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Here's an interesting tidbit of information on Wheel of Fortune host Vanna White: like many people, she grinds her teeth at night. In a detailed interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Vanna explained how she had to replace a filling in a back tooth several times because of her grinding habit. Eventually, she had her dentist make her a nightguard to protect her famous smile.
“I really try to sleep with it every night,” Vanna told the magazine. “I try to keep it on my nightstand so when I go to bed, I remember to put it in. Or I will put it by my toothbrush so I can put it in after brushing my teeth at night.”
The habit of teeth grinding or clenching is often associated with stress and/or sleep deprivation. It is referred to as “parafunctional” (“para” – outside, “function” – normal), meaning it can generate biting forces well outside the normal range — perhaps 10 times normal. This excessive force can affect many areas of the oral system. Teeth may become worn, chipped or loose; jaw joints or muscles can go into spasm; and some grinders (or “bruxers” as they are also called) may even experience discomfort of the head, ears, neck or back. Many times, a person with a grinding habit does not become aware of it until it is pointed out by a sleep partner or dental professional.
Like Vanna White's dentist, we often recommend a nightguard to those with nocturnal bruxing habits. It is made of a very thin, wear-resistant plastic that fits over the biting surfaces of the upper teeth only. The lower teeth are then free to glide or skate over the guard, which prevents them from biting into the upper teeth. Some people wear their guards during the day if they tend to clench their teeth when under stress.
If you are concerned about teeth grinding or interested in learning more about nightguards, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Vanna White, please see “Vanna White.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Stress & Tooth Habits.”
Your skeletal system plays an essential role in your physical well-being. Not only do bones physically support the body and protect internal organs, they also store minerals, produce blood cells and help regulate the body’s pH balance.
As dynamic, living tissue, bone goes through a normal cycle of removing old, ineffective areas (a process called resorption), followed by the formation of new bone to replace it. For most adults, the two sides of this cycle are roughly balanced. But with age and other factors, the scale may tip in favor of resorption. Over time the bone will become weaker and less dense, a condition known as osteoporosis.
One common approach in treatment for osteoporosis is a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates. Taken orally, bisphosphonates act to slow the bone’s resorption rate and restore balance to the bone’s natural regenerative cycle. But while effective for osteoporosis, it could affect your oral health, particularly if you are considering dental implants.
Long-term users of bisphosphonates can develop osteonecrosis, a condition where isolated areas of bone lose their vitality and die. This has implications for dental implants if it arises in the jawbone. Implants require an adequate amount of bone structure for proper anchorage; due to the effects of osteonecrosis, there may not be enough viable bone to support an implant.
Of course, the treatment for osteoporosis varies from patient to patient according to each particular case. Another effective treatment is a synthetic hormone called teriparitide, a manufactured version of a naturally occurring parathyroid hormone. Daily injections of teriparitide have been shown to slow resorption and stimulate new bone growth. And unlike bisphosphonates, researchers have found no link between the use of teriparitide and osteonecrosis.
If you are undergoing treatment for osteoporosis and are also considering dental implants, you should discuss the matter with your healthcare team, including your physician, dentist and dental specialists. Understanding how the treatment for your osteoporosis could affect your dental health will help you make informed decisions about your overall care and future dental needs.
If you would like more information on how osteoporosis may affect your oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Osteoporosis & Dental Implants.”
If you were a well-known actor, how far would you go to get inside the character you’re playing in a movie? Plenty of stars have gained or lost weight to fit the role; some have tried to relate to their character by giving up creature comforts, going through boot camp, even trying out another occupation for a time. But when Jamie Foxx played a homeless musician in the 2009 film The Soloist, he went even further: He had part of his front tooth chipped out!
“My teeth are just so big and white — a homeless person would never have them,” he told an interviewer. “I just wanted to come up with something to make the part unique. I had one [tooth] chipped out with a chisel.”
Now, even if you’re trying to be a successful actor, we’re not suggesting you have your teeth chipped intentionally. However, if you have a tooth that has been chipped accidentally, we want you to know that we can repair it beautifully. One way to do that is with cosmetic bonding.
Bonding uses tooth-colored materials called “composite resins” (because they contain a mixture of plastic and glass) to replace missing tooth structure. The composite actually bonds, or becomes one, with the rest of the tooth.
Composite resins come in a variety of lifelike tooth shades, making it virtually impossible to distinguish the bonded tooth from its neighbors. Though bonding will not last as long as a dental veneer, it also does not require the involvement of a dental laboratory and, most often, can be done with minor reshaping of the tooth.
Cosmetic Bonding for Chipped Teeth
A chipped tooth can usually be bonded in a single visit to the dental office. First, the surface of the tooth may be beveled slightly with a drill, and then it is cleaned. Next, it is “etched” with an acidic gel that opens up tiny pores. After the etching gel is rinsed off, the liquid composite resin in a well-matched shade is painted on in a thin layer, filling these tiny pores to create a strong bond. A special curing light is used to harden this bonding material. Once the first layer is cured, another layer is painted on and cured. Layers can continue to be built up until the restoration has the necessary thickness. The bonding material is then shaped and polished. The whole procedure takes only about 30 minutes!
If you have questions about cosmetic bonding, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Repairing Chipped Teeth” and “Artistic Repair of Chipped Teeth With Composite Resin.”