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27 Jan 2021
January 27, 2021 by David CaseBlogDental Health

The Tooth About Teeth Grinding

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health, discusses teeth grinding, headaches, and bruxism, suggesting nightguards as a solution.Headaches in Portland are a dime a dozen. We all know the frustration of having your day interrupted by throbbing, shooting pains in the head. If you suffer from frequent headaches that never seem to go away, Dr. Case would like you to know about bruxism, or teeth grinding. 

At Family Dental Health, we love spreading the news about all things dental health, so here is some headache information that just might change your life.

Bruxism & Headaches

You may not be aware of it, but everyone clenches and grinds their teeth at some point and to some degree. It’s a natural reaction to stress. During the day, you might catch yourself doing it and make a conscious effort to stop, but during the night, you are unaware of it and will naturally grind much harder. Unfortunately, some people in Portland have such problems with bruxism that they may experience:

  • Frequent, painful headaches
  • Damaged, worn-down teeth and surrounding tissues
  • TMJ/TMD

According to Dr. Noshir Mehta, chairman of general dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and director of its Craniofacial Pain Center, the upper and lower teeth come into contact for as much as 40 minutes of each hour. The force exerted on some teeth, such as the first molars, can be about 250 lbs, as opposed to the 20-40 lbs involved in regular daily chewing. 

If you grind your teeth and have frequent headaches, don’t panic. Bruxism is easily treatable with custom-fit nightguards that Portland will personally fit for your teeth. To find out more about how we can make your headaches disappear, contact Family Dental Health today.

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.

27 Dec 2020
December 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Do You Have TMJ? You Might Have Sleep Apnea

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health explains how TMJ and sleep apnea are related, how they affect your health and your treatment options.Your jawbone (the mandible) meets your skull bone (the temporal bone) at the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. On a good day, this joint allows your mouth to open and close, to speak and eat or rest. On a bad day, you can develop pain and dysfunction in the TMJ that affects many areas of your life and health. Portland dentist Dr. Case explains more below about how problems with your TMJ are connected to problems with sleep.

TMJ Disorders
If you have a recurring problem with your temporomandibular joint, it’s called temporomandibular disorder (or TMD, although TMD and TMJ are often used interchangeably). The National Institutes of Health estimates that 10 million people have TMD, though the cases are usually mild. 

TMD frequently includes pain, clicking or popping, and tight, sore facial muscles. TMD can be caused by genetics, arthritis, or jaw injuries. Sometimes it’s hard to diagnose what’s exactly causing the problem because stress and jaw problems can turn into a painful, self-perpetuating cycle.

Clenching and grinding your teeth may be chronic or stress-induced habits that make TMJ pain worse. You may also notice that pain from TMD can spread into your face, neck, head, and shoulders. Many TMD sufferers suffer from chronic headaches and migraines.

TMD & Sleep Apnea

One study found that 43% of people with TMD also have problems sleeping. So what’s the link between TMD and sleep apnea? When the airway collapses as it does with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the body’s automatic response is to push the lower jaw forward to open up the airway. This constant motion of the TMJ throughout the night can cause a lot of stress and tension in the jaw joint and is the primary reason TMD and sleep apnea go hand-in-hand.

TMD is also known to be linked with chronic fatigue syndrome which can exacerbate sleep apnea and impact your overall health.  It could also be the physical position or misalignment of your jaw (malocclusion) that prevents the airway from staying open while you sleep. When you think about how connected your airway is to the position of your jaw, the connection between sleep apnea and TMD becomes very clear.

Improving TMJ & Your Sleep

Sometimes TMD goes away on its own, but you don’t have to live with the pain and difficulty of TMD. Because good sleep is so important for every other part of your health, it’s a good idea to take care of yourself and get better rest at night.

Possible treatments for TMD include:

  • Oral splints and mouthguards
  • Medication such as muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatories
  • Surgery for severe cases
  • Corticosteroid injections to relieve pain
  • Botox® injections to relax muscles
  • Counseling to decrease the stress that causes clenching and grinding 
  • At-home gentle massage and stretching exercises
  • TruDenta® therapy

Sleep apnea will not go away on its own and can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Sleep apnea increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and many other serious diseases, and can even be deadly.

Possible treatments for sleep apnea include:

  • Oral appliance therapy
  • CPAP machine
  • Surgery for severe cases

If you have any sleep issues or develop pain in your jaw, you should see Dr. Case immediately to begin looking for answers. 

