Can Smiling Reduce Stress?

If you have ever wondered, “Can smiling reduce stress?” the answer is yes. Through scientific research studies and health evaluations, smiling has a great effect on reducing stress. Not only that but there are additional results that suggest smiling can have beneficial effects on your overall health. Are you ready to get your smile on?

Stress Can Have a Negative Effect on Your Smile

Why do people frown? Normally, sadness can bring on a frown, or dissatisfaction, or something bad happening to ruin your day. Stress can also bring on a frown and affect your entire body. In a study of 2,412 participants published in 2016, it was found that psychological stress can contribute to oral health problems.

The study included socio-economic factors as well. Those with dental insurance coverage did fare better than those with the additional worry of how to pay the bills. The study also concluded that stress can contribute to other chronic health conditions including:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Childhood obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Type II diabetes
  • Tobacco and drug use
  • Cancer

Among the oral problems linked directly to stress that can affect your smile are gum inflammation, teeth grinding (Bruxism), and dry mouth.

Gum Inflammation

Stress can be a direct cause of gum inflammation and periodontal disease in some people. Under stress, your body creates excess cortisol (an anti-inflammatory hormone). Cortisone released in the gums creates additional proteins which increase inflammation. This can progress to periodontal disease, pain, and have a negative impact on your smile.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism can be a response to anger, fear, and stress. This clenching is often done unconsciously and even during periods of sleep. Grinding can create many problems including:

  • Broken or damaged teeth
  • Jaw popping
  • Face pain
  • Headaches
  • Swelling
  • TMJ

As you can see, stress-related teeth grinding can result in many physical problems of the head, neck, and face.

 

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Dry Mouth

Extreme stress can cause increased acid reflux. Because acid slows down saliva production, it can result in a dry mouth. Without the necessary flushing of saliva, your mouth can become a haven for bad breath, bad tastes, and increase the prevalence of tooth decay. Having a dry mouth can affect your smile in a negative way.

The Science Behind Your Smile

To reclaim the happiness of our youth would be awesome. Children smile on average about 400 times every day. Adults smile much less. A happy adult may smile from 40 to 50 times per day, while a typical adult only manages about 20 smiles.

Smiles can open doors, make you more likable, and even increase your productivity at work! But how does that work? Your body is an amazing machine that works together on every level. One thing begins a chain reaction that keeps moving through your entire body.

In the case of smiling, when you smile your brain releases neuropeptides (little molecules) that fight off stress. Next come other neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Serotonin is your body’s natural anti-depressant. Endorphins are natural pain relievers.

The release of the secret weapons in your brain can create a loop that includes the people around you too. When we see a person smile, our natural reaction is to return the smile. We’ve all heard the old adages about “A happy workplace is a productive workplace” and other cliches linked to smiling. Turns out they have a real basis in science! Happy workers are more productive and express more creativity.

Creating a Healthier You With a Smile

There are many different ways to increase your daily smile ratio and all of them will have a lasting impact on your overall health and well-being. Practicing your smile in the mirror each morning can start your day on a happy note. If you don’t like your smile, you can always seek orthodontic treatment to create the smile of your dreams. In the meantime, use the smile you have to brighten your day!

When you smile and laugh regularly you will begin to feel better. Laughter yoga, laugh therapy, and other methods to teach people the benefits of laughter are rekindling this natural healing mechanism. There are many other ways to get your smile back:

  • TV programs and funny movies
  • Theater and comedy shows at local clubs
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Look for things to laugh about throughout the day

Go to the zoo — the monkeys are always hilarious. Take a walk in a park near your home with a playground — the laughter of children is infectious. While we struggle behind our masks during the current pandemic, it may seem that no one is smiling, but that isn’t true. They may be hidden, but people are still smiling and you can too!

Benefits of Smiling and Laughing

We mentioned earlier that smiling can have beneficial health effects. In addition to relieving stress, smiling works miracles on your entire body. Smiling can also make you feel better about yourself. Among the benefits are:

  • Reduced pain
  • Less stress
  • Stronger immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Greater endurance

Give it a try — smile into the mirror and see if your reflection smiles back at you.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It — Does It Work?

What if life is just so overwhelming that you can’t muster a real smile? The good news is that your brain can’t tell the difference between a real smile or a fake smile. When you smile, the movement of the muscles still creates the same release of happy juice from your brain (endorphins).

 

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What that means is that even when you “aren’t feeling it,” you can still use smiling to boost your level of happiness. While laughter and smiling are not a substitute for professional care if you need it, they can create at least a temporary boost.

If you are feeling stressed, try smiling or even laughing to combat it.

Can Smiling Reduce Stress? Try It and See!

