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All posts by Stephanie Jugovich

Is an Electric Toothbrush Really That Amazing?

I’m sure you’ve seen television commercials and online advertising for electric toothbrushes that promise a superior clean and a fresh-from-the-dentist feeling in your mouth after using them.

Is an electric toothbrush really that amazing? From my personal experience, absolutely!

My husband is a dentist. I am extremely conscious of my teeth and I feel as though I take pretty great care of them. I have used an older model OralB electric toothbrush for years. I keep it on my bathroom counter, charge it faithfully, keep it clean and replace the brush head regularly. I have a routine of brushing my teeth, gums and tongue in a certain order. The routine doesn’t change; it’s simply habit and muscle memory.

When I travel, though, I leave my electric toothbrush at home. When packing for a family vacation for 5 people, every ounce up to that dreaded 50# weight limit matters. I don’t want to sacrifice any more real estate in our suitcases than absolutely necessary, so I opt for a lightweight and easily packable standard issue toothbrush from the dental office. It never fails – by the third day of a week-long trip, my teeth just don’t feel quite as clean. Is it my overly dentally-aware mind playing tricks on me? Possibly.

When I use a regular, manual toothbrush, I find myself scrubbing my teeth harder, with more vigor, than I do with my electric toothbrush. My gums hurt and bleed because I seem to attack them with my toothbrush. Is that really helping me? The answer is no. It’s not the muscle you put into your tooth brushing that gives you the maximum benefit. It is both the time and the motion you put into your toothbrushing that truly gives you the maximum benefit. You can get a fantastic clean with a traditional toothbrush if you take your time and actually focus on each area, brushing gently and consistently for the dentist recommended 2 minutes.

With an electric toothbrush, the back and forth brushing motion is not necessary and not recommended by experts. Instead, I let the toothbrush do the work. I let it pulsate and clean each area and surface of my teeth and tongue, simply guiding the toothbrush bristles to each area I want to clean. There’s no scrubbing. Instead, I keep the pressure consistent throughout my mouth and the result is truly a just-from-the-dentist clean feeling. I equate the difference between a traditional and electric toothbrush to the difference between sweeping and vacuuming the floors. It’s much more work to sweep than it is to simply push the vacuum around, isn’t it? Brushing with an electric toothbrush is very similar.

If you’re in the market for an electric toothbrush, Pike Lake Dental Center does sell an incredible electric toothbrush package. The kit includes the rechargeable electric toothbrush, multiple brush heads, a carrying case, charging port, toothpaste, mouthwash, and more. This toothbrush is so smart it can connect to your smartphone via bluetooth to help ensure you
are brushing for enough time and in the right spots. The toothbrush can even detect if you are pressing too hard or using too much force while brushing your teeth. I’m amazed at how smart this system is! The true praises for this toothbrush will have to be saved for a different blog, though. Stay tuned!

In conclusion, YES, I truly believe electric toothbrushes are amazing. I will not say a person can’t clean their teeth well using a regular, traditional toothbrush. You absolutely can. I can tell you that I personally prefer letting my electric toothbrush do the work of keeping my teeth clean between my biannual visits with my hygienist. A healthy, clean mouth is a wonderful thing!

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

 

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Breaking Down Dental Implants

Have you ever wondered what a dental implant is? Maybe you’ve had a tooth removed and your dentist has offered implants as a replacement option. In this blog post, I will focus on discussing the components that make up an implant restoration.

Let’s start by explaining what makes up a dental implant. Wikipedia defines dental implants this way:

A dental implant… is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the jaw or skull to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, (or) denture.

In most cases, the dental implant therapy involves three components:

First is the implant itself. This is the part that, as Wikipedia says, interfaces with the bone of the patient’s jaw. The dental implants we use today are made of titanium. Through a process called osseointegration, the implant will form an intimate bond with the patient’s bone, which anchors it in place. Most times, the implants’ shapes and sizes are designed to mimic the root of the tooth it is replacing. Implants typically have a tapered, threaded design which allows for accurate and stable placement. Dental implants also have a special coating or treatment on their surfaces that help them integrate with the jaw bone.

The second part of the dental implant therapy is the implant abutment. This is the intermediary part that joins the crown, bridge or denture to the implant. The abutment interfaces with the implant with very precise machined surfaces and is often held in place with a screw through its center. The screw is then tightened to a specific setting using a special torque wrench. The implant abutment serves as the transition piece from the implant through the gum tissue to the final restoration.

