Health

Xerostomia – The What, Who, and How

If your mouth is extremely dry feeling, you may be suffering from xerostomia.

The What

What is xerostomia? Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth, which means you do not have enough saliva to keep your mouth wet and moisturized. Occasional dry mouth is very common, but it can be more serious if it occurs frequently. Xerostomia can make it difficult to speak, eat, and digest food. This is because salvia helps digest food, protects teeth from decay, prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth, and makes it possible for you to chew and swallow. Severe cases of xerostomia may cause significant anxiety and permanent mouth and throat disorders.

The Who

Who is affected by xerostomia? Dry mouth affects about 10% of all people and tends to be more prevalent in women than men. Disorders of saliva production affect elderly people and those who are taking medications most frequently. It occurs when the salivary glands are not properly functioning. In addition to aging and frequent consumption of medications, nervousness, stress, cancer therapy, autoimmune disorders, smoking, and methamphetamine use can all contribute to dry mouth.

The How

How can you deal with xerostomia? Treatment for your dry mouth will depend partly on the cause. We always recommend seeing your dentist right away if you think you are suffering from xerostomia. Seeing your dentist regularly can help identify the cause of dry mouth because it will keep your record up to date. Be sure to inform your dentist of any medications you are taking as well as any other information or changes in your health. Some tips to ease the symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Sugar-free gum, which causes saliva to flow
  • Avoiding tobacco or alcohol
  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda
  • Using a humidifier at night
  • If your dry mouth is caused by a certain medication, your doctor may change your prescription
Tooth Brush

Why Do My Gums Bleed When I Brush My Teeth?

Do you often see a few drops of blood when brushing or flossing your teeth? Although this problem is fairly common and may not seem like a big deal, it shouldn’t be ignored. Bleeding gums can occur for a number of reasons, but the most common is periodontal disease, or gum disease.

Gum disease occurs from plaque. Plaque can form when you don’t get all of the food and other particles out in between your teeth. These particles will eventually break down into bacteria and acids, which forms plaque. The plaque that is not properly removed by brushing and flossing with form a hard tarter than cannot be removed by regular brushing. The tarter and bacteria causes the gums to become inflamed. This is the first stage of gum disease, which is called gingivitis. The gums will become red and swollen, forming pockets containing blood blisters near your teeth. When you brush or floss, you break open the blood blisters causing the gums to bleed. Luckily, gingivitis can still be reversed with proper oral hygiene at this stage.

So how do you prevent the gums from bleeding in the first place?

1. Proper Oral Hygiene

Gingivitis is nearly 100% preventable with proper oral care. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and regular trips to the dentist can help you keep your gums healthy and your toothbrush clear of blood. Visiting the dentist regularly can help you get any particles that you may have missed with normal brushing and flossing.

2. Change Your Tools

If you still notice your gums bleeding with proper brushing and flossing, your toothbrush may be the reason for bleeding gums. Although it may seem counterintuitive, try to switch to a toothbrush with softer bristles. The hard bristles do not clean your teeth better, but can actually cause irritation of the gums. You also may be using your toothbrush incorrectly. Remember to brush smarter, not harder. You do not need to apply much pressure to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums.

3. Diet

Unfortunately, yummy sugar-filled foods create the perfect environment for plaque. Keeping a healthy diet that is low in sugar and high in fruits and vegetables can help keep your gums from bleeding.  Remember that you can still enjoy sweets, but do so in moderation!

Follow these tips to keep your gums healthy and prevent regular bleeding. If you have made the appropriate lifestyle changes and still have bleeding gums, please schedule an appointment with your dentist today!

Smile

The Best (And Worst) Foods For Your Teeth

Having healthy teeth comes not only from brushing and flossing, but eating right too. A healthy diet not only helps your waistline, but your teeth as well. We are going to go over some foods you should be eating, and some you should avoid, to keep the cavities at bay.

