Don't Let Dieting Impact Your Oral Health

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Don't Let Dieting Impact Your Oral Health

Like many people who need to lose a few pounds, I try diet after diet in an attempt to find one that finally works for me. I learned the hard way that I need to make sure any diet will not harm my teeth, even if it does help me lose a few pounds. I learned this lesson when following a grapefruit diet. There are many versions of this, but the version I tried had me eat a grapefruit alone several times each day. It was supposed to suppress my appetite. I helped keep me from munching on unhealthy snacks, but the acid in the fruit took a toll on my tooth enamel and I quickly started getting lots of cavities. I created this blog to remind people that change up their diets often to make sure the foods they are eating are not harming their teeth.

Thumb Sucking: A Childhood Habit That Can Lead To Malocclusion

Although it's not uncommon for infants and toddlers to suck their thumbs, if the habit persists past the preschool years, it can damage your child's teeth. Prolonged thumb sucking can push the upper teeth forward, causing malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth. If the upper teeth don't fit properly over the lower teeth when your child bites down, he or she is at risk of developing dental or other oral problems.

  1. Tooth Decay. Upper and lower teeth that don't fit together properly can be harder to brush and keep clean, increasing the risk of tooth decay. And if your child wears braces to correct misaligned teeth, plaque can build up on the braces and cause tooth decay if they are not cleaned thoroughly.

  2. Chipped Teeth. The pressure on the teeth and gums caused by misaligned teeth can lead to chipped teeth. Chips or cracks in teeth that aren't repaired by a dentist can break more or lead to infection.

    The stress that the constant, abrasive forces on teeth caused by misalignment can also lead to enamel erosion. Loss of tooth enamel at the neck of a tooth between the crown and root exposes dentin–a condition that causes tooth sensitivity.

  3. Gum or Periodontal Disease. If your child's teeth are misaligned, food particles can get stuck between the teeth. Consequently, his or her gums may get red or bleed when brushing or flossing. Plaque also builds up easier on teeth that are harder to clean, which can lead to gum inflammation.

    If left untreated, inflammation or infection of the gums can spread to ligaments or bones that hold the teeth in place and may lead to tooth loss. The extra pressure on teeth that malocclusion causes can also loosen teeth and lead to tooth loss.

  4. Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). The excess pressure placed on the temporomandibular joint by thumb sucking can cause various symptoms including trouble opening and closing the mouth, jaw pain, face swelling, problems biting and chewing, speech problems, earache or pain around the ear, and headache.

    Following a dental examination and examination of the head and neck muscles, a pediatric dentist may order imaging tests if he or she suspects that your child has a temporomandibular disorder. Your child may need braces to correct a bad bite and treat TMD.

The American Dental Association cautions that if thumb sucking continues after age 2, it can push your child's teeth out of alignment, leading to an improper bite. Protruding front teeth and narrowing of the upper jaw–common characteristics of malocclusion–are dental anomalies that can lead to further oral health complications. The good news is thumb sucking is a cause of malocclusion that is preventable if you break your child of the habit early on. For more information, contact local professionals like A Wild Smile.