The Practice of Javier E. Martinez, DDS, MS

How Stress Might Be Ruining Your Teeth

You may know that stress can cause upset stomachs and headaches, but did you know it can cause tooth decay?

Here’s what to know and what you can do to protect your smile.

 

Backaches, sleepless nights, upset stomach. Just reading about the physical manifestations of stress can trigger a headache. Unchecked, stress can contribute to serious health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

There’s another, less obvious part of our body both affected by stress and a sign of it: our pearly whites.

“Sometimes people end up with issues that they didn’t even know were dental, and they didn’t even know they were stressed,” says Danine Fresch Gray, a general dentist who owns Clarendon Dental Arts.

Clenching or grinding the teeth, a common dental problem that can be related to stress, can cause headaches, chipped or flattened teeth, and tight jaw muscles. Improper bites and the breakdown of the temporomandibular joint connecting the skull to the jawbone may contribute to these dental woes, says Richard Rogers, a dentist in Frederick. Stress exacerbates grinding in those situations.

According to a recent “Stress in America” report from the American Psychological Association, Americans on average reported more physical symptoms of stress in 2017 compared with 2016, including anxiety, anger, and fatigue. The most common sources were the “future of our nation,” money, and work. It was the first significant increase in stress levels found by the APA since the inaugural survey in 2007.

While there are no Washington-specific numbers, a national survey in January 2017 found that 62 percent of urbanites were stressed by the election of Donald Trump, compared with 45 percent and 33 percent of people in suburban and rural areas, respectively.

Because of the connections between psychological stress and physical and oral health, a dentist must consider the whole person when a patient presents a stress-related dental issue. “One of the sayings is you never see a tooth walk through the door—it always has a human attached,” says Rogers. Teeth-grinding, for example, can be a sign of a sleep disorder. When someone has Sleep Apnea, the body’s effort to clear the airway may include grinding the teeth. “We monitor [patients’ sleep] and we say, ‘Here’s where you stopped breathing and gasped for air, and then you grind your teeth.’ ”

Stocking Stuffers For Healthy Teeth

THE HOLIDAYS ARE approaching, and that means it’s time to shop for treats and presents for the people we love! Often times, these treats aren’t the healthiest choices for our teeth, which is why we’ve put together some suggestions for more dental-friendly goodies to stuff in those stockings — as well as some things to avoid.

Stocking

Avoid edible stocking stuffers altogether, in favor of small toys and games that will take your children’s minds completely off their sweet tooth cravings. No matter what goes in those stockings, though, don’t forget to keep up with all those good brushing and flossing habits through the holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you at your next cleaning appointments!

Wishing All Our Patients A Happy, Healthy Holiday Season!

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.

Types of Dentures

Dentures Throughout History

The first known dentures were made around 700 BC in northern Italy. These dentures were made from human and animal teeth, and although a set of these dentures would deteriorate quickly, they remained the norm for two and a half millennia. However, the industrial revolution in the 1800s led to a massive increase in the amount of sugar people consumed, and this caused the demand for dentures to increase dramatically, along with a demand for higher quality!

It was around that time that people started trying new materials, such as ivory, which lasted much longer. In fact, hippo and elephant ivory are what George Washington’s dentures were really made of, not wood! Nowadays, false teeth are made of porcelain or acrylic resin, depending on the situation. These are much stronger and more durable materials.

MANY OF US HAVE TO deal with tooth loss as we get older, whether because of an injury or tooth decay. What can we do when this happens to us? Fortunately, the field of prosthodontics (false teeth) has come a long way, giving us plenty of options for filling those gaps back in.

 

Modern Denture Types

Your individual situation will determine the type of denture that would work best for you. Obviously someone who still has some of their natural teeth won’t use the same type as someone with no natural teeth left. So what are the different types?

  • Full dentures are a complete set of removable false teeth. They can be just the top teeth, just the bottom, or both. These may be made of porcelain, which imitates the look and feel of natural teeth, and they can last from 5-10 years.
  • Partial dentures are for people who still have some healthy natural teeth. The new teeth fill the gaps so the natural teeth don’t start to shift and cause new oral problems. They are often made of acrylic resin, which won’t wear down the natural teeth like porcelain will, but don’t last as long
  • Fixed dentures, meaning non-removable dentures, come in a few different varieties. There are implants, which are surgically placed into the jaw bone and fuse over time to mimic the old root; bridges, which fill gaps by being cemented to the teeth on either side of the whole; and implant-supported dentures, which use implants as anchors for dentures.

    Which Dentures Are Right For You?

    Figuring out the ideal replacement teeth for you can be tricky, particularly if you’ve never needed them before, but that’s why you have us! Schedule a visit with us as soon as you can so we can talk about what type you need and set up a plan to get you on your way back to a bright, full smile!

    As always, thank you for putting your trust in us!

    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.

Swimming And Oral Health

Chlorine Versus Our Teeth
The reason swimming pools contain chlorine is that it helps to decontaminate the water from microbes and other unpleasant things that could pose health and sanitation risks to swimmers. However, when chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid, and unless the pool’s pH isn’t carefully regulated, that acid can lead to a condition called swimmer’s calculus.

