Can My Medications Affect My Teeth?

Can My Medications Affect My Teeth?

As medical science progresses, an increasing number of medications become available to patients to treat, prevent, and cure ailments and illnesses. But as anyone who has ever seen an advertisement for any medication knows, these drugs can have many and diverse side effects. And some of these side effects could cause more than just discomfort: they could affect your dental health.

So, can medications affect my teeth?

The short answer: Yes.

Many medications cause dry mouth, which causes bad breath, discomfort, and exacerbates tooth decay. When your mouth is dry, saliva isn’t breaking down acids and other substances that can erode your enamel. It also means that your mouth is more susceptible to bacteria that cause cavities, infections, and gum disease.

Medication side effects are a top cause of dry mouth, and hundreds of medications have dry mouth as a side effect. Some medications that commonly cause dry mouth are allergy medications, decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, diuretics, appetite suppressants, and diet pills, urinary incontinence medication, and even radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

How can I protect my teeth?

If you’re experiencing dry mouth as a side effect of a medication you’re taking, it’s important that you discuss the issue with both your doctor and your dentist in order to ensure that your dental health is maintained while maintaining your bodily and mental health as well. Sometimes this may mean that your doctor will put you on a different medication, and other times, it may be necessary to keep taking your current medication and add treatment for your dry mouth.

Even if you’re taking a medication that lists dry mouth as a symptom, that doesn’t mean that your dry mouth is caused by the medication. Dry mouth has other causes, such as mouth-breathing, snoring, or thrush. It can also be a symptom of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nerve damage, strokes, or autoimmune disorders. This is why it is crucial to address you dry mouth with your doctor and dentist, to ensure that there is no major underlying health problem.

How is dry mouth treated?

Treatment for dry mouth can include specially-formulated mouthwashes or rinses, using a humidifier in your home, dietary changes like cutting back on drying foods (particularly salty foods), and lifestyle changes like cutting back on tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. Your dentist can help determine the best course of action for managing your dry mouth symptoms

To find out if your medication might be causing dry mouth or other dental issues, make an appointment with a dentist at Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.

What’s the Best Kind of Toothbrush?

What’s the Best Kind of Toothbrush?

Pretty much every toothbrush out there, except for the store brand toothbrushes, claim to be dentist recommended. But how can four out of five dentists recommend every different kind of toothbrush? The math doesn’t add up. How do you know what’s the best kind of toothbrush?

… it depends.

That’s probably not the answer that you were expecting, but the truth is that the best kind of toothbrush depends on the individual, their mouth, their brushing habits, and their oral health.

Manual vs. Electric

The jury is still out on whether electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque and preventing gum disease. So in the manual vs. electric debate, it boils down to user comfort and cost. Electric toothbrushes and replacement heads can cost more than manual, disposable toothbrushes, but they can also include useful features and add-ons like a water pick or a timer to ensure that you brush for the two full minutes suggested. Electric toothbrushes can also be beneficial for people with difficulty holding small objects, such as those with arthritis, while other users may find the noise or vibrations uncomfortable.

Bristle Type

Whether manual or electric, your toothbrush bristles are an important consideration. Bristles generally come in soft, medium, and hard. For most people, soft bristles are the best choice. For those who are very vigorous brushers, having bristles that are too hard can result in overbrushing, which can cause damage to enamel and gums.

Size

Size also matters, here. Too big of a toothbrush head can reduce maneuverability and prevent you from reaching the backs of your molars and other difficult to reach places in the mouth. For most adults, a toothbrush with a head that is one inch long by half an inch wide will be the right size, though smaller is available if you have a very small mouth. Young children should be using smaller toothbrushes as well, specifically the infant and children’s sizes that are appropriate to their ages.

Replacement

More importantly than the make and model of your toothbrush is that you regularly replace it, or in the case of an electric toothbrush, that you replace the brush head. Toothbrush bristles can wear down, so the American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months (or when the bristles begin to fray). If you’re a hard brusher or your child chews on their toothbrush, you may be replacing the brush or head more often.

In addition to brushing, keep your teeth healthy with regular dental checkups. Schedule yours with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry today!

 

How Thumbsucking Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth

How Thumbsucking Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth

Babies and young children often suck on their thumbs and other objects. It is a natural reflex and can give them a sense of security. But since the beginning of time, parents have worried that thumbsucking and using pacifiers could harm their child’s teeth. So, how can thumbsucking affect your child’s teeth?

When does thumbsucking become a problem?

For babies without any teeth, thumbsucking does not present much of a problem. Even after a few teeth come in, thumbsucking still isn’t a major issue necessarily, as those teeth are not permanent teeth. But when it comes to permanent teeth, thumbsucking can affect the position and crookedness of teeth or the palate (the roof of the mouth). So, the child’s age is a factor. Many children stop sucking their thumbs before the permanent front teeth erupt. It is important that before those teeth come in that the habit of thumbsucking is broken.

Additionally, how the child sucks their thumb or pacifier can affect whether dental issues arise. Children who vigorously suck on their thumb are more likely to have affected teeth versus children who more passively suck their thumb or just rest it in their mouths.

