Night Grinding

How To Prevent Teeth Grinding At Night

Do you wake up with a sore jaw some days? If you do, you may be like a lot of people who suffer from regular jaw clenching or teeth grinding while you sleep. The condition is known as bruxism, and although it’s not the easiest condition to treat, your dentist can likely help you find a solution to your night grinding.

Research shows that bruxism has its origins in the central nervous system, as neural responses cause you to tighten your jaw or clench your teeth while you’re fast asleep. The reason the condition develops is different for each person, but in most cases diet, stress, lifestyle choices and family history are determined to be an underlying cause of bruxism.

Signs of Teeth Grinding at Night

If you’re dealing with one or more of these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you grind your teeth at night:

  • Grinding or clenching your jaw loud enough to wake your partner.
  • Flattened, chipped or loose teeth.
  • Worn down tooth enamel.
  • Increased tooth sensitivity.
  • Jaw soreness or facial pain in the morning.
  • Headaches or ear pain upon waking.
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles.
  • Clicking or popping of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) when chewing or talking.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to your dentist. Unaddressed teeth grinding can lead to tooth problems and TMJ issues, all of which can be both painful and costly. The sooner you treat the problem, the quicker you can put this issue behind you.

Treating Teeth Grinding at Night

There are a number of different ways to treat the condition, and it helps to try and pinpoint what might be causing your issues. Here’s a look at some treatments based on the underlying cause.

  • Stress – If stress is contributing to teeth grinding, try to limit stressful activities at the end of the day, or find ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
  • Medication – Medication can also contribute to restfulness and teeth grinding at night. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication regimen.
  • Alcohol and Smoking – Certain lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking alcohol can lead to an increased likelihood of bruxism. Limit your tobacco and alcohol intake within a couple of hours before bed.
  • Family History – If genetics seem to play a role in teeth grinding, your dentist may recommend a night mouthguard to limit damage from grinding. This is also an option for other underlying causes of bruxism.

Other ways to try and limit teeth grinding at night is to cut back on caffeine, avoid chewing on objects like pens or fingernails during the day, and avoid chewing gum if you grind your teeth because that can make TMJ pain worse. For more tips on how to prevent and treat teeth grinding, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Aging Teeth

Caring For Your Teeth Through The Years

A good dental hygiene plan starts when we’re young and should continue when we’re old and gray. But what are the best ways to care for your teeth throughout the years? We share some tips for a lifelong dental care routine in today’s blog.

Caring For Your Teeth Starts Young

Creating a good dental plan begins with parents helping the child learn how to care for their teeth. For children under the age of three, get them a small toothbrush and help them brush their teeth in the morning and at night. You don’t need much toothpaste on the brush – only a dab the size of a grain of rice should suffice. For children between the ages of three and six, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride, as that will help to protect their teeth. For best results, choose a toothpaste that has the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval.

When your child gets their permanent teeth, talk to their dentist about dental sealant. Sealants are an invisible plastic material that are applied to the back teeth where decay most often occurs. This helps to delay teeth breakdown and helps keep them strong. Children should also begin flossing once a day in addition to brushing at least twice a day.

If your child needs dental work, ask the dentist about ways to keep them calm during the procedure, as the first couple times in the dental chair can be intimidating. Some parents find it helpful to schedule the appointment for a time after their child has taken their nap so they aren’t fussy. It’s also helpful to ensure your child isn’t hungry, as that can make them grouchy.

Mouth Health As Your Get Older

Once your child gets in a routine, they can take control of their daily dental duties. Make sure they get regular dental health screenings and cleanings every six months so any potential problems can be caught when they are small.

Caring for your teeth remains extremely important when you get older. However, it’s not just your teeth that are prone to changes. Many patients notice that their jaw feels sensitive or painful, and while this isn’t all that uncommon, it shouldn’t be ignored. A lot of patients can find jaw pain relief through conservative care methods, like physical therapy, stretching exercises and anti-inflammatory medications.

Finally, while it’s important to keep an eye on old fillings and crowns, you don’t need to have them replaced just because they are old. These fillings can last for years or even decades, so don’t just have them replaced, unless they crack or come loose. Your dentist can keep an eye on previous work and use dental X-rays to ensure everything remains as it should. Ask your dentist for more information on how to spot the signs of worn or broken dental work.