Swimmer’s calculus is yellow and brown stains that can develop on teeth enamel after too much exposure to chlorine. It’s also what can make our teeth feel more sensitive after swimming, because enamel erosion leaves the dentin underneath more vulnerable. When we have good oral health, our saliva works to keep our mouths as close to a neutral pH as possible, thus protecting our enamel from erosion, but acid exposure can harm enamel before the saliva can do its job.

This isn’t usually a problem for casual swimmers, but anyone who is a serious swimmer or participates in water sports should be aware of the possibility of developing swimmer’s calculus. The best ways to prevent chlorine damage to your teeth are to maintain a good oral health routine with daily brushing and flossing, drink plenty of fresh water to flush out the chlorine residue, and keep your mouth closed while swimming!

Let’s Get Those Teeth Ready For The Water!

We want all of our patients to have a wonderful summer enjoying their favorite water sports and activities without fear for the effects on their teeth. Schedule a dental appointment so that we can make sure your teeth are healthy and answer any of your questions about underwater tooth problems and how to avoid them!

Take time to cool off this summer! You deserve it!

 

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.

Getting Your Smile Back With Dental Implants

Implants Or False Teeth?

Partial and full dentures have been a common solution for missing teeth for many years, but they have their disadvantages. They are prone to slipping and falling out if not properly secured, and they can lead to jaw pain and soreness in the gums. They also do not stimulate the jaw bones, so patients with dentures tend to suffer bone loss.

Getting Your Smile Back With Dental Implants

Partial and full dentures have been a common solution for missing teeth for many years, but they have their disadvantages. They are prone to slipping and falling out if not properly secured, and they can lead to jaw pain and soreness in the gums. They also do not stimulate the jaw bones, so patients with dentures tend to suffer bone loss.

Implants, on the other hand, are metal posts surgically placed in the jawbone under the gums and are basically a new root for a replacement tooth that looks and acts like a natural tooth. The only advantage dentures have over implants is that they are cheaper. It’s important to fill in the gap with an implant as soon as possible so the bone doesn’t erode and the surrounding teeth don’t collapse into the hole causing alignment and bite issues.

Implants And Braces?

In most cases where a patient needs orthodontic treatment as well as implants, the braces come first, because once an implant is in the jaw, it won’t move. On rare occasions, if the braces only need to shift the front teeth and the missing teeth are located in the back, the implant can be placed before or during orthodontic treatment!

If you need a dental implant, just talk to us! We’ll evaluate your situation and develop the perfect plan to get you the smile you deserve.

Keep taking care of those teeth!

 

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.

When To See The Dentist

BECAUSE PREVENTION IS such a major part of good dental care, it’s critical to visit the dentist for regular checkups. In most cases, two regular dental cleanings a year will be all you need, but not always. So what are the signs that you shouldn’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to come back? For this blog post, we’ve listed the top five.

1. Aches Of Any Kind
If you’re experiencing tooth pain, that could mean a cavity has gotten to the point where the dental pulp is getting infected. Don’t tough it out thinking it’ll just go away on its own. Other types of pain you should bring to the dentist are an aching jaw and frequent headaches. These are often connected to oral health issues such as bruxism (teeth-grinding), and the dentist can help!
2. Mouth Sores And Bleeding Gums
Mouth sores usually go away on their own, but they can also be a sign of infection or disease, so it’s important to get those looked at when they appear. If you notice that you’re bleeding after brushing or flossing, it’s time to come see the dentist, particularly if you’re already using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Bleeding gums are one of the first symptoms of gum disease, so don’t ignore the signs!
3. Previous Dental Work
If you’ve had dental work done in the past and there’s a problem with it now, don’t wait until a regular appointment to get that fixed, because it will likely get worse. A cracked or chipped crown needs to be repaired quickly so that infection doesn’t set in. Worn-out fillings need to be replaced to prevent bacteria from thriving in the gaps between the tooth and the filling.
4. Serious Medical Concerns
Serious conditions such as diabetes, eating disorders, and gum disease affect our oral health more than we realize, and sometimes the treatments have negative impacts too. Many medications cause dry mouth, which can seriously jeopardize oral health. That’s why if you are diagnosed with a chronic disease and/or have new medications prescribed to you, your dentist needs to know about it.
5. Bad Breath
Few things are as mortifying as being in a social situation and realizing you have bad breath, but did you know that bad breath is sometimes a symptom of gum disease or other health problems? If you find yourself having an unusually hard time keeping your breath minty fresh, it’s a good idea to visit the dentist so we can discover the underlying cause.

Keep Up Your Regular Visits!
While we hope you come to see us right away if you notice any of these signs, we want to reemphasize the importance of scheduling regular appointments. Most dental health problems appear gradually, and an appointment every six months is enough to catch these problems before they become serious.

Thank you for trusting in us to take care of all your dental concern.

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.

Saliva: Oral Health’s MVP

SALIVA IS SUCH an ordinary thing that you probably haven’t given it much thought, but it’s actually as important to the healthy function of our mouths as oil is to a working car engine. Saliva is an essential component of our ability to eat, taste our favorite foods, and speak, it’s crucial to a healthy immune system, and it’s our first line of defense against many oral health problems.

