Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are often confused with fever blisters (cold sores). However, they are quite different.
Canker sores only form inside the mouth on the gums, cheeks, tongue or floor of the mouth and cannot be transmitted from one individual to another. They begin as small red circular swellings that usually ulcerate [rupture] within a day, after which they become white, surrounded by reddish inflammation and last for 8-10 days.
As open sores, they can be very painful to the touch. Canker sores afflict about 20% of the population. Their cause has yet to be discovered, although they appear to breakout more in stressful situations, from getting a small “nick” in the skin [mucous membrane] or from foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
While they can occur in very young children, canker sores usually manifest themselves in people between the ages of 10-20. It’s not uncommon for them to erupt three to four times a year, but they occur less frequently, or stop all together, in adulthood.
If you have canker sores, avoid rough textured or spicy foods, which irritate them. Try not to touch them with eating utensils or your toothbrush. Apply ointment that contains a topical anesthetic or some other active ingredient that will relieve the irritation.
Cold sores form outside the mouth, usually on the lips, but they may appear on the chin, outside of the cheek or the nostrils. They begin as a red blister, burst and crust over and last for 7-14 days.
Cold sores – caused by the herpes simplex virus (type 1) – are contagious; they transmit by skin-to-skin contact. The virus, carried by almost everyone, is dormant most of the time. Fever blisters occur most often in young adults and adolescents and decline in people over 35 years of age. Certain factors activate its outbreak, particularly stress, colds, fevers and/or sunburn.
To reduce occurrences, avoid kissing when the blisters are visible. Also, don’t squeeze or scrape the blister. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching someone else and use UV sunscreen on your lips before spending time in the sun.
Treatment of cold sores includes avoiding spicy and hot foods that will irritate them, application of phenol-containing over-the-counter ointments and administration of some anti-viral antibiotics that will shorten their duration (but not prevent their outbreak).
If you’re worried about canker or cold sores, call our office. We’re here to help you deal with these common afflictions and will offer additional treatment recommendations, as necessary.
Unfortunately, the use of pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups can lead to speech and dental problems as your child gets older. Since children develop at different ages, it is a good idea to speak with your dentist and pediatrician to make sure that your infant or toddler’s early oral habits don’t cause problems.
In a child’s first few years, pacifier use generally doesn’t cause problems. But constant, long-term pacifier use, especially once permanent teeth come in, can lead to dental complications. Constant sucking can cause top front teeth to slant out, and bottom front teeth to tilt in. It also can lead to jaw misalignment (such as an overbite) and a narrowing of the roof of the mouth.
It is generally advised that children stop or drastically reduce their pacifier use around age 3. If a child is dependent on the pacifier to be calmed and soothed, try giving it to him or her only when absolutely necessary and using positive reinforcement to wean them off the habit.
If possible, buy pacifiers labeled “orthodontically friendly” because they may limit the risk of dental complications. It is also a good idea to buy pacifiers constructed as one piece. And never attach a pacifier to a string around your child’s neck, this can cause them to choke.
The Big Bad Bottle
Many children use a bottle longer than necessary. Apart from the risks associated with the sucking motion, bottles also carry a heavy risk of promoting tooth decay if they contain anything other than water.
Frequently sucking or sipping on milk or juice from a bottle over an extended period of time will increase your child’s risk of tooth decay. When sugars and carbohydrates come in consistent contact with teeth they create an environment for decay-causing bacteria to thrive. Tooth decay can lead to painful infection and in extreme cases children may need to have a tooth extraction or dental treatment to extensively repair damaged teeth.
If you notice small white spots or lines on your child’s teeth, particularly near the gum line, it is a good idea to consult your dentist immediately as this may be an early sign of decay. As a way to cut back on children’s bottle use, your pediatrician or pediatric dentist may recommend using sippy cups. While these are very useful for transitioning your child from bottle to regular cups, they also pose their own threat to teeth and speech development.
For more help breaking baby away from the bottle or pacifier, talk to your dentist
An active lifestyle calls for active safety. And while helmets, goggles and knee pads have become standard equipment to protect our bodies, it’s important to remember to protect your teeth as well. Mouthguards offer an easy, reliable method to cushion your teeth during athletic and recreational activity.
Participating in any physical activity involves a risk of contact with the face and mouth. Although many sports teams require some protective gear, the delicate teeth are often overlooked. Considering that even minor direct force can cause teeth to chip, break or come loose, a mouthguard is a crucial piece of equipment for all active or athletic activities.
Mouthguards are especially crucial during contact sports such as football, hockey or boxing, where blows to the body and face are regular occurrences. But even non-contact sports such as gymnastics, and recreational pastimes such as skating or mountain biking, still pose a risk to the teeth.
When participating in any activity that may result in injury to the mouth, dentists recommend that the teeth be properly shielded with some form of dental mouthguard.
