3 Ways You Naturally Fight Cavity Formation

Your oral health depends a lot on what you eat and how well you keep up with oral hygiene. But did you know that your body also has quite a variety of natural defenses against cavities? Here are some of the ways your mouth works on a daily basis to fight against cavities forming in your teeth. Our Dentist in Sarasota, FL has more information below.

1. Producing Saliva

You’ve probably heard about saliva’s role in food digestion. It contains enzymes to help start to break down food even before you swallow. But did you know that saliva is also one of the biggest factors in protecting your teeth from cavities and repairing the daily wear and tear they experience?

For example, your saliva is full of minerals, which are carried to your tooth surfaces to help repair any softened enamel that occurs after you eat acidic, sugary, or high-carb foods. The bad bacteria in your mouth produce acids that leach the minerals out of your teeth. This process can lead to decay unless your saliva manages to reverse it by adding minerals back.
So how can you help? The first step is to drink lots of water on a daily basis so your body has plenty of moisture for producing saliva. The next step is to chew gum after meals, which helps your mouth release more saliva and helps swish the saliva all around your mouth.

2. Using Dentinal Fluid

You may have heard that your teeth have tiny dentinal tubules, which become exposed and cause sensitivity when your enamel wears thin. But did you know that these tubules actually have a great cavity-fighting function? They carry needed dentinal fluid containing substances such as nutrients to each tooth’s dentin layer.

However, this function only works properly if your diet is in good shape. That’s because a high-sugar diet can reduce the amount of parotid hormone produced and thus cause the fluid to stop flowing outwards. Then, bacteria and contaminants can invade the tubules, and the fluid with nutrients isn’t carried outward to all parts of the tooth.

So one of the best ways you can help out with this cavity-fighting function is to simply reduce the sugar and empty carbs in your diet. You may also need to work on stress management and make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

3. Fostering Beneficial Microbes

Your mouth is such a great place for bacteria to grow that you’ll never get rid of all the bacteria. Instead, your mouth makes use of beneficial bacteria to help reduce the effects of the bad ones. The more beneficial bacteria are living in your mouth, the fewer acid-producing bacteria will be able to find homes there.

You can help your mouth with this by using a mouthwash that only discourages the bad bacteria rather than carpet-bombing all the microbes in your mouth. For example, you can use an alkaline mouthwash, since bad bacteria love to grow in an acidic environment, and good bacteria tend to prefer a less acidic environment.

And if you want to take it a step further, you can work on getting more probiotic foods (foods that contain beneficial microbes) into your diet. Probiotic foods are foods such as kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut that have live active cultures in them.

If you don’t want to eat more of these types of foods (or can’t for medical reasons), you may consider looking into an oral probiotic supplement formulated to deliver beneficial bacteria to your mouth. Beneficial bacteria can help with a variety of issues, including gum disease and bad breath, and may even kill some of the bad bacteria.

These are just three methodologies that can help naturally fight against cavity formation. Aiding your body in keeping up these three natural processes, while simultaneously keeping up with your great oral hygiene, could lessen your chances of contracting tooth decay.
Whether you’re in need of fillings or looking for more advanced restorative work, call the office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA today to schedule an appointment.

E-Cigarettes And Dental Health

E-cigarettes have grown in popularity. Even though vaping may seem like a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, these aerosol-producing pens, mods, and systems can still cause serious oral health issues. Whether you or a loved one vapes, look at what you need to know about e-cigarettes and how they can affect your mouth.

E-Cigarette Research

What does science have to say about vaping and oral health? As a newer form of smoking, research on the subject is still ongoing. Unlike the effects of tobacco-containing cigarettes, which have decades’ worth of research to back them up, the results of e-cigarette use are still somewhat unknown.

Even though research on vaping is still in its infancy, medical experts do agree that using any nicotine-containing product is unhealthy and dangerous. Current research into vaping does show that while it doesn’t have quite the same impact of using traditional tobacco-containing products, vaping comes with dental health risks. Read on to learn more about the potential problems that vaping can cause.

Oral Cancer Risk

Mouth cancers (cancers that occur on the lips or mostly anywhere in the mouth) have many different causes. Risk factors have traditionally included smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, using pipes or cigars, drinking large amounts of alcohol, exposing the body to the sun for large amounts of time, and getting the human papillomavirus.

