Dentist Digest Monthly: Stop Opening Bottles With Your Teeth

Dentist Digest Monthly - Stop Opening Bottles With Your Teeth
Healthy natural teeth perform a range of essential functions—helping with speech as well as nonverbal communication, assists in food consumption, and more. And everyone feels more confident when they can flash a bright, white, and even smile.

Yet, some people insist on using their teeth to do things they shouldn’t, like opening bottles and holding things between their teeth, running the risk of severely damaging their teeth. As your local Billings, MT, dentists, we want you to stop opening bottles with your teeth and using them as substitute tools.

Is It Bad To Open Bottles With Your Teeth?

The enamel of your teeth is the hardest substance in your body. However, that doesn’t mean that it is up to being used as a bottle opener. Leave the opening of bottles with teeth to Hollywood—for everyone else, it is a terrible idea to open bottles with your teeth.

Think about it. Your teeth are quite strong as a chomping whole, but if you are using them to open a bottle, you are putting a lot of pressure on the crown of just a couple of your teeth. That kind of pressure is guaranteed to go wrong, either on the first try or down the road, the end result is the same.

Other Things You Should Stop Doing With Your Teeth

Along with needing to stop using your teeth to open bottles, there are other nonfood related things you should stop doing with your teeth so that you don’t have to visit our dental clinic before your next preventative dental cleaning.

  • Prying things open – Sometimes, when things get jammed, it can get frustrating. But you don’t want to resort to your teeth in frustration. It can increase the force you are using with your teeth and lead to painfully chipped teeth.
  • Using them as scissors – You know that vacuum-sealed plastic that seems to be on every electronic purchase? Yeah, stop using your teeth to tear off the initial edge. It can lead to chipping your front teeth on each other, so stick to keeping scissors handy.
  • Cracking open items – Most people have cracked open something like a nut with their teeth. But no bite of nut is worth cracking a tooth or chipping off a chunk. Stick to a nutcracker and other tools that aren’t your teeth when it comes to breaking things open.
  • Carrying things between teeth – Sometimes, teeth can seem like a convenient third hand. However, if something pulls out the thing you are holding or jostles the item, you run the risk of dislodging a tooth or creating a stress fracture.

What To Do When You Chip A Tooth On A Bottle

Unfortunately, for some people, our advice has come a little late, and they have already chipped a tooth opening a bottle or while using their teeth as tools. Depending on the extent of the damage, your tooth can be repaired with cosmetic dentistry. Some common options to correct cracked or chipped teeth are:

  • Bonding – For light dental damage—such as a chip or cracked tooth—bonding may be enough to fix your tooth. Using composite resin, our dentists can fill in the damaged area and cure it with a special light. The composite is matched to your teeth so that the damage can be completely fixed without being obvious.
  • Veneers – Sometimes, several teeth are chipped when you try and use your teeth as tools. When the damage occurs to your front teeth, veneers are an excellent option. Thin layers of porcelain are laid over the damaged teeth for a revitalized appearance.
  • Crown – Your molars require more sturdy repairs if they become chipped, as they take a lot of pressure when you eat. In these cases, a dental crown to cover the damaged tooth is the preferred method to fix a chipped tooth.
  • Dental implant – There are times where the damage is too extensive, and the tooth cannot be saved. In these cases, extraction of the broken tooth is needed, and a dental implant can be placed.

Whether you have a chipped or cracked tooth from using your teeth as a tool or simply need a preventative dental cleaning, you can count on Bridge Creek Dental. Contact us today to set up your dental appointment with one of our dentists and start taking care of your smile!

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Dentist Digest Monthly: Is Chewing Gum Bad For Your Teeth?

Dentist Digest Monthly - Is Chewing Gum Bad For Your Teeth
During their biannual dental cleanings, many of our patients have asked about whether or not chewing gum is bad for their teeth—particularly if we found cavities. While it is easy to blame things like gum chewing for cavities, there are some instances where gum can actually protect your teeth!

Whether chewing gum is good or bad for your teeth will depend on a variety of factors. In short, sugar-free gum with xylitol can help your teeth, while sugared gum can increase plaque. If you are interested in learning more, our dentists here at Bridge Creek Dental are here to help.

Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Can Be Good For Your Teeth

One of the simplest things that gum—of any variety—can do for you is to increase the amount of saliva flow in your mouth. This increased saliva helps to breakdown food particles and wash away debris that attracts bad oral bacteria. It also helps prevent dry mouth.

Beyond the saliva production benefits, you should be sure to choose sugar-free gum with xylitol when you are looking to chew gum. Studies have shown that the sugar alcohol xylitol in gum can help reduce the amount of harmful oral bacteria significantly, assisting in preventing tooth decay. Also, as the bad bacteria is reduced, bad breath is also reduced.

