Dry Mouth: Symptoms and Treatment

Reduced saliva flow that results in a dry mouth is a common problem among older adults. It is caused by certain medical disorders and is often a side effect of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers and diuretics.

Some symptoms you may experience if you have dry mouth are:

  • A constant sore throat
  • Burning sensation
  • Problems speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Dry nasal passages

Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Without adequate saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive decay can occur. Your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture. Sugar-free candy or gum stimulates saliva flow, and moisture can be replaced by using artificial saliva and oral rinses. Semiannual dental visits are essential in order to ensure the health of your mouth. Schedule your semiannual dentist appointment today using your True Dental Discount plan and save big while sustaining your oral health.

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Can Oral Care for Babies Prevent Future Cavities?

Cavities are the most prevalent infectious disease in U.S. children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statistics show that the most prevalent disease in U.S. children is tooth decay.  The reality is that before the child reaches kindergarten nearly 40% will have at least 1cavitiy.  The problem is even more predominant in areas of low socioeconomic demographics.

Research is being done that is changing the preconceived belief that the children ages 19 and 33 months are most susceptible to tooth decay; now more and more researchers believe that this window occurs at a much younger age.

The bacteria in infant’s mouths have been shown to be much more diverse and the soft tissue of the mouth works as a reservoir of pathogens prior to the teeth erupting.  It is important to refrain your infants from formula containing sugar and you should wipe off the infants gums with a wet cloth to remove harmful bacteria formation that occurs on the gum line.

The advantages of X-rays at the dentist

If you’ve ever seen an X-ray photo of your mouth, you’ve probably noticed that your teeth appear much lighter than the rest of the surfaces. This is because X-rays cannot penetrate hard surfaces like teeth as easily as they can gums and tissue. But why is it so important to get these high-tech photos of your mouth? The main reason is because many oral health problems cannot easily be detected during a normal examination. It’s possible for a patient to have spots of decay that are not visible to the dentist. By looking at an X-ray, dentists can look for signs of decay between teeth, gum disease, bone infections, and many other serious conditions, including hidden tumors.

The American Dental Association suggests that children are especially good candidates for X-rays, as their teeth are still developing and are more prone to tooth decay. Another benefit of X-rays is that patients can save time and money by catching any hidden problems early. X-rays may even help someone avoid having to undergo the complicated procedures that advanced-stage conditions often require. Talk to your dentist about your X-ray schedule and ask if you (or your children) are due for another screening. A little extra time in the chair at your next visit could pay off dramatically down the road.

Biting your tongue and cheeks

Everyone has accidentally bitten his tongue while eating or woken up with a small mark on the inside of his cheek. But what do you do if this nuisance becomes a common occurrence? Many people frequently bite the inside of their mouth during sleep or while eating, but the causes vary. In some cases, it is due to misalignment of the teeth or poor denture fitting. In that situation, the teeth can overlap with the person’s tongue, increasing the chance of a bite. In other cases, a person may constantly breathe with his mouth open, leading to a slightly swollen tongue, which can again lead to accidental bites.

In some rare cases, a person may also have seizures, causing him to involuntarily bite his tongue or cheek. Regardless of the reason, though, constant wounds in the mouth can become more than just annoying. Over time, biting can lead to scars and decreased sensitivity, so it is important to treat the bites properly and speak with a dentist about preventing future occurrences. He or she will help you identify the cause of the biting and hasten the time until you can eliminate the bites altogether.

Good oral hygiene may be linked to memory health

In the last decade, mountains of research have been conducted on the brain and the way a person’s memory changes over time. But before you reach for the Ginkgo Biloba, you may want to consider reaching for the toothbrush instead. Researchers at West Virginia University are studying the effects of gum health on a person’s memory, and many experts predict that brushing and flossing may reduce the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Studies have already shown that gum disease increases a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke, perhaps due to the inflammatory response caused by periodontitis or microorganisms in the mouth.

Now, researchers suspect that mental health can also be affected by a person’s gums. According to the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, connections have already been found between severe dementia and gum disease. To keep your gums healthy, it is important to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily, as well as use fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. Most importantly, schedule regular visits with a dentist on your True Dental Discounts dental plan and ask questions. Staying informed is the first step to staying healthy.

Myths about proper toothbrush care

You’ve used a toothbrush to care for your teeth your whole life. But do you know how to care for your toothbrush? Test your knowledge with these myths and facts:

  • Myth: Rinsing a toothbrush cleanses it of any bacteria.
  • Fact: While it is a good idea to thoroughly rinse a toothbrush after using it to clear it of any debris or toothpaste, water cannot remove germs the brush has picked up in your mouth. For this reason, it is important to not let your toothbrush lean against or touch another person’s toothbrush. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toothbrushes should be allowed to air dry and stored in an upright position, away from other brushes.
  • Myth: It is OK to share a toothbrush with a family member.
  • Fact: Sharing toothbrushes increases your risk for infection because it allows for an exchange of body fluids (saliva). This is especially important to remember for people who have contagious diseases or weakened immune systems.
  • Myth: It is a good idea to soak a toothbrush in mouthwash to disinfect it.
  • Fact: In addition to not being necessary, soaking toothbrushes in mouthwash can eventually lead to cross-contamination, either because multiple people’s brushes have touched the same solution or because the same person has exposed a brush to the solution over an extended period of time.
  • Myth: Toothbrushes should be disinfected in a dishwasher or microwave.
  • Fact: Putting a toothbrush through a cycle in the dishwasher or microwave can damage the brush.
  • Myth: Toothbrushes must only be replaced after each visit to the dentist.
  • Fact: It is important to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months – or sooner if the brush appears to be splayed. The CDC suggests that the mechanical effectiveness of a brush is reduced after a few months of wear, therefore decreasing its ability to eliminate plaque.

