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Thanksgiving in North America

November 23rd, 2022

Thanksgiving marks the start to the holidays; a season filled with feasting, indulging, and spending time with family and friends are always special. Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for giving thanks, and while this may seem like such a natural celebration, the United States is only one of a handful of countries to officially celebrate with a holiday.

Unlike many holidays, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which is, oddly enough, much closer to a time when harvests were likely gathered. In addition to the different dates, the origins of the celebration also share different roots.

Thanksgiving in the United States

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest are not new, but the modern day holiday in the US can be traced to a celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts in 1621. This feast of thanksgiving was inspired by a good harvest, and the tradition was simply continued on. At first, the colony at Plymouth didn't have enough food to feed everyone present, but the Native Americans helped by providing seeds and teaching them how to fish, and they soon began to be able to hold a feast worthy of the name. The tradition spread, and by the 1660s, most of New England was hosting a Thanksgiving feast in honor of the harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

An explorer of early Canada named Martin Frobisher is accredited for the first Canadian Thanksgiving. He survived the arduous journey from England through harsh weather conditions and rough terrain, and after his last voyage from Europe to present-day Nunavut, he held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his survival and good fortune. As time passed and more settlers arrived, a feast was added to what quickly became a yearly tradition. Another explorer, Samuel de Champlain, is linked to the first actual Thanksgiving celebration in honor of a successful harvest; settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the harvest with a bountiful feast.

A Modern Thanksgiving

Today, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the best of Americana. From feasts and football games to getting ready for the start of the Christmas shopping season, Thanksgiving means roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole. No matter how you celebrate this momentous day, pause for a moment to give thanks for your friends, family, and all the bounties you’ve received. Happy Thanksgiving from Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry!

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

November 16th, 2022

Do you ever find yourself gnawing at your nails? Nail-biting is a very common and difficult to break habit which usually has its beginnings in childhood. It can leave your fingers and nail beds red and swollen. But if you think that your nails are the only ones getting roughed up by nail-biting you'd be mistaken—so are your teeth!

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, those who bite their nails, clench their teeth, or chew on pencils are at much higher risk to develop bruxism (unintentional grinding of the teeth). Bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, receding gums, headaches, and general facial pain.

Those are some nasty sounding side effects from chewing on your nails. Most nail-biting is a sign of stress or anxiety and its something you should deal with. So what steps can you take if you have a nail-biting habit?

There are several things you can do to ease up on nail-biting:

  • Trim your nails shorter and/or get regular manicures – Trimming your nails shorter is an effective remedy. In so doing, they'll be less tempting and more difficult to bite on. If you also get regular manicures, you’ll be less likely to ruin the investment you’ve made in your hands and fingernails!
  • Find a different kind of stress reduction – Try meditation, deep breathing, practicing qigong or yoga, or doing something that will keep your hands occupied like squeezing a stress ball or playing with a yo-yo.
  • Wear a bitter-tasting nail polish – When your nails taste awful, you won't bite them! Clear or colored, it doesn't matter. This is also a helpful technique for helping children get over the habit.
  • Figure out what triggers your nail-biting – Sometimes it's triggered by stress or anxiety and other times it can be a physical stressor, like having hang nails. Knowing what situations cause you to bite your nails will help you to avoid them and break the habit.
  • Wear gloves or bandages on your fingers – If you've tried the steps above and they aren't working, this technique can prove effective since your fingernails won't be accessible to bite.

If you're still having trouble with nail-biting after trying these self-help steps, it's best to consult your doctor, dermatologist, or Dr. Ron Shiver. For some, it may also be the sign of a deeper psychological or emotional problem.

Whatever the cause, nail-biting is a habit you need to break for your physical and emotional well-being. If you have any questions about the effects it can have on your oral health, please don't hesitate to ask Dr. Ron Shiver during your next visit to our Valdosta office.

Discovering Your Roots

November 9th, 2022

Getting to the Root of the Problem

While our roots are well-protected, they’re not indestructible! Several conditions can damage them. But we’re not just about problems—we also have some suggestions to keep your roots solid and intact for a lifetime.

  • Traumatic Injury

A blow, a fall from a bike, a sports injury—any trauma which can hurt your visible tooth can hurt your roots as well. And it’s not just accidents that cause harm. Cracks in the tooth caused by oral habits like chewing on ice, pencils, or other hard objects can lead to root fractures.

You can help prevent root injuries by wearing a mouth guard whenever you are engaged in contact sports or any physical activity that might cause damage to your face or mouth. If you have harmful oral habits, talk to Dr. Ron Shiver about how to break them. And if you do suffer a dental injury, see us as soon as possible to avoid more serious complications.

  • Bruxism

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is most often an unconscious habit that takes place while you sleep. Grinding puts enormous pressure on teeth and their roots. The damage can be obvious, with cracked and worn crowns, but your roots can be affected, too. The strain of this constant pressure can stretch the periodontal ligament, causing loose teeth.

