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Could this Common Chemical Be Disrupting Tooth Enamel Development?

Back in 2012, when the FDA banned the chemical Bisphenol- A (or as it is more commonly known, BPA) in baby bottles and children’s sippy cups, parents breathed a collective sigh of relief. But as it turns out, this ban may not have been enough. Recent studies have found that BPA is present in many more products than initially thought- and the chemical itself does far more damage than scientists were previously aware. We spoke to Wilmington, NC dentist Dr. Michele Simpson about the findings of the newest study on BPA- and what these findings could mean for the development of your child’s teeth.

So what exactly is BPA- and why is it so bad? BPA, along with similar chemicals bisphenol S and bisphenol F, are chemicals added to in some plastics to add strength and durability. First developed in 1891, BPA was not widely used until 1955, following a 1953 discovery by two separate scientists that the compound was nearly unbreakable. Since then, it has been used in a wide array of products- from cups to cash register receipts, and even as a liner in aluminum cans that acts as a barrier against rusting. However, in 1992, a Stanford University researcher by the name of Dr. David Feldman made a startling discovery about BPA when studying estrogen activities. Feldman and his research team noticed the presence of an "estrogenic molecule" in a plastic container of yeast growing in the lab. The researchers realized the yeast was not synthesizing the estrogen itself- the estrogen was literally leaching out of the plastic container. The experiment was then replicated in a glass container, and shockingly, the estrogenic molecule did not appear.

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Can a New Augmented Reality Game Finally End the Tooth-brushing Battle?

A new augmented reality (AR) game is creating a buzz in the dentistry world. The game is called Grush, and it was designed to teach children proper brushing – all while having fun. The game’s designer, Dr. Yong Jing-Wang, created Grush after his own son had difficulty taking proper care of his own teeth. Now Grush is available to families all over the world – but is a video game toothbrush really a good idea? We spoke to Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC about Grush and the scores of other teeth brushing apps on the market.

While Grush is certainly not the first app to make cleaning teeth into a game, it is definitely the first app of its kind. Most tooth-brushing apps on the market today fall into two categories. One variation uses toothbrush ‘timers’ that offer some kind of tutorial or game to children while the app counts the time spent brushing (and usually encourages brushing for 2 minutes). The other is strictly a game, where players actually use their own hands to ‘brush’ the teeth on the characters of the app - with no relation to the actual player brushing.

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Is Something Leaving a Bad Taste in Your Mouth?

Most people have experienced a bad taste in their mouth they couldn’t get rid of fast enough- but what if that taste lasted more than a few days and nothing you tried made it any better? If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from a condition called Dysgeusia. The word Dysgeusia literally means "distaste" in Greek. It is usually characterized by an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC discusses the causes of Dysgeusia and what you can do to treat it.

Dysgeusia can be caused by a number of different things, such as conditions of the body or medications. Things like hormonal changes due to pregnancy, or even zinc deficiency have been known to cause Dysgeusia, and it can also be caused by medications and treatments like chemotherapy, albuterol asthma inhalers, and iron supplements. So why is it so hard to fix? The answer may surprise you.

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Why Do We Accidentally Bite Our Cheeks While Chewing?

If you’re like most people, you have most likely experienced the pain of accidentally biting the inside of your cheek while chewing – and then continuing to bite the same spot over and over for days, because it’s now in the way of your bite. But why do we do this- and what can we do to stop it? We asked Dr. Michelle Simpson of Wilmington, NC to give us the lowdown on cheek biting.

Though frequent or intentional cheek biting can be a sign of a bigger problem, such as TMJ disorder or a nervous or stress related condition, most of the time when cheek biting occurs, it's merely accidental and no cause for concern. Still, cheek bite injuries are particularly frustrating because they feel like they take forever to heal. This is probably because not only is the injury now right in the way of our bite, causing it to be re-bitten, but it can also become irritated by certain foods- especially if it’s an open or fresh wound. Unfortunately, unlike an external wound, we can’t just put some bacitracin on it and cover it with a bandage. Thankfully the mouth really does heal faster than the rest of the body, so if you can manage to not re-injure it repeatedly, it should theoretically clear up quickly. If you do want to help it along, Dr. Michelle Simpson recommends rinsing your mouth with salt water or alcohol-free mouthwash after eating, to keep the injury clean. It is important to keep the injured area clean because any wound in the mouth is susceptible to infection thanks to the plaque and bacteria already present in the mouth.

