General Dentistry

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My Mouth is Always Dry, What Can I Do?

FAQ: My mouth is always dry, what can I do?

Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is a condition caused by a decrease in the flow of the saliva. Dry mouth can affect many different people and a decrease in the salivary flow can lead to more potential problems in the mouth, from an increase in tooth decay to infection of the gum tissue. Saliva keeps the harmful bacteria in the mouth in constant motion; without the saliva the toxins produced by the bacteria can cause tooth and gum damage.

People who commonly suffer from dry mouth include those who are taking certain medications, those receiving radiation for head and/or neck cancer, those who are diabetic and those who have a salivary gland disease. Dry mouth also is caused by Sjogren’s Syndrome (Show-grins), an autoimmune disease with no know cure, that causes the moisture secreting glands of the mouth to dry up.

To help increase moisture in the mouth try sugarless lozenges or increase water consumption. There also are oral lubricants that can be bought over-the-counter and fluoride gels and mouthwashes that can be applied to keep the teeth protected. If you suffer from dry mouth, see your dentist regularly and brush and floss diligently to help prevent decay.


Do I need an antibiotic in connection with my regular dental cleaning (prophylaxis)?

FAQ: Do I need an antibiotic in connection with my regular dental cleaning (prophylaxis)?

Some people need to take antibiotics in connection with their regular dental cleaning (prophylaxis) due to the existence of other medical conditions that might allow bacteria to infect a certain area of the body, especially the heart. For these patients, antibiotics are usually taken by the patient one hour before the appointment and then again at a designated time after the appointment is finished.

During a dental cleaning (prophylaxis), bacteria is removed from under the gum-line, this bacteria may get into the bloodstream where it can accumulate and do damage to areas of the body that have been previously compromised (i.e., a heart valve due to mitral valve prolapse (MVP) or a recently completed knee replacement). This is why it is very important to inform your dentist of any changes in your medical history, including allergies to any antibiotics or other types of medications.


How Do I Treat a Cold Sore?

FAQ: How do I treat a cold sore?

First, it has to be established if the lesion is a cold sore or a canker sore. This can be easily done by your dentist. Cold sores (or fever blisters) usually form in groups as tiny lesions around the mouth or lips and sometimes under the nose. Cold sores are associated with the herpes simplex virus and are very contagious. Once a person is infected with the virus associated with cold sores the person will always keep the virus in their system. Recurrent attacks usually happen when a person is exposed to a fever, sunburn or an increase in stress.

Cold sores last about a week and can be temporarily relieved by some over-the-counter anesthetics and by anti-viral drugs that have been recently released by various pharmaceutical companies. Canker sores (or aphthous ulcer) are small ulcers appearing as a single sore within the mouth. Canker sores are caused by an immune response and are not contagious. Fatigue, stress or even allergies can increase the likelihood that a canker sore may occur. Hot foods and drinks can also contribute to canker sores.

Canker sores also last about a week. People suffering from canker sores should avoid hot, spicy foods and use over-the-counter remedies to decrease the irritation. Sometimes antibiotics also can be used. Remember, the major difference between cold sores and canker sores is whether the sore is located outside or inside the oral cavity.


My Gums Bleed, Do I Have Periodontal Disease?

FAQ: My gums bleed, do I have periodontal disease?

Bleeding gums alone does not mean that someone has periodontal (gum) disease, although bleeding gums are one of the warning signs that periodontal disease may be present (See “Periodontal Surgery”). Some other signs of periodontal disease that should alert you to visit the dentist for an examination are: Persistent bad breath, separating, loose or flaring teeth, a change in the way your teeth bite together, gums that have pulled away from the teeth, gums that are swollen, red or tender, and pus between teeth and gums when gums are pressed.

Most people do not experience any pain due to gum disease, so it is difficult for patients to diagnose gum disease in the early, very treatable stage. Regular dental check-ups, including a periodontal exam, by your dentist is an important step in early detection of periodontal disease. Your dentist can design a personalized oral hygiene program that fits your special needs and maximizes the opportunity to keep your teeth for life!


Can Adults Have Braces?

FAQ: Can adults have braces?

Yes! Adults can benefit from orthodontics. If an adult suffers from a “bad bite” it can lead to many other problems (See “TM Disorder” and “Periodontal Disease”) that can be more difficult to treat. A dentist can formulate a custom treatment plan after a comprehensive exam is done, including X-rays, study models, and photographs of the face. Once the treatment plan is agreed upon the treatment will be phased and the bands, brackets and wires will be placed.

If a removable appliance is used impressions will be taken for a retainer type appliance (See “Orthodontics”). The active phase of orthodontics takes frequent visits to the dentist and the total time required for orthodontic treatment usually takes longer than for children because the facial bones in an adult have stopped growing. While both adult and children’s orthodontics requires a commitment, most patients agree that the results are worth the financial and personal investment.


When Should My Child First See a Dentist?

FAQ: When should my child first see a dentist?

Most children should have their first visit by the age of two. If a child is seen early the overall dental development can be observed and any abnormalities or discoloration of the teeth will be noted. The dentist can also educate the parents on thumb sucking, cavity prevention, pacifiers and teething problems. If problems are suspected before the age of two years it is best to call your dentist to arrange a first visit for your child at that time. How many times a day should a child brush?

