Teeth As Tools: How Our Teeth Have Been Used Throughout History

2018-11-05T14:35:48+00:00October 31st, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, Teeth Cleaning|

Our teeth perform so many important functions throughout our life and on a daily basis. On a basic level, we use our teeth to talk, chew, digest food, and properly fill out our cheeks and lips to form our face shape. Without knowing it, you have probably used your teeth as tools in a multitude of ways. Whether you’re opening a bag of snacks by ripping open the seal with your teeth, cutting meat with your teeth, or holding bobby pins as you fix your hair, our teeth are one of the most important tools on our body.

While many of the ways that we use our teeth as tools aren’t particularly healthy for our teeth, and constantly put our teeth at the risk of damage, typically, a healthy tooth will not chip or break during normal function.

Now imagine a time and place where there were no electric toothbrushes, mouthwash, or even dental floss, and suddenly your teeth are one of the most important tools you possess. If teeth have less enamel, decay, or gum disease, they are more likely to chip, shift, or become loose, resulting in eventual tooth loss.

How have humans used their teeth throughout their history when they possibly weren’t as strong and healthy? What did it mean for humans to use their teeth as tools?

Early Ancestors: Teeth as Tools

Eating chocolate

Much of what we know about the life and diet of ancient humans is due to finding their teeth! Archaeologists find dozens to hundreds of teeth for every skeleton or skull. Why do our teeth survive at such high numbers? Our teeth are covered by enamel, which is 97 percent mineral, making our teeth stronger and more easily preserved than the rest of our bones. From the shape of the tooth to the thickness of the enamel, scientists can understand the evolution of humans, how our ancestors lived, what they ate, or even what diseases they had. Variations in teeth are a great way for scientists to classify early human species. As humans migrated across the globe, so did their diets; we know this because human teeth developed thicker enamel to eat other animals, seeds, nuts, and roots.

Looking back to Neanderthal teeth, scientists have hypothesized that they use their teeth as a tool, possibly gripping and clamping with their front teeth as they prepped animal hides for clothing and shelter.

What’s clear is that our teeth have evolved to serve us in similar ways as our ancestors. Like our ancestors, we use our teeth to access food or drink. Our teeth can still tell us a lot about our day-to-day life and culture as well!

Early tools to clean teeth

As far as we know, the earliest toothbrush dates back to around 3000BC, where Babylonians and Egyptians configured a toothbrush from frayed twigs. Fast forward a bit to 1600 BC, and we have the Chinese using aromatic twigs from trees as “chew sticks” to freshen their breath.
Some of the earliest tools to clean teeth were made from animal bone. For a stretch of history, and even today in certain parts of the world, coarse animal hair, such as hair from cows, was used to form the bristle on toothbrushes.

Did people in the past constantly have rotted teeth, cavities, and gum disease? Despite a lack of teeth brushing among ancient people, most people did not suffer from dental problems. There are a few explanations:

• The food being eaten was natural, unprocessed, and pure, containing nutrients and vitamins that strengthened teeth against bacteria
• Ancient diets were filled with fibrous foods, where the fiber acted as a brush against the teeth to filter away plaque and food
• Earlier diets lack sugary foods and acidic soda, two of the main detriments of modern diets
• Before cigarettes, humans didn’t smoke, and thus didn’t experience the harmful side effects of smoking on the teeth and human health

About 10,000 years ago at the dawn of the Neolithic period, our ancestors began farming, our teeth began to experience more decay, and dentistry emerged. As recent as the last decade, archaeologists found teeth that had been scraped and even drilled to possibly remove decayed tissue. With the onset of farming came carbohydrate-rich grains and starches. Some oral bacteria actually convert carbohydrates into enamel-destroying acids. There is evidence in numerous cultures across the world at various time periods where people combated decay by hand-drilling small holes into the teeth and scraping with different tools. At this point, you’re probably extremely thankful for the profound progress dentistry has made, even in the last century!

Cosmetic dentistry throughout history

It’s hard to pinpoint when improving the appearance of teeth became more fashionable rather than undergoing treatment to improve teeth function, but we know for sure that it has taken off in the past few years. Patients can now receive whitening treatments, veneers, and dental implants, all of which are cutting-edge procedures for a brighter, whiter smile! But cosmetic dentistry isn’t anything new—it goes back ancient times, where we know people developed tools to clean their teeth as early as 3000BC.
We’ve also been fixing our teeth since prehistoric times. Around 700 BC, there is evidence that Etruscans made dentures with ivory and bone, or constructed dentures from human or animal teeth. This practice lasted all the way up until the 1800s!

