Category Archives: Dental Conditions

Dry Mouth: Treatment by a Dentist or Physician

Dry Mouth

Why are the dangers of having dry mouth?

Persistent dry mouth, known as Xerostomia, can adversely affect your oral health in many different ways. Of course suffering from an occasional dry mouth is not uncommon and maybe due to normal fluctuations in hormone levels or caused by your nervous system. On the other hand, persistent dry mouth is a problem and thus cause for concern. Here is why:

  • Having dry mouth can make you feel like there is a burning sensation in your mouth or throat
  • You may develop sore lesions in your mouth or oral region as a result of dry mouth
  • Dry mouth can lead to bad breath
  • It can also affect the health of your teeth as well as your gums leading up to cavities and gum disease

Why is saliva so important?

Saliva washes off food particles and neutralizes acids in your mouth. Without sufficient saliva flow, your teeth are at a much higher risk of developing cavities. Similarly, you are much more likely to develop gum problems and loose teeth in the absence of sufficient saliva flow. So what should you do then if you’re suffering from persistent dry mouth? Should you see your dentist or physician to address the problem? Or is it best to resort to some type of home remedy first prior to seeking professional help?

Severe Dry Mouth Complications

Pros of Dry Mouth Treatment by your Dentist or Physician

Your dentist or doctor can help you diagnose the cause of your dry mouth as well as offer you treatment options for it. Here are some common treatments which you may receive from your dentist and/or physician:

Your dentist or doctor can identify the source of your dry mouth

Most dry mouth cases are caused as a side-effect of your medications or from an underlying medical problem. There are hundreds of medications that have dry mouth listed as one of their side-effects. If your dry mouth case is severe, you might want to consider switching to a different medication. Your physician can determine if this is a viable option or not. In addition to medications, several medial conditions can also cause dry mouth, including diabetes, nerve damage, Sjögren’s syndrome, chemotherapy and radiation cancer therapy. In fact, medical issues that cause damage to your salivary glands can cause you to suffer from a permanent dry mouth condition. You should consult with your dentist or physician to see what solutions they can offer you to best remedy or manage your dry mouth condition.

Your dentist can offer you preventive treatments to help protect your teeth and gums in the absence of sufficient salivary flow

You may be suffering from persistent dry mouth as a result of side-effects of medications you’re taking, radiation from a previous cancer therapy or other probable causes. If your dentist feels that your saliva flow is below a satisfactory level, he or she will then resort to preventive measures to help better protect your teeth and gums against the increased risk of developing cavities or gum disease. Here are a few methods used to fight off cavities for those who suffer from a low salivary flow:

  • You will most likely be advised to increase the frequency of your annual dental cleanings. At the end of the day, receiving three or four dental cleanings a year is a much more desirable alternative than having to place root canals and crowns on most of your remaining teeth! Patients with severe dry mouth are typically placed on a 3 to 4 month cleaning regimen to help protect their teeth and gums.
  • Most dentist would recommend a fluoride toothpaste to better assist your teeth in fighting off cavities. Some dentists even offer prescription strength fluoride treatments for severe dry mouth cases. Fluoride may be supplied in the form of a prescription strength fluoride gel, mouthwash or toothpaste, such as Colgate Prevident 5000, to better help protect your vulnerable teeth during prolonged periods of dry mouth.
  • For the most serious cases, your dentist may have to fabricate a custom fluoride tray. The tray directly provides high concentrations of Fluoride to your teeth over extended periods of time. It must be worn overnight, or for several hours a day, to directly supply prescription strength fluoride to your teeth and protect them against cavities and gum disease.
They can prescribe you medications to increase your saliva flow

Only a small percentage of dry mouth cases are treated with medications. The use of medications is usually reserved for treating the most severe cases of dry mouth, typically those associated with an underlying medical condition. Medications such as Salagen (pilocarpine) or Evoxac (cevimeline) can be prescribed to help stimulate salivary glands and increase your saliva flow. Your dentist or physician is best suited to determine if it is appropriate to resort to such mediations or not.