For more information on caring for your teeth throughout the years, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Teething Child Health

Teething & Your Child’s Teeth

All 20 of your child’s primary teeth are present at birth below the gumline, and they start to make an appearance in their mouth around the age of six months. It can be an exciting time when your child’s teeth begin to come in, but it also presents parents with new challenges. Below, we explain what you can expect during the teething stage, and how to protect your child’s teeth as they grow.

Teething Basics

As we noted above, teething usually begins around six months of age, but other children may not get their first tooth until they are closer to the age of one. By three years of age, most children have their full set of baby teeth in place.

It’s not very difficult to notice when your child is teething, because it can cause them some general discomfort in their mouth. Infants make this discomfort known by crying, fussing, becoming more irritable and drooling more than usual. You may also notice that your child wants to put more objects in their mouth, like their hands or a teething ring. However, if you notice symptoms like a fever or diarrhea, bring your child into a medical facility.

Teething rings are perfectly safe for your child, so long as you keep some tips in mind. First, make sure they are made of safe materials or have a seal of approval from a licensed medical or safety commission. Stick to rings made of plastic or rubber, and avoid anything that has metal or liquid that could be punctured by a sharp tooth.

Medicated Gels or Tablets For Teething Pain

Some parents want to calm irritated babies and help them find some comfort by looking into medication options during the teething stages. However, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that parents do not use products containing benzocaine on children under the age of two, stating:

“We are also warning that benzocaine oral drug products should only be used in adults and children two years and older if they contain certain warnings on the label. These products carry serious risks and provide little to no benefits for treating oral pain, including sore gums in infants due to teething.”

Parents should also avoid homeopathic teething tablets, as an FDA report found they can oftentimes underreport the amount of toxic substances found on the tablet.

No parent wants to see their child in discomfort, but teething is a natural part of growing up, and it is more discomfort than true pain – your baby just has a difficult time deciphering between the two and expressing their feelings. Work to sooth your child in other ways than medication, and invest in FDA approved teething rings to help give them something to focus their attention on. Keep an eye on how their teeth are coming in, and remember that thumbsucking and pacifier use are still completely normal during this time. If you notice anything strange or just want answers to your questions about your child’s new teeth, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Chronic Jaw Pain

Chronic Jaw Pain Treatment Options

Jaw pain is an issue that affects millions of Americans on a daily basis. Sometimes it is the result of a previous trauma to the gum, while other times it is brought on by the development of oral or other health conditions. Sometimes jaw pain can be treated by your dentist, while other causes are best handled by your family physician. Below, we take a closer look at why your jaw hurts and how to best treat jaw pain.

Causes and Symptoms of Jaw Pain

As we alluded to above, jaw pain can be the result of damage from acute trauma, but there are plenty of other not so obvious causes of jaw pain. Some conditions that can lead to jaw pain include:

  • Toothaches
  • Infections
  • Tooth Grinding
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Degeneration or Damage to the Temporomandibular Joint
  • Sinus Problems
  • Arthritis

Symptoms of the jaw pain vary slightly based on the underlying cause of the condition, but in addition to pain, many individuals complain of tenderness of the jaw, headaches, swelling, and pain in the ear or while biting and chewing food.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Jaw Pain

If you are dealing with chronic jaw pain, bring it up to your dentist or family physician at your next appointment. Most people just assume it’s an issue for your doctor, but as you can see by the above list, many jaw pain issues are housed in the mouth, and your dentist can be a great resource. Wherever you go, your specialist will likely begin by asking about your symptoms, taking a look at your jaw and mouth, and then confirming their suspicions with help of an imaging test like an X-ray.

Your dentist will then formulate a treatment plan based on what they saw on the X-ray. Treatment techniques are developed on an individual basis, so what works for one person may not work for someone else, but some common treatment options include muscle relaxants, physical therapy exercises, mouth protectors, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, root canal, tooth extraction or periodontal treatment. Your dentist can go into greater detail on each treatment based on what is best suited to your situation.

Minnesota Dentist

As you can see, since many of the causes of jaw pain are caused by teeth or mouth issues, it is imperative to practice good oral health. The more proactive you are at caring for your teeth and gums, the more likely you are to avoid jaw problems. For more tips on how to best care for your oral health, or to talk to Dr. Brooks about your jaw pain, reach out to his clinic today.

