Monday, May 7, 2018

Dry Mouth: Causes, Remedies, and Treatment

Dry Mouth: Causes, Remedies, and Treatments

Dry mouth is a daily problem that makes you feel uncomfortable while you swallow, eat or speak. It is a condition in which you do not produce enough saliva (spit) to keep your mouth feeling wet. Your physician or nurse do not always talk about dry mouth as a side effect when they give you a prescription for medicine, but dry mouth can be caused by the medicine you take. Whatever you do, don't stop taking your medicine but mention dry mouth to your nurse as soon as you can. Dry mouth can also be a sign of diseases and other conditions like diabetes - so make sure you tell your nurse or dental professional about dry mouth if it becomes a problem for you.

Dry Mouth Causes

Stress and anxiety can contribute to dry mouth, as can the medications you might take for them. It is important to communicate with your dental professional about issues concerning your overall health because anything that increases your risk for dry mouth also increases your risk for gum disease. Your dental professional may advise you to pay special attention to your daily oral care routine, and to schedule an additional dental cleaning during a time of increased risk, such as during pregnancy or before starting chemotherapy.
If you suddenly experience symptoms of dry mouth, it may be because you’ve started taking a certain type of medication. Medications are a major cause of dry mouth. In fact, medications cause approximately 90 percent of all cases of dry mouth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. You may not be able to discontinue your medication, but you should keep your dentist informed when something in your overall health changes and you start taking medication. For example, antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories and anti-hypertensive medications are just some of the many types of drugs that can contribute to a dry mouth. In addition, chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or lupus and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, can also cause it.
If your dry mouth is persistent and severe, talk to your doctor about whether you can reduce the dose of the medication that is causing the problem, or possibly switch to a different medication. Everyone responds differently to medications, so switching to another drug that serves the same purpose may yield the same benefits with less dry mouth.

Medical Issues Related to Dry Mouth

Most of us don’t think about the moisture in our mouths until our mouths become dry. A variety of conditions can cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, including the following:
  • Cancer treatments: If you have any type of cancer of the head or neck and you receive radiation therapy, dry mouth is a common side effect because the radiation damages the salivary glands in addition to destroying the cancer. Some medications used to treat cancer in any part of the body can also cause dry mouth.
  • Prescription medications: Hundreds of common medications, including many antidepressants and medications for high blood pressure, can contribute to a dry mouth. If you take medications that seem to make your mouth feel dry, be especially vigilant about tooth brushing and proper flossing.
  • Nerve damage: Some types of injuries to the head or neck can damage the specific nerves that tell the salivary glands to produce saliva.
  • Chronic illness: Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease are among the diseases that can contribute to a chronic dry mouth. Some older people suffer from Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease characterized by extremely dry eyes and a dry mouth. Sjogren’s occurs in older adults and is more common in women than in men. The exact cause remains unclear, but if you or someone you know develops Sjogren’s, paying attention to dry mouth is extremely important. Even someone with a long life history of dental hygiene can develop tooth decay simply because of the excessive lack of saliva that accompanies this condition.
  • Drug use: Methamphetamines have been associated with dry mouth.

Dry Mouth Symptoms

Does your mouth feel dry and sticky when you first wake up in the morning? Do you feel the urge to drink lots of water? Dry mouth can make it hard for you to swallow, chew your food or speak clearly. With a dry mouth your teeth can decay very quickly, and sometimes there are no warning signs for this condition. Untreated dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath, and sometimes others will notice the stale odor.
  • Dry or sticky feeling in the mouth like your mouth is stuffed with cotton balls.
  • Burning feeling in mouth or tongue and sometimes tongue feels like shoe leather.
  • Difficulty or discomfort when chewing, swallowing or speaking.
  • Dry lips and throat or mouth sores.

Do I Have Dry Mouth?

If you think you may have dry mouth but are unsure, ask yourself the following questions.
  1. Are you taking one or more prescription drugs on a daily basis?
  2. Does your mouth feel sticky and dry when you wake up in the morning?
  3. Do you have difficulty swallowing or speaking?
  4. Do you sip a lot of water to keep your mouth from feeling dry?
  5. Does your throat feel dry and does your mouth sometimes burn?
  6. Does your tongue burn or has it changed to a darker red color?
  7. Does your tongue sometimes feel as dry as shoe leather?
  8. Do you sometimes get mouth or tongue sores that will not go away?
If you responded “yes” to one or more questions, talk to your physician and visit your dental professional for information on what you can do to help alleviate the problem.