However, along with regular cigarettes, smoking e-cigarettes can also put the user at an increased risk for oral cancers. The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health found that smokers who used non-cigarette products (including e-cigarettes) also had exposure to carcinogens.

Not only were non-cigarette users at risk, but the levels of carcinogens they had exposure to were often comparable to those of exclusive cigarette smokers. Exposure to carcinogens, such as those in cigarettes and e-cigarettes, can lead to cancers of the mouth.

Gum Damage

Along with raising the risk of developing oral cancer, e-cigarette use can lead to serious gum problems. Research published in Oncotarget found that e-cigarette use can contribute to gum tissue cell damage.

If you think that this type of damage is less than what a tobacco-containing cigarette would cause, think again. Nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapors have comparable gum-damaging properties as the traditional type of cigarette.

The gum cell damage that vaping can cause puts the user at an increased risk for periodontal infections. Periodontitis — a serious infection of the gum — destroys the soft tissue, potentially causing gum recession, tooth loss, or systemic infections.

Catching periodontal disease early is essential. A dentist’s diagnosis is necessary, as well as professional-level treatment. While stopping e-smoking can prevent future damage, this won’t reverse existing effects.

In some cases, depending on the extent of the gum damage, routine cleanings and care may promote gingival healing. Extensive damage may require root planning and scaling, gum flap surgery, or other similar treatments.

Oral Infections

While vaping itself doesn’t cause oral infections, it can reduce blood flow to the mouth area. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes also contain nicotine. Even though nicotine doesn’t contain teeth-staining tobacco, the nicotine ingredient can negatively impact the user’s body.

Nicotine’s effects on blood vessels can cause problems throughout the body. Along with potentially causing cardiac issues, the restricted blood flow to the mouth can make the area more susceptible to infections.

If the user isn’t willing to stop smoking e-cigarettes, the increased risk for infection requires proper routine dental care — including at-home care and regular dental visits. While this won’t eliminate the risk, this can help to reduce the likelihood of a bacterial invasion. Learn more about this from our Sarasota Dentists.

Do you vape? Does your teen, spouse, or loved one use e-cigarettes? If you or someone you love vapes, you need professional dental care to prevent or reverse damage. Contact Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA, for more information.

Are Your Teeth Appearing To Shrink?

While some patients feel that their permanent teeth are too large or too long, others are concerned about their smile falling on the other side of the size spectrum. You may grow in a relatively small set of teeth as a teen, which is apparently a natural step in our evolution, or you may notice your teeth seem to get smaller as you’re getting older.

The appearance of shrinking teeth may be caused by actual loss of tooth material or other changes in your mouth that simply make them look smaller. Your dentist in Sarasota is the only one who can determine what’s affecting your teeth.

Wear and Grinding

If the individual teeth are actually smaller than they once were, the problem is most likely physical wear. Jaw clenching and tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is the most common culprit, but extremely weak teeth can slowly wear away just from normal chewing and brushing.

A diet high in acids and poor brushing and rinsing habits also accelerate wear on the teeth. Your dentist will take measurements over a course of time to understand the amount of damage you’ve experienced. Dental crowns and sealants can prevent further damage but only after the original bruxism or other cause of wear is addressed.

Natural Aging

Years and decades of chewing and repetitive forces change the appearance of the front teeth. By the time a person is in their 70s or 80s, the front teeth tend to look significantly shorter through either wear or a frontward tilt that makes an intact tooth appear smaller.

Many people lose some or all of their teeth by this age, so tooth loss isn’t a major concern as long as it’s primarily cosmetic. If a person’s ability to eat or speak is impaired, your dentist can remove the teeth and add implants to replace the most worn or tilted teeth and restore function quickly.

Gum Overgrowth

In younger patients and menopausal women alike, gum spreading and overgrowth is a common cause of teeth that suddenly look smaller and shorter without any wear or tear on the edges. Teeth turn translucent around the worn surfaces, so the problem may be the gums swelling or spreading and covering some of the tooth surface is signs of wear are missing.

Gum overgrowth is often triggered by an underlying infection or hormonal change. When gum growth has no distinct underlying cause, the dentist can remove the unnecessary gum tissue to restore the usual appearance of your teeth.

