Is Your Mouth Stressed Out?

Anchorage family dentistIf you are feeling the effects of too much stress in your life, chances are your mouth is, too. The body works in unison and the effects of stress and anxiety can negatively affect your wellbeing—including your oral health. In fact, stress-related dental conditions such as bruxism and TMJ disorder are not uncommon. Fortunately, our caring and experienced family dentist offers treatment for stress-related oral health issues.

How Stress Affects Your Oral Health

Have you ever woke up after a restless night of sleep to experience facial pain or headaches? Because we internalize stress, many patients grind their teeth and clench their jaw during sleep when stressed. The longer one endures distress, the more likely this action of clenching the jaw and grinding teeth becomes a habit. Over time, patients will begin to unknowingly do these things during the daytime, too. This habit of clenching and grinding teeth is called bruxism and it can have far-reaching effects on your oral health.

Over time, bruxism leads to wear and tear on teeth. As bruxism begins to wear tiny cracks in tooth enamel, the mineralized protective coating surrounding teeth, teeth become weaker in structure and more susceptible to decay. The molars located at the back of the mouth tend to experience more wear and tear than other teeth and eventually the upper and lower sets of teeth will not line up properly. As a patient’s tooth alignment (bite) changes, they may experience painful symptoms like toothaches and facial pain.

Malocclusions, Bruxism, and TMJ Disorder

Typically accompanying malocclusions and bruxism brought on by stress, patients often develop TMJ disorder. This dental condition leads to wear and tear on teeth and diminishes a patient’s quality of life by producing painful and debilitating symptoms. The TMJ is a joint that connects the skull and jawbone and is responsible for facilitating mouth movement. With stress-induced clenching and teeth grinding, it places unnecessary strain on the TMJ and surrounding tissues and ligaments.

Our family dentist provides treatment for bruxism and TMJ disorder with custom, comfortable oral appliances. These oral appliances resemble sports mouth guards and protect the teeth during sleep.

To learn more about bruxism and TMJ treatment, schedule an appointment with our skilled dental team today.

What is Sleep Apnea?

snoring AnchorageSleep apnea is a condition where the individual ceases breathing multiple times while sleeping. One of the symptoms can be chronic snoring, but snoring can be the result of many other conditions so one should not jump to the conclusion that they are suffering with sleep apnea just because they snore.

Sleep apnea can be a very serious problem … if you suspect you may suffer with this sleeping disorder, there are several approaches to take.

  • Lose weight as carrying extra pounds can contribute to the problem.
  • Stop smoking, which is excellent advice for your overhaul good health.
  • Try a different sleeping position like moving from your back to your side.
  • Make an appointment with your dentist.

What does your dentist have to do with a sleeping disorder? Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in the throat and/or tongue collapse blocking the airway. The individual usually awakens and their movement causes the airway to open. Your dentist can fabricate a mouth guard that will keep your jaw positioned in a way to prevent the blockage from occurring.

What side effects occur if the problem is not corrected? The most obvious, of course, is oxygen deprivation.  This can lead to a stroke. High blood pressure is another.

The inability to think clearly can be the result of night after night of interrupted sleep patterns. The patient might not even realize this is happening. Even though they might be waking up as much as hundreds of times each night, they may not be aware of this occurrence.

A partner may provide the first clues that sleep apnea is a possibility. Snoring, choking or gurgling sounds while asleep are indicators. Daily fatigue when you felt like you had a good night’s sleep or the need for regular naps can be a hint as well as persistent morning headaches.

If you suspect this sleep disorder is disrupting your life, a sleep study is often required to determine if sleep apnea is occurring. Following a sleep study, a consultation with your dentist for a sleeping device that will position your jaw to prevent the blockage is the next step. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended for a more permanent solution.

If you have questions about your sleep apnea concerns, contact our skilled dental team today to schedule an informative consultation.

