12/10/2017 3:00:20 PM
Wendy Parker, RDH
Many people believe that mouth breathing isn’t that big of a deal, it’s just the way they have learned to breathe. But after years of study and research, mouth breathing have been linked to several other conditions as well.
Mouth breathing usually occurs due to 5 factors:
- Thumb or finger sucking habit
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Respiratory infection
These factors make it physically challenging for someone to breath through their nose, so the natural reaction is to start breathing through their mouth. Mouth breathing can cause a few things to happen in the mouth: it can change the way your shape of your face, you can develop a tongue thrust affecting your speech, swallowing and breathing, you can develop gingivitis or gum disease and gums will bleed easily, sore throats, halitosis (bad breath), poor sleep or sleep apnea, and digestive disturbances (upset stomach, acid reflux, etc.) Mouth breathing stops our bodies from getting good oxygenated blood to the circulation system and can affect the whole body.
It’s not easy to just change the way you breathe. You have to retrain your brain and muscles to breathe normally again. A myofunctional therapist can be valuable by giving you tactics to retrain your muscles associated with mouth breathing. You can also have your tonsils evaluated to see if they need to be removed or see an orthodontist to evaluated your bite and if the teeth are obstructing you from closing properly. Or you may try a humidifier at night or rub vitamin E oil or vasoline over the gums before bedtime to help them from drying out.
Hopefully you can find some relief from this condition! If you need more tips or tricks, don’t be afraid to ask your lovely hygienist or dentist at your next appointment!
12/3/2017 3:00:51 PM
Andra Mahoney, BS RDH
Are you a grinder? You may be, and not even know it!
Do you ever wake up in the morning with sore teeth and jaws? You could be grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding is usually done unconsciously in your sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake. It is common to find people that clench or grind their teeth occasionally throughout their lives. However, chronic clenching and grinding can cause long term damage and problems with your teeth and mouth in general.
Why do people grind their teeth?
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth (malocclusion/malalignment). It can also be caused by a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea.
How can you tell if you grind?
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. Here are some common signs that you may be a grinder:
- Wake up with Headache/Sore Jaw or teeth
- Significant Other hears you grind in your sleep
- You notice flattening of your teeth
- Broken teeth/fillings
- Increase in teeth sensitiviy
A dental professional, like your Dentist or Dental Hygienist, will be able to tell the last three, as well. If they haven’t mentioned it to you already, feel free to ask if this is something that may effect you.
Why is it harmful to grind?
Most people clench or grind at night. When you are asleep, so is the function that regulates the jaw’s power. In the day time, your brain puts limitations on how hard you can bite or clench. When you are asleep, so is this part of your brain. That means you are biting way harder than you are able to while you are awake. Those that clench or grind while they are awake, are usually doing it subconsciously. Usually when they are extremely focused or concentrating on something else.
The biggest concern with clenching or grinding is the wear on your teeth. Once you have worn through the enamel, the hard outer structure of your tooth, the wear will increase! The dentin, the inner structure of your tooth, is not as strong as enamel and will wear a lot faster. This will result in wearing your teeth down to stumps. If the wear gets to this point, and no preventative treatment has happened, it can be a very long and expensive problem to fix. Your Dentist can talk to you about crowns and other treatment to restore the height and function of your teeth.
Another concern would be breaking teeth or fracturing your natural teeth or restorations, such as fillings, and crowns. We want to prevent fracturing so that the tooth does not break in a non-restorable way.
As we get older, we will wear on our jaw joint (temporomandibular joint, TMJ), that is a natural process. However, when we are constantly and continually clenching or grinding, that will accelerate the wear. The faster the wear, the increase of problems that can occur: jaw pain, clicking, popping, jaw deviation, or locking open/closed.
What can you do about it?
If you are having these symptoms and concerns, schedule an appointment to visit your Dentist. They can confirm if this is the case. If so there are options.
