Already Have Or Want An Oral Piercing?

Think oral piercings are cool and want to get one? You may want to rethink that idea and do some homework on the risk factors before putting that small hole in your tongue, lip, cheek or uvula! Oral piercings have been a cool way of expressing yourself and wearing jewelry in the oral cavity but can be very dangerous to your teeth as well as your overall health. Your mouth is loaded with bacteria and these piercings can lead to infections and swelling.  This swelling can quickly lead to the blockage of your airway causing difficulty breathing.

Risk factors to Oral Piercings:

  • Choking hazard if they break off in your mouth
  • Interfere with your speech
  • Damage your tongue – nerve damage is usually temporary but can be permanent – this can affect your taste buds as well as how you move your mouth.
  • Causes gum recession- according to the ADA 50% if individuals with lip piercings have gum recession and 44% who have tongue piercings.
  • Chip your teeth or fillings
  • Allergic reactions to the metals in the jewelry
  • Excessive drooling – piercings increase salivary flow

Medical Concerns Oral Piercings can lead to:

  • Gum Disease
  • Uncontrolled bleeding, as your mouth is very vascular
  • Long-term infections such as Hepatitis B & C
  • If you have heart disease, diabetes or an autoimmune disease you have a higher risk of infection

If you choose to get an oral piercing make sure you protect yourself. Make sure you’re up on your hepatitis B and tetanus vaccines. Ask questions and make sure they are willing to answer them. You want a clean licensed shop that uses sterile tools or ones that are thrown away after each use. Be sure the piercer washes their hands with antimicrobial soap and wears disposable gloves, and finally make sure it is good quality jewelry that is made of surgical steel, solid gold or platinum. It usually takes 3-4 weeks for the area to heal after the piercing, during that time you want to make sure you take good care of the area to prevent infection. The following is recommended for best healing results:

  • Rinse every time after eating and before bed- its recommended to use a warm- salt water rinse
  • Avoid contact with other peoples saliva (kissing, sharing cups, utensils, etc…)
  • Avoid spicy, salty or acid foods and drinks
  • Avoid hot beverages
  • Eat smaller bites of food

If you already have oral piercings be sure to keep the area clean, and if you notice any swelling or irritation contact your dental provider immediately. Please refrain from rubbing or playing with the piercing against your teeth. Also take it out when playing sports and periodically check the tightness. Overall, the best option would be to remove the piercing before it causes a problem.

References:

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/o/oral-piercings

https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/oral-piercing

 

Dental Implants

As I mentioned last week, today’s blog will focus on the second most common way to restore a gap between teeth; Dental Implants. A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically placed within the jawbone.  In most cases implants are positioned below the gumline by an oral surgeon. The implant needs three to six months to heal and fuse to bone. We want to make sure the jawbone and your body is going to accept the implant before proceeding with the implant crown. If everything goes as planned in the healing process your dentist will remove the healing cap, fit an abutment to the implant, followed by the implant crown.  Implants are beneficial because they do not have to be anchored to other teeth like a bridge. Implants can also be used in some cases to help support bridges and dentures in patients who do not have enough teeth or bone to keep them stable.

To be a candidate for an implant you must have healthy gums, and enough bone to support the implant. If you do not have enough bone sometimes an oral surgeon is able to do a bone graft before the implant is placed, this does add to the healing time and length of the implant process. If an implant is being placed on the maxilla (upper jaw) the oral surgeon will also need to make sure there is enough height and that the sinuses are not too close. If the sinuses are too close, a sinus lift may be needed before an implant can be placed. It’s also important to know before you invest in an implant that smoking is a major factor in the success of an implant. Smoking can weaken the bone causing an implant to fail.  If you are a smoker and interested in an implant, I would recommend you stop smoking before spending the money on an implant.

