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Bad Habits that Affect Oral Health

You might not know it, but a lot of the things you do each day  can affect your oral health. Here's what you should know:

You might not know it, but a lot of the things you do each day can affect your oral health. Here’s what you should know:

We worry about keeping our teeth bright and shiny, but what about their actual health? There are many habits that we do in our daily life that could be weakening our teeth. It is critical for your overall well-being that you address these issues. Also, make sure you are having your checkups. To schedule call the professionals at West Meade Dental.

How do you drink your drink?

Believe it or not, the way you drink your drink can affect your teeth. It is actually better to drink your drinks through a straw so it has less exposure to your teeth. Also, sipping them throughout the day only makes the sugar and acids more exposed to the teeth. And what do you do with the ice afterwards? Most people will chew their ice after they finish their drink. However, this should be avoided as it puts strain on the teeth and could cause fractures.

Teeth are bones, not tools!

Many people will use their teeth when they do not have another object around. Aside from this just being unsanitary, you can chip or fracture your tooth. Next time try using scissors, nail clippers, or pliers.

Hey you! Stop grinding your teeth!

Almost as annoying as smacking your gum, grinding your teeth cannot only put stress on your teeth, but the others around you. This is usually a nervous habit that is triggered by some sort of anxiety. If you grind your teeth at night, you should look into getting a mouth guard to wear while you sleep.

What are you using to brush your teeth and how well are you doing it?

Many think that a brush with harder bristles is the way to go. This can instead cause more sensitivity to the teeth, especially when roots begin to show. Every individual is different, so ask your dentist what type of brush will be best for you. Also, you want to make sure that you are brushing and flossing properly. You should be brushing at least twice a day and changing out your toothbrush in no longer than four months. For more information on proper brushing from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, click here.

Teeth Aren’t Meant to Grind

To Brux or Not To Brux?

Believe it or not, we didn’t make that word up. That would be Shakespearean, and well…we’re not in the business of crafting words—we’re happy with crafting confident smiles. Bruxism is actually the term used to describe the condition of grinding your teeth, and it turns out it’s not really a choice at all.

Most teeth grinding takes place during sleep. If this only happens once in a while, there’s not a lot to worry about, but if you’re a chronic tooth grinder, it can lead to big problems: damaged teeth, TMJ or other jaw conditions, headaches, and more. The tricky thing about being a teeth-grinder is that it’s pretty hard to catch yourself in the act. There are, however, symptoms to watch for that might indicate you have a problem with grinding your teeth at night.

Grinding one's teeth is also called bruxism. Stress and anxiety can make it worse.

Grinding one’s teeth is also called bruxism. Stress and anxiety can make it worse.

A dental examination can help determine if you are suffering from bruxism. If you notice that your teeth look worn down or chipped, or that your jaw is tired when you wake up in the morning, this could indicate a problem. Other symptoms include headaches, earaches, or facial pain. Sometimes teeth grinding can also cause your tooth enamel to wear down and expose deeper layers of your tooth, which will also increase sensitivity.

There’s a lot of debate about what causes this condition, but there are plenty of things that are on the suspect list. Not surprisingly, stress and anxiety top the list as number one suspects. A lot of Americans suffer from stress, which leads to tension everywhere in the body, and the jaw can be one of the many places afflicted by stress tension. Some types of antidepressants can have side effects that cause bruxism. Problems with sleep can be an issue as well—teeth grinding can be related to disrupted sleep cycles. There are also physical problems that play a part—alignment issues, such as malocclusion, or missing and/or crooked teeth.

If you think you might be grinding your teeth, it’s important to see a dentist. There are steps we can take to stop the problem before it causes too much damage. The jaw is a powerful tool and when clenched it can apply up to 250 pounds of pressure. Think of the things you can crack with that amount of pressure!

At West Meade Dental, we’re able to offer not only a variety of services, but many options for paying for your service, as well. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Keeping up with dental examinations and hygiene can determine a lot of risk factors before they become a real problem.