If you are clenching or grinding your teeth due to malalignment, the Doctor may recommend Invisalign or traditional orthodontics. Putting the teeth in their proper spot will help the jaw align properly as well. It will also prevent fractures or breaks since the teeth will be biting on even surface instead of placing constant and uneven force on the teeth.
A mouthguard, also know as night guard, is a great help. A nightguard is a thick, hard material that does not allow your jaw to clench all the way together. This will prevent advanced wear of your TMJ. Also, clenching or grinding will occur on the guard, instead of your teeth, thus saving your natural and restored tooth structure.
11/26/2017 3:01:19 PM
Maria Ambra, RDH
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screening
As health care providers, during a patient’s initial dental visit, we ask if they would like to have an oral cancer screening in addition to their dental evaluation. Unfortunately, a vast majority of the time, the patient’s answer will be “no” or “I don’t have cancer and never have” or “I’m too young and I don’t smoke, therefore, I don’t need one today”. As Registered Dental Hygienists in today’s ever changing health care demands, how can we approach such an important discussion and answer these types of questions?
In the early stages of most forms of oral cancer, the cancer can’t be detected only visually and may not manifest as painful or cause any discomfort. It is possible for perfectly healthy patients of any age to have pre-cancer or oral cancer and be asymptomatic. Oral cancer is considered an epidemic disease in which over the past 6 years, research shows that this epidemic disease is not caused primarily by traditional risk factors any longer such as smoking, drinking or chewing tobacco.
Unfortunately, 40% of our young population (nonsmokers), especially among high school athletes, makes for the majority of new cases of cancer in the oral cavity and pharynx and more that 50% are detected in late age causing death.
In the population of patients over 40, as age increases, the likely hood of disease tends to develop due to the fact that their immune system becomes less efficient and also an excessive amount of unprotected exposure to the sun can increase lip cancer (the most common undetected oral cancer that is often mistaken for chapped lips). People, who live in areas with poor access to health care or don’t visit a dentist or doctor regularly, are considered to be increased risk for malignancies.
In younger adults under 40, a higher risk is contributed by the exposure to the HPV-16 and the HPV 18 viruses known as the human papilloma virus, leading to an increase each year of about 39,000 new cases of cancer which are found in areas of the body where HPV is found. Cervical cancer is the most common HPV associated cancer among women and oropharyngeal cancer which is often located in the back of the throat, on the base of the tongue and tonsils are the most common among men. It can be spread and contract as easy on intimate contact including kissing through saliva or skin-to-skin contact. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends conducting an oral cancer screening at least once a year for all patients age 17 and beyond. Due to the fact that the naked eye may miss even early signs of oral malignancies, we, as dental practitioner’s, must introduce to our patients the state of the art, new technologies such as IDENTAFI, ORAL-ID or VELSCOPE.
All three are revolutionary devices that use multi-spectral technology to identify early morphologic and biochemical changes of the cells in the mouth, throat and tonsil. During the examination, the patient is also educated by the providers to self- examine often at their own. Some of the early indicators are red or white discoloration of tissues or any sore that doesn’t heal within 14 days, with that, advanced indicators such as sensation of something being stuck in the throat, any numbness in the oral cavity or ear or jaw pain, a lump or thickening in their neck need to be reported immediately to professionals to be examined and evaluated forward. Early detection means early treatment and cure of 90% of cases. EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES!
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www.oralcancerfoundation.com. Edited on March 2013
Hocking, Stein A,Regan D et.al. Head and neck cancer show increasing incident of potential HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer.2011 MAR 1
http://www.cancer .org. Can oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer be found early?
11/19/2017 9:43:23 PM
Becky Larson, RDH
Dental “Myth Busters”
There are a lot of dental myths out there that are sometimes mistaken for dental truths. Here are a few facts to help clear up some of the confusion.
Myth #1: You don’t need to brush baby teeth because they will fall out eventually anyway.