So, if you are looking for ways to support your dental hygiene in between preventative cleanings by our dental staff, you may want to consider chewing sugar-free gum.

Consider These Things Before Chomping On Gum

Now, if you choose sugared gum rather than sugar-free gum, you will have the opposite effect on your dental health. Instead of supporting your teeth, full-sugar gum will directly deposit sugar onto your teeth, attracting the harmful oral bacteria that will eat the sugar and excrete acid onto your teeth.

This acid can erode your enamel, making it easier for cavities to form. Also, as you chew sugary gum, your teeth will develop more plaque, which can contribute to gum disease. So, if you are picking a gum, make sure that it is sugar-free gum, preferably one that contains xylitol.

Also, a side-effect of chewing gum—any kind of gum—can be the loosening of your fillings, veneers, crowns, and bridge. The gum can also become tangled with any fixed dental work you have, so you should be cautious when chewing gum if you have dental work that can either become loose or gummed up.

Lastly, there has been some research that has linked chewing gum with temporomandibular disorder (TMJ). This disorder causes you to feel pain as you chew, so if your jaw is starting to feel sore, you may want to take a break from chewing gum.

No Amount Of Chewing Gum Replaces Your Billings, MT Dentist

Even with the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum, nothing can replace your regular dental appointments with your Billings, MT dentist.

If you are ready to come in for your biannual cleaning or need other dental services, please contact us today to set up your appointment and don’t leave it all up to your gums.

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How Smoking And Tobacco Use Can Affect Dental Health

How Smoking And Tobacco Use Can Affect Dental Health

As most smokers and tobacco users know, using these products has a direct negative impact on many aspects of their health. From the risk of developing throat, mouth, or lung cancer, regular use of nicotine products can also have a significant effect on dental health.

Over the years, our dentists here at Bridge Creek Dental have seen firsthand the effects of smoking and tobacco use in the mouths of patients. If you are looking for motivation to quit or have a loved one you want to help quit, here are some facts about how smoking and tobacco use can have far-reaching effects on dental health.

How Dental Health Is Impacted By Nicotine Products

Now, we have mentioned smoking and tobacco specifically, but the nicotine in these products is one of the main culprits behind deteriorating dental health. While the tar and carcinogens in tobacco products can cause a host of other health issues, nicotine—which is present in almost all forms of these products from cigars to most vaping liquids—is what will impact your oral health the most.

That impact is due to the vasoconstriction that nicotine induces. Vasoconstriction means that the blood vessels have been constricted and are narrower. With narrower blood vessels, there is less blood flowing through them.

With less blood flow in your mouth, it is far easier for periodontitis—gum disease—to set in and progress to further stages that can result in tooth loss and jawbone density loss. Also, another side effect of reduced blood flow due to nicotine is that if you have a tooth extracted or an oral sore, it can take far longer to heal as fewer white blood cells make their way to the problem area.

Lastly, using cigarettes, cigars, vaping, and other nicotine products can cause dry mouth. While some people may just consider that a comfort issue, having a dry mouth can lead to greater bacteria build-up and faster tooth decay. This decay can lead to needing fillings for cavities, root canals for deeper infections, and complete tooth loss if not controlled.

Signs That Smoking And Tobacco Are Affecting Your Oral Health

Sometimes, it can take until there is a visible impact on their health to convince a smoker that they should give up their addiction. So, to help you recognize the danger signs that smoking and tobacco are affecting oral health, see the list below.

  • Staining of the tongue, teeth, and discoloration of the gums.
  • Lasting bad breath that doesn’t go away.
  • White patches show up in the mouth—properly called leukoplakia.
  • Greater build-up of tartar and plaque on the teeth.
  • Loose teeth, which can potentially fall out.
  • Slow healing for sore in and around the mouth.

Should you recognize these signs in your dental health, then you likely need quality dental services to help get your oral health back on track.

Visit Our Dentists in Billings, MT For Dental Help

Receiving quality dental care can make a significant difference whether or not you do end up quitting smoking. While it is best if you quit smoking and have your dental health addressed, our dentists can still help with your dental care if you are still smoking.

If you would like our dentists to help with your dental health, please contact us today to set up your appointment as soon as possible. That way, we can get you on the path to a healthier, happier smile!

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How To Care For Sensitive Teeth Through The Cold Montana Winter

How To Care For Sensitive Teeth Through The Cold Montana Winter
Tooth sensitivity can be triggered by a number of things, from eating something hot to having tooth decay. Often, people associate tooth sensitivity and pain with cavities or other dental problems. So, when winter rolls around and their teeth hurt, some people get worried as they experience dental sensitivity.

Whether you do have a dental issue that needs to be addressed or just need some advice on how to care for your sensitive teeth, our dentists here at Bridge Creek Dental are here to help.