Saliva Production And Stages
In a healthy mouth, saliva is produced continuously by the salivary glands, which are located under our tongues and in our cheeks. These glands produce between two and six cups of saliva every day! Saliva is 98-99 percent water, and the rest consists of proteins, digestive enzymes, antimicrobial factors, and electrolytes.

Depending on where food is in the digestive process, saliva goes through a few different stages: cephalic, buccal, oesophageal, gastric, and intestinal. When you smell something delicious and your mouth waters, that’s the cephalic stage! Actually eating moves it to the buccal stage, which helps us swallow food. The oesophageal stage helps move swallowed food down the esophagus.
The last two stages are less pleasant, but still important. If you’re about to throw up, your salivary glands work overtime in the gastric stage so that the stomach acid won’t do as much damage when it comes up and out with the partially digested food. The intestinal stage is similar, activating when the body doesn’t agree with food that reaches the upper intestine.

Saliva And Oral Health
There are many reasons we have saliva, but the most important role it plays for your teeth is keeping your mouth’s pH balancedand flushing away remnants of food to keep everything clean. Eating food tends to make our mouths more acidic, and even though the enamel on our teeth is the hardest substance in our bodies, it only takes a pH of 5.5 to start dissolving it. Many of the foods we eat are far more acidic than that, which makes saliva critical in protecting our teeth.
The antimicrobial factors in saliva also fight bacteria, protecting us against gum disease and bad breath. Growth factors in saliva are why injuries in your mouth (like a burned tongue or a bitten cheek) heal faster than injuries elsewhere on the body. And those are just the benefits to oral health, but saliva does much more.

Saliva and oral health

When The Spit Runs Dry…

All of these benefits are why dry mouth is such a serious problem. It can happen for a number of reasons. Our mouths tend to go dry in stressful situations. We also tend to produce less saliva in old age. Drug use, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all cause dry mouth as well. Unfortunately, many prescription medications cause dry mouth as a side effect.

Let’s Get That Mouth Watering!

If you’ve been experiencing dry mouth for any reason, schedule an appointment with us. We can discover the cause and get that saliva flowing again so that you won’t miss out on any of its great health benefits!

Thank you for trusting in our practice!

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 Gift Of Gift-Giving

Looking For Fun Gift Exchange Ideas?
If you’re looking for a new gift-giving tradition to try out, take a look at a few of the ideas here. We’ve shared two of the ones we thought were unique!
“Cookie-swap packing party. Besides cookies to swap at the party, guests bring extras, along with metal tins, takeout containers, plastic boxes, and packing materials. Together, you carefully box up the extra cookies to ship to out-of-town family and friends.”
“Swap toys with Santa. Along with cookies and milk, leave (gently used) old toys under the tree on Christmas Eve for Santa to “take back to the North Pole.” (You can donate them to an organization like Toys for Tots or Goodwill.)”

“THERE’S NOTHING LIKE the feeling of giving a gift to someone you love.

 

If you’re trying to think of ways to teach your children the joys of giving gifts, check out this short video

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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Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Dental Anxiety Stats
Fear of going to the dentist is fairly common, with an estimated nine to 15 percent of Americans completely avoiding visiting the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That means up to 40 million Americans are taking a serious gamble with their dental health. Putting off a basic twice-a-year cleaning out of fear leaves patients much more susceptible to tooth decay and painful infection. It’s always better to view dental care as preventative, not just reactive.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentist
If you’re worried about going to the dentist, that might be because history and pop culture have given you the wrong idea. Before WWII made anesthetics the norm, dental procedures were uncomfortable, to say the least, but the field has come a long way since then. Modern dental offices maintain a high standard of comfort and care for patients.

We Will Work With You!
Your care and comfort are our top priorities. If you or someone in your family struggles with dental anxiety and it’s interfering with getting needed dental care, we’d love to schedule a time for you to come to our practice so that you can get used to the facility and get to know our team. We can answer any questions you may have.

We hope to see 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.

Chocolate And Your Teeth

UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, dentists are not fans of candy. The sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health!
To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest kinds probably isn’t a good thing.


All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal
How can you tell where any given chocolate falls on the spectrum from most processed to least? It helps to know a little about how chocolate is made. The most important ingredient is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder, or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You’ll get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but the stuff is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste isn’t as strong.
If you’d rather stick with the chocolate you’re used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it’s milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and contains no cocoa solids, so it has none of the beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain at most 10 percent cocoa solids, so the tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar. Not a healthy choice. But let’s talk about dark chocolate.

The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, particularly 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, is where you’ll start hearing buzzwords like “superfood.” That’s because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants–specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins–and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to keep most of them. Bonus points: there isn’t much sugar.
Antioxidants have all kinds of benefits for overall health, but let’s focus on oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those. They help stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protect against cell mutation, and make it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.
Chocolate Still Isn’t Everything
Like we said before, this blog post isn’t a license for you to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still doesn’t replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you!

Your healthy teeth are our pride and joy!

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.