Orthodontic Treatment

Some people think that their teeth look smaller after having braces removed or other orthodontic treatments completed. In most cases, this is simply due to the patient getting used to the appearance of the extra hardware and forgetting the true size of their original teeth.

Removing parts of the braces, such as the wire attachment points, does require some minor abrasion and polishing of the teeth. The orthodontist may also need to polish some corners or edges to help teeth fit together properly in the end. All of these treatments leave you with slightly smaller teeth, although few patients can truly tell a difference in the end.

Tooth Reshaping

Finally, if you asked your dentist to shave down or reshape teeth you feel are too large, the result will definitely cause the appearance of shrinking. Your dentist has to add a veneer or crown to make teeth look bigger, so you and your dentist should make the right decisions before committing to any dental reshaping.

Schedule an appointment with our team here at Kenneth Schweizer, DDS, PA, to figure out if your teeth are shrinking or just look smaller. Regardless of the problem, we’ll help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful.

Worn Teeth: An In-Depth Look At This Problem And Its Solutions

As you age, it’s completely natural for your tooth enamel to slowly wear down. At the age of 30, for example, a “normal” adult will have lost about a millimeter from their front teeth due to the friction caused by chewing. Unfortunately, an increasing number of older adults are experiencing excessive wear beyond what’s considered normal. This can lead to a number of problems, from an unattractive smile to tooth sensitivity.

If you suspect you may be suffering from excessively worn teeth, it’s best to address this problem sooner rather than later. Here’s a closer look at worn teeth, common causes, how you can prevent wear, and treatment options your dentist may recommend.

Common Causes of Excessive Tooth Wear

When you visit your dentist in Sarasota, FL to discuss your worn teeth, one of the first things he or she will do is work with you to determine the cause of your excessive tooth wear. This way, you can address the cause of the wear to prevent it from becoming any worse. In some patients, tooth wear has a single cause, and in other patients, the wear is brought on by a combination of several of these factors.

Grinding and Clenching

If you grind or clench your teeth when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, this can cause the enamel to wear down prematurely. When you grind one tooth against another, the friction can slowly rub away the enamel. Clenching your jaw leads to the formation of micro-cracks in the tooth enamel. The enamel around these cracks then wears away more easily when you chew or brush your teeth.

Physical Abrasion

Similar to how sandpaper wears away at wood, chewing on hard items like fingernails and pen caps can slowly take away the enamel on your teeth. Brushing too hard with an overly stiff toothbrush can have a similar effect. This is one reason dentists generally recommend using a soft toothbrush and a gentle touch when brushing.

Acidic Foods and Beverages

When you consume acidic foods or beverages, the acid weakens your enamel. Then the enamel is more easily worn away when you brush your teeth or chew harder foods. Common acidic foods and beverages include sodas, citrus juices, and tomato sauce. Those with bulimia also experience acid wear due to frequent exposure of their teeth to acidic stomach contents.

Problems Caused By Worn Teeth

Many patients first notice their teeth are showing wear when they look in the mirror. However, excessive tooth wear can cause an array of other issues that you may not immediately realize are associated with the wear.

Yellowed Teeth

Your enamel is naturally quite white, but the layer beneath it—the dentin—is yellowish. As your enamel wears away and becomes thinner, the dentin starts showing through, and your teeth develop a more yellowed appearance. This is usually most obvious along the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

Sensitivity

Do you experience a piercing pain when you sip something hot or cold? This sensitivity is likely due to the thinness of your worn enamel. The hot and cold items are coming into close contact with the nerve endings in the dentin of your teeth, causing an overreaction.

Headaches and Jaw Aches

When your teeth are badly worn down, they don’t always come together properly. This misalignment in your bite can cause strain in your jaw, and this strain can radiate and lead to headaches.

Difficulty Biting and Chewing

The bite misalignment that results from excessive tooth wear may also make it harder to bite into items like apples and carrots. You may also struggle to chew since your teeth no longer fit together properly.

Treatment Options for Worn Teeth

Once your dentist confirms that you are, in fact, suffering from excessive tooth wear, he or she will help you explore ways to address the main causes of this wear. For example, you may be instructed to switch to a softer toothbrush, wear a mouth guard to prevent you from grinding your teeth at night, or stay away from acidic foods.