Why Are Your Teeth Sensitive In The Winter

Here in Billings, MT, our winters are no joke. From the blowing winds to the heaps of snow, it is no surprise that the cold can cause dental pain, as moving from warm to cold temperatures can cause your teeth to expand—response to heat—and then contract—response to cold.

The expansion and contraction can cause your teeth to develop cracks. These cracks can expose the sensitive microscopic tubes that are located under your enamel, leaving you with teeth that are sensitive to temperature changes. Along with this issue, there are a number of other reasons why your teeth are sensitive in the winter months.

Oral Hygiene Practices

Skipping or slacking on oral hygiene can leave you with sensitive teeth as bacteria causes tooth decay and leads to gum recession. However, it can be just as problematic to be too gung-ho when it comes to your oral hygiene practices.

If you brush too hard or are too vigorous while flossing, you can also cause your gums to recede and expose the sensitive roots of your teeth. Also, harsh teeth brushing practices can wear down your enamel, exposing the microscopic tubes in your teeth.

Tooth Decay

The protective enamel of your teeth can be breached by tooth decay. Once the enamel is gone, it will not come back, allowing the decay to progress and make your teeth more sensitive. Untreated treated tooth decay can also spread to the nearby teeth, causing more of your teeth to be sensitive.

Also, if you have old fillings, it may be time to replace your dental fillings. The expansion and contraction of your teeth can cause your old fillings to fit improperly, allowing decay to sneak in. Another potential issue is if your filling has cracked or fallen out, it can leave your tooth vulnerable and more sensitive.


Those who struggle with bruxism—grinding and/or clenching of the teeth—can also end up having sensitive teeth. The pressure of clenching can cause micro-fissures in your teeth, while grinding can wear down the enamel and expose the sensitive dentin and tubes below.

OTC Bleaching Kits

Wanting to have white teeth leads many people to opt for over-the-counter (OTC) bleaching kits. These kits can leave your teeth more sensitive after using them, especially if you bleach your teeth for longer intervals than recommended by the OTC kit.

If you still want white teeth with a much lower risk of sensitivity, professional teeth whitening from our dentists is an ideal option.

Periodontal Disease

Gum disease—also called periodontal disease—causes your gums to recede. As your gums pull back, it exposes the sensitive roots of your teeth. Also, periodontal disease can leave your gums inflamed and sensitive as well as your teeth.

How To Manage Your Sensitive Teeth During A Montana Winter

If you have sensitive teeth and aren’t sure how to protect them, one of the first things you should do is come in for a preventative dental cleaning appointment. You should have these appointments twice a year, as it allows our dental hygienists to clean your teeth, and our dentists can check for any issues that may be causing your sensitivity.

Along with coming in for dental cleanings, here are some other things you can do to manage your sensitive teeth this winter.

  • Fluoride – A naturally-occurring mineral, fluoride has been found to help prevent tooth decay and assist in the re-mineralization of worn-down enamel. Our dentists can provide a fluoride treatment, and you can use toothpaste with fluoride to help reduce sensitivity.
  • Nightguard – With a custom-made nightguard, or even just a boil-and-bite mouthguard, you can protect your teeth from clenching and grinding in your sleep, which is often when bruxism is an issue.
  • Nose breathing – As you step outside into a crisp winter day, try your best to breathe through your nose. When you breathe through your nose, the air is warmed up and moisturized as it makes its way past your teeth. If you breathe through your mouth, your teeth are smacked with all that cold air.
  • Soft-bristle toothbrush – To avoid being too rough on your teeth and gums, be sure to use a soft-bristle toothbrush. It is still possible to brush too hard with one of these brushes, so you may even want to invest in an electric toothbrush. That way, you don’t have to worry about pushing on your teeth to clean them.
  • Sealants – Should you have exposed roots, thin enamel, or other issues that expose the sensitive microtubes in your teeth, sealant treatment can help. Our dentists can coat your teeth in clear sealant to add a protective layer to your teeth that can help reduce your sensitivity.

If you would like our dentists’ help in protecting your sensitive teeth this winter, please contact us today to set up an appointment.

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8 Dental Tips To Keep Your Smile Happy This Thanksgiving

8 Dental Tips To Keep Your Smile Happy This Thanksgiving
It is finally November, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Aside from eating delicious food and spending time with family and friends, a major feature of this time of year is tons of pictures. And if there is a time you want a great smile, it’s during these photo-frenzy times.

That’s why Bridge Creek Dental is here with eight dental tips to help you keep your smile bright and your teeth healthy this Thanksgiving.

1. Be Aware Of Acidic Foods And Drinks

There is a variety of foods and drinks served during Thanksgiving that are highly acidic, such as cranberry sauce, wine, coffee, and other consumables. Not only does the acid in these foods and drinks erode the enamel on your teeth, but most of them can stain your teeth.

