Don’t Wait: Why Adults Should Visit the Dentist Regularly

2021-08-15T01:47:16+00:00August 15th, 2021|Adam Brown DDS, Dental Anxiety|

Adult Dental Anxiety

As a kid, you may have learned the fundamentals of oral hygiene, such as brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and going to dental checkups every six months. Indeed, these practices are essential to maintaining a child’s oral health. But keeping a solid dental routine is just as vital for adults as it is for kids. Among other things, doing so helps you to prevent tooth decay and tooth loss, avoid expensive medical bills, and foster your all-around health and well-being. 

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t outgrow your good dental habits! Below, Adam Brown DDS will discuss some of the best reasons for going to the dentist and practicing consistent oral hygiene as an adult. And we’ll also cover some of the most common adult dental problems, as well as how you can overcome dental anxiety. 

 

Why Go to the Dentist as an Adult? 

So, you know that taking your child to the dentist is important. Let’s discuss why you, an adult, should also make regular visits to your local dentist office:

Maintaining Strong Teeth 

Dentists and dental hygienists have the expertise and equipment necessary to deeply clean your teeth. Even if you brush for two minutes, twice a day at home, you can’t eliminate the hardened plaque and biofilm (a.k.a. calculus) found in your teeth. And that’s especially the case if the calculus is located beneath your gingiva.

Along with following a dental hygiene regimen at home, going to checkups and cleanings at your dentist’s office every six months can help your teeth stay healthier and stronger than if you only use a toothbrush at home. 

It’s well known that adults are more prone to plaque buildup and periodontal disease. Oftentimes, such issues slowly progress and go unnoticed until they’re severe. If you skip your dental visits, gum disease and other problems can go undetected, eventually leading to tooth decay and tooth loss.

Reducing the Likelihood of Expensive Bills

As with other health problems, issues with your teeth and gums will be easier and safer to treat when you catch them early. And that means that you won’t have to spend as much money fixing those problems. For example, say you have a minor cavity. If you allow, even unknowingly, that cavity to keep spreading, it can enter the dental pulp over time and ultimately lead to infection. To put it into perspective: Your $175 filling just turned into a $2,000 root canal and crown, if not a $4,000 implant procedure.

Be proactive about being preventative. Get regular exams at the dentist so that any potential issues are addressed before they turn into emergencies.

Benefitting Your Overall Health

It’s well established that your oral health is strongly linked to your overall health. A number of diseases are often discovered through oral health issues. For instance, pneumonia and endocarditis, as well as pregnancy complications, are sometimes identified when patients come in with a dental problem. In fact, it is recommended that any woman planning to get pregnant should get a dental exam and address any issues as soon as possible. 

Health issues outside of your oral health can also impact your oral health. Heart disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, for instance, tend to leave your body more prone to infection. This, in turn, can cause a variety of oral health problems. You won’t necessarily become diabetic because of poor oral health, but any oral health complications you have could be exacerbated by diabetes. Moreover, going to the dentist regularly can help you foster your mental health by boosting your self-esteem and giving you peace of mind. 

Minimizing Bad Breath

Anyone can have bad breath every now and then. But if you notice that your bad breath has become regular and cannot be mitigated by strong mouthwash or breath mints, you might have something a little more serious going on. 

Enter halitosis—the fancy medical term for chronic bad breath. Factors like dry mouth, leftover food particles, and tobacco use are common causes of halitosis. But severe health issues like sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease can also be the culprit. If you think you might have this problem, it’s advisable to visit the dentist so that you can be examined and determine whether your bad breath is or is not related to your oral health. 

Detecting Oral Cancer Early

We mentioned that going to the dentist is an excellent way to detect tooth and gum problems, and that includes oral cancer. Oral cancer comes with a higher death rate than some other types of cancers, primarily because it frequently goes undiscovered until it is well developed. And with each year you age, your chances of getting oral cancer become higher. 