Life is no fun if you’re sick, tired, and in pain! Make an appointment today at Family Dental Health in Portland to take the first step toward a healthier you and a better quality of life.

The content of 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.

13 Dec 2020
December 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Baby Dentistry: Teething & Other Joys

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health shares all you need to know about baby dentistry and early pediatric dental care—teething tips, hygiene and more!It’s easy to think that baby teeth aren’t that important. They make their grand entrance (however painfully) and leave your baby’s mouth soon thereafter. But your baby’s oral health is very important, both in the present and to set the stage for a lifetime of health. Today Family Dental Health would like to talk about those tiny teeth and how to care for them. 

Teething Facts

  1. Teething begins anywhere from 3-9 months and can continue until your child is 3 years old. Every baby is different.
  2. Teeth emerge in a consistent pattern: lower 2 front incisors; upper 2 front incisors and 2 additional lower incisors; first set of molars; canines; then second molars. 
  3. One reason we get baby teeth is that our baby mouths aren’t big enough for the size and number of adult teeth we need later in life.
  4. Babies have 20 teeth that fall out. They are then replaced by 32 adult teeth. 
  5. Chewing on a cold, wet washcloth, extra snuggles, and a little pain-relieving medicine are certain to help ease the pain of teething.
  6. Contrary to popular belief, teething is not proven to cause sickness like diarrhea, fever, or a runny nose.
  7. Children should see the dentist as soon as their first baby teeth start coming in.

Taking Care of Baby Teeth

  • Breastfeeding: According to a recent study, babies that exclusively breastfed for at least six months have a 72% less chance of developing an improper bite. Breastfeeding also reduces your child’s risk of baby bottle tooth decay and cavities.
  • Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Overexposure to sugar in the liquids your baby drinks can cause early tooth decay, which is when the important, hard enamel cover of your teeth breaks down. Enamel never grows back, so it’s very important to protect. Avoid baby tooth decay by only using either formula or breast milk in your child’s bottle, not putting honey or sugar on their pacifiers, and not letting them fall asleep drinking from the bottle.
  • Cleaning: “Welcome to earth! Now, let me wash your gums.” It may seem silly, but you’re actually supposed to wash your baby’s gums from the first day they are born. Use a clean washcloth and water, and maintain the habit as all the baby teeth start coming in. Once a tooth erupts, you can use a grain of rice size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. After age 3 you can use a pea-size amount of toothpaste.
  • Thumbs and Pacifiers:  Discuss thumb sucking and pacifier use with Dr. Case. Usually, both are fine until babies become little children. However, they can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay, jaw misalignment, and an improper bite. Consider weaning off either of these habits depending on what your dentist recommends.
  • Insurance for Pediatric Dental Care: Most states cover dental visits for children on governmental support. And most dental offices have flexible payment plans to help everyone prioritize oral health for the whole family. Don’t let finances hold you back from keeping your baby as healthy as possible—feel free to reach out to us, we’re happy to help.

Once your baby’s first tooth has emerged, it’s very important to begin a regular dental care routine. Contact Family Dental Health today to make an appointment. We’d love to see your little bundle of joy smile!

 

The content of 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.

27 Nov 2020
November 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Don’t Have a Stroke – Your Dentist Can Help

Portland dentist Dr. Case of Family Dental Health explains the connection between oral wellness and stroke, and how you can increase your protection.You might be surprised to hear that the state of your oral health has a lot to do with preventing a stroke. There’s a certain kind of bad oral bacteria that cause gum disease, travel to other parts of your body, and cause harm.

A stroke is a common but dangerous medical condition that causes a lack of blood in the brain. The effects of a stroke can be long-term and life-changing. People of any age can experience a stroke, but it’s most common in adults 40 years and older. 

 

Oral Wellness
The Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center lists favorable oral health among its top five factors that prevent stroke, and a growing number of studies are finding the link between certain kinds of oral bacteria and the harm they cause to your brain. For example, these bacteria can travel into your head through your bloodstream, causing brain bleeding and dementia. This sounds scary—and it certainly can be. But with good, simple oral hygiene, you can take care of your mouth and prevent a lot of other overall health issues. There are also a number of companies that provide testing for these bacteria using saliva samples.

Gum disease is incredibly common and can range anywhere from slightly tender and red gums to a mouth full of discolored, receding gums. Adults over 30 years old have a 50/50 chance of developing gum disease. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept it or live with the consequences. 

