Canker Sores: Causes And Treatment

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED to enjoy one of your favorite foods, but that angry, swollen lump on your gums or the inside of your cheek kept stinging and hurting? Then you know what it’s like to have a canker sore.

These sores are round ulcers that can develop on the inside of the lips and cheeks, on the gumline, or even on the tongue, and spicy, hot, or acidic foods can painfully agitate them. Let’s take a look at what causes these sores, how we can avoid them, and how we can help them heal faster.

What Causes A Canker Sore

Canker sores can develop for a variety of reasons. They can be the result of a viral infection, a food allergy, or a mouth injury, but other factors like stress, hormonal fluctuations, and vitamin or mineral deficiencies can also make them more likely. Another factor that can contribute to the frequency of canker sores is braces. Dental wax can help shield sensitive oral tissues from the protruding pieces of an orthodontic appliance.

Treating A Canker Sore

If you have a canker sore, you want it to go away as quickly as possible. One way you can do that is by brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush because it is gentle on the gums. If your current toothpaste is painful, try swapping it out for a toothpaste without the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate.

To relieve the irritation, you can use a topical medication, a special mouthwash, or oral pain relievers. Rinsing daily with salt water is also a great way to reduce inflammation and encourage faster healing (just make sure you don’t swallow it).

Preventing Future Sores

A few foods, such as salmon, kale, carrots, parsley, spinach, and yogurt, can help reduce future ulcer breakouts because of their high vitamin B12, iron, and folate content. Flossing daily and brushing your teeth twice a day also helps reduce ulcer breakouts, because a clean mouth is healthier.

The Dentist Can Help Too!

If you’ve been struggling with canker sores, schedule a dental appointment! There may be an underlying cause that needs diagnosis and treatment with prescribed medications.

We love to see those healthy smiles!

Top image by Flickr user Matt Biddulph 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.

 

Advertisements

Protecting Your Child’s Teeth From Injury

WE ALL REMEMBER WHAT it was like to be a kid. Running around, playing outside, discovering the world around us, and making great friends. We also remember the scraped knees and bumps and bruises that came along with all of that. As parents, we want our kids to have all the same great experiences we did, but hopefully without some of the injuries — particularly tooth injuries.

Tips For Tooth Safety

There are a few simple things we can do to keep our kids’ teeth safe, whether they’re at home or playing with friends.

  • The most common cause of tooth injuries in babies and toddlers is the bathtub. All that slippery porcelain makes it easy for them to fall and hurt their teeth. To minimize this risk, never leave a baby or toddler unattended in the bathtub.
  • Frisbees, balls, and other things meant for throwing can easily cause tooth injuries. Before your child goes out to play, talk to them about safety and stress the importance of not aiming for each other’s heads.
  • Playground equipment such as swings, a jungle gym, or monkey bars is not kind to teeth if a child falls on them face-first. Make sure your child knows to be careful before going on the playground.

Plan Ahead

Sometimes accidents happen even under careful adult supervision and when the children understand potential hazards and use caution. Don’t panic if your child loses or injures a tooth. If it’s an adult tooth or if it’s a baby tooth that wasn’t already loose, try to put it back in place, then come straight to the dentist. Reattachment isn’t always possible, but this will give it the best chance.

If you can’t easily put the tooth back in place, store it in a glass of milk to keep the root alive while you’re on your way to the dentist. The faster you get to us, the better chances the tooth will have of being saved. Make sure you don’t try to clean the tooth or put it in water, though, because this will kill the root!

Keep Those Teeth Healthy

Another important way to protect your child’s teeth from injury is to keep them healthy with twice-daily brushing and daily flossing, as well as regular dental appointments. Healthy teeth are stronger and more resistant to injury!

We love to see those healthy smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.

 

Dental X-Rays: It’s Time For Your Close-Up

IF WE ASKED you to list three things that happen in a typical dental exam, dental X-rays would probably be one of them. But do you know what they’re used for? It depends on the type of X-ray, so let’s look at what these are.

Getting The Wide Shot With Panoramic X-Rays

If you’ve ever stood on a circular thing with your chin on a little platform and been told to stand still for a few seconds while a machine spun around your head, you’ve had a panoramic X-ray. This is the most common type of extraoral (outside the mouth) X-ray.

