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Don’t Let Craze Lines Faze You

March 20th, 2024

You’re getting ready for a night out, or you’re checking to make sure you removed every bit of spinach after eating, or you’re practicing your best selfie smile . . . and suddenly, you see something alarming in the mirror—tiny cracks in your tooth enamel! Is this a dental emergency?

Almost always, the answer will be no.  Cracks like this are most likely “craze lines,” and craze lines are not serious cracks in your teeth. These diminutive flaws are shallow vertical cracks in the enamel which don’t go all the way through the tooth and don’t affect the tooth’s structural integrity. Like the crazing on a piece of glazed pottery, these tiny cracks are superficial, and the only reason for concern is cosmetic.

  • Cause for Crazing?

Time and normal wear on our enamel are the most common culprits. Years of biting and chewing are stressful.

But you can help prevent additional craze lines by avoiding bad habits which can put external stress on your teeth: nail biting, knocking on teeth with oral jewelry, crunching down on ice cubes, using your teeth to open bottle caps—in fact, using teeth for anything other than chewing food.

Grinding your teeth is also hard on your enamel. If you suffer with bruxism (the medical term for tooth grinding), ask Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes about a mouthguard or night guard. Eliminating the extra stress of unconscious grinding and clenching reduces the chances of craze lines. Even better, getting treated for bruxism can reduce the risk of serious pain and damage to your teeth and jaws.

  • Staining Can Make Craze Lines More Visible

Craze lines are often invisible unless the light is just right. However, you can make craze lines more noticeable if you drink coffee, tea, red wine, or dark sodas regularly. And if you need another reason to give up tobacco products, smoking, chewing, or any other use of tobacco can also darken craze lines.

Stains in craze lines don’t usually respond to brushing. You might be able to lighten stains with home or professional whitening. Ask Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes for the options which are best for your staining.

  • Repairing Craze Lines

Don’t let tiny flaws keep you from smiling! If you are unhappy with the appearance of your enamel, talk to us about possible treatments, including bonding and porcelain veneers.

  • When It’s More Than a Craze Line

While a craze line is generally nothing to be concerned about, a deep line, or a line which is getting bigger, might suggest a crack in the tooth. Cracks need to be assessed and treated to avoid damage not only to the exterior of the tooth, but to the pulp of the interior as well.

How can you tell the difference? Craze lines are not painful; a cracked tooth might be. Sensitivity to hot and cold foods, painful chewing, gums swollen around a tooth, pain when you bite down, a crack that is getting larger—any of these symptoms could be a sign that you have a cracked tooth. These are reasons to visit our Saint Paul dental office ASAP.

Craze lines might be medically harmless, but if they impact your confidence, that’s a problem. Our team can help you change habits that are causing craze lines, remove staining, or repair cosmetic damage. If you’re not crazy about those craze lines, ask us for solutions that will bring back your confidant smile.

Ouch! Are You Biting Your Cheeks More Often?

March 13th, 2024

You’re biting into something delicious, and, Ouch! You bite into something you didn’t mean to—the inside of your tender cheek.

Painful moments like this happen every now and again. But if you find that more frequent cheek biting means that you’re extra-cautious when eating or speaking, if you wake up with sore cheeks in the morning, or if you catch yourself habitually chewing on your cheeks during the day, it’s time to visit our Saint Paul office.

Causes of Cheek Biting

Many of us experience the occasional cheek chomp when we’re eating or talking. No fun! Besides the pain, a bite can cause broken skin, inflammation, a canker sore, or a mucous cyst. Luckily, the discomfort from these accidental bites generally resolves after a few days.

Sometimes, though, biting becomes a more frequent annoyance. Regular bites can be caused by several conditions, including:

  • Sleep Bruxism

Bruxism is the medical term for tooth grinding. When sleepers unconsciously clench or grind their teeth as they slumber, it’s known as sleep bruxism. Sleep bruxism not only causes tooth damage, jaw problems, and facial pain—that nightly gnashing can mean bites to delicate cheek tissue.

  • Problems with Dental Restorations

The placement of a crown, bridge, or implant can cause biting to occur more often if the alignment of your restoration with your other teeth isn’t ideal or has shifted, or if the restoration needs replacement.

  • Wisdom Teeth

Most of us don’t have the room to welcome four new—and large—teeth. When wisdom teeth come in, they can lead to cheek bites, especially if they erupt leaning outward toward your cheeks.

  • Orthodontic Misalignment

If you notice that you seem to be biting your cheek a lot when eating or speaking, it could be an orthodontic problem.  When your teeth or jaws don’t align properly, if your mouth is small, or if your teeth have shifted over time, your cheeks might feel the consequences.

Treatment Options

Why see Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes? A one-time bite can be extremely uncomfortable, and might lead to inflammation or even a sore spot inside your mouth. Usually, both pain and sore spot fade in a short while, and saltwater rinses or oral gels can soothe your injured cheek tissue. Your dentist’s office can give you advice on treating minor bites.

But what about continuous biting? Regular biting injuries can lead to bigger problems. Tissue in the cheeks can thicken or erode. Scar tissue can build up inside the mouth. Ulcers and other sores can become larger and more painful.

If you’ve been biting your cheeks more often, Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes can diagnose the cause and offer you treatment options depending on the reason for this frequent biting:

  • Sleep Bruxism?

Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes might suggest a nightguard to provide protection from the damaging effects of bruxism. Nightguards not only prevent further biting, they give your cheeks the chance to heal. We can custom fabricate a guard for the most comfortable and effective fit.

  • Restoration Problems?

If regular cheek biting occurs after you’ve gotten a crown, a bridge, or an implant, visit our Saint Paul office. This might be a problem that can be resolved with a bit of reshaping, whether removing a bit of the restoration or building up a spot. If a crown or other restoration has shifted or is failing, replacement might be in order.

  • No Room for Wisdom Teeth?

Most of us don’t have room in our mouth to accommodate wisdom teeth, and extracting them is a common dental procedure. Wisdom teeth can be the source of many dental problems, including impaction, shifting teeth, and even damage to surrounding teeth. If you see signs that your wisdom teeth are starting to come in, talk to your dentist about your options.

  • Orthodontic Problems?

Orthodontic treatment can improve tooth and bite alignment—and can eliminate those painful cheek bites if misalignment is what’s causing them. Modern orthodontic treatment offers patients of all ages more options than ever before, including traditional and lingual braces, clear aligners, and functional appliances.

Whatever the reason for painful cheek biting, you deserve to eat and speak and enjoy your day without constant “Ouch!” moments affecting your comfort and health. If these moments are happening all too often, visit Mendes Family Dentistry for the answers to your biting problems.

The Root of the Matter

March 6th, 2024

A strong, healthy smile is built on a strong, healthy foundation. Let’s take a moment to explore just what creates that foundation—your roots.

The Root of the Matter

The visible part of your tooth is called the crown. And while we spent the great majority of our time thinking about what goes on above the gum line—brushing, flossing, whitening, sealing, preventing cavities—the roots, the parts of the teeth below the surface, are also essential to our dental health.

  • What’s inside the root?

The inside of each tooth holds pulp, which is living tissue made of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The nerves in the pulp allow us to feel pain when a tooth is damaged, decayed, or infected. Tiny blood vessels provide oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

The inside of each root also contains pulp, located in one or more root canals. These canals are small tunnels that travel from the pulp chamber to the tip of each root. Nerves and blood vessels connect pulp tissue to the nervous and circulatory systems in the body, entering and exiting the tooth from very small openings in the root tip.

  • What’s outside the root?

On the outside, while roots look like crowns, they’re covered with a different protective surface. Roots are covered by cementum rather than enamel. This is a hard tissue, but not as hard as enamel. But cementum has another advantage—it not only helps protect our teeth, it helps them stay anchored in our jaws. (More on this below.)

  • How many roots are we talking about?

The number varies, not just depending on the tooth, but depending on the individual. Most adults have 32 adult teeth: eight incisors, four canines, eight premolars, eight molars, and four wisdom teeth, or third molars. Because the number of wisdom teeth can range from four to zero, though, that total can be smaller.

Rooted to the Spot

The reason that you can rely on your teeth for a lifetime of chewing, biting, and grinding food is the fact that they’re so securely anchored in the jaw.

  • Alveolar bone in the jaw contains a socket for each tooth.
  • A thin layer of connective tissue called the periodontal ligament lines the socket and surrounds each root. It’s filled with fibers that attach to the root’s cementum covering and to the alveolar bone, holding the tooth securely in place.
  • The periodontal ligament not only anchors the tooth, it cushions it from the daily pressure of biting and chewing.
  • Finally, the gums surround the teeth and bone, protecting them from bacteria and plaque.

Even though this design is very secure, there are situations where the root becomes vulnerable. In that case, you should see Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes at our Saint Paul office right away. Our goal is for you to keep your teeth healthy and strong, and for a lifetime!

What is a cavity?

February 29th, 2024

Cavities are the reason why most people fear going to the dentist. But they’re also the reason you should be visiting Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes on a regular basis.

Specifically, cavities are the breakdown of teeth caused by acid from food, bacteria, and plaque that inhabit the inside of the mouth. While many people simply think that cavities only form on top of a tooth, Drs. Charles and Paul Mendes and our team at Mendes Family Dentistry want you to know they can actually form on the sides along the gum line and between the teeth, too. This acid will eat away at the tooth, forming a soft hole.

Anybody, either children and adults, can get cavities. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. alone about 16 percent of all children ages six to 19 have untreated cavities, and about 24 percent of adults 20 to 64 years old have them. This is detrimental to overall oral health, because cavities have a tendency to grow over time, potentially spreading to other teeth and causing increased oral pain, possibly even affecting the nerve.

That's why it's important to ensure that you're visiting Mendes Family Dentistry at least once every six months, so that cavities can be found and filled before they become too problematic and painful. Typically, they're found by doing a routine teeth cleaning, though X-rays or further examination may be necessary to determine the full extent of a cavity. Cavities are treated by removing the area of the tooth where decay has set in and rebuilding the tooth with a metal filling. If the cavity is too large, however, more extreme measures may be necessary, such as placing a crown or performing a root canal.

As we noted above, cavities are why people dread going to the dentist, but also the reason everyone should see the dentist every six months. Additionally, brushing twice daily, flossing, and cutting down on sugar-packed foods can reduce the risk of developing cavities.

For more information on how to best care for your teeth and why it's important to visit the dentist twice a year, please give us a call at our convenient Saint Paul office today!

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