What is considered a dental emergency?

dentist AnchorageSometimes, patients encounter dental problems that require urgent attention, such as facial trauma that damages or even knocks loose a tooth or a severe toothache that causes significant discomfort. A broken dental appliance may also warrant immediate assistance. An abscess, which is an infection around the tooth’s root or between the tooth and the gums, is another cause for concern, as the infection can easily spread throughout the body, threatening the patient’s overall health. Abscesses also tend to be quite painful.

Any such situation may be considered a dental emergency.

In cases of a dental emergency, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. Most dentists have some flexibility in their schedules to accommodate same-day appointments for patients who are affected by a dental emergency. In some cases, the dentist may recommend that the patient go to the emergency room and then schedule a follow-up appointment with the dentist for any additional treatment that may be necessary. 

In cases of a dental emergency, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Although dentists may accept brand new patients with dental emergencies, it is preferable to have an existing relationship with a dentist so that if you do find yourself in need of urgent dental care, the dentist will already be familiar with your case.

Your dentist will schedule an appointment with you as soon as possible, but there still may be a short period of time when you are waiting to be seen.

As such, patients should also be prepared to take necessary steps to address the situation while they are waiting for their appointment. For example, when a tooth has been knocked out, it can be stored in a container of milk or in a growth medium like Save-a-Tooth until the patient gets to the dentist. A lost filling can be replaced with dental cement or even sugar-free gum, in a pinch. Dental pain can often be managed for a short-time with over-the-counter painkillers.

It’s best to be prepared by both having your dentist’s phone number handy and compiling a dental emergency kit to keep at home. For additional tips, contact the office of Dr. Owen C. Mandanas at 907-276-5522 today.

Do dental implants require special care?

dental implants AnchorageDental implants offer patients a number of benefits, one of which is convenience. Not only does a dental implant look and function like a natural tooth, it also requires minimal adjustments to a patient’s existing oral care routine.

Because dental implants are directly linked to the jaw and require no additional support from surrounding teeth, patients can brush and floss dental implants just like their regular teeth. There are no appliances to restrict access to the gumline, unlike with a bridge.

Although dental implant patients can maintain a typical home oral hygiene regimen, they should alert the dentist and dental hygienist to the location of the implant. Dental professionals may need to adjust their techniques or use specialized instruments when cleaning or examining the teeth.

As is the case with any restoration, you should also use common sense when chewing or biting with your dental implant. Any hard item that could damage a biological tooth could harm the prosthetic that is anchored by the implant. Avoid chewing on ice or non-food objects, and don’t bite directly into hard foods.

Although dental implants do not require much additional care in comparison to natural teeth, they do require that the patient maintain the good oral hygiene habits that promote overall oral health. Brushing and flossing to limit the presence of plaque and tartar are essential, as the oral bacteria that cause gum disease can threaten the long-term stability of the dental implant. The dentist may recommend adding a mouthwash to further reduce the presence of bacteria.

The surgical procedure that the dentist performs to place dental implants also causes minimal disruption to a patient’s daily life. Patients typically are able to resume their normal routines within a week or so after the surgery.

Dental implants should not require much more care than their biological neighbors do. When planning for dental implant placement, discuss your post-operative routine with our dental team so that you will be prepared to give your dental implants the care they need for a maximum lifespan.

Am I a Candidate for Six Month Smiles®?

A discreet method for straightening teeth in a short amount of time, Six Month Smiles® is commonly used for adults in need of orthodontics. Receiving orthodontic treatment during adulthood is becoming increasingly more common—especially because of advancements in treatment methods that work to straighten teeth efficiently and inconspicuously.

Instead of using traditional braces, the Six Month Smiles® orthodontic system utilizes clear brackets rather than metal ones and tooth-colored wires. This method is often more comfortable for many adult patients because the treatment requires less force to reposition teeth. Six Month Smiles® may be ideal for adults who have already received traditional braces during adolescence or their teenage years but have encountered tooth misalignment after wisdom teeth have erupted in their early 20s.

