A Small Habit that’s Far from Harmless

clenching teethClenching your teeth is common when you’re angry, aggravated, in pain, or otherwise agitated. Tapping your foot and drumming your fingers are frequent signs of nervousness, and humming is a popular tic for some people. Only one of these habits, though, can prove detrimental if allowed to continue without intervention. Habitual teeth-grinding, known as bruxism, can be more than annoying; it can signify a more serious dental condition that can threaten your mouth’s foundation, and it can destroy your teeth through constant pressure and friction. Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, explains how bruxism can be your teeth’s worst enemy, and explores the habit’s connection to the severe discomfort of TMJ disorder.

More than Your Teeth were Meant to Take

Your mouth is like an intricate machine, designed to accomplish its goals with minimal strain and wear on its various components. To put that into perspective, the human bite can exert up to 200 pounds of pressure on its back molars. While not every bite will be so powerful, your mouth is the most used part of your body, and the continuous stress can take a toll on the teeth that bear it. (more…)

A Very Close Look at TMJ Disorder with Your Astoria Dentist

very close look at human skullWe’ve discussed TMJ disorder, or TMD, and its diverse range of effects at length in the past, including ways to find relief from jaw pain until you can treat it professionally. The varying symptoms often make TMD diagnosis difficult, but regardless of the exact pattern of discomfort, the majority of cases result from an imbalanced bite, which can strain and damage your jaw’s joints and muscles. So how does a jaw problem result in sometimes-unbearable migraines, earaches, neck and back pain, and many other forms of agony? Your Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, explains the complexities of TMJ disorder by taking a very close look at the mechanisms that make your mouth work and how the dysfunction affects them.

The Joints That Make it Happen               

TMJ disorder owes its name to the temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, that connect your lower jaw to your skull. These joints allow your mandible (the lower, moveable part of your jaw) to glide smoothly along its socket, displacing the pressure of your bite evenly instead of concentrating it on a single area. If your jaw is imbalanced, or your bite is thrown off by malocclusion (crooked teeth), the muscles and joints have to work harder to keep your mouth straight as it opens and closes. The strain can damage the joints or cause them to become misaligned, leading to severe TMJ discomfort that can affect a wide area of your head, face, neck, shoulders, and back, as well as the proper function of your mouth.   (more…)

Astoria Dentist Discusses the Reinvention of Traditional Dentures

innovative smileWhile losing one or more teeth can be unsettling, losing most or all of your teeth can be devastating. Even if you didn’t mind a small gap in your smile, chances are you’d feel differently if the gap extended to cover your entire dental ridge. Luckily, you don’t have to spend the rest of your life dealing with the loss of your chewing ability. With partial or full dentures (depending on the extent of your tooth loss), you can regain your beautiful, fully-functioning smile and the confidence that goes with it. As your Astoria dentist warns, however, traditional dentures are not flawless, and there are extenuating circumstances to severe tooth loss that they may not be able to address. Dr. Leibowitz discusses these circumstances, and the innovative dental procedure that can boost your denture’s effectiveness at restoring your oral health.

The Need for a Dental Prosthesis

The need for a complete set of teeth becomes more apparent as more teeth are lost. One of the most obvious inhibitions created by tooth loss is the reduced ability to bite and chew your food. The first, and perhaps most important, step to digestion begins when you rip, tear, crush, and grind your food into something that your esophagus can safely transport to your stomach. If you can’t adequately chew your food, you’ll have to readjust your diet, and you may not receive an ample supply of the nutrients your body needs to operate properly. By replenishing your dental ridge with a set of dental prosthetics (artificial teeth), dentures can restore this ability and help prevent health complications resulting from malnutrition. (more…)

Do You Need a Root Canal Treatment?

thinking ladyNot many people would be excited at the prospect of needing root canal treatment. In fact, the procedure has gained a foul reputation mainly due to misreports and exaggerations among those who’ve never had one. The truth, however, is that root canal therapy is designed to relieve your dental discomfort, not cause it, and if you’ve been told you require one, then the treatment may be your tooth’s last chance at survival. Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, explains the science of root canal treatment and the conditions that lead to its necessity.

Tooth Decay at a Glance

Tooth decay is a progressive disease that begins with an often-unnoticed bacterial process called acid erosion. When you consume sugar and other carbs, some of the bacteria in your mouth convert them into lactic acid, which depletes your teeth of essential minerals and weakens protective tooth enamel. Once your enamel is too weak to repel bacteria from its more vulnerable main structure, tooth decay soon sets in and treating it becomes essential to retaining your tooth. (more…)

Why You Need a Little Help Cleaning Your Teeth

clean and pretty smileToday’s toothbrushes feature ergonomic designs for hard-to-reach places and motors that do the manual work for you. Toothpaste contains ingredients like fluoride and baking soda that provide an extra kick to your hygiene routine’s cleaning abilities. Yet, the most advanced hygiene tools on the market are no substitute for the professional maintenance and care that you receive at your regularly scheduled dental checkup and cleaning. The idea to skip your dental exam can be tempting, especially when you strictly adhere to your dental hygiene routine and your teeth are bright and clean. Your Astoria dentist, Dr. Leibowitz, explains why you should reign in that temptation for the good of your oral health.