If you don’t like your smile, contact Pitner Orthodontics to discuss how Invisalign® can give you the perfect smile you have always dreamed of.

Interested in reading more about smiles? Check out our blog series on The Science Behind Your Smile:

Dr. Duchenne’s Smile
A Smile is Universal
What Makes Babies Smile?
Does Smiling Create Happiness?
Can Just Smiling Make You Happy?

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Signs to Get a New Toothbrush Head

Knowing the telltale signs to get a new toothbrush head will keep your brushing habits on the upper tier. Using an old head on an electric toothbrush reduces the efficiency of your brushing. This may leave plaque or other debris on your teeth, causing decay or worse.

Physical Signs to Get a New Toothbrush Head

There are definitive physical signs that you should change your toothbrush head. Manufacturers will recommend that you change every three months with or without the physical signs of degradation. Some manufacturers also employ a color-changing system to let users know when to change. New heads have brightly colored bristles that fade over time. When the color is gone, it is time to change the head on your toothbrush.

Some of the telltale signs that are visible on your toothbrush head:

  • Frayed or worn bristles
  • Brushing seems less effective
  • Old toothpaste is “stuck” around the base of bristles

Although many people believe that manufacturers only recommend changing the toothbrush head to sell more products, it is more complicated than that. Bacteria develop over time. Even when you rinse or clean your brush regularly, bacteria are still present. It is also a fact that new bristles remove more plaque.

 

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This brings us to subscription services. There are several available through manufacturers and online retailers. They work on a fairly simple plan. Once you purchase your electric toothbrush, you enroll in a service. Every three months, they send you a new toothbrush head. When it arrives, you change it out. Simple and effective, computerized, and no burden on you other than paying the fee for the service and the cost for new heads.

Other Times It Is Good to Replace Your Toothbrush Head

Health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) have also weighed in on the great debate. They recommend that people replace toothbrushes and toothbrush heads every three to four months.

There are other circumstances when you should replace your toothbrush head early:

  • If someone else has used your brush
  • When a child (or frustrated adult) has chewed on it causing premature fraying
  • If it is dropped on the floor
  • After anyone has been ill, especially with things like strep throat

It is always better to err with caution in mind. To quote an over-used cliché, “Better safe than sorry.”

When You’re In Doubt — Just Change it Out

Toothbrushes and toothbrush heads are relatively inexpensive. There are times when you might use a brush for one month, and sometimes longer than the recommended four months. The bottom line is that if you are wondering if it is time for a new toothbrush head — it is.

If you have additional questions about the signs to get a new toothbrush head, please ask us at Pitner Orthodontics. Our knowledgeable staff is always eager to help!

If you are ready to explore different ways to perfect your smile, contact Pitner Ortho for a FREE Smile Assessment. This package, with a value of $249, will offer alternatives to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. We have three locations serving the Columbia, SC area, including one office dedicated to adults only!

Please visit our pages on Facebook and Instagram. Also, check out the great information on our orthodontic blog.

Invisalign in Newberry SC

If you need Invisalign in Newberry SC, look no further than Pitner Orthodontics. With two locations in Columbia and the third office in Chapin, Pitner offers Invisalign, affordability, and convenience. Let us show you why it is worth the drive!

Pitner Orthodontics — Invisalign in Newberry SC

Whether you live in Newberry and commute to Columbia for work, you will appreciate the Downtown Office. The only one of its kind, the Downtown office is dedicated to adults only. In fact, you likely drive right past our Chapin office frequently, too.

In the past, many patients were told that Invisalign was not right for them. Whether you have ever been given that sad news or not, we have great news for you now!

 

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Align Technology has been working continously to expand the efficacy of this unique, almost invisible tray alignment system. As a result of their innovative design improvements, Invisalign is able to handle almost all orthodontic problems from minor to complex.

Whether you are in for a first-time visit or to ask us for a second opinion, Pitner Orthodontics is ready to help.

South Carolina’s #1 Invisalign Provider

Dr. Leslie Pitner and Pitner Orthodontics have earned their reputation as South Carolina’s #1 Invisalign provider. Align Technology, the creators of Invisalign, use an 8-tier rating system for providers. Pitner holds a Diamond+ rating, which is in the top 1 percent of all providers.

Dr. Pitner makes it easy to get an evaluation to see if Invisalign treatment is right for you by offering a free initial consultation. This Smile Analysis includes digital x-rays and a complete examination. At a value of $249, this is only the beginning of your savings at Pitner Orthodontics.

How Invisalign Works

Beginning the Invisalign process is fairly easy. First, we make a 3D model of your teeth. The model allows Dr. Pitner to create a custom treatment plan for each patient. After your exam, we create a series of almost invisible alignment trays for you.