For more information about the proper care of toothbrushes, talk to a dentist on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan.

What are taste disorders and their causes?

It’s easy to take your sense of taste for granted: you know grapefruits will be sour, mashed potatoes will be buttery and starchy, and ice cream will be sweet. But what if you could no longer experience those tastes as strongly – or at all? According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, nearly a quarter of a million people visited a doctor last year for problems with their chemical senses, including taste. Several types of taste disorders exist, including phantom perception, which causes a person to experience a lingering, unpleasant taste with no apparent cause; hypogeusia, which reduces a person’s ability to experience the basic types of taste – salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami; and ageusia, which results in no tasting ability whatsoever. It’s important to note that complete loss of taste is not common; it is more likely that the person has a condition resulting in the loss of smell, which is closely related to the sense of taste.

Causes of taste disorders vary widely. Although it can be a congenital condition existing at birth, many people experience a loss of taste after certain types of injuries and sickness. According to NIDCD, these include: upper respiratory and middle ear infections; exposure to radiation therapy near the head or neck; exposure to insecticides or chemicals found in certain medications; injury to the head; and surgeries on the ear, nose or throat, including tooth extraction. Taste disorders can also be caused by tooth decay and poor oral hygiene. For this reason, it is important to visit your True Dental Discounts, dentist every six months and take care of any issues in your teeth or mouth. It could mean the difference between tasting a delicious strawberry and chewing on a bland piece of fruit!

Can poor oral health cause heart disease?

You may have heard that not taking care of your teeth and gums can lead to other serious health problems, including heart disease. But how does this happen? While researchers have not yet definitively proven the correlation, studies have indicated that bacteria entering the bloodstream through the mouth and gums may cause inflammation. Researchers in the journal Cellular Microbiology conducted a study to explore ways bacteria might “colonize” the heart, leading to cardiovascular disease.

Using human cells, the researchers demonstrated that the oral bacterium P. Gingivalis uses finger-like appendages to attach to and invade cells lining the heart’s aorta, the largest artery in the body. After the bacterium gained entry, the researchers noticed signs of inflammatory changes that may lead to clogging in the aorta (and eventually a heart attack). Another study in 2006 showed that nearly 85 percent of people with coronary atherosclerotic heart disease also had periodontal (gum) disease. These strong links show exactly why it is important to take care of your teeth and gums.

By keeping your mouth as free of harmful bacteria as possible, you may be able to help keep your arteries clear, as well. Ask your True Dental Discounts dentist about oral health practices (particularly flossing) that will help. He or she can give you excellent tips to keep your mouth – and body – healthy.

What is sialadenitis?

In short, sialadenitis is a disorder of the salivary gland. One of several related disorders, this condition is caused by a painful bacterial infection in a person’s salivary gland. Many times, this infection is caused by staphylococcus or anaerobic bacteria. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, sialadenitis is most common in elderly adults and very young infants. Symptoms include a painful lump in the cheek or under the chin, or foul-tasting pus released into the mouth from the salivary duct. In severe cases, the person may experience flu-like symptoms, including a fever and chills. The most severe cases usually occur in elderly people who do not receive treatment for their symptoms.

Researchers suggest that several factors may increase a person’s risk of developing sialadenitis, including dehydration, malnutrition, chronic illness, and certain medications like antihistamines and diuretics. Infants who are born prematurely and people in professions like trumpet-playing and glassblowing may also be at increased risk. If you or someone in your family is faced with sialadenitis, it is important to seek the help of a health care professional. A doctor or dentist can gently examine your head and neck to check for any potential gland issues. Fortunately, sialadenitis can typically be cured with an antibiotic that causes symptoms to subside within a couple days. In more severe cases, surgery can be performed to drain the gland.

So remember: If you ever notice a lump or swelling in your neck, jaw, or mouth, contact a dentist on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan immediately – particularly if the lump is painful or makes it difficult to chew or swallow. Awareness of your body is the first step toward remaining healthy, so stay alert and seek help when needed.

Did you know?

• Chewing four pieces of xylitol gum each day while you’re pregnant may decrease the baby’s caries (tooth decay) rate, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
• Almost one in four people age 65 and older have lost all of their teeth, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
• Some heart patients are advised to take antibiotics before undergoing dental procedures. The American Dental Association suggests these patients include those with artificial heart valves and certain congenital heart defects.
• Mothers who have poor oral health can infect their unborn children with bacteria that cause cavities at a young age, according to the AAPD.