dr chauvin laffayette dentist Dental complications from nail biting

Dental and health complications from nail biting

Onychophagia, or nail biting, is a relatively common habit. It is estimated that 30% of children, 45% of teenagers, 25% of young adults, and 5% of older adults bite their nails. Like many habits, it is a hard one to break! However, it is definitely a habit that needs to be broken, as there are many other side effects besides chewed up nails.

Dental problems associated with nail biting

It’s estimated that frequent nail biters will cost themselves an additional $4,000 in dental bills over the course of their lives. That constant chewing is not good for your teeth! Nail biting can cause a number of different dental problems, such as:

  • Bruxism
  • Tooth loss
  • Teeth chipping or cracking
  • Dental occlusion issues (the way your teeth fit together when your mouth is closed)
  • Teeth shifting position
  • Premature wearing down of teeth
  • Sore or damaged gums

There are mouth guards you can wear that protect your teeth, as well as help to deter nail biting. Your dentist can also teach you some therapy techniques that will help you resist biting your nails.

Nail biting opens the door to several other health risks

Another risk nail biters face is illness. We use our hands for everything! As a result, we have all sorts of bacteria living on our skin and under our nails. And under our nails is a prime location for bacteria to live, including E. coli and Salmonella. When you bite your nails, you’re transferring those bacteria to your mouth. Think about how you wash your hands. Do you use a nail brush to scrub under them every time? Probably not! A standard hand washing isn’t going to remove those bacteria, so there could be all manner of pathogens under your nails.

Additionally, your mouth is full of bacteria as well! So not only are you putting more bacteria in your mouth, different bacteria is getting under your nails and on your fingers. When you chew on your nails, tiny tears, cuts, or abrasions can form. These breaks in the skin are where bacteria will enter the bloodstream. Most often resulting in the infection paronychia – a skin infection that occurs around the nail. This infection causes redness, swelling, and pus around the nail. Depending on the severity of the infection, it may have to be drained surgically! This infection is also one of the most common nail problems. And if you have the form of HPV that causes warts on your hands and are a nail biter, you can actually transfer those warts from your fingers to your mouth and lips.

If nail biting is a problem for you, contact Dr. Chauvin’s office so we can make sure your teeth are okay, and help you learn how to quit.

lafayette dentist dr chauvin 5 reasons you cant get numb at the dentist

5 reasons you cant get numb at the dentist

Imagine going to the dentist to have some work done, and no matter how many times they try, they can’t get you numb. Unfortunately that’s a reality for many people. There is an estimated 5 to 15% failure rate of dental injections. And when over four million are given annually, that’s between 200,000 and 600,000 failures! There are a number of reasons this could happen:

  • Errors made by the dentist
  • Nervous patients
  • Anatomic variations
  • Infection or inflammation
  • Red hair

Dentist errors:

There are a series of steps required for numbing to work properly. If your dentist doesn’t follow them, you won’t be properly numbed! The placement of the anesthetic is very important. If done incorrectly, the wrong part of your mouth could be numbed. This is usually corrected by another dosage of anesthetic in the correct place. And there are other factors that could cause the anesthetic to be misplaced, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Once the local has been given, it needs time to work. The injection doesn’t work right away, so it’s important to give the medicine enough time to soak in properly. The choice of anesthetic is also a factor, as some medical conditions can reduce the effectiveness of certain drugs.

Nervous patients:

Some people are afraid of the dentist, others are afraid of needles. Combine the two and you have the perfect recipe for improper placement of the anesthetic. Our nerves are a spiderweb, networked throughout our entire bodies. So when giving any sort of numbing injection, proper placement is very important. If a person jumps or twitches, because they’re nervous, from the sting of the needle, or whatever reason – they may cause the dosage to be displaced.

Anatomic variations:

While everyone is built the same, for the most part, there are slight variations that may cause an anesthetic not to work properly. For example, if a person has a wider jaw, it may be more difficult to determine exactly where a nerve should be.

Infection or inflammation:

An infection can hinder the effectiveness of any numbing medication. Most active infections involve pus, which is acidic. Acidic enough to counteract the effects of any anesthetic. In many cases, depending on the type and severity of infection, your dentist will prescribe antibiotics, and have you return for your dental work when the infection has cleared up.

Red hair:

It has to do with genetics, but for some strange reason, people with natural red hair have a built-in resistance to anesthetics! Redheads are also more likely to be afraid of the dentist!