Your Guide to Guards
There are three basic categories of mouthguards. Your dentist can suggest which type is right for you:
1. Stock Mouthguards — These pre-made protectors can usually be bought wherever sporting equipment is sold. Most dentists do not recommend their use because they cannot be adjusted to your mouth and provide only limited protection.
2. Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards — Boil-and-Bite guards are softened with hot water and then molded over your teeth. A somewhat customized fit leads to better protection and greater ease in talking and breathing. These are also available at most sporting goods vendors.
3. Custom Mouthguards — Your dentist can create a custom mouthguard designed specially for your teeth. These offer the best fit, comfort and protection, but may be more costly than store-bought varieties.
Guard Your Whole Mouth
In addition to cushioning your teeth from unnecessary force, using a mouthguard can prevent injury to the tongue, lips, face and jaw. It can also prevent or lessen the effects of headaches and concussions. Patients who wear dental braces should be especially careful to protect their mouths during physical activity. Make sure to discuss your level of activity with your dentist and find out which type of dental mouthguard best fits your needs.
While toothpaste [dentifrice] is a valuable adjunct to a toothbrush in oral hygiene, it is the correct brushing action that removes the plaque [sticky mixture of bacteria, food & debris] from your teeth.
• Fluoride Any brand toothpaste that contains fluoride and the ADA Seal of Approval, to attest that there is evidence of its safety, reliability and effectiveness through clinical trials, is acceptable. It makes no difference if the toothpaste is a gel, paste or powder or which flavoring agent is used. However, from an individual motivational standpoint, and assuring its use, these characteristics may be important. Other than fluoride, which strengthens the enamel and fights decay, toothpastes contain abrasives to remove stain and polish the teeth and ingredients to leave the mouth with a clean, fresh feeling.
• Sensitive Teeth If your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold, choose a desensitizing paste with either strontium chloride or potassium nitrate as an added ingredient. Expect about 4-6 weeks to see real improvement.
• Tartar Control There are brands of toothpaste that advertise “tartar control” and usually have the active ingredient pyrophosphate. While it will not remove tartar, studies have shown it will reduce tartar formation up to 36%. Tartar [calculus] can only be removed with a professional prophylaxis [cleaning].
• Abrasiveness Many toothpastes now contain baking soda, which is less abrasive. This is advantageous for reducing tooth sensitivity in people with gum recession or those who have eroded their teeth by rigorous brushing with an abrasive toothpaste.
• Whitening Bleaching teeth to make them lighter has become popular. If you desire a whitening toothpaste, look for the active whitening agents of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These toothpastes serve best to maintain the tooth shade after bleaching procedures. Call our office if you have bleaching questions.
• Dentures If you wear partial or full dentures, they will also stain and absorb odors. Ask your pharmacist to recommend an ADA Accepted denture cleaning paste and/or solution. When brushing, it is not necessary to overload your brush with toothpaste. Squeeze a “pea-sized” amount on the top of the bristles. Correct brushing techniques will cause the paste to foam and cover all of your teeth.
Unless a problem is suspected, we would like to see your child after his/her primary teeth erupt into the mouth [24-36 months]. The most important goals of this first visit are to introduce your child to the office surroundings and to develop a trust in the dentist and our staff. We view this visit as an icebreaker. If your child is too frightened, uncomfortable or uncooperative, we may have to re-schedule several short visits. You will be charged a reasonable fee for the time. Please do not try to explain the first visit yourself. Do not use phrases like “Be brave!” or “Don’t be afraid”. Don’t offer them a bribe with special treats to get them to the office. Rather be positive and reassuring that the visit will be fun and one in which to look forward.
The appointment should be 15-30 minutes and may include necessary x-rays, a gentle, comprehensive examination of the teeth, gums, jaws, bite and oral tissues. This is both to observe any problems and to establish a baseline so we can monitor your child’s growth and development. Depending on your child’s age and cooperation, we may also clean and polish their teeth and apply a topical fluoride. Please bring to this first appointment any of your child’s medical records. We will try to discuss and answer any questions you may have at that time. Our objective is to be gentle and patient so your child develops a positive attitude towards the dental office and their own oral health. Our long-term goal is prevention and minimizing and dental problems for him/her as they mature.
Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and taste like sugar. It is found naturally and can be extracted from birch, raspberries, plums, corn and mushrooms. Technically it is not a sugar but a sugar alcohol that is sometimes called wood sugar or birch sugar. Our bodies produce up to 15mg everyday as part of normal metabolism.
The great benefit of Xylitol in preventing tooth decay was “discovered” in Finland in the early 1970’s. Streptococcus Mutans, bacteria found in the mouth, produces toxins and acids that can dissolve teeth when foods with refined sugar [sucrose] are eaten.