Panoramic X-rays show the entire mouth in one image. In them, we can see incoming adult teeth and wisdom teeth, including impacted ones, which is how we can determine whether there is enough room for them and if they’ll come in without any extra help. This type of X-ray also makes it easier to detect abscesses, tumors, and cysts.

Enhance: Periapical X-Rays And Bitewing X-Rays

In photography, wide shots show a lot, but they aren’t as useful for details as a closeup. The same is true in X-rays, which is why we don’t rely only on the panoramic image. The next level of dental X-rays are the bitewing X-rays. These intraoral (inside the mouth) X-rays focus on a specific area inside the mouth at a time, and we usually take one for each of the four quadrants of your mouth.

Bitewing X-rays give us a better view of the gaps between teeth, which are hard to see with the naked eye. These images make it easy to check for tooth decay and cavities in those areas. When we need to get even more detailed, we take periapical X-rays, which hone in on an individual problem tooth. These can be taken alongside bitewing X-rays.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental X-rays involve brief exposure to low levels of radiation, but they are considered extremely safe. The short exposure time and protective coverings like the lead apron ensure that radiation exposure is as low as possible. We also only take X-rays as often as we absolutely need to, which further reduces exposure.

Factors that determine whether or not X-rays are necessary include the patient’s age, stage of dental development, oral health history, risk factors for various conditions, and whether or not they are presenting symptoms of oral health problems.

Still Have X-Ray Questions?

If you would like to know more about how we use dental X-rays in our practice or have any concerns about safety, just ask us! We want our patients to have all the information they need to feel comfortable when they come to see us.

Your dental health is in good hands!

Top image by Flickr user Cory Doctorow 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.

 

Oral pH: A Delicate Balance

YOU MIGHT REMEMBER a little bit about pH from a science class you took years ago in middle school or high school. Even if you don’t, that’s okay; it’s time for a refresher course because pH plays a major role in our oral health.

The Basics (And Acidics) Of pH

We could go into some really complicated things about hydrogen ions, but the important thing to know is that a pH of 7 is neutral — neither acidic nor basic. For example, water has a pH of 7. As the numbers get smaller than 7, the substance becomes more acidic, and as they get larger than 7 (up to 14), it becomes more alkaline or basic. Make sense? Good. Now let’s look at what this has to do with our mouths.

Acid Versus Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so it’s pretty tough. It is, however, highly susceptible to acid erosion. All it takes is an environment of pH 5.5 or lower for the enamel to begin dissolving.

There are many ways our teeth can be exposed to acid. The most obvious is when we eat or drink something sour or tart because we can actually taste the acid. When we consume something sugary or starchy, oral bacteria eats the leftovers stuck between our teeth and produces acid as a waste product. Acid reflux and vomiting also expose our teeth to stomach acid, which is very strong.

Saliva: The First Line Of Defense

The best natural defense our teeth have against acids is saliva, which has a pH slightly above 7. Saliva washes food particles away and helps keep oral bacteria populations in check. This is why dry mouth is such a dangerous problem for oral health. The less saliva we have, the more vulnerable our teeth are.

Sipping soda or snacking throughout the day is also a problem for our teeth, because saliva needs time to neutralize our mouths afterward, and constantly introducing more acid makes that much harder.

A More Alkaline Diet Will Help Your Teeth

A great way we can help out our saliva in the fight to protect our teeth, aside from the usual methods of daily brushing and flossing and regular dental appointments, is to eat fewer acidic foods and trade them for alkaline ones. That means adding in more fruits and veggies and leaving off some of the bread, dairy, and meats — and we should definitely cut back on soda and other sugary treats.

We Can Fight Enamel Erosion Together!

If you’d like more tips for how to protect your tooth enamel, just ask us! We want you to have all the tools you need to keep your teeth healthy and strong so that they will last a lifetime.

Our top priority is our patients’ healthy smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.

Root Canal Myths: Busted

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD someone begin a sentence “I’d rather have a root canal than…”? The negative portrayal of root canal treatment in our culture isn’t just a cliché; it’s a myth! That’s why we’re using this post to knock down some of the most common root canal myths out there.

Myth 1: “Root Canal Treatment Is Painful”

Many adults struggle with dental anxiety. The prospect of going to the dentist may fill them with dread, even for a simple cleaning appointment, so we understand why a patient might expect something horrible and painful when they get the news that they need root canal treatment. However, thanks to modern technology and anesthetics, root canal treatment can be performed quickly and comfortably. The best part is that the pain of your infected tooth will be gone!