Don’t rely on yourself to be able to identify oral cancer because it’s almost impossible. Oftentimes, there is no alarming pain or symptoms when oral cancer begins to develop, and it can appear in any area of the mouth and throat. 

A professional dentist or dental hygienist has the education and training necessary to recognize the signs and symptoms of oral cancer early in development. By going to the dentist every six months, you stand a much better chance of detecting the onset of oral cancer.

Increasing Your Self-Confidence

There’s no getting around the fact that straight, white teeth make for a great smile, which can add some major self-confidence. As we’ve said before, brushing and flossing each day can go a long way in maintaining your smile, but going to the dentist is the surest way to get rid of the plaque under your gum line, clean the hard-to-reach places between your teeth, and take care of stains. A deep cleaning, not to mention professional whitening services, will promote a healthier and brighter smile than you can attain by yourself. 

Yes, poor oral health can have a negative impact on your self-confidence. But, like it or not, it can also play a role in how others perceive you. It’s unfortunate, but bad teeth can negatively impact an individual’s personal and professional life. Going to the dentist to correct any dental problems and returning for regular checkups is the best way to keep your oral health in excellent shape. And doing so will inevitably shine through your smile and increase your self-esteem.

Getting Checked for Things You Can’t See

Many people may choose not to go to the dentist every six months because they brush and floss religiously, and their teeth and gums appear to be fine. However, even if everything seems good on the surface, you never know what underlying dental health issues—those which can only be diagnosed by a dentist—are developing in your mouth. Therefore, the safest bet is to attend regular checkups and to get any necessary exams, X-rays, and other simple procedures that can help you stay ahead of potential health issues. 

 

How Age Impacts Your Dental Health 

All of your body’s cells, tissues, and organs are impacted by the aging process. The changes that come with age affect every part of your body, and that includes your teeth and gums. Here are some of the most common dental health issues that adults face:

Cavities

Essentially, cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth that convert sugars and starches into acid. The acid then goes to work at eating away tooth enamel and, thus, cavities form. And these cavities often develop at the tooth’s root because of gum recession. 

Moreover, bacteria build-up occurs more easily if you suffer from dry mouth, which can also lead to tooth decay or tooth loss. There are several reasons older adults are more prone than younger people to get dry mouth. For some, it’s simply because of age. For others, it’s due to particular medications they take. And specific health conditions can lead to dry mouth as well. 

Gum Disease

Dry mouth is a serious condition because of how critical saliva is to oral health. Saliva helps your gums remain healthy and protects your teeth from decay. So, when your mouth is not producing enough saliva, it can put you at risk for a number of issues. Gum disease, tooth decay, mouth sores, thrush, and difficulty chewing, swallowing, and tasting are some of the most common examples.

Dry Mouth

It’s normal for the salivating glands in your mouth to produce less saliva as you progress in age. But dry mouth more often occurs in older adults as a result of medical problems. 

For instance, a wide range of medications can decrease saliva production, including those used to treat pain, depression, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. You can also get dry mouth when undergoing cancer treatment, and many different health conditions (e.g., stroke, diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, etc.) can be the culprit. 

Some of the most common dental health issues that occur in adults have to do with the gums. In the simplest terms, gum recession refers to when your gum tissue begins separating from your tooth; this exposes the root of your tooth and leaves you more vulnerable to bacteria build-up, which can result in inflammation and decay. 

Oral Cancer 

Perhaps the most severe dental health condition is oral cancer, which is most common in individuals over the age of 45 and twice as common in men than women. Lifestyle choices can play a big role in the development of oral cancer. People who smoke and/or use other forms of tobacco are the most susceptible. And people who add excessive drinking into the mix increase their risks even more. 

But those are not the only factors at play. Poor dental and oral hygiene, regularly taking immunosuppressants, and gum damage from rough teeth, fillings, or dentures can also cause cancer. Certain infections like the human papillomavirus virus (HPV) can be a cause as well.