The third part is the crown or bridge. This is the part that completes the implant therapy. It resembles the tooth in form and function. It is most times an individual crown or bridge and is held to the implant abutment by cement. Once the cement is cured, the restoration (crown or bridge) is then ready for normal use. Most times these components are fixed, or are anchored, permanently in a patient’s mouth. The crown or bridge will not need to be removed.

Each component of a dental implant also typically carries its own fee, so you may find that the fee breakdown from your dentist will list the fee for each of these parts separately.

Keep checking back to our website and Facebook page, Pike Lake Dental Center, for more on dental implants. In future blogs, we will try to shed more light on the process of placing a dental implant and some of the more frequently asked questions.

Written by Matt Jugovich, D.D.S., Pike Lake Dental Center

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“I’ve got TMJ.” • “We all have TMJ. Let’s talk about Bruxism and Occlusal Guards.”

Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth.
       -Excerpt from the Mayo Clinic website, www.mayoclinic.org

  • Do you wake up in the mornings with dull headaches?
  • Do you consistently have pain in your jaw?
  • Have you ever noticed yourself clenching your teeth when you’re concentrating or stressed?
  • Do you grind your teeth?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you may suffer from bruxism and might benefit from an occlusal guard, sometimes also called a night guard. Have no fear, you are not alone! One study suggests over 3 million people suffer from bruxism in the United States each year.

An occlusal guard is a small, customized, transparent oral device that fits over a person’s lower teeth, which helps prevent them from clenching their jaw muscles and gnashing their teeth, thus relieving the associated tooth and jaw pain.

We all have temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect our jaws to our heads. You are able to feel these joints by placing your fingers on either side of your jaw and opening and closing your mouth a few times. This area on your face is an incredibly complex mix of joints, strong muscles and powerful ligaments. This area is easily irritated and has the potential to cause you a lot of pain. The TMJ is the location of the pain; bruxism is most often the actual diagnosis.

There are many things you can do yourself to help relieve bruxism pain. Reducing stress, staying rested, oral exercises, reducing or eliminating chewing gum, reducing caffeine intake, and applying heat or ice to the joints are just a few options to try. Consulting with your physician about any medications you are on can also be helpful since some medications can contribute to bruxism. If you’ve exhausted these ideas and are still experiencing pain or you need to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to experience relief, an occlusal guard might be a good fit for you.

Typically, the recurring jaw pain is discussed between doctor and patient at a hygiene appointment or during a regular dental visit. Once bruxism is officially diagnosed, it’s a fairly quick and easy process to procure an occlusal guard through our office. We start by taking impressions of your teeth. The impressions are sent to a dental lab and the lab creates a slim, clear occlusal guard that is a perfect fit over your lower teeth. We have you return to our office about a week later to deliver the occlusal guard, make sure it fits you well, make any adjustments and answer any additional questions you may have.

The best part about an occlusal guard: it’s easy to wear! It’s not big and ugly. It’s nearly unnoticeable while worn. Taking care of your occlusal guard is easy too. Simply rinse it with clear water after each use and allow it to air dry (out of reach of pets, of course). Or brush it gently with your toothbrush and a tiny amount of toothpaste when you feel it needs a little more attention, again letting it air dry.

Many dental insurances include coverage for occlusal guards. We are happy to send a preauthorization to your dental insurance company to determine if your insurance will supplement the cost of an occlusal guard. Regardless of dental benefits, an occlusal guard is a wise investment if you suffer from bruxism.

We typically recommend wearing the occlusal guard while you sleep, when it can help reduce the most amount of stress inflicted on the TMJ area, although some patients wear it during the day too. The bruxism pain is usually relieved quickly, most often within a week or two. It’s normal to go through periods of life when you experience more stress than normal or are not sleeping restfully. If you take a hiatus from wearing your occlusal guard and experience the bruxism pain returning, simply begin using the occlusal guard again. We highly recommend wearing an occlusal guard every night to maximize the benefits of the appliance and to experience consistent pain relief.

If you feel you’d benefit from an occlusal guard, please discuss it with us at your next dental appointment. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about both bruxism and occlusal guards. The more you know, the better off you are!

 

– Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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