In 200 AD, the Etruscans also were using gold to create dental crowns and bridges, although it’s unknown whether this was for a dental treatment or for a fashion statement. The Ancient Egyptians used pumice stone and vinegar to create a toothpaste, and they hammered seashells into their gums as replacements for their teeth.

The 1700’s led to human teeth being used more commonly as dental implants, but our bodies tend to reject other humans’ teeth. In the late 1770’s, the first porcelain dentures were made, and they became extremely popular in the 19th century. By the early 20th century, dentists had switched to plastics and acrylics for dentures.

One of the most famous representations of cosmetic dentistry that comes to mind is that of the United States of America’s first president, George Washington. The legend surrounding Washington’s teeth was that they were made entirely of wood. But, in fact, they were actually made of animal bone!

How do our teeth become damaged from using them as tools in the present day and age?

Well, consider this: when we speak, our teeth are naturally separated during normal speech, and when we eat, food separates our teeth as we chew. When we use our teeth as tools, say to rip open a package or grind into tough foods, our teeth make contact, and suffer damage.

If your tooth has a filling or crown, using your teeth as tools they’re not intended for can pull out the filling or cause the crown to fall off. To those of you constantly holding bobby pins with your teeth to fix hair, bobby pins can actually pop off porcelain veneers on your teeth!

What does this have to do with our ancestors? Well, history repeats itself! We’re prone to using our strong, capable teeth as tools. Although we use our teeth as tools on a daily basis to eat, speak, and chew, improper use can lead to cracking and fracturing your teeth.

However progressive our dental care and habits are, we can truly damage our teeth. In comparison to the pain of damaging your teeth and the price of dental work, recognizing and changing our bad habits is better for our teeth and our wallets.

What if I already damaged my teeth?

You’re not alone if you didn’t know that using your teeth in certain, commonplace ways was damaging. What you should know, is that early treatment is always less extensive and less expensive. If a tooth suffers from minor cracks or chips, your dentist can easily repair them with a filling. If left untreated, these minor chips and cracks make the tooth weaker and more likely to break further, possibly chipping away at enamel and leaving the tooth exposed to bacteria.

Basically, the sooner you act with damaged teeth, the better for your wallet, your comfort, and the overall health of your teeth! Set up an appointment with Carolina Dental Choice to be proactive with your smile.

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Opioids in Dentistry: What You Should Know

2020-07-16T16:59:31+00:00August 28th, 2018|Dental Insurance, Dental Trends, General|

Have you ever been afraid of going to the dentist? Whether your fear is based on prior bad experiences or the potential for pain, you’re not alone.

However, many dental patients express a different fear regarding dental pain: potential addiction to prescribed pain treatments. Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication often prescribed after major dental procedures. Opioids work by reducing pain signals to the brain. They are very effective in treating pain; however, they also carry a risk of addiction.

Opioid abuse and overdose has been an increasing epidemic across all ages, genders, and classes in the United States. A stunning national statistic reveals that although the U.S. represents 5 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply. According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), from 1999 to 2016, more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdose.

Fear of opioids or opioid addiction creates a tricky situation for patients who might be wondering, “How is my dentist going to make sure I am not experiencing pain or suffering, while also avoiding addiction to the pain medications prescribed after dental procedures?’ At Carolinas Dental Choice we make sure to work with you to safely manage your pain.

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. At first, opioids produce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. After repeated and prolonged use, the brain develops a tolerance towards its effects and begins to crave the pleasure-inducing effects, despite becoming less susceptible to the actual pain relief of the drugs. 

How addiction to opioids starts

Opioids are very effective in treating pain, especially when someone is in high pain and needs immediate relief. Often, and unfortunately, addiction may be an unforeseen result of a legitimate need for pain treatment. Opioids like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are highly addictive and lead to physical dependencies.

Opioids are prescribed for short-term pain management and aid in treating severe pain. Opioids used over a longer period become less effective, which may drive the urge to take higher doses in order to achieve the same effect as when the medication was first started.

What does addiction to opiates look like?