Absolutely not! Baby teeth can still get cavities, which can spread to other teeth and cause pain. Some baby teeth may even fall out too soon and cause problems with bite or improper development of a child’s permanent teeth. It’s also important to establish good oral hygiene habits early on. Children’s teeth should be brushed twice daily (just like adult teeth).
Myth #2: Fluoride is poisonous and should be avoided.
Wrong! Each day the enamel layers of our teeth lose minerals (demineralization) due to the acidity of plaque and sugars in the mouth. The enamel is remineralized from food and water consumption. Too much demineralization without enough remineralization leads to tooth decay. Fluoride helps strengthen enamel, thus making it more resistant to acidic demineralization. Fluoride can sometimes reverse early tooth decay. According to the American Dental Association, community water fluoridation is the single more effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. Many dental offices also offer in office fluoride treatments that can help both children and adults.
Myth #3: You lose one tooth each time you have a child.
Now that’s just silly. Some women think that when they are pregnant the baby leeches a lot of their calcium supply. That may be, but it doesn’t mean she will lose any teeth. However, pregnant women are prone to cavities or having other dental problems. This is due to morning sickness and vomiting, dry mouth, and a desire/craving for more sugary or starchy foods. Pregnant women in these circumstances should be sure to continue their regular dental check-ups and try to maintain pristine oral home care.
Myth #4: If your gums are bleeding you should avoid brushing your teeth and flossing.
I can’t even begin to stress how wrong this one is! If your gums are bleeding it means there is active inflammation and infection present. That means you need to improve on oral hygiene by brushing more frequently or more effectively. Bleeding gums is a sign of periodontal disease. If caught early (in the gingivitis stage) it can be reversed. Brushing should be done twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Flossing should be done at least once daily.
Myth #5: Placing a tablet of aspirin beside an aching tooth can ease the pain.
Wrong again. In order to ease the pain caused by a toothache, aspirin must be fully swallowed. Placing aspirin on gum tissue for long periods of time can actually damage the tissue and possibly cause an abscess.
Myth #6: You don’t need to see the dentist if there is no visible problem with your teeth.
Unfortunately not all dental problems will be visible or obvious. You should continue to visit the dentist for regular check-ups at least twice per year, in conjunction with your cleanings. Dental radiographs or other instruments can detect cavities or other problems that might not be causing any symptoms yet. It’s best to catch things early to minimize the treatment needed.
Myth #7: After a tooth has been treated for decay it will not decay again.
There are no guarantees in dentistry! While the dentist will do their best to restore teeth to last for as long as possible, there is no way of knowing when or if a tooth will get recurrent decay. Proper oral home care can prolong the life of dental restorations.
Don’t always believe what you hear! If you have questions or concerns about your dental health be sure to ask your dentist, hygienist, or other dental professional.
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11/7/2017 4:53:25 AM
Lora Cook, RDH
Six Sign You Need to See a Dentist
Life is so busy, between work, family, and social functions it is hard to fit everything in. Especially that annoying sixth month check up and cleaning. For some people who have had problems with their bone and gum tissue around the teeth more frequent cleanings are needed. However with all that we have to juggle these days regular check ups are sometimes put off too long. When nothing hurts it is all too easy to put a dental check up on the back burner for ‘when we have time’. Lets all face it, we will never feel like we have more time and delaying dental care and especially routine cleanings and check ups will only make the problem worse. Sometimes a problem that we never knew we had silently brewing. Here are five signs that indicate you need to see your dentist.
Inflamed Gums: If you notice that your gum tissue bleeds easily, is red, tender and sore. Make an appointment! These may be signs of gingivitis or possibly gum disease. Brushing harder or more frequently will not take care of this problem. You may have build up that cannot be removed by your toothbrush or floss at home. Left untreated this may lead to tooth loss.
White Spots on Teeth: The white spots on the enamel are the first signs of tooth decay. Decay or a cavity is the break down of the enamel caused by bacteria that weakens the enamel then erodes it away.
