Cavity Free

Young Trauma Can Impact Your Oral Health

When we think about what impacts our teeth the most, we often picture the conscious decisions we make, like how often we brush our teeth, how often we go to the dentist and if we choose to use tobacco products. However, these lifestyle decisions aren’t the only factors at play when it comes to tooth health. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, childhood trauma can also be a predictor for how healthy your teeth may be down the road.

For their study, researchers wanted to take a different look at some of the factors that can influence our tooth health. There are a number of previous studies that look at the effects of health conditions like diabetes or lung disease and how they may impact our teeth, but researchers wanted to look beyond medical conditions. They wanted to look at some family history elements, including traumatic childhood events, to see if they could help predict future tooth health.

Researchers collected data through a survey and looked at developed three different models:

  • A sensitive model, that examined traumatic events during a crucial stage in development.
  • An accumulation model, which examined the effect of an accumulation of events over the course of a person’s life.
  • A social mobility model, that examined the person’s socioeconomic status throughout life.

Childhood Trauma and Tooth Health

After looking at the data and comparing the models, researchers came to some interesting conclusions. For starters, they concluded that there was a significant link between childhood trauma and abuse and eventual total tooth loss (No longer having any natural teeth in their mouth). They also stated that older adults who experienced adverse events throughout their life were more likely to have total tooth loss than individuals without such events in their past.

Although they did not dive into why the link exists, researchers believe that children who experience trauma or abuse may be more likely to turn to risky health behaviors, like tobacco use or binge drinking, which can contribute to tooth loss. They also believe there may be a link between childhood trauma and learning and achievement, which can inhibit these kids from getting a job in the future that provides dental insurance.

“It’s really sad to see that adversity breeds adversity, but it really seems that dental health is rooted in adverse experiences you encounter over the life course, particularly in childhood,” said study author Haena Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. “Future policy may benefit from considering the role of childhood adversity and beyond to reduce further oral health disparity.”

No matter your background, we want to help ensure you have a happy and healthy smile for years to come, so don’t be afraid to reach out to Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington if it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist. We accept a wide variety of insurance plans and can work out a payment schedule with you if desired. We just want to help ensure your smile is the healthiest it can be. Reach out to our clinic today for more information.

Morning hygiene

5 Signs Your Teeth Aren’t As Healthy As You Think

If your teeth aren’t hurting, you probably think they are pretty healthy. Hopefully, that is the case, but often there are some subtle signs your teeth aren’t as healthy as you think they are. Below, we share five signs and symptoms that suggest you should head to a dentist for your semi-annual checkup.

You Have Bad Breath

Bad breath isn’t all that uncommon once in a while, especially after eating certain foods, but if you have chronic bad breath, there may be an underlying mouth issue. Bad breath can be a symptom of gum disease or even sinus issues, so have a dentist take a closer look if you’re experiencing regular bouts of bad breath.

Food Is Always Getting Stuck

If food is always getting stuck in between the same teeth, it could just be the result of the way your teeth formed, but it could also be a tooth issue. Sometimes cavities can form between teeth, and these holes can catch food and cause it to get stuck. If food keeps getting stuck in the same spot after every meal, bring it up to your dentist on your next visit.

One Tooth Is Darker

Sometimes it’s easier to see dental problems rather than feel them. When a tooth starts to look darker than the surrounding teeth, you may be dealing with an underlying nerve problem. This often occurs to your front teeth as the result of trauma. If you fell and hit your mouth or took a rogue elbow during sports and have noticed one tooth appears darker than its neighbor, head to the dentist.

Overly Sensitive Teeth

Healthy teeth usually aren’t too sensitive to hot or cold foods, so if they hurt or ache when sipping coffee or indulging with a bowl of ice cream, you may have an undiagnosed issue. Sensitivity issues can be a sign of a cavity brewing beneath the surface. Head to the dentist instead of just trying to avoid hot or cold foods.

Sore Jaw In The Morning

Finally, if you wake up with a sore or tense jaw, it’s a sign you may be having teeth problems in your sleep. A sore jaw can be an indication you grind your teeth at night, which can put abnormal wear and tear on your teeth and even lead to cracked or broken teeth. Regular morning jaw soreness should be discussed with your dentist at your next dental visit.

To schedule your next visit, reach out to the team at Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington.

Lifetime Tooth Health

A Lifetime Guide To Tooth Health

Caring for your teeth is something you’ll do over the course of your entire life, and although you kind of get a practice round with your primary teeth, it’s good to understand how you should be caring for your teeth from birth to dentures. Below, we take a closer look at the many ways in which you can help to protect your teeth throughout different stages of your life.

