If you follow our blogs about oral health, you know that dentists can detect potentially serious conditions that affect your entire body simply by looking in your mouth. A new study suggests dentists may also be able to spot bullying.
Bullying has grown into a major problem. It puts countless adolescents under heightened emotional stress. According to the New York Daily News, data collected in Brazil reveals that kids who experience bullying are more likely to grind their teeth while they sleep.
A Strikingly Common Habit
Oral health and bullying: Kids who experienced verbal bullying were four times as likely to grind their teeth.
Researchers looked at the oral health and academic experiences of over 300 children ages thirteen to fifteen.
Sixty-five percent of the bullied students ground their teeth.
“Both children and adults tend to grind their teeth when suffering from stress,” says Dr. Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation. “…bullying is a significant contributor here,” he says. “Sleep bruxism can be particularly damaging as we are often unaware that we do it.”
What Causes Bruxism?
An abnormal bite can lead to bruxism. However, dentists usually attribute tooth grinding to stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
In 2017, actor Demi Moore confessed to Jimmy Fallon that over the past two years, stress caused her to grind her two front teeth. In fact, she ground them so hard that her dentist had to remove them. The two, shiny front teeth she sported on The Tonight Show were fake.
Symptoms of bruxism include worn down teeth, hypersensitive teeth and jaw aches. As Dr. Carter said, most bruxism sufferers don’t know they grind their teeth. Not, that is, until someone who sleeps in the same room hears them in the act.
While people usually grind their teeth at night, some sufferers grind their teeth while doing chores or driving, the BBC reported.
A Vital Insight into a Child’s State of Mind
With this new evidence about the likely cause, nonprofits like the Oral Health Foundation are taking action. They are urging parents and school nurses to view these symptoms in children as signs of bullying or other emotionally debilitating problems.
“Bullying of any form is absolutely abhorrent and can have both a physical and psychological impact,” Dr. Carter said. Moreover, “when experienced in childhood, [these] can lead to trauma that might last throughout adulthood.”
“Grinding teeth may not sound like a priority within the wider picture,” Dr. Carter added. However, “…it could prove to give a vital insight into a child’s state of mind and could be an important sign for us to identify bullying at an earlier stage.”
Grinding teeth could be an important sign for identifying bullying at an earlier stage.
Dentists who detect bruxism may fit the patient with a plastic mouth guard to help protect the teeth. Arguably, the most effective way to break the habit, however, is to relieve stress via exercise, meditation, or even psychological counseling.
The only way to know if you have bruxism or your symptoms are a cause for concern is by going to the dentist at least twice a year. The cost of preventing this and other oral health conditions will far outweigh the cost of repairing damage.
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Few if any dentists have Instagram accounts more popular than Dr. Nicholas Toscano, who boasts over 150,000 followers. Though he does have an affinity for shocking before-and-after photos from operations, Dr. Toscano’s tremendous following can largely be attributed to the countless photos of supermodels, or as he calls them, patients.
Dr. Toscano’s patients have included supermodels, SEAL teams, sitting presidents, and prominent members of Congress.
According to the New York Times, the 45-year-old from Jericho, New York is the official dentist for several major modeling agencies, making him responsible for the picture-perfect smiles of supermodels such as Abigail Ratchford, Mara Tiegen, Jasmin Tookes, Romee Strijd and Cindy Guyer. It’s common for Dr. Toscano’s patients to post selfies with him right after treatment, sending his name and face out to their millions of followers, many of whom end up in his Manhattan office shortly after.
Being the go-to dentist for dozens of supermodels means tending to the always-probable “emergency,” which often requires Dr. Toscano to rush back to his office at night to fix a broken tooth or perform a teeth bleaching before a fashion shoot.
Dr. Toscano must also be extremely flexible to accommodate his patients’ unreliable schedules. The time or date of a shoot are always subject to change, forcing patients to cancel on him three or four consecutive times at the last minute.
No Stranger to Important Patients
How did Dr. Toscano obtain such clientele and learn to deal with their chaotic needs?
For thirteen years, he was the active-duty dentist for the US Navy. Patients included post and pre-mission SEAL teams as well as sitting presidents and prominent members of Congress.
Dr. Toscano realized he wanted to be a dentist while completing an orthodontics project for an eighth-grade science fair. His father was a Navy SEAL and his brother, Christopher, is a Navy lawyer, so Dr. Toscano attended Columbia University School of Dental Medicine on a Navy scholarship.
His responsibilities soon included performing facial reconstruction on injured soldiers, examining the teeth of Navy crews heading into lengthy submarine deployments, and making sure special forces officers had good oral health before missions.
