How to Deal with Teeth Grinding

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How to Deal with Teeth Grinding

teeth grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can be a painful situation. This condition causes the person to excessively grind or clench their teeth, causing wear and tear over time. Typically, the problem arises at night while the person is asleep, but there are some cases where people will notice themselves grinding or clenching their teeth during the daytime hours as well.

If you grind your teeth at night, it’s known as sleep bruxism and is categorized as a sleep-related movement disorder. If this is happening in your sleep, it’s possible that you have other sleeping problems as well, like apnea. Mild bruxism can be easily managed, but if it worsens into a more serious case, it can lead to headaches, damaged teeth, and jaw problems. In either case, it’s important to know the signs of teeth grinding so that you can get it checked out and treated as quickly as possible.

Signs of Teeth Grinding

There are several signs to look out for if you think you may have a teeth grinding problem:

  • Teeth are noticeably flattened, chipped, fractured, or feel loose.
  • Worn tooth enamel that will eventually expose the deeper layer of your tooth.
  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity.
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles, which can sometimes worsen to the point that it will not open or close completely.
  • Jaw, neck, or face pain.
  • Dull headaches that start at the temples.
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek.
  • Grinding that may be loud enough for your partner to hear in the night.
  • Sleep interruption for you and/or your partner.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment to see your dentist as soon as you can.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

There’s not always a clear reason why a person grinds his or her teeth, but there are several possible causes. There’s a link to breathing airway issues, such as sleep apnea, tooth position, and dental work that has changed your tooth or jaw position. There’s also evidence to support that teeth grinding is linked to emotional and developmental issues. Since there’s no one cause for teeth grinding and it can be caused by physical or emotional issues, it can affect anyone at any time. This is why it’s especially important to keep an eye (and ear) out for signs of bruxism in yourself and your family.

Risk Factors of Teeth Grinding

There are a few risk factors that come along with teeth grinding, that you may or may not have any control over:

  • Stress – Increased anxiety or stress can lead to bruxism.
  • Personality Type – Someone with a high level of aggression, competitiveness, or hyperactivity can be more prone to teeth grinding.
  • Medications or other Drugs – Certain medications can come with a side effect of teeth grinding. Too much caffeine or alcohol consumption can also sometimes cause a problem.
  • Heredity – Teeth grinding can run in the family. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with bruxism, there is a chance that you could develop it as well.
  • Other Disorders – If someone has dementia, GERD, Parkinson’s, or any sleep disorder, it’s more likely that they could develop teeth grinding as well.

Treatment for Teeth Grinding

In most cases, a sleep study will need to be done if your bruxism is happening at night. If a poor airway is to blame for the teeth grinding, a treatment for that can be given first to see if it eases the grinding problem. Every case of teeth grinding is handled on an individual basis, but oftentimes a dentist will fit the patient with a mouth guard. This mouth guard is worn every night while sleeping to prevent damage to the teeth.

Other possible treatment options include dietary changes, postural changes, emotional therapy, medication, injections, and orthodontic work.

If any of these symptoms seem familiar, don’t hesitate to call and set up an appointment with your dentist. The longer you wait, the worse the teeth grinding can get, leading to more problems that you would need to deal with down the line. It’s much more expensive, painful, and time-consuming to get your teeth and jaw fixed than it is to be fitted for a mouth guard.

For more information on oral hygiene and dental health, check out Flintlock Dental’s other blogs here!


Causes and Solutions for Bad Breath

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Causes and Solutions for Bad Breath


There are several factors that can cause bad breath, and some of them are easier to fix than others. Bad breath can come from the foods you eat or the things you drink, and this is easily fixed with good oral hygiene and mouthwash. However, if your cause for bad breath is more than a temporary food-based problem, you could be dealing with more serious halitosis. Below, Flintlock Dental will take a look at the main causes for halitosis and some ways to treat it.

What is Halitosis?

Halitosis is a common health condition that affects nearly 30% of people around the world. It’s a more official term for “bad breath” and is usually used when describing a persistent problem rather than the smell that comes from eating too much garlic for lunch. It’s the presence of a foul odor that comes from the oral cavity, which could indicate an issue in the mouth, throat, or tonsils.

Halitosis is often caused by a group of anaerobic, sulfur-producing bacteria that breed beneath the surface of the tongue and in the throat and tonsil areas. These types if bacteria do not require oxygen to live (hence anaerobic) and often thrive in the oral environment as they help break down the protein in foods into amino acids. As long as these bacteria feed on the proteins you consume and excrete the sulfurous compounds, you can experience lingering bad breath if gone unchecked.