Dental implants are durable and can last a lifetime as long as you take care of them. They require meticulous homecare and keeping up with your routine recalls with your hygienist. As a hygienist, I have a very specific recall protocol that I follow with my implant patients. There are certain products and instruments that I use, as well as recommend, that are safe for daily use with implants. If you already have implants some products I recommend for your daily homecare routine are; non mint, non waxed floss- working a criss-cross motion around the base of the implant, a WaterPik Waterflosser, a Sonicare electric toothbrush and daily Act fluoride rinse. All of my homecare instructions are specific to each of my implant patients but that is a general recommendation and place for you to start.

IMG_2886

  • Model of what the titanium post would look like below the gumline with an implant crown.

Missing A Tooth or Two?

Did you have to have a tooth extracted, and now have a gap between two teeth? You’re not alone; the American Dental Association reported that the average American between ages 20-64 has three decayed or missing teeth. The two most common ways to restore a gap between teeth are Dental Implants or Bridges. Today’s blog will focus on benefits of a dental bridge. A dental bridge is a fixed prosthetic that is cemented to existing teeth surrounding the space where the tooth was extracted. It is made up of three or more crowns. The natural teeth on either side of the gap will be prepped for crowns. These crowns are called abutment crowns and the false tooth in between is called a pontic. The abutment crowns are the anchor teeth for the bridge and connect to the pontic crown. Bridges can be made from gold, porcelain, alloy metals, or a combination of all three materials.

Dental Bridges are beneficial in many ways:

  • Restore your smile
  • Allow you to chew
  • Allow you to speak properly
  • Maintain your facial structure
  • Prevent other teeth from shifting or super-erupting

What is the process?

During the first visit the abutment teeth will be prepped. This is done by removing a small portion of the enamel and recontouring the tooth to allow for a crown to be placed on top. Then an impression will be taken to be used as a model from which the bridge will be made at the lab. Once the final impression is done a temporary bridge will be made for you to wear. This temporary bridge protects your teeth and gums while your bridge is being made. The second visit is about 2-3 weeks later. This visit is a shorter visit where we remove the temporary bridge, and cement the final permanent bridge.  This process is a general idea as each individual case is different.

Dental bridges are a great option not only for restoring a gap but can also be used to improve a tooth’s appearance and shape.  Bridges can last anywhere from 5 -15 years and even up to a lifetime. The life of a bridge depends on the patient and how well they maintain their oral cavity. So, if you have missing teeth take action and discuss the option of a bridge or implant with your dentist.  Next week’s blog will focus on the benefits of an implant!

  • Below images are not real teeth. Model used to show the two stages of a bridge.

IMG_2837

 

Back to School!

It’s that time of year when parents are singing and doing there happy dance as their kids head back to school! I’m sure most people have started their back to school shopping. I know my son is starting preschool this fall and he is all excited about his new backpack and lunch box! Oh the little things in life that makes children happy.

With the new school year starting, I wanted to share a story that I had read from a fellow facebook friend. This friend is a teacher and shared their recent experience at Wal-Mart while shopping for school supplies.  I wanted to share it with you as I think it’s important. When I was a kid I could not wait for the letter in the mail to come telling me who my teacher was, and what school supplies I needed. I know school supplies are not cheap, but it is what every student needs to start the school year off successfully. The teacher I mentioned above was at Wal-Mart shopping for classroom supplies. As he was shopping two sets of parents, in front of their children were complaining to him about school supplies and how much they cost and how inconsiderate these teachers are asking parents to buy all these supplies. Once the teacher finished shopping he got in line at the register and the gentleman in front of him finished paying, smiled and said “you’re a teacher right”, thank you for all you do, here is a little gift for you. The gentleman handed him a $25 gift card to use towards his purchase, as they walked away the gentleman’s daughter had a huge smile on her face. This is the short version of the story, but the reason I wanted to share is to remind people how positivity goes a long way. The attitude, excitement, and respect, we as parents show towards school and teachers, will reflect our children’s outlook. If they start school with the power of positivity they will have a better, more positive school year, setting them up for greater success.