Temperature Sensitivity: This can be caused by different possibilities. A cavity can cause sensitivity to hot or cold. Also root sensitivity; this is when the gum tissue recedes down the root of the tooth exposing the root surface that should normally be covered by your gum tissue. Delaying an exam and treatment will only lead to more extensive problems if you are experiencing temperature sensitivity.
Color Changes in Your Mouth: If you have noticed any color changes to the tissue in your mouth see your dentist right away. Always do a little visual inspection after you brush your teeth. Look at your palate. Inside your cheeks, on top and underneath your tongue. Also the back of your throat. Any color changes, lumps or bumps in the tissue should be looked at by your dentist right away.
Headaches: If you are experiencing frequent headaches especially when you first wake up this may be a sign that you are clenching or grinding your teeth. This will cause irreversible damage to your teeth. Your dentist might recommend a custom night guard, this can alleviate your headaches and take that stress off of your jaw joint at night while your sleep.
Chronic Bad Breath: May be a sign of gingivitis or periodontitis. The sooner either of these can be diagnosed and treated the healthier your mouth will be and the less likely that this will lead to tooth loss.
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10/29/2017 7:50:56 PM
Amanda Orvis, RDH
FREQUENTLY ASKED FLOSSING QUESTIONS
WHY SHOULD WE FLOSS?
It takes around 24 hours for plaque to form in our mouths, brushing twice daily and flossing once daily disrupts this plaque buildup. Floss goes between our teeth to reach those areas that are not effectively cleaned with our toothbrushes. Floss also goes below the gumline to break up those pesky bacteria that cause gum disease. Without flossing we are only cleaning about 60% of our tooth structure, the other 40% is between our teeth where our toothbrush bristles cannot get to.
HOW TO FLOSS
• Pull about 18 to 24 inches of floss from your floss dispenser, or as I always say, “pull an arm’s length of floss out.”
• Wrap the floss around your middle fingers, and use your thumb and/or index fingers to guide your floss.
• Hold about an inch of floss at a time. Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap the floss in a C-shape around one tooth at a time. Floss up and down against the side of each tooth. Hold the floss tautly to maintain the proper form. As you move to another tooth rotate the floss on your fingers so that you are using a new fresh inch of floss between each tooth.
• Don’t skip the back side of the last tooth in your mouth. Even though there is not another tooth touching the back side of that last tooth, there is still a pocket of tissue that can hide bacteria.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO FLOSS?
The average adult has 28 teeth in their mouth and each tooth takes about 4 seconds to floss. So keeping that in mind it should take at least 2 minutes to floss the entire mouth.
CAN FLOSS BE HARMFUL?
Flossing incorrectly can be harmful to your oral health. If you floss too vigorously or too quickly you can actually slice into your gum tissue. Try to make the C-shape as mentioned above and hug the side of each individual tooth when flossing.
CAN I FLOSS A FILLING OR CROWN?
Yes, you can floss around fillings and crowns. Both of these restorations are considered permanent in your mouth. They require flossing just like our natural teeth, to disrupt the plaque that can accumulate around them.
WHY AM I BLEEDING WHEN I FLOSS?
If you are flossing too aggressively or incorrectly you can cause bleeding. Most often bleeding is a sign of gum tissue inflammation, also known as gingivitis. Flossing correctly and flossing more often can help to decrease the amount of bleeding. In some occasions bleeding can be a sign of periodontitis, which is a form of gum disease that cannot be resolved without treatment from your dentist or dental hygienist.
DOES A WATERPIK TAKE THE PLACE OF FLOSS?
No, flossing gets below the gumline where a Waterpik cannot. Waterpiks are great adjunctive instruments in addition to flossing, to remove large pieces of debris as well as irrigate above the gumline.
