1. Start monitoring your sleep
Teeth grinding is a sign that you're not sleeping well. Tensing up the muscles to grind bounces the body out of deep sleep! All the health benefits of sleep you read about (i.e. improving memory, burning fat, building muscle, warding off diseases, etc.) come from deep sleep/REM sleep. So, if you’re not in deep sleep, then you’re not necessarily benefitting from the amount of “rest” you’re getting no matter how much sleep. Poor sleep makes you at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, anxiety, weight gain, etc.
Download a sleep app to figure out if you’re sleeping efficiently! We suggest Sleep Cycle or Sleep Better. Also, it’s important to remember there can be many other factors that affect your sleep. We advise on the common sleep hygiene practices: meditating to manage stress, avoiding caffeine late in the day, exercising daily, and setting a sleep schedule. If you are having problems sleeping or are feeling unusually tired throughout your day, see a doctor or get tested for sleep apnea. When you achieve deep sleep, not only will you feel well rested, you are less likely to grind your teeth. In turn, you don’t have to worry about fractures and tooth mobility. As you are improving your sleep habits, we can also help with grinding by fabricating you a night guard.
2. Eat more teeth-friendly foods and cut back on sugar
While sugar isn’t the actual “culprit” for tooth decay it serves as the food source for bacteria. When the bacteria consume the sugar, that produces an acidic byproduct which starts to erode the hard outermost layer of your teeth: your enamel - say hello to your new cavity. The less sugar you eat means less food for the bacteria in our mouths.
As for teeth-friendly foods, you should know: foods can be categorized as highly acidic > moderately acidic > slightly acidic > neutral > slight alkaline > moderately alkaline > highly alkaline.
Here are a couple of examples of alkaline foods:
Slightly alkaline: almonds, apples, bananas, soy milk, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes
Moderately alkaline: avocados, blueberries, celery, grapes, green tea, zucchini
Highly alkaline: broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, spinach
You can find an expansive list other foods here.
We’re not encouraging a purely alkaline diet because acids are some of the most important building blocks of life (i.e. amino acids, fatty acids and your DNA… a.k.a. deoxyribonucleic acid).
If you keep your teeth in mind in when deciding on your food choices, you’re more likely to consume more fruits, vegetables and healthy plant foods, while restricting processed junk/sugary foods. Essentially, most of the food choices that are good for your overall health are also good for your dental health. If you have any questions about which food choices may help or hurt your teeth, feel free to ask us during your next visit.
3. Schedule regular dental visits
Shameless plug, but we love to see you improve your oral health. We want you to have clean and healthy teeth, along with fresh breath. And, because your dental benefits don’t roll over from year to year, every New Year... you’re granted with a fresh set of benefits! That means... no matter how much dental work you had done the previous year, you have new benefits you can use right away this year.
If you have dental insurance, your plan is set up in favor of preventative care. Most insurances cover your annual dental cleanings with no out of pocket expense. (i.e. 2 dental hygiene visits each year covered at 100%). If your dental insurance plan has a deductible (i.e. a total amount you must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company starts covering your costs), getting treatments completed at the beginning of the year could mean reaching your deductible early. Then, any treatments you may need later in the year might be covered entirely by your insurance. Simply said, there will be no out-of-pocket cost for you after you reach your deductible.
Take advantage of your benefits. Use what you’ve paid for. What if we told you... if you regularly see your dentist, you’ll spend less on dentistry? It sounds contradicting, but it’s all about prevention. Get the care you need in order to prevent dental problems - we can help you catch problems before they become painful, costly or both! An hour of your time twice a year is well worth trying to repair the damage… on fillings, crowns and root canals will take up more of your time compared to two cleanings a year.
Has it been a while since you’ve seen us? If you have been postponing dental treatment or are overdue for an exam, now is a great time to come in!
Please call 707-552-4900 or request an appointment online.
4. Develop proper brushing habits and commit to flossing
We know you’ve probably heard this one before. If you have a manual toothbrush: brush lightly, scrub in gentle circles for 2 minutes with a soft bristled brush. Familiar? If you have an electric toothbrush, PLEASE don’t brush back and forth, you’ll brush away your gums! Just hold the toothbrush head a few seconds on each side of the tooth like this.
However, if we were stranded on an island and could only choose between a toothbrush or floss. We would choose floss. Most cavities are formed in between teeth. Also, worthy of mention, flossing prevents gum disease and gum recession. If you’re don’t floss regularly already, don’t pressure yourself to floss everyday! Have some compassion for yourself. Start off with flossing once a week and build up to the number of days as you feel comfortable. Building habits take time... Start small. If you forget, don’t give up - tomorrow is a new day! See proper flossing techniques here. If you’re not comfortable with floss, because it hurts your fingers, its annoying and hurts, or its physically challenging, try out flossing picks.
We need to meet each other halfway. You do your part at home, and we’ll do our part at the office!