Fun School Facts!

  • Boston’s Latin School is the oldest public school in the U.S. It opened on April 23, 1635.
  • High School did not exist until the 1930’s, during the great depression as there were not enough jobs to support teenagers as well as families.
  • In the U.S approximately 480,000 school buses bring children back & forth to school.
  • School buses are yellow because it attracts more attention than any other color.
  • Crayola started making crayons in 1903 with 8 colors now they have 120.
  • By the time a child is 10 it is believed they have worn down 730 crayons.
  • It is believed that a single pencil can draw a line 35 miles long.
  • Erasers were added to Pencils in 1858.
  • Worldwide 14 billion pencils are made each year.
  • 67% of kids like school.

 

~Happy New School Year~

 

Have You Tried Bamboo Toothbrushes?

Single use plastic is a popular discussion topic right now. Many companies are no longer using plastic straws because of the gross amounts of waste, but what about plastic toothbrushes? With all this talk about single use plastic and how it’s getting shipped off to other countries, dumped in the ocean, effecting other cultures and animals, I decided to do a little more research myself. I learned that almost 5 billion plastic toothbrushes are disposed of worldwide and they will never biodegrade. They will continue to pollute our oceans and sit in landfills, leaking plastic toxins into our environment. After some online research and discussions with my patients I learned about brushing with Bamboo toothbrushes. When looking at bamboo brushes you need to do your research because not all of them are as eco friendly as they say. The top two rated bamboo brush companies I found are; Brush with Bamboo and Mother’s Vault. These brushes are plant based from the handle, bristles and even the wrapper and box.

Brushing with Bamboo:

This company is a Green America certified business. The handle is 100% compostable but the bristles are not. It’s very difficult for a company to make a toothbrush without using nylon in the bristles. The bristles are made up of 62% castor bean oil and 38% nylon and it’s made in the USA (1). These bristles are the most advanced biobased bristle in the world today, but unfortunately still not biodegradable. This company harvests their bamboo from mountains in china, where is it grown without chemicals or irrigation. After they harvest the bamboo, it only takes two years for a new one to grow to full size! The packaging is also compostable.

Mother’s Vault:

“This is an all-natural, organic based company that focuses on finding the most environmental way to create products” (2). This company is based in California, and they make the Mao bamboo toothbrush.  This company’s brush is made of 100% real biodegrable bamboo, but the bristles are made of 100% BPA free nylon. The nylon bristles make it a little less sustainable than Brushing with Bamboo, but otherwise equivalent. This company’s packaging is also great, and actually even better for the environment than Brushing with Bamboo as it has no inner wrapping. This company also donates a portion of sales to EarthJustice charity.

The design of both of these brushes is very similar. Many of the reviews I read explained the brushes were comfortable to hold, brush heads were a normal size for adults, maybe a little big for children and overall people had a great brushing experience. If you choose to try a bamboo toothbrush, here are a few special details on how to take care of your bamboo brush and dispose of your brush that are important.

How to properly store them:

It’s important to remember that bamboo is a natural material, and keeps best when stored in a dry, open-air toothbrush holder, do not store them in an enclosed case. How often will you need to change it? With proper care a bamboo brush will last the traditional amount of time, 3 months or when frayed.

How to properly dispose?

The different parts of the toothbrush are disposed of separately. The bristles are not biodegradable so they need to be removed with pliers and put into the trash. The bristles are so small and lightweight curbside recycling won’t work. Yes, they will go into landfill but will only result in less than 0.01 ounces of plastic waste, which much less than traditional plastic toothbrushes(1). The handle can then be composted and will turn to soil within 6 months, or feel free to re-use it in a creative way.

The use of Bamboo to make these brushes is great because Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and contains naturally- occurring antimicrobial agents. This means there is no need for using fertilizers or pesticides during cultivation.  If you’re currently using a manual plastic toothbrush, I encourage you to try one of these bamboo brushes as they can easily be ordered on Amazon.

