May 6, 2012 / 5:00 am
Have you experienced a dry feeling in your mouth and throat? Your saliva glands may have stopped producing saliva.
Xerostomia or the sensation of a dry mouth is a common problem often seen in individuals where the saliva glands stop producing enough saliva. It can affect 10-38% of patients and is twice as common in women as in men. Some medications, radiation treatment and diseases may have damaged the salivary glands.
You cannot eat or digest food properly without saliva. Saliva coats your teeth and protects them. It controls the bacteria in our mouths so, without it, we are prone to infection and decay.
It is important to go see your doctor or dentist if you are experiencing a constantly dry mouth as it may be a sign of another illness.
Symptoms of dry mouth:
Dry feeling in mouth and throat
Thick saliva – feels like you cannot swallow or speak properly
Rough or raw tongue – pebbled look to the tongue
Constant bad breath
Ultra-sensitive to salty or spicy foods – burning sensation in the mouth
Difficulty wearing dentures
What causes dry mouth?
Insufficient water intake, breathing through your mouth, smoking, stress and dehydration from alcoholic or caffeinated beverages are possible causes.
Taking many medications such as muscle relaxants, antidepressants, antihistamines and diuretics can have a dry mouth side effect. If you are in cancer treatment, have diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Sjőgren’s syndrome (autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks its own tear and salivary glands) AIDs, hypothyroidism, Sarcoidosis (inflammation of body tissue), or have depression it is very important to see your dentist regularly as tooth decay is more likely to occur if there is no saliva to control the bacteria in the mouth.
If your symptoms are caused from taking medications you should see your doctor as he/she may be able to prescribe alternative drugs or a lower dosage. Or they may prescribe something to stimulate saliva production.
There are some simple remedies such as using a humidifier in your house to increase the moisture. Breathe through your nose as much as possible. Chew sugar free gum or eat sugar free candies available from health food store to increase saliva production. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine drinks. Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.
Using Biotene® toothpaste or mouth rinse can stimulate saliva and provide relief. Our office promotes a dry mouth gel which has a neutral pH and is sugar and alcohol free. A generous amount of gel is smeared over the teeth and gums anytime during the day and before bed after normal tooth brushing.
Apr 4, 2012 / 5:00 am
Every year, I look forward to Spring as the earth begins its transformation into aliveness. Everything starts to buzz with the excitement of new growth and a new season. I have always been very fond of birds, especially their sounds and behaviours. One of my favourite birds is the bluebird. Its beautiful colour is so intense and wonderful.
My love of bluebirds comes from an old friend and neighbor of mine. He was an avid bird watcher and he was well known for all the bird houses he built and donated to others. He told me there are people in our lives that are like bluebirds. He told me the bluebird was a symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, good health, the comforts of home, new births and the renewal of springtime. Just as the bluebird symbolizes positive sentiments, the same can be said about the wonderful people we have in our lives. They bring a breath of freshness and energy when they’re around us, and we feel comfortable in their presence. I am fortunate to have many of these bluebirds in my life. My family, friends, staff and patients bring me that wonderful feeling of being welcomed each day.
When my old friend and neighbor was close to passing on, I asked him what he believed the key to life was. He told me, “to find three good things to do each day.” I have cherished those words and remember them as I go through each day.
Find three good things to do today. Phone someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time, study something that you’ve been meaning to look into. Smile at someone when you walk by and say “hello” or “good morning!" We can encourage a wonderful pay-it-forward attitude. You never know how much that smile or hello could mean to someone who really needs it.
Feb 3, 2012 / 5:00 am
Are your teeth a pain in the neck? Many people grind and clench their teeth. It's called Bruxism and can cause facial/jaw pain, headaches, neck/muscle pain as well as excessive wear on teeth. It is considered an unintentional habit of biting down too hard at certain times, especially during sleep (sleep-related bruxism). Grinding is usually noisy and clenching is silent. Bruxism can range from mild to severe, and may cause the jaw to move out of proper alignment. About one in three people suffer from bruxism.
Bruxism can be brought about by stress, nervous tension, anger, pain and frustration. Type A personalities, and those who are aggressive, competitive, and always in a hurry can be at great risk. The bad news is that it is possible to have bruxism and not be aware of it until complications arise.
