Bite & Jaws Health

Is it Bad to Chew Ice?

Your whole life, you’ve probably heard things like:

“Chewing ice can break your teeth.”

“Don’t chew ice, it will damage your dental work.”

“If you chew ice, it means you’re anemic.”

But are these sayings true?

It turns out there’s some truth behind each of these statements, even if chewing ice doesn’t result in injury 100% of the time. But if it’s a habit you tend to do several times a week, you need to take note. Over time, you may wind up with dental (or medical) bills that could have otherwise been avoided.

Dental Materials Contracting and Expanding

Think back to elementary school, when you learned how things expand and contract depending on their temperature. It’s the same when you put ice inside of your mouth. If you have any dental work — such as fillings — they will respond differently to the cold temperature than the tooth around them does.

If your teeth and fillings contract and expand at different rates, it can cause the bond between them to break down. The filling becomes loose, leaky, or may even result in your tooth cracking the next time you bite down.

Pressure and Broken Teeth

Ice comes in various textures. If you’re chewing and biting down onto more condensed ice cubes, it’s practically the same thing as grinding on a jawbreaker candy or rocks — your teeth will eventually give out. Although enamel is the hardest thing in your entire body, it can’t withstand biting into something that hard over and over. If you’ve been lucky until now, that’s great. But it’s usually a matter of time before a weak area (like a crack or filling) suddenly breaks.

However, softer types of ice — like the small round pellets you find in fountain drink machines — are usually easier and safer to chew. If you feel like you must suck on or chew ice, this is the type of texture that you want to be sure you’re sticking to.

Are You Anemic?

Although it’s technically an old wives’ tale that people who chew ice are anemic, certain medical professionals will tell you that there’s some truth to it. If you find yourself constantly craving ice, it won’t hurt to go ahead and start supplementing your iron levels. Iron can be taken via a multivitamin, but it’s also found in leafy green vegetables like fresh spinach.

In the worst-case scenario, ask your physician about your iron levels during your next annual physical. He or she may recommend a small blood draw just to make sure that everything is ok.

Tooth Sensitivity

Some people’s teeth tend to be more sensitive than others. Factors such as gum recession, exposed root surfaces, and use of whitening toothpastes or similar products may compound the symptoms. When you chew ice, it may lead to pain that leaves you wondering if something is wrong with your teeth.

If you’re having trouble breaking an ice-chewing habit, be sure to see a Smilebar Dentist regularly to keep your smile healthy!

Implants vs. Dental Bridges

If you have a missing tooth, you used to only have three options: leave the space open, get a partial denture, or have a bridge made to fill it in. Bridges look like 3-4 dental crowns bonded together, with the end crowns resting over supporting teeth and the ones between floating over the open space. The end result made it look as if you didn’t have any missing teeth.

But then dental implants took a major turn, becoming more predictable, less invasive, and faster to complete.

So today if you have a tooth that’s missing, your two options to replace it are usually a dental bridge or implant. But which one is best?

Advantages of Dental Bridges

Bridges can be prepped, placed, and completed in just two visits over the span of about two weeks. Once they’re set, that’s it. With regular care and maintenance, a quality dental bridge can last several years.

Disadvantages of Bridges

A bridge needs healthy teeth to support it. Before it can be installed, the abutment teeth have to be reshaped so that the bridge slips over, like a crown. If teeth are healthy, this permanently and unnecessarily alters their structure.

Additionally, bridges may not last for more than a decade or so. They will ultimately need to be replaced with a new one. At a certain point, the supporting teeth may be too weak to hold a new bridge, due to lack of stability.

Advantages of Dental Implants

Modern dental implants hold a number of advantages over conventional tooth replacement treatments. They are non-invasive to neighboring teeth, functioning as an independent structure. Likewise, they have the highest success rate of any modern dental treatment (over 98%) making them very unlikely to fail.

But best of all, studies show that most dental implants will last for the entire life of the patient. Investing in an implant now will mean you’re likely to have it forever. They’re fused into your mouth, supporting your bone and facial profile.

Since implants are stronger than natural teeth, they can be used in pairs to support multi-tooth dental restorations when a bridge may not be possible. In fact, you can use as few as four implants to anchor a permanent, hybrid denture that spans the entire length of your upper or lower arch.

Disadvantages of Implants

Implants require healthy bone to support them. If you lack bone depth, a graft may be needed.

