7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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If tooth decay and gum disease are two oral health problems you want your family to avoid this year, then we have 7 great tips to help your family have a healthy year for their teeth and gums. Remember, most gum disease and tooth decay is preventable if you practice good oral hygiene habits. Make sure you and each member of your family spend a couple of minutes a day flossing and brushing and that you make good choices to enhance your oral health. For a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, that’s not a lot to ask, is it?

Begin at six months. Start your child’s dental care around six months, which is when their first tooth generally appears. Initially, use a damp cloth or soft brush to wipe your baby’s teeth. Once a child turns two, they can brush for themselves with adult supervision.

Consider sealants. Just 33% of kids in the United States receive dental sealants, but it is a great way to protect your child’s permanent molars when they come in at age 6. The sealant is applied by your dentist to the chewing surfaces on the molars and provides protection against decay.

The daily duo. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss once a day to avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, so it’s not something you want in your mouth.

Finish your meals the right way. Rinse your mouth right after a meal with water and/or an antibacterial rinse. Another tip is to chew a piece of sugar-free gum right after you eat to enhance the flow of saliva, which washes away bacteria and reduces acid.

Practice smart eating. Be sure to include whole foods in your diet because they will provide your teeth and gums the nutrients they need to stay healthy. That means to be sure to eat nuts, grains, dairy products, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

Say no to soda. Sugary sodas are “double trouble” because of their high sugar content and because people tend to sip them over extended periods of time. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar, because they produce acid when they break down the sugar. Acid erodes the enamel on your teeth, which can then lead to decay.

See your dentist regularly. Make an appointment for a dental check-up and cleaning every six months if you want to stay on top of your oral health. Your dental hygienist will get rid of built-up plaque on your teeth and check for tooth decay. Your dentist will also check for signs of oral cancer or gum disease.

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

What Can You Do if You Suffer From Dry Mouth?

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Dry mouth, also called xerostomia (zero-STOW-me-uh), results from an inadequate flow of saliva. For people who suffer from this irritating and often destructive condition, there are two approaches that will address the condition – artificial saliva and saliva stimulators. We recommend you review this article and then discuss your options with your dentist. If you take proactive action, your dry mouth problem may have a solution.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia (zero-STOW-me-uh), results from an inadequate flow of saliva. Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Severe dry mouth can promote the growth of harmful organisms. Without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate saliva flow, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease become much more common. Constant dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth also causes full dentures to become less comfortable because there is no thin film of saliva to help them adhere properly to oral tissues.

Why would someone use artificial saliva?

Saliva coats and lubricates tissues in the mouth. It helps cleanse the mouth and begins the digestive process as we chew. When the saliva glands do not produce enough saliva, the mouth becomes dry. Although artificial saliva is not a perfect substitute for natural saliva (which is very complex physically and chemically), it does—when used regularly—help moisten the oral tissues, relieving the discomfort caused by dry mouth. Speaking, chewing and swallowing are made easier when the mouth is moist. You may need to ask your pharmacist for the product. Artificial saliva does not require a prescription, but it can be difficult to find on store shelves.

How is artificial saliva different from real saliva?

Although more than 99 percent of saliva is water, saliva also contains buffering agents, enzymes and minerals that keep teeth strong and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment in the mouth. Artificial salivas normally contain a mixture of buffering agents, cellulose derivatives (to increase stickiness and moistening ability) and flavoring agents (such as sorbitol). However, they do not contain the digestive and antibacterial enzymes and other proteins or minerals present in real saliva. Research is underway to try and develop artificial salivas that more closely mimic natural saliva.

How often is artificial saliva used?

It can be used as often as needed, and generally comes in lozenges or a spray. Saliva substitutes are quickly swallowed and, therefore, the moistening and lubricating action has limited duration and repeat applications may be needed. Although saliva substitutes will not cure dry mouth, they can provide temporary relief of some symptoms.

What are saliva stimulators?

A saliva stimulant increases the natural production of saliva. The most efficient way to stimulate salivary flow is chewing, according to the American Dental Association, because it causes muscles to compress the salivary glands and release saliva; that's why chewing your food well is so important. Chewing gum may help increase saliva production, but note that the ADA recommends sugarless brands. There are also several prescription drugs available that will stimulate saliva production. Talk to your dentist about your options.

 

 

Source: American Dental Association (ada.org)

 

 

Mouth Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Go See Your Dentist Before These Signs Become Serious

Whether it's traces of crimson on your toothbrush or that nagging sensitivity that seems never to go away, it's easy to neglect your oral health. Persistent tooth or mouth pain generally indicates a serious problem. Symptoms could include a tooth sensitive to touch or changes in your gums. Keep in mind that even if the pain does go away after a day or two, you could still have a problem and should see your dentist.

Take the time while cleaning your teeth to look at your cheeks, your tongue and underneath your tongue to spot any changes. Basically, you’re checking for anything that wasn't there before. Any changes of color, such as white or red patches that aren’t going away and are getting bigger, or lumps that have formed in places which previously were smooth, should be investigated.

 

Bad Breath

Everyone experiences stinky breath, but brushing and flossing (including brushing your tongue) should nip bad breath in the bud. What about when it doesn’t? It could be a sign of advanced gum disease, so it’s important to talk to your dentist before this oral condition ruins perfectly healthy teeth.

