A Dry Mouth Deserves Attention

Does your mouth ever feel dry? Almost everyone experiences this sensation, which can stem from any number of conditions. This condition may seem innocent enough, but it can cause dental problems.

Besides making your mouth uncomfortable, not having enough saliva can affect your oral health. You need good saliva flow to lubricate your oral tissues, cleanse your mouth of food particles, neutralize acid from plaque bacteria, and help the digestive process.

Not having enough saliva in your mouth can put you at risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. If not treated, gum disease can lead to more serious oral health complications, such as swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth, or even tooth loss.

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Myths and Facts: The Pregnant Woman’s Guide to Dental Health

Should pregnant women visit the dentist? There’s a lot of misinformation out there about pregnancy and dental health, but we’ve got you covered. Here’s your guide to guide to navigating the myths and facts.

Myth: It’s none of the dentist’s business whether I’m pregnant.

Fact: It’s important for your dentist and hygienist to know that you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. You may be at risk for certain dental conditions, and your pregnancy may limit the treatment options available. Always let your dental team know if you are or may be pregnant, how far along you are, and if your pregnancy is high-risk.

Myth: Being pregnant doesn’t affect your mouth.

Fact: Pregnant women are at greater risk for certain oral health conditions. These conditions include gum disease, also known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” and growths within the mouth, called “pregnancy tumors.” Both conditions are treatable, so make sure to visit your dentist.

Myth: Your oral health doesn’t affect your baby.

Fact: If you have moderate to severe gum disease, you may be at higher risk for delivering a pre-term, low-birth weight baby.

Myth: Pregnant women should avoid dental work.

Fact: Everyone — and especially pregnant women — should visit the dentist. If you’re pregnant, you face a higher risk for gum disease, so make sure to visit your dentist for regular cleanings, exams and any other treatment needed. Skimping on dental care could affect your pregnancy, as well as your dental health. Untreated gum disease may be linked to pre-term and low-weight birth.

What about anesthesia? Some studies have found a relationship between anesthesia in the first trimester and early miscarriage. If you need treatment requiring anesthesia, your dentist may recommending postponing the procedure until the second trimester.

Myth: Pregnancy leaches calcium from your teeth.

Fact: The fetus does not take calcium from its mother’s teeth. This myth likely originated because pregnant women face a higher risk of tooth decay. Pregnancy is a critical time to consume calcium –the essential nutrient provides helps your growing fetus develop properly and lowers your own risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) later in life.

Myth: Never get a dental x-ray while pregnant.

Fact: Dental x-rays are now considered safe during pregnancy by the American Dental Association. X-ray can be essential in detecting serious problems, such as hidden decay, bone loss and inflamed tooth pulp. No research has found a link between dental x-rays and birth defects, although research study did find an increase in low birth weight among women who had dental x-rays while pregnant. If you have any concerns, talk to your dentist, who can help evaluate your case and decide whether x-rays can be postponed.

Myth: Morning sickness is unpleasant but harmless.

Fact: Repeated vomiting can cause serious damage to your teeth. Exposure to stomach acid dissolves tooth enamel, weakening your teeth’s defense against decay. If you suffer from morning sickness, talk to your dentist about ways to reduce the harm, such as using a mouthguard or rinsing with baking soda.

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Malocclusion: When Teeth Don’t Align

Alignment is what keeps us from biting our cheeks and lips. Properly aligned teeth also let us chew and speak properly and allow for proper cleaning to prevent decay.

Another name for badly aligned teeth is malocclusion. This simply means that the teeth of the upper and lower jaws don’t connect properly with the teeth of the lower jaw. Different types of malocclusion include overbites, underbites, and uneven bites.

Malocclusion causes many problems. These include trouble biting or chewing, speech difficulties such as lisping, mouth breathing, jaw pain, unhealthy gums, and an unattractive appearance.

Who Gets Malocclusion?

Children may inherit a family trait of malocclusion because of the size and shape of their face, jaws, and teeth. Or they can develop it from using a bottle or pacifier too long, thumb sucking, losing baby teeth too early or late, or from an accident.

Sometimes both inherited and later problems are to blame. Signs your child might have a malocclusion include crowded, misplaced, or oversized teeth; or jaws that shift or make sounds.

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5 Medical Conditions That Can Harm Your Mouth

Did you know that problems in other parts of your body can have consequences for your teeth and gums? From diabetes to ulcers, these illnesses can erode teeth, cause bad breath and even turn your tongue black!

  1. Acid reflux. Dentist may be the first to notice gastro esophageal reflux disease, commonly known as acid reflux. If you have this condition, a look in your mouth will usually reveal erosion on your back teeth, the result of powerful stomach acid dissolving your enamel. If you experience reflux episodes during the day, protect your teeth by rinsing vigorously with water to reduce acid in your mouth. You may be tempted, but don’t brush your teeth right away — the bristles can damage enamel still soft from the acid. To prevent nighttime reflux, make sure not to eat two to three hours before bed, and avoid triggers like alcohol, caffeine and anything acidic.
  2. Stomach ulcers. Appearing as sores in the lining of your stomach or small intestine, ulcers are often the result of the bacterium H. pylori, which can weaken the protective coating of your stomach. Although ulcers themselves won’t hurt your oral health, the medicine used to combat them can turn your tongue black. Don’t worry — the side effect should go away once you’re through with treatment.
  3. Chronic kidney disease. If there’s something fishy about your breath, visit your doctor. Breath that smells like fish or ammonia can be a sign of kidney disease, a serious condition that is fatal if left untreated. As your kidneys lose their ability to filter waste and toxins from the blood, your breath will take on the scent of your urine.
  4. Diabetes. This widespread inflammatory disease doesn’t just affect your blood sugar. People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, cavities and even lose their teeth. If you’ve been diagnosed, make sure to tell  dentist, and be especially vigilant in brushing and flossing.
  5. High blood pressure. If you’re among the quarter of Indian with this dangerous condition, you might have something new to worry about. Medication to lower your blood pressure can come with the unwanted side effect of gingival enlargement, a condition in which your gums swell and start to grow over your teeth.