 

Overcoming Dental Anxiety 

It’s no secret that a lot of children dread going to the dentist. But dental anxiety is also common in adults. Rather than allowing your anxiety to keep you from maintaining your oral health, consider this information and advice: 

The Most Common Culprits

There are many reasons why adults struggle with dental anxiety. In most cases, the fear of going to the dentist stems from childhood—usually because of an unpleasant or painful experience that is permanently imprinted on the mind. The good news is that there have been many advances made in dentistry over the last few decades, and most modern dental procedures cause much less pain (if any) than they used to. 

Another common culprit of dental anxiety is the fear of needles. A lot of people hate needles in general, while others are afraid that the anesthesia used in a procedure will not be effective. And sometimes, people are simply scared of being embarrassed. 

Say, for instance, that you’ve been dealing with a toothache for a while and are hesitant to visit the dentist because you’re embarrassed about your teeth or dread receiving bad news. Don’t worry—the team at Adam Brown DDS doesn’t judge or shame anyone!

Practical Steps to Take

If you’re struggling with dental anxiety, the best thing you can do is speak to your dentist. Chances are whatever is causing your anxiety is something that your dentist has heard many times before. And the only way they can help you is if you explain your fear and remain open to their suggestions. 

One thing you can do is to ask your dentist to thoroughly explain each stage of the appointment or procedure at hand so that you can mentally prepare. You could also agree on a stop signal such as raising your index finger or tapping your leg to notify your dentist that you need a break. 

Some individuals cannot stand the drilling or buzzing sounds during a dental procedure. If this is the case with you, consider bringing headphones to your appointment. In severe cases of anxiety, nitrous oxide or IV sedation can be administered; but those options are only chosen when the patient agrees to it. 

 

Conclusion 

The necessity of going to regular dentist visits doesn’t stop when you enter adulthood. The older you get, the more susceptible you become to dental health problems, and visiting the dentist is the surest way to prevent or mitigate them. 

Don’t let dental anxiety keep you from going to the dentist and getting any procedures necessary to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you’re ready to make your next appointment, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact Adam Brown DDS today! 

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Diabetes & Dental Health

2020-07-16T17:22:42+00:00November 27th, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, General, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning|

One in 10 Americans — or more than 30 million people — have diabetes, according to the Office of Disease Prevent and Health Promotion (healthfinder.gov). People with diabetes have an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums. These bacteria are what cause periodontal disease, a chronic, inflammatory condition that can destroy your gums, all the tissues holding your teeth, and even your bones. The American Dental Association states that periodontal disease is the most common dental disease among those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22 percent of those diagnosed. In fact, one in five cases of total tooth loss is related to diabetes. 

Dental complications due to diabetes also include oral burning — a burning sensation inside the mouth that may include a bitter taste and dry mouth that is caused by uncontrolled blood glucose levels — and thrush — the growth of a naturally occurring fungus that the body is unable to control and may cause sore, white — or sometimes red — patches on your gums, tongue, cheeks, or the roof of your mouth.

November is American Diabetes Month, and Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to help you ensure that your efforts to manage the condition include your oral health.

Even if you don’t have diabetes now, that doesn’t mean that you never will. Or, if you’re not someone who regularly goes to the doctor, you could even have diabetes and not know it yet. Approximately 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year — and 8.1 million people living with diabetes don’t even know they have it. Another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

HOW DIABETES WORKS

There are common misconceptions about diabetes. Diabetes is not simply caused by eating too much sugar. It is not a disease only seen in people who are overweight.

Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas, a gland situated behind and below the stomach, does not properly produce the hormone insulin. What is supposed to happen is that when you eat food that food is digested in the stomach and broken down and converted into glucose, a type of sugar. That sugar is required for your body to function. The stomach and small intestines absorb the glucose and then release it into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, glucose can be used immediately for energy or stored in our bodies, to be used later. However, in order to store the glucose for later, the body must have insulin. Think of it almost as if food is like going to work, cash is glucose, and your savings account and ability to retire is insulin. Without the savings account, all the cash gets spent!

