tooth grinding

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

Snap, Crackle, Pop! How Rheumatoid Arthritis & Gum Disease are Related

June 15th, 2020

Snap, crackle, pop! Creaky joints can be a real pain, but who would have thought that it would have any connection to your mouth? Surprisingly, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and periodontitis have a lot in common, as they both are chronic inflammatory diseases that involve the breakdown of bone and soft tissue.

What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? 

RA is both a chronic inflammatory and an autoimmune disease, and is often characterized by pain and stiffness. RA typically affects the joints, but can also affect the body's organs.

Periodontitis...What's that?

On the other hand, periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease. Without  treatment, periodontitis can lead to loss of tooth-supporting bone, tissue, and even your actual teeth!  Periodontitis can impact anyone at any age, but can be preventable. Unfortunately, 47.2% of adults over the age of 30 have periodontitis in the United States. A major cause of periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene, which leads to bacterial plaque attacking your tooth enamel. Other risk factors of periodontitis include tobacco use, diabetes, certain medications, older age, genetics, poor nutrition and obesity, tooth grinding, and misaligned teeth, just to name a few.

Gum disease can be harder to recognize because of its typical pain-free nature. However, there are some common signs and symptoms of periodontitis to look for:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Loose permanent teeth/tooth loss
  • Changes in your bite
  • Receding gums
  • Changes in the fit of oral appliances (ex: partial dentures)

Yet, It is still possible to experience no signs or symptoms of gum disease. That's just one of many reasons why visiting your dentist regularly is essential to your oral and overall health, in addition to eating healthy, brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and practicing good oral hygiene habits at home. It is important to catch gum disease in the early stages to avoid irreversible damage to your pearly whites. Remember, prevention is key!

How are the two diseases linked?

Recent studies have supported the link between RA and periodontal disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, researchers found that tooth loss, a common indicator of periodontal disease, may predict rheumatoid arthritis and its severity. Within the study, they found that the more teeth lost due to periodontal disease, the higher the risk of developing RA. Other research has also suggested that the bacteria commonly associated with periodontal disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), may play a role in onsetting RA.

Treating one disease may help improve the other!

Researchers at Case Western University found that individuals with both severe rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease experienced an improvement in their RA symptoms after successfully treating their gum disease.

Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis may face certain challenges in taking care of their oral health. It is important to inform your health care providers, who will help provide recommendations that will work best for you. To make brushing and flossing a little easier,  American Dental Association (ADA) recommendations include:

  • Make your toothbrush unique: To get a better grip of your toothbrush, add a tennis ball or bicycle grip to the handle.

  • Try different types of floss: Try floss holders, floss picks, or threaders.

  • Pump out your toothpaste: Toothpaste in a pump may be more comfortable than squeezing out of the tube.

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.everydayhealth.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/living-with/the-link-between-gum-disease-and-rheumatoid-arthritis/

https://www.hopkinsrheumatology.org/2017/01/gum-disease-linked-to-rheumatoid-arthritis/

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/g/gum-disease

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2020 Resolutions for a Healthy Smile!

January 1st, 2020

Can you believe it's 2020 already? This year is a great one to establish healthy habits and improve our overall fitness. Each year is a perfect time to set new resolutions for ourselves. If you are wanting to keep your teeth healthy in the new year, take a look at these easy tips  to help you achieve your goals. And remember, whether a big or small goal, it can be rewarding to accomplish even with baby steps to achieve them!

Perfect your Oral Home Care

Preventing gum disease will help lower your risk of developing many other systemic health problems, for instance diabetes. By proper brushing at least two time a day and flossing at least once a day, these are excellent steps to healthy teeth and gums. The habit of flossing can sometimes be hard to commit too, but it is necessary because floss accesses areas that your toothbrush cannot reach, helping to prevent breakdown of your tooth enamel. It is important to position your teeth angled toward your gum line (about 45 degrees) and make a circular motion across each tooth. Your toothbrush should be replaced approximately every 3-4 months according to the American Dental Association. And don't forget your fluoride toothpaste, which helps remineralize tooth enamel and protect against cavities.

Keep in Touch with your Dentist

Be sure to schedule your dental appointments in the new year. Dental cleanings are often each 6 months, but your dentist may recommend every 3-4 months depending on your oral status. The new year is also the perfect time to finish any remaining dental treatment such as fillings, implants, or crowns.

Preserve Teeth

If you notice you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist so that the proper treatment can be provided. You may experience headaches, jaw pain, sore teeth, or even fractured tooth surfaces. A night guard may be suggested to help prevent damage to your pearly whites.

Kick Bad Habits

If you have a habit that you're looking to stop, it's never the wrong time to quit! For instance, smoking doubles your risk for gum disease and is also connected with many other health problems such as cancer. Contact your dentist if you're looking to quit smoking for recommendations and resources.

Choose Healthy Foods

Try cutting back on sugar, which is directly associated with tooth decay. Choose tooth-friendly foods like cheese and other dairy products high in calcium. In addition, high fibrous foods that help stimulate saliva to help wipe away plaque and help protect your tooth enamel.

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/life-stages/adult-oral-care/looking-after-your-teeth-five-new-years-resolutions-for-a-healthier-mouth-1214

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More Pets = Less Stress = Healthy Teeth!

February 2nd, 2016

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Do you have a pet? Well, good news! Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that pet dogs can decrease stress levels in children, which can have a positive impact on oral health as well. If you're looking for something to add to your family wishlist, make sure to include "cute puppies!"

How can dogs can improve our health?

They may help reduce social anxiety

Pets such as dogs follow human communication cues and help spark conversation. They also provide comfort and self-esteem to children, which can lead to emotional development. Through animal-assisted therapy (AAT), dogs improve attachment and decrease separation anxiety in children. This can result in improved mental health and decreased risk of developmental disorders (emotional, behavioral, and mental) during adolescence and later on.

They may decrease stress

According to a study conducted by researchers from Bassett Medical Center in New York, 21% of children who did not have pet dogs had anxiety, while only 12% of the children who interacted with dogs at home were tested positive for anxiety. Playing with dogs can reduce cortisol levels and release oxytocin, which helps decrease physiologic responses to stress.

How does stress affect oral health, you ask?

  1. Stress is linked to canker sores, grinding of teeth, poor hygiene, dryness, TMJ, gum disease, and burning mouth syndrome.
  2. It can result in chronically high cortisol levels, which can lead to a weaker immune system. This can make it more likely for plaque bacteria to attack the gums.
  3. There is a strong connection between stress and periodontal or gum disease, which can cause tooth loss.
  4. You may not brush or floss as frequently!

Make sure to take care of your teeth properly and don't get too stressed out. Get a pet dog for bonus points!

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

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. VanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other periodontal or oral surgery needs, Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.

Resources:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303276.php

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17668968

http://awomanshealth.com/stress-and-oral-health/

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