How do you stop your child from thumbsucking?

No doubt you’ve heard of many home remedies to thumb sucking. Depending on the age of the child, different methods may be effective.

  • Help your child replace thumbsucking with a new method of self-soothing, like hugging a favorite stuffed animal
  • Offer positive reinforcement for not thumbsucking
  • Have your dentist explain the potential consequences of thumbsucking to the child
  • Cover the thumb or thumbnail with a bitter substance (ask your dentist for recommendations)
  • Place a bandage on the thumb
  • Cover the hand with a sock at night to prevent the child from thumbsucking in his or her sleep

Thumbsucking is a difficult habit to break, especially in very young children, but if left unchecked it could lead to dental problems in the future. If you’re concerned that your child’s dependence on sucking their thumb or pacifier might be harming their teeth, talk to their dentist to find out potential issues and solutions appropriate to your child’s age and situation.

To keep your child’s teeth healthy, schedule their regular dental checkups with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.

Am I Too Old for Braces?

Am I Too Old for Braces?

Crooked teeth can pose a problem: at the worst, they can make it easy for food and plaque to get trapped and cavities to form, at the most benign, they can make you self conscious about your smile. Braces are one option for straightening teeth. But they’re also synonymous with adolescence. If you’re past your teen years, are you too old for braces?

You can get braces at any age, but getting braces when you’re younger can be beneficial. In adolescence, your mouth is still forming and developing, so moving the teeth can be easier. What does that mean for changing your smile as an adult? In some cases, braces might not be enough, and surgery might be required to move your teeth. Additionally, it might take longer to move your teeth and get your braces off.

That’s not to say that you can’t get braces if you’re an adult, especially if your dentist recommends that you get them to move teeth for health reasons. The necessity of moving teeth that are facilitating decay or other problems for your dental health outweighs the inconvenience of moving teeth in an adult mouth, undoubtedly. Even if you want to move your teeth for cosmetic reasons, braces are still an option for adults. In fact, one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 18, so you won’t be alone!

There are some advantages to getting braces as an adult instead of having them as kids. Your oral hygiene habits are likely much better than those of a thirteen-year-old, and you reduce the risk of tooth decay from failing to clean between your braces brackets. You can also drive yourself to your own orthodontist appointments, and since you’re a responsible adult, you’re more likely to follow all the rules that ensure your brackets don’t pop off and you don’t damage your teeth, like avoiding gum and hard candy.

If you’re worried about how braces will look and you aren’t confident rocking brace face at the office, there are other options available to straighten teeth. Products like Invisalign can straighten your teeth, and as the name implies, are virtually invisible. The process is simple; your dentist makes a mold of your teeth to create a series of clear retainers that gradually move your teeth, without the look of braces. Clear braces are also a good option for adults who want to change their smile without lots of colored rubber bands.

 

Are you concerned about your smile? Schedule an appointment with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry to see what we can do for you.

 

Everything You Need to Know About TMJ Pain

Everything You Need to Know About TMJ Pain

TMJ pain affects an estimated 15 percent of Americans and can cause a variety of issues, from headaches to tooth damage. But what does it mean? And what does it mean for your mouth? Here’s everything you need to know about TMJ pain and TMD.

What does TMJ stand for?

TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joints, which include the jaw muscles and joints that work the jaw, allowing you to open and close your mouth and to chew, swallow, and talk.

The TMJ are located on each side of the face and are ball and socket joints with a complicated network of discs, bones, ligaments, and muscles that work together to allow the jaw to move.

What does TMD stand for?

TMD is an acronym for temporomandibular joint dysfunction or temporomandibular disorder, sometimes also referred to as a TMJ disorder. Any issue that causes pain during or interferes with the function of the TMJ can be referred to as TMD.

What causes TMD?

TMD can be caused by a variety of issues, including misalignment of the teeth or jaws, injury, dislocation of the jaw, arthritis, and stress (which can cause grinding or clenching the teeth).

What are the symptoms of TMD?

A major symptom of a TMD is TMJ pain. TMD can also cause tenderness in the jaw muscle, clicking or popping of the joints, or difficulty moving the jaw.  

How do you treat TMD?

TMJ disorders can be treated with various methods, depending on the cause of the disorder. Your dentist may recommend that you quit chewing gum, eat soft foods, or use heat to ease the pain. You may be fitted for a night guard or bite plate, which can prevent tooth grinding and clenching.

If your TMD symptoms are caused by stress, you may need to use relaxation techniques to reduce stress and relieve tension on the jaw. If your teeth or jaw is not properly aligned, you may be prescribed orthodontic treatment to correct the misalignment. In cases of arthritic TMJ pain, anti-inflammatory or arthritis medication may ease your symptoms.

Should I see a dentist for my TMJ pain?

Absolutely. Only by seeing a dentist can the cause of your TMJ pain be diagnosed and the course of treatment be undertaken to ease your TMJ pain.

Are you experiencing tooth or mouth pain that you think may be caused by TMJ issues? Schedule an appointment with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.