HOW DIABETES DEVELOPS

It is thought a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors cause type 1 diabetes though exactly what those factors are is still unclear. What’s known is that in type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leaving you with little or no insulin. Consequently, diabetes can be thought of as an autoimmune disease. You may be familiar with other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, or lupus.

It’s believed that genetic and environmental factors also play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes — although being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. 

RISK FACTORS FOR DIABETES

The Mayo Clinic outlines certain risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Weight. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
  • Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Family history. Your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
  • Race. Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including black people, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are at higher risk.
  • Age. Your risk increases as you get older. This may be because you tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as you age. But type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children, adolescents and younger adults.
  • Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later increases. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you’re also at risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome — a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — increases the risk of diabetes.
  • High blood pressure. Having blood pressure over 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high levels of triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can let you know what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are.

SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES

According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, though it often appears during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, can develop at any age, though it’s more common in people older than 40.

Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections

In addition to gum infections, you can look for other symptoms to show up in your mouth, if diabetes is left untreated, explains the American Dental Association.

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry.
  • Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities.
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often, which is called gingivitis.
  • You may have problems tasting food.
  • You may experience delayed wound healing (such as when you bite the inside of your cheek or have a tooth pulled).
  • You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

Note that dry mouth isn’t just an annoyance. It can impact your oral health. Certain medications and other conditions can cause dry mouth, but symptoms include:

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
  • A burning feeling in the mouth
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Cracked lips
  • A dry, rough tongue
  • Mouth sores
  • An infection in the mouth
  • Bad breath

EFFECTS OF DIABETES

Most people have felt the short term effects of their blood sugar getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) such as when eating too much, being sick, experiencing a lot of stress, exercising too much, or not eating enough.

Early hyperglycemia may result in frequent urination, increased thirst, blurred vision, fatigue, and headaches. More severe hyperglycemia may include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain.

Mild hypoglycemia can make you feel hungry or like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat. Or your skin might turn cold and clammy. Moderate hypoglycemia often makes people feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking. Severe hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out. You could have seizures. It could even cause a coma or death. If you’ve had hypoglycemia during the night, you may wake up tired or with a headache. And you may have nightmares. Or you may sweat so much during the night that your pajamas or sheets are damp when you wake up.

With diabetes it is not simply a matter of a person having only too much or only too little blood sugar, its that the body can not regulate blood sugar levels. Wild swings in blood sugar can have profound physical effects.

  • Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward.
    Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves related to digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Eye damage (retinopathy). Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections, which often heal poorly. These infections may ultimately require toe, foot or leg amputation.
  • Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Hearing impairment. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. Although there are theories as to how these disorders might be connected, none has yet been proved.
  • Depression. Depression symptoms are common in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Depression can affect diabetes management.

MANAGING & PREVENTING DIABETES

For a person with diabetes, the main focus of treatment is to control the amount of glucose in the body so that blood sugar levels stay as close to normal as possible.

Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented. However, healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight, and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of your current weight.1 For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
  • Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, at least 5 days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional about which activities are best. Start slowly and build up to your goal.
  • Eat healthy foods. Eat smaller portions to reduce the amount of calories you eat each day and help you lose weight. Choosing foods with less fat is another way to reduce calories. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages.

For tips on living with diabetes and caring for your oral health, you can also download tips from the National Institute of Oral and Craniofacial Research:

Talk to your dental hygienist and dentist at Carolina’s Dental Choice, if you have diabetes or have been experiencing any of the oral symptoms of diabetes such as dry mouth, gingivitis, or trouble tasting food. We can make recommendations to help you best manage your oral health now and in the future.