NEXT >> How to Decide

How to Treat Dry Mouth: Using Home Remedies

Oral Cancer: Signs to Watch out for

What should I do if I have a suspicious lesion in my mouth?

If a lesion in your mouth concerns you, then you should have it checked out by a dentist or physician immediately. While chances are you are looking at a biting accident, irritation, burn or other type of an insignificant lesion, it is always best to have these suspicious lesion checked out right away. Not only will you not have to worry about what they are any longer, but you can be on the lookout for similar lesions in the future and exclude them whenever applicable.

Where could oral cancer show up?

Oral Cancer can occur Anywhere in the Mouth

Oral cancer can appear anywhere in the mouth including the lips, tongue, palate or just about anywhere else in the oral cavity. Your dentist can perform an oral cancer screening to determine what your suspicious lesion is. Three things typically happen at this point:

  • Your dentist determines that your lesion is not oral cancer and tells you what the lesion is. No further treatment is required and the lesion will most likely resolve or does not need to be addressed any further.
  • Your dentist performs a biopsy on the lesion. This way he or she can determine if the lesion contains pre-cancerous or cancerous cells for further examination.
  • You will be referred to a dental specialist, such as an oral surgeon, who is more competent to examine your lesion.

High risks cases which are more likely to be oral cancer:

Top Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

A standard oral cancer screening is quite basic. It involves a visual exam of the head and neck region as well as the oral cavity and lymph nodes in the head and neck region. If you have noticed a suspicious lesion, especially if you are a smoker or have a personal or familial history of cancer, then you should make an appointment and have your dentist further evaluate your lesion. Keep in mind that while certain individuals may be at higher risks for developing oral cancer, it can happen to anyone.

Exercise more caution if you are a high risk patients

Oral cancer can also occur without any previous signs or symptoms. Most dentists offer oral cancer screening routinely to their patients, but you can always request one if you have a suspicious lesion in your mouth. The goal is to try and catch any suspicious lesions while it is still in earlier stages and non-malignant. Here are cases which are considered at higher risk fro developing oral cancer:

  • Oral cancer is much more prevalent in smokers
  • It is also more common in heavy drinkers
  • If you have had a history of any type of cancer this may place you at higher risk for oral cancer as well
  • It is also suspected that HPV virus (Human Papillomavirus) can also increase your chance of developing oral cancer
Look for persistent red or white lesions or patches

First of all note that cancer lesions do not disappear by themselves. As such, any lesion that vanishes after a few days or weeks is most likely not going to be a cancerous lesion. Your dentist or oral surgeon can examine suspicious lesions via a biopsy to determine if they contain cancer cells or not. If you want to screen yourself periodically to look for any unusual lesions then here is what you should be on the lookout for:

  • Oral cancer lesions are typically white or red lesions
  • Lesions usually have irregular boarders and are nodular shaped
  • They tend to be ulcerative, meaning that they can bleed, although this may not always be the case
  • Cancer lesions do not disappear on their own. Wait a few days to see if the lesion is still there and if so, then after one to two weeks it is time to have it examined further by your dentist.
Oral cancer will eventually cause pain and lead to other systemic symptoms

Oral cancer lesions typically don’t cause any pain in their earlier stages, so don’t expect pain to be an indicator of whether or not the lesion is oral cancer. However, as the cancer progresses, you may start noticing pain and other symptoms. Here are signs of what to look out for in cases of more advanced oral cancer:

  • Unexplained pain or numbness in the mouth or tongue area
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving and maneuvering your tongue or lips
  • You might even start noticing that your teeth are not touching like they used to before
  • Other symptoms can affect your entire body and includes unexplained weight loss and fatigue

NEXT >> Could What I’m Seeing in My Mouth be Oral Cancer: Probably Not

Could What I’m Seeing in My Mouth be Oral Cancer: How to Decide

Bad Breath Dilemma: Going to the Dentist

Bad Breath: Halitosis

What do I do if I have bad breath?