In addition to improving a patient’s confidence and self-esteem by producing a straight, attractive smile, orthodontic treatment for patients of all ages is important for maintaining good oral health. For example, when teeth are crooked and crowded, it is nearly impossible to thoroughly clean between them. Over time, plaque buildup will harden into tartar in these hard-to-reach crevices. Plaque and tartar accumulation contribute to tooth decay, enamel loss, and even periodontal disease. With straight, properly aligned teeth, many patients possess a decreased risk for developing dental health conditions because they can properly clean their mouths.

When determining a patient’s candidacy for a particular orthodontics system such as Six Month Smiles®, your dentist will closely evaluate the current position of your teeth, how much tooth movement is necessary over time to properly position teeth, and the alignment of your bite. During your orthodontics consultation, your dentist will inquire about any past orthodontic treatment and conduct a comprehensive oral examination to determine the underlying cause of tooth displacement.

To learn more about your options for straightening teeth discreetly or to schedule a consultation to determine if Six Month Smiles® is right for you, contact the office of Dr. Owen C. Mandanas at 907-276-5522 today to reserve your appointment.

Teeth Whitening: Is it Really Possible to Have a Brighter Smile?

As you get older, you may notice that your “pearly whites” aren’t quite as white as they used to be. Coffee, tea, red wine—they all leave a mark on your teeth, and as long as you continue to consume your favorite beverages, your teeth will only become more stained. However, it truly is possible to have a brighter smile thanks to teeth whitening options available through your dentist.

One popular teeth whitening procedure is in-office laser whitening. A hydrogen peroxide bleaching solution is applied to the surface of the teeth, and laser energy activates it, thus accelerating the whitening process. As a result, you can have whiter teeth in under an hour.

 The benefit of laser whitening is that your teeth can become several shades lighter quickly and conveniently.

The benefit of laser whitening is that your teeth can become several shades lighter quickly and conveniently. In addition, in-office laser whitening is comfortable and safe, as only a licensed dentist can administer it, thus guaranteeing you the best results. Your dentist will also provide you with complete aftercare instructions so that you can keep your teeth looking white.

If you prefer teeth whitening in the comfort of your own home, then Opalescence take-home whitening is a fitting choice for you. This system is only available through your dentist and is ideal if you want a variety of whitening options—such as choosing to wear the gel for just 30 minutes a day or all night. The solution also comes in different flavors.

With Opalescence take-home whitening, you can get professional results in a customized, quick and efficient way. The gel features fluoride, which helps to guard your teeth against cavities as well. It also contains potassium nitrate, which reduces tooth sensitivity. As a result, this teeth whitening system not only whitens your smile but also actually makes your teeth healthier.

Whether it’s in the workplace, at church or in social groups, your smile says a lot about you. Make sure it’s making the kind of statement you want it to make. Contact the office of Dr. Owen C. Mandanas today to find out how we can help make your teeth brighter than ever before.

Important Steps to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

A healthy mouth is the gateway to a healthy body, so it is wise to do everything you can to protect your oral health.

A good relationship with a family dentist is the foundation of healthy teeth and gums. When you visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups, the dentist is able to monitor any changes and identify symptoms of oral diseases in their earliest stages. It’s easier to treat these conditions before they’ve advanced.

Also, if you already have an established relationship with a dentist, you’ll know who to contact in case you have a dental emergency.

Regular dental cleanings completed by an experienced hygienist will also help to minimize the presence of oral bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Patients should also be aware of the signs of potential problems, like red or swollen gums or toothache, so that they can bring those symptoms to their dentist’s attention.

Taking good care of your teeth and gums requires more than twice-yearly visits to the dentist, though. What you do at home is just as important as what happens in the dental office. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss daily. Ask your dental hygienist or dentist to demonstrate for you so that you’re using the right technique.

Do you know if you’re brushing for a long enough period of time? Aim for about two minutes—any less doesn’t get the job done, and any more isn’t very effective, either. Patients who have problems with excessive plaque and tartar may also want to add an anti-bacterial mouthwash to their routines.