To correct the already existing wear, your dentist may recommend one of these treatments.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored composite material will be applied to the edge of your teeth. The composite will cover the worn surfaces, improving the appearance of your teeth and also addressing any bite alignment and sensitivity issues you may be experiencing. Dental bonding is usually the best option for minor to moderate enamel erosion in isolated spots.

Dental Crowns

If certain teeth are very badly worn on several surfaces, your dentist may recommend covering those teeth with dental crowns in Sarasota, FL. A dental crown is typically made from porcelain or composite resin. It covers the entire tooth, helping to stop any chips or cracks from spreading while protecting the tooth from additional enamel damage.

Your dentist may also recommend that you undergo fluoride treatments or use a fluoride rinse to harden your enamel and help prevent subsequent wear.

If you are experiencing increased tooth sensitivity, headaches, and trouble chewing, you may be suffering from excessive tooth wear. Visit a cosmetic dentist today to explore your treatment options.

Gums, Gum Disease, And Treatment

The Owner’s Guide to Gums, Gum Disease, and Treatment

Your gums are called “gingiva” by medically trained people, including your dentist. Healthy gums provide a safe, nurturing base for your teeth. Gums are like cushioned pink armor that protects the teeth and roots of teeth from bacterial invasion and trauma.

If your gums become diseased with gingivitis or other issues, the gingiva can’t protect your teeth as well as it’s designed to do. The gums may develop pockets where bacteria enter below the gum line and decay the roots and teeth. Also, there are tiny fibers that make up the periodontal ligament and attach your gums to your teeth (so those pearly whites stay put when you chew or talk). The tiny fibers may be weakened due to gum disease and fail to keep your teeth stuck to your gums.

There are several risky behaviors and health issues that lead to gum disease. The good news is, your dentist has treatments that address the beginning and advanced stages of gum disease.

Risks for Developing Gum Disease

Since gum disease is caused by plaque, and plaque is caused by bacteria, it makes sense that the risk of gum disease goes up for people who don’t brush their teeth routinely. Keep your mouth clean and free of debris between the teeth and along the gum line to reduce your chances of contracting gingivitis.

Use floss to remove stubborn food bits between teeth that are tightly situated next to each other. If your family has a history of gum disease, pay special attention to your teeth, because you may be more prone to developing gum disease yourself.

Other risk factors include smoking, which interferes with the proper function of the gums. Ask your dentist in Sarasota or doctor about ways you can quit if smoking is causing your gums to go bad. Certain prescription medications and inadequate caloric intake also raise the risk of suffering from gum disease.

Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, life changes, or sickness may also put the gums at risk of harm due to gingivitis. In the case of pregnancy-related gum changes, your mouth will most likely return to normal after your baby’s birth. There’s also an association between vitamin C intake and gum disease, so make sure you’re getting all of your vitamins and eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.

Signs of Emerging and Advanced Gingivitis

Your mouth normally gives you signs when there’s infection or injury. You may first notice gingivitis when you experience a sour or coppery taste in your mouth. Your breath may be unpleasant. Some people feel slight pain or tenderness around the gum line.

Spitting out blood-tinged saliva after brushing your teeth is another worrisome sign of gum disease. If you’re brushing your teeth too vigorously, this may be the cause of bleeding gums. If your gums bleed even with gentle brushing, suspect gingivitis.

In more advanced stages of gum disease, the gums may turn pale. The gum line may start to recede or draw back away from some or all of the teeth.

Gingivitis left untreated becomes severe periodontal disease affecting the bones of the jaw and roots of teeth. Eventually, your teeth may begin to feel loose or fall out when the gums completely expose the teeth.

Early Treatments for Gum Disease

Your dentist will perform techniques called dental scaling and root planing. A sharp metal or ultrasonic tool (or both) will be used to scrape away the tartar and plaque above and below the gum line. The dentist may shift back and forth between manual and ultrasonic tools to get all of the plaque and biofilm (bacterial matter) off of your teeth.

Root scaling is using the same procedure on the root of teeth. The dentist reduces deposits on the roots that may attract future bacterial growth. if your gum disease is severe, the complete process of smoothing out your teeth may take several visits to the dentist’s office.

Depending on the sensitivity of your teeth, dental scaling and root planing range from slightly uncomfortable to moderately painful. Ask your dentist about in-office pain-relief options if you’re worried about mouth discomfort during the scaling and planing procedures.

