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    Original Content

    Whiskey, Alcohol and Your Baby's Teeth?

    Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club, discussing kind of a funny topic today. There's an old wives' tale out there about rubbing whisky on your baby's gums to stop them from teething. It's kind of an older one, but it's something that kinda has hung around and kinda morphed into rubbing any kind of alcoholic beverage on your baby's gums when they're teething is a good idea. It's not. It's a terrible idea, in fact. There are so many more things you can do for a teething baby than rubbing whisky, rum, scotch, whatever, on a baby's gums.

    First thing is that alcohol, even a teaspoon of alcohol, for an infant can actually be lethal. So, it's a really bad idea to dispense alcohol to a child in any form, dose, even if it's just kind of wet on the end of your finger. That's the first thing. Second thing is that there are much more effective ways to numb your baby's gums than the alcohol in alcoholic beverages. It's just not that effective and won't do that good of a job, and will end up making you want to continue to dispense the alcohol, which thus then leads back into the first problem, that it's actually very harmful to infants. So you don't want to, number one, for the bad medical effects, and number two is that it's not really that effective. So what is really effective? First thing is just something a little cold.

    You don't want to put something frozen 'cause we've all seen A Christmas Story, where you lick the flag pole, right? That's a bad idea, so don't give your kid a piece of ice, but something cool, something chilled on the gums. Then, there are over-the-counter numbing agents. If you don't want the chemicals in there, then that's fine, too. There are other things that are more holistic, essential-oil-type things that you can rub on their gums, home remedies that you can look up, but there are plenty of other things that you can do besides the alcohol. So just stay away from the alcohol. Most natural is just something a little cool out of the fridge or out of the freezer that's warmed up just a hair so it doesn't cause any harm to the baby's tongue or lips, and then any home remedies that you wanna come up with that don't involve chemicals, so, no, on the baby and the whisky. Have a good one.

    Alcohol, Drinking, and Your Teeth!

    Hello, Doctor Ellis for Oral Care Club, discussing alcohol and your teeth and gums. Around this time of year, there's a lot of parties happening, a lot of celebrations, office parties, home parties, holiday seasons going on, and with all of these parties and holiday traditions comes a lot of alcohol consumption, so we get the question a lot what does alcohol consumption do for my teeth and gums, tongue, the whole oral cavity? Am I okay to consume alcohol? And the answer to that is really no. There's three main reasons why.

    Number one is, obviously, the sugar content. There's a lot of sugar content in most alcoholic beverages. You increase the sugar, you increase the food for the bacteria in your mouth, and thus the bacteria will produce more acids that will do more damage to your teeth. So the increased alcohol consumption will increase the sugar content, will increase the possible damage to your teeth. Number two is that alcohol actually dehydrates your mouth, which is even worse when put together with the alcohol consumption because what happens is after you consume sugar, your salivary glands produce saliva to try to wash off that sugar, try to balance the pH, try to get your mouth back to a point where there's no damage happening to your teeth.

    Well, if the alcohol is dehydrating your teeth and your gum tissues, and the sugars are producing more food for the bacteria, then you're just kind of doubling up and it gets even worse. The third thing is for the coloration of your teeth. This is more of just a cosmetic issue rather than a health issue like the first two, but for anybody who's conscious about the color of their teeth, they want to pay attention. Most of the colors in the, uh, dark the more dark, the red wines, things of that nature, if your alcoholic beverage is dark, it's going to stain your teeth. So, three reasons why not to consume a lot of alcohol if you're super concerned about the oral cavity.

    If you're willing to take that risk, well then there's not too much damage possible, but you are running the risk of increased cavities and of darkening your teeth with alcohol consumption. So if alcohol consumption is your concern and your question, there's your answers. Have a good one.

    Is Stem Cell Science On The Cusp of Creating Tooth Farms?

    There has been a lot of buzz recently about stem cells. Scientists now have the ability to take cells and grow pieces of a human body. These lab grown, but identical to the real thing parts would be used for transplants, grafts, and anything else the medical community might have its sights on. This used to be the stuff of science fiction but this technology has been making massive strides and has even made its way into the dental field. That's right, soon you will be able to grow teeth in a lab from nothing but a few cells. 


    Stem Cell Research May Encourage a Lazy Attitude Towards Oral Health

    The ability to regrow new teeth may be just over the horizon. Unfortunately, the idea of growing new teeth is leading some people to believe that they don't need to take care of the teeth they have since they can simply, “get new ones”.

    While the ability to simply re-grow a new set of teeth may soon be here, there are some serious misconceptions that should be addressed. No matter how much this technology advances, it will never as simple as trashing the teeth you have and painlessly replacing them.


    The Downhill Journey

    The only teeth that you would consider taking out of your mouth would be teeth that were broken, damaged, cavitated, and/or infected. By the time you had allowed any of these conditions to become so bad that the tooth needed to be removed, you would be in a severe amount of pain. Then there is the extraction itself which can also be painful and unpleasant.

    Letting a healthy tooth go downhill to the point where it's so bad it needs to be pulled and then the process of growing and inserting a new tooth would be a long, painful, and expensive process. All of which can be avoided by participating in the good old, time-tested, practices of brushing and flossing.


    Maintaining Healthy Teeth is as Simple as it's Always Been

    Simply brush, floss, and stay away from sugars and most people will be just fine. Stem cells are and will continue to be, a ground-breaking way of treating things in the medical field. Just remember that stem cells are not the easy fix that some would like to think.

