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At the first-ever Players Weekend in August 2017, Major League Baseball players wore jerseys with their nicknames on the back. One player — Cleveland Indians shortstop, Francisco Lindor — picked the perfect moniker to express his cheerful, fun-loving nature: “Mr. Smile.” And Lindor gave fans plenty to smile about when he belted a 2-run homer into the stands while wearing his new jersey!
Lindor has explained that he believes smiling is an important part of connecting with fans and teammates alike: “I’ve never been a fan of the guy that makes a great play and then acts like he’s done it 10,000 times — smile, man! We’ve got to enjoy the game.”
We think Lindor is right: Smiling is a great way to generate good will. And it feels great too… as long as you have a smile that’s healthy, and that looks as good as you want it to. But what if you don’t? Here are some things we can do at the dental office to help you enjoy smiling again:
Routine Professional Cleanings & Exams. This is a great place to start on the road toward a healthy, beautiful smile. Even if you are conscientious about brushing and flossing at home, you won’t be able to remove all of the disease-causing dental plaque that can hide beneath the gum line, especially if it has hardened into tartar, but we can do it easily in the office. Then, after a thorough dental exam, we can identify any problems that may be affecting your ability to smile freely, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or cosmetic dental issues.
Cosmetic Dental Treatments. If your oral health is good but your smile is not as bright as you’d like it to be, we can discuss a number of cosmetic dental treatments that can help. These range from conservative procedures such as professional teeth whitening and bonding to more dramatic procedures like porcelain veneers or crowns.
Tooth Replacement. Many people hide their smiles because they are embarrassed by a gap from a missing tooth. That’s a shame, because there are several excellent tooth-replacement options in a variety of price ranges. These include partial and full dentures, bridgework, and dental implants. So don’t let a missing tooth stop you from being Mr. (or Ms.) Smile!
If you’d like more information about oral health or cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”
Life would be harrowing if we had no ability to feel pain. Although experiencing it is unpleasant, pain's purpose is to alert us to something wrong in our body. Without pain diseases and other problems could worsen to the point of life-threatening.
But pain without a purpose — the nerves simply misfiring — can make life miserable. This can happen with the trigeminal nerves that exit the brain stem and end on each side of the face. Each nerve has three branches that serve the upper, middle and lower parts of the face and jaw.
When they don't work properly, trigeminal nerves can give rise to a disorder known as trigeminal neuralgia. Beginning often as an occasional twinge, they may escalate to several seconds of mild to excruciating pain occurring over weeks, months or even years. An episode may erupt from chewing, speaking or even lightly touching of the face.
We see this condition most often in people over fifty, particularly women. We don't know the exact cause, but there's strong suspicion that the nerve's protective sheath has been damaged, similar to what occurs with multiple sclerosis or other inflammatory conditions. Another possibility is a blood vessel putting pressure on the nerve and disrupting its normal operation. Such an impinged nerve might transmit pain signals at the slightest stimulation and then fail to “switch off” when the stimulation stops.
Although we can't cure trigeminal neuralgia, we can help you manage it and reduce discomfort during episodes. We'll first try conservative, less-invasive techniques, like signal-blocking medications or drugs that reduce abnormal firing.
If these aren't effective, we may then recommend a surgical solution. One such procedure is known as percutaneous treatment in which we insert a thin needle to selectively damage nerve fibers to prevent their firing. If we've determined an artery or vein has compressed the nerve, we might surgically relocate the vessel. These techniques can be quite effective but they do have possible side effects like numbness or hearing loss.
If you've experienced facial pain, don't continue to suffer. Visit us for a complete examination and learn about your options for pain relief. More than likely, there's a way to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.
If you would like more information on facial pain, 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 “Trigeminal Neuralgia.”
Do you routinely catch yourself dozing off in the afternoon? Does your partner constantly complain about your snoring? Are you feeling like you just aren’t sleeping well at night, even though you can’t remember tossing or turning? If so, you may be suffering from a common but underdiagnosed problem known as obstructive sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Characterized by loud and frequent snoring, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat, blocking the upper airway. This obstruction causes you to stop breathing up to hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially life threatening disease that can increase the risk for serious health problems. These problems include congestive heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression and impotence.
Who has Sleep Apnea?
If you think you have sleep apnea, you’re not alone. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common problem that can affect people of any age and body type. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine reports that at least 25 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep apnea.
Although sleep apnea can occur at any age, the risk increases as you get older. While the sleep disorder is more common in men, it can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway, a recessed chin or misaligned jaw all can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
How do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?
Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is, are you getting a good night’s sleep? If not, try recording yourself sleeping or ask your bed partner to listen while you sleep. Pay attention to the following warning signs.
· Loud, frequent snoring – Loud and frequent snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea.
· Breathing pauses – By definition, sleep apnea involves repeated breathing pauses throughout the night. Your bed partner may hear you gasp for breath in your sleep or may wait (slightly panicked) to hear you take your next breath.
