NTI Appliance Can Prevent Teeth Grinding and Relieve Pain

NTI appliance teeth grinding headachesTeeth clenching and grinding, or bruxism, can cause serious damage to teeth. When you clench your teeth, your jaw exerts a large amount of force to hold the upper and lower teeth together. This can wear away the teeth, leading to decay, chipped fillings, and even tooth loss.

Teeth clenching is also often responsible for migraines, an achy jaw, stiff neck, and morning headaches. When the muscles in the jaw contract, the force generated causes pain in surrounding tissues, joints, and muscles.

Bruxism is most often treated with a night guard. A night guard protects teeth from the effects of grinding but does not actually stop the behavior. This can protect teeth from wear and decay, but it might not eliminate jaw pain and migraines.

Reducing the intensity of the clenching can reduce or eliminate the pain. An NTI appliance is a type of mouth guard that uses a tension suppression system to stop the clenching action.

The NTI appliance is a bite guard. It takes advantage of the “nociceptive trigeminal inhibitory” reflex, which makes you open your mouth after biting down too hard on something with your front teeth. The appliance consists of an acrylic guard worn over your upper or lower front teeth while sleeping. If you begin to clench your teeth, you will bite down on the guard, which will activate the reflex and prevent clenching.

An NTI appliance is specially fitted by a dentist, but impressions and molds of the teeth are not required. It can be fitted in a dentist’s office in less than 30 minutes. It snaps into place and can only be removed by using your hands. The NTI appliance has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and used by thousands of patients around the world.

An NTI appliance can suppress the clenching reflex in a matter of days or weeks. Headaches, neck pain, and jaw pain usually begin to resolve soon after starting to use the device. It can reduce your need for pain medication and make you more comfortable throughout the day.

Study Examines Drug Screenings by Dentists

drug screenings dentistsDentists are becoming more involved in screening for medical conditions beyond oral health, such as heart disease and diabetes. A new study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published in the journal Addiction found that a majority of dentists also discuss drug misuse with their patients.

Having those discussions is important because for many people, a visit to the dentist is their only interaction with the healthcare system. Dentists may have an opportunity to diagnose substance abuse and recommend treatment that other medical providers might not have.

Drug use can affect oral health. For example, methamphetamine users can experience severe tooth decay, accelerated tooth wear, unexplained advanced gum disease, multiple missing teeth, and other problems. They often seek cosmetic dental treatments, which gives dentists an opportunity to discuss drug use and refer them for treatments.

Dentists are the second-largest group that prescribes opioid medication. Patients with substance abuse problems may exaggerate the severity of their pain, report that they lost prescriptions for opioid medications, or only seek sporadic dental treatment.

The researchers sampled 1,802 dentists in general practice from a nationally representative survey conducted by the American Dental Association Survey Center from 2010 to 2011. Among dentists who believed they had a responsibility to discuss drug use with their patients, 86 percent had those discussions, compared to 68 percent who believed that was not the dentist’s responsibility.

Dentists with more training and experience related to substance misuse were more likely to discuss drug use with their patients. Younger dentists were more likely to discuss substance misuse with their patients and to believe that that should be the dentist’s responsibility. Dentists who graduated recently were more likely to agree. Sixty-one percent of female dentists and 52 percent of male dentists believed that the dentist’s role should include discussing drug use.

The researchers believe that more studies are needed to evaluate patients’ attitudes on substance misuse screening by dentists. They also believe that dentists may need additional education to increase their awareness and comfort with discussing substance misuse so they can refer patients for treatment.

Cleaning Your Tongue Can Eliminate Bad Breath

clean tongue bad breathPeople brush their teeth to remove food debris and bacteria, but many neglect another important part of the mouth: the tongue. The most common cause of bad breath is food particles and bacteria on the tongue.

When you speak or swallow, the tip of your tongue comes in contact with your soft palate, which removes a lot of food and bacteria. The back part of the tongue is not cleaned through these natural processes and accumulates debris. When you clean your tongue, you should focus on the back part. You should not scrape or brush the tonsular tissue at the very back and on the sides.