While you can always have your teeth whitened, it may be easier to just cut back on acidic foods and drinks. If you do want to enjoy them, try to be sure to break up your consumption with bites of other foods and sipping on water. Also, post-meal, wait for a half-hour to brush your teeth so that your teeth can recover from the acidity before brushing.

2. Keep An Eye On Sugar Consumption

Thanksgiving feasts almost always feature an array of delectable desserts. Problem is, the amount of sugar usually found in the pies, cookies, brownies, and other treats that make up a dessert table is staggering. Loading up on sugary Thanksgiving desserts can court cavities, as sugar residue on your teeth attracts cavity-making bacteria.

Practicing portion control can help reduce the sugar load, as well as brushing soon after you finish eating. Also, choosing less sticky desserts is a good idea, especially if you aren’t able to brush your teeth soon after.

3. Lower Your Servings Of Starches

Heavy servings of starches are a mainstay of most Thanksgiving spreads. Everything from yam casseroles to loaded mashed potatoes represents large servings of starches, which quickly breakdown into glucose—aka, sugar.

Much like with our sugar consumption advice just above, portion control will be your best defense against.

4. Grab More Veggies And Turkey

Aside from the turkey, it can be tempting to either skip the veggies completely or just take enough to quiet a slightly guilty conscious. However, if you want to take care of your teeth this Thanksgiving, you should load up on vegetable options and turkey.

Leafy green vegetables are good sources for calcium, which can help strengthen your teeth. As for colorful veggies like bell peppers, eggplant, squash, and others, these vegetables are also very mineral- and vitamin-rich, which can help support your oral health as well as your overall health. As for the turkey, this popular seasonal fowl has phosphorus, which will combine with calcium and vitamin D to help strengthen your teeth.

5. Make Healthy Substitutions When Possible

It can be easy to follow your favorite recipes to the letter, but if possible, you may want to make healthy substitutions when possible.

For instance, you can replace some or all of the sugar in a recipe with sugar substitutes such as xylitol. You can also cut down on butter and oil in recipes with unsweetened applesauce or Greek yogurt.

6. Drink Plenty Of Water

Sipping on water throughout your Thanksgiving feast, and other various holiday parties can provide you with a variety of benefits, such as:

  • Helping to rinse food and sugar residue off of your teeth.
  • Keeps your mouth moist and helps produce saliva to breakdown food.
  • Works to keep you from over-eating.

7. Avoid The Temptation To Graze

During the holiday season, there is usually plenty of food to snack on all throughout the day, sometimes every day, as there are bowls of candy at the office, baked goods at home, at dessert when you visit friends. But, when you graze, it leaves food residue on your teeth, particularly in the crevices of your teeth.

So, while those turkey-shaped sugar cookies are adorable and tempting, try your best to say no to snacking. Or, at least carry a travel toothbrush to help clean your teeth after you indulge.

8. Keep Your Dental Appointments

Last but not least, if you have a dental appointment this month, we strongly encourage you to stick to it. While the holiday season can become busy and a bit stressful, you and your family’s oral health can be better supported by keeping dental cleaning appointments.

If you need to make a biannual cleaning appointment to keep your teeth healthy, please contact us today. We look forward to helping you keep your oral health in top shape this holiday season!

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How To Keep Your Dentist Happy During Halloween

Halloween is often associated with cavities and dental fillings. But, for all that Halloween gets blamed for a lot of dental issues among children, there are some things you can do this upcoming Halloween to keep your kids’ teeth healthy and your dentist happy.

Consider Having Sealants Applied Before Halloween

Sealants are a protective coating that can be applied to your children’s teeth by our dentists here at Bridge Creek Dental. This treatment requires the underlying teeth to be healthy, as sealants quite literally seal the teeth and help to prevent damage from harmful bacteria. The cost of sealants can vary, though on average, per tooth sealants can cost around $35-$40. Dental insurance can discount or completely cover sealant treatments, and in the end, sealants are far less expensive than cavities, root canals, or cosmetic dental treatments that may be needed down the road.

Ways To Protect Your Kids Teeth On Halloween

Along with having sealants put on your children’s teeth, there are some steps you can take on Halloween. These steps can help reduce the damage of the upcoming candy frenzy.

Eat Before Trick-Or-Treating

Before you take the kids out trick-or-treating, be sure to feed them a hearty meal. Not only will that help prevent sugar crashing—and related temper tantrums—but with a good dinner in their stomachs, your children won’t fill up completely on candy. Ideally, a high protein meal with fiber-rich vegetables will help satiate their appetites and help your kids fill up.

