A Real Nail Biter

We all have those nervous habits we turn to when we feel awkward, stressed, or just plain bored. If your choice vice is biting your nails, you need to know that it can cause a lot of distress on your oral health and overall health. Brandon dentists Dr. Walker and Dr. Barr share why nail biting is so bad for you and how you can break the habit.

Downsides of Biting your Nails

It may seem harmless, but nail biting can actually:

  • Chip your teeth
  • Hurt your jaw (due to frequently jutting your teeth out to bite)
  • Increase your risk of tooth loss
  • Tear and damage your gums
  • Spread bacteria from under the fingernail into your mouth, bloodstream, and body

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Dry Mouth: Nothing to Spit At

Can you imagine a 2-liter bottle of your favorite soda? Now imagine that same bottle filled with spit. That’s approximately how much saliva the average adult produces in their mouth every day! It may be gross, but it’s definitely important. Saliva is a normal body fluid that’s crucial for oral health and overall wellness.

If you struggle to make enough saliva, your mouth will feel very dry and you will have trouble with daily activities like speaking, eating, and swallowing. This condition is commonly known as dry mouth, but the clinical name is xerostomia. A chronically dry mouth is uncomfortable and unhealthy.

You have three salivary glands in different parts of your jaw that make and secrete saliva. Saliva is mostly made of water, but it also contains important molecules called enzymes that help keep your mouth clean and fight infection.

Dry mouth is common and can usually be fixed with the help of your Brandon dentists and primary care doctor. Walker & Raynal, DMD shares more below about what causes dry mouth and how to treat it. Read more ›

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What’s Lurking in Your Saliva?

Saliva. Just the word can conjure an array of images in your imagination. From salivating at a delicious meal to studying Pavlov’s dogs to watching a baseball player spit, life is full of saliva! And that’s a good thing because saliva is very important for oral and overall health. Problems with saliva can lead to dry mouth, cavities, and bad breath. Read more below from the Brandon dentists of Walker & Raynal, DMD to learn more about your saliva.

Composition of Saliva

Saliva is 98% water. It also contains electrolytes, mucus, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Saliva travels to all parts of your mouth via “saliva ducts.” Saliva is made in your salivary glands and the contents come from your blood. Ancient doctors believed saliva and blood were “brothers” when it comes to a person’s wellness.

Because saliva is so similar to blood, research is growing on how to use saliva samples to test for diseases. Saliva samples are already used to test for HIV, but studies are finding you can also detect breast cancer, oral cancer, gum disease, and viral hepatitis in your saliva! Saliva samples can also help doctors understand a person’s immune system.

Functions of Saliva

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Why Does My Jaw Hurt?

If your jaw clicks when it opens, or you can’t fully open it, or you have pain in your face and trouble chewing, then you’re among the 15% of Americans who have chronic jaw pain.

Your jaw joint is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. The name comes from the jaw’s role to connect your temporal bone in the skull with your mandible bone. Some people experience short-term pain that goes away with ice and over-the-counter medicine. But if you have chronic jaw pain or you can’t open your mouth, you might have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and it’s important to see your dentist right away to find relief.

The Brandon dentists of Walker & Raynal, DMD explain more below about the causes and treatments of jaw pain.

Different Kinds of Jaw Pain

Pain in your jaw can feel different depending on what’s going on. In order to best understand what’s causing your pain, try to notice when you specifically feel the pain and what specifically it feels like.

Do you have tightness, soreness, or clicking? Is the pain shooting sharp or a dull ache? Some jaw problems can also cause pain in your face, head, neck or shoulders. Many patients who have chronic migraines don’t realize it’s actually a dysfunction of their bite and TMJ. It’s important to see a dentist and explain what you’re feeling so that they can offer the best treatment options.

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Dental Insurance Trends

Above any other medical need, people are more likely to skip seeing the dentist because they can’t afford it.

Many people choose not to buy dental insurance because it’s an added cost without a lot of perceived value. For some reason, people simply feel more comfortable taking this risk because they don’t fully understand the consequences of oral health problems. But it’s a risk indeed. You can develop a facial or oral injury just as easily as any other injury and oral infections and diseases are just as common—if not more common—as any other.

Beyond the critical events of oral injury or infection, preventive dental care (aka your regular cleanings and check-ups) is crucial for catching problems before they become dangerous. Seeing the dentist regularly can help you address a surprising number of overall health and wellness issues.

Still, dentists understand that medical costs are rising, the world of insurance is often a mystery, and sometimes you’re just at a loss. The Brandon dentists of Walker & Raynal, DMD explain more below about the current trends in dental insurance and what they mean for you.