A Lesson in Pressure
Dr. Toscano eventually served at the Washington Navy Yard and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he treated Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and a slew of politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
One of his busiest years was 2008, the height of the financial crisis and an extremely stressful time for politicians. Patients would grind their teeth during long legislative sessions, sometimes putting so much pressure on their teeth that they caused them to break.
Dr. Toscano explained that treating soldiers and politicians taught him not to let the stress of their lives pour into his own.
“Serving during a war, you put a lot in perspective, and that’s one reason many models and celebrity types come to me,” he told the New York Times. “Because I don’t get caught up in the New York nonsense and all the hubbub.”
From One Battlefield to Another
In 2009, Dr. Toscano left the military and opened his own practice, offering low rates for up-and-coming models from smaller agencies.
When asked about the difference between his previous and current clientele, Dr. Toscano suggested numerous similarities in terms of unexpected changes in schedule, abrupt treatments, and, of course, immense urgency and stress.
“It’s different, but it’s the same,” he said of soldiers and models.
It’s different, but it’s the same,” Toscano said of soldiers and models.
Both stages of his career also reminded Dr. Toscano of the importance of never judging his patients, whether it be by their lifestyle choices or small-talk.
His first piece of advice for treating politicians?
“Stay apolitical,” he said.
For a more complete list of Dr. Toscano’s patients, visit his office on Central Park South, where his patients’ work along with tributes from presidents and SEAL teams adorn the waiting room wall.
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A startling revelation from a Hollywood actor highlights one of the most prevalent causes of oral health problems: stress.
Demi Moore appeared on “The Tonight Show” in June to chat with host Jimmy Fallon about her new film, “Rough Night.”
But before they discussed her role, Fallon showed the audience a recent photo of Moore smiling with one of her front teeth missing. The 54-year-old then told Fallon that this was the second of her two front teeth she had lost.
Showing how Harmful Stress Can Be
“I’d love to say it was skateboarding or something really kind of cool,” Moore said before confessing to have been so overcome with stress that she “sheared off” her front teeth.
Learn more: Stress and Oral Health
“They happened a year apart but the fact remains that I sheared off both my front teeth,” she added. “Thank God for modern dentistry. Without it, I wouldn’t be smiling on the red carpet.”
Thank God for modern dentistry. Without it, I wouldn’t be smiling on the red carpet.
Speaking of how the second tooth actually came out, Moore told Fallon that she “literally knocked it out. It was almost like it fell out and my warranty was up.”
In addition to comic relief, Moore explained that the photo’s purpose was to show the world just how harmful stress can be.
“I think it’s something that’s important to share, because I think it’s literally, probably after heart disease, one of the biggest killers in America,” she said of stress.
Other Factors Involved
Stress and anxiety can make people neglect their overall health.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can in fact be a product of stress. An abnormal bite, missing teeth, crooked teeth or sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also be causes. People who drink a lot of caffeine are also more likely to grind their teeth. Alcohol has been shown to intensify teeth grinding as well.
Research shows that stress is a cause of up to 70% of bruxism cases. That may be because teeth grinding is a common outcome of the body’s natural fight-or-flight response.
Dr. Gary Glassman, a dentist who specializes in endodontics, told the New York Post that stress was likely not the only cause for Moore’s two lost teeth.
“I would suspect that there were definitely other factors involved,” he said. “[Bruxism] can wreak havoc and when you’re under stress and have a lot of anxiety. That’s the number one reason why people grind their teeth.”
Another reason stress and anxiety pose a danger to oral health is their ability to make people neglect their overall health in general. Someone who is in a bad mood, Dr. Glassman explained, is more likely to forget to brush his or teeth, floss, and show up for dental checkups.
My Dentist, My Therapist
While the precise timeline of Moore’s tooth loss was not disclosed, teeth grinding does have the potential to fracture teeth, loosen teeth, or wear them down to stumps.
Most people who grind their teeth do so at night. In fact, many aren’t even aware they are grinding their teeth until someone who sleeps in the same room hears the grinding noise.
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Your dentist can identify bruxism by observing jaw tenderness or a healthy tooth that seems smaller or duller than normal. Dentists typically fit patients with the condition for mouth guards, which protect the teeth from wearing down as they sleep.
If your dentist finds that stress is a key factor, she might suggest you try an exercise routine or mental health counseling. Any outlet for stress – whether yoga, reading, or playing music – can help decrease the odds of bruxism developing.
Who do you know that could use this news? Now’s your chance to share this post!
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Patients who are wary of the dentist may be able to relax at last. More and more dental practices around the US now offer the type of treatment you’d see in a spa.