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Can a Smartphone Device Tell You How Healthy Your Mouth Is?

A new device called "Mint" is taking the ‘breath-check’ to a new level. With the Mint device, Gone are the days of trying in vain to smell your own breath by breathing into your cupped hand. The device allows you to check your breath by breathing into a wireless plastic meter that connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone, delivering your results to via app. The device is not only useful for hygienic purposes, but according to manufacturers Breathometer and Philips Sonicare, the device could also save your life. Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC discusses this groundbreaking new technology.

When Charles Michael Yim appeared on the television show "Shark Tank" in 2013 to introduce his "Breathometer" breathalyzer device, little did he know he’d make history by securing not only an investment by all five ‘sharks’- but the first million-dollar investment in the show’s history. Yim’s original product, the Breathometer device is a personal breathalyzer device which connects to your smartphone and delivers an accurate blood/alcohol reading via a coordinating app. Mint is the company’s newest venture- designed not just to detect bad breath, but to also give an "oral report card" which scores your oral health based on the readings from your breath. Scores range from A to F, with A being excellent breath, and F being breath so bad it could be a sign of serious problems.

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Good Oral Health Begins At Birth

Your baby’s first year is full of many firsts. First smile, first laugh, and maybe even a clap or a crawl too. Another momentous first? Your baby’s first tooth. But if he or she only has one tooth, do you really need to see a dentist? Should you be brushing that tooth? How soon is too soon to begin caring for your child’s teeth? Dr. Michele Simpson offers some pointers on how to care for your new baby’s oral health from infancy and beyond.

During your child’s first year of life, they will likely be seen by the pediatrician at least a dozen times. Between the first few hospital check-ups, then the bi-weekly, weekly and finally monthly well-baby visits, their growth and development are monitored very closely. If your child is healthy, this is usually all you need until teeth begin to erupt. The first tooth shows up around the 6th month, but many children have gotten them earlier, and many more much later. We like to see children start coming to the dentist at around age 1, provided there are teeth present.

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My Child Knocked Out a Baby Tooth! Now What?

Baby teeth. They’re the set of teeth that are meant to be lost. The set that if your child loses accidentally, you don’t panic over, or worry about saving or replacing. But did you know that in some cases you actually can save baby teeth that are lost accidentally? Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC explains.

Picture this: Your son is running on uneven pavement, and his shoe catches a raised tile, sending him flying through the air. He lands, taking the impact on his top, central incisor- knocking the tooth clean out. Now, what? At this moment, you have a few options. You can consider the tooth a lost cause and introduce your son to the tooth fairy a little early, or according to Dr. Michele Simpson, there may be hope of saving the tooth and having a dentist re-implant it. But time is of the essence!

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Congenitally Missing Teeth: What Does it Mean, and What Can You Do About it?

The human mouth is designed to hold 32 permanent "adult" teeth, including four wisdom teeth. Sometimes, however, the mouth has other plans. Believe it or not, it is possible to be born with less than a full set of adult teeth. The number missing can range anywhere from one missing tooth to all 32. Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC explains why some people are born without a full set of teeth – and what can be done to correct this.

The medical term for congenitally missing teeth is hypodontia. Hypodontia is classified as missing up to five adult teeth, while missing more than five adult teeth is referred to as oligodontia, and missing all your permanent adult teeth is clinically known as andontia. But while these conditions may seem bizarre to some, they are actually much more common than you may think!

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The Origin of the Tooth Fairy

If you grew up in the United States, it’s a safe bet that you’ve probably at least heard of the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy is a mythical sprite who is said to fly into children's’ bedrooms at night, to take fallen baby teeth that were left under children's’ pillows for her- and swap those teeth out for a reward (usually money). But where did the story of the tooth fairy come from?

