Archive for August, 2012

The Dangers of Oral Piercings

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

While you might think it’s cool that your best friend has a small barbell hanging out of his or her lip, oral piercings can actually damage your teeth and cause oral health problems. At one time, ancient civilizations used body piercing as a representation of their cultures. Today, this choice is usually more about artistic expression.

Before you consider piercing your lip or tongue, you need to understand the facts.

Your teeth may sustain damage

Eventually, the metal piece will come into contact with your teeth. Plan on dealing with the added time and expense of the dental visits needed to repair any chips and cracks. These areas may then be prone additional restorative work in the future.

The risk of infection is high

Most people don’t know that your mouth contains over 600 types of bacteria. The open wound created by a piercing can give bacteria a path by which they enter the blood stream, which could lead to a systemic infection. As well, you have a greater risk of contracting disease such as the herpes simplex virus or hepatitis C.

Long-term oral health concerns may arise

Individuals with oral piercings are more likely to develop issues such as gum recession and periodontal disease. While these problems can be treated and managed, you cannot cure them.

It’s hazardous to your health

Though it may seem unlikely, a lip or tongue piercing can come loose, which creates a risk for choking. If you were to swallow the piece, you could puncture a lung or part of your intestinal track.

Enjoy a Spectacular Smile for Your Wedding

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Getting married is an exciting event. With details like the cake, rings, and reception, it is easy to forget another important component of your special day: your smile. Most couples want to look their best for this special occasion. The following helpful hints will enable you to flash an amazing smile as you say your “I dos.”

Schedule a cleaning
In preparation for your wedding, make an appointment to have your teeth cleaned and polished. Book the visit three to four months ahead of time in case your dentist finds issues, such as cavities or cracked fillings, which need to be addressed.

Take care of restorative work
Don’t put off repairs like fillings or crowns. If left untreated, these problems can cause pain and even put your oral health at risk. You wouldn’t want a toothache to wreck your big day!

Consider teeth whitening options
Some brides and grooms decide to give their smiles a boost with teeth whitening. Talk with your dentist about the various choices, such as in-office or at-home whitening kits. Plan to whiten four to six weeks before the wedding day so that you can get used to the results and plan for any touch-ups or corrections.

Avoid dark foods and beverages
In the weeks leading up to the wedding, try to stay away from red wine, dark colas and even tomato sauces because consuming these items can lessen your smile’s beauty.

One final tip: Once the big day is finally here, enjoy it. Let your love and smile shine through as you start your new life together.

Troublesome Canker Sores

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Having a sore inside your mouth can be painful, and make eating and talking uncomfortable. From 20%-40% of Americans develop canker sores, which are small shallow ulcers that occur on the mucous membranes inside the mouth. They are not contagious, but many people have them multiple times. If you are one of those people, you’ll want to know more about them and what you can do to avoid them.

How do you get canker sores?
The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but dentists have identified possible triggers. Oral trauma, stress, hormonal changes, certain drugs, and food allergies are some causes. Certain foods, like acidic or citrus fruits and vegetables, can trigger sores too. Sometimes a dental appliance can poke your mouth and cause a canker sore. Also, some underlying health conditions are known to lead to canker sores.

What are the symptoms?
Canker sores are usually painful, and can occur on the tongue, soft palate, or inside your cheeks. They are round, white or gray in color, and have a red border. Canker sores are not the same as cold sores. The most notable difference is that canker sores develop inside the mouth, while cold sores appear on the outside. Also, cold sores are contagious and canker sores are not.

How are canker sores treated?
Treatment usually isn’t needed because most canker sores go away on their own in a week or two. Pain often lessens in a few days. Check with your dentist if your sore is unusually large or painful, because mouth rinses or topical ointments may be prescribed for severe cases.

How do I avoid getting them?
Watching what you eat is the best way to avoid canker sores. Avoid foods that irritate your mouth, which may include spicy, acidic, or salty items. Don’t chew and talk at the same time so you won’t bite your mouth. If possible, try to reduce your stress levels. Brush with a soft toothbrush, and as always, follow good oral hygiene habits.

Dentists detect oral cancer

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Oral cancer is a serious disease that strikes about 35,000 Americans yearly, with about 7,500 resulting deaths. The disease can affect any part of the mouth, lips, or back of the throat. Regular dental checkups are an important way to make sure this disease doesn’t affect you. At each dentist visit, your whole mouth should be examined for signs of precancerous spots. Sometimes trained professionals can recognize warning signs before you’re able to notice them yourself.

Who is at risk for oral cancer?

Risk factors for oral cancer include using tobacco, consuming heavy amounts of alcohol, eating an unhealthy diet, and getting too much sun. Also, people over age 40 are at higher risk and oral cancer is twice as common in men over women.

Signs of oral cancer

If you experience any of these symptoms for over two weeks, see your dentist for an examination:
• A sore, lump, irritation, or rough patch in your mouth, throat, or lips
• A feeling like something is stuck in your throat
• A white or red bump in your mouth
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing
• A swollen jaw
• Numbness on your tongue or in your mouth
• Problems moving your tongue or jaw
• Dentures that don’t fit
• A mouth or lip sore that bleeds easily or won’t heal
• Change in your mouth color
• Ear pain without hearing loss

Regular dental checkups

If your dentist finds anything suspicious, cells may be collected and sent to a lab for testing. If precancerous cells are present, treatment often involves surgical removal of the lesion. The tissue will be tested to determine if it’s oral cancer, and radiation or further treatment may be necessary. The risk of oral cancer is just one more reason it’s in your best interest to regularly visit your dentist.

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