You can prevent gum disease (and many other oral and systemic health problems) by:

 

The Stroke Connection

Not all oral bacteria are bad-in fact, some are necessary for digestion and immunity-but research continues to prove some bacteria are especially harmful. Cardiovascular disease is just one condition that can be deeply affected by your oral health. Others include mental health, diabetes, pregnancy, and arthritis. There are three main links between “bad” oral bacteria and heart health:

  • Cholesterol: gum disease increases your risk of developing bad cholesterol (LDL) and its buildup in blood arteries.
  • Chemicals: oral bacteria can cause your blood artery walls to become thin and more vulnerable to cholesterol.
  • Stickiness: oral bacteria can cause your blood artery walls to become very sticky, which attracts more plaque and cholesterol buildup.

You can see how each of these three circumstances has the potential to put your health at risk, especially in combination; they can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).  When this kind of buildup happens in your brain, blood flow slows or stops.  The brain becomes starved of blood, causing a stroke.  Brain cells without blood can die within minutes and prove fatal – or cause lifelong health problems to stroke survivors. 

The good news is that science is getting better at finding the dangerous bacteria that cause these problems. If you have signs or a diagnosis of gum disease, ask your doctor about your risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

 

Your Dentist is Your Partner

Dentists are medical professionals who can do a lot to save your health and even your life. If you have any concerns about your oral health, Dr. Case in Portland can answer your questions and help you start taking better care of your overall wellness. Make an appointment at Family Dental Health today!

 

The content of 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.

27 Sep 2020
September 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Dry Mouth: Nothing to Spit At

Dry Mouth: nothing to spit atCan you imagine a 2-liter bottle of your favorite soda? Now imagine that same bottle filled with spit. That’s approximately how much saliva the average adult produces in their mouth every day! It may be gross, but it’s definitely important. Saliva is a normal body fluid that’s crucial for oral health and overall wellness. 

If you struggle to make enough saliva, your mouth will feel very dry and you will have trouble with daily activities like speaking, eating, and swallowing. This condition is commonly known as dry mouth, but the clinical name is xerostomia. A chronically dry mouth is uncomfortable and unhealthy. 

You have three salivary glands in different parts of your jaw that make and secrete saliva. Saliva is mostly made of water, but it also contains important molecules called enzymes that help keep your mouth clean and fight infection.

Dry mouth is common and can usually be fixed with the help of your Portland dentist and primary care doctor. Dr. Case shares more below about what causes dry mouth and how to treat it.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

When your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, there’s not enough moisture in your mouth and it becomes overly dry. Dry mouth can be a random side effect of prescription medicine or a sign that there’s something actually wrong with your salivary glands. 

Common causes of dry mouth are:

  • Prescription medication
  • Nerve damage in your mouth from an impact or injury
  • Smoking
  • Chemotherapy and radiation 
  • Extreme dehydration
  • Other health conditions 

It’s important to talk with your primary care provider to determine what exactly is causing your dry mouth. Your body is a complex machine with many interconnected parts that all work together to keep you healthy.

What Are the Side Effects of Dry Mouth?

The importance of saliva goes beyond just your mouth. The water and enzymes in saliva are necessary for good breathing, digestion, immunity, and oral health. 

Common side effects of dry mouth include:

  • Dry (scratchy, painful) nasal passages and throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Increased risk of infection in the mouth
  • Increased risk of tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • Trouble tasting food

How Do I Treat Dry Mouth?

Talk with your doctor to figure out what’s causing your dry mouth. There are prescription and over-the-counter medicines and mouth rinses that might be able to ease your symptoms.

If you have dry mouth, it’s very important you maintain good oral hygiene to protect yourself against tooth decay and gum disease. Talk with your dentist about prescription fluoride or more regular cleanings to keep your mouth clean and healthy.

Some easy ways to keep yourself comfortable with dry mouth include:

  • Drink more water
  • Chew sugar-free gum (with xylitol) to help produce saliva and keep your teeth clean
  • Breathe out of your nose instead of your mouth
  • Use a humidifier at home
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink caffeinated beverages
  • Don’t take antihistamines or decongestants

If you have concerns about dry mouth or any other oral health questions, we’d love to be your partner in health. Make an appointment with your Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health today and we will see you soon!

 

The content of 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.

