Archive for August 2017

Dry Mouth and Your Oral Health

You’re most likely to experience dry mouth (xerostamia) when you’re upset, nervous or under stress. But if you have dry mouth most of the time, you may need to consult your dentist or doctor about it.

Dry mouth is caused by an insufficient flow of saliva. It is not a disease but a common side effect of certain medications or a symptom of medical disorders.  Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging and left untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems.

Saliva does more than keep the mouth moist. It helps digest food, making it possible for you to swallow and chew. It is also one the body’s best defenses against tooth decay. Saliva maintains the health of the soft and hard tissues in the mouth, and provides first-line protection against bacterial and fungal infection.

What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth and the throat
  • Sores in the mouth, cracked lips, split skin at the corners of the mouth
  • Difficulty in speaking, chewing, swallowing and tasting
  • Burning sensation in the mouth and on the tongue
  • Sore throat, hoarseness and dry nasal passages
  • Bad breath
  • Mouth infections
Without sufficient saliva, tooth decay and gum disease can occur. Dry mouth is also a known culprit behind chronic bad breath.

What causes dry mouth?

  • Medication side effects – Hundreds of medications can induce dry mouth. The list includes decongestants, diuretics, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, drugs used to treat urinary incontinence and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Medical conditions – Some diseases like Sjögren’s Syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease may cause the salivary glands to make less saliva.
  • Chemotherapy – Cancer-fighting drugs may harm the normal cells in the mouth. Chemotherapy side effects may cause problems with the teeth and gums, soft mouth tissues and salivary glands.
  • Radiation therapy – When exposed to radiation, the salivary glands may get damaged and produce less saliva. This damage can even be a lifelong problem.

What can you do to ease dry mouth?

  • Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water.
  • Caffeine dries the mouth. Avoid drinks with caffeine such as coffee and tea.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate saliva flow.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Use a room vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to the bedroom air.
  • Ask your dentist, doctor or pharmacist for over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.

Without sufficient saliva, tooth decay and gum disease can occur.  Dry mouth is also a known culprit behind chronic bad breath. If you’re using any of the medications mentioned above, or you feel like you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of dry mouth, consult your dentist or doctor immediately.

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5 Common Lifestyle Habits That Can Damage Your Teeth

There are a number of habits that can potentially damage the teeth and some of them are a lot more common than we think.

1- Increased intake of acidic food and drink

This can include but is not restricted to citric and acidic fruits and juices, fizzy drinks including sparkling water, vinegar and excessive alcohol consumption. These damaging foods and drinks lead to a condition known as acid erosion which is characterized by thinning and destruction of the top layer of the tooth, known as the enamel. The condition is non-reversible. The enamel is very strong but over time when subjected to all these acidic products degenerates and thins out exposing the inside of the tooth (which can also in turn be damaged) and this can lead to an increase in sensitivity and pain symptoms as well as increased susceptibility to decay. It also weakens the tooth.

2- Grinding and clenching teeth

This is a habit which is increasing steadily and seen much more frequently in many patients who present to us. There are many complex factors which lead patients to grind or clench their teeth and we see it more frequently at times of anxiety and stress. Other factors that play a role are genetics, arthritic changes in the bone and changes in the cartilage of the jaw joint, anatomy and muscular attachments, trauma, etc. Unfortunately, many patients who suffer from this condition are unaware of it and don’t realize they grind or clench (as they are usually doing it subconsciously or in their sleep) until they are informed by a clinician that there are signs of this in their mouth. If left unchecked, this condition can lead to a variety of problems and symptoms for the patient including thinning and wear of the teeth, jaw and muscular pain and headaches, difficulty in opening the mouth and chewing and cracking of the teeth.

3- Overbrushing teeth

This is usually coupled with the use of a hard toothbrush and/or an abrasive toothpaste. This leads to a condition known as abrasion. Abrasion is characterized by recession of the gum line where the overbrushing takes place and when left unchecked leads to an eventual formation of cavities at the neck of the tooth known as abrasion cavities. These can lead to severe symptoms of pain and sensitivity and it is often necessary to restore these teeth with a filling material to reduce the symptoms and effects of the abrasion. Occasionally, if the abrasion has been occurring for several years, gum surgery may be necessary to correct the recession of the gums.

