Posts for: April, 2012
Tongue and lip piercing is a growing popular trend for some young people and adults; however, did you know that they could wreak havoc on oral health? In fact, some people soon discover that before they can even enjoy their new piercing they are faced with issues ranging from bleeding and infection to nerve damage. Tongues and lips are highly vascular — that means they have lots of blood vessels that can bleed easily and are not always easy to stop once they start bleeding. Many tongue and lip bolts can initiate problems such as tooth sensitivity, gum disease and recession, chipped teeth and more. In addition, not all tattoo parlors and tattooists are properly licensed to do piercings. Therefore, sterile techniques are not always guaranteed if they do not come under the scrutiny government agencies. Unfortunately, these potential concerns are rarely discussed prior to receiving a piercing.
So what can be done if you already have a tongue or lip piercing?
If you already have piercings, it is critical that they are closely monitored by your health professionals to make sure they are not doing damage. It is also important that you have routine dental exams to ensure that you do not have any silent problems causing issues that you haven't noticed. However, your best option is to consider removing these oral piercings. The good news is that most often the hole in your tongue or lip may heal itself; otherwise, a minor corrective surgery may be required.
A note of warning: Before you contemplate a piercing, get as much information as you can about them and the person who will do them. This includes asking about their risks, benefits and better alternatives. And then think twice to make sure they will not become permanent and negative reminders of temporary emotions!
Did you know that Americans spend nearly 3 billion dollars each year on fresh breath remedies including gum, mints and mouthrinses to address their fears of halitosis (bad breath)? This simple fact clearly reveals that Americans are obsessed with having pleasant breath. Some other interesting statistics on this subject include:
- 60% of women and 50% of men say they use breath freshening products like candy, chewing gum and sprays
- 50% of middle-aged and older adults have bad breath
- 25% of the population has chronic bad breath
- 20 to 25% of adults have bad breath due to their smoking habits
However, the best way to determine what is causing your bad breath is to have a thorough dental exam followed by a professional cleaning. The first important step of this process begins when we obtain a thorough medical history. This includes asking you questions so that we can:
- Identify your chief complaint and whether or not your bad breath is noticed by others or just a concern you have
- Learn about your medical history as well as what medications (prescription and over-the-counter), supplements, and vitamins you are currently taking
- Learn about your dietary history to see if pungent foods such as garlic and onions are foods you often eat that are contributing to the problem
- Conduct a psychosocial assessment to learn if you suffer from depression, anxiety, sleep or work problems
- Identify personal habits such as smoking cigarettes, cigars or a pipe that contribute to your bad breath
To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.” Or you can contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination, cleaning and treatment plan.
Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.
Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.
Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.
To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
- Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
- Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
- Do you floss daily?
Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!
Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:
- Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
- Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
- Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
- Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
- Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
- Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!
Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!
Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!
To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”
Gum recession is a common problem affecting millions of Americans to some degree. If you have it, you will notice that the pink gum tissue surrounding one or more of your teeth has shrunk or receded and left the tooth-root surfaces exposed. How does this happen? And does it require treatment? The answers to both of these questions will vary from person to person. The good news is that treatment is available for those who need it.
The way you care for your teeth can be a major factor in gum recession. If you do not effectively remove plaque (bacterial biofilm) from your teeth daily, you may develop gum inflammation, gum disease and/or recession. Conversely, if you brush or floss too hard or for too long, you can also damage your gums. Please remember that it doesn't take a lot of pressure to remove biofilm; you just need to make sure you get to each tooth, right down to the gum line.
Other causes of gum recession include: mal-positioned and/or prominent teeth that are not fully encased in supporting bone; muscle attachments (frenums) pulling at the gum line; habits such as holding foreign objects (nails, pins) between the teeth that press on the gum tissues; and badly fitting oral appliances such as dentures, braces â even tongue bolts and lip piercings.
Besides not looking too great, gum recession can lead to anything from minor tooth sensitivity to tooth loss in the most severe cases. If you are experiencing any discomfort from a loss of gum (also called “gingival”) tissue, we'd certainly like to know about it. We would be happy to examine your condition and make recommendations.
There are surgical procedures that are very effective in treating these problems. Procedures such as gingival grafting or periodontal plastic surgery (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), often involve taking a small piece of healthy gingival tissue from the roof of your mouth and grafting it to the area where it is needed. Ultrafine sutures hold the graft in place until it “takes.” Laboratory-processed donor tissue can also be used. In either case, the procedure has a terrific success rate.
If you have any questions about gum recession, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. To learn more about the topic of oral appliance therapy, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
Dentist - Bordentown
806 Farnsworth Ave.
Bordentown, NJ 08505
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