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10/23/2017 3:13:09 AM
Lacee Hogle RDH
How can medications effect my mouth in a negative way? Medications are a necessity in many people’s lives. Unfortunately almost all medications have side effects and one of the most common side effects is dry mouth. Even though dry mouth, or xerostomia (zeer-o-stoe-me-uh), makes it uncomfortable to talk and eat, more importantly it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is the number one protector in the mouth. Not only does it coat and lubricate the tissue in the mouth, it also neutralizes acids produced by bacteria and washes away food debris and plaque. It’s obvious that you can’t discontinue taking medications because it causes dry mouth, but you can start making a few changes in your life that will not only help you cope with dry mouth but will also help you create a healthier environment in your mouth.
Here are some things you can do to help relieve dryness and to keep your mouth healthy:
• Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate the flow of saliva. Look for products that contain xylitol, which is a sugar substitute that can help prevent cavities.
• Limit your caffeine intake because caffeine can make your mouth drier.
• Don’t use mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they can be drying.
• Stop all tobacco use if you smoke or chew tobacco.
• Sip water throughout the day.
• Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes
• Try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth — especially one that contains xylitol, such as Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Mouthwash, which also offer protection against tooth decay.
• Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants because they can make your symptoms worse.
• Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
• Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier.
• Avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks because they increase your risk of tooth decay.
• Brush with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least twice a day— ask your dentist if you might benefit from prescription fluoride toothpaste.
• Use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel before bedtime. Occasionally a custom-fit fluoride applicator (made by your dentist) can make this more effective.
• Visit your dentist at least twice yearly to detect and treat tooth decay or other dental problems.
So don’t get discouraged if you have dry mouth. As you can see, there are many things that will help you cope with dry mouth. But remember, the key to preventing decay, especially with dry mouth, is to brush and floss daily and to expose your teeth to fluoride at least twice a day. Using a Fluoride rinse in addition to fluoridated toothpaste is ideal. If you have any concerns or questions regarding dry mouth, make sure to discuss these concerns with your dentist or hygienist.
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10/9/2017 5:27:06 PM
Morgan Johnson, RDH
What is Gum Disease?
You may have heard your Dental Hygienist talk about gum disease at one of your appointments, and been left feeling a bit confused! Hopefully we will answer any questions you may have about it. The first thing to understand is that there are two different kinds of gum disease, also called periodontal disease; one is called “gingivitis” and the other “periodontitis.” We will discuss what causes gum disease, the difference between the two types, and how to treat it!
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. The gums can appear red and swollen, and will most likely bleed when brushed or flossed. This is most likely caused by poor oral hygiene habits (not brushing and flossing regularly). But, it could also be caused by other factors such as smoking, aging, genetic predisposition, systemic diseases and conditions, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection, and certain medication use.
Luckily, this stage is reversible. By brushing for two minutes morning and night, flossing at least once a day, and making sure you are visiting your dental hygienist regularly, this disease can be reversed!
Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum disease, and occurs when gingivitis has gone untreated. The plaque eventually spreads below the gum line and irritates the gum tissues. When the bacteria eat away at our gums, deep pockets are formed. The body’s inflammatory response becomes stimulated, which in turn destroys the supporting bone and tissues, which hold our teeth. Without that underlying support system, our teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.
How is gum disease treated?
There are many different treatment options, depending on what stage of gum disease is present. A preventive cleaning, or Prophylaxis, is performed to remove the plaque and tartar build up on a healthy mouth, in order to prevent gum disease. A deep cleaning, or Scaling and Root Planing, is performed on a mouth that has active gum disease. This includes removing plaque and tartar buildup above and deep below the gum line. In addition, we will irrigate the pockets (the space in between your teeth and your gums) with a prescription strength mouth rinse that will help kill bacteria deep in those pockets. If a more extensive treatment is needed, we will often refer you to a Periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease.
Hopefully this has been helpful in answering any questions you had about gum disease, and as always, ask us if you have any further questions! We would love to answer them.