Although some people see the slightly higher cost of implants as a possible disadvantage, they’re actually more affordable in the long run. That’s because implants do not typically need to be replaced.

Do I Need a Bridge or Implant?

Smilebar Center dentists work closely with each patient to help them weigh the advantages of each treatment they qualify for. It may be that your situation is best suited for an implant, while someone else is a better candidate for a bridge. Schedule a consultation with a Smilebar Dentist near you for advice you can trust!

Oral Sleep Apnea Appliances: How They Work

If you have a sleeping disorder like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) but aren’t able to use a CPAP machine, you have another viable alternative: an oral sleep apnea appliance.

Oral sleep appliance therapy uses a holistic approach to treat OSA without bulky machines. Rather, the special “sleep mouthguard” or “mandibular advancement device” works by positioning your lower jaw in a slightly protruded position. As your jaw is guided forwards, it also brings the base of the tongue forward with it. When we achieve this position, it helps prevent the collapse of soft tissues from sealing off the upper airway (including your soft palate, tonsils, and esophagus.)

Your oral sleep appliance is adjusted to find the best jaw position for your oral anatomy. A sleep diary can help determine how well it’s working, but most people see results as quickly as the first night’s use. You can also wear your appliance with a CPAP, but some individuals find it allows them to go without their CPAP machine altogether.

All you need to get an oral sleep apnea appliance is an impression of your teeth. If you haven’t had a sleep study conducted, it’s possible to have one that you complete at home. These simple bedside kits record the information needed for a proper diagnosis and are then interpreted by a pulmonologist or sleep physician.

Benefits of mandibular advancement devices include:

• More discrete to use
• No noise to bother your family or roommate
• Easier to clean and travel with
• More flexibility with sleep positions
• A holistic way to treat OSA

If you have trouble sleeping, are a chronic snorer, or wake up in the morning with headaches, talk to a Smilebar Center dentist to schedule a sleep apnea screening and exam. Relief is just a phone call away!

Sports Mouthguards and Dental Emergencies

If you have a child or teen involved in community and school sports, you know there’s always a risk of an accidental injury. In fact, you might be the one who’s involved in athletic activities on the weekends, with your own fair share of bumps and bruises.

Even the secondary trauma — what happens after you get hit the first time — can be the most damaging part of the injury. To protect yourself, you invest in the best equipment like helmets, pads, and braces.

But what about your mouth?

Did you know that — statistically speaking — a high percentage of athletic injuries involve the face and mouth? Some of the more common ones include:

• Busted lips/lip lacerations
• Knocked out teeth
• Chipped teeth
• Concussions
• Broken jaws

Unfortunately, most of the severe orofacial injuries wind up in the emergency room. Others leave lingering side-effects, such as concussions or the need for complex dental care (which isn’t available in the hospital.)

To lower your risk of an oral injury or concussion, it’s best to wear a protective sports mouthguards. Professionally made dental athletic guards offer the highest level of protection when it comes to hugging your teeth, buffering your lips, and even preventing the trauma that causes some types of concussions.

Over-the-counter sports guards on the other hand, are usually a “boil and bite” design, or a one size tray. They tend to fit more loosely and can fall out easier. If you get hit in the mouth, the sports guard could come out before you wind up hitting the ground. Only a professionally fitted guard is designed to stay in place. How? Because it fits like a glove.

Do Mouthguards Really Help with Concussions?

Some types of concussions are caused by the posterior portion of your mandible (lower jaw) being forced back and upwards towards the brain. When this trauma happens, it can cause brain movement, similar to hitting your head from the outside.

But when you wear a special type of mouthguard designed for concussion protection, it lowers your chances of your mandible from radiating trauma up into your brain.

For this reason alone, investing in a custom sports guards is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself or your favorite athlete.

Avoid Broken and Knocked-Out Teeth

As always, mouthguards also protect teeth from getting knocked out or broken if there’s a blow to the mouth. The thick acrylic distributes the pressure and has enough width between the source of trauma and your tooth, that a fracture is less likely to occur.

And since busted lips are usually worse when the skin is pushed into your teeth, having a protective barrier between them can lower the severity of facial lacerations.

Getting a Custom Sports Guard

All you need to have an athletic guard made is to get an impression of your teeth. Most dentists can customize your appliance to match your team colors, too.

For more information on concussion protection and athletic mouthguards, visit a Smilebar Dentist today!

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental Implants: What are They?