A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning

Brushing and flossing your teeth is like dusting and sweeping your house; doing it every day helps prevent the excessive buildup of plaque on and between your teeth to keep your mouth clean and tidy. Instead of dust mites, however, dental plaque is made of hundreds of different kinds of oral bacteria that can threaten the sanctity of your oral health. If you miss a spot, you can risk more than a dirty corner; after 48 hours, plaque hardens into tartar, which is too stubborn for a toothbrush to remove (even a motorized one). (more…)

How to Not Stress a Dental Emergency

tooth emergencyProtecting your smile from infection and disease is fairly straight-forward; brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day to help control plaque buildup, and maintain a healthy diet to limit feeding the bacteria within dental plaque. Topped off with a regular schedule of dental checkups and cleanings (at least once every six months or sooner), these tenets can help keep your smile healthy and bright. Protecting your teeth from structural damage, however, is not as simple, considering dental trauma can often signal an emergency situation. Luckily, your smile isn’t helpless against damage; with a little preparation, quick action, and the help of your Astoria dentist, you can increase your chances of saving your smile in a dental emergency.

When Your Tooth Hurts                                     

Not all dental emergencies are the same, but regardless of the situation, your participation can help determine the outcome. If an injury is the source of your emergency, then your tooth’s trouble is likely no mystery. However, if your tooth aches suddenly, finding out why is a priority. If no damage is visible, carefully floss around the tooth to remove any potentially lodged debris. Call our office and schedule a visit with Dr. Leibowitz if the discomfort continues. In the meantime, an ice pack or cold compress can help relieve aching and reduce swelling. (more…)

Does Tooth Enamel Have an Achilles’ Heel?

strong toothYou’ve probably heard of tooth enamel before, but do you know what it is? As your teeth’s first and foremost defense against infection and decay, understanding enamel can help you better protect it from damage and the bacterial processes that erode it, thereby protecting your tooth from decay and possible annihilation. Although enamel is amazingly strong and resilient (it is the hardest substance that your body produces), it is still vulnerable. Astoria dentist, Dr. Leibowitz, takes a close look at enamel to uncover its impressive construction and its vital weakness that you can help protect.

The Strongest Substance Your Body Produces

Tooth enamel is not only the strongest substance that your body produces; it is also one of the strongest known substances on earth, second only to diamonds. The secret to enamel’s strength lies in its structure, which is comprised almost entirely of minerals, such as calcium and phosphate. This mineral composition contributes to the confusion that teeth are the same substance as bone, which also contains these minerals. However, the proteins that help shape your enamel, known as amelogenins, sculpt these minerals differently than those of your bones, forming strands that are thousands of times longer and stronger. (more…)

Is There a Connection Between Obesity and Gum Disease?

overweight stomachIf you consider obesity and gum disease, you might naturally assume that the eating habits that contribute to one could lead to or exacerbate the other. You would be correct, but research suggests there may be an even more profound link between being overweight and developing gum disease. As part of our dedication to your oral and overall health, Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, explores this connection and what it may mean for your risk of developing damaging dental diseases.

What is Gum Disease?

While gum disease does not directly attack your tooth’s structure, it remains the number one cause of adult tooth loss in America and is typically a result of poor oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth is essential for controlling the bacterial buildup known as plaque. When this sticky biofilm accumulates along your gum line, some of the germs can manipulate your immune system, causing excessive inflammation in your gum tissue and paving the way for the onset of gum disease. Once it takes a hold, the disease works to destroy your gums and jawbone, deteriorating the supporting structures of your teeth. (more…)

Astoria Dentist Discusses TMJ Disorder

woman with a hurting jawDo you live with constant aches and pains in your head, face, neck, ears, or other craniofacial regions? Many people endure such discomfort for years without finding the correct diagnosis and treatment, often relying on prescribed and/or over-the-counter pain relievers. In many cases, the trouble originates with a dental issue, and therefore is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, explains the condition known as TMJ disorder and how it can affect more than your teeth and gums.

A Troublesome Jaw

You are probably aware that keeping your mouth healthy by brushing and flossing every day is essential to maintaining its proper function. However, your mouth requires more than teeth and gums to operate. For instance, the joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull, called the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), also allow for your jaw’s diverse range of movements. Whether from excessive pressure, a misaligned bite, or a traumatic injury, these joints and the muscles that surround them can become damaged or improperly balanced. The resulting discomfort can manifest itself in more than your jaws, often leading to severe and frequent headaches, earaches, and facial pain. (more…)

How the Germs in Your Mouth Can Fool Your Body

older woman thinkingAt first glance, the tiny microbes that live in your mouth may not seem like much of a concern. After all, they naturally reside in your mouth, and as long as you brush and floss your teeth, they should remain controlled. Even the most diligent oral hygiene routine, however, is subject to human error, and one minimal mistake can allow harmful oral bacteria the chance to wreak havoc with your dental health. To exacerbate matters, a growing body of scientific research suggests that the same mechanisms responsible for jeopardizing your oral health may also be partly responsible for other chronic systemic illnesses, including various heart diseases. When your soft oral tissues are diseased, bacteria from your mouth can enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body, potentially harming other tissues with their destructive behaviors. Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, examines two oral bacteria suspected in the oral-systemic connection and how they can fool your body into harming itself.

The Manipulative Gum Disease Germ

When the bacteria in your mouth multiply and congregate, they form a sticky biofilm called plaque that adheres to your teeth and gums. Among these microbes is Porphyromonas gingivalis, a key contributor to the development of gum disease. The germ manipulates your immune system to survive, interfering with its inflammatory response to invading microbes. (more…)