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Do I Need An Orthodontist?

Identifying When a Dentist or Orthodontist is Needed

When do you need a dentist, orthodontist, or other dental professional? The answer depends on the condition and how long it has been present. In general, adults and children should visit a dentist once every six months for a complete oral examination and teeth cleaning procedure. If a dentist finds issues such as cavities or the beginning stages of gum disease, a follow-up visit may be required. Crooked or crowded teeth are among the issues that may indicate the need to visit an orthodontist. Their specialty is the strategic shifting of teeth.

During a general examination, the dentist inspects the gums, teeth, and tongue and may probe certain areas to test for sensitivity or cavities. Teeth are then scaled to remove plaque and tartar buildup before cleaning each tooth with a special instrument and dental paste. If fluoride treatment is recommended, it is applied to clean teeth and the mouth is rinsed. Periodically, the dentist may take X-rays of the teeth and mouth. Current condition and medical and dental history determine the frequency of X-rays.

Dental Check-up - Nashville TN - West Meade Dental

Dental Check-up – Nashville TN – West Meade Dental

Dental X-rays are used to visualize tooth and oral tissue diseases that an examination cannot identify. Dentists use X-rays to help located and treat dental issues at early stages, potentially saving pain, money, and even lives. For children, these X-rays help identify decay, determine whether the mouth has enough space to accommodate incoming teeth, and assess whether primary tooth loss is occurring fast enough to allow the proper emergence of permanent teeth.

An X-ray can verify wisdom tooth development in older children and whether these teeth will be able to emerge through gums. With adults, X-rays are used to reveal areas of decay that are not visible during an oral exam, particularly decay between teeth. An X-ray can identify changes in the root canal or bone due to infection and point out bone loss due to gum disease. Dentists often use X-rays to assist with preparation of dentures, implants, braces, and other procedures.

Most symptoms or issues that pertain to the teeth, gums, and mouth are not emergencies. However, immediate attention is recommended in certain situations. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, visit a dentist immediately because it may be possible to re-implant the tooth. A dental visit should also be scheduled if a tooth is chipped or broken. Retain the piece that broke off and store it in a cool, moist cloth. Treatment will be based on the extent of the chip or break.

If a tooth is knocked out of its correct position or becomes misaligned, use light pressure to try to push it back into place. Bite down on the tooth to maintain the correct position and see a dentist immediately. Treatment may involve splinting the tooth to help it heal. Trauma to the mouth area may also result in lacerations or cuts on the tongue, cheeks, or gums. Apply direct pressure to control bleeding and seek immediate dental or medical attention.

Non-traumatic tooth issues include tooth pain or a toothache resulting from a dental abscess or cavity in or around a tooth. If the gum around the affected tooth swells significantly, fluid drains from the area, or the pain is severe, have a dentist evaluate the situation. Redness or swelling of gums is not usually an urgent situation but since it may indicate infection or gum disease, schedule a dental appointment as soon as is convenient.

Orthodontic treatment is designed to straighten teeth so they sit well with teeth on the opposite jaw. With a good bite, it becomes easier to speak, bite, and chew. There are several signs that it is time to vista an orthodontist:


  • Losing baby teeth earlier or later than is normal
  • Sucking fingers
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Teeth that are blocked-out, crowded, or misplaced
  • Teeth that protrude
  • Teeth that do not meet or that meet abnormally
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Recessed, protruding, or shifting jaw
  • Jaw that makes sounds
  • Inability to close lips comfortably
  • Biting the roof of the mouth or biting the cheek
  • Facial features disproportionate with the remainder of the face
  • Facial imbalance


Dental treatment helps patients maintain clean and healthy mouths. Orthodontic care is part of comprehensive dental treatment for some patients. It ensures a healthy bite, which is important at any age. Knowing when it is time to visit a dentist or orthodontist and receiving the proper treatment can help teeth last for a lifetime.

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