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What is Cheek-Biting?

I keep biting my cheek. What can I do to stop this?  What causes it?

  1. It could be a simple accident.
  2. It could be a symptom of a temporomandibular disorder (TMJD). When your teeth or implants become cheek biting - paid - shutterstock 538724242misaligned in your mouth, it may cause you to bit your cheek regularly.
  3. It could be an expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).In this case, it is viewed as a "body-focused repetitive behavior."

Don't ignore the symptoms. 

 

The area where you bite your cheek can become thick, scarred, and pale. It might become inflamed and develop purple spots. Repeated cheek biting can cause tissues to erode. Finally, many chronic cheek biters develop emotional effects ranging from wanting to be isolated from others who might see the biting. It can also cause low self-esteem in some people. 

 

Who can help me?

 

Your dentist is likely the person who can best help you to identify the cause of the biting and offer some treatments. Your dentist will be able to determine if the biting occurs as a simple accident or if you have temporomandibular disorder. In these cases, your dentist may prescribe a custom mouthguard to protect fragile cheek tissues.

 

If it becomes clear to your dentist that your cheek-biting is a body-focused repetitive behavior, you will probably be referred to your primary care physician or a counselor.

 

If you or someone you love is cheek-biting, give us a call. 

 
Why is dental care and oral health so important for senior adults?

Good oral health is vital for senior adults. Poor oral health can contribute to the development and progress of a number of health problems and conditions. Dental hygiene is critical to maintaining good oral health. The most common health problems that affect senior adults and are believed to be connected with oral health.

  1. Diabetes. High levels of blood sugar due to #diabetes can cause gum infections. When the gum disease progresses into periodontitis, it interferes with the person’s ability to use insulin. older woman dental care Sm
  2. Pneumonia. Poor oral health is connected with #pneumonia because it is often caused by breathing in bacteria from your mouth into your lungs. These lung infections are more common in older adults. In some cases, difficulties in performing the tasks of dental hygiene, which is challenging for many older adults, is an important factor in developing pneumonia. This can be especially difficult for those residing in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Many of these facilities are unable to assist residents because they lack the training and the time.
  3. Heart Disease. The American Academy of Periodontology has estimated that older adults with periodontal disease are twice as likely to have coronary artery disease. The connection is primarily between gum disease and #heartdisease.
  4. Gum Disease. Allowing food and plaque to remain on your teeth causes gum disease, as does use of tobacco, poor diet, and poorly fitting dentures or bridges. #Gumdisease, in turn, contributes to anemia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and pneumonia. It frequently causes tooth loss, as well.
  5. Root Decay. When the root of your tooth becomes exposed to acids from your food and beverages decay can occur in the root. The #root is not protected by enamel, and so is particularly vulnerable to decay. When the gums recede from the tooth root more and more of the tooth and the tooth root are exposed.
  6. Jawbone Changes. When you lose teeth and you do not replace them with a bridge or denture, the surrounding teeth often “drift” into the open spaces created when the tooth was lost. In time, your #jawbone becomes irregular or uneven. Gradually, the teeth will be visibly irregular. This will also affect your bite, and may cause jaw pain.
  7. Tooth Discoloration. Two factors contribute to tooth #discoloration as we age. First, color of the dentin (the layer of tooth just below the enamel) may change due to staining by the foods and beverages you consume. In addition, the enamel layer begins to thin, which allows the yellow of the dentin to show through the enamel. The result is that the teeth will be darkened.
  8. Stomatitis due to denture fit. This kind of# inflammation of the gums beneath your #denture is typically caused by poor dental hygiene, rubbing of an ill-fitting denture, or a buildup of Candida albicans fungus. It is painful and unpleasant.
  9. Dry Mouth. Dry mouth can affect you at any age. It is never pleasant. #Drymouth may be caused by an auto-immune disease or by medications you take at your doctor’s direction. It is more common in older adults because aging often requires more medications. Because your mouth is dry due to failure to produce saliva, you do not process food and beverage acid or remove bacteria or viruses. As a result, you are subject to tooth decay, gum disease, growth of fungi in your mouth. In some cases, it can be difficult to keep dentures in place.

These challenges typically faced by older adults can usually be managed and treated. Excellent dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist will enable you to manage these effects.

 
Bruxism: What You Should Know

Bruxism (excessive teeth-grinding) is a sleep disorder that affects both adults and children. The grinding can cause headaches and jaw pain. Teeth-grinding affects mostly your bicuspids and wears down or erodes the enamel surface of your teeth. Bruxism may be characterized by grinding from side to side or front to back, or by clenching teeth (up and down).

bruxism mouth guard - paid - shutterstock 1660858612

Bruxism most commonly occurs and night (hence considering it a sleep disorder). This grinding of teeth can, however, occur during the daytime. It tends to be milder during the daytime because you are awake and, presumably, have greater control of your actions. Teeth grinding at night exerts significantly more force than teeth grinding during the day.

Affecting about 40 million Americans, bruxism can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. It also contributes to a number of health problems when not treated. It is a common causal factor in the development of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. (The temporomandibular joint connects your skull to your jaw.)

