Why Is My Mouth Dry?

 

SALIVA IS ESSENTIAL not only for our oral health, but for our overall comfort. We all experience a dry mouth every once in awhile and know how bothersome it can be. But what does it mean? And what should we do if it persists?

Saliva Has An Important Role In Our Oral Health

Our bodies are constantly producing saliva to provide our mouths with moisture–we generate two to four pints of saliva a day! Saliva aids in digestion and allows us to taste and process food. It also protects our mouths by washing away food debris and strengthening our teeth against cavities!

Dry Mouth Can Be Caused By A Number Of Things

Dry mouth occurs when salivary glands are not working properly resulting in an inadequate flow of saliva. It can leave us feeling thirsty and hoarse and our mouths sticky and uncomfortable. We may have problems speaking or trouble tasting and swallowing. It also causes bad breath. Needless to say, not having enough saliva is no fun!

Our mouths may get dry occasionally due to nervousness or stress. More serious and persistent cases of dry mouth, however, are the result of a number of other things, such as:

  • Certain medications like antihistamines, painkillers, decongestants, diuretics, among others.
  • Lifestyle choices such as smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Illnesses including Sjögren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, to name a few.
  • Medical treatments that can damage salivary glands, such as radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Dehydration and conditions that cause dehydration such as fever, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, blood loss and burns.

Talk To Us About Dry Mouth

More than just discomfort, having a dry mouth raises your risk of tooth decay, gum disease and infection and should therefore be taken care of as soon as possible. Depending on the cause of your dry mouth, we can help determine the best course of treatment. In the meantime, try some at-home remedies such as chewing on sugarless gum or sucking on sugar-free candy. And as always, drink plenty of water!

We’re committed to you–our amazing patients!

Top image by Flickr user Jeremy Buckingham used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Benefits Of Brushing With An Electric Toothbrush

BRUSHING TWICE A DAY is important to keeping your smile healthy, but what can switching from a manual to an electric toothbrush do for your oral health routine?

Electric Toothbrushes Provide Many Benefits

While a manual toothbrush can get the job done if used properly, an electric toothbrush provides benefits that go beyond simply scrubbing your teeth.

They clean teeth more thoroughly. When we brush by hand, we average about 300 strokes per minute. Electric toothbrushes can average thousands or even tens of thousands of strokes per minute depending on what technology they employ.

They’re easier for those with dexterity issues. Certain conditions–such as arthritis, limited mobility, or involuntary tremors–can make brushing with a manual toothbrush difficult. The larger handles of electric toothbrushes can be easier to hold, while the powered toothbrush head does all the cleaning for you.

They help ensure you’re brushing properly. Many electric toothbrushes feature built-in timers and pressure sensors. These features help ensure you’re not too brushing too hard and that you brush for a full two minutes.

They clean hard to reach spots around braces. Some electric toothbrushes even have special attachments made specifically for cleaning around brackets and orthodontic appliances.

Why We Recommend An Electric Toothbrush To Our Patients

Our favorite electric toothbrush is a Sonicare Toothbrush.  They have wonderful options for any age from child to adult and offer a variety of brush head sizes so you can find one that is comfortable for you.

An electric toothbrush does all the work for you.  The large handle is perfect for everyone and great as we age and lose dexterity.  The built in timer helps to make sure you brush for the full 2 minutes.

The movement of the brush is far superior to anything we can do manually producing a much better result decreasing plaque and improving tooth and gum health.

We Love Brightening Our Patients Smiles!

Electric toothbrushes aren’t just fancy gadgets—they can provide a host of significant benefits for your oral health. If you have questions about how an electric toothbrush can improve your brushing routine, call and make an appointment today! We love helping our patients achieve happy, healthy smiles.

Thank you for being part of our practice family.

Top photo from Flickr.  All rights reserved by MailMeNetwork.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

How Everyday Habits Affect Your Teeth

 

TOOTH ENAMEL HAS the pretty cool reputation of being the hardest substance in the human body. So it may come as a surprise to know that while enamel is super tough, it can also break quite easily! The truth is that our teeth are not invincible, and a lot of everyday habits can put our oral health at risk.

Watch Out For These Tooth-Damaging Habits

Many of these habits seem harmless, but over time they can do a lot of damage to that beautiful smile of yours!

Nail Biting

We may refer to closely-matched sports games as “nail-biters,” but that doesn’t mean we should actually be biting our nails! Nail biting can cause teeth to chip or break as well as lead to enamel damage. The front teeth are often the first to suffer wear and tear from nail biting.

Due to the increased pressure on teeth during orthodontic treatment, biting your nails with braces can put you at greater risk for tooth resorption (a shortening of the tooth roots) or tooth loss. For the sake of teeth everywhere, let’s keep the term “nail-biter” as a manner of expression rather than a label for ourselves!