The Best

1. Dairy

Dairy, such as cheese or milk, adds minerals such as calcium and phosphate to your teeth that you may have lost as a result of other foods. Calcium, as well as the protein found in dairy, strengthens your tooth enamel and bones.

2. Water

Water will help wash any leftover residue off your teeth. It also contains fluoride, which will help protect your teeth against erosion.

3. Sugarless gum

Sugarless gum can help remove particles that may be stuck in your mouth.

4. Strawberries

Strawberries contain a natural enamel whitener, and many at-home whitening remedies contain strawberries.

Try this one at home: crush a strawberry, mix it with baking soda, and leave on your teeth for five minutes to reveal a whiter smile. Make sure to brush and floss afterwards to get all of the strawberry seeds out of your teeth!

5. High-fiber food

Many high-fiber foods require a lot of chewing, which can help clean your mouth and generate saliva that reduces the effects of acids on your teeth.

The Worst

1. Citrus fruits and juices

Acidic foods like lemons and limes are fine in moderation, but too much can erode the enamel on your teeth. These citrus fruits do contain a lot of nutrients so we don’t recommend avoiding them. However, we do advise to drink water while you enjoy your citrus.

2. Chewy candy

Chewy candy is often sticky and will likely stay on your teeth longer than other foods.

3. Pickles

Pickles contain acid from the vinegar that can damage tooth enamel. However, don’t worry too much about pickles damaging your teeth unless you are eating them multiple times a day.

4. Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks give plaque the fuel it needs to produce acid that eats away at your enamel. Try to limit the soft drinks – even diet soda contains the enamel weakening acid. Also be weary of sugary juices or sports beverages. Sports drinks have sneaky amounts of added sugar. They can be okay when participating in a vigorous activity, but are oftentimes unnecessary.

5. Coffee or tea

Coffee isn’t bad on its own, but many people add in unhealthy ingredients loaded with sugar. Coffee is also notorious for staining teeth. A cup of coffee every once in awhile isn’t bad, but try to limit the sugar.

Smile

5 Secrets To A Healthier Smile

Having a healthy smile can bring a wealth benefits. Not only does it improve the health of your mouth and body, but it also boosts your confidence and mental attitude about yourself. We’re here to give you some tips to make your smile healthier and brighten up the whole room.

1. The most obvious tip for a healthy smile is to properly brush and floss. We recommend brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Make sure you brush for a full two minutes and use a soft-bristled toothbrush that you change every few months. Also floss in between every tooth and you are on your way to a healthier smile.

2. Another big tip to a healthier smile is to see your dentist regularly for checkups and exams. You should see visit the dentist every six months for checkups, cleanings, and treatments for any small dental issues you might have. Visiting the dentist regularly will ensure that you catch any problems early and can properly treat them before they become a serious threat to both your oral and overall health. Studies show that gum disease, when left untreated, can be linked to heart issues. Make sure your always go to the dentist twice a year to prevent any of this from happening!

3. Want a healthy smile and a healthy body? Watch your diet! Dark drinks and smoking are the main causes for yellow teeth, cavities, and even tooth loss. If you must drink coffee or dark soda, try to drink through a straw to avoid the teeth altogether. Also try to keep your diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables to prevent gum disease and give your body the nutrients it needs. Limit the sugar and drink water. Following these tips will help your jawline and your waistline!

4. Listen to your mouth. Even if it is not time for your routine appointment, you should see a dentist at the slightest bit of oral pain. At your routine appointments, your dentist should be able to prevent any problems from escalating, but sometimes things happen in between appointments. Make sure you are in tune with you body and talk to your dentist if you notice anything abnormal.

5. The last tip is to try not to compare your smile to others. We are all different and unique in our own way, including our teeth. Just like hair color, some people will naturally have whiter teeth than others. Some will have longer teeth and some may have shorter teeth. There is no such thing as a best smile, so be happy with yours and thankful that you have healthy teeth that allow you to eat and chew. Always remember, a happy smile is the healthiest!

We want to see you have the healthiest smile possible. Call us today if you have any concerns or need to schedule your next routine appointment.