• Using drugs past the prescription or initial pain treatment
• Becoming tolerant and needing the drug more often
• Having withdrawals from the drug
• Strong desire or urge to use the drug
• Continuing use despite financial, legal, or social problems

Once the opioid is stopped, withdrawal symptoms can include muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold-flashes, and more. To lessen the chances of withdrawal take any prescription as directed and plan to taper down doses. Your doctor can help you create a plan to safely reduce your medication use while managing your pain.

Opiates at the Dentist: What’s the problem?

Dentists are the second highest prescribers of opioids in the U.S. Over the past few years however, opioid prescriptions from dentists have been in decline. On average, dentists prescribe three days worth of opioids to their patients, aiming to only administer the lowest-potency opioids for short periods of time for conditions associated with severe pain.

Procedures and conditions that call for opioid prescriptions can range depending on the patient’s pain tolerance and preference, but most commonly include:

• Wisdom teeth surgery
• Tooth/Molar extraction
• Dental infections
• Surgical trauma

The American Dental Association announced new policies to combat the opioid epidemic in March 2018, which include continued education in prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, and statutory limitations on opioid dosage and duration of no more than 7 days for acute pain.

Manage pain responsibly

There is a no one-size-fits-all for treatment, so talking to your dentist to determine what course of action is best for you is a great place to start. At Carolinas Dental Choice we encourage you to update your dentist on your health history, share what medications you might be taking, and disclose if you or someone in your close family are in recovery or have struggled with addiction in the past.

We want to have a conversation with you to answer these questions:

• What is the goal of this prescription?
• At what time and when should I take these?
• How long should I take these drugs?
• Are there risks from this medication?
• What do I do with any extra medication?

Dentists and patients alike need to be on the same page about the perception of pain for these dental procedures, as well as what realistic expectations are for their pain treatment. The goal of pain management is exactly that — management not magic. Often patients may expect to feel absolutely no pain after procedure and anxiety about pain can actually contribute to feeling it. Experiencing a little bit of pain is okay. It will help you keep track of whether something actually hurts and needs treatment or you are continuing to take a medication out of habit. Only treat your pain to the point that it is manageable and does not interfere with your quality of life.

How to treat dental pain without opioids

Opioids are not usually dentists’ first choice to send home with patients. The alternatives to opiates include familiar medications. Over-the-counter pills can be just as effective for controlling pain, and safer, as they are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

In a recent study by The Journal of the American Dental Association, the most effective pain relief with the fewest side effects is 400 milligrams of ibuprofen with 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen. They also found that this combination is more effective than any other opioid or opioid-containing drugs. Most patients can find pain relief with a combination of Tylenol and ibuprofen, or even aspirin, which are easily accessible and inexpensive.

Patients should keep in mind that unlike opiates, the over-the-counter drug combinations may not work as instantly to relieve pain—but, when used correctly and consistently, these NSAIDs will relieve pain as effectively. At Carolina’s Dental Choice we recommend other pain relief measures such as hot or cold compresses, topical numbing gel, and comforting things such as taking a shower or bath, meditating, or distracting oneself with a favorite activity.

Most people associate major dental procedures with some lingering pain, sensitivity, and discomfort. But if you’re experiencing excessive pain post-dental procedure, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your dentist may recommend an additional evaluation, or develop an alternative pain management plan suited for you.

Struggling with an addiction? Get help. 

Various treatment options and resources are available to help people with addiction. Your primary care doctor, dentist, or any other health professional can help assess the situation and recommend treatment options.

Other useful resources centralized in NC include:

The Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina

Carolina Healthcare System #ThisisSober Campaign

North Carolina Council of Community Programs – Treatment Services Guide

Recovery Communities of North Carolina

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Why Dental Implants May Be the Right Choice for Your Oral Health

2020-07-16T16:59:46+00:00June 28th, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Bonding, Dental Crowns, Dental Implants, Dental Trends, Dentures, Fixed Bridges, Implants, Teeth Whitening, Veneers|

Carolina’s Dental Choice is committed to the philosophy of restorative dentistry, which is reproducing or repairing teeth and adjoining bones and tissue, through the use of metal and ceramic materials. Though dental implants have been around, in some form, for more than 40 years, it’s surprising how many people today don’t know the procedure is an option to replace a missing tooth or even multiple teeth. Implants are the closest in comparison to natural teeth. They are just as secure, long lasting, and easy to manage.

 

DENTAL IMPLANTS AND HOW THEY WORK

An implant is a titanium “root” which is placed into the jawbone in order to support a crown, bridge or denture. Ceramic crowns, onlays or veneers address the appearance of the “new tooth.” Over time, the human body completes the process, by growing bone and tissue around the tooth. This provides the artificial implanted tooth with even more stability and permanence.

