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How cancer treatment can affect your oral health

More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year and many of them will develop problems with their oral health as a result of their cancer treatment. While it’s natural that they’ll be focused on their cancer treatment, it’s important not to overlook the importance of a dental examination as part of the process of maintaining overall health. For example, radiation therapy of the head and neck area may lead to certain complications such as dry mouth, sensitive lesions in the oral cavity, hypersensitive teeth, rapid tooth decay and difficulty swallowing. Chemotherapy and other medication can also have significant effects in the mouth. To help prevent, minimize and manage such problems, the dentist and oncologist can work together – before and during cancer treatment. Many medications lead to dry mouth, which can lead to a higher risk of gum disease and other problems. The dentist may therefore recommend a saliva replacement, an artificial saliva that is available over-…

Caring for people who have special needs

People at any age can have a condition that makes it difficult for them to look after their own dental health. This could affect people who suffer from a wide range of conditons such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, Alzheimer’s disease or arthritis. However, people in all of these categories have the same dental needs as everyone else – they need daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a balanced diet. There are some steps caregivers can take to make it easier to look after people in those categories. If the person is uncooperative or uncontrollable, try to explain what you are about to do and schedule the task for a time of day when they are rested. Move in a calm, slow, reassuring manner to avoid startling them. Give praise and encourage them when they help themselves. Support the person’s head, and take special care to prevent choking or gagging when the head is tilted back. If the person is una…

Periodontal disease: what it is and how to avoid it

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. There is a very slight gap (called a sulcus) between the tooth and the gum. Periodontal diseases attack this gap and cause a breakdown in the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues. When the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket and, as the disease gets more severe, the pocket usually gets deeper. The two major stages of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to periodontitis, which is a more serious, destructive form of periodontal disease. There are several factors that have been shown to increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
– Systemic diseases such as diabetes
– Some types of medication
– Crooked teeth
– Bridges that no longer fit properly
– Fillings that have become defective
– Smoking
– Pregnancy And there are a number of warning signs that…

Is bottled or tap water better for your teeth?

With many people concerned about the taste and purity of tap water, the sales of bottled water have increased significantly in recent years. Tap water goes through a process of purification designed to eliminate suspended materials, remove tastes and odors and kill microorganisms. Fluoride is added to most tap water supplies with the aim of reducing cavities. Fluoride becomes incorporated into our teeth as they develop and makes them more resistant to decay. It can reverse the progress of early cavities and reduce the need for dental treatment. Mass water fluoridation has played an important role in reducing tooth decay. The problem with bottled waters is that they usually don’t contain fluoride. So there is a risk that drinking bottled water can increase the risk of cavities for some people. If you drink a lot of bottled water, you can make up for this by using fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse. Your dentist may even suggest a fluoride supplement if they notice an increase in cavi…

What will it be like living with dentures?

People who are new to wearing dentures naturally have many questions about how their life will change. New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place. During this time, it’s not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should diminish. Dentures can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that little change in appearance will be noticeable. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile and help fill out the appearance of your face and profile. Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the dentures from tipping. As you become accustomed to chewing, add other foods until you return to your normal diet. Cont…

Is it safe to have an X-ray while pregnant?

Some women worry about whether it’s safe to have an X-ray exam while they are pregnant. This can cause them to put off treatment they need. However, untreated dental infections can pose a risk to the fetus, and dental treatment may be necessary to maintain the health of the mother and child. Sometimes this will mean an X-ray is necessary. Radiation from dental X-rays is extremely low but every precaution is taken to minimize radiation exposure. For example, a leaded apron reduces exposure to the abdomen and should be used when a dental radiograph is taken. In addition, a leaded thyroid collar can protect the thyroid from radiation, and should be used whenever possible. The use of a leaded thyroid collar is strongly recommended for women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children. Overall there is no reason to avoid dental radiographs (X-rays) while pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant. Follow your dentist’s advice and ask questions if you have any concerns.

How Invisalign can replace metal braces

The Invisalign system is a series of clear, thin, mouthguards that fit over the teeth and can gradually straighten them. These have been called “invisible braces” as they can be an effective alternative to metal braces in some circumstances. The big advantage of Invisalign is much improved appearance and comfort. Invisalign mouthguards can be removed during eating and when brushing and flossing. As traditional braces may trap food and plaque, this is another major benefit of Invisalign. While the system has advantages, it also has some drawbacks. For example, it is more expensive – costing 25-50 percent more than metal braces. Also the fact that you remove the mouthguards more often means that you may forget to wear them and it could take longer for you to achieve the desired results. Invisalign is better suited to some people than others – for example, it may be particularly suitable for adults who have slight to moderate spacing or crowding of their teeth. Your dentist will be able…