Myth 2: “If My Tooth Doesn’t Hurt, I Don’t Need Root Canal Treatment”

A common assumption people make is that if their teeth don’t hurt, they’re healthy. This isn’t always true. In some cases, the tooth may already have died, but it still needs root canal therapy to prevent a dangerous infection.

Myth 3: “Root Canal Treatment Is Only A Temporary Fix”

Some patients are skeptical of root canal treatment because they think the benefits won’t last very long. This is not true. A tooth does become brittle after root canal treatment, and the grinding forces from chewing and talking may cause the crown on the tooth to break, but this is only a problem with the restoration, not the root canal itself.

Myth 4: “It’s Better to Just Pull The Tooth”

It might technically be easier to yank a problem tooth than to carefully remove infected pulp, fill in the root, and place a new crown, but that doesn’t mean it’s betterOur natural teeth are nearly always preferable to any kind of false teeth. They look and work better, while an extracted tooth may result in future problems for the surrounding teeth, in addition to a lengthy replacement process.

To learn about the steps of root canal treatment, check out this video:

The Root Canal Reality

The truth is that root canal therapy is a great way to save a tooth, and modern dentistry has made the process comfortable and pain-free. If you’ve been avoiding root canal treatment because of one of these myths, do the best thing for your tooth and schedule a dental appointment today!

We love our patients’ healthy smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.

Is Your Child Teething?

 

EVERY CHILD GOES through periods of teething, which can be particularly difficult because they are too young to understand it. It can also be hard for parents, but teething is completely normal and we’re here to set our patients at ease about what to expect and how to deal with it.

The Stages Of Teething

The first thing to know about teething is that there are different stages. The first stage is erupting, which is the period when the teeth grow up from the jaw bones towards the surface of the gums. The second stage is cutting, which is when the teeth actually break through the gum line. It’s very common for babies and toddlers to experience pain during these stages, but they can’t communicate this to their parents, so it often manifests as picky eating, tiredness, or even hunger.

Signs And Symptoms Of Teething

A baby’s first teeth usually appear at between 4-6 months, but it isn’t uncommon to see them anywhere between 3-14 months. If your baby’s teeth are taking a little longer to show up, don’t be alarmed. While no two children will go through the exact same thing, here are a few of the most common symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Irritability
  • Biting, chewing, sucking on everything
  • Refusing to bite, chew, or suck
  • Rejecting foods
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding breastfeeding

Diarrhea, a fever, and a runny nose are not typically associated with teething. These are more likely symptoms of another problem like a virus. If they persist or worsen, it could be time to visit the pediatrician.

Soothing Your Teething Child

There are few things that can be done to help ease the teething process. First, don’t stop breastfeeding! Breast milk has been known to be one of the best pain remedies for teething. Next, let them chew on things! They need to chew to help the teeth cut through the gums, so chewing, sucking, and biting everything is actually necessary. This is where teething toys can come in.

Good Toys To Consider

Although most teething toys are safe to use, there are a few to steer clear of. Before you buy a teething toy, make sure it doesn’t contain BPA, PVC, or phthalates — chemicals that are used in everyday items such as women’s perfume and lotion to make them last longer, all of which can be harmful if consumed.

It’s also important to keep in mind a few key points when picking toys. Consider what the toy is made out of. Is it solid or does it have a gel filling of some kind (and if so, does it seem sturdy enough not to leak)? Can it be cooled in the fridge? Can it clip onto your child’s clothing? Is it easy for them to hold?

Check out this video for a few more teething tips:

Come To Us With Your Teething Concerns

If you feel you’ve done all you can to help your child along during their teething process but things still seem to be going awry, you can always bring them to see us! We can check to make sure their teeth are coming in well and that they’re right on track. Just make the call and we’ll be here!

It’s no contest; our patients are the best!

Top image by Flickr user mylissa 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 Top 3 Worst Drinks For Your Teeth

ONE OF LIFE’S CRUELEST ironies is that so many of the foods and drinks we enjoy the most aren’t good for us at all. Naturally, as dental professionals, we’re particularly concerned about the ones that are bad for our teeth. That’s why we’re giving our patients a heads up about the three drinks that have the worst impact on oral health.