Clean your tongue gently with only a little force to avoid irritation and bleeding. If you gag, you can try a different method of cleaning your tongue or do it when your stomach is relatively empty. You should clean your tongue at least once a day, but preferably every time you brush your teeth.

You can clean your tongue with a toothbrush, spoon, scraper, or cleaner. Use the one that is easiest for you to use and doesn’t make you gag.

If you want to use a toothbrush, moisten the bristles, stick out your tongue as far as you can, and look for a coating. Start in the back and use forward brush strokes to break up and remove the debris. Check your results, repeat if necessary, and then rinse your mouth. You can make your brushing more effective by putting toothpaste or mouthwash on your brush, but that is not necessary. If you put something on your toothbrush, use a product that neutralizes volatile sulfur compounds, such as chlorine dioxide or zinc, and has antibacterial properties.

You can also scrape your tongue with a spoon. Moisten it, stick out your tongue as far as you can, turn the spoon upside down, place it at the back of your tongue, and pull it forward. Clean thoroughly but gently. Repeat until you have removed as much debris as possible.

You can use a store-bought cleaner or scraper in the same way. A scraper lets you see the debris you are removing, but it tends to only clean the surface of the tongue and may be more likely to cause trauma. A cleaner combines aspects of a brush and a scraper and is the most effective tool.

Picasso Lite Diode Laser for Soft Tissue Procedures

Picasso Lite diode laserThe Picasso Lite diode laser allows dentists and dental hygienists to perform minimally invasive procedures on soft tissue with little or no pain. The Picasso Lite is a portable machine with multi-tip handpieces and fibers. It has a touch screen and wireless foot control. The device is made by AMD Lasers.

Procedures performed with the Picasso Lite diode laser often require no anesthesia. Patients have minimal pain during procedures and little to no discomfort after their operations. Patients wear goggles during procedures to protect their eyes from damage that could be caused by the laser.

The Picasso Lite diode laser can be used to treat a variety of problems, including periodontal disease, ulcers, sores caused by dentures, and hemangiomas on the cheeks and lips. It can be used to perform a frenectomy, gingival troughing for crown impressions, gingivectomy, gingivoplasty, gingival incision and excision, soft tissue crown lengthening, hemostasis and coagulation, biopsy, exposure of unerupted teeth, removal of fibromas, incision and drainage of abscesses, leukoplakia, pulpotomy, operculectomy, oral papillectomy, reduction of gingival hypertrophy, vestibuloplasty, laser soft tissue curettage, and removal of diseased, infected, or inflamed tissue from pockets in the gums.

Laser dental surgery has been used since the 1990s and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It has become a popular form of treatment because it does not require a scalpel or sutures. The teeth and gums can naturally reattach after laser dental treatment. Procedures that used to be painful or require multiple visits can now be done with little or no pain in one appointment.

Pregnant Women Have an Increased Risk of Oral Health Problems

pregnancy oral healthPregnant women are at risk of developing some oral health problems that they would not have to face at other times. The two most common dental problems associated with pregnancy are gingivitis and tumors. Hormonal changes during pregnancy are responsible for these problems.

It is estimated that 40 percent of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. Symptoms can include red gums that bleed when brushing, severe swelling, and bleeding gums. Pregnancy gingivitis usually appears between the second and eighth months.

Higher levels of the hormone progesterone can make it easier for the bacteria that cause gingivitis to grow, make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque, and exaggerate the body’s response to toxins caused by plaque. If you already have gum disease, being pregnant can make it worse.

You can prevent pregnancy gingivitis by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using an antimicrobial mouth rinse. It is also important to get your teeth cleaned by a dentist or hygienist while you are pregnant.

Gum disease during pregnancy has been linked to premature birth. Women with gum disease are four to seven times more likely to deliver premature and underweight babies than mothers who have healthy gums.

A pregnancy tumor is a large lump with deep red pinpoint marks that forms on inflamed gum tissue, usually near the upper gum line. The lump glistens and may bleed and crust over. The tumor can make it difficult to eat and speak. A pregnancy tumor is not cancerous and cannot be spread to other people. It is a severe inflammatory reaction to irritation, typically from food or plaque.