Today’s modern dental implants have significantly evolved from the concept of long-term tooth replacement idealized by dentists decades ago. What used to involve a complex and invasive process has now transformed into the straightforward, gold-standard treatment that dental patients expect.

Essentially, dental implants are artificial tooth roots crafted from biocompatible materials (titanium or ceramic,) which are then set into the mouth near the area of the missing tooth. Their design triggers new bone development around them — a process we call “osseointegration” — where the body fuses itself to the implant, making it a permanent part of the mouth. The fact that this process occurs makes implants stronger than even the healthiest of teeth.

Options for Single or Multiple Missing Teeth

With dental implants, patients have a variety of restorative options. Individual implants can support a ceramic crown, making it appropriate for single tooth replacement. But if multiple teeth are involved, we can use implants in pairs to support longer prosthetics, such as multi-tooth dental bridges or an “All-on-4” hybrid denture design.

Advantages of Implants

Choosing to invest in dental implants over more conventional types of treatment offers many advantages to your overall oral health. Rather than altering adjacent teeth to support a fixed prosthesis, implants stand independently and function as if they were natural teeth. This makes it possible to offer our Seattle implant patients a number of benefits, including:

Preservation of natural biting patterns and tooth alignment
Non-invasive to adjacent teeth (no reshaping or structure removal)
Enhanced bone support of the jaw and face
Permanent (non-removable) restorative designs
Options for dental implant stabilization
Better return on investment than conventional treatments

The implants of today are the most lifelike tooth replacements available. Not only that, but their extremely high success rate means nearly 98% of dental implants last for the life of patients. They offer the longest return on investment of any modern-day dental restoration.

Does it Hurt to Get Implants?

A common perception of having dental implants placed is that the process will be an uncomfortable one. Not so! Because bone structure does not contain pain receptors, we’re able to efficiently place implants in a straightforward and comfortable manner. If you’ve ever had a tooth removed, getting an implant is usually much more comfortable.

After the placement of the artificial roots, patients wear a temporary restoration as the bone and gum tissue heals around your new implant. Within a few months, a permanent crown, bridge, or denture is fixed into place.

Give Yourself the Gift of a New Smile

Living with missing teeth can make it difficult to enjoy your meals, smile around friends, or keep you from taking photographs with the grandchildren.

Smilebar Center dentists are trained with the most up to date research and focus on the patients’ health first. Find one in your area – Alumni Look Up

What Causes Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)?

Chronic teeth grinding and clenching is a habit that dentists refer to as “bruxism.”  It has a few different causes, some of which can be treated and others that require lifestyle changes that need to be addressed.

The problem with bruxism is that it wears enamel against enamel — the hardest substance in your body — causing teeth to wear down, fracture, and even break apart existing dental work.

But what causes it? Understanding the factors attributed to bruxism is the first step in treating the condition.

Chronic Stress

Many people notice that they grind or clench their teeth during periods of stress. It may be that you tighten your jaw on your commute home from work, or that you wake up in the morning feeling sore because your jaws have been grinding against each other all night long.

While stress isn’t always avoidable, some lifestyle changes can help. When possible, make changes to lower your stress level. Cutting back on caffeine, stimulants, and getting exercise can help your body to self-regulate.

Sleep Apnea

Certain types of sleeping disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea can also cause bruxism. The clenching and grinding occurs as your body starts to feel deprived of oxygen, causing he muscles to tighten up as you gasp for air. You may never realize that it’s happening until your teeth start to wear down or chip away. Your sleep partner may be the first person to pick up on the snoring, lapse in breathing, or noises from grinding your teeth.

Protecting Your Smile From Teeth Grinding

Before you start to wear your teeth away, here are a few things to talk to your dentist about:

Protective bite splints — A custom bite splint or night guard is an excellent way to prevent the jaws from fully engaging to the point that teeth wear against one another. Smaller bite splints can easily be worn while you drive or work at your desk, giving you just enough space so that the mouth can be closed yet still relaxed.

Injectables — Cosmetic injectables such as Botox have long been used to treat the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But they can also be used as natural muscle relaxants, reducing tension headaches, TMJ disorder, and associated muscle fatigue caused by teeth grinding.

Oral sleep appliances — When sleep apnea is the cause of bruxism, an oral sleep appliance may be able to provide effective relief and a better night’s rest with the first use. Such appliances position the lower jaw in such a way that the airway is naturally opened, and the teeth do not engage one another.