1. Soda

Two of the most harmful things for our teeth are sugar and acid, and carbonated beverages are full of both. Sugar is harmful because the bad bacteria in our mouths eat it and excrete acid on our teeth, and when we drink something acidic, we’re essentially cutting out the middleman and applying the acid to our teeth ourselves. Tooth enamel begins to dissolve at a pH of 5.5, and soft drinks range in acidity from RC Cola at a pH of 2.32 to Canada Dry Club Soda at 5.24. Even diet soda isn’t much less acidic than its sugar-loaded counterpart.

2. Sports Drinks

We all enjoy a refreshing drink to go along with a hard workout, but those sports drinks we use to replenish our electrolytes have a downside. Like soda, they are often full of sugar and highly acidic. One study showed that lemon-lime Gatorade dissolved the most tooth enamel compared to any other drink, including Coke.

3. Fruit Juice

By this point, you probably already know what we’re going to say. Fruit is a very healthy snack and can even be good for your teeth, but when we drink the juice on its own, we’re bathing our teeth in the sugar and acid content of many servings of fruit, without the filter of whole fruit’s healthy fiber. In the end, it’s not much better for our teeth than soda.

Honorable Mentions: Coffee, Black Tea, And Alcohol

Soda, sports drinks, and fruit juice aren’t the only drinks that are bad for our teeth. Coffee, black tea, and alcohol are too, particularly the dark ones, which can leave stains. We also tend to add sugar to our coffee and tea, and alcohol can dry out the mouth, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria.

Keeping Our Teeth Healthy

While we aren’t going to insist that our patients give up these drinks forever, we definitely recommend cutting back and counteracting the negative effects by drinking more water, maintaining good oral hygiene habits, and scheduling regular dental appointments.

We love our patients’ smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.

Kids, Teens, And Gum Disease

YOU MIGHT THINK that gum disease is a dental health problem that only adults have to deal with. Unfortunately, teenagers and children are also at risk of developing gingivitis and more severe forms of periodontal disease.

Causes Of Gum Disease

The causes of gum disease are different for teenagers than for younger children. The flood of hormones from puberty can increase blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive. This is more of a problem for girls than for boys, but more than half of teens have some form of gum disease.

For younger children, the main cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth and harden into tartar, the gums become vulnerable to irritation and inflammation.

Signs Parents Can Watch For

Children don’t always recognize when something is wrong so they may not come to you with a detailed description of their gum disease symptoms. However, because gum disease worsens over time, we shouldn’t wait for them to notice a problem anyway. Here are a few signs of gum disease that you can be on the watch for:

  • constant bad breath that does not improve with brushing and flossing
  • swollen and unusually red gums
  • bleeding gums during brushing or flossing
  • gum recession

Gum Disease Prevention And Treatment

If your child doesn’t have gum disease, wonderful! However, there are still important steps you can take to keep their gums healthy. The most essential is to encourage good dental hygiene habits. Set an example by brushing twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure they’re following that example. Regular dental checkups are also critical for detecting problems early and giving your child professional cleanings to keep their dental health on track.

It is always better to prevent a dental health problem before it can develop, but if your child does have gum disease, you can still fight back by persevering with those good oral hygiene habits and regular dental checkups.

Together, We Can Keep Those Gums Healthy!

Childhood is an important time for oral health because it’s when we learn the habits that will determine how healthy our teeth and gums will be for the rest of our lives. When parents and dentists work together to give kids a headstart on their oral health, they won’t just help them defeat gum disease; they’ll give them all the tools they need to enjoy lifelong healthy smiles!

We look forward to seeing your child again soon!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.

Oral Piercings: Self-Expression With Risks

WE ALL LIKE to show off our personality and sense of style in the way we present ourselves, from clothing to hairstyle to cosmetics. Piercings are often an important component of personal image, but unlike clothing and hairstyles, piercings come with health risks — particularly oral piercings.

Common Oral Piercing Risks

There will always be risks associated with piercings, even the most basic earlobe piercings, such as infection or an allergic reaction to the metal. Oral piercings share those risks, and they also have a few unique ones.

