Nail Biter? Why It’s Hurting Your Mouth

Do you bite your nails?Are you a nail biter? Do you find yourself chewing your nails or opening packages with your teeth? These are bad habits that can cause an issue for your teeth in the long run.

As we age, tooth enamel starts wearing down from use, especially on our front teeth. This leaves us susceptible to chipping the enamel on those teeth more easily, so when we do apply force in that area, you could possibly cause damage.

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Root Planing and Scaling

Have you been to the dentist and they suggest getting root planing and scaling done and you have no idea what that means? Let us break it down for you:

Plaque is the primary cause of gum (periodontal) disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease which can include: hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, puberty, etc), medications, poor oral hygiene, illnesses (diabetes, cancer, etc), bad habits (smoking, chewing tobacco, etc), and family history.

Periodontal disease progresses over time if not treated. The symptoms include: Continue Reading…

Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?

You may not have known someone with oral cancer, but the incidence of it is on the rise so knowing if you’re at risk for oral cancer is very important  Oral cancers can affect the tongue, cheeks, lips, gums and the hard or soft palate.  In the U.S. alone, approximately 100 people everyday will be diagnosed with a form of mouth cancer and 1 person will die from oral cancer every hour of the day. 1

Oral cancers historically would afflict people who were over the age of 40, but it is now found that HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is an oral cancer-causing agent in a younger age group.  This is the same virus that can cause cervical cancers in women.


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7 Tricks to Stop Bad Snacking and Sipping

Snacking and sipping are starting to cause a stir in dentistry.  Because more and more people are in front of a computer all day, they tend to sip on a beverage for a longer period of time than someone who is drinking something to satisfy a thirst.  And, there is that pesky office candy bowl in the next cubicle or the homemade goodies someone left in the break room that everyone likes to grab from here and there throughout the day.  Because of these increased behaviors, there seems to be a link between them and tooth decay and we want to help you and give you some tricks to stop bad snacking and drinking.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), Americans are consuming foods and drinks high in sugar and starches more often and in larger amounts than ever before.  Continually eating sugary foods throughout the day or sipping on sugary drinks have a hazardous effect on teeth.  After eating or drinking, any sugar left on teeth creates a breeding ground for bacteria.  When bacteria feeds on sugar, acid is produced which can then cause tooth enamel to be eaten away paving the way for a cavity.  Here are 7 tricks to help you day to day!
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Childrens Dentistry: 6 Recommendations You Should Know

Parents sometimes feel that because their children have “baby” teeth that will eventually fall out, there is no need to fix a problem that may arise with those teeth.  The truth is that baby teeth or deciduous/primary teeth are very important.  Along with obvious reasons like chewing and talking, primary teeth also help to keep space in your child’s mouth so adult teeth that are forming under the gum tissue can erupt (teeth coming into the mouth).


If a baby tooth is missing earlier than it should be due to decay and subsequent removal, there could be an issue for the permanent tooth to erupt because drifting or tilting of the surrounding teeth can occur.  This can affect proper alignment of permanent teeth and can be costly to fix down the road with orthodontia (braces).

If a baby tooth has a cavity, it is important to have the cavity removed and a filling placed even though the baby tooth will eventually fall out.  If a primary tooth has a cavity, it can cause the permanent tooth growing underneath to become misshapen and discolored. 1

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How to Get Your Child to Stop Sucking Their Thumb

Are you and your child having thumb wars?  “1,2,3,4  I declare thumb-sucking no mo!!”
If you were anything like me when I was a child, thumb sucking has literally sucked years out of your life!  If it is now happening to your child — we are here to help you get your child to stop sucking their thumb!  Stop-Children_Sucking-Their-Thumbs

WHY do children suck their thumbs or fingers?

Well because it’s soothing when they’re bored, tired or anxious.  It is important to know when your child’s habit has crossed the line of a comforting pastime to becoming a potential problem.  Prolonged finger and thumb sucking can cause minor physical problems like chapped skin, calluses, teeth alignment issues and fingernail infections. Continue Reading…

Why Do People Get Bad Breath?

