Archive for July, 2012

Autoimmune Diseases and Your Oral health

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

More than 23 million Americans have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, which can affect various parts of the body depending on the type of disease. Basically, the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies some part of its own body as a foreign enemy and attacks it. The mouth is not safe from the effects of autoimmune disease. Even though the disease may not be attacking the mouth itself, the effects from the disease on the body may indeed impact the oral area. Here are some common autoimmune diseases and how they affect oral health.

Over 50% of lupus patients develop sores on the lips, palate, and inside the cheeks. These lesions may be treated with topical ointments. Lupus patients also often experience dry mouth, increasing the risks of cavities and gum disease. Regular dental checkups are vital. Another potential oral problem is TMJ, which is a painful problem at the joints where the jaw comes together. A dentist can provide treatment options for TMJ as well.

Rheumatoid arthritis
Although it is a disease that causes joint inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to gum disease. Good oral hygiene, regular dentist visits, and eating a balanced diet are all ways to reduce risks of tooth decay and gum disease. Also, some of the medicines for treating rheumatoid arthritis can irritate or dry out the mouth. A dentist may recommend extra fluoride or other treatments to help.

Sjögren’s syndrome
The main oral effect of Sjögren’s syndrome is xerostomia, which is severe lack of saliva. This can worsen the risks of cavities, gum disease, oral fungal infection, and bad breath. Patients may also become more sensitive to spicy foods, and problems may arise with wearing dentures due to the mouth dryness. Oral treatments related to Sjögren’s include at-home fluoride application and frequent teeth cleanings.

This disease often restricts the jaw from opening as wide as normal, and making it move less easily. Scleroderma may make it hard to clean the back teeth, and difficult for the dentist to provide dental care. It is often tricky for the dentist to treat scleroderma patients with dentures, appliances, and crowns. Therefore, it is very important to maintain healthy teeth and gums to avoid future problems.

Tips for a Whiter Smile

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Your teeth age right along with the rest of your body, so it’s a natural process for them to lose their whiteness and leave you wondering how to regain that youthful bright smile. Many dentists offer professional teeth whitening and stores sell at-home kits, but try these techniques if you’re looking for less expensive, non-chemical methods.

Treat your teeth right
Brush and floss your teeth carefully and regularly, and visit your dentist as scheduled to keep your teeth in good health.

Avoid foods that stain
Coffee, tea, cola, fruit juices, and red wine are some of the staining culprits because your teeth absorb colored liquids throughout your life. If you do drink dark beverages, sip them through a straw. Also, swishing water around your mouth for about 30 seconds after eating will help prevent stains.

Quit smoking
Tobacco of any kind can discolor your teeth, so either quit altogether or at least limit its use.

Eat crunchy foods
Try eating crunchy, crispy fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and celery. The abrasiveness can help lift stains from your teeth.

Chew gum
Chewing gum increases the amount of saliva in your mouth, which is like a natural cleaner inside your mouth. Also, gum containing the sweetener xylitol may help prevent plaque.

Brush with baking soda
The abrasive elements in baking soda can polish your teeth, while the mixture of baking soda and water lightens stains. Dip your toothbrush in baking soda and brush with it once a week, or switch to a toothpaste that contains baking soda.

The Most Dangerous Sports for your Mouth

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

If asked which sports cause the most mouth injuries, would you answer hockey or football? If so, you would be wrong! As a result of increased safety precautions, injuries have dropped in those areas but remain high in other popular sports. Let’s learn about which sports pose the most dental risk.

Dentists estimate that nearly 40 percent of mouth injuries occur while playing sports. Roughly 80 percent of those affect at least one of the front teeth. In fact, sports injuries are so common that an entire specialty has developed called Sports Dentistry to focus on the treatment and prevention of oral/facial athletic injuries.

Sports that cause dental injuries
Injuries to the mouth are commonly caused by high-impact sports, as well as individual sports where falls are often a risk. Team sports that report the majority of injuries include basketball, baseball, soccer, field and ice hockey, softball, and football. Risky individual sports are cycling, skiing, snowboarding, boxing, gymnastics, skateboarding, martial arts, horseback riding, and rollerblading.

Types of injuries
Minor dental injuries include a chip or crack in the tooth, and lacerations caused by biting the inside of the mouth. Athletes can lose teeth and suffer nerve damage. More serious injuries include fractures of the jaw, cheekbones, or eye sockets. Fractures may lead to trouble breathing, speaking, eating, or swallowing.

Injury prevention
Dentists believe that most sports injuries could have been prevented by wearing a mouth guard. It can limit the risk of injuries to an athlete’s lips, tongue, soft mouth tissues, and teeth. Mouth guards are made for athletes of all levels and ages, and may also be worn by those with braces.

What Is Dental Fluoride?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Fluoride, a mineral occurring naturally in water and many foods, fights tooth decay and strengthens tooth enamel. Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city over 65 years ago to begin adding extra fluoride to the city’s water supply. Now most US cities add fluoride to their water to reach the ideal level for the dental health of its residents. Doing so has proven to be a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to help people maintain good oral health. In fact, studies show that tooth decay is reduced 20-40% by fluoride in drinking water.

Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel on primary teeth and adult teeth as they emerge, as well as hardening adult teeth once they are in place. Acids are at work all the time inside your mouth. They remove minerals from your teeth and weaken them, but fluoride helps stop the bacteria from attacking your teeth. It also helps repair small areas of decay before cavities have a chance to form.

In addition to receiving fluoride from your drinking water, you can also obtain it by using fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. Plus, dentists offer fluoride treatments in the form of gel, foam, or varnish. Treatments applied by a dentist contain higher levels of fluoride than other products. However it has been shown that too much fluoride can be damaging, so be sure to ask your dentist for recommendations about how much fluoride you need.

It is especially important for parents to monitor the amount of fluoride their children use. While it is very important for children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride because that’s when the primary and permanent teeth come in, infants under 6 months should not have fluoride at all. Children under 6 years old should not use fluoride toothpaste because they might swallow it. Your dentist can suggest other ways to get fluoride for those children if more is needed than in their drinking water.

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