Night guards are one of the easiest ways to relieve pressure on individual teeth and roots. Your dentist can fabricate a night guard which will provide comfortable, effective protection for your teeth and jaw.

  • Gum Recession

Taking care of your gums is one of the best ways to protect your roots.

Gums often recede as we age, leaving part of the root exposed. Gum disease, failure to brush and floss regularly, and heavy-handed brushing can also lead to gum recession. The newly revealed cementum is now exposed to the plaque and acids which cause cavities in our enamel, and, since it’s not as strong as enamel, cementum is more vulnerable to erosion and cavities progress more quickly.

When more severe recession takes place, the gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets which become home to plaque and bacteria. Left untreated, infection and inflammation can develop, attacking teeth, connective tissue, and bone. Talk to Dr. Ron Shiver about scaling and planing procedures for a deep cleaning of the root surface, or grafting procedures to replace the gum tissue which protects your roots.

  • Infected or Injured Roots

An endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the inner tooth and its surrounding tissues. To specialize in this field, endodontists have two or more years of additional advanced training in procedures designed to save your natural teeth.

Any infection or trauma which injures the pulp of the tooth will affect the roots as well. Most of us are familiar with root canal treatment, where infected or damaged pulp is removed, and the insides of the pulp chamber and canals are cleaned, shaped, and filled. A crown is usually placed afterward to cap and protect the tooth.  Endodontists are specialists in root canal treatment, saving teeth which would otherwise be lost.

Endodontists are also trained in surgical procedures which treat persistent root pain and infection:

  • When infections recur near the tip of a root after a root canal, an apicoectomy is the most common surgical treatment. In this procedure, your endodontist will carefully remove a few millimeters from the tip of the tooth, then clean the infected parts of the tooth and the tissues around it before sealing the root tip.
  • If a single root in a molar with multiple roots is seriously damaged, decayed, or infected, your endodontist might recommend a root amputation. Here the damaged root is surgically removed, preserving the remaining roots and crown. If the crown is damaged as well, your endodontist can perform a hemisection, removing the root and part of the crown to save as much as possible of the molar.
  • When the reason for your discomfort is unclear, diagnostic surgery can find the cause of persistent pain when a tooth fracture or root canal branch is so small that even an X-ray doesn’t reveal it.

Healthy roots help you keep your teeth for a lifetime, so it’s important to see Dr. Ron Shiver as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of potential problems:

  • Constant pain in tooth, gums, or jaw
  • Pain when biting down
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Swelling or pain in the gums around a tooth

Do your part by keeping up with daily brushing and flossing, seeing your dentist for exams as recommended, and making an appointment at our Valdosta office if you are feeling any pain or discomfort. Strong roots are essential to our oral health, and a lifetime of healthy smiles is something we’re all rooting for!

Why See An Endodontist?

November 2nd, 2022

One good question; two good answers!

Why see an endodontist?

Many of us have experienced occasional minor tooth or gum pain and sensitivity. A new filling can lead to a brief period of sensitivity to pressure or heat and cold. Braces can be uncomfortable when they are new or recently adjusted. You might simply be brushing too hard! But sometimes, pain and sensitivity are caused by a more serious dental problem which should be treated as soon as possible.

When exposure to hot and cold foods causes continuous discomfort, or your gums are red or swollen or tender around a tooth, or when you can’t bite down without pain, it could mean that the pulp or roots of your tooth have suffered infection or damage. Damage to the tooth’s pulp can also be the result of an injury, such as a blow to the mouth. A chip, a crack, or a deep cavity can leave an opening for infection.

Whatever the cause of injury or inflammation, once the pulp and roots have been compromised, treatment needs to take place promptly to prevent further infection, pain, and even tooth and bone loss.

Why see an endodontist?

While all dentists receive some endodontic training in dental school, fewer than three percent go on to become endodontists like Dr. Ron Shiver. “Endodontic” means “inside the tooth,” and refers to the pulp chamber and root canals within each tooth that hold tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. Two to three years of additional education are required to become a specialist in this complex field, with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases that affect the inner tooth and its supporting tissue.

When a tooth’s pulp is damaged, prompt treatment is necessary, and an endodontist has the ability, the experience, and the tools to provide you with the care you need. Dr. Ron Shiver and our team work to save injured teeth with a variety of procedures available at our Valdosta office, including root canals, endodontic surgeries on tooth and root structures, and placement of posts and cores to strengthen and stabilize compromised teeth. With today’s advances in the field, endodontists have more sophisticated tools and treatments than ever before to save your injured tooth.

No matter how you ask the question, the answer is clear. If you have tooth, gum, or unexplained facial pain, talk to Dr. Ron Shiver about endodontic treatment.

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