A healthy diet also will help you maintain a healthy smile. Get lots of fruits and vegetables and cut down on the sugary drinks and snacks.

If you take good care of your teeth and gums, you can have a beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime. Discuss your daily routine with our dental team to see if you need to make any changes and adjustments.  Call 907-276-5522 and ask for any recommendations of steps you can take to achieve optimal oral health.

Negative Effects of Brushing Too Hard

Scrub those teeth! Get rid of those plaque germs and bad breath! Brush harder! Brush faster!

How many of us have given it our all, only to visit the dentist and find out that we still have plaque, cavities, or receding gums? It happens to millions of patients every day, and the problem may have more to do with your technique rather than your good intentions. 

Brushing too hard can be more harmful than beneficial, and the consequences can cause permanently irreversible damage.

Brushing too hard can be more harmful than beneficial, and the consequences can cause permanently irreversible damage. To understand the importance of brushing smarter not harder, consider these oral hygiene facts:

  • Only soft buildup like plaque and food debris can be removed with brushing and flossing. Hardened tarter cannot be brushed away, no matter how hard you may scrub.
  • Most toothpaste brands contain abrasive ingredients that are designed to make the enamel smoother and reduce stains. Many of the products that are marketed as ‘whitening’ are much more abrasive than regular the regular formulas.
  • A back-and-forth or “sawing” brushing pattern can tear away the delicate gum tissues and pull them away from the teeth. This results in receding gums that leave the tooth roots vulnerable and unprotected.
  • Years of brushing too hard with an abrasive toothpaste can actually scrub away the outer layer of enamel, leaving a deep groove in the side of the tooth. This thinning or removal of the outer layer of enamel increases the possibility of tooth decay and also general sensitivity.

A good, brisk scrubbing can make your mouth feel tingly and clean. Unfortunately, the heavy-handed approach does very little to prevent dental diseases. In fact, pressing down on your toothbrush can actually make the bristles less effective and you will notice that the bristles will wear out faster. Bristles that are flared or flattened are a sign that you’ve been brushing too hard.

Rather than brushing aggressively and damaging your smile, contact the dental office of Dr. Owen C. Mandanas and ask about the proper way to improve your oral health.

Dental Implants: A great solution to long-term issues

No one wants to just let their oral health slide downhill. Life happens, throwing curveballs that can leave us without enough options or information to protect our smiles. The result can be extensive dental diseases, tooth loss, or insufficient restorations.

While these situations are sometimes unavoidable, it is recommended that you take the appropriate steps to correct the damage as soon as you are able. For example, no matter the reason for your missing teeth, your dentist can offer dental implants as a solution that will enable you to avoid the long-term issues associated with tooth-loss.

The damage to your self-confidence is perhaps the most common long-term result of tooth loss. The change in the way that you look and feel can hit you harder than you might expect, and it’s a feeling that can be difficult to overcome. Many patients find that they are still self-conscious about their smiles even after they have chosen to have their teeth fixed! It’s an emotional issue that many patients greatly underestimate.

The structural deficiency that comes with missing teeth is best resolved with dental implants. In terms of risk vs. benefit, implants only strengthen your smile without compromising it in any way. The neighboring teeth will benefit from the additional support, and the jawbone will be stimulated by the presence of the artificial tooth root. No other tooth replacement features a replacement tooth root which transmits the natural sensations of chewing every time that you enjoy a meal.

Finally, even one missing tooth can result in a significant loss of chewing capacity. Each top tooth must be evenly paired with a lower tooth in order to process the foods that we eat. Without that dynamic relationship, the limited food choices and the reduction in chewing efficiency can have a long-term negative impact on your digestion and your nutrition.

For help in choosing the right solution to the long-term issues of tooth loss, contact the office of Dr. Owen C. Mandanas today to learn more about dental implants. Call 907-276-5522 to schedule a consultation.