You have a pretty Smile

DentistToo often, we associate the dentist as a place to go after something has already gone wrong with your teeth.

But your dentist can be one of your most powerful allies in preventing illness not only in your mouth, but throughout your body.

Your dentist is responsible not just for your teeth, but also how your jaw, face, and airway all develop. These things affect your ability to breathe without interruptions throughout the night, and thus, impact the quality of your sleep.

There’s so much more than just a pretty smile that you can get from your dentist.

Here are five core elements to oral health that perhaps your dentist isn’t bringing up at your visits. Bring these topics up yourself at your next check-up!

  1. If you grind your teeth, your dentist should screen you for obstructive sleep apnea and refer you to a sleep specialist MD. Studies using human brain scans show that grinding is how our body responds when we are struggling to breathe during sleep. Grinding requires the teeth to touch, thereby activating the muscles and bringing the jaw and tongue forward to reopen the narrow space at the back of your throat, getting you to breathe again. Other muscles, including the neck and shoulders, work to reopen the airway. Whether you remember it or not, every time this happens, your body’s sleep is interrupted. Treating sleep apnea early on on can prevent premature aging, heart and circulatory system damage, anxiety, depression, decreased IQ, and unnecessary wear and tear on the immune system. Dentists treat sleep apnea, as part of a team with physicians and other sleep specialists.
  1. All those antibacterial toothpastes and mouthwashes are hurting us. From all the advertising out there, you would think that the goal with oral health is to kill all the bacteria in your mouth. This idea is incredibly harmful to not just our oral health, but the health of the rest of our bodies as well. Antibacterial products wipe out both the good and bad bacteria in our mouths, hurting our microbiome and gut bacteria, and potentially causing the regrowth of the wrong type of bacteria in our mouths.
  1. Before doing cosmetic work, you need a foundation of healthy teeth. I can be pretty unpopular sometimes telling patients we can’t whiten their teeth until we work to stop their gum disease. Have you ever heard the phrase, “we want to be thin before we’re fit”? Looking good is a byproduct of good health, not the other way around. Your dentist should not be doing cosmetic work for you unless you have a foundation of strong oral health first, including no gum disease, straight teeth, and good sleep ability, or ability to breathe without interruptions at night.
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