Osteoporosis and Your Teeth

Osteoporosis & Your Teeth

Osteoporosis is a health condition that affects the strength of your bones, and it’s a somewhat common condition as we get into our wonder years. Most doctors warn against falls or athletic injuries which can lead to broken bones, but oftentimes they gloss over the fact that osteoporosis can have a significant impact on your oral health. Below, we take a closer look at osteoporosis and its impact on your oral health.

Medication Management

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, odds are your physician has prescribed you with some medications to improve your bone density. However, these medications can impact your dental health. For example, antiresorptive agents have been linked to an increased risk of a rare but serious condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw, which can lead to death of the healthy bone cells in the jaw.

Osteonecrosis can occur spontaneously, but it is more common after certain dental procedures, like a root canal or having a tooth pulled. If you are taking antiresorptive medications as part of your osteoporosis treatment, be sure to let your dentist know. They will take this information into account and develop a care plan to reduce your risk of any osteoporosis-related complications.

As we mentioned above, osteonecrosis of the jaw is very rare, and it’s actually more common in patients with cancer who are receiving antiresorptive agents as injections for part of their treatment than individuals taking it to combat osteoporosis, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you’re starting an antiresorptive medication, let your dentist know in advance of your next visit, regardless of whether you’re having major work done.

Continuing Treatment

So while it may seem like there is risk of dental work if you’re taking antiresorptive medications for your osteoporosis, you should still continue to get regular dental checkups. You’re much more likely to develop a dental disease that osteonecrosis, so avoiding the dentist only leaves you more susceptible to dental problems. Again, let your dentist know about any medications you’re taking, but you are more likely to have good oral health if you continue to visit the dentist even if you begin taking antiresorptive agents. However, major work should be avoided if you’re taking these medications to treat cancer.

Along a similar path, you should also let your doctor know if you are changing or discontinuing medication for osteoporosis management. At any point during medication management, you experience any of the following symptoms, you should contact your dentist or physician right away:

  • Pain, swelling or infection of the jaw or gums.
  • Injured gums that are not healing.
  • Loosening teeth.
  • Numbness or feelings of a heavy jaw.
  • Exposed bone in the mouth.

For more information about caring for your oral health if you have osteoporosis, reach out to Dr. Brooks or your local physician right away.

Teeth Grinding Symptoms

Teeth Grinding / Clenching – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Teeth grinding/clenching can be a painful and damaging habit many people aren’t even aware of because it happens during sleep.

Teeth Grinding/Clenching Causes & Symptoms

Teeth grinding can be the result of many factors, including stress, anxiety, sleeping disorders, abnormal bite patterns, or missing teeth. Grinding can occur in both adult and adolescent patients. With pediatric patients, teeth grinding can also be caused by allergies, misaligned teeth, and irritation in the mouth. However, since a child’s jaw and teeth change so rapidly as they grow, teeth grinding is typically not an issue that needs to be addressed until adulthood.

Common symptoms that may indicate teeth grinding:

  • Waking up with a sore jaw or headache
  • Painful or loose teeth
  • Fractured or chipped teeth

Preventing & Treating Teeth Grinding/Clenching

When it comes to preventing and treating teeth grinding, you have several options. Wearing a mouthguard while you sleep is one of the most direct treatment options. Your dentist can fit you with a mouthguard that will protect your teeth from the harmful effects of grinding while you sleep. While mouthguards are great for preventing the symptoms of grinding, they often do not address the root cause of the teeth grinding. If stress is causing your grinding, your dentist may recommend a muscle relaxant before bedtime. Exercises, meditation, and counseling can also significantly reduce stress and help prevent teeth grinding.

Minnesota Dental Clinic

Are you experiencing a dental health issue? Smiles for Life has you covered! Dr. Tim Brooks makes it a point to provide compassionate, individualized care to every patient that makes an appointment. No matter how big or small your dental issue is, we will offer you top-notch care at Smiles for Life. Our primary clinic is located in Bloomington, but we serve patients throughout the Twin Cities metro and surrounding areas. Give us a call today to set up your appointment!

Dental Appointment

4 Reasons to Make an Appointment with Your Dentist

For many patients, it can be difficult to determine when it’s important to make a dental appointment. In this article, we are going to talk about several reasons why you should make an appointment with your dentist.

