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!

 

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.

Could Your Bad Breath Be a Sign of Something Worse?

Could Your Bad Breath Be a Sign of Something Worse?

Bad breath is in and of itself a problem: it’s unpleasant, unattractive, and can affect your interactions with others. But sometimes bad breath is more than a sign of bad hygiene, it’s a symptom of an underlying problem or health condition.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a few different things. It can be caused by something as harmless as foods with strong odors, like garlic or onion, or food being trapped between teeth that need to be brushed or flossed out. But it can have some more sinister causes, including tooth decay or gum disease. Using alcohol-based mouthwashes can also exacerbate bad breath. Even though they claim to freshen your breath, the alcohol dries out the mouth, which can make your breath smell even worse.

Other medical problems can cause bad breath as well, particularly those that involve digestion, stomach, or liver issues. Dry mouth due to dehydration, mouth breathing, or medicinal side effects can cause bad breath, as can infections such as strep throat, tonsillitis, and sinusitis.

How do you find out what’s causing bad breath?

First, make sure you’re dental hygiene habits are up to snuff. Bad breath isn’t always a sign of a deeper medical issue, so before you panic, make sure that you’re brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing every day to get out the tricky bits of food, and that you brush your tongue when brushing your teeth—food particles and residue can get stuck on your tongue, too. Also, consider what you eat. If you eat a lot of stinky foods, cut back for a time to see if that makes a difference in your halitosis.

If your dental hygiene is amazing and you still have bad breath, then it’s time to see a dentist. Your dentist can confirm that your oral care routine is working (and if it’s not, can help you fix it) and determine whether the issue is caused by something else. If it’s an issue of gum disease, dry mouth, or tooth decay, that’s something your dentist can catch and treat. For other issues, they will be able to recommend that you see a doctor who can thoroughly diagnose your issue.

Is it time you found a solution to your bad breath? Whether it’s from dry mouth, diet, or something more serious, we can help! Set up an appointment today with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.

How to Take Care of Your Oral Health During Pregnancy

How to Take Care of Your Oral Health During Pregnancy

While your oral health is always important, just like other aspects of your health, it’s particularly important during pregnancy. There are myriad dental concerns that can arise with pregnancy that you should be aware of before and during pregnancy.

Gum Disease

New research suggests that women with gum disease who become pregnant are at a higher risk for having premature babies who are at a low birth weight. This might occur because gum disease causes increased levels of the fluids that induce labor. While this hasn’t been definitively proven, you should keep gum disease in check by practicing good dental hygiene and having regular dental checkups.

Morning Sickness

Vomiting from morning sickness can have more than just an effect on your stomach and your appetite. The stomach acid and bile in sick can erode the enamel of your teeth. After episodes of morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water and either brush your teeth or use a mouthwash with fluoride to cut acid levels and fortify your teeth.

Dry Mouth

Many pregnant women experience dry mouth, which can put them at risk for tooth decay and infection (not to mention bad breath!). Staying hydrated with water and chewing sugarless gum can help alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth, but if it gets too severe or uncomfortable, your dentist can help find a mouthwash or other solution.

Red or Bleeding Gums—”Pregnancy Gingivitis”

Many pregnant women also find that their gums appear more red than normal or bleed very easily during tooth brushing; some even have severe gum swelling and bleeding. All of these symptoms are signs of “pregnancy gingivitis,” a common experience beginning as early as the second month of pregnancy. These symptoms occur due to the increase in estrogen and progesterone, which enhance the gums’ reaction to irritation. Good oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day and flossing daily are the best ways to handle these symptoms.

 

If you have concerns about your dental health at any point in your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to see a dentist. Set up an appointment today with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry!