Are You A Night Grinder?

Teeth grinding is when you clench your top and bottom teeth together or grind your teeth back and forth over each other. Because it’s a subconscious muscle activity, most grinders grind without realizing it, until a fragmented tooth or facial soreness or other symptom occurs.

It is estimated that 10-15 percent of Americans moderately or severely grind their teeth. Normally, we exert about 20 to 30 pounds per square inch on our back molars when we chew. but teeth grinders, especially at night without restraint, can exert up to as much as 200 pounds per square inch on their teeth.

The relentless wear and tear at night from grinding can quickly erode enamel, fracture teeth, affect bite and damage the temporomandibular joint at the hinge of the jaw, and the masseter muscle, which controls the jaws. Jaw and face pain as well as earaches and headaches may also occur.

Having treated this condition for over thirty years, I’ve helped many night grinders eliminate their problems.

*Some information for this article was taken from NY Times article of October 2009: When Stress Takes a Toll on Your Teeth.

Is Your Diet Soda Making You Sick?

In November, it was announced that aspartame would be rebranded as “AminoSweet,” and marketed under its new name. Does this repackaging have anything to do with the studies showing the carcinogenic effects of aspartame? You decide.

The following excerpted letter appeared in the Huffington Post February 12th. The author is Samuel S. Epstein, M.D, Professor Emeritus at Chicago School of Public Health; Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; and author of over 20 scientific articles and 15 books on cancer, including The Politics of Cancer.

Aspartame, first discovered in 1965 by the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle, is an artificial sweetener commonly known as Nutrasweet, Equal and Canderel.

In January 1976, then Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Schmidt testified before Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) that Hazleton Laboratories, under contract to Searle, had been charged with falsifying toxicological data on the sweetener.

The FDA subsequently convened a Public Board of Inquiry to review concerns on aspartame’s carcinogenic effects in experimental animals. In 1980, the Board concluded that aspartame could “contribute to the development of brain tumors.”The FDA then recommended that, pending confirmation of these findings, this sweetener should no longer be used.

In 2006, based on highly sensitive and lifelong feeding tests in groups of about 200 rats at doses less than usual human dietary levels, the prestigious Italian Ramazzini Foundation confirmed that aspartame is unequivocally carcinogenic. A high incidence of cancers was induced in multiple organs, including lymph glands, brain and kidney.

Not surprisingly, these findings have been sharply challenged by the sweetener industry, major sweetener users, such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and critics like Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. Defense Secretary, former CEO of Searle.

Want to steer clear of aspartame? Know how to look for it. NutraSweet and Equal are popular brands of sweeteners containing Aspartame , but Aspartame is found in thousands of products — sodas, chewing gum, dairy products and even many medicines. Some familiar ones include: Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Snapple, Sugar Free Kool-Aid, Breyers Light, General Foods Sugar-Free International Coffees, among other foods.

Side Effects of Aspartame (a partial list)

Anxiety attacks, Arthritis, Asthma, Asthmatic Reactions, Bloating, Edema (Fluid Retention), Blood Sugar Control Problems, (Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia), Brain Cancer (Pre-approval studies in animals), Breathing difficulties, Burning eyes or throat, Burning Urination, Can’t think straight Chest Pains, Chronic cough, Chronic Fatigue, Confusion, Depression, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Excessive Thirst or Hunger, Fatigue, Feel unreal, Flushing of face, Headaches/Migraines dizziness, Heart palpitations, Hives, Hypertension, Impotency and Sexual Problems, Inability to concentrate, Insomnia, Irritability, Itching, Joint Pains, Laryngitis, “like thinking in a fog”, Memory loss, Menstrual Problems or Changes, Muscle spasms, Nausea or Vomiting, Numbness or Tingling of Extremities, Panic Attacks, Rapid Heart Beat, Rashes, Slurring of Speech, Swallowing Pain, Tinnitus, Vertigo, Vision Loss, Weight Gain.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause of disease.”

— Thomas A. Edison

What is Orthopedic Cosmetic Dentistry?

This is not a recognized specialty in dentistry. Rather, it’s a term we use in
our office to describe the Pagano Protocol – the sequence in which your
teeth, gums and structure are treated which results in a dazzling smile that
sits in a structurally sound foundation.
What do we mean by “orthopedic cosmetic dentistry?” Think of your teeth
and gums as the inside of a house and your jaw and head bones as the
structure and foundation. Once Doc ensures that the structure is balanced
and stable – which often includes treatment that eliminates headaches,
teeth grinding and other unwanted conditions – then the restorative and
cosmetic treatments on your teeth and gums can be performed on a stable
foundation. This results in cosmetic treatment that lasts, a bite that feels
natural, and eliminates redoing your work.
One patient with lifelong headaches experienced complete relief. Her
treatment included straightening her teeth and getting a gorgeous
smile. You can read more in Doc’s free downloadable ebook: Lifetime Smile
at www.stlouisdentistdrpete.com.

This is not a recognized specialty in dentistry. Rather, it’s a term we use in our office to describe the sequence in which your teeth, gums and structure are treated. A dazzling smile should sit on a structurally sound foundation.

What do we mean by “orthopedic cosmetic dentistry?” Think of your teeth and gums as the inside of a house and your jaw and head bones as the structure and foundation. Once Doc ensures that the structure is balanced and stable – which often includes treatment that eliminates headaches,

teeth grinding and other unwanted conditions – then the restorative and cosmetic treatments on your teeth and gums can be performed on a stable foundation. This results in cosmetic treatment that lasts, a bite that feels natural, and eliminates redoing your work.

One patient with lifelong headaches experienced complete relief. Her treatment included straightening her teeth and getting a gorgeous smile.

You can read more about orthopedic dentistry in Doc’s free downloadable ebook available on our home page.

Graphic courtesy of Humor Illustrator Suzanne Conway

How Are Boomers Redefining Age? Is Sixty the New Forty?

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” sang Paul McCartney, back in the days when the Beatles were the rage and being over 60 was considered ….. well … old. How ironic that the same generation that heard these lyrics for the first time has now redefined aging.

In November of 2005 Newsweek’s cover proclaimed “READY OR NOT, BOOMERS TURN 60.” 3.4 million Americans were born in 1946 — a million more than in the entire previous decade. And 1957 saw the largest number of births in any one year in US history: 4.3 million.

Older generations had predictable benchmarks between birth and death: college, family life, empty nest, retirement. Not any more. As boomers get older, they demand more and disrupt any predictable patterns set by earlier generations.

In some areas of the country, you’ll find 50 and 60 year olds starting a second or third family, buying a bigger house and spending money at Disney. My 40-something year old brother and sister-in-law in San Francisco are among the youngest parents where their six and seven year old children attend school.

Yankelovich Partners, one of America’s respected research groups, surveyed early boomers (those leading the generation in age) who defined “old age” as starting 3 years after life expectancy (82.3 years). Irrational as it may be, boomers are not bound by facts. They fully expect advances in health care to have them living an active fulfilling life in good health.

Boomers are not thinking in terms of “slowing down,” “aging gracefully,” or “retiring.” According to Merrill Lynch’s New Retirement Survey, 80% plan to work well past age 65. This explains the sizable segment of boomers who are extraordinarily proactive in attempting to influence their own health and looks with what were once considered “alternative” or “radical” means. This is fueling dramatic sales growth in nutritional supplements, herbal supplements, treatments available at foreign clinics, and organic foods.

The explosion in services and products just mentioned comprise the “wellness industry.” These and others catering to wellness, such as cosmetic surgeries, cosmetic dentistry, massage, and integrative medicine have grown to an estimated $400 billion dollar industry in 2005 (Business Week).

I see this regularly in my own dental practice. Half of my patients are over the age of 40. For the most part, these folks take excellent care to maintain a healthy, attractive smile. Increasingly, I am restoring gum health, rebuilding teeth and re-creating smiles. Whereas even ten years ago patients of the same age would be content to neglect their dental health and get dentures, this mindset is no longer as common.

I challenge you to name any other single enhancement that improves appearance and health as drastically as restoring teeth and gums and updating your smile.

Have Your Teeth Shifted Position?

Shifting Teeth Have Causes and Effects

Did you know that your teeth position are constantly subjected to forces that cause them to shift? Those forces may be due to muscle tension, biting, chewing or uneven jaw joints. The teeth will move in response to those forces. As you age, your teeth wear down and get shorter. Your jaw joints can wear down. You lose a tooth and maybe decide to not replace it. These factors create imbalances in your mouth.

When that occurs, instead of your teeth all sharing equally in the function of chewng, some are forced to work overtime to compensate for missing, broken or shorter teeth.

If you were driving your car with two bald tires and two new tires, it would create a rough ride.The analogy is comparable when it comes to your teeth. If you chew on an uneven surface a tooth can crack, resulting in more chewing force on the remaining teeth.

It’s not only for cosmetic reasons that you straighten your teeth position, get crowns or implants. These treatments improve the way your teeth mesh together. They also balance your bite. They can even enhance or even create entire body balance. You may not notice an immediate effect from imbalance and uneven chewing, but like the “perfect storm,” many health conditions are the result of long-term, non-optimum conditions that have been ignored.

Designer Dentures?