The trays are worn for 20 to 22 hours every day. Depending on your treatment schedule, you will switch to a new set of trays every week or two. The trays work by putting pressure against your teeth to shift them into the correct positions. As you switch through the tray sets, your teeth will gradually become straighter until they reach proper alignment.

Because Invisalign trays are removable there are no problems with oral hygiene or dietary restrictions. Patients remove the trays to eat, drink, and perform oral hygiene.

Three Locations Near Newberry

We have three locations near Newberry. The nearest office is our Chapin location on Old Bush River Rd. Our other locations are both in Columbia, one on Westcott Rd and the Downtown office on Main St. Whether you want Invisalign for yourself or are making an appointment for a child or teen, Pitner can help.

Making your first appointment is as easy as clicking on the “Book Your Free Consult” button, filling in some information, and submitting the form.

Please visit our Instagram and Facebook pages for info, fun stuff, and news.

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush? The answer to this debate usually depends on who you talk to. The normal assumption is that you should be replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. Toothbrush manufacturers might say every 30 days. But what is the real deal? Is there a “right” answer to this question?

What Toothbrush Manufacturers Say

Most manufacturers recommend changing your toothbrush every three months. While many people may think this is merely to sell more toothbrushes, it is actually based on a variety of good reasons. While exploring this question, we discovered the following reasons for this recommendation:

  • Bristles become frayed and worn
  • Prevents bacteria from developing
  • Brushing is less effective
  • New brushes remove more plaque

Manufacturers of electric toothbrushes offer subscription services through distributors. This service sends members a new electric toothbrush head automatically. By using a service, there is no problem trying to remember how long you’ve been using your brush. You simply change to the new head when it arrives in the mail.

Some toothbrush manufacturers have employed “reminder bristles” in their designs. These special bristles are brightly colored when you buy your new toothbrush. As you use the brush, the color fades. Once the color is gone or significantly faded, it is time to change your brush.

What the American Dental Association Says

Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have guidelines for toothbrushes. The general recommendation is to replace your brush every three to four months. While that is almost the same as the manufacturer’s recommendation, there are additional reasons recommended by both organizations.

 

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In addition to regularly changing your toothbrush, you should also replace it under these conditions:

  • When anyone in your household has been sick, especially bacterial infections such as strep throat
  • For children who sometimes chew on or mash the heads of their toothbrushes
  • If anyone else uses your toothbrush
  • If you drop it on the floor or any other surface

The general rule should be — When in doubt, change it out.

General Care of Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush can be a collector of all things icky. By developing a few simple habits, you can prevent many issues that can result in bacteria growth.

Don’t share toothbrushes. Even if rinsed well, brushes can have germs.

Rinse your brush thoroughly after use. Make sure you rinse all toothpaste residue from between bristles.

Store your toothbrush upright to air dry. Don’t allow toothbrushes to rest against one another.

Don’t use any of these to “deep clean” your toothbrush — Dishwasher, microwave, ultraviolet devices, disinfecting solutions, or mouthwash. These may damage your brush resulting in less effective brushing.

Avoid covering toothbrushes. If you use a travel container, your toothbrush should be allowed to dry before packing. If you must pack it damp, remove it and rinse it upon arrival at your destination.

Whether you have Invisalign, traditional braces, or no braces, maintaining a clean and healthy smile is important. Part of ensuring that is taking care of your toothbrush and switching it out regularly.

So… How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

At Pitner Orthodontics, we recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months. We would also stress that replacing it after an illness is important to remove the risk of re-infecting yourself. Whether you use a manual toothbrush, an electric, or a battery-powered brush, changing it more often is the best practice.

For information, updates, and news, check out our orthodontic blog, Instagram, and Facebook.

Best Orthodontist in Columbia SC

When you are searching for the best orthodontist in Columbia, SC, Pitner Orthodontics will cover all your needs. Whether you are an adult seeking Invisalign treatment for yourself or a parent needing braces for a child, Dr. Leslie Pitner, and her dedicated staff will ensure you receive great treatment.

How to Find the Best Orthodontist in Columbia SC

When looking for a new orthodontist, you probably already have a list of requirements that include:

  • Family practice equipped for patients of all ages
  • More than one location
  • Experienced orthodontist and staff
  • Highly respected among peers
  • Offers more than one type of treatment

Although your list may have slightly different items, beginning with a list of what you want is a great place to start. Orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry. While all orthodontists are also dentists, they complete an additional two to three years of education centering on orthodontics. A dentist is concerned with the overall care and condition of your teeth, while an orthodontist focuses on the structure of your jaw and the alignment of your teeth.

