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Is the Stress of COVID-19 Getting to you, and your Teeth?

November 22nd, 2020

Have you noticed an increase in your stress levels lately? The COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly had an undeniable impact on our lives in many ways. With many lives lost, financial hardships, isolation, and continued uncertainty, health care professionals, especially dentists, are noticing an increase in stress-related health issues.

Many have had to adapt to different work, home, and school environments, become used to digital technology, and add new precautionary practices to daily life routines like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. The American Psychological Association (APA) warns that over time, the negative mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic can be serious and long-lasting.

Not much has changed in terms of practicing universal precautions for all patients of dental professionals, as these practices were implemented at the peak of the AIDS crisis in the 1980's. Due to these safe practices and use of personal protective equipment, epidemiologists and the American Dental Association (ADA) have reported that there are no cases of COVID-19 outbreaks associated to any dental offices in the United States!

According to the ADA Health Policy Institute's COVID-19 impact poll to dentists in the United States, dentists are seeing an increase in stress-related oral health conditions in patients since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Approximately 59.4% of the participating dentists reported increases in the prevalence of tooth grinding (bruxism), 53.4% chipped and cracked teeth, and 53.4% temporomandibular disorder symptoms among their patients. Plus, approximately 26.4% documented an increase in tooth decay (caries), and 29.7% reported an increase in periodontal disease. As of the week of Sept. 21, greater than 99% of dental offices in the United States were open according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

The overall health and safety of patients remains our #1 priority. It’s important to acknowledge any stress you may feel, know how to cope with stress, and where to turn for help if needed so that you can continue to care for yourself and remain healthy. Along with practicing social distancing, wearing face masks, and frequent hand-washing, it is equally important to manage stress and anxiety during these challenging times. Prolonged stress and anxiety can play a significant role on the health of your overall body, including increasing heart rate and blood pressure, issues with digestion, teeth grinding, headaches, trouble sleeping, mental health disturbances, and inability to focus, just to name a few issues.

Take a look at some tips to stay mentally and physically healthy during these troubling times:

Stay in the loop with current events:

Stay up to date with research and reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on COVID-19 statistics and prevention resources. Being in-the-know can help keep you and your loved ones calm and prepared.

Take breaks:

Although it’s important to be aware of what’s going on globally, allow yourself some time to disconnect from too much negative news and social media. It is also necessary to get adequate rest.

Stay physically active:

A great way to reduce stress is to increase your physical activity. While following safety precautions, take walks, jog, bike ride, meditate, or do the activities that normally make you happy! It is also important to eat well and make sure that you are getting proper nutrition and fluids to keep your body and immune system healthy.

Avoid negative habits:

Sometimes stress can lead to negative coping behavioral habits such as use of alcohol and tobacco.  If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, know that this is not a fight that has to be done alone. For help with alcohol addiction, please check out these resources with 24/7 availability. For individuals struggling with tobacco use, the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program offers information and resources that can help individuals quit. Also, check out a list of resources and other helpful information on our WDG blog here.

This pandemic has impacted us all, but our community is indeed all stronger together. Our team at WDG always has your safety and health as our top priority, and we have implemented additional safety measures and equipment to help prevent the transmission of all infections, including COVID-19. Wellesley Dental Group has completely reopened since June 8th, 2020 for all dental procedures and cleanings! Thank you for entrusting your health and dental care to us at Wellesley Dental Group.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.

References:

https://www.dentistryiq.com/covid-19/article/14184297/dentist-takes-holistic-approach-with-patients-who-grind-teeth-due-to-covidrelated-stress?utm_source=DEC_DIQ+Morning+Briefing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS201002009&o_eid=3760I9143045C2X&rdx.ident%5Bpull%5D=omeda%7C3760I9143045C2X&oly_enc_id=3760I9143045C2X

https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/september/hpi-poll-dentists-see-increase-in-patients-stress-related-oral-health-conditions

https://success.ada.org/en/practice-management/dental-practice-success/dps-summer-2020/strategies-for-dealing-with-stress-during-the-pandemic

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.myannapolisdentist.com%2F2020%2F03%2F25%2Fcovid-19-and-maintaining-oral-health%2F&psig=AOvVaw15O7NhSbT2tavg0RhOC8y5&ust=1606148746593000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCMCrosXIlu0CFQAAAAAdAAAAABAQ

Risky Behavior: Vaping, Cigarette Use, and COVID-19

September 14th, 2020

We have all been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes us all in this fight together. Even though the virus still persists, great strides and global participation in social distancing, wearing face coverings, and following safety protocols are helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Scientists and researchers across the world are continuously uncovering important research and highlighting factors that increase the risk of battling coronavirus. From the beginning of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has emphasized, based on research and clinical expertise, that individuals with weakened immune systems, including older adults, and those with underlying medical conditions (examples: lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension, just to name a few) are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness. More recently a new study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, suggests teens and young adults who vape or smoke cigarettes are at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

Along with the COVID-19 pandemic (currently 29,182,627 worldwide cases and a disheartening 928,281 deaths reported), the devastating health crisis in many young adults: tobacco and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)/vaping product use, has still been an extensive public health issue across the nation. Back on September 24, 2019, the Governor of Massachusetts, Charles D. Baker, declared e-cigarette use a public health emergency following the significant link between e-cigarette products and severe lung disease leading to many deaths across the United States. Unfortunately, e-cigarettes have routinely been marketed as “safer” alternatives to cigarette smoking, although in reality they carry many of the same risks as well as new risks. The inhaled liquids are often composed of nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD) oils, along with other substances. Each product, however, can have a variation of other ingredients and concentrations, which may be toxic to the body.