Having bad breath, or halitosis, is more common than you may think. In fact, bad breath affects about a quarter of the population at some point in their life. Of course some of us don’t like to admit to having bad breath. Others are simply unaware of their condition. Some bad breath cases are temporary, a result of a diet, dehydration or maybe an onion or garlic you just ate. Other times bad breath is persistent and requires some sort of treatment to find the source and resolve the problem. So what is the best thing to do if you suffer from persistent bad breath? Could going to your dentist for a good cleaning solve the problem? Or is it something other than bad teeth and gums that is responsible for your halitosis and maybe a visit to the physician is the better option?

Pros of Going to the Dentist for Treating Bad Breath

Obviously a dentist is well suited to help you improve your bad breath problem so long as it is coming from your oral cavity. Here are a few ways your dentist can help you eliminate your bad breath problem:

Dental cleaning

Bad breath stems either from your teeth and gums or from an underlying medical condition. Since the majority of bad breath cases come originate from issues with your teeth and gums, it is not a bad idea to start off your treatment with a dental check-up. It makes more sense to eliminate any oral/ dental origin before you have a whole bunch of tests done to see if  something else is causing the problem.

  • If the area causing bad breath is localized to a specific tooth or region in your mouth, treatment may be something as simple as fixing the bad tooth that is trapping food.
  • If bad breath is coming from your entire mouth then it is most likely due to gum disease. Once you accumulate plaque and tartar buildup on your gum, you will start developing bad breath. A deep cleaning from your dentist can remove these buildups and quickly fix your problem.
Addressing gum disease

Gum disease bad breath

Gum disease is the most common cause of persistent bad breath in adult population. If your bad breath is due to plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth, you are most likely suffering from gum disease and the bad breath is a side effect. Plaque and tartar produce sulfur compounds which causes bad breath along with a foul taste in your mouth. Gum disease is a serious condition, and can do more than just cause bad breath. It can lead to bone loss around your teeth and damage your gums and supporting jawbone. If you have gum disease, you will probably be experiencing bleeding gums, teeth sensitivity and a foul taste in your mouth in addition to the bad breath. Bad breath can be one of the earliest warning signs that something is wrong with your teeth and gums. Going to the dentist can help manage the underlying gum disease and prevent more serious problems from arising.

Providing you with a long-term solution

It is possible that you had a dental cleaning not too long ago and fixed your bad breath. Yet just months later feel, the bad breath is starting to makes its way back. This means that you’re not doing a good enough job with your oral hygiene routine or possibly require more frequent dental cleanings. Talk to your dentist to see how they can help come up with a long-term solution that works for you.

  • It could be that your brushing or flossing techniques are not up to par and you simply need to work on improving your oral hygiene techniques.
  • Maybe you just need to spend more time cleaning your teeth. You may have to brush twice a day instead of once, or floss every day instead of ever other day.
  • Consider brushing your tongue to remove odor bacteria for a fresher breath.
  • For those of you with larger gaps between your teeth, it might be time to start using some sort of interproximal cleaning device in addition to a dental floss. Devices like a rubber-tip, go-between brush or water-pik can clean larger gaps better than brushing or flossing alone can.
  • You should probably consider increasing the frequency of your dental cleanings. If you have bad breath and gum disease, 6 months might be too long to wait for your next dental cleaning. You may be required to receive  a dental cleaning every 3 to 4 months instead of every 6 months.

If you have healthy gums, two cleanings a year is usually more than enough to keep things under control. Once you have developed gum disease and lost some of your supporting gum and bone structure, it can become difficult to maintain satisfactory oral hygiene on your own for long periods of time. Receiving a dental cleaning every 3 to 4 months is completely normal for those with more advanced stages of gum disease. It can cure bad breath as well as slow the loss of your supporting gum and jawbone. Many patients have to rely on these additional dental cleanings in order to properly remove plaque and tartar buildups and better maintain their teeth and gums as they age.

NEXT >> Going to the Physician

Bad Breath Dilemma: How to Decide