Using Your Teeth As A Tool

That darn packet of ketchup just won’t open! While your teeth may seem to be the perfect solution, using them as a tool will cause more harm than good. As strong as your teeth may be, they are not meant to be used as pliers or any other sort of tool. Doing so can lead to fractured or broken teeth and even tooth loss. As a side note, tooth damage puts you at greater risk of decay and cavities!

Gnawing On Pens And Pencils

You may be solving a difficult problem or simply thinking. Before you know it, the end of your pen or pencil is in your mouth. This oftentimes unconscious habit is an important one to be aware of. We don’t realize how much pressure we’re placing on our teeth when we bite down on something that isn’t food.

Chewing on your pen or pencil puts you at risk for broken teeth and even damage to existing dental work. Constant chewing on hard objects can compromise dental restorations such as fillings or crowns. When it comes to this bad habit, we say stay away!

Chewing Ice

Are you an ice chewer? Chewing on ice is another huge culprit behind chipped, cracked and fractured teeth. The cold can weaken teeth even further, leaving them more susceptible to breakage.Chewing ice cubes doesn’t just chip teeth, it chips away tooth enamel as well, causing serious damage over time. Even your blender needs special blades to crush ice! So next time you’re tempted, just remember your teeth aren’t equipped to crush ice cubes.

Do Your Chompers A Favor

Your teeth are made to chew food and nothing more. If you’ve got one of these bad habits, do your chompers a favor and work on quitting. If you have successfully broken one of these habits, tell us how in the comments below!

Our patient’s rock!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Thinking About Whitening Your Smile?

 

SO, YOU WANT TO whiten your teeth. You’re not alone! In fact, when the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked what people would most like to improve about their smile, the most common response was whiter teeth.

There Are Several Teeth Whitening Options

With so many teeth whitening products on the market, you may be left scratching your head as to which one you should choose. As with any type of treatment, it’s important to know all the facts so you can make the best choice for you and your unique smile! Some of the most common teeth whitening options are:

  • Whitening toothpastes
  • Whitening strips and gels
  • Tray-based tooth whiteners
  • In-office whitening

Whitening Is Safest And Most Effective When Supervised By A Dentist

You should always consult with your dentist before deciding to whiten, as this cosmetic procedure isn’t for everyone. There are also many benefits to whitening with your dentist!

For example, if you’re considering a tray-based tooth whitener, seeing your dentist is definitely your best option. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth so that your mouthpiece tray is customized exactly to fit your teeth. This will ensure maximum contact between your teeth and the whitening solution as well as protect your gums.

If you choose in-office whitening, your dentist will provide additional protection for your gums and the soft tissue of your mouth so that no irritation from the whitening solution occurs.To do this, your dentist will apply a gel to the gum tissue or use a rubber shield.

With over-the-counter products, you’re on your own. Your dentist, however, will check your mouth, the type and extent of stains on your teeth, the number of dental restorations you have and consider your medical history to decide which whitening option is best for your specific smile. They will oversee the process and results of the treatment to ensure the treatment’s safety and efficacy.

A Note To Parents

Teeth whitening is a big trend among teenagers. Parents should always supervise their teenagers’ use of whitening products as overuse or failure to follow directions can damage tooth enamel or irritate gums. Be sure to consult with your dentist before allowing your teenager to whiten to make sure they are at an appropriate age and stage of dental development for whitening.

Still curious about how whitening works? Check out the video below to learn more!

Keep Your Smile Beautiful

What truly keeps teeth bright, white and healthy is daily brushing and flossing. But if you feel like your smile is lacking some sparkle or has yellowed over the years, give us a call or come in to see us!We’d be happy to help you brighten up that beautiful smile of yours.

We love our patients!

Top image by Flickr user Pablo Recio used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Know The Risks Of Oral Piercings

THERE ARE MANY FORMS of self-expression, art, writing, fashion, even body piercing. When it comes to oral piercings, however–such as lip, labret, cheek and tongue piercings–it’s important to know all the risks involved.

Know The Risks Before You Pierce

Piercing anywhere near the mouth is very different than simply piercing an earlobe. The oral cavity is home to an abundance of bacteria as well as an intricate system of nerves and blood vessels. Because of this, there are a number of health-related risks associated with oral piercings. Some of these include:

Bacterial infection. The mouth hosts vast amounts of bacteria and is thus easily infected. If the piercing is not done with sterile tools or if the wound is not properly taken care of, bacterial infections–and even secondary infections like hepatitis and herpes simplex virus–can develop.

Damage to teeth and gums. Contact between teeth and jewelry leads to tooth enamel erosion and oftentimes cracked or chipped teeth. Irreversible gum recession is also a common side effect of oral piercings, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and even tooth loss.

Difficulty with speech, swallowing, chewing and tasting. Oral piercings can cause an increase in saliva production, sometimes making speech difficult. Tongue piercings have been known to swell, too, potentially hindering normal function and blocking the airway. Oral piercings have also been known to alter taste.