References:

  1. https://www.brushwithbamboo.com
  2. http://mothersvault.com/
  3. Amazon Reviews for Bamboo Toothbrushes

Why Root Canals?

When most people hear the term root canal they immediately panic. The truth is if treated promptly a root canal is a great way to save a tooth and end your discomfort.

Common root canal symptoms include;

  • Pain, usually hot discomfort and sometimes can be intermittent or constant
  • Swollen, red tissue around the tooth
  • Throbbing or Pressure
  • Facial swelling
  • White draining lesion around the gum line of the tooth (looks like a pimple)

Why are root canals needed?

Teeth are very complex; the center of your tooth is called the pulp, which is filled with nerves and blood vessels.  The pulp can become inflamed or infected; from trauma, decay, cracks in your tooth, or just simply the nerve is dying in that tooth. Once pulp is inflamed or infected you may start to experience some of the above symptoms. The key is to catch these symptoms early as the inflammation or infection will not go away on its own. Antibiotics, if needed, may help to decrease the discomfort but is not a long term treatment. If you choose to ignore this toothache it will lead to more severe pain, tooth loss, and you’re also increasing the risk of it affecting your overall health as your body is fighting the infection.

What is the process?

Many people over think the process of a root canal but it is really pretty simple. Here at Parker River Dental when you come in for your appointment Dr. Davies will administer local anesthesia, this numbs the tooth and tissues around it so you won’t have pain or discomfort during the procedure. Once the area is numb, Dr. Davies will place a rubber dam over the tooth, clean out the tooth and remove the pulp. Once the canals of the tooth are cleaned out, the next step is to fill them back, we use a rubber material called gutta percha, followed by a composite (tooth colored) filling. This procedure is generally done in two appointments. A crown is usually recommended as a follow up 6-8 weeks later as the tooth becomes weak and more susceptible to fracturing once the pulp is removed.

If you experience any of the above symptoms please contact your dentist immediately, they will most likely take an X-ray to evaluate the tooth, bone, ligaments, and nerves. Here at Parker River Dental we have had patients fall sleep in our chair while root canal procedures are being done. The pain and fear associated with root canals is from the infection of the tooth. When the root canal is treated promptly most people never have to experience the severe pain that people associate with them.

Mindful Brushing

Do you multitask when brushing your teeth? “Research has shown that too much multitasking has the same effect on our IQ’s as a bong hit.” – Katrina Alcorn

I have been reading a book with my fitness challenge group called “Breathe Mama Breathe” by Shonda Moralis which focuses on everyday mindful moments.  I don’t think we realize how often our mind wonders and we lose focus on the present.  Most of us are guilty of being on autopilot and multitasking. As a hygienist I’m always interested when books incorporate dental topics. In chapter two Shonda discusses tooth brushing, and how most people struggle staying focused for the entire two minutes. She explains how she is guilty of “feeling compelled to walk around desperately looking to multitask.” When I was reading this I started laughing because I’m just as guilty in the morning opening my blinds, getting my lunch out of the fridge and as I talked to friends and patients I realized this is a common practice. I’m not sure if people do it out of habit, boredom or want to use their time wisely but we all need to stop and be more mindful of our brushing routine.

Tooth brushing is a great time to take two minutes for yourself and your thoughts. Challenge yourself to be present while brushing, hold your toothbrush lightly and enjoy the smell of your toothpaste and the tingle on your gums. Set a two minute timer if your toothbrush does not have one and focus on each individual section of your mouth.

I’m sharing this is because we all are so busy and feel that multitasking is the best way to get through the day, but the truth is sometimes we need to slow down and focus on one moment at a time.  If you’re a parent I highly recommend this book as a guide to help you feel more connected with yourself and your family.

IMG_1887 (1)