Carry Water

Another good way to protect your children’s teeth while taking them out trick-or-treating is to carry water with you. Between munching on candy, have your kids take a drink of water. The water will help wash away the sugar residue. Also, along with assisting with sugar buildup prevention, having water on you can help prevent dry mouth. When your kids’ mouths are dry, their saliva is unable to breakdown the candy particles efficiently, which allows more bacteria to gather and eat.

Have A Set Ending Time

Kids often have a walk-’til-they-drop attitude when it comes to collecting free candy on Halloween. But the longer they are out eating candy and gathering more candy to consume later, the more at-risk their teeth can become. So, before your family sets out on Halloween, set a firm ending time. Most kids will push until they drop, and you don’t want your children to be too sleepy to effectively brush their teeth.

Ensure Good Brushing & Flossing After

Depending on the age of your children, after trick-or-treating on Halloween, you may want to brush your kids’ teeth and help them floss. With children over eight years old who can brush their teeth on their own, you can likely just double-check to make sure that any sticky, sugary residue is gone. Also, in the days following Halloween, you may want to consider trading your kids for their candy stash. Things from swapping candy for a special trip or nonfood treat, or simply paying a certain rate per candy weight is a great way to have your kids give up indulging in too much sugar.

Schedule A Dental Cleaning After Halloween

Lastly, you can schedule a dental cleaning for your kids after Halloween. Not only will this help make sure that your children’s teeth are in good shape post-candy binging, but it can also assist in ensuring that your kids’ dental health is in top condition going into the rest of the holiday season. If you would like to schedule your children’s dental cleaning, sealant treatment, or other dental services you and your family may need, feel free to contact us today. We look forward to helping you keep your family’s smiles healthy!

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Bruxism – How To Stop Grinding Your Teeth

Occasional involuntary jaw clenching and grinding of your teeth is a normal occurrence and generally shouldn’t be a problem for you. However, it’s when you regularly grind your teeth that the condition is called bruxism, and it is an issue for your oral health.

Often, when someone suffers from bruxism, they are fitted with a dental appliance to protect their teeth from being ground down. Problem is, using something like a nightguard does not address the underlying cause of bruxism, which can be anything from stress to too much caffeine.

To help you stop grinding your teeth, our dentists here at Bridge Creek Dental will work with you to find the cause of your bruxism and help you treat it.

What Causes Bruxism

Often, teeth grinding can be attributed to some sort of stress. However, there are other factors that influence your bruxism.

Anxiety and Stress

A significant source of teeth grinding is due to stress and anxiety. People who have high-stress workplaces or other stressful circumstances can often end up expressing that stress and anxiety in teeth grinding at night.

Sleep Disorder

Sleeping issues such as obstructive sleep apnea—when the airway becomes blocked during sleep by slack muscles—can lead to bruxism. The physically stressful circumstances of having their airway blocked as they sleep can cause people to grind their teeth during their sleep.

Bite Issues

During your sleep, you may end up grinding your teeth due to a missing tooth or a misaligned bite. You may instinctually clench your jaw and grind your teeth as you subconsciously try to bite your teeth evenly.

Caffeine Consumption

Stimulants like caffeine can cause the physical symptoms of stress, as caffeine helps open up your blood flow and increase your alertness, much like stress and anxiety.

How Do You Know If You Grind Your Teeth

Since teeth grinding mostly happens when you are asleep, it can be tough to be sure that you are dealing with bruxism. Here are some of the most common signs of bruxism:

Wake up with headaches – Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth during the night can cause a lot of tension to build up. That tension can leave you waking up with low-grade headaches most mornings.

Often have a sore jaw – The pressure from grinding your teeth during the night can leave your jaw sore and tender. Some people have expressed that there are mornings where they can’t even open their mouths enough to eat breakfast.

Worn-down teeth – As you brush your teeth, take a look at your teeth. Your teeth—the molars in particular—may look worn-down and shorter. If the grinding is caused by a bite issue, you may have one side of your teeth that is more worn than the other.

Chipped or cracked teeth – When you find you have a chipped or cracked tooth without a clear reason, it may be due to the excessive pressure of grinding your teeth. Also, your teeth may become weakened by nighttime grinding and become chipped or cracked by something as simple as biting an apple.

Partner mentions grinding – A pretty indicator that you have bruxism is if your partner tells you that they hear you grinding your teeth as you sleep.

If you do have worn-down teeth or have developed other types of dental damage due to your teeth grinding, you can have these issues addressed with cosmetic dentistry as you work on preventing your bruxism.