Treatment generally is a three-part process that takes several months, according to the American Dental Association:

Step 1) The dentist surgically places the implant in the jaw, with the top of the implant slightly above the top of the bone. A screw is inserted into the implant to prevent gum tissue and other debris from entering. The gum then is secured over the implant. The implant will remain covered for approximately three to six months while it fuses with the bone, a process called “osseointegration.” There may be some swelling, tenderness or both for a few days after the surgery, so pain medication usually is prescribed to alleviate the discomfort. A diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup often is recommended during the healing process.

Step 2) The implant is uncovered and the dentist attaches an extension, called a post, to the implant. The gum tissue is allowed to heal around the post. Some implants require a second surgical procedure in which a post is attached to connect the replacement teeth. With other implants, the implant and post are a single unit placed in the mouth during the initial surgery. Once healed, the implant and post can serve as the foundation for the new tooth.

Step 3) The dentist makes a crown, which has a size, shape, color and fit that will blend with your other teeth. Once completed, the crown is attached to the implant post.

 

TOP ORAL CARE TIPS FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS

Dental implants can be an option at just about any age, as long a patient has healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant and is committed to maintaining basic oral care. Implants do not require any further care than one would provide for natural teeth, such as rinsing, flossing, and brushing a few times a day.

“Dental implants are very successful and long lasting but as with any surgical procedure, there might be complications,” writes Dr. Anveeta Agarwal, a consultant oral pathologist. “The best way to avoid dental implant failure is to make sure you practice good dental hygiene and visit your dentist regularly for dental check-ups and cleanings.”

Dental implant care tips include:

Practice good oral hygiene – brush twice a day and floss once daily. Using interdental brushes, brushes that slide between teeth, can help clean the hard to reach areas around your implant.

  • Quit smoking – smoking can weaken the bone structure and can contribute to implant failure.
  • Visit your dentist – cleanings and exams every six months can help ensure your implant is in good condition, and that it stays that way.
  • Avoid chewing on hard foods – don’t chew on hard items such as ice and hard candy because they can break the crown and your natural teeth.

The American Dental Association considers two types of implants to be safe. They are:

Endosteal implants — these are surgically implanted directly into the jawbone. Once the surrounding gum tissue has healed, a second surgery is needed to connect a post to the original implant. Finally, an artificial tooth (or teeth) is attached to the post-individually, or grouped on a bridge or denture.

Subperiosteal implants — these consist of a metal frame that is fitted onto the jawbone just below the gum tissue. As the gums heal, the frame becomes fixed to the jawbone. Posts, which are attached to the frame, protrude through the gums. As with endosteal implants, artificial teeth are then mounted to the posts.

Though some patients may be reluctant to undergo dental surgery — as well as the idea of having titanium pieces implanted to the jaw — dental implants offer a viable tooth replacement option when other attempts have failed. Patients may have tried bridges or dentures and been unhappy with the results, but dental implants are a healthy alternative.

“For some people, ordinary bridges and dentures are simply not comfortable or even possible, due to sore spots, poor ridges or gagging,” states Colgate. “In addition, ordinary bridges must be attached to teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth. An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be prepared or ground down to hold your new replacement tooth/teeth in place.”

Additionally, implants serve a cosmetic function. Missing teeth may impact a person’s ability to get a job. 

How Dental Implants Can Improve Your Ability to Get a Job

“Poor oral health can significantly diminish quality of life in a number of ways – the most obvious being a person’s ability to eat, sleep and speak,” according to a 2016 report from the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative. “However, there are also social and economic consequences that can impact a person’s job readiness and performance, and ultimately the economic stability of communities. A survey of North Carolina adults revealed that the impact of oral health on job readiness is greatest among those from low-income households.”

 

DENTAL IMPLANTS AND COST

Because dental implants can be used for one or more teeth, and the replacement teeth can vary in size and complexity, assigning a cost-point for the procedure can be challenging. At Carolina’s Dental Choice we usually see prices fluctuating anywhere from the $1,000 to the $3,000 range. Before making any final decisions on payment though, it is a good idea for a potential patient to consult with a dental practice and insurance company in order to clarify how much of the cost may be covered. 

At Carolina’s Dental Choice we provide information about payment, including insurance, Medicaid, and our in-house saving program online, and we are happy to discuss this information with you in person or over the phone.