“Lips together, teeth apart” — When teeth grinding is a natural habit, it helps to reprogram our brains and the way our body rests. In the ideal situation, our mouth will be resting with the lips closed together, but the teeth about a pencil’s width apart.

Talk to a Smilebar Center dentist to learn more about managing bruxism and restoring teeth that have broken or worn down due to a chronic teeth grinding habit.

What is a Bone Graft?

When bone structure is missing, reconstructive surgery can add to existing bone. A tissue that is transplanted to become part of your body is known as a “graft.” Bone grafting is done in dentistry to build a solid foundation for dental restorations.

What materials are involved in a Bone Graft?
Different types of materials are used in bone grafting. Examples include:
Your own bone taken from one part of your body, the “donor site,” and moved to another part of your body, the ‘’graft site”
Bone taken from another person which is then sterilized and freeze-dried before being placed into your body
Bone taken from an animal, usually a cow, which is then sterilized and freeze-dried before being placed into your body
Synthetic and other materials Your dentist will advise you on which type of graft material will most effectively build bone in your situation.
What are the benefits of a Bone Graft?

Certain dental restorations, such as implants, may not be possible without bone grafting. Bone grafting increases the amount of bone available to support these restorations and to build your jaws and gums into a more ideal form.

What are the risks of having a Bone Graft?

Bone grafting procedures involve minor to moderate pain as well as the risk of infection to both the graft site and the donor site. There is also the risk of your body rejecting the bone graft and setting up an infection around it. When this occurs, the area must be cleaned and another bone graft must be done once the site has healed. Even when the bone heals well, grafting may need to be done more than once to build enough bone thickness for your dental restoration.

What are the alternatives to having a Bone Graft?

The alternative is to do nothing. Implants may not be possible and alternate dental treatments may not be as stable or comfortable. 5. Are there any post-treatment limitations once I have a Bone Graft? After treatment you must be careful not to chew near or disturb the surgical site. As with any wound healing, a faster result with fewer complications will occur if the surgery sight is left unharmed. Once the bone graft has healed the area can be treated normally

Visit a Smilebar Trained dentist for more information.

Why Does my Tooth Ache?

Tooth aches typically show up as sensitivity to temperatures, sweets or chewing, but may also present as throbbing, aching or sharp stabbing pains. Some tooth aches are quite mild and can go on for years while others are debilitating and must be addressed immediately.

What causes a Tooth Ache?

A tooth ache is caused by inflammation or infection which happens inside your tooth. It may also be caused by tooth root exposure, decay or trauma.

Who is at high risk for a Tooth Ache?
Some people are at higher risk for having tooth aches. Risk factors for having a tooth ache include:
Receding gums which expose tooth roots
Tooth decay
Tooth trauma from:
Existing deep fillings or crowns
Routine dental procedures
Night time tooth grinding
Bite problems
What can I do to minimize my risk of a Tooth Ache?

To minimize your risk of a tooth ache, there are important things that you need to do. The first critical step is to have the cause of the tooth ache diagnosed by your dentist.

* If infection is present it must be treated in a timely manner to avoid a more serious health risk.

Your dentist may suggest the following:
Address tooth decay
Wear a mouthguard when playing sports
Wear a night guard if night time tooth grinding is suspected
Address bite problems
Cover exposed tooth roots with gum grafts or dental restorations
Treat teeth with fluoride and home care aids which decrease root sensitivity
What will happen if I choose to do nothing about my Tooth Ache?
Ignoring a tooth ache may lead to the following:
Increased pain or infection requiring a root canal treatment or an extraction
Continued stress which may cause the tooth to fracture
Continued sensitivity which prevents you from eating comfortably

Although occasionally pain resolves without treatment, it is important to have your Smilebar Trained dentist assess the risk of your tooth ache.

Why is Tooth Position Important? (Orthodontics)

Orthodontic treatment manages growth and correction of dental and facial structures. Orthodontics is commonly used in the treatment of bite problems, including abnormal tooth wear, TMJ problems and smile esthetics. Treatment is aimed at changing the position of the teeth.

Why is tooth position important?

If there is a problem in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together in biting or chewing, teeth may wear and fracture, and jaw joints and muscles may become painful. Over time, this may result in crooked, crowded, or protruding teeth. It may affect a person’s appearance, speech, or ability to eat.

What causes tooth position problems?

