During the COVID-19 quarantines, stir-crazy celebrities have been creating some “unique” home videos—like Madonna singing about fried fish to the tune of “Vogue” in her bathroom or Cardi B busting through a human-sized Jenga tower. But an entertaining Instagram video from Kevin Bacon also came with a handy culinary tip: The just-awakened film and TV actor showed fans his morning technique for cutting a mango to avoid the stringy pulp that gets between your teeth. After cutting a mango in half, he scored it lengthwise and crosswise to create squares and then turned the mango inside out for easy eating.
With his mango-slicing video garnering over a quarter-million views, the City on a Hill star may have touched a nerve—the near universal annoyance we all have with food stuck between our teeth. Trapped food particles aren't only annoying, they can also contribute to a bacterial film called dental plaque that's the top cause for tooth decay and gum disease.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to avoid stuck food if you love things like popcorn, poppy-seed muffins or barbecue ribs. It's helpful then to have a few go-to ways for removing food caught between teeth. First, though, let's talk about what NOT to use to loosen a piece of stuck food.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 adults found that when removing something caught between our teeth, we humans are a creative lot. The makeshift tools that survey respondents said they've used in a pinch included twigs, safety pins, screwdrivers and nails (both the hammer and finger/toe variety). Although clever, many such items are both unsanitary and harmful to your gums and tooth enamel, especially if they're metallic or abrasive.
If you want a safe way to remove unwanted food debris, try these methods instead:
Brush your teeth: The gentle abrasives in toothpaste plus the mechanical action of brushing can help dislodge trapped food.
Use dental floss: A little bit of dental floss usually does the trick to remove wedged-in food—and it's easy to carry a small floss container or a floss pick on you for emergencies.
Try a toothpick. A toothpick is also an appropriate food-removing tool, according the American Dental Association, as long as it is rounded and made of wood.
See your dentist. We have the tools to safely and effectively remove trapped food debris that you haven't been able to dislodge by other means—so before you get desperate, give us a call.
You can also minimize plaque buildup from food particles between teeth by both brushing and flossing every day. And for optimally clean teeth, be sure you have regular dental office cleanings at least twice a year.
Thanks to Kevin Bacon's little trick, you can have your “non-stringy” mango and eat it too. Still, you can't always avoid food getting wedged between your teeth, so be prepared.
Jaw pain or frequent headaches could be a result of grinding your teeth while you sleep. Luckily, nightguards offered by your dentists in Charlotte, NC, Dr. Susan Hockaday and Dr. Jim Baucom of Dr. Susan A. Hockaday Family Dental Practice, can help you protect your teeth and gums with nightguards.
How to tell if you might need a nightguard
Teeth grinding increases your risk of several types of oral health problems. A nightguard, a device worn over your teeth while you sleep, absorbs pressure generated by grinding, preventing damage to your teeth and gums.
Unfortunately, many people who grind their teeth aren't aware that they have a problem. If you've noticed any of these signs or symptoms, you may be grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep:
- Cracks in Teeth or Restorations: Grinding places tremendous pressure on your teeth and can crack teeth, fillings, crowns and veneers. If you've experienced more than your share of cracks, grinding may be to blame.
- Receding Gums: Grinding may also be a factor in receding gums and could increase your risk of gum disease.
- Headaches: Do you wake up most mornings with a nagging headache? The muscles in your face and head tense when you grind, which can lead to headaches. Nightguards offered by the Charlotte, NC, dental office decrease pressure and stop headaches.
- Facial Pain: Grinding may also inflame muscles and tissues in your face leading to facial pain or earaches.
- Clicking and Popping: You may notice clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth if you grind your teeth.
- Toothaches: In addition to cracking teeth, grinding may wear away the protective enamel layer, exposing the sensitive dentin layer. When the dentin is exposed, eating hot or cold foods and drinks can lead to tooth pain.
- Jaw Stiffness: Grinding can cause your jaw to stiffen painfully and may also trigger muscle spasms in your jaw muscles. If you don't begin wearing a mouthguard, you may be more likely to develop temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). The painful disorder affects the hinge joints in your jaw.
Keep your smile healthy with nightguards! Call your Charlotte, NC, dentists, Dr. Hockaday and Dr. Baucom of Dr. Susan A. Hockaday Family Dental Practice, at (704) 553-2348 to schedule your appointment.
There's still much about the underlying nature of chronic jaw joint dysfunction we have yet to unravel. Treating these conditions known as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) may therefore require some experimentation to find what works for each individual patient.
Most TMD therapies are relatively conservative: eating softer foods, taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers or undergoing physical therapy. There have been some surgical techniques tried to relieve jaw pain and dysfunction, but these have so far had mixed results.