Dry Mouth Remedies and Treatments

  • Sip room-temperature water throughout the day and night and carry a water bottle with you at all times.
  • Avoid drinking lots of water at an extreme temperature (very hot or very cold).
  • Only drink sugarless drinks and avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Include a beverage like water during meals. Drink water before, during and after the meal.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate salivary flow.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Both alcoholic beverages and smoking dry out the mouth and make you more susceptible to gum diseases and oral cancer. Select an alcohol-free mouth rinse if you’re in the habit of using a mouthwash. Read the label and make sure alcohol is not listed as an ingredient.
  • Select an alcohol-free mouth rinse if you’re in the habit of using a mouthwash. Read the label and make sure alcohol is not listed as an ingredient.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Can Gummy Vitamins Harm Your Child's Teeth?

Can Gummy Vitamins Harm Your Child's Teeth?



Kids hate vitamins – we know. That’s why if you ask parents, gummy vitamins will rank as one of the best kid inventions of all time. Kids love ‘em! Kids want more of ‘em! Kids steal them and bring them to school! Wait. What? Yes. Gummy vitamins are a fantastic way to get your kids into the habit of healthy supplementation. Unfortunately, being sticky as all get-out (and enjoyably sweet), they come with a few side notes from us dental-folk. We’ve got a few suggestions that’ll help you administer these tasty health bombs so your kids reap the benefits while minimizing the negatives.|

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of info out there from reputable sources on gummy vitamins. Most articles you’ll find online will suggest they should be avoided, and many tend to mock the little guys. The truth, as with much in life lies in the middle. Your kids aren’t going to rot their teeth away just because they get their vitamins in the form of a chewy gummy bear. In fact, “no research" has been published evaluating whether gummy vitamins are any worse for the teeth than chalky chewables in healthy children. “

That said, there are a few things you can do to limit the sticky nature of your kids most favorite “good for them” treat.
  1. Give vitamin during mealtime or even before eating so that the other food they eat can help scrape the teeth free from the sugar.
  2. Don’t give gummy vitamin AFTER tooth brushing because, well … that sorta’ defeats the purpose of tooth brushing, doesn’t it? ;-)
  3. Choose regular-flavored gummies over sour gummies – the added citric acid is definitely not an additive worth adding to your kids’ regimen.
  4. Limit the other sticky foods your child eats. It’s not all about the gummy vitamin.
  5. Visit the dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene.
  6. If your child eats a variety of fresh foods anyway, feel free to skip the vitamins.
Simple, right!? The bottom line is, everything else you do to keep your family healthy is 99% of the battle. So, keep doing that. And if the only way you can get your little ones to take their vitamins is to get it in the form of a gummy bear, don’t fret. Just be sure they’re not leaving that sticky stuff on their teeth all day!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Healthy, Fun, and Practical Holiday Gift Ideas

Healthy, Fun, and Practical Holiday Gift Ideas

Healthy, Fun, and Practical Holiday Gift Ideas

With the holiday season descending upon us, the race is on to find that one meaningful gift that’ll surprise your loved one and let them know you care. And since good ideas are hard to come by, we decided to ease the pain a little and put together a few ideas! Each gift has the recipient’s health in mind, and is so universal that anyone on your list can appreciate them. Ready to get pickin’? Here we go!
  • Professional Kitchen Scale: Every adult understands that a key component of maintaining a healthy weight is portion control, and yet most of us have absolutely no idea what a portion should look like. That’s a problem. What’s worse, when it comes to advice about how to eyeball portions, we’re left with the not-so-scientific suggestion to “measure against the size of a fist” – hardly the best caloric measurement tool. The best solution is to use a nutritional scale. They’re affordable, easy to store, and simple to use. Spend a few extra dollars and go digital (trust us on this), and be sure to get one that measures in both grams and ounces to accommodate better baking measurements. And, heck, while you’re at it, pick one up for yourself as well. A good scale becomes a fixture in a kitchen very quickly, and everyone benefits.
  • Big Ol’ Box of Fruit: Who wouldn’t love the surprise arrival of a brightly colored box of fruit to brighten up the winter doldrums? A box of fruit is great gift for any couple or family with a healthy appetite (single folk might have some trouble eating too big a box), and given that it’ll be on the kitchen table, or in the fridge for at least week or two, your thoughtfulness will extend far beyond the initial gift-giving day. There are many places to buy fruit baskets and boxes these days … a far cry from the day when perhaps your mom bought a box or two from the local kids selling them for a school fundraiser. Shop around and find something festive!
  • Dental Gifts: There are all sorts of gifts you can pick up for a loved one at supermarket or even at your dentist’s office. Anything from whitening kits to electronic toothbrushes and water flossers to pre-paid custom mouthguards. If you’re really feeling creative, you might even be able to pick up dental gift card for your loved one – many dentists offer them these days. Just fish around as to who their dentist is by talking about your own teeth, and before you know it you will have successfully snagged the name of their doctor. Then, simply ring the dentist’s office and ask if they have gift cards for purchase. Many dentists offer promotional discounts on certain procedures like whitening and Invisalign toward the end of the year as well, so your gift card might help your friend get over the financial hump that’s been holding them back from moving forward on a planned procedure.
You see, gift giving doesn’t have to be that hard! The above three gifts are so timeless you can dig them out of the gift giving opportunity file from now until forever! Have a wonderful holiday season.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Are there Non-Surgical Means of Fixing an Underbite?