13 Aug 2020
August 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Sugar: Teeth’s Worst Nightmare

What sugar does to your teethPeople in the United States eat more sugar than any other country in the world. (Fortunately, we also have some of the best dentists in the world.) You hear it all the time: “sugar rots your teeth.” But is it true? What exactly does sugar do to your teeth and why is it so bad? You might want to learn more about this substance that is added to nearly every edible item in the grocery store. Portland, Oregon dentist Dr. Case tells us more below.

Sugar 101

All food causes some buildup on your teeth. After eating and drinking, little bits of food are left behind in your mouth. Out of all the food we eat, sugar does the worst damage to your teeth.

Even healthy foods like milk, bread, and produce contain some natural sugar, but these foods also contain necessary vitamins and nutrients. Eaten in healthy amounts, your body has no problem breaking down the natural sugars with the other food bits on your teeth.

The problems begin when you eat food that has more sugar than nutritional value. Without proper nutrition, your body may be unable to fight the bacteria and decay excessive sugar consumption causes in your mouth.

Sugar is sneaky: it’s in almost everything! Read your regular grocery labels carefully just to estimate your actual sugar consumption levels. This is not an all-inclusive list, but here are some examples of these common and misleading names for sugar that are added where you least expect it:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Barley malt
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Rice syrup

The American Heart Association recommends you have no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. However, in the U.S. the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons and the average child consumes 32 teaspoons…every single day!

Plaque 

Why is sugar so bad for your teeth? Because it causes plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Certain bacteria are normal and fine in your mouth. But sugar left on your teeth attracts bad bacteria that create plaque, which breaks down your teeth. Think of how the wind sweeps away bits of sand off a dune little by little, until eventually there is no dune left. That’s what plaque does to your teeth. It causes an acidic reaction that weakens enamel, your tooth’s outer layer.

Snacking all day means your teeth are exposed to food buildup, bacteria, and plaque over an extended period of time. Drinking sugary beverages is especially harmful because that liquid gets into all the grooves and hard-to-reach parts of your mouth. The average American consumes 53 gallons of soft drinks per year – do you see where this is going?

Decay

When plaque ruins your enamel, you get a hole in your tooth called a cavity. The hole allows more bacteria and plaque to move deeper into the inside of your tooth. This is known as tooth decay. Your enamel is the shiny white surface of your teeth and its purpose is to protect the inner layers of each tooth. Each individual tooth has a blood source and a nerve keeping that tooth alive. If decay reaches to the inner layers, your tooth may die and fall out. And all of that can happen much more quickly than you realize.

Next Steps

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, and many adults struggle with it as well. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable with healthy eating habits and proper oral hygiene. Here are some tips if you want to protect your teeth from the negative effects of sugar:

  • Don’t snack all day
  • Avoid sugar in any beverage
  • Enjoy sweets in moderation
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste
  • Try natural forms of licorice and cinnamon which taste sweet without any sugar
  • Beware of sugar alternatives (those little yellow, blue, and pink packets) that can still have negative effects on your health
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once

Last but not least, contact Portland dentist Family Dental Health today to make an appointment and be sure to get your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year by our amazing hygienists.

 

The content of 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.

27 Jul 2020
July 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Is Your Little One Getting Enough Calcium?

Calcium. We regularly hear how important calcium is for our kids’ diets. It’s vital for healthy growth. Calcium is a building block for strong bones. It helps with hormone balance and keeps the heart pumping and blood circulating normally. But, did you know that calcium is also vital for healthy teeth?

Calcium builds strong bones. Years of milk commercials (backed by years of research) have firmly planted that information in our brains. In fact, 99% of the calcium in the body goes to building healthy bones and teeth. Calcium is the hard mineral that makes bones hard, and it also makes the enamel that surrounds our teeth the hardest substance in the human body.

The 1% Difference

Since 99% of the calcium in the body is in the teeth and bones, you might think there’s always enough for the teeth, but it turns out that’s not always the case. Because regulating heart rhythms and hormone balance is necessary to stay alive, if there isn’t enough calcium for these vital functions from food, the body will take it from anywhere it can get it.

Unfortunately, that means your body and your kids’ bodies will take calcium from the teeth and bones to keep enough of it for other necessary jobs it has in the body. Teeth without enough calcium can develop demineralized spots–dull white spots on the teeth that are not as strong as regular enamel. Those spots are fragile and have a high risk of turning into full cavities.

Who’s at Risk?