Causes for Bad Breath

There are four main causes for bad breath:

Dry Mouth – Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, is the perfect environment for bacteria production. Long periods of speaking, smoking, drinking alcohol, or snoring are just some of the possible underlying causes. Many people experience bad breath as they wake up in the morning due to lack of saliva while they sleep. Healthy people reduce bad breath from food by simply having normal saliva flow. Those who suffer from dry mouth and lack of saliva will find that minor food odors can ultimately lead to long-term issues.

Poor Dental Hygiene – If you don’t take care of your mouth, it can lead to excess bacterial growth on your teeth and gums. Your teeth cannot shed skin like your mouth can, meaning bacteria will stay there and continue to grow, causing more problems the longer you don’t clean your teeth. If these bacteria are not removed, they will create dental plaque that grows on your gum line, causing damage to the teeth and gum tissue. This can lead to diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis that can exacerbate the foul odor in your mouth. Poor fitting or dirty dentures can also cause a bad odor.

Types of Food – There are certain foods, like onions and garlic, that contribute to bad breath, as they contain the sulfur compound linked to halitosis. Dairy, meat, and fish contain dense proteins that are used as a food source for anaerobic bacteria. Refined and processed sugars, coffee, and juices also help provide the perfect breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria.

Illness and Disease – An estimated 10% of halitosis is caused by some type of illness. Those who suffer from diabetes, lung disease, cancer, liver or kidney disease, or respiratory tract infections are more prone to chronic halitosis due to dry mouth. Other common illnesses that can affect mouth and nasal odor are tonsil stones, yeast infections of the mouth (known as thrush), and gum disease.

Medications – Certain drugs, such as some anti-depressants and antihistamines, can also cause foul breath due to dry mouth, as they reduce saliva production.

Treatments for Bad Breath

There are several ways you can treat bad breath naturally with home remedies and better oral hygiene. Here are a few things you can try to help eliminate your bad breath:

Proper Oral Care – Make sure you brush and floss your teeth twice a day. If you eat dairy, meat, or fish, try to brush your teeth after eating. Use a non-alcohol mouthwash regularly as well to help keep your mouth free of bacteria and bad breath.

Eat Foods Rich in Fiber – High-fiber foods, such as certain beans, veggies, and whole grains, are good at preventing halitosis. You want to avoid eating heavily processed foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, such as cookies, sweets, and ice cream.

Breathe Through Your Nose – Try to deal with any snoring or sleep apnea problems you may have. These issues could be causing you to breath more through your mouth at night (and will keep you from getting a restful night’s sleep!) Talk to your doctor to learn how to solve these problems. During the day, practice breathing through your nose as much as you can to prevent dry mouth.

Drink Water – Water is good for more than just hydration for your body. It’s also great at helping keep moisture in your mouth, thus preventing dry mouth and bad breath.

Stop Smoking – If you’re a smoker, this is another reason why you should consider quitting the habit. Studies show that smokers are at a higher risk for periodontal disease and halitosis.

Use an Oral Probiotic – This is something that your dentist can prescribe, or you can find some types over the counter. These K12 and M18 probiotics can help restore microbial balance to your mouth and prevent the overgrowth of odor-causing bacteria.

If you’ve tried some of these treatments and find that you’re still in need of something more for your bad breath, it’s best to consult with your dentist and see what they suggest you do to help treat and prevent it. The number one thing you can do to prevent bad breath, along with many other dental issues, is to brush your teeth twice a day!

How to Store and Clean Your Toothbrush

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How to Store and Clean Your Toothbrush

clean your toothbrush

Your toothbrush helps freshen up your mouth in the morning and get all the food, germs, and grime off of your teeth after a long day. But have you ever thought about what’s going on with your toothbrush in between these times? It cleans your teeth, but is the toothbrush itself clean? Research shows that toothbrushes can hold microorganisms and bacteria that could result in illness if allowed to build up. Your mouth is full of bacteria, which gets transferred to your toothbrush. If your toothbrush isn’t properly cleaned, you could end up putting growing colonies of bacteria right back into your mouth when you brush the next time, making that brush ineffective or even dangerous.

There are a few things you can do to ensure that your toothbrush stays clean and ready to use every morning and night. Below, Flintlock Dental will look at ways you can store and clean your toothbrush to keep it in good shape between uses.

Do Not Share Your Toothbrush

It might seem harmless to share a toothbrush, but it’s not worth the risk. Sharing your toothbrush could result in the exchange of harmful microorganisms between the two users, putting them both at risk for illness. Sharing a toothbrush is particularly dangerous for someone with a compromised immune system or who is prone to recurring illnesses. It’s also a bad idea to share a toothbrush with someone who tends to get cold sores. Your toothbrush should be yours and yours alone.

Thoroughly Clean Your Toothbrush

Just as your teeth need to be cleaned twice a day, the same goes for your toothbrush. Make sure you rinse your toothbrush off well with hot water after each use. Clear the toothbrush of any leftover toothpaste and debris that may be left on there. Once your toothbrush is clean, store the brush in an upright position and let it air dry. If multiple toothbrushes are stored together in the same location, make sure that the brushes don’t touch, to avoid any cross-contamination.