Surgical Treatment for Advanced Gum Disease

Gingival flap surgery is one option when there is severe gum disease or periodontitis. In the gingival flap procedure, your gums are separated from your teeth and tucked out of the way. Your teeth and the roots are exposed, so your periodontist or dentist can remove inflamed tissue and other problems below the gum line.

Your dentist will scale and plane the roots and base portions of teeth as described above. The dentist may also smooth out any rough bone edges or pockets in the jawline.

After the intense periodontal cleanup, your gums are folded back over the teeth and stitched in place using removable or dissolving stitches. Pain after gingival flap surgery is moderate to strong for up to a week, so discuss pain-relief options with your dentist when you schedule your procedure.

Contact Kenneth Schweizer DDS PA today with your questions and concerns about dental issues including gum disease and periodontitis. Our office delivers state-of-the-art dentistry with competence and compassion.

Recovery And Dental Care After A Filling

Tips for Optimal Recovery and Dental Care After a Filling

Dental cavities are common among Americans of all ages. Not many people escape childhood without getting multiple tooth fillings in Sarasota, FL. They’re necessary because of tooth decay that’s caused by cavities. If you need to have a filling, don’t worry. It’s a simple procedure that can be completed in a short visit to your dentist. Thanks to the use of a local anesthetic, it can be pain-free, too.

How you care for your dental health after a filling is important. You can enjoy the most effective, long-lasting results when you properly care for your teeth after each dental treatment. Consider the following tips to ensure that you do all the right things after getting a filling. After all, if you take good care of your teeth, you may not need another filling any time soon.

Tip #1: Proceed with Caution Until the Numbness Is Gone

After having a filling, it may take a few hours for the local anesthetic to completely wear off. While the mouth is still numb, it’s important to be very careful. Since you won’t be able to feel pain in the areas of your mouth that was anesthetized, you may accidentally hurt your gums, tongue, lips or teeth. Also, you may want to avoid eating until after you have full feeling back in your mouth, so that you don’t accidentally bite the wrong way or hurt yourself.

If the numbness lasts longer than your dentist told you it would, be sure to call your dentist with any questions and concerns.

Tip #2: Bite Carefully Into Food

Whenever you are ready to eat, bite very carefully into your food at first. This caution is especially important when biting down with the tooth that has the new filling. Not every kind of filling is fully set immediately after the treatment is completed, so watch out with harder foods like apples, carrots and croutons. If you need to bite something hard, do it slowly on the other side.

When you bite into something with a new filling, you may notice that there is some sensitivity in the tooth with the filling and perhaps the surrounding teeth, too. It may be sensitive to pressure, heat or coldness. This symptom is normal after a filling and typically goes away within days or weeks. If you’re worried, talk to your dentist.

Tip #3: Make Daily Dental Care Appointments With Yourself

Set a schedule for your dental care habits and stick to it. Treat your dental care routine as though it is as immovable as your work schedule. According to the American Dental Association, the best way to prevent future cavities is to be proactive about your dental health, and that includes the way you take care of your tooth with the new filling.

Make sure you always brush your teeth at least twice every single day with a fluoride toothpaste. You shouldn’t skip the day of your filling unless your dentist instructs you on alternate plans. You should also floss in between all your pearly whites at least once each day. Lastly, don’t forget to swish with mouthwash once per day, too. That is often best before bedtime.

Tip #4: Do Not Smoke

Do not smoke after you get a new filling. Of course, smoking is not a healthy habit for anyone. It’s especially bad for your overall oral health, and smoking after you get a filling should never be done while any part of the mouth is still numb. You may feel confident when you have most of the feeling back, but don’t risk it, or you could easily burn yourself or otherwise get hurt.

Smoking may also increase your risk of getting an infection after a filling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking weakens your body’s immune system and leaves your body more vulnerable to infections, including dental infections. In fact, smokers get gum disease twice as often as non-smokers. If you’ve been smoking for a long time or smoke a lot, your risk may be even greater. And sadly, treatments for gum disease are not as effective for smokers as non-smokers. The habit is basically a dental disaster.