Are there Non-Surgical Means of Fixing an Underbite?

Are there Non-Surgical Means of Fixing an Underbite?

If you’ve ever had the occasion to speak with someone about how to correct an underbite, your conversation no doubt centered on the painful idea of having to “break” the jawbone, weeks on a liquid diet because of a jaw that was then wired shut, and the application of braces both before and aftersurgery. Understandably, such conversations tend to elicit a lot of wincing from any parent considering the same for their child. There are alternatives, however, IF you act early.

Why it’s Important to Act Early 

When a child is young, the bones in their jaw are more malleable and welcoming to adjustment than at a later age. If treatment is delayed until later in life, the “tender” jawbones of a child become fused to such a degree that surgery presents itself as the only option. The options we’ll discuss below play upon this particular window of opportunity.
  1. Expanders:  As is the case when a child has a crossbite, initial treatment for an underbite typically involves the use of an expander to adjust the spread of a child’s teeth so the bite matches evenly on all sides. Expanders resemble orthodontic retainers, and include a screw that is tightened nightly so as to “spread” a child’s bite to the prescribed measurements.
  2. Braces: If a child is presented with a minor underbite restricted to tooth overcrowding, braces alone can sometimes alleviate the concern. Most often, however, braces are used in conjunction with, or as a precursor to a headgear appliance, which can apply a more direct, and significant,amount of “pull-pressure” to the lower jawbone.
  3. Reverse-pull Face Mask (with or without a chincap): Sometimes used in combination with or after an expander, headgear can provide additional stimulation and directional guidance to a jaw not wanting to develop in the correct fashion. Headgear works by applying forward “pull pressure” to the jaw by resting atop the face, and connecting to either braces or an expander contained within the mouth.
  4. Veneers: Very mild underbites can be cosmetically altered with veneers so the teeth give theappearance of no underbite. There is a good degree of artistry with this approach, and when done correctly, this creative placement of veneers on the upper jaw mimics a jaw in proper alignment. 
Fixing an underbite doesn’t have to be fraught with expense and pain if dealt with in a timely fashion. Speak early and often with your dentist and orthodontist about the options available to your child.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Why Are Energy Drinks Such a Threat to Teeth?


The hard clack of cleats echo about as your “little” sports hero rushes to get out of the house … soon to be late for practice. Armed with all they’ll need for a day in the sun, their equipment bag is packed and slung awkwardly over one shoulder, bursting at the seams with untold numbers of pads and dirty gear. And after making a final beeline through the kitchen to raid your refrigerator of a 64oz bottle or two of rainbow-colored sustenance, they’re off for what will no doubt be another grueling practice session. You’re proud of your kids – they’re growing up. And yet you wonder as you stare at the door that just shut behind them. Are those techni-colored drinks they’re drinking every day hurting them?

The truth, unfortunately, is yes. While they may keep your children energized and awake for the next few hours, the bad news is, they’re secretly eating away at their teeth - and fast. 

Why Are Energy Drinks Such a Threat to Teeth?


The crux of the problem is the double-whammy that comes from an exceedingly high sugar content and citric acid pH that can be as low as 2.9. Now, we understand pH can be a tricky thing to understand, so to help put that number in perspective, a bit, consider this: battery acid has a pH of 0.0 (so, a lower number means a higher acid content). Stomach acid (which we can imagine as being quite acidic, at least!) has a pH that fluctuates between 1.0 and 3.0.  A lemon, in contrast, comes in at around 2.0, a grapefruit at 3.0, and tomato juice at 4.0. 
 
The real distinction though is in knowing that with each increase in numerical value, the acid intensity increases 10-fold. So, in the example above, a lemon ends up being 10 times more acidic than a grapefruit, and 100 times more acidic than tomato juice - a sensation you can certainly taste if you bite into one!  In contrast, milk and water have a pH of 7.0, so, it's easy to see the difference in the numbers - they're huge.