· Excessive daytime sleepiness (the ability to fall asleep anywhere, at any time)
· Memory problems
· Irritability or moodiness
· Decreased sex drive or impotence
· Morning headaches
· Acid reflux symptoms such as indigestion and heart burn or chest pain
If you think you may have sleep apnea – don’t worry – we can help. Our team at Glen Ridge Dental Arts can answer your questions about obstructive sleep apnea, including the process for diagnosis and treatment options. The first step is for you to be diagnosed by a physician – and we can refer you to a great sleep doctor to get you started. Schedule a consultation to discuss sleep apnea by calling 973-748-7790 or schedule your next visit online by contacting us at www.doctorpauldionne.com
The American Dental Association reports that the US Food and Drug Administration states it has found varying amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance, in some homeopathic teething tablets, urging consumers not to use the products. The most recent warning comes after an FDA news release which also cautioned consumers about homeopathic teething tablets and gels due to reports of adverse events.
Reuters reported belladonna can cause seizures, muscle weakness, and exhaustion. NBC News reported that belladona “is an extract of the deadly nightshade plant,” has hallucinogenic properties, and “is highly toxic in large amounts.” According to FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Dr. Janet Woodcock, “The body’s response to belladonna in children under 2 years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk. We recommend that parents and caregivers not give these homeopathic teething tablets to children and seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives.” Please avoid these products and keep our children safe.
A smile is often the first thing you notice about a person. It lights up your face and, if you have a nice one, can make you more attractive. Some even think a nice smile can turn back the clock. One study determined that people found smiling faces to be more attractive and youthful — with some faces deemed up to three years younger when they had a smile on! But what if you don’t have a Hollywood megawatt grin? Decades of chewing, grinding and sipping through your teeth can leave your smile a little lackluster. And receding gum lines, yellowing and shifting can make for an aging smile. Luckily, there are plenty of little steps you can take to preserve and protect your smile.
1. Go sugarless.
Dry mouth is a common complaint as we get older. There are hundreds of medications on the market that list dry mouth as a side effect — including those used for incontinence and blood pressure. These drugs cause our mouths to produce less saliva, causing discomfort and making swallowing more difficult. But less saliva is also bad news for your oral health as saliva is what helps prevent decay and infections in the mouth. The National Institute of Health recommends chewing on sugarless gum or sucking (not biting) on sugarless candy to help keep the saliva flow going in your mouth. These are also a great alternative to sugary candy and drinks — such as juices and sodas— that create acids in the mouth which eat away at your precious tooth enamel. But just be careful, as sugar-free products can sometimes cause stomach upset.
2. Avoid stains.
Discolored teeth are instantly aging. As we get older, our teeth do get darker. As we age, the internal part of the tooth begins to shrink, while the amount of dentin — which is yellowish — increases. As the enamel wears down, we see more and more of the dentin showing through.
To blame are our diets and lifestyle choices. Red wine, some carbonated drinks, coffee and teas can all cause surface stains. Anything that will stain a carpet will stain your teeth. But if you just can’t resist your morning coffee or tea, try switching to green or herbal teas which are less likely to stain. And while you may be tempted to brush your teeth immediately afterwards, it’s best to swish with water and then wait at least 30 minutes before you brush, so you don’t damage your enamel.
3. Cut back on snacking.
We know snacking can be bad for our waistline, but it’s also not great for our oral health. Frequent snacking, like munching on those potato chips at your desk or sipping a can of cola, can keep the acid levels high in your mouth for an extended time as you snack throughout the day. Sugar is obviously found in junk foods, but also in things like bread and cereal. They produce acids which, in turn, contribute to a breakdown of your tooth enamel.
4. Whiten and brighten.
As we age and our enamel thins out, we’re bound to lose some of the pearliness of our teeth. Depending on which route you want to go and how much you want to spend, there are a variety of whitening products on the market which can help you get your teeth several shades whiter. Over-the-counter strips are a more economical option which you can do from the comfort of your home. You can also get custom-made whitening trays to fit your teeth with a trip to the dentist that usually have more potent whitening power. You should always start a bleaching regimen under your dentist’s supervision as sensitivities may occur.
5. Fight inflammation.
Food or bacteria around the tooth that enter your bloodstream can lead to inflammation. And that inflammation can contribute to chronic diseases in the body, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Skin keeps blood in and germs out. Gums are skin. If you’re brushing and your gums are inflamed, they’re more apt to bleed. When they bleed, there’s a hole in the skin for blood to get out and germs to get in. Brushing and flossing properly — for at least two minutes — twice a day can help keep inflammation at bay. There are other foods that you can include in your diet that are also thought to keep inflammation at bay. Foods like fatty fish, which are rich in Omega-3s, beets, kale, tomatoes, blueberries and garlic are also known to help fight inflammation. Many spices, including turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, have also been known to help.