 

OTHER OPTIONS TO DENTAL IMPLANTS

In addition to dental implants, Carolina’s Dental Choice offers traditional dentures, bridges, partials, which replace teeth. Cosmetic options we offer include teeth whitening and veneers, which are porcelain and permanently bonded to your natural teeth. They can enhance tooth shape, color, length and size. Dental bonding repairs teeth with a tooth-colored resin (stable plastic material) that enhances your smile and can be done in one quick and easy visit.

 

CAROLINA’S DENTAL CHOICE IS HERE FOR YOU

It is our practice to have private consultations with our patients to discuss your teeth, your options, and your treatment. Our dental practice embodies family dentistry by treating our patients like family and working with you to make you smile!

You may find information including new patient forms on our website. Contact us today at 704.239.9519 to schedule your appointment!

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Do People That Exercise Regularly Have Better Teeth?

2020-07-16T17:23:06+00:00January 30th, 2018|Dental Trends|

Exercising, Teeth, Smile, Dental Office, Dentist, Oral Health, Healthy Teeth, Dental Office Monroe

Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to share how important your physical health is for your oral health. The New Year is here and the resolutions to have a happier and healthier lifestyle for 2018 are back again. Whether your goal is to eat healthier, workout more, run a marathon, or join CrossFit, all of these goals can affect your teeth. Yeah, you probably already knew that healthy eating is good for your teeth but did you know that exercising also plays a role in the condition of your teeth?

A huge oral health concern for many people is gum disease. Gum disease is very common and believe it or not exercising can help to decrease the risk. Gum disease is caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth which cause the gums to swell. People who live an active lifestyle and exercise regularly have been found to have healthier gums and are less likely to have gum disease. This is because exercise lowers inflammation in your body, this includes the gums.

Related: The Trendy New Diet That Is Awesome For Your Smile

Exercise really does play a huge role in your overall health and especially your oral health. Exercise helps improve your digestive system; this helps increase blood flow and helps your body tissue resist infection. This allows the mouth to use the minerals and vitamins found in the food you eat. These help strengthen and protect your teeth and gums. Exercising, eating healthy, and getting lots of sleep are all habits that help you lead a healthier life.

Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to make sure you stay healthy, happy, and have an awesome smile. To keep your bright, shiny smile and to keep your teeth and gums healthy, it is important to exercise. Don’t forget: taking good care of your teeth, keeping up with oral hygiene, and visiting our office regularly for routine exams will help keep your oral health in check. 

 

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The Secret Behind Flossing!

2020-07-16T17:02:38+00:00September 29th, 2017|Carolina's Dental Choice|

Carolina’s Dental Choice takes pride in helping people have healthy teeth and a smile they want to show off. This is why we encourage people to floss daily. Flossing is a simple task that can be done in just a few minutes but stubborn non-flossers often underestimate the importance of those few minutes. Flossing cleans in-between the teeth and reaches places that simply brushing cannot. When you floss, you remove those tiny food particles and plaque that can’t be seen in-between your teeth and by removing the plaque, you can help prevent tooth decay.

Flossing is a must for good oral health. We know that flossing can be a little tricky and can be easily forgotten but flossing is essential to keeping your gums and teeth healthy. Flossing not only removes food from in-between the teeth, but it also helps protect the gums by cleaning out foods that, if stuck between your teeth, could cause bacteria to grow on the gums.  Flossing breaks down the plaque and bacteria biofilm on your teeth and protects your teeth from decaying and your gums from Gingivitis.

Believe it or not, when bacteria is left in-between your teeth it can actually change the whole ecosystem of your mouth. This can make you more vulnerable to bacteria related infections. Bacteria and plaque are your gums worst nightmare. The gums are very sensitive and when they come in contact with bacteria and plaque it can cause serious problems. Gum decay and gum infections are very common and if untreated can lead to gum disease.

Do your gums bleed when you floss? This is normal. Gums are sensitive and if they are not used to regular flossing, the flossing will irritate them until they become adjusted. Once you begin flossing daily, your gums will become stronger so that your gums will be less irritated and bleed less often.

Here at Carolina’s Dental Choice we want our patients to have the healthiest smile they can. Having routine visits to our office will help you keep your teeth happy. Just don’t forget to practice daily oral hygiene as well. Schedule an appointment at our office or give us a call to learn more about oral hygiene.

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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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