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Dental Health

Dental Health

Bad Breath

Bad breath is an unpleasant condition that’s cause for embarrassment. Some people with bad breath aren’t even aware there’s a problem. If you don’t brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor. Bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth (xerostomia), which occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odor. Dry mouth may be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth.

Bad breath may be the sign of a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or liver or kidney ailment. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your family doctor or a specialist to determine the cause of bad breath. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your tongue, too. Once a day, use floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between teeth.

Toothbrush Abrasion

We all know that we need to brush and floss every day. Proper brushing removes plaque, food debris, and bacteria from our teeth. Improper brushing, though, can be destructive, damaging the very teeth and gums that we’re trying to keep healthy. Improper brushing causes toothbrush abrasion. As strange as it may seem, teeth and gums are fragile tissues. Improper brushing can cause destructive problems like receding gums, wearing away of tooth structure at the gum line, sensitive teeth, and weaker teeth. Proper tooth brushing involves a soft toothbrush, a non-abrasive toothpaste with fluoride, and good brushing technique.

A soft toothbrush makes it much easier to remove the plaque below the gum line, where periodontal disease starts.

Use a pea-sized amount of non-abrasive toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride hardens the outer enamel layer of teeth, may stop a developing cavity, and gives you more resistance to future cavities. Toothpastes that are labeled “whitening” or “tartar control” can sometimes be too rough on receding gums and exposed roots, wearing away the root’s protective layer. You can be sure toothpaste is non-abrasive if it’s labeled “sensitive.”

Use proper brushing technique. Angle the bristles of the brush along the gum line at a 45-degree angle and apply just enough pressure so the bristles slide under the gum line. Vibrate the brush while you move it in short back and forth strokes and in small circular motions. Don’t brush too hard. If you’re not sure whether you’re pressing too hard, try holding the brush with two fingers. That’s all the force the brush needs to remove bacteria from the gum line. Here’s another tip: if your brush bristles have bent over with time, you probably have been pressing too hard.

If you find that you have a hard time brushing gently, consider using an electric toothbrush. They remove food, bacteria, and plaque very well, and they make it much easier to use less pressure. These days, some advanced electric toothbrushes will even stop or alert you when you are pressing too hard. Don’t forget to floss. Brushing harder won’t get bacteria out from between the teeth.

Oral Piercing

Body piercing, including tongue and lip piercing, is a fast growing form of self-expression today. Even though it’s an invasive surgical process, many piercings are done at the spur of the moment, under conditions that are neither sterile nor safe. Piercing carries risks you should weigh carefully if you are considering having it done.
Piercing is such a deceptively easy process that hundreds of unregulated, unlicensed piercing studios have sprung up offering services virtually on demand. Anyone can pierce your body, from an assistant in a beauty parlor to a stranger in the back of a garage. It’s highly likely that these people have had no training whatsoever when it comes to proper procedure or even basic sterilization or hygiene.

The most serious risk from oral piercing is contracting HIV, blood poisoning, or hepatitis C, B, D and G from non-sterilized, contaminated needles, equipment or jewelry. Moreover, there are few places on or in the body with a higher bacteria count than the inside of your mouth, so the possibility of contracting a serious local infection in your pierced tongue, lip or cheek is substantial.

Risks of oral piercing include:

  • If the jewelry is not secure, you may swallow it, or, worse yet, inhale it.
  • Your tongue may swell in reaction to the trauma of piercing, or from an allergic reaction to the jewelry itself, and may even block your airway.
  • Swallowing, breathing and talking can all be seriously affected.
  • You may bleed excessively.
  • A nerve may be damaged.
  • You may have chronic pain, or lose your sense of taste.
  • You could bite down on the jewelry and chip or break a tooth.
  • Finally, your gums may be damaged from abrasion.

The American Dental Association, the British Dental Association, the National Institute of Health and the National Hepatitis Foundation are among the many professional organizations that believe tongue-piercing carries an unacceptable risk to your health. If you choose to accept the risk and go ahead with a piercing, don’t do it on a whim. Think it over, ask questions about sterilization, procedures and the materials used. Inspect the facility in advance to ensure all instruments are fully and regularly sterilized in an autoclave, and that needles and corks are thrown away after each use. And come to see us soon after the piercing so we can check for signs of infection and tell you how to care for the wound as it heals, as well as how to minimize the damage the jewelry can cause to your teeth and gums.

Smokeless Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco has been linked to oral cancer, tooth decay, gum disease, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and nicotine addiction. It causes bad breath and stained teeth. Once a person has used chew or snuff for a couple of weeks, the insides of their lips begin to dry out and wrinkle, crack, bleed, and develop sore spots. These spots are called “leukoplakia”.

Toxic substances from smokeless tobacco are absorbed through the tissues of the mouth and into the body. These substances are Nicotine (more addictive than crack cocaine), Lead (you’ve heard of lead poisoning?), Formaldehyde (used to preserve corpses), Cadmium (found in car batteries), and Uranium 235 (a component of nuclear weapons).

Hazard’s of smokeless tobacco:

  • Leukoplakia: These are pre-cancerous lesions that form on the tongue or the inside of the cheek. One of the primary causes of these lesions is the constant presence of chewing tobacco in the mouth. The lesions are white or gray, with a slightly raised, thickened surface. Initially, they are painless. Three to five percent of these lesions develop into full-blown oral cancer.
  • Oral cancer: Smokeless tobacco is loaded with carcinogens. When it’s sitting in the mouth hour after hour, day after day, these carcinogens irritate the mouth tissues, sometimes to the point of causing cancer. There are about thirty-one thousand cases of oral cancer diagnosed annually; of these, nine thousand result in death.
  • Tooth decay: By itself, smokeless tobacco tastes pretty awful, so manufacturers load it with sugar and salt to make it more palatable. It also contains some grit and sand. The latter scratches the enamel of the teeth, while the former creates acids that cause teeth to decay. Obviously, neither is positive for your oral health.
  • Gum disease: Smokeless tobacco is highly irritating to the gums; its constant presence can result in permanent damage to the gum tissues. The gums pull away from the teeth, exposing roots and causing pain and eventual erosion of bone. When bone is lost, teeth loosen and may even fall out.
  • Cancer of the pharynx, larynx and esophagus: Smokeless tobacco contains high levels of cancer-causing substances called nitrosamines, which have been proven to increase the occurrence of cancer of the organs in the throat.
  • Nicotine dependence: Smokeless tobacco is as addictive as cigarettes. It causes an elevation in blood pressure, an increased heart rate, and the constriction of blood vessels, reducing the body’s efficiency in transporting oxygen throughout the body. What does this mean to you? You may lose your stamina and endurance.
  • Poor eating habits: Regular users of smokeless tobacco say their ability to taste food is greatly reduced, so they wind up eating more foods loaded with salt and sugar. This is unhealthy for your body as well as your teeth.
  • Smokeless tobacco generally causes bad breath and discolorization of the teeth.

There’s a tremendous amount to lose, and absolutely nothing to gain, by using smokeless tobacco.