Tooth position problems may be inherited or acquired. Inherited conditions may include missing or extra teeth, abnormal spaces or crowding of teeth, mouth and jaw size and shape, and atypical formations of the jaws and face, including cleft palate. These conditions may be acquired through airway development issues, tongue positioning, enlarged tonsils and adenoids that lead to mouth breathing, clenching, grinding, habits like finger or thumb sucking, premature loss of teeth from an accident or dental disease, and medical conditions.

What are the consequences of improper tooth positions?

Although the consequences range from symptom free to painful, increased stress on the oral structures can have far reaching results. Tooth decay or abnormal signs of wear on chewing surfaces may occur

in areas of tight overlap. Excessive wear and fracture of teeth, as well as jaw joint, muscular and nerve problems may occur to the extent that appearance, speech or ability to eat may be affected.

How is this diagnosed or detected?

When orthodontic problems are suspected, diagnostic records may be taken for further study. These records include photos, special x-rays and impressions or digital scans. The records are analyzed to determine the extent of malocclusion and the appropriate treatment. Braces are metal or ceramic brackets bonded to the teeth. A wire is then used to place pressure on the teeth causing them to move to the desired location.

What are treatment options?

Traditional orthodontic treatment, commonly known as braces, is often used to correct tooth position problems. Orthodontics can also be completed using a series of clear trays, each one putting progressive pressure on the teeth to move them into position. Common brand names of this type of treatment include Invisalign and ClearCorrect. There are also combination therapies using braces, clear aligner trays, and even surgery.

Smilebar Center dentists are trained with the most up to date research and focus on the patients’ health first. Find one in your area – Alumni Look Up

How long does treatment usually last?

Depending on the cause and severity of the malocclusion and the appliances used in treatment, a patient may expect correction of the condition to last 18-30 months. The length of treatment time is also affected by how well the patient follows orthodontic instructions.

What is a Centric Relation?

Centric relation is the harmonious alignment between upper and lower teeth. Symmetry is an essential element of having a healthy smile and durable teeth. Without it, enamel wears abnormally, dental restorations fracture, and conditions like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD, TMJD) develop.

When we hone in on the symmetry and relationship between the jaws and teeth, it is a process with one goal in mind: a centric relation.

Advantages of a Centric Relation

An optimal centric relationship means that teeth, joints, and muscles all work as designed. As a result, activities such as chewing and biting are more efficient while making a minimal impact on the lifespan of the teeth.

Centric Relationships During Treatment

If you require a restorative procedure such as a new crown, bridge, or dental implants, the way that final restoration fits into alignment is a small part of a centric relationship. The tooth is shaped and adjusted in such a way that it fits properly between its neighbors and occludes (bites against) in a specific way with the opposite tooth.

Just one part of your mouth out of alignment — be it your TMJ or a specific tooth — can create disharmony throughout your overall smile. Not only will other teeth suffer, you may be left with problems like:

Chronic migraine headaches
Muscle fatigue through the face, neck, shoulders, and back
Accelerated tooth wear
Misalignment of your smile
How to Achieve an Optimal Centric Relation

Maybe you’ve never had dental work or haven’t had any recently, but you’ve been told that your centric relation is “off.” Is it possible to correct this? Quite possibly, but it depends on how severe the discrepancy is.

For example, orthodontic therapy can help to guide teeth into a properly aligned occlusion, where they bite against one another in an optimal manner. Or replacing a missing tooth can keep the others from drifting out of alignment.

But if anatomical differences such as a jaw deformity or internal damage to the TMJ have occurred, a more aggressive type of therapy may be needed (such as surgery.)

Adjustments to teeth, updating dental restorations, and orthodontics are just a few examples of how it’s possible to achieve a centric relation.

A Foundation to Healthy, Beautiful Teeth

It doesn’t matter if you pour thousands of dollars into the highest quality of smile makeover or full mouth rehabilitation treatment; if there is a poor centric relation, those outcomes won’t be as durable in the long run as if they were performed on a mouth with an optimal centric relation.

Seeing a dentist who incorporates centric dentistry into his or her restorative cases is crucial, especially if you’ve already suffered from a history of TMJ pain and tooth wear. Even cosmetic cases will need to consider how those new restorations fit into the overall positioning of your natural anatomy.

Interested in learning more about centric dentistry and what it can do for your lifestyle? See a Smilebar Center dentist today!

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