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Monday, August 13, 2018

Taking steps to stop oral cancer before it’s too late

Oral cancer hits more than 30,000 Americans every year but you can minimize the risk by taking steps to ensure it’s caught early enough.
The first indications of oral cancer may be a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore that you are not even aware of.
In a routine examination, your dentist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue.
If they notice a flat, painless, white or red spot or a small sore, this may be completely harmless. But harmful spots or sores often look the same as harmless ones.
To ensure that a spot or sore is not dangerous, your dentist may choose to perform a simple test, such as a brush test. This collects cells from the lesion which can them be analyzed.
Any positive results from a brush test must usually be confirmed by a biopsy before deciding the next step.
If precancerous cells are found, the lesion can be surgically removed if necessary during a separate procedure.
When caught early enough, the chances of preventing the cancer developing are high but only half of those diagnosed survive more than five years.
That’s why regular dental examinations are so important for your overall health and not just to have good teeth.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Dental plaque – what it is and how to avoid it

You’ve probably heard people talking about plaque and maybe you’ve some idea of what it is.
But it’s useful to know a bit more about it so that you can do what’s necessary to minimize the risks.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums.
When you’ve eaten a meal or snack, the bacteria in plaque release acids that attack tooth enamel. When this happens regularly, the enamel can weaken. This eventually leads to tooth decay.
The food we eat often causes plaque bacteria to produce acids. So, if you eat a lot of snacks, your teeth may be suffering acid attacks all day.
If you don’t remove the plaque through effective daily brushing and cleaning between the teeth, it can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
Another effect of plaque is that it also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red and tender or causing them to bleed easily.
If you want to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, make sure you have a balanced diet and avoid having too many snacks between meals.
When you feel like a snack, go for foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Root canal treatment

Root canal therapy is an important treatment that can save a tooth with a diseased nerve and which in the past would probably have needed to be removed.
Inside each tooth is the ‘pulp’ which runs like a thread down through the root and provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth. It is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue.
If the pulp is diseased or injured, the pulp tissue dies.
The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. Both of these problems can let bacteria enter the pulp.
So, if you don’t remove it, your tooth gets infected and you could lose it.
After the dentist – or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp) – removes the pulp, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Then your dentist places a crown over the tooth to help make it stronger.
Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure involving one to three visits with little or no discomfort.
Your restored tooth could last a lifetime, if you continue to care for your teeth and gums and enjoy regular checkups.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What will it be like living with dentures?

People who are new to wearing dentures naturally have many questions about how their life will change.
New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place.
During this time, it’s not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases.
As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should diminish.
Dentures can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that little change in appearance will be noticeable. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile and help fill out the appearance of your face and profile.
Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the dentures from tipping. As you become accustomed to chewing, add other foods until you return to your normal diet.
Continue to chew food using both sides of the mouth at the same time. Be cautious with hot or hard foods and sharp-edged bones or shells.
Initially you may also find that wearing dentures changes how you speak. Pronouncing certain words may require practice. Reading out loud and repeating troublesome words will help. If your dentures “click” while you’re talking, speak more slowly.
You may find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile.
After your dentures are fitted, you’ll have a few follow-up appointments with your dentist to take care of any initial issues and to answer any questions you have.

Monday, July 16, 2018

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, Alzheimer’s 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 person’s 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.

Monday, July 9, 2018

How a healthy diet can help you have healthy teeth

Eating the right food plays an important role in developing healthy teeth and gums.
If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to fight infection and this can contribute to gum disease.
Although poor nutrition does not cause gum disease directly, the disease may progress faster and could be more severe in people with diets which are low in nutrients.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes recommendations on the nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed by your body – including your teeth and gums – to promote health and prevent disease.
We have different needs at various stages life and depending on our physical activity. The DOA website provides more information and your dentist will be able to discuss how your diet affects your teeth.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure what you eat doesn’t harm your teeth.
– Maintain a healthy diet
– Drink plenty water
– Limit the number of between-meal snacks. When you must snack, choose nutritious foods that are low in sugar
– Keep a food diary for a week recording every item you eat and drink
It will also help if you brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly. Schedule regular dental checkups and professional cleanings and talk to your dentist about how your diet affects your teeth.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Your saliva and why it’s 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.