Finally, keep in mind that it is important to focus on your oral health care after a filling. Treat your mouth with gentleness, but be vigilant about keeping a regular schedule of dental cleaning activities. Future cavities may be largely avoided when you maintain good dental hygiene and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Seeing your Sarasota FL dentist for teeth cleanings every six months is an important part of preventing tooth decay and damage, too. Regular exams may reveal tooth issues early before they escalate into major problems. The dental office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA is proud to offer preventative care and a variety of options for restorative work and cosmetic treatments.

Learn The Six Main Risk Factors Of Oral Cancer

Spotlight On Oral Cancer: Learn The Six Main Risk Factors

While you may know that your dentist examines your teeth and gums closely for cavities, decay, and gum disease during every dental check-up, you may not realize that they also examine your mouth closely for signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer can be deadly, and early detection is the key to winning the battle against it.

Among those diagnosed with oral cancer in recent years, only 64.5 percent of them have survived for a full five years after diagnosis. However, the five-year survival rate soars to 83 percent when the cancer is caught in its earliest stages.

While your dentist in Sarasota FL does their part every six months to determine if you are displaying any signs of oral cancer, you can help keep it from forming in the first place by knowing the oral cancer risk factors and eliminating any bad habits in your life that may be raising your risk.

While genetics does play a part in your family’s predisposition to oral cancer development, read on to learn about the six other main risk factors, most of which are avoidable through proper oral cancer screening in Sarasota, FL.

Tobacco Use

While you may know that using chewing tobacco greatly increases a person’s chance of developing oral cancer in their lifetime, you may not realize that tobacco use of any type also raises their risk. If anyone in your family smokes cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe, then urge them to quit.

Not only does smoking increase their chances of developing oral cancer, but it can also impact the health of those around when they smoke — anyone exposed to second-hand smoke is also at greater risk of oral cancer development than someone not exposed to it.

Alcohol Consumption

Medical professionals advise all women of legal drinking age to limit their alcohol consumption to one drink per day and for men of legal age to limit their intake of alcoholic beverages to two drinks per day. The consumption of alcohol raises a person’s chance of the development of many types of cancers, including oral cancer.

While the reason drinking alcohol can cause cancer is still unclear to researchers, they do know that about 70 percent of all people diagnosed with oral cancer drink heavily.

When a person both drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes, it doubles the likelihood that they will develop oral cancer in their lifetime compared to a person who does not smoke or drink heavily.

Sun Exposure

Cancer of the lip is more common in people who work outdoors or perform other tasks outdoors for long periods of time than those who send much of their time indoors. This makes it important to encourage every member of your family to wear a lip balm that contains an SPF of at least 30 any time they are outdoors, especially for long periods of time. Like sunscreen applied to skin, it is also important to reapply SPF lip balm at least every two hours when outdoors.

Immunosuppressant Medications

If you or anyone in your family takes a medication that suppresses their immune system, such as those used to help control autoimmune conditions, then realize that it raises their risk of oral cancer development.

Human Papillomavirus or HPV

If you or your partner have been diagnosed with Human Pappillomavirus, then it is important to know that this can increase your chances of the development of cancer in the tissues in the middle of your throat called your oropharynx.

To help your children avoid catching HPV in the future, which can increase their chances of developing several types of cancer, get them vaccinated against the virus when they are preteens.

An Unhealthy Diet

A diet filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help ward off oral cancer development. Make sure everyone in your family eats plenty of fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants that help fight the free-radicals that cause cancer.

Remember that dentists like Kenneth Schweizer DDS PA examine your mouth for signs of oral cancer every time you visit them for a check-up, so make sure you visit them every six months. However, the first step to preventing oral cancer is living a healthy lifestyle and eliminating any oral cancer risk factors that you can.

Dry Mouth And The Elderly

XEROSTOMIA: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF DRY MOUTH FOR THE ELDERLY

Everyone experiences dry mouth at some time — that sticky, sometimes gritty feeling that comes from feeling parched. In fact, dry mouth occurs when your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva. Xerostomia, which is the medical term for dry mouth, is more than just discomfort. It can have detrimental effects on your health. These effects are especially significant in the elderly.

The Symptoms of Xerostomia

Xerostomia is more than just feeling thirsty, though frequent thirst is a common symptom. In fact, xerostomia not only causes that dry mouth feeling but can manifest as burning or tingling. Dry mouth can result in sores, split skin, and even a raw tongue. Sufferers can even develop a problem with swallowing or speaking.