Ways To Prevent Teeth Grinding

There are a number of ways you can protect your teeth and prevent teeth grinding. Some solutions to bruxism you may want to try are:

  • Use a nightguard or other oral appliance – One of the dental services offered at our dental clinic is custom nightguards that will protect your teeth at night. Our dentists can also order other oral appliances if night guards don’t work for you. While a nightguard may not stop your bruxism, it can protect your teeth as you work on implementing other solutions.
  • Relax your muscles – Tension is a major predictor of bruxism. If you relax your muscles before bed—i.e., focused meditation, hot shower, heating pad to tense muscles, etc.—you can reduce the chance that you will grind your teeth.
  • Regularly engage in exercise – Exercising regularly can be a great way to naturally reduce the stress and tension that you carry. Cardio is a good option to get your heart pumping, but you should choose a form of exercise that you enjoy and will stick with long term.
  • Catch daytime jaw clenching and grinding – When under stress or when you feel anxious, you may clench your jaw and even grind your teeth during the day. Try to check in with yourself to see if you are doing this and actively work on relaxing your jaw.
  • Avoid chewing unnecessarily – No, we aren’t advocating that you go on a liquid diet or try to bolt food without swallowing. But if you are prone to chewing on pens, or chewy snacks like gum and taffy, you should avoid these habits as it can exacerbate your teeth grinding.
  • Skip caffeine – While you may still have a cup or two of coffee in the morning, you should skip all forms of caffeine a few hours before you are looking to go to bed.
  • Work with a therapist – Working with a mental health specialist can help you develop the tools to effectively manage your stress and anxiety.

As you do these things, be sure to come into our dental clinic for your biannual dental cleanings. That way, if there are any potential issues developing, our dentists can catch them before they become a serious issue.

If you want to address your teeth grinding issue, you can feel free to contact us and have a consultation with our dentists.

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Dentist Digest Monthly: Protecting Your Kid’s Teeth During Sports

Team sports can be an excellent addition to a growing kid’s developing, teaching life skills like teamwork, dedication, hard work, and other valuable accomplishments. Yet, there is an element of dental danger to playing sports.

In popular contact sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, and others, there is a high possibility that your child’s teeth can be damaged. While often the damage can be resolved fairly easily with some minor cosmetic dentistry, there are instances where the dental trauma can be more severe.

As your local family dentists in Billings, MT, here is some dentist-approved advice to help your kids to stay safe while enjoying their time participating in sports.

What Sports Are Most Likely To Cost Your Kid A Tooth

While it is completely possible for your kid to trip and knock out a tooth while participating on the cross-country team, the likelihood is pretty slim. Below are the sports that are most likely to cause your child to hurt their teeth and potentially lose one.

Basketball – While basketball is technically a non-contact sport, there are many instances of contact during the course of the game. Knocked out or cracked teeth due to flying elbows and collisions are not uncommon.

Ball and stick games – Sports that incorporate the use of a ball and players with sticks—such as lacrosse, baseball, hockey, etc.—have high incidents of tooth trauma. There is a good deal of protective gear that comes with most ball and stick sports but the damage due to being struck forcefully with either a player’s stick or the ball.

Skateboarding – As most young skateboarders like to skip out on wearing any protective gear, while still taking hard falls, they have some of the highest incidents of dental damage. Especially since one bad move generally means that a skateboarder will make contact with unforgiving asphalt and concrete.

Martial arts – A clear contact sport is various martial arts, from traditional styles like Tae Kwon Do and karate, as well as other sports like boxing and wrestling. Most of these martial arts require the use of a mouthguard, which can keep the dental trauma down, but there is still the potential for problems.

Football – There is plenty of protective gear worn during while playing football, yet your child’s teeth can still take a hit. Often, damage occurs when there are multiple players involved in a tackle, as the first jolt can knock the mouthguard out of position then the next hits can make contact with the teeth.

Other Sports That Can Lead To Dental Damage

Along with the top offenders, there are other sports where there is a significant risk of breaking, chipping, or losing a tooth. Other sports where children and teens can benefit from wearing a mouthguard are:

  • Volleyball
  • Equestrian sports
  • Inline skating
  • Snowboarding and skiing
  • Water polo
  • Rugby
  • Track and field events
  • Racquetball
  • Soccer

Have Your Child Fit With A Custom Mouthguard

One of the dental services we offer at our dental clinic is custom mouthguards. With a store-bought mouthguard, they are generally “boil and bite”, where you boil the mouthguard and then bite down to get an impression of the wearer’s teeth. However, these often aren’t a great fit and can still move around while wearing them, which provides less protection for your teeth.

With a custom mouthguard, an impression of the teeth is taken. From that impression, a mouthguard is created. With a custom mouthguard designed to fit your child’s teeth perfectly, there is less likelihood that the mouthguard will slip and not protect your kid’s teeth. Also, the better the mouthguard fits, the less likely your child will be to skip wearing it due to discomfort.