    What Really is TMJ? (Hint: It's Not What You Think)


    There is a lot of mystery surrounding TMJ. When someone says "I have TMJ" what do they mean? Well, simply saying that you have TMJ doesn't mean anything,  good or bad. TMJ stands for "temporal mandibular joint". Everyone has two of them.   To say you have TMJ is like saying you have a knee. That does not indicate anything good or bad. What people typically mean when they say they have TMJ is that they have a TMJ disorder.

    What is TMJ?

    The TMJ is a joint just like any other joint in the body, with one critical exception. But let's talk about similarities first. There are two bones that meet each other. In between the bones, to prevent damage, there are tissues such as ligaments, desks, and fluids. As long as the two bones and the other soft tissues stay healthy, there should not be a problem.   The one difference between TMJ and other joints is that you cannot operate only one TMJ at a time. You are required to operate both joints simultaneously. This is different than any other joint system in the body. Knees do not need to be bent at the exact same time. You can bend only one elbow at a time if you wish.

    What Causes TMJ Disorder?

    This need for complete symmetry is what causes some people  to have TMJ  disorders.  Misaligned teeth, grinding teeth at night, and/or showing predominately on one side can all be causative factors in TMJ disorder's. If issues do arise with the joint such as clicking, popping, and/or pain then the TMJ should be treated just like any other joint. Rest, anti-inflammatories, massage, and alternating hot and cold therapies can help ease TMJ  discomfort. If symptoms persist beyond these treatments then seeing an oral surgeon specialist may be needed. Physical therapy, steroid injections,  and/or surgeries maybe necessary in severe cases.

    As long as the two bones and the other soft tissues stay healthy there should not be a problem.  

    TMJ and Dentistry

    Doctor Ellis here for Oral Care Club, discussing TMJ. You hear that a lot, people talking about dentistry, but nobody really seems to know exactly what it is or what's going on, so we're gonna take a little bit of the mystery out of TMJ today. When somebody says they have TMJ, oh they put their hand on the side of their face and say I have TMJ. Well, that's kind of used incorrectly. The letters T, M, J, stand for: temporal mandibular joint, so to say you have TMJ is true, but it doesn't necessarily specify whether it's good or bad, that's kind of like saying I have a knee. That doesn't tell you whether it's a good or bad one, it just says I have a knee, so for somebody to say I have TMJ, they are correct, everybody has TMJ. To say you have TMJ disorder, that lets people know what's going on and that's very different than just saying I have TMJ. So, let's go over this real briefly.

    The temporal mandibular joint sits right in front of the ear, this would be your ear, if you put your fingers on the side of your face right in front of your ear and open and close you'll feel this joint moving right here. It's just like any other joint like I discussed earlier there's a bone at the top, there's a bone at the bottom and there's a disc in the middle. Most every joint is organized that same way, there's a piece of bone on one side, there's a piece of bone on the other side to prevent them from rubbing bone on bone, there's some kind of cushioning mechanism in between, whether that's a disc, whether that's cartilage, whether that's fluids, whether that's a combination of all of the above. So, the temporal mandibular joint is just like any other joint in the body in the fact that it has the same basic construction.

    What makes the TMJ so different from every other joint in the body, however, is the fact that one of the joints can not be activated without the other joint. And that is something completely different throughout the entire body. You can operate one knee without the other knee, one elbow without the other elbow, one ankle without the other ankle and so on and so forth. This is the only joint system in the entire body that you cannot operate one side without the other, it's connected by this hard piece of bone across the mid line where none of the other joints are connected with a solid piece of bone. So, that leads to some of the TMJ disorders.

    What happens is you can get a rocking effect. The TMJ joint opens and closes and the teeth are supposed to touch all at one time and you remain fairly stable. If you have malocclusion, meaning that all of those teeth don't touch at the same time if you have your teeth and they touch, and one side touches and the other side still won't open, and then you press to close the other side you can rock the joint. And that rocking over time is what can wear down the joint and give you pain. Also if you chew predominantly on one side, so you go to close and you're chewing and your food over here, while this side it doesn't have any food is going to continue to over close just a little bit. So, working in concert is what makes the TMJ painful and pop and crackle and all kind of descriptions that we've heard. To avoid, in an attempt to avoid some of these you would treat this joint just like any other joint. If your knee is having difficulty, well then don't jump off ledges, don't jump on a trampoline, don't become a marathon runner. Make sure that you understand that you need to limit your activity a little bit. Same thing with the joint.

    Do not chew gum, do not crunch on ice all the time, do not be a beef jerky chewer, anything that requires a lot of chewing, or that is continuous and repetitive. Gum, for a TMJ disorder person, is the worst thing you can do. So minimize the amount of stress you put on your joint. Also, you can do the same things that you do for other joints, you can take anti-inflammatories, you can use ice, you can use heat, you can treat it just like any other joint. If you have a flare up, then go to liquids for maybe a meal or two and don't use the joint. So just like if you sprained an ankle, you would minimize the usage and maybe put it up for a while, you'd stay off of it, well, it's tough to stay off of this joint because you have to use it to eat but if you use liquids, then maybe you can get a little better. Now, just like any other joint, this joint can become injured.

    Ligaments can tear, discs can rupture, fluid can drain, so on and so forth. The bones on either side can become misshaped and they can grind awkwardly. So in that instance, you would need to get to an oral surgeon to have him take some pictures and look at the joint. But first and foremost, understand that this is TMJ, is what it says, it's just a joint. It needs to be treated like any other joint in the body. You need to make sure, biting on both sides, stop chewing on the gum, anti-inflammatories, you can do some massage, you can do heat, you can do ice, treat it like any other joint. If that doesn't work, get in to see an oral surgeon. So, hopefully, that takes a little bit of mystery out of the temporal mandibular joint, or TMJ.