Tacoma Dentist Explains 6 Ways a Nail Biting Habit Affects Your Teeth

Tacoma Dentist Explains 6 Ways a Nail Biting Habit Affects Your Teeth

Nail biting is a notoriously bad habit but it’s also a common one. You may be stuck in this habit, yourself. While there are worse things than nail biting, you may not realize just how bad it is.

For example, biting your nails can have a seriously negative impact on your oral health. Here are six dangers to your oral health that could be caused by your nail biting habit.

1. Teeth Fractured by Nail Biting

It might seem outrageous to suggest that nibbling your fingers leads to cracked teeth. But if you have very tough nails that only get harder with each year that your biting habit persists, then they can indeed become damaging to your enamel.

Chewing with your upper and lower front teeth together puts an unnatural force on the enamel edges. Over time, your teeth can weaken and start to chip away.

2. Biting Your Nails Stresses Your TMJ

To neatly bite off a piece of your fingernail, your upper and lower front teeth need to align edge-to-edge. This is an unnatural position for your jaw. It’s a useful function, on occasion, but it puts a strain on the joint in your jaw. A lifetime of nail biting can lead to TMJ pain and dysfunction.

3. Tooth Root Resorption Caused by Nail Biting

The pressure needed to bite off your fingernails is bad for your tooth enamel and jaw, as explained above. It’s also bad for the roots of your teeth.

A habit of chewing on anything can put uneven pressure on your teeth and cause the roots to start slowly moving through the bone. This pressure can even make them resorb or dissolve.

Kids are very prone to this phenomenon since their teeth move easily through the immature bone tissue. That’s why teeth biting in the early years can lead to tooth alignment problems.

4. Slow Down Braces Treatment

Do you currently wear braces? Biting your fingernails could be interfering with your treatment. All the progress you’ve made so far can be lost if you have a habit of constantly putting pressure against your teeth.

5. Increase Risk of Bruxism

Bruxism is an unhealthy (and unconscious) habit of teeth clenching and grinding. It usually happens during sleep and is connected to high stress levels.

A nail nibbling habit can also lead to the development of a jaw-clenching habit because of all the strain you put on your TMJ. Bruxism, in turn, leads to worn tooth enamel and gum recession with an increased risk for tooth fracture. All this can potentially be caused by a nail biting habit!

6. Nail Biting Transfers Germs

Naturally, one of the most well-known reasons to avoid nail biting is the fact that this dirty habit introduces bacteria to your mouth. There are many different kinds of bacteria responsible for gum disease, cavities, and infected wounds. The more you transfer to your mouth via your fingernails, the more likely you are to get sick or develop a serious infection in your mouth.

Restorative and Cosmetic Dentist in Tacoma Fixes Damage Done by Nail Biting

How has your mouth been impacted by a habit of biting your nails? What can be done to repair the damage done? Would you like some help in kicking your habit? To learn more about the effects of nail biting and other habits on your oral health, contact Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS – Tacoma Family Dentistry

Military Retirees and Families Must Act Soon to Get New Dental Coverage

Military Retirees and Families Must Act Soon to Get New Dental Coverage

2019 Dental Coverage Available for Nearly Three Million Military Retirees

The Military Times reported that the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) is replacing the Tricare Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), which will end on December 31, 2018.  Military retirees are not automatically enrolled in the new FEDVIP coverage. The article noted that “they must enroll between Nov. 12 and Dec. 10, or they won’t have coverage on Jan. 1.”

Some advocates are concerned many retirees may be unaware of the change. “My bigest fear is that there are going to be so many retirees who are not going to get the word until they try to go to the dentist,” said Frank Yoakum, a retired Army sergeant major who is executive director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. “They’ll find out they have no dental coverage. … So they have to wait until next year’s open season to make a choice for 2020. They’ll go without dental care for a year.”

The article reported that “about 1.6 million beneficiaries are currently enrolled in the Tricare Retiree Dental Program, and another 1.3 million are eligible retirees who aren’t currently enrolled in that program.” In total, “nearly 3 million beneficiaries are eligible for FEDVIP.”