  • Infants and Toddlers – Kids begin to sprout their first teeth around the age of six months, and their full set of primary teeth will take a few years. Kids should have their first dental visit around the age of one, and parents can help to keep their teeth protected by using a tiny amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, to brush their teeth. Kids over the age of three should be brushing using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, twice a day.
  • Kids – Kids can expect to begin losing their primary teeth between the ages of 4-7, until they are about 12. During this time, they should still be brushing twice a day and seeing the dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings. Parents should strive to instill good brushing habits during this key period in a child’s life. Make the process fun by incorporating music, dancing or by brushing your own teeth while your child brushes their teeth. Mouthguards should be worn during youth sports to protect teeth.
  • Teens – Adult teeth are usually in by the age of 13, and then wisdom teeth follow a few years later. Continue getting regular dental checkups to see how the wisdom teeth should be handled, as removal is common during this time period. Teens will be making some more diet choices on their own during this period, so try to offer tooth-friendly options and encourage water over sugary beverages when possible.
  • Adults Under 40 – Gum disease is common among adults under 40, affecting about half of the population. To prevent against this, continue good brushing habits of brushing twice a day, flossing and making smart dietary choices. Visit the dentist on a semi-annual basis, and avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits like heavy alcohol consumption or tobacco use.
  • Expecting Mothers – Hormones associated with pregnancy can put you at an increased risk for gingivitis, so good dental hygiene is very important. Continue to visit the dentist on a biannual basis, even when pregnant. Poor oral habits during pregnancy have been linked to premature birth and gestational diabetes, so do right by yourself and your baby during this time in your life.
  • Adults Over 40 – Follow a similar plan as the previous category, but make sure you are also seeing your dentist at the first sign of problems. Cavities, gum disease and cracked or chipped teeth can be more common during this period after your teeth have been used for decades, and it’s easier to stop a small problem than to treat a big one. If you’re taking medications, talk to your dentist about how these medications could affect your oral health.
  • Seniors – Dry mouth becomes more common as we get older, so consider chewing sugarless gum and drinking more water to help avoid problems associated with dry mouth. Keep getting semi-annual checkups, and reach out to your dentist if you notice changes with your teeth, sores develop, or you have sensitivity when chewing or swallowing.

For more tips, or if you have questions or concerns, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Diet Teeth

Eat Your Way To A Healthier Smile

Caring for your teeth involves more than just brushing your teeth and flossing. Our diet also plays a critical role in the overall health of our teeth, and although you can’t exactly eat your way to a healthy smile like the title suggests, there are some diet do’s and don’ts you should consider when eating. Today, we take a look at five ways to protect your smile through your food choices.

Limit Sugary Sweets

Sugar is the natural enemy of your teeth, as it can lead to enamel breakdown and cavities. Avoid sugary sweets like candies, cookies, chocolate and donuts, or at least eat them in moderation and consider drinking water while eating to help keep these sugars from hanging on your teeth longer than needed.

Balanced Diet

A healthy diet involves plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits, as these options provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are great for your whole body, as well as your teeth and gums. Calcium from dairy products also helps to keep your teeth strong. If you’re not getting enough from your diet, ask your dentist about supplements.

Limit Sticky Foods

Sticky foods take longer to be broken down by saliva, so they stay on your teeth longer, causing damage all the while. Foods like honey, molasses, raisins, gummies and syrup should be eaten sparingly and ideally with a meal, as this will help keep more of the food from sticking to your teeth.

Beware of Acidic Options

Fruits may seem like a great snack option, and while they are certainly healthier than potato chips or pretzels, some fruits are high in acidity and natural sugars. Like some of the other options listed above, they are best eaten in combination with a meal or with water to limit how much and how long fruit acid is exposed to the teeth. Same goes for fruit juices.

Beverage Choices

Our beverages of choice can oftentimes do more damage than the foods we eat, so make sure you’re making good choices when it comes to your drinking habits. Alcohol can damage your gums, coffee can stain your teeth and soda can expose your teeth to excess sugar, so drink all these beverages in moderation. When possible, sub in water for any of the above drinks, especially after athletic activity when you’re simply looking to rehydrate.

For more information on how our dietary choices can affect our dental health, or to set up your next dental appointment, reach out to Dr. Brooks at Smiles for Life Dental today.