Unfortunately, dry mouth is especially common in senior citizens. What’s more, if the elderly person is under the care of others, xerostomia may be overlooked.

The Causes of Xerostomia

At its heart, xerostomia is caused by the salivary glands producing too little saliva. The causes of the under-production vary. With senior citizens, dry mouth often occurs because of medications they’re taking. For example, elderly people are more likely to be taking drugs that prevent urinary incontinence, which carry the side effect of xerostomia.

Another common cause of dry mouth is a chronic disorder such as diabetes, hormone imbalances, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Again, these disorders are more common in the elderly.

The Medical Consequences of Xerostomia

Saliva is an important part of not only dental hygiene but overall digestion. Therefore, when there’s not enough saliva present, the medical significance goes beyond feeling uncomfortable. For example, bacteria can build up in the mouth if it’s not being carried away by saliva. This buildup can lead to increased cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss.

Naturally, all of these results can occur in anyone with dry mouth, regardless of age. However, the elderly often have less wiggle room in their oral health. They are more likely to have extensive bridgework, crowns, fillings, and other dental work. If they start developing more cavities or gum disease, their existing dental framework can start to collapse.

Insufficient saliva can lead to loose dentures, which tends to affect the elderly as well. This issue can combine with the cracked lips, muted taste buds, difficulty swallowing, and mouth sores also associated with xerostomia. All those factors combined can lead to the senior citizen feeling reluctant to eat, which naturally can lead to malnutrition.

The Management of Xerostomia

The main method for managing dry mouth should be obvious — drinking plenty of fluids. You should make a habit of having water or other beverages close at hand for regular sipping. However, avoid any beverages that are high in sugar or caffeine. Not only are they unhealthy, but they can actually make the xerostomia worse.

In that vein, if you’re a caregiver, encourage your elderly charge to take in liquids while eating. This should look like taking a sip of water to wet the mouth, taking a bite of food, and washing it down with another sip of water.

It’s also possible to stimulate the salivary glands. One way is by chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugar-free candy. Your Sarasota dentist may even recommend saliva substitutes such as carmellose, hyprolose, or hyetellose. These substitutes come as a lozenge, gel, spray, or solution similar to a mouthwash.

The best method for managing xerostomia is getting regular checkups with a dentist.

The Treatment of Xerostomia

In severe cases of dry mouth, dentists can turn to fluoride trays or saliva stimulants. Fluoride trays consist of trays made to fit the elderly person’s mouth. They fill the tray with fluoride and wear it overnight. The purpose of such trays is to maintain the existing tooth enamel. Saliva stimulants include pilocarpine and cevimeline. They are pills that internally promote the production of saliva.

Whether you’re a caregiver or facing your own golden years, xerostomia is a common condition you should be on the lookout for. Visit Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA, for any dental health concerns you have.

Genetic Dental Issues You Want To Speak To Your Dentist About

Basically, everything about you is based off genetics. The way you look, the depth of your voice, and even the way your natural smile looks can all be traced back in your lineage.

Some dental issues run in the family and should be discussed with your dentist in Sarasota, FL. Anything that can be strongly linked to your genetic history through either parent can put you more at risk to develop or have already. Here is a list of genetic oral concerns your dentist should know about if they occur in your family.

Supernumerary Teeth

A supernumerary tooth is an extra permanent tooth that either stays under the skin and never erupts or actually emerges and becomes part of the row of existing teeth. Often a smaller tooth, a supernumerary tooth can be relatively harmless but may cause crowding in surrounding teeth if you have a smaller mouth or a narrow jawbone.

Your dentist will likely discover the extra tooth or teeth in a standard X-ray. If the tooth is already erupted and not causing any harm, your dentist will likely not recommend pulling the tooth.

If the tooth causes your smile to be uneven or you are embarrassed by it, your dentist can provide a few solutions. You can have the additional tooth pulled or get braces to help even out your teeth and give you the smile you desire.

Gum Disease

A large enough concern on its own (half the adult population in the United States suffers from it at one point in their lives), gum disease is a genetic trait in up to 30 percent of people. Gum disease causes tooth decay and loss, bad breath, bleeding gums, and other oral issues.