4- Using non-fluoride toothpaste

The use of non-fluoride toothpaste is becoming more and more popular across the world owing to some negative advertising about the effects of fluoride on the body. Fluoride in very large doses can be toxic and can cause systemic problems however the amount of fluoride in toothpaste is minimal and is nowhere near those threshold doses.

It has been well documented with established studies that fluoride is critical in reducing the effects of decay causing foods to our teeth. Fluoride can also help remineralise tooth structure which has already been damaged (when in the early stages) hence reducing the need to fill those affected teeth. The adult dental health surveys and the child dental health surveys carried out in the UK show significant reduction of decay in patients following the introduction of fluoride to drinking water in certain cities with no adverse effects on general health and this, along with other well established clinical studies are proof enough of how effective fluoride can be to create a barrier against decay.

What is less well known is that smoking is directly linked to the progression of gum disease.

5- Smoking

Smoking has a well-known adverse effect on the general health. However, what is less well known is that smoking is directly linked to the progression of gum disease. Gum disease is a very loose term used to describe any disease that affects the supporting structures of the tooth, namely the gums and bone. If left untreated gum disease progresses to a form of the disease known as advanced periodontitis which is characterized by significant bone loss and the loosening of the teeth. There are of course other factors that cause gum disease, mainly poor oral hygiene, however smoking has been linked directly with the progression of gum disease and the disease effects appear to be multiplied in patients who smoke.

Helpful prevention tips and replacement options:

● The effects of erosion unfortunately are non-reversible and when the disease progresses significantly we may need to consider restorative options such as fillings and crowns to protect the teeth. To reduce the effect of early erosion we must consider a change in dietary habits. Limiting our intake of acidic foods will help reduce the effect of erosion. This of course does not mean cutting out on eating healthy fruits, but changing the frequency of acidic intake, instead of 3 oranges or juices a day, consider having one. We can also change our diet from acidic fruits such as oranges, apples, pineapples and kiwi to non-acidic fruits such as pears and bananas. The use of a straw helps reduce the effects of erosion significantly as the fluid bypasses the teeth upon entry into the mouth hence reducing the effect it has on the teeth. Regular sips of still water following an acidic intake can help neutralize the pH of the mouth hence also reducing the effect of erosion. We must also consider when to brush after eating, as brushing immediately after eating or drinking something acidic multiplies the effect of erosion by pushing the acid directly onto the teeth, hence brushing in the morning should be considered prior to having breakfast if the breakfast contains acidic elements such as orange juice.

● Owing to the fact that teeth grinding is usually carried out subconsciously and that there are many factors that cause it, grinding is a very difficult condition to treat.

Treatment is usually confined to a minimalistic approach of:

  1. Awareness of the condition
  2. Physiotherapy exercises
  3. Reduction in local factors contributing to grinding such as high fillings
  4. Construction of a bite guard or shield which can also act as a de-programmer to reduce the effect of grinding
  5. Occasionally a referral to a physiotherapist may be necessary.

● The effects of abrasion can be reduced by changing the hardness of the toothbrush you are using to a soft or medium toothbrush. The finer the bristles the less abrasive they are. There is a fine line between overbrushing and ineffective brushing and this needs to be pointed out to you by your dentist or hygienist. The mode of brushing also needs to be altered from a scrubbing motion to a softer round or sweeping motion. If you are using an abrasive toothpaste (some whitening toothpastes are extremely abrasive) then consider changing to a milder, less damaging one.

● The use of modern electric toothbrushes has really helped combat this condition as they are equipped with sensors known as pressure sensors which identify when you are pushing too hard onto your teeth and reduce the pressure by either slowing down or stopping, or by flashing a red light to alert you to the damage that is being done. The better brushes do both hence minimizing the damage to the teeth. Some toothpastes on the market are made specifically for patients who suffer with erosion and these can help remineralise the teeth, although the remineralisation effect is very minor.

There is no substitute in protecting our teeth more effectively than the use of fluoride toothpaste.

● There is no substitute in protecting our teeth more effectively than the use of fluoride toothpaste. Herbal toothpastes may claim to have an antibacterial effect however these do not help remineralise teeth which are already decaying. The correct use of fluoride toothpaste in the right quantities should have no detrimental overall effect on the teeth or the general health whatsoever.