Designer Dentures?
Rather Than Dread Dentures, Views Them as a
Chance to Design Your Own Smile
Morton came in as a new patient asking for a new
set of dentures. In collaborating with him so we
could make him dentures he would be proud to
wear, I asked him questions such as:
Do you want spaces between your front teeth?
What type of smiles do you like?
Who do you want to look like?
Do you want big teeth, little teeth, long teeth,
wide teeth?
• Do you want personalization, such as little
character flaws built into your teeth?
• Do you want perfect alignment?
Morton told me he’d never been consulted to that
degree like when getting dentures made previously.
He said for the first time ever, he was excited to get
his new denture appliance.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 out of
every 4 adults over 60 have lost all of their natural
teeth due to gum disease and tooth decay. Another
CDC report says 1 out of every 5 adults over 65 have
lost all of their teeth. Once that occurs, your choices
are dentures or implants.
Although dental implants are an excellent alternative
to dentures, not everyone can get them. This doesn’t
mean you have to dread dentures. The biggest
reason denture wearers switch to implants is:
• Their dentures are ill-fitting and uncomfortable;
• They don’t like how their dentures look.
You can dread dentures or view them as an
opportunity to design your smile. If you want to pay
$99 and get “teeth-on-a-plate” then the old adage
“you get what you pay for” applies.
On the other hand, if you want someone to craft an
appliance that feels and looks natural, you can spend
the money and get something that will make you
feel confident.
As an Art Minor in college, I see beyond the science
of dentistry. Although an appliance needs to be
engineered perfectly, the aesthetic appeal must also
be present.
If you need a denture, view it as an opportunity to
design the smile you’ve always wanted.
*BLOG is short for “weblog,” a journal posted online.

Rather Than Dread Dentures, View Them as a Chance to Design Your Own Smile

Morton came in as a new patient asking for a new set of dentures. In collaborating with him so we

could make him dentures he would be proud to wear, I asked him questions such as:

Do you want spaces between your front teeth?

What type of smiles do you like?

Who do you want to look like?

Do you want big teeth, little teeth, long teeth, wide teeth?

Do you want personalization, such as little character flaws built into your teeth?

Do you want perfect alignment?

Morton told me he’d never been consulted to that degree like when getting dentures made previously.

He said for the first time ever, he was excited to get his new denture appliance.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 out of every 4 adults over 60 have lost all of their natural teeth due to gum disease and tooth decay. Another CDC report says 1 out of every 5 adults over 65 have lost all of their teeth. Once that occurs, your choices are dentures or implants.

Although dental implants are an excellent alternative to dentures, not everyone can get them. This doesn’t mean you have to dread dentures. The biggest reason denture wearers switch to implants is:

• Their dentures are ill-fitting and uncomfortable;

• They don’t like how their dentures look.

You can dread dentures or view them as an opportunity to design your smile. If you want to pay $99 and get “teeth-on-a-plate” then the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies.

On the other hand, if you want someone to craft an appliance that feels and looks natural, you can spend the money and get something that will make you feel confident.

As an Art Minor in college, I see beyond the science of dentistry. Although an appliance needs to be engineered perfectly, the aesthetic appeal must also be present.

If you need a denture, view it as an opportunity to design the smile you’ve always wanted.

Do You Treat Your Dental Care Like Car Maintenance?

 SEE SPECIAL OFFER AT BOTTOM OF POST

Cars Break Down When Maintenance is Neglected

Cars Break Down When Maintenance is Neglected.
Teeth Do Also.

“Necessity never made a good bargain,” said Ben Franklin, and as we’ve all experienced, the most costly time to invest in anything is when it’s desperately needed.

Some people consider regular car maintenance optional. The ignored oil changes, or persistent light on the dashboard eventually results in a breakdown by the side of the road. 

Similarly, teeth and gums need to be maintained. Without it, problems aren’t caught early and they certainly don’t get better on their own.

And, like the car that’s driven without upkeep, any time or cost savings in skipped dental maintenance is usually swallowed up by costs that could have been avoided. 

Once a dental condition begins to deteriorate, you face a crossroads: do you want to keep your teeth for your natural life or lose them? If you catch up on your dental work before it’s too late, you can sidestep many procedures that “older” people wind up getting.

Even simple fillings get bigger over time and, in some cases, lead to infection and the need for root canal therapy. It’s just not a good idea to neglect needed dental treatment. 

SPECIAL OFFER: If you already know you want to keep your teeth for the rest of your life – or you want to get some cosmetic procedures to brighten up your appearance, the first step is to restore the health of your teeth and gums.

Schedule our Extremely Thorough Cleaning, 5 Point Dental Exam and X-Rays for Just $119 for new patients only. Call 314-576-3000 and mention this page to take advantage of this Special Offer.