If you look around the world at traditions to celebrate lost teeth, you will find that many other countries have their own very similar myths- but the use of a humanoid fairy is only found in America. In Spanish-speaking countries, for example, children leave their teeth out at night for a rat or mouse named Ratóncito Pérez. In France, children also leave their teeth for a mouse, but his name is La Petite Souris. Unlike the tooth fairy, though, traditions like La Petite Souris have been found in French literature dating back to the 17th century. The first mention of the American tooth fairy only dates back to 1927, in a playlet entitled "The Tooth Fairy." Unfortunately, the 8 page, three-act children’s play doesn’t go into any detail about the fairy herself, or how her tradition got started.

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Teething Tablets: What You Need to Know Right Now

Parents across the country were recently shocked to learn that the Hyland's Teething Tablets they've trusted to provide "natural" relief for their teething babies may have caused 400 "adverse events" in children (e.g.,. Fever, lethargy, seizures, etc.) and the deaths of ten infants. While these claims are still under FDA investigation and have not yet been verified, the FDA recently issued a warning to parents to stop giving children the tablets until a full investigation could be conducted. So what's a mom to do? We spoke to Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC about what this recall means for families- and what you can do to make teething easier in its wake.

It is important to note that what many are calling a Hyland's "recall" is not, in fact, a recall at all. Hyland's products were never actually recalled, and tablets may still be available at your favorite store- but once they're gone, they're gone. While US-Based Hyland's stands by their products, they have opted to voluntarily stop selling the tablets in the United States, but continue selling their teething products in foreign markets. As a result, your local store may choose to keep the tablets on shelves and sell off their inventory- or, in the case of stores like Walgreens and CVS, they may voluntarily pull the tablets off shelves just to be safe.

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Lower your risk of heart attack by brushing your teeth?

You already knew that brushing your teeth benefits your oral health by reducing your risk for cavities and gingivitis. But did you know that you can also reduce your risk of another very common, but very serious illness? Believe it or not, brushing your teeth can reduce your risk of heart disease, too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. That is a staggering one in four deaths caused by the same, often preventable illness. We've all heard basic heart disease prevention tips like eating right, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking; but you can now add brushing your teeth to that list, too.

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When to Get a Second Opinion

If you've ever received a troubling diagnosis at a dental exam, you've probably been told by a well-meaning friend or family member to "get a second opinion" before resigning yourself to whatever treatment plan is prescribed. But is this a good idea, and if it is- how do you know the second opinion will be useful? Dr. Michele Simpson breaks it all down for you.

Recently, a patient came in for a routine exam and was told he needed a crown. He had a cavity, which while not very bad yet was very close to a large, pre-existing filling. We determined at this point that rather than try to put another filling in the same tooth, it would be better for the tooth to put a crown on it. The patient was understandably concerned with this proposed course of treatment, so we suggested he seek a second opinion for his own peace of mind.

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A Simple Device Can Prevent a Host of Serious Medical Problems

When you hear the words "sleep apnea," what comes to mind? If you're like most people, you probably associate sleep apnea with snoring. But sleep apnea goes far beyond just snoring. Sleep apnea is defined by the Mayo Clinic as "a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts." In itself, the condition is a dangerous one, because it can cause you to stop breathing for upwards of a minute. Worse still, you probably don't realize you've stopped breathing because you're asleep.

As if that weren't motivation enough to speak to your doctor, recent studies have shown that left untreated; sleep apnea can cause numerous other serious, often fatal, health conditions including depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and type II diabetes. The American Journal of Medicine has also noted that patients with sleep apnea are at increased risk for stroke, even if they have no other stroke risk factors present.

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Sealing the Deal: The Benefits of Dental Sealants

With debates about the efficacy of some tried and true dental treatments in the news this summer, many consumers are wondering what is really necessary when it comes to their teeth. Dental sealants are a widely recommended treatment for children as their new teeth erupt: but are they effective? With many insurance plans declining to cover sealants, it's important to know if they're even worth the out of pocket expense.

A sealant is a clear plastic coating that is painted over the tooth and acts as a barrier against plaque and cavities. According to the American Dental Association, when done properly sealants can reduce decay in teeth by up to 80%. While sealants are usually applied to newly erupted teeth (most commonly on the back molars) they can also be applied to adult's teeth if there is no decay present, or if that decay has already been correctly filled. However, according to Dr. Michele Simpson DDS of Wilmington, NC, it is rare for adults to receive sealants. Says Simpson "We generally don't seal adult's teeth as often because unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine whether or not an adult tooth is 100% free of decay." According to Simpson, sealing a tooth with even a tiny bit of decay can cause significant problems. "Using a sealant on a tooth that already has begun deteriorating can actually make decay the worse by trapping it under the sealant and causing infection." In most cases, it's not worth the risk.