● Smoking is a very difficult habit to break. Support from the people around you as well as health care professionals will help make the process less daunting and you’d be more likely to succeed. There are many nicotine alternatives on the market such as patches, gums, inhalators and e-cigarettes, however the effects are still debatable as to whether they cause harm to the body. Other ways include the use of tablets taken daily to help reduce the cravings and even hypnotherapy. Ask your medical professional for help and they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Are there any measures to reverse this?

Unfortunately, many of the conditions listed above are non-reversible and the principal aim of treatment is to reduce the damage done and stop any further deterioration. Occasionally, interventional dentistry is necessary to try and reduce the impact of the damage carried out and this can be in the form of fillings, more complex restorations such as crowns and bite guards or occasionally even more complex surgical treatments need to be carried out.

Any further advice?

The best advice that can be given to any patient is to regularly visit your dentist to help identify any of the conditions listed above as well as any other conditions or diseases and minimize the effect early. Early intervention always yields better results and better prognosis long term. Most patients believe that if they are symptom-free then they are disease free and unfortunately this is simply not correct. An asymptomatic mouth is not necessarily a healthy one and problems may be brewing which can be very difficult to treat if left unchecked.

The role of the dentist is not restricted to treating any illnesses but also to give advice to prevent future problems and can be an invaluable source of information on how to keep your mouth healthy and disease free. Remember a healthy smile reflects a healthy body!

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What Parents Need to Know About the Transition From Milk Teeth to Permanent Teeth

Children’s milk teeth begin to develop even before they are born and most kids have their full set of 20 teeth by the time they turn three years old. These milk teeth start to fall out by the age of six or seven, making way for permanent teeth.

What are milk teeth?

Milk teeth are also commonly known as primary, deciduous or baby teeth. Humans have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The milk teeth set starts to erupt from the age of 6 months and completely exfoliates between the age of 10 to 12 years. Since the tenure of milk teeth is extended until the mentioned age range, it’s quite important to keep these teeth healthy and cavity free. This lays a healthy foundation for the permanent teeth to erupt properly.

What should parents do when their child’s milk teeth haven’t fallen out as yet, but the child’s permanent teeth have started to erupt?

When a child’s set of milk teeth have not exfoliated but their permanent teeth have started to erupt, the milk teeth should either be wiggled out or professionally extracted. However, these usually fall out naturally when permanent teeth are right underneath them. Sometimes due to space concerns between the child’s teeth or other factors, permanent teeth begin to erupt in wrong direction. Hence, there is no active force left on the milk teeth to help it fall out naturally. This force should then be applied from outside by either biting on hard fruits, wiggling or professionally extracting the tooth.

When do permanent teeth start to erupt?

  • Upper and lower front teeth: age 6 to 8 years
  • Canines: age 9 to 10 years
  • Molars: age 10 to 12 years
    *Plus or minus 6 months to 12 months

Do you have any tips for parents during this process?

Tips on exfoliating primary teeth:

  • Provide your child with soft food as wobbly teeth can potentially lead to the sensation of soreness within their mouth.
  • Wiggle the primary teeth as and when possible.
  • Gentle brushing is fine but skipping brushing completely in the area of concern is not recommended.
  • In case of severe pain or discomfort during the stages of exfoliation, professional extraction can be considered. Usually, it’s a natural phenomenon of growth and does not require any treatment.

If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Specialist Pediatric Dentists at Dentcare Dental Clinic in Dubai.

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What Causes Yellow Teeth in Kids

This is one of the most common questions I get from parents of 6 and 7 year-olds. Even though there are multiple reasons why your child’s permanent teeth are yellow, the most common reason is the intrinsic color difference between the permanent teeth and baby teeth.

What Causes Yellow Teeth in Kids

This yellow appearance is also enhanced by the fact that they sit right next to baby teeth. This contrast between they very white baby teeth makes the grown up teeth look even more yellow.Yellow Teeth in Kids

Primary teeth have a milky white appearance when compared to the sometimes yellowish appearance of the permanent teeth. Primary teeth have thinner enamel, less amount of dentin and dentin in primary teeth is less yellow in color.

Permanent teeth have a greater amount of dentin, which is yellow in color. Since enamel is translucent the color of the dentin shows through. When all the permanent teeth have erupted the color will blend and appear uniform.

