Dental Tips Blog


What Causes Dry Mouth?

Posted in Gum Disease

We have all had occasional bouts of dry mout – when it felt like no matter how much you had to drink, your mouth was full of sandpaper, and dry and itchy.  Many times, this is from some temporary medications you may be taking but other times, it can be a sign of other diseases.

The most common cause of dry mouth is over the counter cold medications.  If you have a dry mouth and have had a cold, and are taking a decongestant or anti-histamine, try simply chewing a piece of sugarless gum or eating a piece of sugar-free hard candy.  This will help stimulate saliva flow, eliminating the dry mouth, and making you a bit more comfortable.  As you end your cold medications, your dry mouth will disappear.

If, however, your dry mouth does not seem to be associated with an over the counter medication, you should contact your dentist.  Severe dry mouth is called xerostomia and results from a lack of saliva.  Saliva is important because it makes your mouth more comfortable, but it also helps keep your mouth rinsed out, helps eliminate acid production associated with tooth decay, and helps fight diseases.

If your mouth is dry for a long period of time, you may notice that you have a constant sore or ‘tickling’ throat sensation, have a hard time swallowing or speaking, and may even have sores or bleeding in your nose or gums.  This is a problem because no or extremely limited saliva production, you are also at risk for increased tooth decay, cavities, and periodontal disease (gum disease).

Your dentist can provide you with mouthwashes and rinses, or drops if you have chronic dry mouth to help eliminate these problems.  He or she will also work with your regular physician to help determine the cause and provide you with the best possible treatment.

If you are experiencing excessive dry mouth, contact your dentist today for an appointment and evaluation.

Posted on the behalf of Flat Creek Family Dentistry



Choosing a Toothbrush

Posted in Gum Disease

If you have walked down the aisles of any grocery or mega store, you probably have seen the many different types and kinds of toothbrushes available for consumers.  You may have wondered what type of toothbrush is best for you and your teeth.

Using a soft bristled toothbrush is always your best option.  Using softer bristles helps protect your gum line from small tears and damage.  Using stiffer bristles may cause increased risks for gum breakdown, and may allow for periodontal disease (gum disease)  to develop.

You should change toothbrushes every three months.  Bacteria develops and grows on toothbrushes and to maintain tooth health, you should change your toothbrush on a regular basis.  You should also store your toothbrush upright, allowing drainage to occur down the handle and rinse the toothbrush well after each use.

You may have also wondered if you should consider the purchase of an electric toothbrush.  Some electric brushes have the advantage of having a timer to encourage you to move to a different area of the mouth and to tell you when to start and stop brushing.  The motion of the electric toothbrush has been shown in studies to help keep your teeth clean and gums healthy, but if you are brushing correctly, results are about the same.  The choice on using an electric toothbrush is yours, and your dentist may have additional insight to help you in making this decision.  If you have frequent or excessive tartar or plaque build-up, your dentist or hygienist may suggest to you using an electric brush to help decrease build-up.

If you need help selecting a toothbrush, talk to your dentist or hygienist.


Deep Cleanings

Posted in Gum Disease

Deep cleanings, also called “scaling and root planing” procedures, are a type of periodontal disease treatment that is an essential care step for dental patients that suffer from moderate or more severe gum disease. They are typically performed on patients who have gone an extended amount of time between dental cleanings, thus developing large amounts of tartar buildup and tissue detachment.

During a deep cleaning, your hygienist will remove calcified deposits from above and below the gumline. This creates a clean, healthier environment that inhibits the development of gum disease. Both electric and hand instruments are used to remove this buildup. Most patients will have their gum tissue desensitized or anesthetized prior to the procedure in order to allow comfort throughout the entire visit.

A deep cleaning is more invasive than a routine preventive cleaning, because it removes buildup and debris that has lodged deep under the gumlines. If your dental professional does not remove these deposits, they encourage further gum detachment and bone loss around your teeth. Ultimately these conditions can lead to tooth mobility or tooth loss if left untreated.

There may be some tenderness after a deep cleaning. The use of ibuprophen and a warm salt-water rinse for the next 24 hours is typically the only pain management needed for the irritation. When combined with improved oral hygiene practices, deep cleanings help reverse active gum disease.

Following your deep cleaning you will most likely see your hygienist for more frequent preventive care visits until all of the symptoms have subsided. When you would typically see the dentist every 6 months, patients who suffer from active gum disease will see their hygienist every 3-4 months for maintenance visits. As symptoms subside, appointments are then spread out further.


Periodontal Exams

Posted in Gum Disease

Gum disease is a significant health condition that is directly linked to a number of systemic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart and cardiovascular disease, and premature birth. The condition also known as periodontal disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the US. The more severe the gum disease, the more severe your systemic health conditions tend to be, and the harder they are to manage.

Periodontal disease involves the attached gingiva and bone structures that support the teeth in your mouth. If they are diseased, they deteriorate and lead to mobility, gum infection and tooth loss. In order to evaluate the health of these structures, a procedure called the periodontal exam or periodontal screening is performed.

Healthy attached gingiva has a natural shallow pocket under the gumlines around each tooth. If plaque and tartar is allowed to stay in the area due to inadequate flossing or oral care, the pocket becomes deeper due to loss of attachment. During the periodontal screening, the pocket is measured in millimeters to determine the level of attachment. X-rays are also used to diagnose areas of bone loss in conjunction with the periodontal exam. In some areas the gums may bleed during the exam, which is due to the existing disease condition. Healthy gums do not bleed during this examination, so bleeding is a warning sign for at least moderate gingivitis symptoms.

Healthy gum pockets are up to 3mm deep, while moderate attachment loss is up to 6mm deep. When deep pocket areas are present, periodontal disease treatment (or deep cleaning) is usually needed to help reverse the periodontal disease condition.


Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath is a sensitive subject, but one that many dental patients are concerned with. This is understandable, as it can affect your friendships and professional commitments. 90% of bad breath odor originates on the tongue. Gently brushing the tongue or using a tongue scraper can remove some of these bacteria. Avoid alcohol or peroxide based mouth-rinses that may dry out the mouth or alter the natural flora. Also refrain from the use of mints or sugar containing gums that can contribute to decay.

While there is not one specific answer to address this concern, there are several common causes:

  • Sinus infections
  • Nasal allergies or drainage
  • Gum disease
  • Dental abscesses
  • Underlying health conditions (i.e. esophageal reflux) or medications
  • Aromatic foods

Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist or hygienist about your breath concerns. They will help run through different scenarios to determine what factors may be contributing to the condition, as well as perform a visual inspection for possible causes. If dental disease conditions exist such as decay, periodontal disease or dental abscesses, these will need to be addressed. Sometimes taking a simple over the counter allergy medication can prevent nasal drainage that often causes malodor. Systemic health conditions like diabetes or GERD need to be properly managed with the care of your primary care physician, as underlying factors can affect the health and future of your teeth and gums, regardless of whether or not they contribute to your bad breath. In some cases even prescription drugs can cause malodor.

In many cases, re-vamped oral hygiene is the best answer. Natural remedies such as the use of probiotics, zinc, Xylitol and chlorine dioxide supplements can also help.

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