How Cancer Treatment Affects Your Mouth

 

As we head into the month of October, we tend to see pink ribbons everywhere in support of breast cancer research and breast cancer patients. Cancer is one of those scary words nobody wants to hear, and it can cause feelings of uncertainness and weariness of what treatment will bring. While there are sure to be many thoughts racing through your mind following any cancer diagnosis, there’s one thing you may not immediately think of — seeing your dentist in Reno. However, this visit, and follow up visits, can actually help make cancer treatment more successful. 

 

Chemotherapy

The cancer treatment we tend to be most familiar with is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy has been used for many years and can help kill cancer cells. However, it certainly doesn’t come without side effects. While these side effects can affect any area of the body, there are certain ones that directly affect the mouth. Sometimes these side effects are so serious that your medical team may decide to temporarily stop treatment until the side effects are resolved. To help avoid this, it’s important to see your dentist in Reno prior to starting chemotherapy. 

Chemotherapy and Oral Health

As we’ve mentioned, chemotherapy can be really effective at killing cancer cells. But it can also harm healthy cells in the process, including cells in the mouth. This damage can affect any part of your mouth from your teeth to the soft tissues such as your gums and the glands that create saliva. Some common oral health side effects of chemotherapy include: 

  • Pain with eating or talking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Sores or ulcers
  • Peeling, burning tongue
  • Infection

These side effects can happen to anyone, and they do tend to vary from person to person. Make sure you talk with your cancer treatment team as well as your dentist in Reno during treatment so any side effects are caught and treated early. If they’re not, some infections or side effects can be so severe they’ll cause a delay or pause in your cancer treatment. 

The Importance of Regular Dentistry

Seeing your dentist every six months is recommended for everyone, but those undergoing cancer treatment may need to visit more often. After all, your dentist in Reno is a key part of your cancer treatment team, and seeing them regularly can help avoid or keep serious side effects at bay. Additionally, if you see your dentist before treatment begins, you can rest assured that you’ll start treatment with an already healthy mouth, reducing the risk of complications. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer, schedule an appointment with your dentist, ideally one month prior to beginning treatment.

How to Fix a Gummy Smile

Having a gummy smile can affect someone’s self-confidence, and if you’re someone who sees more gum tissue than teeth when smiling or talking, you may know exactly what we’re talking about. In fact, it’s not uncommon for your dentist in Reno to hear patients say they’re embarrassed by their smiles, and some even avoid smiling as much as possible because they’re so worried about their appearance. This is no way to live, especially when there are treatments available to fix a gummy smile. 

The Best Way to Fix a Gummy Smile

If you’ve been bothered by your gummy smile for a while, you may have been searching for a solution for quite some time. But fixing a gummy smile isn’t as easy as a one-size-fits-all solution. Your dentist in Reno will first need to perform an exam and oftentimes x-rays and other photos in order to get an accurate picture of what’s causing your gummy smile and determine the best way to fix it. Depending on your specific situation, some of the potential treatments to fix your gummy smile may include:  

  • Scaling & Root Planing

Sometimes a gummy smile is caused by an infection of the gum tissue. This infection can cause gums to become swollen and inflamed, covering more of your white teeth than you’d like. If this is the case, your dentist in Reno will most likely want to start with a deep teeth cleaning called scaling and root planing. A scaling and root planing treatment removes bacteria up under the gum line and can help remove infection, inflammation, and the gummy look. However, if this treatment alone doesn’t resolve the infection or give you the appearance you’re looking for, additional gum disease treatment or cosmetic dentistry treatment may be appropriate.

  • Gum Lift & Crown Lengthening

Many times a gummy smile is the result of the way our teeth erupted, and genetics may be to blame. As our adult teeth are forming and erupting, sometimes there’s just too much gum tissue covering the teeth. The good news is often there’s healthy enamel hiding just under the gum overgrowth all we have to do is uncover it. This is when a gum lift or crown lengthening comes into play. A gum lift procedure does exactly what it sounds like — lifts and removes the excess gum tissue to reveal more of each tooth. Now, when there’s an overabundance of tissue, your dentist may recommend a crown lengthening. This procedure removes and restructures the gum tissue as well as the bones around the teeth. The result of both procedures is fewer gums and more teeth. 