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Dry Mouth in the Elderly

2020-07-16T17:03:08+00:00September 14th, 2017|Carolina's Dental Choice, General|

Dry mouth syndrome, otherwise known as Xerostomia, is much more than simply feeling parched every now and again. As we age the composition of our saliva changes, and we produce less of it. There seems to be no real cause for this reduction in saliva produced, but it can become a serious problem, one that tends to gradually become worse the older we get. This is why we, at Carolina’s Dental Choice, encourage all our patients who experience dry mouth to come in for a quick check-up. Whether you are young or old, and experience mild or severe xerostomia, it is worth a visit to one of our professionals who can help find a way for you to feel better again.

 

An Increasing Elderly Population

Thanks to an ever-increasing mortality rate and decreasing fertility rate, America’s elderly population is growing. With a better quality of life comes a richer, longer one. However, there are always two sides to the coin. As our mortality rate continues to grow, we find the need to deal with certain pesky health complications that target the elderly. One in particular, being oral care. Sure, we have found ways to deal with rotting teeth and gum disease. Veneers, dentures, and bridges have come a long way. The practice of restorative dentistry is beyond impressive, just ask any Carolina’s Dental Choice patient and he or she will attest to the wonders of modern dentistry. We can and have done wonderful things for elderly people who find their oral health deteriorating, but one condition that seems to often get missed is dry mouth syndrome. This tends not to be dealt with because most people feel it is one that must be endured. What a lot of elderly people do not know is that dry mouth syndrome can lead to some pretty serious health problems if it is not dealt with. The truth is this is not a condition that needs to be suffered through. For the sake of one’s health and quality of life, dry mouth is something to be taken seriously.

 

What Xerostomia Can Lead To

Chronic dry mouth can cause difficulty in speech, kill the appetite, and can even lead to cavities and bad breath. In older patients who find their gums beginning to recede, this can be even more detrimental. Dry mouth can affect the exposed area of the teeth, causing them to rot. To add to this problem, taking medication regularly can induce dry mouth. Since the elderly generally take more medication than younger individuals, this directly targets them.

Constant sore throat, dry nasal passages, dental decay, difficulty swallowing and speaking, these all can be a direct results due to poorly produced saliva. Our saliva does so much more than simply lubricate the mouth. One of its most important jobs is to neutralize and rinse away bacteria and acids that are harmful to the teeth and gums. Sadly, as we grow older our mouth produces less saliva, thus leading to xerostomia. This is why Carolina’s Dental Choice takes dry mouth seriously. We know how uncomfortable it can be to have a constantly dry pallet. No one, especially the elderly, should have to suffer through this, which is why we have come up with a few helpful hints for those who are ready to get passed their bouts of dry mouth.

Home Remedies for Dry Mouth Syndrome

If you are tired of constantly having dry mouth there are some pretty successful home remedies you can try. Here are the ones we recommend:

  • This seems a bit obvious, but it’s rather surprising how many people do not drink enough water. According to the Mayo Clinic, older men should drink at least three liters of water a day. Older women should have two to three liters. It’s also important to drink water throughout the day, rather than trying to get it all down in one sitting. By continually drinking water during the day you can help keep your mouth moist and fresh.

 

  • Sugar-Free Candies. Sucking on sugar-free candy is a great way to temporarily stimulate the production of saliva. Any time your mouth feels dry, pop in a candy. Just be sure your candy is sugar-free, as sucking on sugar can cause tooth decay and continue to dry out the mouth.

 

  • Sugar-Free Gum. Just as with candy, chewing gum does a wonderful job at stimulating saliva production. Though it is only a temporary fix, chewing gum can last longer than sucking on a piece of candy. Nowadays there are plenty of sugar-free options to choose from, but it’s best to make sure you choose gum with an ADA Seal of Acceptance.

