Dental Health

Bad breath: What causes it and what to do about it

Occasional bad breath is common, but persistent and noticeable bad breath (which a person may not be aware of) is likely to be caused by a dental problem such as a gum disease.

Teething-pain remedy dangers

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

There are a number of remedies available to treat teething pain that contain benzocaine, but products containing this ingredient can cause a reaction in the blood that can result in less oxygen being distributed in the body, which can be dangerous for babies.

Unlocking the lock jaw: Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction

Most of us don’t appreciate the temporomandibular joint. It’s what lets us upon and close our mouths. Eating, chatting, yelling at a football game. Life just isn’t the same when there is a problem with this joint. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is painful and can worsen existing headache disorders. Learn more about TMJ, how to prevent it and how to treat it.

Tossing flossing?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The recent media focus on the lack of evidence supporting the benefits of regular flossing overlooks the fact that it has not been studied in depth. Given the established links between gum disease and other health conditions, continuing to floss regularly makes sense.

Treating gum disease may lessen the burden of heart disease, diabetes, other conditions

In the folk song “Dem Bones,” every bone is connected to the next one in line. Here’s an interesting wrinkle on that idea: The gum bone, or at least problems with it, are connected to all sorts of health problems. Gum disease—which begins when the sticky, bacteria-laden film known as plaque builds up around your teeth—is closely linked to premature birth, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health problems. Now, a report in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that treating gum disease (also called periodontal disease) can lead to better health — as evidenced by lower health care costs and fewer hospitalizations — among people with common health conditions. The common thread between gum disease and chronic health conditions is inflammation. Eliminating the gum infection may dampen that harmful response throughout the body.

Halloween candy

Peter Wehrwein

Contributor, Harvard Health

Trick or treat? It’s really a rhetorical question. They just want the Halloween candy. Millions of American children will get billions of sugar- and fat-laden treats on Sunday night in a tradition that has its roots in pagan and Christian rituals. It’s fun. The kids are outside, walking. And, gosh, they’re cute in their princess and pirate costumes. But nutritionally and dentally speaking, the […]

Dental fear? Our readers suggest coping techniques.

Ann MacDonald

Contributor, Harvard Health

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the topic of dental phobia. Fear of the dentist is incredibly common, with surveys estimating that it affects 13% to 24% of people around the world. For many people, dental anxiety is disturbing but not disabling. But some are so terrorized at the thought of going to […]

Afraid of the dentist? How do you deal with it?

Ann MacDonald

Contributor, Harvard Health

In our October issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, we offer advice about how to manage dental phobia. I’d love to hear from readers of this blog about what techniques they use to cope with their own dental fear. I’ll compile representative replies in a later post. (This issue is one I grapple with […]