What To Do If A Dental Injury Occurs

If your child does suffer from a dental injury while playing sports, do your best to stay calm. If the tooth is still in place but damaged, call us to set up an emergency appointment. We keep time open for our recurring patients in case of an emergency. Even if you aren’t a dental patient at Bridge Creek Dental, you can still access our emergency dental services.

Also, if the tooth has been knocked out, you can place it in milk and bring it along to the appointment, as there is a chance that it can be re-implanted.

Also, be sure to contact us to set up appointments to bring your kids in for their biannual dental cleaning. That way, if there is any tooth trauma that may have gone under the radar, our dental staff will be able to find and correct the problem before it becomes a serious issue.

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Meth Mouth: The Effects Of Meth On Dental Health

Meth Mouth - Bridge Creek

Highly addictive drugs like methamphetamine—commonly called meth—can wreak havoc on people’s lives. Here in Billings, Montana, the effects of meth are becoming more widespread. The Billings Police Department as reported a 75% rise in meth-related violent crime, tracked from 2010 to 2017.

Along with the criminal impact of meth usage, people using meth can experience a number of health consequences ranging from high blood pressure to permanent brain damage. One of the more outwardly obvious effects of meth is its impact on a user’s dental health.

Meth mouth is a shorthand term to describe the severe oral health impact of using meth. In an effort to help heal the effects meth has had on our community, our staff here at Bridge Creek Dental is here to help provide insight on meth mouth, its symptoms, and how meth mouth can be treated.

Meth Mouth Defined

Technically, there is no dental condition called meth mouth. However, there are several common oral health issues that are common among meth users, according to a study by the American Dental Association. The survey of over 550 meth users found:

  • 96% of surveyed meth users had multiple cavities
  • 40% said they were embarrassed by the appearance of their teeth
  • 31% of participants were missing at least 6 or more of their teeth
  • 23% of surveyed meth users had all of their natural teeth

And among the older meth users in the study group, 6% of them had fewer than 10 of their natural teeth. Overall, most of the participants had severe gum disease that presented as gum inflammation, as well as broken, stained, and rotting teeth. These issues combined are what is commonly called meth mouth.

Symptoms Of Meth Mouth

As those who abuse substances like methamphetamines often neglect their oral hygiene and indulge in sugary drinks and foods, it is not surprising that their oral health takes a hit. Other clear symptoms and signs of someone with meth mouth can be:

  • Red and Swollen Gums
  • Unusually Short Teeth
  • Dry Mouth
  • Grinding or Clenching of Teeth
  • Crumbled, Broken, or Fractured Teeth
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Loose Teeth

Also, the gums of long-time meth users who inject the drugs by smoking it may be pale, as meth narrows the blood vessels in the gums, which restricts blood flow.

What Causes Meth Mouth To Happen

Substance abuse of any kind can lead to oral health issues, but meth mouth gets its own term thanks to the severe dental damage it causes. Meth mouth can occur thanks to several different factors.

Stimulants Like Meth Trigger Tense Jaw

As meth users often have weakened teeth, clenching, and teeth grinding that is triggered by meth can cause the brittle teeth to chip or shatter completely.

Meth Dries Out The User’s Mouth

We need our saliva to protect our teeth and gums from harmful bacteria buildup, break down food particles, and to neutralize acid. Since meth dries out the mouth, there is no helpful saliva to protect the user’s vulnerable teeth and gums.

People Tend To Neglect Oral Health When High On Meth

Unsurprisingly, when high on methamphetamines, people don’t generally take care of their dental hygiene. By skipping out on teeth brushing and flossing, plaque is allowed to build up, and infection can set into the gum more easily to lead to periodontal disease.

Blood Vessels Are Shrunk By Meth Use, Causing Oral Health Issues

When meth is used, blood vessels become shrunken and lessens the blood supply that can reach the mouth. Without enough blood, it is harder for the mouth to fight off infections, making it easier for gum disease to occur and tooth loss. Also, the vessels can die altogether, which just accelerates oral issues.

Dangerous Chemicals Are Found In Meth

Made up of a cocktail of abrasive and eroding chemicals like lithium and ammonia, meth is a toxic mix that is guaranteed to damage tooth enamel and abraid the gums.

Individuals Using Meth Often Crave Consumable High In Sugar

Combine a craving of sugary drinks and foods with poor oral hygiene—as well as the other factors listed above—and you are looking at a recipe for tooth decay and gum disease.

While not all these factors may take place when someone is abusing methamphetamines, generally, enough of them for meth to make a serious impact on the user’s oral health.

