Topics of Interest

This article will cover topics of interest in dentistry. The topics are bad breath, bruxism, dry mouth, headaches, oral piercing, pregnancy, tobacco, tooth fractures, and traumatic ulcers. This article will explain each of the topics, their relation to your oral care, and preventive or treatment measures that may be necessary.

Bad Breath

The first topic is bad breath. Have you ever been on a date and you lean in for the kiss and suddenly all you can smell is death? Pee-ewww. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be caused by bad dental hygiene, foods a person eats, unhealthy lifestyles, and other health problems. Food is first broken down in a person’s mouth, so if a person does not brush and floss, food with strong odors will linger and create bad breath. This will not go away until the body has processed the food. If a person does not brush and floss their teeth regularly, particles of food will linger and cause bacteria to grow inside your mouth, which in turn causes bad breath. Some health problems that also cause bad breath are gum disease, yeast infections, cavities, dry mouth (xerostomia), pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, postnasal drip, acid reflux, liver problems, diabetes and kidney problems. What do you do to prevent and destroy bad breath? There are many options but it is recommended to do multiple of the following: brush twice daily and floss, attend dentist appointments at least twice a year, quit smoking, drink water, and start tracking what foods you ingest.

Bruxism

Bruxism is a disorder characterized by immoderate jaw clenching or teeth grinding. It is a common problem among Americans. Some of the symptoms are very sensitive teeth, jaw aches, tooth wear or damage, damage to crowns, fillings or other restorative dental procedures, and headaches, among other things. Bruxism can occur while the patient is awake or asleep, but usually not both. There is some debate as to the causes of bruxism. Some argue that it is a habitual disorder while others argue that the action is involuntary. If bruxism occurs while the patient is awake, then it is likely caused by stress, and other factors. Bruxism that occurs while the patient is asleep may be caused by the central nervous system creating sleep arousal and/or neurotransmitter abnormalities. Stress is also considered a major factor of bruxism when a patient is sleeping. There are many options to combat bruxism, such as mouth guards and other items that will help to stop the constant clenching and grinding. Consult a dentist or orthodontist today to see what options are best for you.

Dry Mouth

Dry Mouth or Xerostomia happens when the body does not create enough saliva. Saliva is central to the systems of the mouth. It helps the body to digest food and also helps to stop infection and control bacteria and other harmful elements in a patient’s mouth. Some causes of this are certain medications, diseases and infections and medical treatments. Some medications that cause dry mouth are antihistamines, decongestants, diuretics, some bronchodilators, muscle relaxants and sedatives, among others. Some diseases that can cause dry mouths are HIV, AIDs, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, stroke, mumps, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis and anemia. Medical treatments and procedures that can cause dry mouths are procedures that damage salivary glands such as radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Dry mouth can also be caused by tobacco use, nerve damage, dehydration, fever, vomiting, blood loss, burns, and constant sweating. Some symptoms of dry mouth are bad breath, dry or sore throat, sticky and dry feeling in the mouth, constant thirst, burning or tingling in the mouth, mouth sores and skin splits, red tongue, and speaking problems. To treat a dry mouth a patient prescribed an oral rinse, or medications that will help boost the saliva flow. Some other ways a patient can boost saliva flow are sugar-free candy, brush and rinse with fluoride toothpaste and rinse, practice breathing through your nose, vaporizers, and artificial saliva substitutes and make sure to drink plenty of water.

Headaches

Headaches are no fun. They cause disruption to our daily lives. Sometimes headaches are so severe that nothing can get done. Did you know that one of the major causes of headaches is dental problems and stress? That’s right. If you think you may be experiencing headaches due to dental problems it is important to consult a dentist soon, otherwise they could become more severe and recurrent. Although headaches are not always caused by dental problems, it is important to have a dentist check just in case.

Tension headaches are caused by muscle strain or tension in a patient’s jaw. When the muscles contract for a long time this causes ache’s throughout the body that could spread to a patient’s head. Some of the symptoms that could prove a patient’s headache was caused by dental problems are grinding teeth, pain that occurs behind the eyes, sore jaw or clicking jaw joints.