Symptoms

Bruxism is identified by a number of signs and symptoms. You may experience one symptom or several. A dentist is often the first person to note and identify these symptoms. Unless you have a good bit of pain, you may not notice the signs of wear that occur over time.

  1. Worn or chipped teeth.
  2. TMJ pain in the jaw, face, or neck.
  3. Headaches.
  4. Earaches.
  5. Sore gums and teeth.
  6. Inability to get restful sleep.

Causes

Bruxism often begins with stress teeth-grinding. This may then lead to or reveal other causes.

  1. Stress or Anxiety.
  2. Smoking cigarettes.
  3. Prescription medications and over-the-counter medications.
  4. Sleep apnea or snoring.
  5. Parkinson’s Disease.
  6. Caffeine.
  7. Drinking alcohol.

Prevention and Treatment

One way to treat or prevent bruxism is wearing a teeth-grinding night mouth guard or bite guard. These guards are available over-the-counter. The best-fitting and most effective are the guards fitted or made by a dentist.

Sometimes recent dental work can cause your teeth to be misaligned. Clenching your teeth seems to alleviate the discomfort. This problem is easily resolved with a return trip to your dentist.

 
How Long Is Your Jaw?

90% of people have crooked or crowded teeth.

75% cannot accommodate wisdom teeth because their mouths are too small.  human jaw - paid - Depositphotos 11130577 s-2019

For decades, we have been told (and scientists believed) that the reason for crooked teeth is that our teeth are too big to fit into the jaw. Dr. Peter Ungar PhD., Of the University of Arkansas, disagrees. After 30 years of study, he believes that people’s jaws are not growing long enough to accommodate normal-sized teeth. Dr. Ungar also determined that most animals and human ancestors did not have overbites.

His explanation is this: “Jaw length is tied to strain resulting from heavy chewing. Our short jaws are a product of diet change.” Our ancestor’s teeth developed as they did to manage tough (difficult to chew) foods and an abrasive environment. As our diets have shifted to a softer cleaner diet, we do not chew enough. Chewing less and chewing softer foods has caused an imbalance between jaw length and tooth size. Because of the imbalance, jaws are not developing the way they should.

Several things remain under study, including the times of greatest jaw growth before they stop growing at age 18. In addition, scientists do not know yet whether eating tough foods best supports jaw growth in ongoing longer-term chewing or with short periods of intense chewing at particular ages.

 
Tooth Pain from Cavities

We all know that some dental cavities (caries) are really painful until they are addressed. We also know that many cavities cause no pain. The difference is how deeply the decay/cavity has progressed into the center of your tooth where the pulp and nerves are located. The deeper into the tooth the cavity reaches the greater the pain tooth cavity - paid - Depositphotos 12012021 s-2019experienced in most cases.

A study conducted in 2011-2012 found that 91 percent of adults in the U.S. had cavities, yet many were not aware of it. Often, new or small cavities are not visible to you. Cavities located between teeth or below the gum level also may not be visible to you.

A very small or a new cavity will typically be small and will affect only the enamel of the tooth. These mild cavities cause tooth sensitivity (stinging or burning), sensitivity on one side of your mouth (particularly when eating hard foods), occasional toothache (that responds to pain medicine), or discoloring of your teeth (perhaps with white, yellow or brown spots).

If damage caused to the tooth by a small cavity is not treated, the cavity will grow larger and extend deeper into the core of the tooth. Sometimes the growth of the cavity causes a tooth abscess (a pocket of pus that's caused by a bacterial infection). Symptoms of large cavities often include intense pain (which may affect only one tooth), a non-specific but constant ache, swelling of your gums or your face, pain that is stinging or throbbing to burning or pounding, fever, nausea, jaw pain, ear pain, pain in your gums, or severe tooth pain that interferes with your daily activities or with sleep.

Occasionally, an abscessed tooth will stop hurting when infection kills the nerve or the pulp of your tooth. To minimize the damage from a cavity it is important to take note of these symptoms and see your dentist. Your dentist may take a digital X-Ray in order to see the size and position of the cavity before filling it.

If you are experiencing pain due to tooth decay, it’s time to schedule a dental appointment. You will want to ensure that the problem is a cavity, and not a sinus infection or TMJD. Your dentist will be able to identify the cause of your pain and help you to prevent the problem from becoming worse. The sooner a cavity is identified and treated, the less damage it can do. Severe cavities require more extensive and expensive repairs.

If you have intense pain, you may need to see an emergency dentist. If you cannot be seen by a dentist within the next 24 hours, you should visit the emergency room if your symptoms include: fever, headache, nausea or vomiting, swelling around your mouth or in your face, swelling behind your ears, pain severe enough to interfere with sleep. Left untreated, tooth decay can damage your gums or enter your bloodstream and carry the infection to other parts of your body.

To prevent cavities, avoid sugary or acidic foods and beverages, brush and floss twice daily, and see your dentist twice each year.

Pain is a warning. If you have tooth pain, don’t ignore it. Call your dentist and schedule an appointment or seek emergency help.

 
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