For more information, including enrollment tips and scheduled webinars on enrollment, visit the Tricare page here.

TRDP Transition to FEDVIP

The TRDP will end on December 31, 2018. Retirees currently enrolled in the TRDP will have the option to secure dental coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

FEDVIP offers a choice of dental carriers, including Delta Dental. Enrollment in the FEDVIP will begin November 12, 2018 and run through December 10, 2018.

You must select a FEDVIP dental plan to continue your dental care benefits.Visit benefeds.com to select and enroll in a FEDVIP plan.

FEDVIP Plan Information

With 10 dental carriers to choose from, and some plans offering both high and standard options, FEDVIP offers great flexibility when selecting the right coverage for you and your family.

Tacoma Dentist, Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS – Family Dentistry, accepts the following dental carriers from the FEDVIP list as an In-Network Provider:

5 Things to Look for in a Toothbrush

5 Things to Look for in a Toothbrush

You may not put much thought into buying something as commonplace as a toothbrush. After all, it’s certainly not the most important purchase you’ll make. And brushing your teeth is such a simple chore that you wouldn’t think you need a special brush to do it.

Your choice of toothbrush, however, can have a major impact on your oral health—for better or for worse.

Look for the following features the next time you pick up a new toothbrush to ensure a healthy smile.

1. Soft (or Extra Soft!) Toothbrush Bristles

An innocent-looking toothbrush can do a surprising amount of damage to your smile. If you use a brush with “medium” or “hard” bristles, then they are likely too rough for your gums and enamel.

Firm bristles can wear away notches in your teeth and cause gums to recede. Choose instead a toothbrush labeled as having “soft” or even “extra soft” bristles.

Soft toothbrush bristles are especially important if you tend to use a lot of pressure when you brush. The softer your brush, the better for your smile.

2. A Toothbrush Head that Fits in Your Mouth

Too big and a toothbrush head can make you gag. Too small and the toothbrush may not clean all the plaque off your teeth.

It’s important to choose a toothbrush that’s just the right size so that you can comfortably maneuver it around your mouth to clean all of your teeth.

Infants’ toothbrushes come in very tiny sizes but children’s brushes can be much larger. Buy a brush that suits your child’s mouth. If your own mouth is on the small side, then you might find that a child-size brush works best for you, as well!

3. Ergonomic Toothbrush Handle

The toothbrush handle may be the least important part for some people. For others, however, having the right handle makes a huge difference.

If you can’t properly grasp your toothbrush, then you may have a difficult time moving it around your mouth. For example, having arthritis in your hands or limited hand mobility after a stroke can make it awkward or even painful to grasp a slim handle.

Pick out a toothbrush with a handle that’s easy for you to hold onto. Some brushes are designed to be bigger specifically for individuals who can’t fully close their fingers around a slim handle.

4. Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes

You might be surprised to hear that it doesn’t really matter whether you opt for a powered brush or a regular manual one. Brushing at least twice a day and reaching all of your teeth with the toothbrush are the important things. You can successfully clean your teeth with either type of brush.

You may find that you prefer using an electric toothbrush because it does much of the work for you. All you have to do is move it around your mouth. Additionally, many powered toothbrushes have wide easy-to-hold handles.

Conversely, a regular toothbrush might be better for you if the vibration of a powered brush feels strange to your teeth.

Whichever kind of toothbrush you pick, the important thing is to use it correctly.

5. A Toothbrush You WANT to Use!

The best toothbrush for you personally is one that you’re willing to use. If you love the feel and look of your brush, you’ll be more motivated to clean your teeth regularly. On the other hand, if you don’t like your toothbrush, then you’ll make excuses to skip the chore.

Choose a brush that you like and you’ll find that brushing your teeth can be a refreshing and satisfying task.

What else can make your tooth brushing routine easier and more effective? Find out by visiting Tacoma family dentist, Dr. Duke Bui.