Recently, the use of the drug Botox has been promoted for relieving jaw pain, albeit temporarily. Botox contains tiny amounts of botulinum toxin type A, a poisonous substance derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can cause muscle paralysis. It's mainly used to cosmetically smooth out small wrinkles around facial features.
Because of these properties, some physicians have proposed Botox for TMD treatment to paralyze the muscles around the jaw to reduce pain and discomfort. While the treatment sounds intriguing, there are a number of reasons to be wary of it if you have TMD.
To begin with, the claims for Botox's success in relieving jaw pain have been mainly anecdotal. On the other hand, findings from randomized, double-blind trials have yet to show any solid evidence that Botox can produce these pain-relieving effects.
But even if it lived up to the claims of TMD pain relief, the effect would eventually fade in a few weeks or months, requiring the patient to repeat the injections. It's possible with multiple Botox injections that the body will develop antibodies to fight the botulinum toxin, causing the treatment to be less effective with subsequent injections.
Of even greater concern are the potential side effects of Botox TMD treatment, ranging from headaches and soreness at the injection site to more serious muscle atrophy and possible facial deformity from repeated injections. There's also evidence for decreased bone density in the jaw, which could have far-reaching consequences for someone with TMD.
The best approach still seems to lie in the more conservative therapies that treat TMD similar to other joint disorders. Finding the right combination of therapies that most benefit you will help you better manage your symptoms.
If you would like more information on treatments for TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Botox Treatment for TMJ Pain.”
Dr. Susan A. Hockaday Family Dental Practice is here to offer you crowns that are built to protect your teeth for a lifetime. Dr. Susan Hockaday and Dr. Jim Baucom design dental crowns in Charlotte, NC, in just two to three easy visits.
Protecting vulnerable damaged teeth
Disease, decay, and injuries weaken your teeth on top of making them less attractive. If one of your teeth loses its shape or structure to any kind of damage, a durable dental crown can cover it and restore your ability to bite and chew.
Crowns can cover teeth with a variety of specific defects that put them at risk, including:
- Wear and tear from bruxism
- Large fillings
You can also get a crown for cosmetic purposes if a veneer will not suffice. A color-matched crown can go over a tooth that is severely discolored or misshapen, even if it isn't weak or broken.
Options for crowns
Crowns come in a variety of different materials that are all strong enough to withstand normal bite forces. However, some of the materials are stronger or more durable than others. Some materials have more cosmetic value since they look much closer to the way your natural teeth look.
At your consultation, your dentist discusses each of these crown material options with you:
- Porcelain fused to metal
Metal crowns are generally tougher than porcelain, ceramic, and resin and are often the better choice for molars that need a lot of strength for your bite. If you go with a color-matchable option, your dentist takes note of the natural shade of your teeth and might recommend teeth whitening beforehand.
Durable dental crowns in Charlotte, NC.
A single dental crown can strengthen a damaged tooth for years or decades to come. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Susan Hockaday and Dr. Jim Baucom for dental crowns in Charlotte, NC, call Dr. Susan A. Hockaday Family Dental Practice at (704) 553-2348.
Finding out you have a cavity isn't the best of news. But finding out it's a root cavity is even worse: if not treated, the decay can spread more rapidly than a cavity occurring in the tooth's crown surfaces.
Our teeth are basically composed of two parts: the crown, the visible tooth above the gum line, and the roots, the hidden portion beneath the gums. The root in turn fits into a bony socket within the jaw to help hold the tooth in place (along with attached gum ligaments).
A tooth crown is covered by an ultra-hard layer of enamel, which ordinarily protects it from harmful bacteria. But when acid produced by bacteria comes into prolonged contact with enamel, it can soften and erode its mineral content and lead to a cavity.
In contrast to enamel, the roots have a thin layer of material called cementum. Although it offers some protection, it's not at the same performance level as enamel. But roots are also normally covered by the gums, which rounds out their protection.
But what happens when the gums shrink back or recede? This often occurs with gum disease and is more prevalent in older people (and why root cavities are also more common among seniors). The exposed area of the roots with only cementum standing in the way of bacteria and acid becomes more susceptible to cavity formation.
Root cavities can be treated in much the same way as those that occur in the crown. We first remove any decayed tooth structure with a drill and then place a filling. But there's also a scenario in which the cavity is below the gum line: In that case, we may need to gain access to the cavity surgically through the gums.
If you have exposed root areas, we can also treat these with fluoride to strengthen the area against cavity formation. And, as always, prevention is the best treatment: maintain a daily schedule of brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings to remove bacterial plaque.
Because decay can spread within a tooth, dealing with a root cavity should be done as promptly as possible. But if we diagnose and initiate treatment early, your chances of a good outcome are high.
If you would like more information on treating root cavities and other forms of tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Root Cavities.”
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