The Science


What all this means to your child’s teeth is the real question, though, and precisely what researchers at Southern Illinois University set out to discover in 2012.  The results, which surprised even the research team, showed considerable damage to tooth enamel after only five days of steady consumption. Five days. 
 
To determine the effect of these drinks on our teeth, the research team looked at 22 popular sports and energy drinks, and exposed artificial tooth enamel to the beverages for 15 minutes at a time, four times daily. This schedule was chosen because it mirrors the consumption habits of many users who drink these beverages every few hours - a particularly common habit among those who consume sports drinks, particularly when your kids are involved in sports.  After each 15-minute exposure, the enamel was then placed into an artificial saliva solution for two hours to mimic what would happen once consumption stopped.  After only five days on this schedule, the enamel showed a 1.5% loss with sports drinks, and a shocking 3% loss with energy drinks.


The Critics


While critics in the beverage industry suggest the time used to expose the enamel to the drinks may have been excessive, it's widely known that snacking, as well as regular sipping of any beverage other than water, creates acidic activity in the mouth that promotes tooth decay. Of course, adults also need to be careful, and if you’re the weekend warrior type, or are pulling shifts and consuming these beverages throughout the day, the time of exposure might actually not be long enough.  The sweet spot is in the middle-ground, and that's basically the advice we're going to offer today.
 
There is no doubt that these beverages are not good for our teeth. They're also not good for our stomach, and esophagus if one is prone to acid re-flux. 


The Middle Ground -- It's about being Informed


We're not asking you to force your kids to give up their sports beverages and energy drinks. However, it is wise to know the risks, and to understand how you can help your kids combat some of their side-effects. Here are two quick tips that will help if they can't shake the habit:
  • Have them keep water nearby so they sip on it to dilute the acid covering their teeth. This also increases saliva production to help protect tooth enamel. 
  • Suggest that they don't brush immediately after consuming such beverages.  Why? Because in the thirty minutes to an hour after consumption, tooth enamel will be slightly softer, and brushing in this window of time literally ends up spreading the acid around to other parts of the teeth. Not good.  If brushing is desired, save it for an hour or so after.
Lastly, here is the breakdown of most caustic to least caustic drinks as found by the researchers.

Sports Drinks:
  • Filtered Ionozed Alkaline H2O – pH: 10.0
  • Water – pH: 7.o
  • Odwalla Carrot juice – pH: 6.2
  • Odwalla Vanilla Monster – pH: 5.8
  • Unflavored Pedialyte – pH: 5.4
  • Vita coco – pH: 5.2
  • Aquafina,Dasani, Smart water – pH: 4.0
  • GU2O – pH: 4.29
  • Powerade – pH: 3.89
  • Accelerade – pH: 3.86
  • Gatorade Endurance – pH:  3.22
  • Monster – pH:  2.7
Energy Drinks:
  • Red Bull – pH: 3.3
  • AMP Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Monster Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Full Throttle  - pH: 1.45
  • Rock Star – pH: 1.5
P.S. Don’t forget the mouthguard!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Everyday Things We Do that Can Stain and Chip Our Teeth

Everyday Things We Do that Can Stain and Chip Our Teeth

Everyday Things We Do that Can Stain and Chip Our Teeth

If you’re visiting the dentist regularly and staying on top of your oral care routine, it’s pretty easy to keep your teeth strong, healthy, and white. Habit and misfortune, however, can derail even the best-laid plan, leaving you with either chipped or stained teeth instead of the set you’d like to parade around the neighborhood. And, while every tooth-related calamity isn’t preventable, many can be avoided by simply thinking smart, watching our surroundings, and avoiding habits that can literally take a “bite” out of our beautiful smiles. Let us share some wisdom!

