrosamines, which are also found in tobacco and can increase your chances of oral cancer. It is also recommended that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to decrease your chances as well.

Avoid Risky Sexual Behavior

The idea of risky sexual behavior isn’t something that typically pops up while discussing dentistry, but when it comes to oral cancer, it definitely needs to be addressed. In recent years, the number of oral cancer cases among young men and women has been increasing. This has been attributed to oral sex, thanks to the transmission of a particular strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV-16). So in addition to proper dental care, be careful out there.

Check Your Mouth

If you experience any unusual bumps, sore, or other changes in your mouth or throat, contact your dentist or doctor immediately. As previously stated, oral cancer’s mortality rate increases substantially because it gets caught too late. Instead of being a statistic, treat these types of changes as an emergency. And when you call your dentist, tell them what you’re fearful of, so that they’ll make every effort to get you in as soon as possible.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Like all other dental issues, visiting your dentist on a regular basis can help when it comes to oral cancer. A dentist will be able to identify the early stages of oral cancer, and will help you get started on treatment right away. And the earlier you get diagnosed, the better the outcome is likely to be.

Whether you’re worried about oral cancer or have a lesser dental problem that you need to have dealt with, Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, can help you out. Our trained staff will help ensure your oral and dental health, and will assist you with caring for your teeth in the future.

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