  • Lip Lowering

Another likely cause of a gummy smile is a hyperactive upper lip which occurs when the muscles of the upper lip are too active. This can cause the upper lip near the nose to protrude up too high and show off more of the gums than normal. The best way to fix a hyperactive upper lip is through lip lowering treatment. During this procedure, a small section of the gum tissue under the upper lip is removed, and then the remaining top and bottom are reconnected, ultimately shortening the lip and making it impossible for the upper lip to rise as high as it used to. 

  • Orthodontics

Orthodontics, including traditional metal braces as well as invisible aligners such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect, may also be the best way to fix a gummy smile, especially if you have a bad bite. You see, a bad bite occurs when the top jaw and bottom jaw don’t align properly. This can cause several oral health problems, including jaw pain, and when the top jaw protrudes out farther than it should, a gummy smile. Fixing the bite can resolve a gummy smile and give you super-straight teeth at the same time — bonus! 

Nobody should have to live a life where they are embarrassed to smile and laugh. They should feel confident about the way their smile looks so they can truly share their emotions with the world. If you’re embarrassed by your gummy smile, don’t wait any longer. Schedule an appointment with your dentist in Reno today and start living a life full of confidence and smiles!

Why Are My Teeth Discolored? 

When we picture a healthy smile, we all tend to envision bright, white teeth. So as your dentist in Reno, we can certainly understand why it may be concerning if you notice some discoloration in your smile. We’re also here to help by sharing some things that can cause tooth discoloration, as well as how to fix it. 

Poor Brushing Habits
The most common explanation for tooth discoloration is improper brushing or poor brushing habits. Daily brushings help remove plaque and bacteria on teeth that have built up throughout the day that otherwise could cause teeth to appear discolored. In fact, poor brushing habits can cause teeth to take on a yellowish or gray appearance, or even show orange or green spots. It’s important that you brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time to effectively remove this buildup and to protect yourself from the risk of decay, as well as discoloration. 

An Accident or Trauma
A single tooth that seems to suddenly appear darker in color can indicate a sign of tooth trauma. Perhaps you experienced a sports accident, a fall, or you bonked your mouth on a hard surface and you didn’t think much of it. Yet a day or two later your tooth starts to look gray or dull. Chances are, the tooth experienced some level of trauma and you should have your dentist in Reno check it out. 

Too Much Fluoride
Fluoride is something that many dentists use on both baby teeth and adult teeth to help strengthen enamel and protect against decay. It’s a mineral found naturally in many foods and drinks, and even in most public water supplies. However, there is such a thing as too much fluoride, and one of the most common signs of it are small white streaks or spots on the teeth known as fluorosis. 

Medications or Illness
A certain antibiotic known as tetracycline can also cause tooth discoloration if a pregnant or nursing mom takes it around the same time teeth are developing and growing. This can cause teeth to appear bluish-gray or brownish-yellow. Additionally, an illness that results in high fever and even some infections may cause discoloration. Babies who have had hyperbilirubinemia, a condition that occurs when there’s too much bilirubin in the blood and the condition that causes jaundice, may experience teeth that look blue, green, red, or brown.

Diet
A diet that contains too many acidic foods and drinks can wear down tooth enamel and cause teeth to appear dull, dark, gray, or yellow. Furthermore, a diet high in sugary foods and drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay which can present itself as dark or brown patches. Some of the most common foods and beverages that are known to cause tooth discoloration include wine, coffee, tea, berries, and even pasta sauce. 

Any discoloration in your teeth should be a sign that you should see your dentist in Reno to determine the cause as well as the best treatment. Call us to schedule an appointment today.