  • Infection. The human mouth is home to numerous species of bacteria. Good oral hygiene is crucial to keep it in check, but a piercing can put that bacteria in closer contact with the bloodstream, leading to infection, pain, and swelling.
  • Damage and injury. It’s easy to develop a habit of fidgeting with a tongue or lip piercing, but this can lead to chipped or cracked teeth, damaged fillings, and injury to the gum tissue, lips, or tongue.
  • Gum recession. When the gum tissue is constantly in contact with a piercing, it can wear it away, exposing the roots of the teeth and leaving them vulnerable to decay.
  • Numbness. Tongue piercings can leave the tongue temporarily or permanently numb due to nerve damage. This can affect taste and mouth movements.
  • Drooling. Our salivary glands are activated by the presence of foreign objects in the mouth. Usually, this means food, but a piercing can trick your salivary glands into working overtime.
  • X-ray interference. A piercing can obscure important areas in a dental X-ray, making it easier for cavities to slip under the dentist’s radar.

Oral Piercings And Orthodontics

For orthodontic patients, oral piercings are even riskier. It’s very easy for a piercing to become tangled up in braces, and this can damage the appliance and cause injuries if the piercing tears free. Even if you’re willing to accept the dangers of an oral piercing, we strongly urge you to wait until your orthodontic treatment is over.

Taking Care Of Piercings

Whether you already have an oral piercing or you’re willing to accept the risks of getting one in the future, there are ways you can minimize those risks, aside from being diligent with your oral hygiene habits. These aren’t as effective as not getting piercings or removing them, but they do help.

  • Keep the piercing site clean. Don’t let bacteria and food particles build up around the piercing site; make sure to rinse after every meal or snack.
  • Avoid clicking it against your teeth. Try to be gentle in how you move the piercing around your teeth so they don’t chip.
  • Make sure the piercing is secure. This will prevent it from coming loose and becoming a choking hazard.
  • Remove all piercings while playing sports. Any piercing becomes a hazard during intense physical activity, so make sure to take it out before workouts, practices, and games!
  • Signs of infection? Go to the dentist. Any symptoms like swelling, pain, or unusual redness around the piercing, as well as fever, chills, or shaking could mean infection, so go to the dentist or the doctor right away!

Let’s Keep That Mouth Healthy!

As dental professionals, our top priority will always be helping our patients maintain healthy teeth and gums for life, and oral piercings introduce a lot of unnecessary risks. If you’d like to know more about how a piercing can impact your oral health, drop by or give us a call!

We encourage you to make good oral health a lifelong goal!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.

Teeth, Gums, And Diabetes

IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE diabetes and oral health have little to do with each other, but this is unfortunately not the case. One of the most common effects of diabetes is, in fact, gum disease, and the two conditions can actually make each other harder to deal with. This is why we want to make sure all of our patients have the information they need about the relationship between diabetes and oral health problems.

The Basics Of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body makes and uses insulin, a crucial hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. When the pancreas can’t produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the body can’t use it properly (type 2 and gestational diabetes), this leads to hyperglycemia. What does this mean for the teeth and gums? Well, high blood sugar both weakens the immune system and feeds bad oral bacteria, leaving diabetics vulnerable to oral inflammation and decay. 

How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

By this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 22 percent of diabetics suffer from gum disease, ranging from gingivitis (inflammation) to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), which threatens the health of the teeth, gums, and even the underlying bone. Bacteria from gum disease can also endanger overall health if it reaches the bloodstream, making blood sugar even harder to regulate.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, gum recession, bad breath, and loosened teethAnother diabetic symptom that increases the risk of developing gum disease is dry mouth because saliva is crucial for regulating the mouth’s pH and washing away bacteria and food particles.

While we’re focusing on gum disease, uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to a variety of other oral health problems, including dry mouth, impaired or slower healing, burning mouth syndrome, salivary gland enlargement, more frequent and severe infections, and fungal infections.

Fighting Back Against Diabetes

The good news for our patients who struggle with diabetes is that good oral health is still within your grasp, and keeping your mouth healthy will also make your diabetes easier to control! By brushing twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, avoiding smoking, and being careful with your sugar intake, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy.

The Role Of The Dentist

Just as crucial as your brushing and flossing routine is making regular trips to the dentist, and that might mean more than the standard two appointments a year. To play it safe, we recommend three or four yearly visits for diabetic patients. It is also essential that your doctor and your dental health care provider have the right information to be able to work as a team to keep you, your teeth, and your gums healthy.

We’re here to help you in your fight for good oral health!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.