Xylitol is not fermented by oral bacterial, so it cannot cause cavities [caries]. It works its magic on many levels.
• It inhibits the growth of cavity-producing bacteria S. Mutans and lactobacilli. The number of these acid-producing bacteria may fall as much as 90%
• It prevents the transmission of S. Mutans from mother to child
• It reduces the adhesion of plaque to your teeth
• It stimulates salivary flow creating a greater buffer capacity against acids and aiding remineralization of your teeth
Therapeutically, Xylitol is added to chewing gum or candy. The dosage is critical. To receive tooth decay prevention benefits, you must receive 6-10 grams of Xylitol per day. When reading the label of a Xylitol containing product, Xylitol should be the first sugar listed and, ideally, the only sugar component. To be effective, the Xylitol gum must be utilized several times a day over long periods – 6 months, 1 year and 2 years.
Xylitol is also to added to some oral hygiene products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes, floss, fluoride supplements.
Chewing Xylitol gum after meals is a great alternative when brushing or flossing is not an option. Anybody who is at high risk for dental decay such as people with dry mouths or those with exposed tooth root surfaces should consider this decay prevention therapy.
On a precautionary note – excessive chewing could lead to headaches and/or pain in the TMJ joint near your ear. Don’t over do it!
Call our office for product recommendations.
Getting your kids to eat fruit, veggies and yogurt instead of candy, chips and ice cream might feel like pulling teeth. But it’s important to encourage them to eat “smart” snacks to keep their teeth – and body – healthy.
Whether you’re transitioning your older kids to a healthier, balanced diet or just getting started with a little ones, here are some tips for healthy snacking:
Set the tone. Your kids mimic what you do, so it’s important that you eat smart snacks too. And be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids; if you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will too.
Get creative with snacks. Show your kids that healthy snacks can be fun! Prepare tasty combinations, such as apple slices with peanut butter, fruit smoothies, meat and cheese rollups, or yogurt sprinkled with granola and bananas.
Keep your kids involved. When you make your grocery list, ask your kids to brainstorm about what kinds of food they’d like to eat. This is a good opportunity to help them understand what’s good for their teeth and what’s not. Then go grocery shopping together and teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts label so that they can check the sugar content.
Prepare nutritious meals. Snacking smart is great for your teeth, but so is eating well-balanced lunches and dinners. Make sure to add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids become accustomed to them.
We can help you come up with even more ideas for healthy snacks – come in for a visit, and we’ll work on a plan together.
Top 10 Reasons To Have Your Teeth Cleaned Regularly
1. Brighten Your Smile – Have stains removed. Your hygienist can remove stains caused by coffee, tea, sodas, and tobacco which can give you a bright, white smile!
2. Detect Dental Problems Early – Pay less! In many cases if dental problems are detected early, it will cost you less to have the problems fixed. Example; a smaller cavity needs a smaller filling and smaller fillings costs less than bigger fillings do. Waiting to take care of a dental problem will not only cost more, but it can lead to other problems as well.
3. Prevent Periodontal (Gum) Disease – During a cleaning appointment, your hygienist will remove plaque and calculus build up, which are irritation factors that can lead to gum disease. If your gums bleed and you have bad breath, it’s possible you may be suffering from gum disease which is a leading cause of tooth loss.
, 4. Maintain Good Physical Health – Research has shown, and experts agree, that there is an association between periodontal (gum) diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.
5. Clean Only The Teeth You Want To Keep – Yes, that’s right. If you are planning to keep your teeth for the rest of your life you need to have them cleaned. If not you may end up with gum disease which, as stated earlier, is a leading cause for tooth loss.
6. Oral Cancer Screenings -The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for oral and oropharyngeal cancers in the USA for 2011 states that about 34,300 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer. Of that number, an estimated 6,900 people will die from these cancers. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62, but they can occur in young people. They are rare in children, but about one-third occur in patients younger than 55.
7. Prevent Bad Breath – A dirty mouth means stinky breath! Dental plaque that accumulates on and around a person’s teeth holds bacteria that creates the waste products responsible for causing bad breath. Gum disease also produces a very strong odor!
8. Create A Treatment Plan – A visit with your hygienist not only means cleaning your teeth, but other factors that may be present in your mouth are also identified. A plan for treating your teeth so they are restored to optimal function will be given to you, and appointments will be scheduled so we can get your mouth in top working order.
9. Take Advantage of Dental Insurance – If you’re paying for dental insurance and not going to the dentist, you’re throwing your money away. Many insurance companies will pay for preventive visits, which includes cleanings, at 100% of the cost. Take advantage of the benefits offered to you so you can have the best oral health possible.
10. Maintain Oral Health – Your hygienist will evaluate your mouth to find out if your taking care of your teeth properly and offer advice on ways to improve your home care, if necessary