Avoiding the Dentist Because of a Bad Gag Reflex? 9 Tips to Help You Cope

Avoiding the Dentist Because of a Bad Gag Reflex? 9 Tips to Help You Cope

If you have a sensitive gag reflex then it’s no wonder that you dread dental visits! Trips to the dentist are all about having sharp tools, bulky gauze, suction hoses, and gloved fingers in your mouth. Just imagining all this is probably giving you chills, right now!

The bad news is that there’s little you can do about this; it’s just the nature of dentistry to have all sorts of unusual objects in your mouth.

But the good news is that you don’t have to let this sensitivity stop you from getting the dental treatment your teeth so badly need.

Here are nine tips that Tacoma family dentist, Dr. Duke Bui, shares with patients who have bad gag reflexes.

1. Breathe Through Your Nose . . .

One of the most important things you can do to control your gag reflex is to breathe deeply and steadily through your nose. Concentrate on taking long calming breaths and you may find that you can power your way through the urge to gag.

2. . . . And Wiggle Your Toes!

The next step is to distract your mind. If you focus on every tiny sensation going on in your mouth, then your brain is more likely to trigger gagging. But if you can focus on some other task, then you’ll be able to ignore your gag reflex.

One good distraction is to try wiggling your toes. Whether you can see your feet or not during your dental appointment doesn’t matter. Just visualize in your head how your toes look and concentrate on wiggling them one-by-one. It’s not easy to do so it’s a great distraction!

3. Don’t Try Swallowing Your Saliva

Swallowing excess saliva in your mouth is a natural reaction since your throat wants to be clear to breathe. But you may find it difficult to keep up with the extra fluid when the dentist is working on your teeth and flushing them off with water.

If you try to swallow the saliva and water that pools in your mouth, you may find it overwhelming and it can make you start coughing and gagging.

The best thing to do is just trust the dental team to vacuum away the excess fluid.

4. Practice Desensitization

With plenty of practice, it is possible to desensitize your gag reflex. The key is to do so slowly so that it isn’t too unpleasant. Practice brushing your tongue with your toothbrush every day, working it a little farther back each time. Only brush to the point that you can tolerate on any given day. It will get easier the more you do it.

You can use the same technique with a cotton swab on other areas of your throat and palate.

5. Ask for a Topical Numbing Agent

All dentists will gladly apply a numbing gel or spray to sensitive areas in your mouth, if you wish. These topical anesthetics temporarily dull sensation in the delicate tissues so that they can endure contact with foreign objects and water during dental treatment.

6. Take Your Treatment Sitting Up

Dentistry is best performed on patients when they’re almost completely reclined on their backs. But laying down could make you more prone to gagging. If you find that being treated while seated in an upright position is easier for you, then just let Dr. Bui know and he’ll be happy to accommodate!

7. Use a Rubber Dam

A rubber dam is a piece of elastic dental material that can shield your mouth like a tarp or tent. The dentist places it over your open mouth and puts holes in it that are just big enough to let a few teeth through. This way, he can treat those teeth without letting anything contact the rest of your mouth. Debris, water, and dental tools won’t be able to contact your mouth and trigger gagging.

A dental dam is ideal for situations where you absolutely must be lying down to have your treatment safely and successfully completed.

8. Communicate Your Concerns

You may be surprised to find that just alleviating your anxiety can reduce your urge to gag. Let the dentist know what your concerns are. Set up a simple system of hand signals to communicate your needs during treatment. This way, you won’t be inclined to panic whenever you can’t speak because someone is working on your teeth.

9. Try Dental Sedation

When all else fails to cure you of a sensitive gag reflex, dental sedation is sure to help. A little dose of laughing gas (which, by the way, is offered free of charge by Dr. Bui) may be all you need to help you relax and avoid gagging.

Get more tips on managing a touchy gag reflex by planning a consultation with Dr. Bui. Call Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS – Family Dentistry today to schedule your appointment.