If you’ve had trouble getting numb in the past, make sure you alert your dentist so they can try their best to make sure you are comfortable.

metallic taste in your mouth lafayette la dentist dr chauvin

Whats that metallic taste in your mouth?

metallic taste in your mouth lafayette la dentist dr chauvinHave you ever had a strange taste in your mouth for no reason? Maybe a metallic or coppery flavor that just comes and goes? If you have, then you’ve experienced something called parageusia. It’s a taste disorder that makes it seem like you’ve been sucking on a penny. It’s fairly common, and has a wide variety of causes. They can range from harmless to very serious.

What can cause parageusia?

In rare cases, parageusia can be a sign of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Generally, the metallic taste in your mouth can be linked to a number of other factors, including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Sinus issues caused by:
    • Allergies
    • A cold
    • Sinus infections
    • Upper respiratory infections
      • Your sense of taste and smell are very closely linked, so when you can no longer smell properly, you may experience odd tastes.
  • Middle ear surgery
  • Certain prescription medications
    • Such as antibiotics (clarithromycin/Biaxin or metronidazole/Flagyl or tetracycline), blood pressure medication (captopril/Capoten), glaucoma medication (methazolamide/Neptazane), gout medication (allopurinol), or osteoporosis medication
  • Food allergies
  • Central nervous system (CNS) disorders like:
    • Stroke
    • Bell’s palsy
  • Chemotherapy and radiation
  • Over-the-counter vitamins or medicines
    • These often contain heavy metals like copper, zinc, or chromium, and can affect your sense of taste. As your body processes the vitamins, the taste should dissipate. Just double check to make sure you’re taking the correct dosage!
  • Poor oral health
    • Not brushing and flossing correctly opens the door to problems like gingivitis, periodontitis, and other tooth infections. These can all produce a metallic taste.
  • Chemical exposure
    • Inhaling certain chemicals (especially mercury or lead) in large quantities can cause a metallic taste.

The good news is, if you’re healthy, then whatever is causing you to have that metallic tang is usually benign.

How do I get rid of the metallic taste?

Most of the time, once the underlying cause is taken care of, the metallic taste will go away. It may do so on it’s own, and be little more than a random occasional nuisance. If it doesn’t, you will want to see a doctor to rule out more serious problems, as it can also be indicative of undiagnosed diabetes, liver, or kidney disease. Parageusia isn’t usually the only symptom of these diseases, so if you aren’t having any other symptoms, they probably aren’t the culprit.

If a metallic taste in your mouth is a continual problem, come see us at our office and we’ll see if the cause is a dental issue!

what is hyperdontia dr chauvin lafayette dentist

What is hyperdontia

what is hyperdontia dr chauvin lafayette dentistDid you know that it’s possible to have extra teeth? It’s called hyperdontia, and affects a very small number of the population (between 1 and 4%).  The extra teeth, or supernumerary teeth, can grow anywhere in the dental arch. The most common supernumerary teeth are either the anterior incisors or the fourth molars. The fourth molars often appear as extra, impacted wisdom teeth.

What causes hyperdontia?

Although researchers haven’t been able to pin down a definite cause, many feel that environmental causes and family genetics are to blame. However, they are not sure what elements of the environment are responsible for hyperdontia. It can happen to anyone, but people with Gardner’s syndrome, cleft lip, or down syndrome seem to be more prone to it. And of the affected population, males are affected more than females at a ratio of two to one. In most cases, there is a single extra tooth.

Researchers do know how it happens though. During the first stages of development, a tooth bud can split, essentially creating a copy of itself. Both halves of the tooth bud will mature, resulting in duplicate teeth. Hyperdontia is much more common in permanent teeth than primary teeth.

Complications with hyperdontia

There are 20 primary teeth, and 32 permanent teeth. That’s just how our mouths have evolved. Many people have to have their wisdom teeth removed because they don’t have room for them, or they’re positioned incorrectly. Supernumerary teeth can come in underneath, or in-between permanent teeth. They may also be misshapen, or more prone to decay. And even though the extra teeth may never break the skin, they can still cause a variety of problems:

  • Dental crowding – this can make it difficult to eat normally
  • Keeping permanent teeth from erupting correctly, or at all
  • Fusing with permanent teeth
  • Tumor or cyst formation

Treatment for hyperdontia

It’s important to take your child to their regularly scheduled dental checkups, especially since hyperdontia is easily discovered during a dental exam. Treatment will depend on the location of the tooth, whether it’s primary or permanent, and whether it has erupted or not. In most children, it’s not necessary to surgically remove an extra primary tooth, as it will fall out on it’s own. Permanent teeth will most likely need to be extracted. Your dentist will determine the best course of action, as the extra tooth may need to be cut and removed in pieces. Or an orthodontic method may be required to ensure the surrounding teeth have room to erupt properly.

Are you concerned that your child may have an extra tooth? Call Dr. Chauvin to set up an appointment!