If you want to further sanitize your toothbrush, you can soak the brush for a few minutes in boiling water or rubbing alcohol. If you use the latter, rinse off the bristles before you use it.

Do Not Cover Your Toothbrush

You may be tempted to get one of those toothbrush covers to keep your brush safe from surrounding bathroom contamination, but this is a bad idea. Closing up your wet toothbrush in a small container allows for even more contaminants and bacteria to grow. Many harmful microorganisms love dark, wet environments for optimal growth. Always let your toothbrush air dry after cleaning, and leave it exposed until your next use.

If you’re concerned about particles from your toilet getting into the air and onto your toothbrush, there are a few things you van do. Put the seat down every time you flush to reduce the spray. Put your toothbrushes behind a closed door from the toilet, such as a cabinet (as long as it has enough space for a good air dry). You can also keep your toothbrush at a sink that’s not near a toilet, such as the kitchen, if you don’t mind having it be more visible to guests!

Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 – 4 Months

The bristles on your toothbrush will become frayed, and the overall effectiveness of your toothbrush will lessen over time. How quickly the bristles wear down will depend on how often and hard each person brushes. Make sure to check your toothbrush frequently to see if it’s time to replace your toothbrush. Children’s toothbrushes often need replaced more often than adult ones, so make a point to check their brushes often.

You also should replace your toothbrush after you get over an illness. This will make sure you aren’t leaving any trace of the germs on your toothbrush to re-infect yourself later.

Taking proper care of your toothbrush by cleaning it after every use, letting it dry in the open air, and replacing it when needed can help decrease the risk of some illnesses. Just like your teeth need to be cleaned regularly, so does your toothbrush. If you want more info from Flintlock Dental, check out our other blogs, such as this one that goes over tips to get your kids to brush their teeth!

6 Ways to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

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6 Ways to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

get kids to brush their teeth

Anyone with a small child knows the daily struggle to get them to brush their teeth once, let alone twice, a day. It’s not fun for anyone, and it takes time away from play! Luckily, there are some things you can do (other than nagging or yelling) that will make the daily chore of brushing teeth fun and even something that they actually look forward to! Below, Flintlock Dental will give you ideas that will add some fun to dental hygiene and get kids to actually brush their teeth.

1. Lead By Example

The best and easiest way to get your young children on board for daily teeth brushing is by setting a good example. Let them see you taking the 2 minutes out of each morning and evening to brush your own teeth. Get down on their level and show them what you’re doing, and explain to them why you do it and why good oral hygiene is important. If they see you taking the time to brush your teeth, they will want to do it too. Take advantage of the age when there’s nothing more your child wants than to be just like you!

2. Let Them Pick Out Their Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Take your children to the store, and let them pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. This will make them feel important and in charge of their brushing habits. Small kids love to test their independence, so it’s helpful if you give them the opportunity to do so within safe, healthy boundaries. If they remember that they got to pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste, they will be more likely to want to use them.

3. Start Early

You can start brushing your child’s gums and let them get used to the habit right away after they’re born. You can use your clean finger, moistened gauze, or washcloth for this task before any teeth come in by rubbing the gums gently. After the first tooth arrives, you can start brushing! This will not only start them off on the right track with good oral hygiene, but it will also get your child into a daily habit of taking care of his or her gums and teeth. As you help them brush their teeth, make sure you explain to them why oral hygiene is important. Let them know that good brushing habits keep a beautiful smile and healthy teeth and gums. As kids get older, they love to ask why we do the things we do!

4. Make a Game Out of It

You should brush your teeth for 2 minutes, both in the morning and at night, which can seem like an eternity for a small child! Make brushing their teeth fun by turning it into a game. This could be as simple as setting a timer for 2 minutes and counting down. You could also turn on some good music and have a tooth brushing dance party for those 2 minutes. Or brush your teeth along with your child and have a contest of who can make the most foam while brushing their teeth!

5. Story Time

The life of your child is sure to be orbiting around characters of all kinds, from Sesame Street to Disney Junior. If you’re trying to help your child get in a good routine and care for their teeth, you can find all kinds of storybooks and television episodes about dental hygiene. What better way to help get your child get excited about brushing their teeth than seeing that Elmo and Doc McStuffins enjoy brushing their teeth too?

6. Start a Routine

It’s so important that, no matter how you get your children excited about brushing their teeth, you set up a routine for this chore and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend or you’re on vacation – everyone should brush their teeth every morning and evening. Consistency is extremely helpful for small children, so stick with it no matter the day or circumstance.

