Please check frequently asked questions by our patients:
My 11-year-old daughter likes chewing on ice. Should I be concerned?
Next to a diamond, tooth enamel is the hardest substance known. But it’s not indestructible. To preserve the beauty and integrity of teeth, children and adults alike should never use their teeth to crack nut shells or popcorn kernels. Chewing on ice is also a bad idea. Using teeth as ‘tools’ to open packages can also damage precious tooth enamel and should, therefore, be avoided.
Are soft drinks bad for teeth?
In a word, yes. Sugar, and the resulting acids they form, are among your teeth’s worst enemies. Be it from soft drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juices (yes even so called ‘healthy’ juices deliver highly concentrated levels of sugar). When it comes to sugar content, Mountain Dew seems to be the leading offender. In fact, it’s so laden with sugar that dentists refer to the resulting condition from habitual consumers as Dew Mouth! By softening tooth enamel, these drinks make it susceptible to decay.
The one ‘good sugar’ is xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar. According to Wikipedia, it “is actively beneficial for dental health by reducing cavities to a third in regular use and helpful to re-mineralization. Multiple studies utilizing electron microscopy have indicated that xylitol is effective in inducing re-mineralization of deeper layers of de-mineralized enamel.” An extra bonus is that xylitol has fewer calories than does regular sugar.
Because your child’s enamel has yet to fully develop, be vigilant in ensuring they do not (over) consume these drinks. Reducing, if not eliminating, their consumption, regular use of a xylitol chewing gum after meals, and rinsing with a high-quality dental mouthwash, your kids’ teeth will be healthy and beautiful – ready to face the challenges of adulthood with a (healthy) smile!
Are tongue piercings as bad an idea as they seem?
While, to some, tongue piercings might look cool, there are indeed a number of consequences that accompany that facial fashion statement. Piercings can fracture teeth. They can also make it simpler to contract an infection of lips and tongue. It is estimated that as many as 40% of those with oral piercings have experienced these problems.
WebMD lists additional risk factors as:
- Infections: The wound that a piercing creates introduces vast amounts of bacteria to the oral cavity, which contribute to increased risk of infection.
- Disease Transmission: Piercings can increase the risk for transmission of hepatitis B and C, and the herpes simplex virus
- Endocarditis: Wounds of the mouth, such as those created by tongue piercing, can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, and lead to endocarditis — an inflammation of the heart and its valves. This is especially the case with people who have an (often asymptomatic and undiagnosed) heart condition.
- Excessive bleeding and nerve damage: Punctured blood vessels following the piercing procedure can result in prolonged bleeding. Numbness or loss of sensation at the piercing site, as well as restricted ability to move the tongue, can mean nerve damage. There is also the risk of restricted breathing if swelling of the tongue following the piercing is severe enough.
- Gum Disease: People with oral piercings, especially so called barbells (long-stem tongue jewelry), are at increased risk of gum disease as compared with those whose mouths are free of piercings. They can also cause gum recession, which can in turn result in tooth loss.
- Tooth damage: Repeated contact between the piercing and teeth can cause teeth to crack and chip. One study reported 47% of people with barbell tongue jewelry four or more years’ experience at least one damaged tooth.
- Difficulty with daily oral function: Tongue piercing can make chewing, swallowing, and even speaking clearly difficult. Jewelry, being a foreign body in the mouth, stimulates excessive saliva production. Drooling is another consequence. Even taste can also be adversely affected.
- Allergic reaction to metal: Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition to which some people are susceptible.
- Jewelry aspiration: Then, of course, there’s the danger that the piercing dislodges, creating a choking hazard. If it is swallowed or inhaled, it can cause serious damage to to the digestive track or lungs.
I've heard fluoride can be bad for you - what's the truth?
As with most things in life, it all depends upon how much. In small amounts, fluoride has been proven to help protect teeth from decay. However, in excessive amounts, fluoride can cause tooth enamel to become brittle. Be sure your kids do not swallow toothpaste. A little bit is no cause for concern. People, especially children, use too much toothpaste. Supervise your children while they brush to ensure not only proper technique but also to be sure they use the proper amount (the recommended amount of toothpaste is pea-sized). A little goes a long way!
If I grind my teeth at night, should I be concerned?
Do you ever wake up with a headache or jaw pain? If so, you may indeed be grinding (bruxing) your teeth during sleep. Bruxing can damage and shorten your teeth. It can also cause problems for jaw muscles and joints. Temporomandibular (jaw) joints can lead to many conditions. It may even affect your hearing.
If you have reason to believe you are a night time bruxer, let us know. We can prescribe an oral appliance, mouth guard and other therapies to help you get a good night’s sleep, and wake up refreshed and ready for your day!
Is an oral cancer exam a regular part of your checkups?
Absolutely. Each year in the US, approximately 30,000 people are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Worldwide, the problem is far greater, with new cases annually approaching 300,000. In the US alone, a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. If you add the sub category of laryngeal cancers, the rates of occurrence (about 10,000 additional new cases per year) and death are staggering.
There is good news: when detected early, oral cancers have a nearly 90% cure rate. We consider ourselves to be you first line of defense detecting and treating this life threatening condition. Pre-cancerous lesions can go undetected, which is why a regular oral cancer screening is so important. We’re committed to your overall, not just oral health, which is why we take oral cancer so seriously, and hope you do too.
Are regular teeth cleanings important?
Regular appointments with our hygiene team to get your teeth cleaned, also known as prophylaxis (from the Greek word meaning prevention) does a lot more than just clean your teeth. Preserving your teeth requires regular removal of plaque deposits, which build up between visits to our office. While regular oral care at home (brushing, flossing, and rinsing) is necessary, it is typically not sufficient – think of your dental hygienist as your oral health quarterback — a key member of your Oral Health Team.
What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the joint, which connects your upper and lower jaw joints, and is responsible for the ability to open and close your mouth. Any malfunction of the joint is referred to as a TMJ disorder (sometimes abbreviated as TMD).
Symptoms of TMD includes:
- Pain or tenderness of the face, jaw, ears, and neck
- Stiffness, clicking or locking of the jaw
- Discomfort associated with chewing
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Misalignment of the teeth when closing the mouth or chewing
Fortunately, there are several options available for treatment of TMD. We’ll be happy to tell you more.
Still have questions? Call us at (708) 928-5048 and we’ll be glad to help you!
Oral Cancer Screening Tinley Park IL • TMJ Migraine Headache Dental Treatment • Oral Hygiene Care Illinois
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