Signs You Grind Your Teeth (And How to Stop)

bruxismBruxism (or teeth grinding) is a common condition, but many people aren’t even aware that they do it. Grinding your teeth can cause irreparable tooth damage or other health complications. That’s why it’s important to identify the signs of teeth grinding and the ways to overcome it.

To determine if you might be grinding your teeth, check for symptoms first thing in the morning. That’s  because teeth grinding occurs at night. Signs that you may be a teeth grinder include:

  • Sore jaw
  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
  • Sensitive teeth when eating or drinking hot or cold food and beverages
  • Dull, persistent headache
  • Sores inside your cheeks

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider the following tips to abolish teeth grinding once and for all:

  • Cut out caffeine. Partaking in beverages that contain caffeine, such as soda, coffee and energy drinks will make you unable to relax your body and mind, and can make it hard for you to relax your jaw.
  • Chew on food and only food. Many people absentmindedly chew on pens or pencils when they’re concentrating or feel stressed. Put a stop to this practice and opt for a stick of gum or a mint to help retrain your brain to keep the chewing to foods alone.
  • Use a mouth guard. Ask your dentist about the type of mouth guard he recommends, whether it’s provided by him or purchased over the counter. Wearing a mouth guard is an effective way to deter you from grinding your teeth while you sleep.
  • Reduce stress. Helpful stress relievers include spending time with friends, eating a balanced diet to curb irritability, and going to bed and waking up at the same time each day to maintain a healthy and stable energy level.

To learn more about how to eliminate teeth grinding, contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299. We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Common Dental Fears and How to Overcome Them

dental healthDental phobia is surprisingly common. But putting off going to the dentist can lead to more serious complications down the road. If you are a “Dentaphobe”, here are five ways to help you cope with this fear and get the dental treatment you need:

  1. Fear of the unknown. Being whisked away from the waiting room, draped with a green bib and positioned with a nice view of the ceiling, can be a little intimidating. You likely have some questions before the dentist gets to it, so don’t be afraid to ask for a break-down of the procedure. By learning more about the details of your check-up, you can begin to feel more at ease.
  2. Dental equipment. Having sharp metal objects stuck into your mouth can instill fear in the hearts of many. You probably want to know what these tools used for. And, perhaps more importantly, will this hurt? Ask your dentist if you can hold the tools first so they don’t seem so foreign. You may also want to ask for a quick demonstration on how the tool will be used.
  3. Trying to breathe through the nose. If you breathe primarily out of their mouth, a visit to the dentist can feel stifling when the dentist must work in your mouth. It may help to wear nasal strips, which can open up your nose for easier breathing. And if you need to take a break during the procedure to catch your breath, work out a hand signal with your dentist to indicate that he needs to stop working for a moment.
  4. Gag reflex. For those with a tendency to gag during dental work, the thought of putting those tabs into your mouth for an X-ray – or the molding clay in for an impression – can feel daunting. To combat the urge to gag, breathe through your nose. It may be a good idea to use a nasal spray or strip to open up nasal passages beforehand. Another trick is to moisten your finger and put a dab of salt on the end of your tongue right before the procedure.
  5. Fear of needles. For many, needles can be terrifying, especially when inserted into your mouth. Before the injection, ask your dentist if numbing gel will be used. This can help tremendously with discomfort. Additionally, try to focus your attention away from the pain of the needle in favor of how the needle will eliminate any pain during dental treatment.

Don’t put your dental appointment off any longer! Contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling (701) 839-1299 to schedule a check-up.

The Benefits of Chewing Sugar-Free Gum

sugar free gumThere has been some debate on whether sugar-free gum is good for your oral hygiene or if it’s detrimental to your oral health. It may come as a surprise to you to learn that the American Dental Association actually promotes chewing sugar-free gum. In fact, there are a number of reasons why chewing sugarless gum is beneficial:

  1. It’s good exercise. Chewing gum is a great way to exercise your neck and jaw. It’s also beneficial for preventing teeth grinding and reducing the craving for unhealthy sweets and beverages.
  2. It increases saliva production. When you chew sugarless gum, you’re boosting the flow of saliva in your mouth, which helps wash away digestive acids and food particles after you eat.
  3. It’s safe for your oral tissues. This can result in fewer cavities, better breath, and increased enamel production, less gingivitis, dry mouth and stained teeth.
  4. It relieves stress. Studies suggest that people who chew gum typically consumed less alcohol, were more alert, experienced lower levels of depression and work-related stress, and had lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  5. It reduces tooth decay. Most sugarless gum is sweetened with xylitol, which is a healthy alternative to sugar. Xylitol prevents the growth of oral bacteria that causes cavities by inhibiting bacteria’s ability to stick to the tooth.
  6. It minimizes acid reflux and heartburn. Acid reflux is a condition where the stomach contents reflux into the mouth. This can cause tooth erosion which may lead to permanent and sometimes severe loss of tooth structure. If you suffer for acid reflux and heartburn, chewing gum after you eat may help limit acid in the esophagus. That’s because gum chewing increases saliva production and increases how much you swallow, which then clears the acid.

While it’s true that chewing sugarless gum has more health benefits than risks, it’s important to note that chewing gum should not be used as a substitute for regular brushing and flossing, which is imperative to your oral health. It’s also important to schedule regular dental exams.

Contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.