What can be done?

Young permanent teeth have very large nerve canals when they erupt and these teeth are more transparent, leading to a yellower appearance. As we age, the canals slowly calcify and the tooth will naturally lighten. 

Bleaching Kids Teeth

As for bleaching, we advise parents to wait until all of their permanent teeth to erupt (usually 12/13). Otherwise when the new adult erupt, they will not match his bleached primary teeth.

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4 Tips for a Brighter Smile at Work

So you have a solid routine of brushing and flossing twice a day, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups, but what about the times when you’re at work? What can you do to keep your pearly whites pearly while you’re in the office throughout the day? We came up with a list of tips to make sure you’re being tooth-friendly, even when you’re away from home.

  • Buy a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste, and a small floss container. Keep them in your purse or bag throughout the day, and take advantage of opportunities to spruce up your teeth. This will not only halt tooth decay, but have short-term benefits like freshening your breath, whitening your teeth by preventing stains, and getting embarrassing food particles out of your teeth!
  • Rinse after eating and drinking. On your way back from lunch, grab a bottled water and give your teeth a quick rinse before continuing your work day. This is so easy to do, and takes just a moment after a snack or meal. If you don’t have a bathroom available, just take a drink of water and swish it around in your mouth before swallowing.
  • When you do snack, snack healthy. Eating vegetables, nuts and cheese while forgoing candy and soda will keep you slim and your teeth decay-free. Also, crunchy foods, like apples or celery, stimulate saliva production while you eat them, which helps rinse your teeth clean of bacteria, and the high water content in these foods buffers their sugar content.
  • Drink your coffee from a straw. Coffee and tea can stain your teeth if you drink them directly from a cup. While giving up your morning cup of joe may be too much to ask, consider drinking through a straw. It protects your teeth from stains and the wear on your enamel that acidic drinks cause. Be selective, though. Most regular straws break down and leach chemicals when immersed in hot drinks. Look for paper straws or other products that don’t break down in hot liquids.

Follow these tips to keep your teeth glistening, and don’t forget to visit your dentist regularly!

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Smiling and Job Opportunities

In these hard economic times, many people are looking for ways to improve in their work or find better jobs. It is well known that people that like their smiles and the appearance of their teeth are not afraid of smiling, have a higher self-esteem and appear more confident. These people generally have better chances of getting promoted or obtaining a job. A smile conveys friendliness; it makes you seem approachable. Do not overlook the importance of your smile. Let your smile work for you!

Many people don’t like to smile or show their teeth because they are embarrassed. Sometimes, people don’t smile because they could be missing or have stains on their front teeth, have cavities, severe inflammation and bleeding of the gums, misalignment or crowding of their front teeth, have dental pain or abscesses or any combination of these.

With the advances in dentistry, dental materials and technology, common dental problems can be solved in fewer dental appointments. For example:

  1. Missing teeth: A temporary acrylic partial can be fabricated in a few days.
  2. Cavities: Most cavities can be restored the same day as long as there is no need for root canals.  If you have many cavities, you can ask your dentist to start restoring your front teeth, so you can start smiling sooner!
  3. Stained or darkened teeth: A regular cleaning removes external stains (from tea, coffee and tobacco). This can be done in one appointment. Dental whitening can also be done in few appointments and can remove internal stains, which include the yellowing of teeth.
  4. Severe gum inflammation: This most likely will require a deep cleaning which is generally done in two sessions using local anesthesia.
  5. Crowded and misaligned teeth:  While orthodontic treatment is the most recommended treatment, it normally takes a few years to correct severe crowing. For some cases, another option is veneers and crowns, which can be done in fewer appointments, but do require preparation of teeth.
  6. Dental pain or abscess: In this case, you will most likely require a root canal or an extraction. Antibiotics are necessary in most cases.

As briefly explained, many of the dental problems that could be stopping you from smiling and making you feel better can be resolved at the dentist in just a few appointments. I encourage you to schedule your preventive appointment now! Our practice focuses on prevention and patient education and we believe that “Prevention is less expensive than treatment of disease or conditions”. “Do not wait until it hurts”.  For further questions, you can contact us at Toll Free : 800 80 80 80.

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