Not having enough calcium in your diet may not sound as scary as the big bad wolf, but it’s far more worrisome in real life. More than half of both boys and girls 9-13 routinely get less than half of the calcium required for good health at their age. The National Institutes of Health identifies several groups that are chronically at risk of inadequate calcium. They include girls 4 and older, especially adolescent girls, and boys age 9-18. Women who are pregnant also need additional calcium to support bone development in the growing baby.

What Foods are Calcium Champs?

When we say calcium, we often flash back to those milk ads. It’s true; there is a lot of calcium in dairy. That includes milk, yogurt, and cheese. But, not all calcium-rich foods are dairy-based, which is good news for those who do not eat dairy.

Sardines pack more calcium per 3-ounce serving than calcium-fortified orange juice, but the orange juice will probably be easier to convince your children to consume. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, bok choi, Chinese cabbage, and turnip greens also pack a calcium punch. Even a corn tortilla can provide 5% of the recommended daily value for calcium.

What About Supplements?

Calcium supplements are commonly used to make up for a lack of calcium in the diet. They can be a good choice to help when there is no way to make up the calcium by better eating, but they require a little extra care. Food-sourced calcium is easier for the body to process. Calcium carbonate is less expensive, but harder to absorb and can be hard on people with stomach issues. Calcium citrate is easier to absorb, but is more expensive and can be harder to find.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Sometimes with supplements, you can run into “a little is good, more is better” mentality. That’s just not the case. There’s an upper limit to how much calcium your body can safely process in a day. The smaller the body, the smaller the limit. While it’s very unlikely that you would exceed that limit with food alone in your children’s diets, supplements, particularly gummy ones with candy flavors, can increase the risk of having too much. As with most things in life, balance is key.

Mindful Eating

With some care and attention, it’s possible to keep your family healthy and calcium-rich, making your dental visits more pleasant. If supplements are necessary, they are readily available. Healthy calcium builds healthy teeth, so build healthy eating habits and keep your teeth ready to eat with you (and your family) for a lifetime.

If you have any questions about calcium, tooth decay, or any other oral health topics, please contact your Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health today! We would be more than happy to talk with you about a healthy diet to help your little one grow up strong and healthy.

The content of 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.

27 Apr 2020
April 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental Health

TMJ: The Root of Your Pain

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a really long name… so let’s call it TMJ.  That sounds more familiar—you’ve probably heard it before. Maybe some lingering pain in your chewing muscles and bones even have you wondering if you have it.

TMJ dysfunction is sometimes called TMD, TMJD, or TMJ Syndrome, especially if there seem to be a number of other jaw-related issues. Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health is here to tell you more about TMJ and what to do if you’ve got it.

What is TMJ?

A sailboat requires a complex system of ropes, pulleys, and hooks to catch the wind in its sails and get moving. Your jaw is also made of an incredible team of muscles, bones, joints, and tissues working together in order to function. If anything affects any one part of these pieces in your jaw, it could lead to chronic pain and problems with the joints in your jaw. TMJ is a broad term that includes any of this pain or dysfunction.

TMJ can feel like anything from a headache to an inner ear infection, with pain moving from your face and head down to your neck and shoulders. If you have TMJ, talking, chewing and yawning can be very uncomfortable. You might also hear clicking in your jaw, feel your jaw lock in place, or experience muscle spasms.

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13 Apr 2020
April 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental HealthDental Services

Filling in the Gaps: Restoring Your Smile & Quality of Life

Life is full of unexpected surprises, and while we’d love for all of them to be smile-inducing, that’s not entirely realistic—and there may be many reasons you hide your smile. If you’re hiding your smile because of one or more missing teeth, we want you to know you’re not alone. In fact, 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth, and more than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth at all.

Whether the cause is tooth decay, gum disease—#1 on the list of reasons, with 50% of Americans over the age of 30 having the most severe form of periodontitis—illness, or injury, there are solutions. Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health would like to fill you in on your options, which have expanded and improved over the years thanks to technological advancements and continuing education.

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27 Mar 2020
March 27, 2020 by David CaseDental HealthDental Technology

Salivary Diagnostics: What Can Your Saliva Reveal?

If you’ve tuned in to any crime scene investigation shows, you’ve probably heard of salivary testing, but did you know it’s becoming increasingly common in dental offices? Salivary testing has a bright future in medicine because of how much it can tell us about your state of health—both oral and overall.

One of the reasons it’s especially important in the dental office is because we screen for oral cancer, and the number one culprit for diagnoses in recent years is human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be detected through saliva.

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