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Nothing to Wine About

A recent study by the Wine Market Council released earlier this year claims that millennials alone drank 42% of the wine consumed in the US in 2015, with many drinking an average of 3 glasses per sitting. That's a lot of wear and tear on your teeth! Dr. Michele Simpson shares some tips on how to keep your teeth looking their best after indulging.

Drinking a glass of wine a day can have numerous health benefits. It can raise your good cholesterol, lower your risk of stroke and heart attacks, and even lower your risk for some types of cancers. But for all the good things wine can do to improve your health, it can do a number on the enamel of your teeth if you aren't careful.

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To Floss or Not to Floss, Is it a Question?

If you read it on social media it must be true! Right? Recently the dental community has been in a frenzy over a newly released investigation stating that there is no medical evidence supporting the benefits of flossing on your oral health. Did we read that correctly? Flossing is a waste of time and I can give it up guilt free! Or at least stop lying to the dentist saying you've been flossing when you really haven't. (Yes, we know you're really not). Tempting as it may be don't be too quick to give up your flossing habit. Dentists across the world, including Dr. Simpson, are begging patients "Please don't stop flossing!" There are plenty of great reasons to keep flossing your teeth.

  • Flossing prevents teeth and gums issues. It gets rid of the stuff that wedges between your teeth. Not removing it leads to bacteria build up which causes serious dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay.
  • People who floss regularly have healthier gums. Less bleeding means less risk for infection and bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
  • Fresh breath. When you floss you are literally removing food particles from your mouth that could begin to rot and make your breath not so great.
  • Flossing can save you money! Deeper cleaning leads to less cavities. And that means less dental work.

Not only are dentists still insisting on flossing but the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are still recommending flossing as an important component in your oral hygiene regimen. According to the ADA, the "lack of strong evidence doesn't equate to a lack of effectiveness," meaning that just because there isn't a bounty of evidence in support of flossing doesn't necessarily mean it isn't working.

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Facts about Fluoride

It's in toothpaste, it's in drinking water and it's even in seawater. Yup, it's fluoride. You may be wondering, "What is fluoride, and do we really need it?" Those are questions Dr. Simpson hears from her patients, and many of those patients have expressed concern about fluoride's presence in their everyday lives.

What is fluoride?

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The Dangers of Untreated TMJD

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, more commonly known as TMJD, is more than just a pesky headache or jaw discomfort. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an estimated 5 to 12% of the population suffer from the disorder. What's even more alarming is that only half to two-thirds of those will seek treatment for the condition. So what happens if TMJD is left untreated? Dr. Simpson is quick to explain some of the dangers that patients may face if they choose to forgo treatment.

TMJD is notorious for causing chronic headaches and debilitating jaw pain that can disrupt your day to day life by making sleeping and eating difficult. The pain can quickly escalate from mildly uncomfortable to severely unbearable. Most patients will treat their symptoms with over the counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but the risk of relying on stronger prescription medications to alleviate the pain can lead to substance dependency and abuse.

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Short-Term Tricks for a Long-Term Fix: The Advantages of Short Term Realigning Orthodontics

Growing up, your parents might have told you your crooked grin gave you character, but, years later, you still aren't convinced. In fact, you may even be self-conscious and a bit uncomfortable flashing that smile of yours. But while you aren't 100% comfortable with your smile, you also aren't ready to spend several years in braces either. Dr. Simpson frequently hears this concern from her patients. Fortunately, modern dentistry and orthodontics have developed alternate solutions to this pesky problem.

Traditional orthodontic appliances like braces are the right fit for some patients, but for others who may only have minor issues such as spacing and crowding, the time and financial commitments just don't make sense. Frequent adjustments for braces, tedious cleanings after eating and the general discomfort are some of inconveniences that cause patients to shy away from this course of treatment. With the modern advances in dentistry and orthodontics, short-term realigning orthodontic equipment, like Realine and Invisalign, are now viable options for patients whose smiles need a quick(er) fix. Here are a few advantages:

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959