Although pregnancy tumors can appear at any time, they usually occur in the second trimester. About 10 percent of women develop pregnancy tumors. They often occur in women who have pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy tumors are also known as pyogenic granuloma, granuloma of pregnancy, lobular capillary hemangioma, and pregnancy epulides.

Pregnancy tumors usually disappear after the baby is born. If a tumor makes it difficult to eat, a dentist or specialist can remove it with a simple procedure performed with local anesthesia. In about half of cases, the tumors return. If the tumor is not removed, the dentist can identify and treat its cause. You can reduce your chance of developing pregnancy tumors by following good oral hygiene guidelines.

The Link between Obesity and Oral Health

obesity oral healthObesity is a growing epidemic in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately two-thirds of adults and one-fifth of children are overweight or obese.

Overweight and obese people have a higher risk of developing many chronic inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis. People who are obese tend to have higher levels of tooth decay, more missing teeth, and fewer needed fillings than non-obese people. Poor diet, uncontrolled heartburn, and poor oral hygiene contribute to dental problems. Obese individuals also tend to visit a dentist less frequently.

Obesity appears to increase the risk of developing periodontal, or gum, disease. Fat cells produce chemical signals and hormones that increase inflammation throughout the body. This can weaken the immune system, which makes an individual more susceptible to gum disease. Inflammation can also decrease blood flow to the gums and cause gum disease to progress faster. The link could also be caused in part by lifestyle characteristics, such as consuming sugary foods.

If it is treated, the progression of periodontal disease can be stopped, the health of the gums can be improved, and the supporting bone, gum tissue, and ligaments can be restored. This can be achieved by thoroughly cleaning the teeth and gums to remove tartar and plaque and scraping infected tissue from pockets in the gums. Surgery may be needed to treat deep pockets or reshape the bone or surrounding tooth structure. Antibiotics may also be needed to treat infection.

After undergoing bariatric surgery, patients need to eat smaller meals and may experience vomiting. This can affect oral health by causing acid erosion. Overeating can also lead to regurgitation and reflux, which expose teeth to acid. Medications given to patients after bariatric surgery can cause dry mouth that can affect oral health.

Proper oral hygiene can reduce the risk of oral health problems. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing daily. Not smoking, eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugary foods and beverages, and visiting a dentist regularly can also reduce the risk of problems.

VELscope® Vx Can Help Dentists Detect Oral Cancer Early

VELscope Vx oral cancer detectionThe VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System allows a dentist to use a handheld scope to identify oral cancer and tissue abnormalities that might not be visible to the naked eye. It is intended to supplement traditional head and neck exams.

VELscope® Vx is different from other devices used for oral examinations because it does not require dyes or prolonged testing procedures. A dentist can perform a VELscope® exam in two minutes as part of a regular hygiene appointment.

Traditional oral mucosal examination tools use reflected light to examine tissues in the mouth. VELscope® Vx uses fluorescence to let dentists see cellular, structural, and metabolic activity changes in the mouth.

The VELscope® Vx handheld device emits a harmless bright blue light that makes the oral mucosa, or soft tissues in the mouth, naturally fluoresce. Fluorophores cause natural tissue fluorescence. When they are excited by blue light, fluorophores emit light at a longer wavelength, such as green.

Abnormal fluorescence patterns can help the clinician spot a variety of conditions. Tissues that are affected by trauma, disease, neoplastic lesions, and fungal, viral, or bacterial infections fluoresce differently than healthy tissues. Any area that fluoresces abnormally can be examined further to determine the cause.

Exams with VELscope® Vx can detect oral cancer early, when the five-year survival rate is as high as 83 percent. When detected later, the five-year survival rate can fall to 50 percent. Oral cancer can have several causes, including the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), tobacco use, frequent or excessive consumption of alcohol, a compromised immune system, and a history of cancer.

Smart Mouth Guard Can Diagnose Teeth Grinding

smart mouth guardTeeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common condition that affects one in five Americans. It can cause a host of other problems, including jaw pain, headaches, damaged teeth, and insomnia.