 

  • Stay Away From Caffeine. This might be the most difficult one to do, but it makes a huge difference. Caffeine naturally dries out the mouth, which will only make things much worse. Choose decaffeinated coffees and teas so you can still enjoy the taste of your favorites, and if you rely on these drinks to wake you up in the morning there are plenty of other options to get you up and moving. A full breakfast, fresh fruit, oats, almonds, these are great ways to wake up. Try eating an apple first thing in the morning. You will be amazed at how well it stimulates. Some even say an apple is more powerful than a cup of coffee!

 

  • Keep a Humidifier Running. Having a little extra moisture in the air can do wonders to relieve dry mouth. For $50 to $100 you can purchase a nice little humidifier that will keep your room, or even your entire house, free of dry, stale air.

 

  • Breathe Through Your Nose. As much as you can, try and breath only through your nose, as mouth breathing quickly dries the mouth out. Obviously there are times when you need to breathe through the mouth, like when you are running short of breathe, but when you are resting utilize the nose.

 

  • Stay Away From Smoke. Smoke, especially from cigarettes or cigars, drastically dries out the mouth. Even just being around those who smoke can cause a reaction. Try your best to stay smoke free, and if you have friends or family members who smoke, kindly ask them to put it out.

 

  • Use the Right Mouthwash. Rinsing the mouth a few times a day with alcohol-free mouthwash is another great way to keep the mouth moist. Just make sure it truly is alcohol-free! Alcohol is another one that tends to dry the mouth.

 

  • Floss Daily. Those of us who suffer from dry mouth can end up with periodontal disease due to bits of food and decay stuck between teeth. These bits of food can become dangerous when there is not enough saliva in the mouth to break them down. You can counteract this problem by flossing at least once a day. Morning and night are the ideal times, but if you can only do one, try and floss right before bed. This way you are not sleeping, and possibly mouth breathing, with dirty teeth.

 

Our last bit of advice is possibly the most important: come see us for a teeth cleaning. Not only will we make sure your teeth are shiny and clean, we can also find additional ways to help your specific case of dry mouth. This way, if you suffer from extremely dry mouth we can advise on some more serious methods to make you happy again. Call us at 704-289-9104, or visit our website: https://adambrown.wpengine.com. See you soon!

 

By: Andrae Bergeron

Content Writer

CCP Web Design

 

 

 

 

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The Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use on the Teeth

2021-02-05T17:58:45+00:00August 30th, 2017|Carolina's Dental Choice|

 

Sitting on your couch watching TV, you hear the commercial that seems to have found the perfect cure to a common illness, you sit and listen and observe the happy people, then the commercial ends and a quick and speedy list of about a million side effects are announced in a low monotone voice. Carolina’s Dental Choice wants you to know the negative effects opioids have on your teeth. The fact of the matter is this: there is a good chance that due to modern advancements in medicine, we have begun to take advantage of the fact that there is a drug for just about any ailment. We have become so focused on feeling better, we have neglected to read the fine print. This is not to say modern medicine is bad. Rather, it is important that we take extra good care of our teeth. This is true more now than ever, especially with the use of opioids on the rise.

 

Narcotic pain relievers prescribed only by a medical professional are called opioids. Most of us know them better by their particular names such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine, but each of these opioids carries with it a dangerous condition: dry mouth. There are many side effects to opioid use (addiction being the most deadly), but dry mouth is the one that can do direct damage to the teeth. What happens when we use opioids for short or long periods of time is the saliva deteriorates from the mouth. We need the bacteria in saliva to be continually present in order to fight off infection, tooth decay, and a host of other possible issues. Admittedly, dry mouth does not sound to be all that serious of a problem, but it is important to understand that dry mouth is simply the source of other much more serious side effects to opioid use.

 

This is not to say opioids are bad, but the long-term effects of opioid use can be extremely hazardous to the teeth if specific measures are not taken. Here are several of the symptoms that can become present after opioid use:

 

  • Dryness in the mouth and throat – this can cause discomfort when talking or trying to swallow. It can keep you from sleeping, even keep you from eating.