The study, entitled, Association Between Youth Smoking, Electronic Cigarette Use, and Coronavirus Disease 2019, consisted of an online survey conducted in May completed by 4,351 individuals across the United States ranging in age from 13 to 24 years old. The study participants were asked if they had ever used vaping products or cigarettes, and if they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days. The participants were then divided between those who used nicotine products in comparison to those who reported never using nicotine products. The groups were asked if they had experienced COVID-19 symptoms, received a test for COVID-19, or tested positive for the virus. Taking into consideration reported medical conditions and sociodemographic factors, the researchers found that individuals who used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the last 30 days were approximately 5 times more likely to experience COVID-19 symptoms than those who never used nicotine products. Of the individuals who received a COVID test, those who had used e-cigarettes were 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those who never vaped. Plus, individuals who used both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes within the last 30 days were approximately 7 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19. The study authors believe that the link between nicotine products and lung damage is thought to be the reason behind the resulting increased risk of coronavirus infection. "This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using are at elevated risk, and it's not just a small increase in risk, it's a big one," Dr. Shivani Mathur Gaiha, one of the study's authors, warned.

Knowing the dangers about vaping and cigarette smoking is key. The Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program offers information and resources that can help individuals quit. Also, check out a list of resources and other helpful information on our WDG blog here.

This pandemic has impacted us all, but our community is indeed all stronger together. Our team at WDG always has your safety and health as our top priority, and we have implemented additional safety measures and equipment to help prevent the transmission of all infections, including COVID-19. Wellesley Dental Group has completely reopened since June 8th, 2020 for all dental procedures and cleanings! Thank you for entrusting your health and dental care to us at Wellesley Dental Group.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.

References:

https://decisionsindentistry.com/2020/08/vaping-raise-risk-covid-among-teenagers-young-adults/

http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/08/vaping-linked-to-covid-19-risk-in-teens-and-young-adults.html

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200811/Smoking-and-vaping-significantly-increase-risk-of-COVID-19-in-teens-and-young-adults.aspx

https://www.tecc.org/tobacco-and-covid-19/

https://discoveries.childrenshospital.org/vaping-and-covid-19/

Let's End Oral Cancer!

April 3rd, 2020

Many may not know much about oral cancer, but not to worry, we've got you covered! April is Oral Cancer Awareness month throughout the United States, and we are excited to join the Oral Cancer Foundation's (OCF) fight to end oral cancer by spreading awareness. Spreading information on oral cancer can help lead to earlier detection and thus save lives! According to the OCF, about 53,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. It's estimated to be about 132 new people each day. Sadly, one person will die from oral cancer every hour of every day of the year. In fact, oral and pharyngeal cancers have a high death rate which is highly attributed due to late detection of the cancer. Surprisingly, oral cancer is becoming widely seen in young, healthy, nonsmoking people possibly because of the increased risk of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16). However, individuals who smoke tobacco are also still high risk. The majority of oral cancers are classified as oral squamous cell carcinomas.

Let's dive in to some of the risk factors of oral cancer:

  • Men are two times more likely to have oral cancer than women.
  • Approximately 25% have no known risk factors.
  • Infection with the sexually transmitted HPV16 virus
  • Alcohol and tobacco, including vaping, smokeless tobacco, pipe smoking, etc. (Individuals who use both in combination are 15 times more at risk)
  • Prolonged sun exposure increases risk of developing lip cancer
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Infectious diseases
  • Chronic physical trauma

Potential Signs and Symptoms:

  • A sore or lump on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal (monitored by dental professional, typically for 2 weeks)
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils or lining of the mouth
  • Bleeding, pain or numbness in the lip or mouth
  • Change in voice
  • Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit well
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Jaw swelling
  • Sore throat

Some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all. Early Detection is key! It is important to check your oral cavity regularly to identify any changes. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends performing these self-exams monthly. It is also necessary to keep up with your regular dental appointments and to notify your dentist if you notice anything unusual.

If a definitive diagnosis of oral cancer is determined and staged, treatment will involve multiple disciplines likely including surgeons, oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and rehabilitation and restorative specialists.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.

References:

https://www.aaoms.org/media/raise-oral-cancer-awareness/posters-and-infographics

https://www.aaoms.org/docs/media/oral_cancer/2017_oral_cancer_fact_sheet.pdf

https://oralcancerfoundation.org/events/oral-head-neck-cancer-awareness-month/

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What's Perio Breath?

January 9th, 2020

So, what exactly is causing the bad odor? Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a result of the bacteria within the mouth that produce volatile sulfur compounds --the source of the bad smell! These sulfur compounds can be exacerbated by oral infections and gum disease. According to research published in the Journal of International
Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, approximately 80% of patients with some degree of gum disease also experienced continuous bad breath.
On the bright side, your dentist can help you manage bad breath depending on the underlying cause. Other conditions that can contribute to bad breath include dry mouth, tobacco use, certain food diets, and other systemic diseases.
Treating periodontitis sometimes can involve a deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing. This involves the removal of bacteria both above and below the gumline. In some more severe cases gum surgery may be needed.
Keep up with brushing and flossing habits, in addition to brushing your tongue to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Good oral hygiene habits will help lower your risk of both gum disease and halitosis.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.

References:

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/bad-breath/what-is-perio-breath-the-connection-between-gum-disease-and-halitosis

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