Ways Meth Impacts Oral Health

As you might have assumed from what causes meth mouth, there are some pretty severe oral health repercussions to using meth. Some of the most common ways that meth impacts a person’s oral health are:

  • Bruxism – This dental condition describes when a person clenches, gnashes, or grinds their teeth. While it is often during sleep that bruxism is at its worst, it can affect people during the day.
  • Tooth decay – With the combination of poor oral hygiene, the corrosive ingredients in methamphetamines, and sugary consumables, tooth decay is a common issue among those who use meth.
  • Gum disease – Unsurprisingly, the tooth decay tends to pair with gum disease, especially as food particles and bacteria become lodged near the gumline. Since meth users tend to neglect oral hygiene, gum disease often becomes serious as it is allowed to progress.
  • Tooth loss – Between gum inflammation and tooth decay, many meth users tend to lose at least one tooth, with older meth users missing the majority of their teeth.
  • Jawbone density loss – As meth users lose teeth and struggle with gum infections, their jawbones also take a hit, and the bone density tends to deteriorate.
  • Oral cancer risk increase – With the combined neglect and abrasive ingredients in methamphetamines, the risk of developing oral cancer is higher in meth users.

Even with the severe impact of meth on a person’s oral health, not all is lost. With the right dental services, meth mouth can be treated.

Treatment For Meth Mouth

Having meth mouth treated can be a critical part of recovery from methamphetamine abuse, along with finding the right resources thanks to groups like the Montana Meth Project. With dental treatment, some of the visible signs of meth use—like meth mouth—can be corrected.

Often, when a recovering meth user is ready to address their dental issues, many of their teeth have been damaged beyond repair. These teeth require extraction and can be replaced with things like dental bridges, dental implants, crowns, and dentures. Depending on the extent of the damage, sometimes jawbone grafts, and gum treatments can be required for a former meth user’s dental treatment.

If you have a loved one who has struggled with meth and needs help to recover their oral health, Bridge Creek Dental is here to help. Contact us to set up a consultation with one of our dentists, and we will help your loved one get their dental health back on track.

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Dentist Digest Monthly: Can Baby Teeth Predict Autism?

Our dentists here at Bridge Creek Dental are committed to continuing their education when it comes to bringing you the latest in dental research. In pursuit of innovative research, there is a study that has found that baby teeth may be a good way to predict autism.

Baby Teeth With High Lead And Low In Other Minerals May Indicate Future Autism

In an exciting new study, researchers examined the layers of enamel and dentin in baby teeth. Like how the rings of a tree can help you learn the age of the tree, there was key information found in the layers of the examined baby teeth.

Children who were diagnosed with autism had higher levels of toxic lead in the layers of their teeth and were lower in manganese and zinc than in children who did not have autism. The researchers first worked with sets of twins, then non-twin siblings as part of their research to reach these findings.

The presence of toxic lead in baby teeth, in particular, was a major predictor in autism. This lead was processed by the fetus while in utero, which was confirmed when the researchers looked at how the baby teeth developed.

Genetics And Environmental Stressors Contribute To Autism

However, while this research is exciting, there is still a genetic component to autism that is still unpredictable. Also, while there was a connection between high levels of lead and low levels of manganese and zinc found in baby teeth, the solution is not quite as simple as removing lead and adding these minerals in.

For one thing, manganese in high doses can also affect brain development in babies and has been linked to autism. In fact, many vitamins and minerals in high doses can be toxic, so it is best not to load up on a ton of supplements.

Also, when it comes to lead, most sane people aren’t intentionally ingesting lead. However, lead can be present in your environment and contribute to issues without you even realizing the lead is present. To help you manage these factors, our dentists have some advice.

Ways To Remove Lead And Boost Essential Minerals

While the genetic factors can’t be controlled, there are steps you can take to control the environmental factors which may contribute to the development of autism in children. Some of the things you can do are:

  • Discuss dental issues with our dentists – If you or your loved one is pregnant, it is critical that you take care of any dental issues. By accessing our dental services during your pregnancy, you can protect your teeth and the health of your child, who can be affected by things like gum infection.
  • Check local water quality reports – Your water is one of the most common sources of lead ingestion. You can check your local water quality report and see what level of lead is present in your area. For Billings, MT, the local water quality report has stated that there is a low presence of lead in our water, which is likely due to natural deposits and the erosion of lead plumbing systems.
  • Filter your water – By filtering your water, you can help strain out the excess lead. Carbon filters are commonly recommended, but you should check before you purchase a filter to be sure what minerals are removed.
  • Consume foods high in manganese and zinc – Rather than overload your system with supplements, it is best if your vitamins and minerals mainly come from a varied diet. Foods that are high in both manganese and zinc are things like nuts, legumes—pinto beans, lima beans, etc.—dark leafy greens, whole grains, and other foods.

Pregnancy can be tough on your teeth as well as your developing baby’s teeth. For personalized dental assistance to help you make it through pregnancy with healthy teeth, contact us to set up an appointment. We offer a variety of other dental services, so no matter what stage of life you are in, you can count on Bridge Creek Dental, your local dental experts in Billings, MT.

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