Forgoing Dental Insurance

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What Happens in Your Mouth While You Sleep?

Ah, nighttime… the end of the day, the ceasing of work, and hopefully a good night’s sleep. But did you know things are still happening in your mouth all night long, even if you’re blissfully unaware of it? The Brandon dentists of Walker & Raynal, DMD shed some light on the world of your mouth and everything going on inside of it while you catch some zzz’s.

Dry Mouth

You produce much less saliva overnight than you do during the day—your body’s way of minimizing the risk of choking. This leads to the common occurrence of dry mouth. Dry mouth can be a bit uncomfortable and lead to more cavities and bad breath. It’s perfectly fine and normal to have less saliva at night but to take care of your oral health, it’s important that you brush and floss before going to bed.

Saliva usually rinses away the food debris that can stick around and cause plaque and bad breath, so it’s a good idea to head to bed with a blank canvas. Keeping a glass of water by your bed can relieve the pain in your mouth and throat from dry mouth.

Bruxism

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Dental Sealants Keep Cavities at Bay

A trip to the dentist should be a pleasant experience. That’s what we want for our kids: happy associations with that twice-annual visit to Walker & Raynal, DMD. Nothing ruins the good feeling at a dental visit faster than the dreaded words, “I found a cavity.” A cavity in a baby tooth is bad news, but not the end of the world. A cavity in a newly erupted permanent tooth is more cause for concern.

So what is a cavity? How do they form? And, what can we do to keep them from ever getting started?

What is a Cavity?

Simply, a cavity, also known as dental caries, is a hole in the tooth enamel. A tooth has an outer layer of hard enamel surrounding an inner layer of dentin, which covers the tooth pulp, which contains blood vessels and a nerve. A cavity forms when the enamel is weakened then fails and no longer covers the dentin.

A small cavity can usually be drilled to remove any decayed portion and stop further decay, then filled with strong material, like resin, to re-strengthen the remaining tooth with a tooth-colored filling. A larger cavity might require more extensive drilling and different materials to strengthen it. A very large cavity might need a root canal, where the inside of the tooth is removed and the whole tooth is filled.

How Do Cavities Form?

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Sugar Rush: When Sweet Turns Bitter

You’ve heard it before. Too much sugar is not good for little bodies. Or, more precisely, added sugar is not good for people, big or small. The more we learn about how sugar affects the body, the more we realize that lots of added sugar has many downsides for health. This is particularly true of dental health. Sugar can cause serious problems for tiny teeth.

The Rise & Fall

A sugar rush is a real thing, and it can be no joke. Sugar is a simple source of energy that the body can use very quickly to make energy. Because the body uses it so quickly, the sugar rush is generally followed by a sugar crash when the body runs out of the high-energy sugar.

The human body isn’t the only thing that feeds quickly on the simple sugar. The bacteria in your child’s mouth also like to feed on sugars. When they eat sugary foods or drink high-sugar drinks, the bacteria in their mouth begin to feast. This lets the cavity-causing bacteria grow quickly, making lots more bacteria.

A Balancing Act

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Bad Breath: When Morning Breath Becomes Halitosis

It’s often said that a true friend will tell you if you have bad breath. Bad breath, formally known as halitosis, is embarrassing and can hold you back from truly enjoying your life and social situations. Like a good friend, your Brandon dentists will tell it to you straight. Read more below to determine what to do about your bad breath.

Is Bad Breath Normal?

Yes. Sorry. But some bad breath is just unavoidable. Moderate and occasional bad breath is caused by the normal breakdown of foods for digestion. Most people don’t wake up with minty fresh breath because bacteria build up in your mouth overnight while you are sleeping. Keep normal bouts of bad breath at bay with good oral hygiene, by drinking plenty of water, and by chewing sugar-free gum containing xylitol.

Lifestyle vs. Medical Causes of Bad Breath

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Hot on the Trail with Oral Pathology

When it comes to your oral health, we hope you never have any pains or problems. Good preventive care will help you always feel your best! But even with the best habits, dental problems do happen. In that case, oral pathology is the science and medicine that helps diagnose and treat whatever is making you ache. If you think you have oral disease, don’t be embarrassed, but get help as soon as possible.

What is Oral Pathology?

Sometimes things go wrong, even in the healthiest people. If you have pain, bleeding, or unusual symptoms in your mouth, oral pathology helps us find the answers you need.

According to the American Dental Association: “Oral pathology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions.” In other words, oral pathology is the science that understands the causes and effects of these diseases. Common practices include clinical examinations, lab testing, and taking the whole body health and chemistry into consideration.

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