Jaw Pain

If you have pain in your jaw when opening and closing, or if your jaw makes a popping sound, it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist. Jaw pain can indicate a variety of potential conditions, including gum disease, toothaches, arthritis, or issues with the jaw joint.

Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth can make even the most mundane act of eating or drinking painful. Don’t “just deal with” your tooth sensitivity and pain. Make an appointment with your dentist and get to the bottom of your tooth sensitivity so you can determine how to best treat it.

Eating Difficulties

If pain or a functional issue is making it difficult to eat, set up a dental appointment to determine the root cause.

You Haven’t Been in a While

Remember, most people should visit the dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. If you’re past due for a regular appointment, contact your dentist and get something on the calendar.

Twin Cities Dentists

For years, Dr. Tim Brooks has been providing cosmetic and family dental care to patients throughout the Twin Cities area. Dr. Brooks and the rest of the team at Smiles for Life are well equipped to tackle your dental health needs – whatever they may be. Reach out to us today to set up your appointment at one of our Smiles for Life dental clinic – located in Bloomington. Whether you need a dental implant or just a routine cleaning, we’ve got the skills and expertise needed to keep your smile shining bright!

Sensitive Teeth

3 Potential Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Having sensitive teeth can make everyday activities like eating or brushing your teeth painful. Before you begin to investigate treatment options for your sensitive teeth, it’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing the sensitivity in the first place. In this article, we are going to talk about a few potential things that could be causing your tooth sensitivity.

Tooth Decay

Tooth sensitivity is often a warning sign of a cavity caused by tooth decay. Old, worn-out fillings can also cause sensitivity. In either case, the best way to reduce the sensitivity is to get the cavities filled – or the worn out fillings replaced.

Chips and Fractures in the Teeth

Chipped and fractured teeth can also cause sensitivity. Depending on the severity of the chip or fracture, treatment options may include dental veneers, crowns, or implants.

Exposed Root

An exposed tooth root can cause severe tooth sensitivity and pain. Typically the best way to treat exposed roots is with a root canal procedure.

Bloomington Tooth Sensitivity Dentist

Thankfully, there are options for treating your sensitive teeth. Again, it’s highly dependent on the cause of the sensitivity. If your teeth are sensitive because of a cavity, it will need to be filled – a special toothpaste will only delay the inevitable. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a dental health specialist for your tooth sensitivity. Dr. Tim Brooks and the rest of the team at Smiles for Life Dental Clinics offer family and cosmetic dentistry services to patients throughout Minnesota. If you’re suffering from tooth pain, or you just need to schedule a regular cleaning, look no further than Smiles for Life. Dr. Brooks is a skilled and experienced dentist who can effectively address all of your dental health needs. Contact us today to set up your appointment at our Bloomington dental clinic and brighten up your smile!

4 Possible Causes of Your Tooth Pain

Tooth pain can be caused by a variety of different things. It’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing our tooth pain before you work towards treating the pain itself. In this article, we are going to talk about a few of the potential culprits of your tooth pain.

Tooth Decay & Cavities

The most common cause of tooth pain is tooth decay and cavities. Tooth decay occurs when the enamel surrounding your teeth breaks down due to plaque buildup. Pain from tooth decay can be intensified by consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is another potential cause of tooth pain. Inflammation of the gums can cause severe pain in the teeth and mouth.

Acute Injury

Tooth pain an also be caused by acute injury to the mouth. Some examples include – car accident injuries involving the face, sports-related injuries to the mouth, and more. Tooth pain from acute injury is often immediately apparent, and often needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Repetitive Motions

Repetitive motions like grinding your teeth or chewing gum can lead to tooth pain. Your dentist can examine your teeth for signs of night grinding and recommend options to prevent grinding in the future.

Bloomington Dental Office

The best strategy for preventing the above causes of tooth pain is to brush and floss daily, and make sure you are visiting your dentist for regular checkups. Dr. Tim Brooks and the team at Smiles for Life work with each and every patient to provide unparalleled dental care. With decades of experience treating Minnesota patients, Dr. Brooks has the skills and expertise needed to address your oral health issues. Whether you need a routine checkup, or a root canal, we’ve got you covered! Contact us today at Smiles for Life to set up an appointment at our Bloomington clinic location.