Could a dental spa, with things like massage chairs, paraffin wax, warm blankets and movies, make you look forward to the dentist?
Oscar Suarez, 29, admits he used to “always get nervous” before he saw a dentist. “You think, it’s going to be long, it’s going to be painful, I’m going to have to wait,” he told Greenwich Time.
Learn more: Ways to Avoid a Painful Visit to the Dentist
Those days are gone now that Suarez is a patient of a dental spa called Tri-City Dental Care, one of several Washington state dental practices that offer “spa-like” treatments.
Before the dentist gets to work, patients like Suarez can dip their hands into warm wax that softens their skin. The calming scent of lavender fills the room. Headphones play music or a TV plays as they sit in a dental chair that massages them.
The Dental Spa Concept: Turn Dread to Excitement
“When I opened the practice, I wanted to bring a good experience to every person coming in,” said Dr. Antonio Lopez-Ibarra, who owns the dental spa. “We wanted to do something where people felt comfortable in the chair.”
We wanted to do something where people felt comfortable in the chair…
The dental spa perks at Tri-City Dental Care include aromatherapy, calm music, and loads of movies to watch.
“It’s nice that when you come to a place like this, you’re not looking toward that chair, you’re looking forward to what you’re going to experience. It throws off the edge,” Suarez added.
Not Your Usual Forms to Fill Out
Among the first practices to experiment with a spa-like experience is Double Take Dental in Orem, Utah. Along with the types of things above, Double Take Dental supplies bottled water, a warm towel, a stress ball and a cool eye mask.
According to the Daily Herald, patients who come in for an exam, to have their teeth cleaned, or to have other work done fill out an “amenities card” to tailor their visit.
“Every time someone new comes in, they look at the card, and say, ‘I’ve never seen this before.’ For many, we almost have to encourage them to pick amenities,” said Double Take Dental office manager Jordan Davis.
Patients are More Willing to Make the Trip
The idea for the spa-like style emerged when the practice decided it had to set itself apart from competitors. Proof of success? How about patients who travel far beyond their hometown solely for this type of service?
Larry Blocker, for example, flies to Orem from Southern California to treat an ongoing oral condition twice a year.
“I flew in last night, and I fly back out tomorrow. I came just to have this done,” he told the Daily Herald. “Flying here and flying back tells you how much I like it.”
Patty Cox drives nearly 120 miles to Double Take, a trip the 66-year-old says she’ll make “until I die.”
More Talking, Less Rushing
Double Take’s patient-first style makes the staff more relaxed as well. This is due in part to the decreased significance of time limits in appointments.
Dr. Cameron Blake has worked in a number of practices and says they all felt rushed. That kept him from getting to know his patients and answering their questions.
How to Choose a Dentist – With something as important as choosing a dentist, it’s vital you make a well-informed choice.
“Here I can take the time to explain things to my patients without the rush to get to the next patient. I can take time to focus on their needs and concerns. I want them to have knowledge about all options available, so they can make an educated decision, and feel good about their decision and its result,” Dr. Black said.
With more and more practices popping up, you can only expect patient experience to become an even bigger priority for dentists looking to cement loyalty and brand awareness.
Know someone who would love to try a dental spa? Go ahead — share!
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The benefits of seeing your dentist every six months stretch far beyond simply having healthier, better-looking teeth. Oral health is directly connected to your overall wellbeing. Every time you make a dentist appointment, your chances of enjoying the future increase.
The truth is, some of life’s best rewards will most likely go to people with good oral health. Here are just five rewards, all of which are much harder to get if you don’t take care of your teeth:
1. A Longer Life
Regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and oral health exams confer benefits that can help keep you smiling for years.
When you see your dentist often, you lower your risk for a large range of ills. If left untreated, oral bacteria causes gum disease and tooth decay. It can even enter the blood and spread plaque through the body.
Depending on your family history, this could put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, and cancer. It can even lead to diseases like stroke, Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Here’s the thing, though. Oral bacteria are incredibly easy to eliminate. Your dentist can help you to stave off these diseases through the benefits of regular exams and cleanings. That is, as long as you manage plaque build up by keeping your regular dentist appointments.
2. Higher Income
Speaking of benefits, research has shown that people with great teeth and smiles are more likely to earn higher salaries and get more job opportunities than people who seem to view their smile as less of a priority. One study used fake job interviews and found that those who had the best smiles were viewed as more confident and skilled.
Learn more: Dental Inequality in America
This isn’t much of a surprise, though. It’s only natural for someone with good oral health to be seen as serious, disciplined, and concerned about his or her effect on others. So, if you want to make your dream job a reality, it can help to keep up with regular dental visits.