Pitner Orthodontics is Right for the Whole Family

Perhaps you are an adult seeking Invisalign or clear braces. Pitner Orthodontics has an office specifically for adult patients in downtown Columbia! That’s right — no dodging kids in the waiting room and worrying about a juice box squirting on you from across the room. Whatever your comfort zone, Dr. Pitner has created an environment to keep you at ease during treatment.

Likewise, Pitner Orthodontics has a second office in Columbia and another in Chapin that cater to family treatment. All three Pitner offices have highly-trained staff that will make your treatment as comfortable as possible.

Dr. Pitner is South Carolina’s number one Invisalign orthodontist. As a Diamond-Plus Invisalign provider, she is in the top one percent of all Invisalign providers! She has roots in the Chapin area, so she is also your neighbor. In fact, Dr. Pitner is eager to be your first choice for your family’s orthodontic care.

 

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As part of an introductory offer, she includes a complimentary consultation for all new patients. This comprehensive exam includes a complete smile analysis with digital x-rays. The overall value of the introductory package is $249!

Get a Jump Start on Your Perfect Smile

To schedule your free consultation, click on the button on our website that says “Book Your Free Consult.” Follow the prompts and fill in the necessary information, then submit the form. If you have additional questions you may call any of our offices and our staff will gladly assist you:

Columbia Office: (803) 859-4442
Chapin Office: (803) 859-4377
Downtown Columbia Office: (803) 859-4346 (Adult-only Office)

Whatever your orthodontic needs are, Pitner Orthodontics has earned its rating as the best orthodontist in Columbia, SC. With their generous free initial consultation, you can begin the journey to a new, straight, and healthy smile today!

For more information, visit our orthodontic blog and our social media pages on Instagram and Facebook.

Best Cleaning Practices with Invisalign

When you invest in orthodontic treatment, it is important to learn the best cleaning practices with Invisalign. Although there are many different methods in use, not all are effective. We explored both commercially available products and household items that work well.

Why Cleaning Your Invisalign Trays is Important

Keeping your Invisalign trays clean is vitally important. Bacteria and food particles can collect on the trays causing tooth decay and other potential problems. Not cleaning your trays may also cause staining and lead to bad breath.

Developing a few good habits will help keep your tray aligners cleaner. These practices, in addition to brushing and flossing, will keep your mouth and your trays free of bacteria.

The first habit is to rinse your trays every time you remove them to remove saliva residue. You should place the trays in the carrying case while they are not being worn. This protects them from dust, airborne debris, and damage or loss.

Secondly, you should always brush and floss after a meal before reinserting your aligners. Leaving food particles on your teeth can cause decay. If you are unable to brush, you should rinse thoroughly and brush at your earliest opportunity. When you brush your teeth, you should also gently brush your tray aligner.

These simple practices will help keep your aligners clean. This will protect your teeth, the aligners, and keep bad breath away. You should also deep-clean your trays daily, either at night or first thing in the morning.

Best Cleaning Practices with Invisalign

Brushing: We mentioned brushing your trays every time you brush your teeth. While they don’t require anything except water, you should use soap at least once per day. Most orthodontists recommend a drop of dishwashing liquid, which is gentle and effective. Brush gently and rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue. Non-abrasive toothpaste is acceptable but can dull the aligners.

 

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Soaking with Cleaning Crystals: Trays should be soaked once daily. Invisalign offers Cleaning Crystals for this task, although there are alternatives. With Cleaning Crystals, the trays should be placed in lukewarm (never hot) water with one package of crystals. Allow the trays to soak for 15-20 minutes. Gently brush and rinse trays after soaking.

Soaking with Denture/Retainer Tablets: Soaking trays using lukewarm water and a regular cleaning tablet is effective also. Do not use colored tablets, as these may stain your trays. Soaking should be at least 15-20 minutes. After soaking, gently brush and rinse your trays.

Baking Soda Soak: Baking soda is a handy cleaning aid. To use this product as a soaking agent, mix one-half cup lukewarm water with one tablespoon of baking soda. Once dissolved, soak your trays for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and brush gently after soaking.

Vinegar Soak: Mix one part white vinegar to three parts lukewarm water. Once well mixed, place your trays into the solution for 20-30 minutes. Rinse, then brush gently.

Call Pitner Orthodontics if You Still Have Questions

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush on your trays to avoid damaging them. Remember to rinse your trays whenever you remove them. Using any of the deep-cleaning processes will be sufficient to keep your trays looking and smelling great. If you have any questions about the care of your trays, please contact Pitner Orthodontics at one of our three offices:

Columbia — (803) 859-4442
Chapin — (803) 859-4377
Downtown (Adults) — (803) 859-4346

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