Allergic reaction. Allergic reactions to the metal in the jewelry are possible, especially if surgical-grade stainless steel isn’t used.

Nerve damage or prolonged bleeding. This mostly occurs with tongue piercings. Because the tongue is a muscle, it contains a lot of nerves and blood vessels, including arteries. Movement problems, or numbness and loss of sensation at the site of the piercing can occur if nerves are damaged. If a blood vessel is punctured, bleeding can be severe and hard to control.

Gum disease. Oral piercings put the wearer at greater risk for periodontal, or gum disease. Gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss, and some studies have associated gum disease with other health conditions like diabetes and stroke.

If You Choose Oral Piercings, Do It The Right Way

After understanding the risks, if you still decide to get an oral piercing make sure the procedure is performed by a trained professional who uses sterile instruments. Consult with your dentist before getting an oral piercing to learn proper aftercare and maintenance that will help you reduce your risk of infection or complication.

Your health matters to us. If you have any questions concerning this post or an existing oral piercing, call us today. We’re always happy to hear from our awesome patients!

Top image by Flickr user cerosunos used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

How Dental Sealants Can Protect Your Child’s Teeth

DID YOU KNOW, on average, a child smiles around 400 times per day? That’s up to ten times more than the average adult! No matter how many times your little one smiles, we want to help them make sure theirs remains healthy throughout their childhood.

One way to protect your child’s pearly whites is by applying dental sealants.

Dental Sealants Protect Teeth From Tooth Decay

A dental sealant—also known as a pit and fissure sealant—is a protective barrier placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth in order to seal out food and bacteria which result in cavities. These sealants are often made of a plastic-like material and applied in a thin layer to fill hard-to-clean recesses in teeth known as fissures in the premolars and molars, andcingulum pits found in canines and incisors.

Application Of Dental Sealants Is Quick And Easy!

The application of sealants is a quick and comfortable process, and usually only takes one visit!

  • First, the surface of your child’s teeth are polished and cleaned of any plaque or food debris.
  • Next, each tooth receiving sealants will be isolated and dried.
  • The teeth are then etched to allow the sealant to adhere more securely and then rinsed and dried to prepare for the sealant application.
  • The sealant is then applied to each tooth and cured by a special light to bond the sealant to the teeth.
  • Finally the new sealants will be evaluated and once hardened, will be safe to chew on!

When Should Your Child Get Sealants?

Children should get dental sealants as soon as possible after their permanent teeth erupt. This happens at a different time in each child’s life, but most children have all of their permanent teeth around the age of 6.

Children often develop dental caries (cavities) in the pits and fissures of these new permanent teeth because they can be very difficult to clean,even if they are brushing and flossing properly. If sealants are applied soon after permanent teeth erupt, food and bacteria don’t have the chance to settle in these crevices and your child child can reduce their chance of cavities by 80 percent. Studies show that sealants can remain effective for many years if properly cared for.

We Can Help Protect Your Child’s Smile

Each and every smile is precious, and we are committed to ensuring your child’s remains happy and healthy as they continue to grow. If you have any questions about dental sealants, let us know in the comments below or call and make an appointment today! We’d love to answer any questions you might have about your family’s oral health care needs.

Thank you for continuing to be part of our practice family!

Top image by Flickr user davitydave used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Professionals vs. The Headlines: What’s Up With Flossing?

YOU’VE BEEN HEARING a lot about flossing in the news these days. Recent articles stating that flossing doesn’t do any good for your oral health have left many feeling shocked and confused. As your trusted dental professionals, we’re here to set the record straight!

It all started with an article by the Associated Press stating that the benefits of flossing have been unproven. Unfortunately, haters of flossing were quick to take up their torches and pitchforks against the practice. In response to the Associated Press article, the American Dental Association released a statement saying that flossing is “an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” And we’re going to tell you why.

Here’s Why You Should Continue Flossing

Regular flossing can:

  • Prevent cavities. Have you ever flossed, even after brushing your teeth, and were surprised to find a remnant of your last meal? Flossing removes food debris and plaque, preventing cavity formation between the teeth, a common place for tooth decay.
  • Fight bad breath. If food or plaque are left in between teeth, they will eventually release a bad smell. Yuck!
  • Inhibit tartar buildup and gum disease. If left on teeth for too long, plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional. The presence of tartar can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Gum disease is associated with other systemic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
  • Improve your appearance. Food debris and plaque make teeth look more yellow and gritty. Clean, healthy teeth always appear whiter and brighter!

From years of experience, we can confidently say that flossing makes a big difference in your oral and overall health.

We Care About Our Patients

We only recommend flossing because we care about your oral and overall health! Through our years of experience, we’ve seen the difference that flossing can make. So, ignore the headlines and take it from the professionals: flossing works! Keep up the good flossing habits and we promise you’ll feel the difference.

Have any more questions about flossing or your oral hygiene?Call us or come in today!

Top image by Flickr user KellyB. used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.