3. More Money in the Bank
People with good oral health tend to have lower bills as they get older. The cost of regular dental visits to prevent problems is a fraction of the cost for the type of reactive care patients who have advanced gum disease may need.
Infographic: Prevent vs. Repair – See why it pays to invest in protecting your teeth.
4. Less Stress
When you work to address oral health problems head on, there is less need to worry about the state of your teeth. People who never skip the dentist also have to worry less about certain foods or beverages causing pain or long-term damage.
With some types of oral health issues, cold or hot foods or drinks can be a problem. When you see your dentist often, she can help you to manage the effects of sugar, alcohol and caffeine, which may be the cause. Lastly, if you have a lot of stress, your dentist will know, and be able to tell you, what you can do to help.
5. Better Love Life
Not only will people who take care of their teeth stay attractive to their partners, but they will also have less difficulty finding romantic partners. In fact, a 2013 survey of nearly 5,500 single adults ages 21 and older revealed straight, white teeth to be the quality single men and women look for most when choosing a mate.
When you visit the dentist every 6 months, you won’t be as worried about your partner seeking greener pastures. And who knows? You may even be able to win over the object of your affections, regardless of your age.
How Much Brighter Could Your Future Be?
Sounds like a happy life, right? You can gain these rewards and a lot more if you simply go to the dentist and follow through with their advice and care.
Missing just one or two appointments might not seem like a big deal. But as you age, you may grow more conscious of how your teeth look and feel. So think of your long-term health and financial strength, and stick to your regular dental exams!
Read next: 4 Most Overlooked Oral Health Problems
Depression is a hot topic in the modern world. Many people struggle with it, and many others are concerned about watching for the signs so they don’t miss something that could potentially save a loved one’s life.
Along with life-threatening concerns like suicide, depression can cause a variety of other problems that most people don’t even realize. Even something as simple as the ability to laugh or smile could be affected.
The first full week of May (7th-13th) recognizes National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week.
The Fear of Smiling: How Does Poor Dental Health Create Ongoing Sadness?
Science has already taught us that an unhealthy mouth can increase your risk of heart problems, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease. Did you know that it can also affect your chances of getting depression? Researchers have found a strong relationship between cavities, gum disease and mental health problems.
An unhealthy mouth can lead to problems in many ways, causing you to:
- Feel ashamed of your teeth.
- Avoid dating or other social interactions.
- Experience nagging pain from cavities that lowers your mood and wears on you daily.
- Have a higher level of inflammation in your body, possibly triggering other health conditions.
- Abuse drugs, alcohol or painkillers in an effort to reduce anxiety.
Oral Health and Mental Health: How Do You Break the Nasty Cycle?
It’s probably easy to see how this could become an unhealthy self-feeding cycle. Not only does your mood and self-confidence plummet when dealing with dental problems, but a low mood can also cause you to have difficulty taking care of your teeth properly.
Anxiety and isolation cause the body to release more of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to more cavities and gum disease. As the problem continues to worsen, you lose hope, and eventually, you give up on yourself all together.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to break the cycle by getting your teeth looked at by a professional. If your self-esteem is low, you might not want to do this. You might convince yourself that you don’t deserve treatment, but please know that your health, happiness and smile are all worth fighting for.
Smiling and Happiness: Which Comes First?
You already know that it’s difficult to smile when you’re depressed, but did you know smiling can help reduce sadness? It’s obvious that the emotions that lead to a smile make us feel good, but researchers have discovered that the physical act of smiling can also trick our minds into producing more feel-good chemicals.
A 2009 study from the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who had Botox injections felt happier on average, and it’s believed this might be due to their inability to frown. While Botox is certainly not for everyone, this does shed some light on the fact that simply practicing the act of smiling can help people feel better.
If you’re depressed and haven’t smiled recently, try faking it for a while. If that doesn’t work, find a sweet or funny video to watch. Don’t pressure yourself to heal from your sadness in a day. It’s impossible in most cases.
Instead, focus on setting small, easy-to-accomplish goals, such as spending a few minutes smiling, reaching out to a friend or scheduling an appointment with the dentist. With a good checkup, cleaning and treatment recommendation, you should be on track to healing your dental problems and feeling better about your smile in no time.
Read next: 5 Reasons Healthy Smiles Lead to Success
Stress is a normal part of life that everybody will experience on occasion, but it can become a problem before you even have the chance to spot the red flags. If you don’t take steps to manage your emotions, they can impact your life in ways of which you are unaware. To combat the problem, medical experts have designated April as stress awareness month, using it as a time to educate the public on the complications of anger and anxiety and ways to reduce them. Although most people know that it’s something to avoid, you might not realize the lasting impact that it can have on your oral health.
