Posts for: April, 2019
It can be alarming to be awakened in the middle of the night by a screeching, gritting sound coming from your child’s bedroom. No, it’s not a scene from a horror movie: it’s your child grinding their teeth as they sleep — a behavior so prevalent in children under eleven it’s considered normal.
That doesn’t mean, however, you should completely ignore it. While it isn’t harmful for most children, a few can encounter tooth wear, pain or trouble sleeping that calls for some form of intervention.
The causes for tooth grinding and similar habits known collectively as bruxism aren’t thoroughly understood, but in children it’s believed linked to the immaturity of the neuromuscular system that controls chewing. Some point to shifts from one stage of sleep to another — more than 80% of grinding episodes occur in lighter stages of sleep and only 5% to 10% during the deeper Rapid-Eye-Movement (REM) stage. It also seems prevalent in children who snore or have other symptoms of sleep apnea.
One primary concern is how the behavior can affect teeth, particularly through abnormal wear. The teeth, of course, make hundreds of contacts with each other every day during eating, speaking or jaw movement. If, however, the forces generated during these contacts chronically exceed normal parameters, as with bruxism, it can cause accelerated tooth wear. This can result in a higher susceptibility to tooth decay and appearance changes later in life.
If your child is exhibiting problems associated with teeth grinding, there are ways to address it. We may recommend a thin, plastic mouthguard they wear while sleeping that prevents the teeth from making solid contact with each other. We may also refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if we suspect signs of sleep apnea. And, children under severe psychological stress, which can also trigger teeth grinding, could benefit from behavioral therapy.
The good news is most grinding habits fade as children enter their teens. In the meantime, keep a watchful eye and see us if you notice any indications this common habit is affecting their health and well-being.
If you would like more information on teeth grinding habits, 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 “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”
How your dentist in Atlanta, Georgia can help you during a dental emergency.
A dental emergency can be a scary experience, especially when it happens to you or someone you love. You can make it a little less scary by being prepared and knowing what to do when it happens. An important part of handling a dental emergency is contacting your dentist for help. Dr. Thomas Kauffman in Atlanta, Georgia can help you during your dental emergency.
It’s helpful to have a dental first aid kit in a convenient place in your home. Stock your dental first aid kit with these items:
- Dr. Kauffman’s office contact information
- Over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or Tylenol
- Saline solution for rinsing away debris and blood
- Gauze patches or tissues to reduce or stop bleeding
- A small container with a lid
Many dental emergencies happen because of injury or trauma. If this happens to you or someone in your household, you should:
- Reduce infection by rinsing with the saline solution
- Reduce or stop bleeding by pressing gauze to the area
- Reduce swelling by applying an ice pack to the area
- See your dentist as soon as possible
If your tooth has been knocked loose and out of position, gently move it back into position and seek out your dentist as soon as possible.
If your tooth has been knocked out completely, avoid touching the roots of the tooth. Instead, handle the tooth by the crown and place it in the container with the saline solution to keep it wet. Again, seek out your dentist as soon as possible.
You can do a lot to prevent dental emergencies by visiting your dentist regularly. Regular dental exams and x-rays can help prevent serious, painful dental issues, and keep your smile healthy. A healthy smile is a great start to avoiding dental emergencies.
When a dental emergency happens, you have a partner who can help, your dentist. For more information about preventing and handling dental emergencies and other restorative and cosmetic dental services, call Dr. Thomas Kauffman in Atlanta, Georgia today!
With a 95-plus percent survival rate after ten years, dental implants are one of the most durable replacement restorations available. Implants can potentially last much longer than less expensive options, which could make them a less costly choice in the long run.
But although a rare occurrence, implants can and do fail—often in the first few months. And tobacco smokers in particular make up a sizeable portion of these failures.
The reasons stem from smoking’s effect on oral health. Inhaled smoke can actually burn the outer skin layers in the mouth and eventually damage the salivary glands, which can decrease saliva production. Among its functions, saliva provides enzymes to fight disease; it also protects tooth enamel from damaging acid attacks. A chronic “dry mouth,” on the other hand, increases the risk of disease.
The chemical nicotine in tobacco also causes problems because it constricts blood vessels in the mouth and skin. The resulting reduced blood flow inhibits the delivery of antibodies to diseased or wounded areas, and so dramatically slows the healing process. As a result, smokers can take longer than non-smokers to recover from diseases like tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease, or heal after surgery.
Both the higher disease risk and slower healing can impact an implant’s ultimate success. Implant durability depends on the gradual integration between bone and the implant’s titanium metal post that naturally occurs after placement. But this crucial process can be stymied if an infection resistant to healing arises—a primary reason why smokers experience twice the number of implant failures as non-smokers.
So, what should you do if you’re a smoker and wish to consider implants?
First, for both your general and oral health, try to quit smoking before you undergo implant surgery. At the very least, stop smoking a week before implant surgery and for two weeks after to lower your infection risk. And you can further reduce your chances for failure by practicing diligent daily brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
It’s possible to have a successful experience with implants even if you do smoke. But kicking the habit will definitely improve your odds.
If you would like more information on dental implants, 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 “Dental Implants & Smoking.”