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Friday, May 19, 2017

Why a dental abscess should be treated quickly

If you have any kind of swelling in your gum, it almost certainly indicates a serious infection that should be treated urgently.
Dental abscesses result from a bacterial infection in the teeth or gums.
For example, it may come from an untreated cavity. Cavities result when some of the bacteria in our mouths mix with sugars and starches in our diet to produce acid.
This acid attacks the hard enamel coating of our teeth and, as the cavity gets deeper, it eventually infects the nerve and blood supply of the tooth.
In some cases, a dental abscess is caused by an infection of the gum. Bone loss from gum disease can create a pocket between the tooth, gum and bone.
When bacteria and other debris get into this pocket, an abscess can form.
The treatment for an abscess depends on how severe the infection is.
If the abscess has been caused by decay, root canal treatment may be needed or the tooth may even have to be removed.
If the abscess has been caused by the gum, the gum will need deep cleaning or surgical treatment. Again the tooth may need to be removed.
Sometimes, a small incision may be made into the gum to drain the abscess. If this happens, antibiotics and pain medication may be used to relieve discomfort.
If you wait until the gum is severely swollen before seeking treatment, the situation can become very serious.
The abscess at this stage can prevent you breathing properly and can be life-threatenting.
So if you have any signs of swelling in your gum, contact your dentist immediately.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Treating facial pain and jaw problems

Chronic facial pain is a problem faced by millions of Americans.
Common symptoms can include pain in or around the ear, tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth or even head and neck aches.
If you are suffering from this type of pain, your dentist can help identify its source with a thorough exam and appropriate x-rays.
Sometimes, the problem is a sinus or toothache or it could be an early stage of periodontal disease.
But for some pain, the cause is not so easily diagnosed.
There are two joints and several jaw muscles which make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together when you chew, speak, and swallow.
These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone, the mandible (lower jaw) with two joints, the TMJs.
Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
There are several ways the TMJ disorders may be treated.
Diagnosis is an important step before treatment.
Part of your clinical examination includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving.
Your dentist may take x-rays and may make a cast of your teeth to see how your bite fits together.
To help you deal with this pain, your dentist will recommend what type of treatment you need and may refer you to a specialist.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Your saliva and why its so important

You probably don’t give too much thought to the saliva in your mouth but, if you think of it like a bloodstream you’ll realize how important it is.
Like blood, saliva helps build and maintain the health of the soft and hard tissues.
It removes waste products from the mouth and offers first-line protection against microbial invasion that might lead to disease.
Saliva is derived from blood and therefore can also be used to detect disease.
Saliva enhances enamel protection by providing high levels of calcium and phosphate ions. It contains the minerals that maintain the integrity of the enamel surface and helps protect against caries.
When salivary flow is reduced, oral health deteriorates – much in the same way body tissues suffer if blood circulation is disrupted.
Patients with dry mouths (xerostomia) experience difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing. A major cause of dry mouth is medication – almost eighty percent of the most commonly prescribed medications lead to dry mouth.
Chewing gum after a snack or meal stimulates salivary flow, clearing food from the mouth and neutralizing plaque acid.
Your saliva is important to your oral health both for preventing disease and in helping to diagnose problems.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

How dental x-rays help improve your oral health

Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth so an X-ray examination can reveal important additional information:
For example, X-rays can help show:
– Small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing fillings
– Infections in the bone
– Gum disease
– Abscesses or cysts
– Developmental abnormalities
– Some types of tumors
The way they work is that more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums). This creates an image called a radiograph.
Tooth decay, infections and signs of gum disease appear darker because of more X-ray penetration. The interpretation of these radiographs allows the dentist to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities.
The frequency of X-rays (radiographs) will depend on your specific health needs.
Your dentist will review your history, examine your mouth and decide whether you need radiographs and what type.
When you are a new patient, the dentist may recommend radiographs to establish how the hidden areas of your mouth currently look to help identify changes that occur later.
X-rays can help identify and treat dental problems at an early stage and so can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Caring for people who have special needs

People at any age can have a condition that makes it difficult for them to look after their own dental health.
This could affect people who suffer from a wide range of conditons such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, Alzheimers disease or arthritis.
However, people in all of these categories have the same dental needs as everyone else – they need daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a balanced diet.
There are some steps caregivers can take to make it easier to look after people in those categories.
If the person is uncooperative or uncontrollable, try to explain what you are about to do and schedule the task for a time of day when they are rested.
Move in a calm, slow, reassuring manner to avoid startling them. Give praise and encourage them when they help themselves.
Support the persons head, and take special care to prevent choking or gagging when the head is tilted back.
If the person is unable or unwilling to keep their mouth open, your dentist will explain how you can make and use a mouth prop.
Ask your dentist for advice on how to care for people with special needs and check if they have facilities for caring for these needs in the dental office.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How medication and anesthesia can help make your visit to the dentist easier

Your dentist will do everything possible to make your visit as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
Depending on the treatment you are receiving, there are several medications available to help.
Some drugs control pain, some help you relax and others put you into a deep sleep during dental treatment.
The best approach will depend on the type of procedure being undertaken, your overall health – including any history of allergies – and the degree of anxiety you feel.
Some of the options your dentist might discuss include:
Analgesics: These are the most commonly used drugs for relief of toothache or pain following dental treatment. They includes aspirin, acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen. There is a separate category of narcotic analgesics – such as those containing codeine – which are used for more severe pain.
Local anesthesia: Topical anesthetics are applied to mouth tissues with a swab to prevent pain on the surface level. They may also be used to soothe mouth sores. Injectable local anesthetics prevent pain in a specific area of your mouth during treatment by blocking the nerves that sense or transmit pain and numbing mouth tissues.
In other cases, your dentist many recommend sedation or general anesthesia.
Your dentist will discuss the best approach to suit your needs.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How Osteoporosis medications can affect your dental health

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures.
It affects about 10 million Americans of whom 8 million are women and another 34 million are at risk of developing it.
So this is a disease that affects more women than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined.
But what does it have to do with your dental care?
Well, many people in these categories are treated with a group of prescription drugs called oral bisphosphonates. Studies have reported that these drugs reduce bone loss, increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.
But some people have been alarmed and confused by recent news reports about oral bisphosphonates because of uncommon complications that have been linked to these drugs.
The drugs have been associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), a rare but potentially serious condition that can cause severe destruction of the jawbone.
The true risk posed by oral bisphosphonates remains uncertain, but researchers seem to agree that it appears very small.
Given the risks associated with osteoporosis and the proven benefits of oral bisphosphonate therapy, you should not stop taking these medications before discussing the matter fully with your physician.
If your physician prescribes an oral bisphosphonate, its important to tell your dentist so that your health history form can be updated.
In this case, some dental procedures, such as extractions, may increase your risk of developing ONJ, so your dentist needs to be able to take your full health picture into account.