We have all at one time or another experienced bad breath, or medically termed, halitosis.  Unfortunately, some people may not know that they have it, but why do people get bad breath?  It’s an awkward situation when someone you know has chronic bad breath and you aren’t sure how to tell him or her.  In actuality, bad breath could not just come from the onions your friend ate; it could be something actually wrong with their system.

why-do-people-get-bad-breathBad breath usually stems from not brushing and flossing enough.  When food sits on your teeth, gums and tongue, bacteria thrives on it and causes odors to start forming.  This is easy enough to resolve.  Try as much as possible to brush your teeth after meals and floss at least once a day.  The one thing that people are missing is brushing their tongue.  Tongues are tricky little organs due to the fact that they have numerous taste buds and papillae that trap food particles and bacteria.  Some people even have cracks and crevices in their tongue that make for even worse food traps.  If you suffer from bad breath, try brushing your tongue first and see if that helps.  There are things called tongue scrapers that have a saw blade pattern to them that can help you scrape debris from your tongue. You would be surprised at what comes off of your tongue when you use these little gadgets. There are also special brushes and special cleaning liquids that are made to help clean the tongue, but in general, using your toothbrush works just as well. Continue Reading…

8 Tips if You Gag in the Dentist Chair

Tips-Gag-Dentist-ChairDo you hate going to the dentist because you have a gag reflex while x-rays are being taken or impressions are being done?  It can make for a very frustrating dental visit for both you and your dental provider.  Your throat has the tendency to be “on guard” if it feels like there is a potential choking hazard or that your airway can be blocked and you are unable to breathe.  Some people have a worse gag reflex than others and some don’t have it at all.  Gagging can stem from a bad dental experience you had in the past or just a general anxiety.  Don’t feel alone if you suffer from this condition because you are in the company of many others.

We have had our fair share of gaggers in our dental chairs at Szmanda Dental Center and we have found a few tricks that may help you get through your dental visit.

  1. Breathe through your nose. Obviously this will curtail the reflex of gagging if you are concentrating on breathing through your nose and not your mouth.

  2. Be aware of when you feel your gag reflex is at its worst.  Is it in the morning or in the afternoon?  If you take note of this, try to schedule your dental appointment before or after that touchy time.

  3. Numbing Spray.  We do have a spray available that is similar to Chloraseptic in which it numbs the back of the throat for a brief time.  We can also place a little bit of our topical anesthetic on the roof of your mouth which will have a numbing effect and may help to relax your gagging.  Both are a fabulous cherry flavor!  (Sorry for you cherry haters.)

  4. Salt.  Just take a pinch and place it on your tongue.  This trick seems to work well for most of our patients.  It’s not the tastiest thing in the world, but because of this, your mind tends to concentrate on the salt over gagging.  We keep salt at all of our offices so no need to worry about bringing your own.

  5. Lifting your left.  Your brain can also be bamboozled by a simple lift of the leg.  While you are sitting in the chair, bringing a leg up off the chair a few inches and holding it in that position makes you focus on something else.  It also tightens your stomach muscles, which helps with that gagging reflex.

  6. Hum your favorite tune.  One thing that RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist) Magazine suggested that we have not tried yet is to hum.  By simply humming, you are producing airflow, which keeps you breathing.  A telltale sign of a gagging episode that is about to begin is when the patient stops breathing.  So, even if your hygienist or dentist doesn’t suggest it, let them know you are going to be humming a little ditty while they need to do their treatment.  Try something simple like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”Request an Appointment

  7. Get serious with wrist bands that apply pressure.  There is also a suggestion from RDH to try a product called Sea Bands or Accustraps.  If you know you are a serious gagger and are willing to try anything, you may want to get your hands on these.  Typically they are used for motion sickness or morning sickness.  It is a band you wear around your wrist, which fits snug and applies pressure.  The nerves that carry signals to the brain understand pressure faster than pain or nausea, thusly preventing gagging.  We hope to have these at our offices in the near future.

  8. Practice at home.  If you want to try to break your gagging habit, you can practice by taking something like your toothbrush and touching it to the roof of your mouth (  Hold it there for longer increments each time and when you have that spot mastered, start moving it back further and further.  Yes, it sounds terrible and like it’s a pain in the butt, but if it helps, it will make life a little easier.  Just remember that you have to practice and build upon it for it to work, so don’t give up!  You can do it!

Please don’t let your gag reflex deter you from coming to your dental appointment.  We want to keep your dental needs in check before a problem arises.  Szmanda Dental Center would like to provide you with the best possible care and we would like to help you in any way we can.  Please feel free to ask us any dental questions.  That’s what we’re here for.

Information compiled from RDH Magazine, and Staff at Szmanda Dental Center © Szmanda Dental Center, S.C. 2013

How to Help Prevent Decay in Adult Teeth

If you find that you are an adult that seems to be riddled with tooth decay every time you come in for your cleaning and check up, it’s time that you change some habits or start some new habits to help you fix that issue.

One major thing that causes decay in adult teeth is drinking sugar laden or acidic beverages. Yes, they are so good and sometimes you really need that can of Mountain Dew to perk you up. But, the sugar and acid from those drinks sit on your teeth and cause decay. If you feel the need to drink these kinds of things, and that includes coffee due to its acidity (coffee has a pH of 3.5, neutral is 7) it’s best to drink them quickly instead of sipping them so sugar and acid aren’t constantly coating your teeth over a long period of time. Other ways to help prevent decay:

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