Most of the time, however, the biggest bad-breath culprit is your diet. Onion, garlic, and pungent spices will produce mouth odor for hours after consumption.

 

Swollen or Receding Gums

Swollen gums are a sign of gum disease. Even if you believe you have healthy teeth, swollen gums absolutely require a visit to the dentist. Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to tell right away if you have gum disease — but you can check for swollen gums yourself by drying your gums with a napkin or a tissue and looking in the mirror. Although your swollen gums may feel fine, if they tend to bleed during brushing, they are a sign you should see your dentist right away.

 

Eroded Enamel

During dental erosion, the surface of a tooth or teeth gradually wears away. Once that happens, you are much more susceptible to cavities and other issue. Any source of acid can erode the tooth enamel of healthy teeth, including acid from citrus fruits and soda. One of the most common sources of acid in the mouth is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a condition in which acid from the stomach comes up the esophagus, causes heartburn, and reaches the mouth.

 

Sour Taste in Your Mouth

If you frequently have a sour taste in your mouth (which is often mistaken for bad breath), it could be another sign of GERD, especially if it’s accompanied by a sore throat, chest pain, and a hoarse voice, Besides this oral condition and dental erosion, GERD can lead to other problems such as an esophageal ulcer and inflammation of the esophagus. If you suspect you have GERD, get tested and treated as needed.

 

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a very common oral condition, especially as you age. There are also more than 425 medications that include dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth can be related to issues beyond dental health. If you have chronic dry mouth, you should be concerned and talk to your dentist.

 

Loose Teeth

Loose teeth are another dental health symptom not to ignore because this may be a sign that you have gum disease. Bacteria that grow below the gum line can cause tissues and bones to break down, leading to the separation of the teeth from the gums. As more tissue and bone is destroyed, the more likely you are to lose healthy teeth as they become loose and need to be pulled.

Loose teeth may also be a sign of infection or scleroderma, a disease of the connective tissue that causes changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and organs.

 

Mouth Sores

A white or red patch on the tongue or lining of the mouth is the most common sign of oral cancer. Don’t be alarmed: Mouth sores are completely common and the chance your sore signals cancer is low. To be safe, show your dentist any sores in your mouth that don’t heal after two weeks.

 

Burning Mouth

If you’re experiencing a moderate to severe scalding sensation in your mouth, lips, or tongue, it could be an oral condition called burning mouth syndrome. When it does occur, it can be caused by a number of medications, certain specific oral conditions, or other health issues, including nutritional deficiencies, fungal infections in the mouth, and hormone changes in women.

With regular dentist visits, you should be able to keep on top of any problems that might affect our mouths. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of those symptoms that warrant a quicker appointment—especially for those of us who leave more time than we should between visits.

 

Sources: Every Day Health, Best Health

Does Your Mouth Feel Like The Sahara Desert?

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What to do if you suffer from xerostomia (dry mouth)

 

Do you go through life with your mouth constantly dry? Does it feel like the Sahara Desert has taken up residence in your mouth? If you answered yes, then you may be suffering from xerostomia – commonly called dry mouth.

Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva. We all need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and digest food. Saliva also prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. 

When you don't make enough saliva, your mouth gets dry and uncomfortable. Fortunately, many treatments can help against dry mouth, also called xerostomia.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Side effect of certain medications. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and nonprescription drugs, including drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, colds, obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension, diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma and Parkinson's disease. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives.

Side effect of certain diseases and infections. Dry mouth can be a side effect of medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, Sjögren's syndrome,  rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and mumps.

Side effect of certain medical treatments. Damage to the salivary glands, the glands that make saliva, can reduce the amount of saliva produced. For example, the damage could stem from radiation to the head and neck, and chemotherapy treatments, for cancer.

Nerve damage. Dry mouth can be a result of nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery.

Dehydration. Conditions that lead to dehydration, such as fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss, and burns can cause dry mouth.

Surgical removal of the salivary glands.

Lifestyle. Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect how much saliva you make and aggravate dry mouth. Breathing with your mouth open a lot can also contribute to the problem.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Frequent thirst
  • Sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth; cracked lips
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
  • A dry, red, raw tongue
  • Problems speaking or trouble tasting, chewing, and swallowing
  • Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat
  • Bad breath

Why Is Dry Mouth a Problem?

Besides causing the symptoms mentioned above, dry mouth also raises your risk of gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay, and mouth infections, such as thrush.

Dry mouth can also make it hard to wear dentures.

How Is Dry Mouth Treated?

If you think your dry mouth is caused by certain medication you're taking, talk to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He may suggest you check with your medical doctor to adjust the dose you're taking or switch you to a different drug that doesn't cause dry mouth.

Your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs may also suggest an oral rinse such as Biotene to restore mouth moisture. If that doesn't help, you may want to consider a medication that boosts saliva production called Salagen.

You can also try these other steps, which may help improve saliva flow:

  • Suck on sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum.
  • Drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist.
  • Brush with a fluoridetoothpaste, use a fluoride rinse, and visit your dentist regularly.
  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
  • Use a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air.
  • Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.

 

SOURCE: WebMD