It is rare that a child can find the time or the discipline to brush three times a day as is recommended for adults. However, it is very important that all children brush at least twice a day, once after breakfast and once before bedtime. Most of the bacteria that causes decay does the preponderance of its damage while the mouth is at rest and the child is asleep.


What Is A Good Toothbrush?

FAQ: What is a good toothbrush?

The choices consumers are faced with are enormous. Even picking a toothbrush can be difficult. Which is better: SOFT, a MEDIUM, or a HARD bristled brush? What are tufted and multi-tufted brushes? How Long does a toothbrush last?

Ever wonder why dentist recommend using a soft toothbrush to clean your teeth(hard brushes would seem to scrape away more plaque)? Using a medium or hard bristle toothbrush can cause gum damage and may lead to receding gum lines and periodontal disease. Soft bristles work as well as medium or hard bristles and are not as damaging to gums.

Every toothbrush has rows of bristles, called tufts, Regular tufted brushes are 5 to 6 tufts long and 2 to 3 tufts wide. Multi-tufted brushes are more dense-10 to 12 tufts long and 3 to 4 tufts wide-and can get between and around gums better because the bristles are closer together.

Toothbrushes should be replaced every 2 to 3 months. Some toothbrushes have colored bristles (such as Oral B’s indicator brushes)that fade with use. Once the color fades about halfway, it is time to replace the toothbrush.

Having a soft, multi-tufted toothbrush is recommended by most dentists. Look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. This is your assurance that the brand meets specific quality standards and is safe and effective to use.


Do I Grind My Teeth?

FAQ: Do I Grind My Teeth?

Do you often wake up with a dull headache or a sore jaw? Do you sometimes find yourself clenching your teeth?

Until you experience pain, or have a dental checkup, you may not realize that you have a condition called BRUXISM or TMJ disorder a habit of grinding or clenching the teeth.

Many people are unaware that they grind their teeth because this happen while they sleep. They may wake up with a headache, toothache or a earache. In addition to causing discomfort, grinding can wear away or fracture tooth enamel and may eventually loosen teeth.

Bruxism or TMJ can develop at any age, and children as well as adults can have the habit of grinding their teeth. Although the causes of bruxism are not really known, several factors may be involved. Stressful situations, problems sleeping, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth may be responsible.

Regular dental checkups are important to detect damage in the early stages. Your dentist can diagnose and treat irregular wear on teeth and determine the source of facial pain that may result from bruxism or TMJ.

Based on your dentist’s diagnosis, one ore more treatments may be recommended. The dentist may suggest a nightguard that can be worn while sleeping. Custom-made by the dentist from soft material to fit your teeth, the nightguard slips over the upper and/orlower teeth and prevents contact between them. In addition providing cushioning. The nightguard relieves some of the pressure of grinding and clenching.

When everyday stress seems to be a major cause of bruxism. It may be helpful to find ways to relax, like listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or enjoying a warm bath. Applying a warm, wet washcloth to the side of the face may help relax muscles that have become sore from clenching. If you have difficulty handling stress, counseling may point to effective ways for dealing with stressful situations.

An abnormal bite, one in which teeth do not fit well together, may lead to grinding. Treatment may involve reducing the “high spots” on one or more teeth. For serious cases, your dentist may suggest reshaping or reconstructing the biting surfaces with inlays or crowns.

Grinding is a common occurrence for many people at some time or another. If you suspect that you are routinely grinding your teeth, see your dentist about protecting your smile.


How Do I Keep My Teeth Healthy?

Having the healthiest possible gums and teeth requires a lifetime commitment. The tips that are detailed below can help you avoid the debilitating infection of the gums known as periodontal disease. Every day, you need to take care of your teeth. Ideally you should do this by brushing within the first hour of eating. You should also flush debris from in and around your teeth by vigorously swishing a mouthful of water or mouthwash. And you should floss at least once a day.

Always make sure that you schedule regular dental checkups. This way, you have a chance at receiving an early diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease before it gets out of hand. Make sure your dentist restores any broken or missing teeth to maintain a proper bite and good oral health. And while you’re at it, have your hygienist/dentist clean your teeth at least twice a year, more often if needed. Long-term users of smokeless tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-users. Stopping the use of all tobacco products can eliminate the cause of some bad breath and stains on the teeth, and help you to avoid oral cancer and other serious problems.

There are a number of signs that warn us of impending dental health issues. For example, if bad breath remains even after you’ve brushed, decay or periodontal disease may be present. If your gums are puffy or bleeding, you might have periodontal disease. If your teeth seem to be getting “longer”, it may be a sign of bone recession. If warning signs are ignored for to long, gum disease and/or tooth loss may result. These problems can be minimized or eliminated with the proper dental treatment.

Healthy teeth and gums are vitally important to living a happy and fulfilling life. Teeth and gums don’t take care of themselves. Each of us must do our part, such as brushing and flossing on a regular basis. Your dentist will help you improve and maintain your oral health.


Tooth Sensitivity