Oral Piercing

Many people think oral piercings are cool. Oral piercings include lips, tongues, gums, or anything that happens in and around the mouth. But did you know these piercings can be very harmful to both your oral and overall health? The piercings coupled with bacteria can cause swelling and infection to occur. They can also cause teeth fractures and cracks or lead to serious infections like hepatitis. The piercings can also cause damage to the gums, fillings, sensitivity, nerve damage, consistent drooling, and problems with dental appointments. It is not advised to get oral piercings, but it is absolutely necessary to tell a dentist if a patient has oral piercings, because these can cause major problems with your appointment and can cause major damage and harm to your mouth. The dentist will also advise proper cleaning methods, ways to keep the piercing from interfering with your teeth and other mouth problems. It is also important to check the tightness of the piercing regularly and to remove the piercing when conducting physical activity.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause major hormonal changes to the parent, but did you know it could also cause dental problems? It is important to visit a dentist regularly to keep up with your oral mouth care, but is doubly important to attend the dentist regularly when pregnant. It also important to disclose this information with the dentist because it can change the way certain procedures and medications are handled. Some dental problems that can be caused because of hormonal changes due to pregnancy are gingivitis and other stages of gum disease, higher risk of tooth decay, and pregnancy tumors. During pregnancy it is important to keep up with the daily habit of brushing and flossing your teeth everyday so as to not add to the already increased risks of dental problems. It is important to consult a dentist as soon as possible to see what the next steps are and what is important involving your oral care during pregnancy.

Tobacco

We’ve all seen the commercials. Tobacco use can cause major problems to your overall health. Your oral health is no exception. Did you know that half of adults who smoke have gum disease due to their habit. Smokers are also double as likely to lose teeth and to have treatments for their root canal. It also slows down the healing process for gum disease and makes it near impossible to correct. So it is important for a smoking patient to quit smoking, if they have not already, once gum disease treatment beings. Smoking also makes it more likely for mouth pains, recessive gums and cavities. All of these result in expensive and costly procedures to correct. If an infection occurs in the mouth due to added bacteria from tobacco use, tobacco makes it even harder to fight this infection. Chewing tobacco is one of the leading causes of mouth cancer and can cause major problems involving gum disease. If this has not already scared the smoking patient, teeth loss and teeth that must be pulled are also a huge side effect of tobacco use. Do you want to be one of those people who have lost more teeth than they have left? Or one of those people who’s entire mouth is made up of expensive false teeth and restorative procedures? No. Then you should quit smoking today. On top of the damage it does to your overall health, the oral damage is expensive and sometimes unfixable.

Tooth Fractures

Sometimes teeth crack, and there are many different types of tooth fractures. Some side effects of cracked teeth are constant chewing pains, sensitivity to temperature and resulting pain, and added biting pressure, which can cause headaches and other problems. The pain is caused by the pulps (nerve and blood vessels) reaction to the crack, usually when chewing. Since the crack has revealed the pulp to possible damage and bacteria, it is important to get fractures fixed as soon as possible. Larger cracks can lead to infections, which can lead to more serious problems down the road. Endodontists are dentists who focus on cracked teeth. They will be able to diagnose a patient’s issue and come up with solutions to the problem based on the type of fracture. Chipping a tooth is different, and is common. It is still important to get this fixed as soon as possible though so it does not worsen. Dentists will usually fill the chipped with tooth-colored filling. If a tooth is cracked and it does down to the root, then the tooth becomes untreatable. This is why it is important to catch the crack early on, because it can spread to the root of the tooth. A root canal is used and then the tooth is protected with a crown so that the crack does not spread to the root. There are other types of teeth fractures and problems such as split tooth, vertical root fracture, among others. If you think you may have a fracture or crack, get it checked out today before it becomes untreatable.

Traumatic Ulcer

Ulcers are formed by injuries to the mouth, such as accidentally biting yourself; mechanical trauma, chemical, electrical or thermal burns, fractured teeth, premature teeth, and poorly maintained dental prosthetics, among other things. Treatment will vary depending on the location and size of the ulcer. Ulcers that are caused by mechanical or thermal trauma will typically heal within two weeks, as long as the cause is removed. Those that are caused by chemical injuries will also heal on their own as long as they are kept away from materials that will worsen it or cause further ulcers to form. With ulcers formed by electrical burns it may be necessary to vaccinate the ulcer. This is usually handled at burn centers. In order to prevent further infections antibiotics are prescribed such as penicillin. However, most traumatic ulcers heal on their own and most patients will not need antibiotics. Some other forms of treatment include mouth guards, mouth rinses, diet restrictions, sodium chloride rinses, topical corticosteroids and anesthetics.