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9/25/2017 2:44:46 PM
Patti Peters-Sittner, RDH
“Turn your head right a little.” “Now turn a little to the left.” “Can you bring your chin down some?” “Now I need you to bring your chin up.”
Have you ever wondered why during a dental visit you find yourself maneuvering your head and neck around so much? It’s all because of ergonomics.
What is ergonomics?
According to Merriam-Webster, “ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”.
You are probably wondering, why do I need to know this when I go to the dentist? Poor ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
What is a musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs)?
Contemporary Clinical Dentistry states musculoskeletal disorders are disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal discs which can also be work-related. Examples of MSDs from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries (affects the shoulder), epicondylitis (affects the elbow), trigger finger; and muscle strains and low back injuries which are very common in the dental profession.
How do work-related musculoskeletal disorders occur?
The International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry states work-related musculoskeletal disorders occur in jobs that “require repetitive, forceful or prolonged exertions of the hands; frequent or heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, or carrying of heavy objects and prolonged awkward postures”. Now you might putting two and two together on how this relates to your favorite dentist, hygienist, dental assistant or front office staff at Alameda Dental Care. When your clinician is asking you to turn your head in a different direction, it helps us with proper ergonomics in order to avoid awkward positions and potential work-related MSDs. Musculoskeletal disorders don’t just affect dental professionals, OSHA lists professions in industries such as construction, food processing, firefighting, office jobs, healthcare, transportation, and warehousing all as professions with higher-risk for MSDs. Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says work-related MSDS are the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time?
What can I do to improve my ergonomics and prevent potential musculoskeletal disorders?
The answer is simple: clean between your teeth daily with floss and brush at least twice a day for two minutes with an electric toothbrush! Okay, so that’s not the real answer but it would be great if you started or continued those healthy habits to maintain a healthier mouth which leads to a heathier you. Here are a few tips from Safety & Health magazine to help avoid ergonomic issues and keep your body working smoothly:
1) Ensure your chair is adjusted properly (whether it is work or home), feet should be touching the ground and make sure there is lower back support as well as arm support
2) Keep items you use regularly close by to avoid stretching unnecessarily
3) Position your wrist so that it is straight when typing on a computer
4) Avoid cradling your phone between your neck and shoulder, use a headset or speaker-phone instead
5) Pay attention to posture and like your momma said “don’t slouch and stand up straight”
9/17/2017 3:00:25 PM
Sharma Mulqueen RDH
Oh goodness, what do I do with my knocked-out tooth?
A knocked-out tooth can be a surprise, but it can be more than that if you don’t take action quickly. A broken or chipped tooth can also constitute a dental emergency, but a knocked-out tooth demands an immediate appointment. The importance of caring for your tooth, handling your tooth after it’s been knocked out and cleaning it is very important to return it to its original position.
Handling the Tooth with Care
After you have noticed that one of your teeth has been knocked out of your mouth, the first step is to handle it with care. If you want your dentist to be able to salvage your natural tooth and quickly repair your oral health, you’ll need to handle the knocked-out tooth correctly. Make sure you don’t touch its root and instead handle it by its crown. If you touch the root, you might damage the tooth and minimize your chances of having it placed back in its socket.
Cleaning and Repositioning
If your tooth has been knocked into dirt, mud, covered in blood or the ground in general, it’s a good idea to clean it while you wait to see your emergency dentist. Start by rinsing your dislodged tooth with water. Remember hold it by the crown and avoid using soap to clean your tooth, and don’t dry it off when you’re done cleaning it either. If you replace your tooth quickly, you might be able to salvage it by inserting it into its original socket. Although, inserting it is not always successful, it is recommended to try and place it. If this is not possible, you’ll have to store it safely.
Storing and Visiting the Dentist
When you find yourself in need of emergency dental care but you cannot immediately see your dentist, you should store your tooth in milk or inside your mouth. Call one of our Signature Dental offices to get scheduled with the Dentist as soon as you can to maintain your oral health.