Original sketches by artist Suzanne Conway.

 

 

Dental Urban Legend, Expressions and Other Trivia

One of the more popular proverbs still in use today is: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” We know it means to not express ungratefulness when receiving a gift, but have you ever wondered how the expression came about? Our research found that ranchers and farmers used to open a horse’s mouth to examine its teeth in order to determine how old it was and also to assess the state of its health.

A common expression today is “dressed to the teeth,” although it has been corrupted to “dress to the T.” This describes a man or woman so completely decked out in attire that the only body part left undressed is the teeth.

A lesser known expression, “long in the tooth,” was used to refer to someone more advanced in age. In a story written in the 1800s, a woman whose looks had eroded with age was described this way:

“His cousin was now of more than middle age, and had nobody’s word but her own for the beauty which she said she once possessed. She was lean, and yellow, and long in the tooth; all the shops in London could not make a beauty of her.”

More recently is the urban legend surrounding Clark Gable. As the story goes, the dashing ladies’ man was not an adherent of dental maintenance. His oral hygiene (or lack thereof) led to a “raging infection of the gums” (which we’d refer to today as “periodontal disease”) during the filming of Dancing Lady in 1933. He was hospitalized and all of his teeth extracted. He then had to wear dentures, or, as they said in those days, he was “fitted with false teeth.” He was off the production set for a month, only to fall sick again his first day back. Turns out the infection was in his entire body. In Mr. Gable’s era, the relationship between dental and systemic health was not as known as it is today. However, had he kept a regular dental maintenance schedule, his dentist would have had the opportunity to check the disease in its earlier stages.

Moving onto the world of television in the mid 1900s, you might be old enough to remember the following ad slogan dreamed up, no doubt, on Madison Avenue: “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.” The ad went on to make a claim that this toothpaste contained an ingredient called “irium,” which supposedly fought tooth decay. It was later discovered that no such ingredient exists. Maybe this was the same ad agency that made snake oil so popular once upon a time?

In summary, whether urban legend or age-old proverb, folks have always recognized the importance of good teeth. If you want to preserve your health, you need to recognize that the teeth are interconnected to every organ in your body. Keeping a regular maintenance schedule helps not only your teeth, but your overall health.

Of Caveman and Cavities Prehistoric Dentistry and No Insurance!

I spend a lot of extra-curricular time at seminars and reading dental publications. I am likewise fascinated by dental history and stumbled upon a book that contained some dental urban legend I thought you’d find interesting.

Prehistoric man was spared the misery of tooth decay, apparently because he didn’t have refined sugar in his diet. However, if he came down with a painful toothache, the treatment of the day was to place a piece of wood against the offending tooth and strike it with a rock or hard object. Considering how painful that must have been for the patient, I can’t imagine the “dentist” back then being anybody’s friend. Of course, he also didn’t have to process insurance claims either, so I won’t feel too bad for him.

Moving ahead to early civilization, a person’s income level could be determined by the state of their teeth. What surprised me, however, was to learn that the richer the individual, the poorer the state of his teeth. I presume the reason was that the wealthy had access to sugar, while the poor did not and had healthier diets of unprocessed, organic foods. Today, that situation is reversed and low income individuals typically have poor dental health, due to diets of over-processed foods and sugar. More affluent individuals can afford organic, unprocessed foods and so have healthier teeth. Sigh — how things change with the times!

Romans equated healthy teeth with healing powers. These gleaming pearls symbolized immortality, vitality and were even used in the practice of magic. Here is the first sign also of teeth being described in poetry as assets to a woman’s beauty.

Earlier than medieval times, it is said that priests not only tended to the issues of one’s afterlife, but also assumed the role of healers (talk about multi-tasking!) Dental “treatment” consisted of incantations, prayers and amulets to bring about cures.

The question of the day was “how could it be that a seemingly indestructible body part, such as a tooth, was the cause of such pain?” Practitioners back then narrowed the source down to three possible causes: demons, worms or “humors,” better known as body fluids.

You would be asked if evil spirits had been sent upon you. Did you have an enemy who could have cast a spell? A second possible cause was also investigated: did you have maggot-like worms in your teeth? Or, were your body fluids were unbalanced? The order in which these “causes” were investigated is uncertain, so perhaps it was up to the leanings of the practitioner. Some things never change.

The “treatment” for the causes explained above were so brutal, they sometimes resulted in death. And, I’m nearly certain that no insurance company would have paid their claims.

Little is really known of dental history, so who knows how much of this is actually true. All I know is that while I’ve never been inclined to say a chant before treating a patient, I often tell a corny joke.