 

  • Thick saliva – this is when the little saliva you have left in your mouth becomes viscous or mucus-like. This can interfere with speech, eating, and drinking. It can also create bad breath.

 

  • Sore throat – we all know how terrible it is to have a sore throat. It’s difficult to sleep and swallow. It can even be painful to speak at times.

 

  • Increase in plaque development – more plaque means higher chances for cavities and rotted teeth. Gum infection can also occur.

 

  • Bad breath – there are different types of bad breath: one caused from the foods or drinks we intake and another from dry mouth. The former can be dealt with by brushing, chewing gum, or taking mints. The latter is minimally effected by these things, and continuously gets worse with the more opioids we take.  

 

  • Mouth sores – these painful infections seem to irritate to no end, and without enough saliva in the mouth, they take longer to go away.

 

  • Poor sense of taste – dry mouth can even cause our taste buds to suffer. Foods begin to taste dull, flat, or completely void of flavor altogether.

 

 

Luckily, there are remedies for dry mouth, and by taking a little time out of your day, these side effects of opioid use can be one less thing to worry about.

If you have been prescribed an opioid it is extremely important to have routine exams at Carolina’s Dental Choice. Once you are here, we can have a close look at your teeth and mouth to see what is most likely to happen once you begin taking the medication. We can even discuss possible side effects specific to your teeth from long-term opioid use. Regardless of how long you will be on the medication, there are a few things to start doing in order to counteract the many possible outcomes previously listed due to opioid use.

One thing you can do is purchase artificial saliva spray. This can help to moisten the mouth and increase the flow of saliva. If your dry mouth continues, you may want to contact your physician. He or she can prescribe Pilocarpine, which helps stimulate salivary glands to create saliva. Before trying either of these things, start by drinking extra water to see if it does the trick.


There are a few good home remedies that have proven to help many suffering from dry mouth, and it never hurts to try these first.

 

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss each time as well.

 

  • Drink plenty of water or unsweetened fluids with meals.

 

  • Use only sugar-free mints or gum to stimulate saliva flow.

 

  • Try to breathe primarily out of the nose rather than your mouth.  

 

The digestion of food is dependent upon saliva. Saliva not only keeps the mouth moist, it also helps prevent against viruses, fungi, and tooth decay from taking place inside the mouth. Even if you are taking measures to control your dry mouth, it is essential that you still come into Carolina’s Dental Choice regularly for cleanings and checkups. Viruses, fungi, and tooth decay are not always apparent at first, which is why you want a professional who can detect and deal with them right away.

Here are a few more things to consider:

 

  • Brush your teeth with soft bristles. If soft bristles still cause pain or irritation, try soaking the bristles in warm water prior to use.

 

  • Avoid flossing around bleeding or sore gums, as this can cause more serious problems. If your gums do not seem to be getting better, make an appointment with Carolina’s Dental Choice right away.

 

  • Use a mouthwash that contains fluoride and that does not contain alcohol. Alcohol in mouthwash can actually encourage dry mouth.

 

  • As much as possible, refrain from sticky, sugary foods and drinks. Any time you do consume these, be sure to brush your teeth right afterward.

 

  • Drink a lot of water throughout the day. This almost goes without saying, but it really can help keep the mouth from remaining dry.

 

  • Run a humidifier in your room while you sleep. This will make sure the air you are breathing in is not too dry.

 

  • Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks tend to quickly dry out the mouth. If you partake of either make sure you drink plenty of water before and after. Brushing your teeth after these can help as well.

 

We Can Help You

At Carolina’s Dental Choice we are here to help you. If you have been prescribed opioids, and have found that your mouth feels a little dryer than usual, come see us. Any or all of the preventative measures listed here can help, but allowing one of our trained professionals to look at your mouth can help pinpoint the most effective way for you to protect yourself from extreme dry mouth.

 

By: Andrae Bergeron

Content Writer

CCP Web Design

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