If you are predisposed to gum disease due to your genetics, then your dentist may recommend a prescription mouthwash or other dental cleaning tools to help prevent the issue. Brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding smoking and other tobacco use, and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups can help lower your risk of gum disease.

Enlarged Gums

Large gums can overwhelm your smile and make you feel self-conscious about your grin. Luckily, treatments are available to help reduce the size of your gums in comparison to your teeth. You can have veneers placed on your teeth to make them more proportionate to your prominent gums, or you can have your gums treated to reduce their size.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is largely caused by lifestyle choices, such as alcohol use or tobacco use, but it can be a genetic condition as well. Always alert your dentist to oral concerns that seem strange to you, such as:

  • Pain in your tongue
  • White spots in your mouth
  • Coughing without illness
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes without

If you do smoke or drink alcohol, let your dentist know, especially if you have a family history of oral cancer. Your dentist will take extra care when giving you regular exams, checking for early signs of oral cancer.

While you cannot entirely prevent genetic oral conditions, you can do your part to keep your mouth healthy by brushing regularly, using mouthwash, rinsing your mouth with water after eating or drinking, and visiting your dentist twice a year for checkups. Your dentist can give you a customized oral care plan based on genetic dental concerns you have. Taking care of your teeth means understanding what conditions you may be predisposed to. While not all genetic traits you carry will manifest themselves, it’s wise to know what conditions you need to watch out for concerning your dental health. See our team of dental experts at Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA for all your dental needs.

How Dental Sealants Benefit Your Tooth Health

The American Dental Association reports that dental sealants can reduce the risk of tooth decay in molars by almost 80%. So when it comes to dental health, individuals should consider dental sealants in addition to routine exams and cleanings. Usually, dental sealants are an excellent way to prevent cavities in children and teens’ teeth, but adults can also take advantage of this painless procedure.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants in Sarasota are applied in liquid form over both molars and pre-molars. Dental sealants are made up of thin, clear plastic, and once they harden, patients never even know they are there. All you will feel is the clean, smooth surface of your tooth.

Even though you can’t tell that the sealants are there, the special coating provides a barrier that stops food and bacteria from getting stuck in the crevices of teeth and causing cavities. Even with faithful brushing and flossing, it isn’t possible to clean out every nook and cranny, which is why dental sealants are still beneficial to those who follow the best oral hygiene practices.

When Is the Best Time to Get Sealants?

Children should get sealants as soon as their molars erupt, generally around the age of six and again around age 12. It is also a good idea to return to the dentist once your wisdom teeth arrive, as these teeth are especially hard to reach and clean properly.

Adults who’ve never had sealants can request them at any time, so long as the teeth in question do not already have cavities or fillings. Dental sealants typically last around 10 years, so have your Sarasota dentist keep an eye on your teeth to determine when a new set of sealants is needed.

How Are Sealants Applied?

Since the dental sealant procedure is painless, there is no need for novocaine or any type of anesthetic. The dentist or their hygienist will thoroughly clean the molars to prepare them for the sealants. Next, an acidic gel is applied to the teeth for a few minutes before being rinsed off. This gel will help the sealants bond to your teeth by roughing up the surface of each tooth. After the dentist dries your teeth, he or she will paint on the sealant and use a special blue light to harden the plastic surrounding your teeth. The entire procedure only takes a few minutes, so you won’t even have to hold your mouth open that long.

How Do I Care for the Sealants?

Once the sealants are properly placed, patients can eat and drink as they normally would immediately after leaving the dentist’s office. Of course, there are a few things patients can do to keep their sealants intact. Avoid any sticky sweets, such as gummy candies, caramels, Fruit Roll-Ups, and chewing gum. Patients will also benefit by staying away from hard-to-chew items, like ice chips, jawbreakers, peanut brittle, and other hard candies. Your dentist should also check your sealants for any chipping at your regular check-ups and replace them as needed.

Will My Insurance Cover Sealants?

Most insurances cover the cost of sealants for children. Adults, on the other hand, may have to pay out of pocket depending on the type of dental plan they carry. You’ll need to check with your provider before making an appointment with the dentist. If the procedure is not covered, you can expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $60 per tooth. If you’d like more information on dental sealants, contact us at the dental office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA. Our team is fluent in multiple languages and our office is designed to promote a relaxing atmosphere for your ultimate comfort.