Bruxism can be a challenge to diagnose. The most common way is to monitor a patient overnight at a sleep clinic. The most likely cause of teeth grinding is stress. It is usually treated with therapy to help the patient reduce stress.

A team of researchers from the University of Florida have designed a smart mouth guard as a simpler and less expensive alternative that they believe will help dentists diagnose and treat bruxism. It has sensors that detect the amount of force the teeth are applying to the mouth guard and which teeth are grinding.

This information can be sent to the patient’s dentist via a mobile device so that the dentist can analyze it and devise a solution to the problem. The smart mouth guard can help treat bruxism if it is worn regularly, which can reduce the number of clinical sessions a patient needs.

The researchers believe a version of their mouth guard could also be helpful for athletes who participate in contact sports, such as football. Accelerometers could measure forces affecting the head and warn of a possible concussion. Other sensors could determine if a person is dehydrated or has a body temperature that is too high. These features could be beneficial to both athletes and firefighters.

The mouth guard recently won second place in an international competition for applications for microtechnologies that was held in Anchorage, Alaska. The researchers do not know when their mouth guard will be available for purchase or how much it will cost.

Study Finds Americans Lie to Dentists about Flossing

Flossing TeethA study released on June 23 revealed that 27 percent of adults lie to their dentists about flossing their teeth. Some dentists believe the actual figure is much higher, based on the condition of their patients’ teeth and gums. The study also found that a third of people dislike flossing so much that they would rather do other unpleasant activities, such as clean the toilet, wash dishes, sit in traffic, or listen to small children crying on an airplane.

The survey was conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology. The AAP surveyed 2,021 adults in 10 major cities across the United States. New Yorkers were the most likely to floss every day. Another study conducted by the AAP found that only 40 percent of Americans floss every day and 20 percent never do.

Flossing removes plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and saliva, from between the teeth and below the gum line. If it is not removed, plaque can harden into tartar. Plaque contains over 500 forms of bacteria. Those bacteria cannot be removed from below the gum line by brushing alone.

Bacteria can cause inflammation, which can lead to periodontal disease. Untreated gum disease can cause receding gums, tooth decay, and tooth loss. Gum disease can contribute to many other health problems, including heart disease and some forms of cancer. About half of Americans have periodontal disease.

Gum disease can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. That includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

If you have trouble flossing, there are other options besides traditional floss. Proxabrushes are skinny brushes that can fit between teeth, and Stim-U-Dent picks or toothpicks can be used to remove plaque. If your teeth are close together, however, you will need to use floss.

Some bleeding during flossing is normal because it means the floss is clearing out an infection. However, pain is not normal and means you are doing it wrong.

Altadonics Dentures Can Improve Your Smile

Altadonics DenturesDentures can restore the function and beauty of a smile for patients who are missing teeth or who need to have teeth extracted. Unfortunately, the process of having a denture made can often take weeks, making life difficult in the interim. Altadonics Dentures can provide an immediate alternative to allow a patient to leave the dentist’s office with a set of dentures right after teeth are extracted.

The A-Tran Denture System for Immediates can provide a patient with an immediate clear-based treatment denture, as well as a final pink denture created in a lab. The two dentures are identical in fit and comfort, which means the patient will always have a set of dentures available, even if one set needs to be adjusted or repaired.

The Very Best Denture maintains the original denture’s comfortable fit and allows the dentist to make cosmetic enhancements with set teeth that are longer and have a lighter color. This type of denture generally requires three appointments for an initial consultation and mold impression, try in, and fitting of the finished product.

Altadonics’ Assurance Denture is an exact copy of the patient’s current set of dentures. It can maintain the length and function of the patient’s original denture. The purpose of the Assurance denture is to have a spare copy of the original denture. This process takes two appointments for the initial consultation and mold impression and delivery to the patient.

Altadonics Dentures use a multi-patented system that allows a dentist to store a patient’s 3-D denture image indefinitely. This means that if the patient loses the denture, a new set can be made immediately, without the need to go to the dentist’s office and have impressions made and sent to a lab.