You may be a bruxer if you experience these symptoms:
Painful jaw joint
Popping or clicking of the jaw
Dull headache in the morning
Jaw muscles that continue to contract, and that are tight or painful (even to open your mouth in the morning)
Broken teeth, fillings and sore gums
Someone tells you that you grind your teeth while you sleep
Swelling of the lower jaw (muscles contracting then relaxing)
Long lasting pain in the face
Your dentist checks for physical signs of bruxism and monitors those signs. If the tips of your teeth look flat, the tooth enamel has been rubbed off because they are so worn down from clenching. This exposes the dentin on the inside of the tooth. If dentin is exposed it may cause tooth sensitivity. Another indicator is indentations on the tongue.
Once you've been diagnosed your dentist will pay particular attention to the muscles in and around your jaw. They will check for tenderness in the jaw muscles and joint. X-rays may be required of your teeth and jaw to check poor teeth alignment and how your bite comes together.
The good news is your dentist can treat Bruxism. Patients with less severe cases of bruxism can find relief by simply being aware they need to change their behavior by learning how to rest the tongue, teeth and lips properly. In some cases, the dentist will prescribe the lab to create a mouth appliance, like a night guard that is worn to absorb the force of biting. Thus preventing future damage to the teeth and helping to change the damaging behavior.
If teeth grinding is due to stress, there may be help with counseling or ways to promote relaxation, such as exercise and meditation.
Some children grind or clench their teeth. Let your family dentist know of the issue but most kids eventually grow out of bruxism and suffer no permanent damage to their teeth. If you are still concerned, your dentist can fit your child with a night guard to prevent excessive tooth wear.
If bruxism is treated properly and in a timely manner, the outlook is excellent.
Dec 10, 2011 / 5:00 am
“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.”
Losing teeth is never fun, unless you are a kid and you know you'll get money for them. When you lose a baby tooth there is usually a permanent tooth waiting to grow in and take its place. For adults, losing a tooth or teeth is a very different story. Now, thanks to advances in dentistry, it is easier, less painful and less expensive than ever before to replace those missing teeth.
With today's dental implants, dentists can replace individual teeth, create bridges, or create denture supports that are more natural and better fitting than normal dentures. Implants are a great solution to tooth loss as they look and feel like your own natural teeth.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Implant material is made from different types of metallic and bone-like ceramic materials compatible with your own body tissue.
Your dentist can advise you if you are a good candidate for dental implants. You must be in good health and have the proper bone structure and healthy gums for the implant to stay in place. If you suffer from chronic problems, such as clenching or bruxism, or systemic diseases, such as diabetes, the success rate for implants does decrease. Additionally, people who are excessive smokers or drinkers may not be good candidates.
Prior to surgery, it is recommended to have a 3-dimensional X-ray (CBCT scan) that will show your dentist the bone width and depth, nerve endings, and sinus location. This will help your dentist determine the proper placement of your implant(s). If there is a lack of bone support, there are procedures available to create a good implant site. For many who cannot wear dentures, dental implants are the perfect solution to their dilemma.
Depending on how many implants you need, the procedure could take up to a couple of hours. You will not feel any pain during the surgery and there is minimal post-operative discomfort. After the surgery, the jawbone needs to grow around the implanted anchor, a small post that acts as a root for the new artificial tooth. This could take up to six months for it to be stable and well healed.
Once it’s firmly in place and the gums have healed, the artificial teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor.
Once everything is in and healthy, you can show off your new smile. It is very important you take special care with your new implants. Like natural teeth, you must floss and brush around the implants at least twice a day. Hygiene appointments are needed to ensure healthy gums and a healthy mouth.
As with anything new, initially there may be slight discomfort and a difference in chewing or speech. Not to worry, your dentist will work with you to create an implant that fits well and is comfortable and attractive. Now don't forget to smile for the camera!
Read more Smiles for Life articles
- Grow your “Mo” this Movember Nov 21
- Get to know your neighbours Oct 3
- The Value of Time Sep 8
- Brushing the right way Aug 8
- Teeth whitening for special occasions Jun 4
- The Importance and Power of a Smile May 7
- You are what you eat Apr 6
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