When work, family life and daily obligations build up and create tension, it won’t take you long to notice the negative impact on your health. In addition to losing sleep and getting high blood pressure, you are also at risk for teeth grinding, and most people don’t even know that they do it. The amount of time that you spend grinding your teeth will depend on the amount of stress with which you are dealing, but you will want to take steps to resolve the issue right away. Doing so will allow you to get the problem under control, preventing it from causing any more harm.
How the Problem Impacts Your Oral Health
If you grind your teeth on a regular basis, you are probably wondering what it can do to your health and why you should stop. This behavior can cause your teeth to become dull in some cases, but that is only the start. Some people were horrified when they discovered that teeth grinding had made their teeth loose, and you are even putting yourself in danger of losing them. Although the situation is scary, you don’t need to fall into this trap as long as you know the right steps to follow. To protect yourself and your teeth from harm, you will need to learn healthy ways to manage your emotions.
Luckily, you can try many things when your goal is to reduce the amount of stress that you feel, and doing so does not need to be difficult. Meditating for five minutes does not seem like much, but it can work wonders for your emotional health and well-being. Since you will need to avoid distractions, turn your phone off during each session, allowing you to disconnect from the world for a short time. As you meditate, you must pay attention to the emotions that you are feeling and make an effort to relax your muscles. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself to take some deep breaths throughout the day, and you will be glad that you did. Keeping a journal of your emotions and listing how you feel about different events can provide you with impressive results, and your teeth will thank you.
Stress Awareness: Getting Help
Even though you can take steps to reduce stress, you won’t be able to reverse the damage that it has already done to your teeth. If teeth grinding has caused your teeth to become loose or crooked, you will need to speak with an oral health professional right away. If you don’t address the problem, your teeth can encounter even more issues that can result in expensive dental bills. A caring dentist will evaluate the extent of the problem and tell you about the solutions that are available, giving you a clear picture of how to move forward. When you make an appointment, you will have teeth of which you can be proud in no time.
The state of your oral health is an indicator of various conditions and personal choices. Stained enamel could indicate
personal habits such as smoking and drinking copious amounts of tea or coffee. Misaligned teeth may point to a nail biting habit while bad breath may reflect poor dental hygiene and the presence of other illnesses. Dental professionals are trained to look for these symptoms and counsel patients to consider altering their lifestyle choices for the sake of their dental health.
Stress Affects Oral Health
Dental professionals are charged with providing care and addressing the issues that patients may have regarding the condition of their teeth, gums and mouth. While many dental problems are due to lifestyle choices and inadequate care, some serious conditions are related to emotional strain. Dental insurance may not explicitly mention emotional factors, but your oral conditions may be symptomatic of these issues.
• Bruxism – This condition involves grinding the teeth, clenching the jaws or a combination of the two. The condition may be caused by factors, such as sleep problems, uneven bite or missing molars or incisors, but bruxism may also be traced to emotional pressures. Grinding could be also be part of nervous tics. Symptoms of bruxism include worn out enamel, flattened dental tips, increased sensitivity in the mouth and indentations in the tongue.
• Temporomandibular Disorders – This set of conditions affect movement of the joints of the jaw, causing pain and stiffness all the way to the neck. Chronic stress may lead to TMD or aggravate a pre-existing condition.
• Periodontal Disease – Emotional factors may contribute to development of gum diseases in adults. Researchers found that patients who reported problems related to problems with personal relationships, jobs and financial situations in the last 12 months developed gum diseases with the severity of the condition increasing with the level of stress. Gum disease may become difficult to resolve once it sets in. This is one of the reasons that dental insurance providers strongly recommend twice a year cleaning and prophylaxis if needed.
• Canker Sores – These oral sores are not contagious, but they could cause pain and discomfort. It may be due to biting the lining of your cheeks or other trauma caused by vigorous oral care. A report in “General Dentistry” discussed how canker sores in students seemed to increase in students while school was in session, but declined during school breaks.
The Dentist as Emotional Counselor
Your dentist is not typically the health care provider you would see for emotional issues, but it is clear that anxiety and other emotional issues may affect your oral health and worsen existing problems. Aside from trauma to the mouth due to biting, grinding and scrubbing, oral care may fall by the wayside when you are under constant emotional pressure.
Dental insurance providers recommend preventive care that includes dental visits, cleaning and some oral health-related counseling. Your annual or bi-annual visits will give your dentist an opportunity to detect changes in your dental health that may be due to emotional pressures. While dentists may not be able to address the emotional aspects directly, they can make sure that your dental health issues are dealt with effectively.