From letting your child pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste to setting up a schedule and staying with it, the healthy habit of brushing a child’s teeth daily is one that you want to start as soon as you can. If that means dancing around the house for 2 minutes while they brush or making a mess while they learn to put toothpaste on the brush themselves, that’s fine. Try to enjoy the process to make it more fun for everyone involved. Help them set up a good oral hygiene habit that will last a lifetime!

If you want some more ideas to make dental hygiene more fun for kids, try out some of these alternate uses for dental floss. They may get your kid more interested in how flossing works!

Uses for Dental Floss (Besides Flossing Your Teeth!)

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Uses for Dental Floss (Besides Flossing Your Teeth!)

uses for dental floss

We all know that we need to use dental floss daily to remove the food particles from in between our teeth and keep our gums healthy. However, you might not have realized just how useful dental floss is for other purposes too! If you come across a task that needs a thin, sturdy piece of string, consider using floss. Or you can use the tips below to use up some floss you got from your last dentist visit that isn’t the brand you prefer. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do with that dental floss, besides cleaning between your teeth:

Hang It Up

The actual thread of dental floss is very sturdy. So sturdy, in fact, that you can use it to hang things up around your house. This can include anything from picture frames to ornaments. Using floss to hang pictures on the wall is a better alternative to rope, because the floss will not scratch the paint on the wall like other hanging mediums can.

Clothes Lines

This thread is so strong that you can use it to set up a quick clothes drying line in a pinch. If you’re out camping or swimming and need to line dry your clothes, simply string some floss up between 2 trees or poles, and you have yourself a line to dry those towels and wet clothes!

Remove Sticky Photos

Have you ever gone to change out a picture in a frame or take a picture out of an old photo album and find that they’re stuck? The more you pull on the edges, the more you ruin the photo. Next time this happens to you, go grab some dental floss. Place the floss between the picture and the frame or sleeve and pull it between the two until the picture comes out. This will save both the picture and the frame!

Getting Cookies Off of the Tray

The only thing worse than a picture stuck to a frame are cookies stuck to the tray. The same method applies to getting cookies off a tray as getting that picture unstuck. Take some floss and guide it underneath the cookie and above the tray. The cookie will come off the tray clean, and you will not lose a chunk of that cookie or have to scrub the baking sheet so hard.

Cutting Food

Another great use for dental floss in the kitchen is when you need to cut some food. Have you ever gone to cut a slice of cheese or bread dough, only to completely smush it in the process? Floss can act as a knife without squishing your food. It can cut foods from cake slices to fruit. It can even slice the skin from a fish if you need it to! Try it out on a variety of foods – you may be surprised by how well it works.

Kitchen Twine

Not only can floss act as a knife, it can also replace string in the kitchen. If you don’t have any string handy to tie that pork loin for dinner, you can use non-wax, unflavored dental floss. It will do the job just the same, and there’s no worry of it burning in the cooking process. It also won’t leave behind any strands like rough twine can. Simply cut it off when the dish is done cooking, and you’re ready to eat!

Starting a Fire

If you find yourself without enough dry kindling to start a fire, grab some wax dental floss. It will burn well and help you get a good fire started. Wrap it around any kindling you have for a good boost. Make sure you add some dental floss to your camping bag in case you need it on your next camping trip.

Wood Repair

If you have some cracks in the wood of your fence, deck, or furniture, you can use glue and floss to repair them. Roll the floss in the glue and insert it into the crack to fill it up. Then add a bit more glue and polish to finish it off. This will seal up the cracks in the wood and save you from considering replacing the entire piece of wood.

Replace Buttons

If a button pops off your shirt and you have no sewing thread, you can go grab that roll of dental floss. Just thread it into the needle like you would regular thread, and reattach the button. The floss will hold just as well as sewing thread would.

Makeshift Shoelaces

Did your shoelace break, but you still need to wear those shoes? Use some dental floss until you can get a replacement.

Seal Up Connections

Since dental floss is so sturdy, it makes sense that it can hold its own against teflon tape. If you have a connection on your pipes that’s leaking and do not have sealant tape anywhere, you can use wax coated dental floss in its place.

Clean Crannies

Besides between your teeth, there are lots of other crevices around that are difficult to reach for cleaning. They might be in your tools, electronics, or other household items.

Go Fishing

Dental floss is often used to make DIY fishing poles. The simplest version just requires floss, a stick, a hook, and some bait!

While these are just a few of the household and outdoor uses for dental floss, this list gives you a good idea of what all you can do with this strong thread. Of course, you should also be using it to floss your teeth daily! So next time you find yourself staring at that pile of dental floss in your medicine cabinet, remember that you can use it for so many thing around your house. Consider putting a roll in your purse, toolbox, camping bag, and utility drawer as well.

If you want to read another fun article about dentistry, check out Flintlock Dental’s blog that debunks some common dental myths!