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During the summer there are so many barbecues, festivals and other opportunities for my children to consume too much sugar in the form of soda and other sweets. What would you recommend?

added on: January 20, 2012

My first suggestion for controlling dental problems from sugar consumption is to confine the intake of sweets to mealtimes. If your child only has sweets at these times there is a limit, biologically speaking, to the destructive phase of the sweets. At the fairs and festivals its much harder to restrict these consumption times. A thorough brushing and flossing would be my strong recommendation. If there is ever a time to floss the teeth, it would be now. I marvel at the confections that are at these events, from cotton candy to mega-sized sodas. Let’s face it, though. We all splurge and have our favorite sweets. Having a plan to control the deleterious effects is key!

I saw the Dr. Oz show the other day on oral cancer. I never realized that it was so prevalent. Why is it that oral cancer exams aren’t done routinely?

added on: January 20, 2012

I applaud Dr. Oz for increasing the public’s awareness of this common, easy to detect type of cancer. Dentists who have included this as a staple of their routine exam have long maintained the importance of this quick and simple examination. We are all trained in school to perform oral cancer exams. It takes an extremely short amount of time. Early detection can make treatment very successful. Failure to diagnose these diseases can be deadly.

How fortunate are we that oral cancer is so easy to detect? It is embarrassing that this is not performed routinely on every patient. Oral cancer has always been a formidable danger. The death rate from oral cancer is higher than that of cervical, testicular, laryngeal and thyroid cancers. It surpasses Hodgkin’s lymphoma and malignant melanoma as well. With the rise in Human Papilloma Virus caused oral cancer spread through oral sex, the tragedy of non-detection looms larger. Insist on an oral cancer check at your next examination with the dentist.

I have always been very anxious about having dental treatment. I would rather have a baby than go to the dentist but am concerned because I have a number of broken teeth in my mouth. What can I do?

added on: January 20, 2012

Dental anxiety affects patients of all ages. It may have arisen from a previous bad dental experience, even if it was years ago. Sometimes, it comes from unknown cues related to previous experiences. Regardless of its origin, it can negatively impact on a appearance and health. Thankfully, a number of things can be done to counteract this. First of all, start off with a dental team you feel comfortable with. An interview with the dentist and the staff before your first visit might be helpful. Getting past the sights, sounds and smells that may accompany a dental office may be a good thing before committing to a treatment appointment. Get to know the doctor. Bring a list of questions. Don’t be embarrassed! The dental team will appreciate your upfront approach and help you to work past your negative feelings.

Common methods of dealing with the anxiety are avoiding appointments late in the day and don’t have any caffeine before the appointment. Conscious sedation in the form of nitrous oxide or sweet air works wonders in many cases. Many dental offices have this form of sedation- even for dental cleanings! Nitrous oxide can provide profound relaxation without being asleep and is completely reversible before leaving the office. In instances where the patient feels that sweet air may not suffice, oral sedation can be provided to make the patient completely comfortable. Taking these medications will necessitate an escort to and from the dental office as they take time to wear off and make driving dangerous.

I find that as I am getting older that my my mouth is becoming more dry. I have heard that this can be bad for your mouth. What can I do for this annoying problem?

added on: January 20, 2012

Dry mouth is not a function so much of old age. Most cases are related to the side effects of medications that many senior patients take. Other common causes are mouth breathing and CPAP relieved sleep apnea.

Reduced saliva flow reduces many benefits that we never knew existed. Saliva helps to wash food off our teeth and gums. Without it, all foods tend to be more sticky and the its lingering promotes plaque which increases tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque does its damage by making the pH in our mouths more acidic. Saliva helps to neutralize this. The other detriments of dryness is difficulty swallowing, speaking and the development of sores around removable dental appliances.

Treatment of xerostomia, or dry mouth, can take many forms. Simply drinking more water can help as can chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless lozenges. There are many saliva substitutes available that can be great for people who wear removable appliances. Ask your dentist or hygienist for samples to see which brand suits you. If you have your natural teeth or extensive bridgework, the dentist may recommend wearing a fluoride holding tray at night. The fluoride can help prevent decay around bridgework which can become prevalent and its repair costly.

My dentist says I should be more concerned about the wear of my teeth. I can see a lot of tiny crack lines in my front and I’ve broken a couple of teeth in the back. How do I know if or when it needs to be treated in depth?

added on: January 20, 2012

Wear can be as destructive as decay (or cavities). Unnatural wear is that which comes not from chewing but from other habits such as grinding, clenching, biting on foreign objects or chemical erosion from bulemia or acid reflux. Many times teeth will wear slowly and it may be interpreted as a normal part of the aging process. They get shorter and flatter and may start to overlap or shift. The danger in leaving teeth like this is they can chip or break easily and fixing them may be compromised as there can be very little tooth structure left to work with and the repaired part can’t be that strong. Ultimately, the solution may be to alleviate the wear issue and restore the worn teeth back to the dimension they originally had. Having these things treated as early as possible can save a lot of time and expense.

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