Outstepping a Chipped Tooth

  • Falls: If you’re the type of person who seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to your surroundings, always overstepping the obstacles in your path, your teeth owe you a lifetime of gratitude. However, if you’re prone to step on, and trip over anything that’s not four feet off the ground and in plain view, you may find yourself in the dental chair at some point, firming up your knowledge on modern bonding techniques. So, please watch your step! Oh, and cyclists too! There’s nothing worse than flying headfirst over your handle bars because you failed to notice the pothole in your path while riding. In fact, did you know cycling is a leading cause of tooth LOSS? Yikes!
  • Face trauma: Occasionally, a hard elbow to the face just happens: a friend turns around to speak with you when you’re not looking, or that can of beans drops from the top shelf of your cabinet at just the right angle to take half a front tooth out. Not fun. For the rest of us though (barring major accidents), most face trauma comes as the result of our participation in sports.  For this reason, a sports mouth guard, is your best form of prevention. If you participate in sports, ask your dentist to get fitted today … they’re more affordable and more comfortable than you think!
  • Food Mishaps: We’ve all been there: the un-popped kernel of popcorn; the small rock in the fresh bag of lentils, those startling occasions when we bite down on the fork at the oddest of angles. With food-related concerns, you mainly have to think smart to avoid trouble: feel around in the popcorn bag for what you’re putting into your mouth before you start chewing; rinse and examine that bag of beans, and be conscious of how you’re holding your fork – especially if you often bounce back and forth between chopsticks and western cutlery. Also, hard candies, ice, and other things that pack a crunch can take a chunk out of a tooth with ease, and can also lead to fractures if you find yourself repeatedly enjoying too much of a “good thing.” Don’t chew on these things …
  • Piercings: Tongue and lip piercings may be trendy, but they can also take a toll on your teeth. Something to keep in mind.
  • Bad Habits: If you enjoy using your mouth as if it were a crescent wrench, pair of pliers, or bottle opener, the luck on your desire to maintain a perfect smile might soon run out. Just say no to the silliness, be patient, and find the right tool. Remember, your teeth do not come with a Craftsman® lifetime warranty.

Keeping Your Teeth White 

Save for intrinsic staining resulting from antibiotic use as a child, or other more serious causes, staining can often be avoided by reducing our consumption of the main offenders, using a straw when possible, and rinsing after eating foods that tend to stain our teeth. The best tip we can give is: if the food item in question can stain fabric, it’s likely to be able to stain your teeth as well.

Here are some of the biggest offenders (in no particular order):
  • Black teas
  • Deeply colored sauces (soy, tomato, curry)
  • Wine
  • Colored Sodas
  • Coffee
  • Some dark fruits and vegetables like beets and berries (typically transient in nature, however)
  • Tobacco
So, there you go! Be careful out there, and protect those pearly whites!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Choosing the Right Sippy Cup

Choosing the Right Sippy Cup

Choosing the Right Sippy Cup

Sippy cups. The cup for toddlers. Or, is it? After all, there’s the “transition cup,” the “toddler cup” and the “kid bottle.” Which is correct? Then there are a multitude of styles and materials to choose from ... not to mention the fact that certain types of sippy cups tend to land kids in the E.R.! What? We’re going to help you get through all of this muck with the help of some very well educated and experienced Mommy bloggers. Off we go!

If you laugh in the face of your child each time they toss their sippy cup across the room, and not a spill is to be found, you have mechanical engineer (and parent), Richard Belanger to thank for your entitled mockery. In 1988, tired of cleaning up after his son Bryan, Belanger designed what would become, the first sippy cup. So, parents (!) ... a big round of applause for Mr. Belanger!

Which type? The first thing you’ll want to figure out is: are you even using the correct cup?

First, the names:
  • Transition cup: This cup will get you from breast- and bottle-feeding to your child’s first "cup." It’ll often have two handles to ease in handling and a soft nipple that’s easy on your baby’s gums. This cup is best for kids aged between 4-12 months.
  • Toddler cup: The toddler cup is aimed at kids between 12 months and 3 years old. Most won’t have handles to help your child work on dexterity, and in this cup you’ll see all sorts of straws and spouts.
  • Kid Bottle: Once your kids reach the age of 3, they’ve likely had all their teeth come in and are most certainly on the move! They’re much bigger than toddler cups and will look more like your own water bottle – just kid-sized.
What material? All sorts of obstacles exist with materials. With plastic, parents are often concerned about BPA. Glass is great, but if you thought a spill was bad, how about a spill with shattered glass everywhere? Stainless steel? Great, but heavy. Silicone looks like a good option as well, but to some,the jury is still out on its safety. Essentially, you have to decide for yourself after weighing all the options.

Which spout, straw or valve? Well, the American Dental Association is not a fan of valves – largely because they prolong the consumption of liquids via sucking method instead of sipping. And, when it comes to straws or spouts, a straw is generally preferred because it helps keep liquid off the front teeth, which can lead to cavities over time.

What about the hazards? Each of these containers, with perhaps the exception of the soft-spouted cup can also be hazardous should your child fall with one of them in their hand. In fact, every four hours a child somewhere lands in the emergency room because of a sippy cup injury. Ouch!

So what do you think? Do you have more of an idea now as to the differences between sippy cups? Do you have more questions? We bet you do. Certainly, a lot of the decision-making comes down to your own preferences for materials and risk tolerance concerning your child’s propensity to “run with scissors,” if you will. If you’d like to dig even deeper, check out the incredibly comprehensive “Sippy Cup Reviews” post on BabyGearLab.com, which served as inspiration for this article. We love the site – that Mommy blogger is a pediatrician!