Bad Breath Remedies

Bad breath is an incredibly common concern for many Americans. In fact, according to Medical News Today, bad breath affects an estimated 25% of the population. Even though there are various things that can cause bad breath, there are a few that concern your dentist in Reno. The truth is, several causes of bad breath are directly related to the overall health of your mouth and some of the problems linked to bad breath can be serious. Because of this, it’s important to first understand what causes bad breath before you can determine how to fix it. 

What Causes Bad Breath?

As we’ve mentioned, bad breath can be caused by any number of things, some concerning and some not. For example, bad breath can be a result of what we eat or drink such as garlic or coffee. Bad breath caused by foods or drinks usually isn’t something to worry about as it’s quickly alleviated by brushing or chewing sugar-free gum. However, when bad breath is chronic and can’t be tied to a fragrant food, it’s typically a sign of oral health problem.

Why is Bad Breath Bad? 

Bad breath that doesn’t go away is most often the result of too much bacteria lingering around the mouth. When bacteria build up in the mouth it increases the likelihood of decay, cavities, and gum disease. Gum disease, in particular, is an infection that can lead to tooth loss as well as other problems throughout the body such as heart disease, increased risk of stroke, and respiratory complications. Any sign of a lingering odor in your mouth is a clue that you should see your dentist in Reno

Bad Breath Remedies

We understand that bad breath can be embarrassing, but there are things you can do to treat it.

  1. Drink Water. Drinking water throughout the day will help keep your mouth moist and saliva flowing, both of which are important to neutralize acid, wash away bacteria, and keep breath fresh. If we don’t drink enough water or suffer from dry mouth, bacteria will flourish. The result is bad breath. 
  1. Have Good Oral Hygiene Habits. You’ve heard us say it a million times – having good oral hygiene can go a long way in keeping your mouth healthy and your breath fresh. Make sure that you’re brushing and flossing every day to remove any food particles and bacteria that have built up throughout the day. Don’t forget to gently scrub your tongue as those tiny bumps make perfect places for bacteria to hide.  
  1. See Your Dentist in Reno. Even though properly brushing and flossing every day can help protect teeth and breath, it’s still important to see your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings that remove plaque and tartar your regular toothbrush just can’t get. These visits are also crucial to catching any oral health problems, such as gum disease, early when treatment is more successful. 

If you suffer from bad breath and you’re ready to get rid of it once and for all, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dental team will help diagnose the underlying cause of your bad breath and talk with you about the best way to treat it.

The Oral Health Dangers of Cough Medicine

During this time of the year, it seems as if everyone we encounter is sneezing, sniffling, or coughing. While we do as much as we can to avoid getting a cold, sometimes we just get sick. When we do get a case of the coughs we just want it to go away, so we will try almost anything to make it stop. Most commonly, we’ll suck on cough drops and take cough syrup throughout the day. Even though these medications can alleviate our symptoms, your dentist in Reno wants you to know that the common ingredients in cough medicine do pose risks to oral health.    

Concerning Ingredients

Many cough syrups and cough drops contain ingredients that can cause damage to teeth. More specifically, those medications containing sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, and alcohol are the most concerning to your Reno dentist. The truth is, these ingredients can make us feel better during the course of a cold but can have long-term negative side effects on oral health. 

Sugars

We’ve all heard Mary Poppins sing about how a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down, and she was right. Most cough syrups and cough drops contain sugar to help mask their naturally bad and bitter taste. But just like sugary snacks and foods, these sugars can be dangerous to teeth. When we introduce sugars into our mouths we can essentially create a feeding frenzy for bacteria. These bacteria will feed on sugar and then release an acidic byproduct. This acid will wear away tooth enamel and increases the risk of decay and cavities.  

Alcohol

Besides sugar, some cold medicines contain small amounts of alcohol. Alcohol is known to cause dry mouth, even in smaller quantities. Normally, our mouths produce a lot of saliva — between 0.5 and 1.5 liters every day. This saliva helps neutralize dangerous acids and reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. However, when alcohol causes dry mouth, saliva production slows and acids and bacteria stick around. This can increase the likelihood of decay. 

Feel Better While Protecting Teeth

Even though cold medicine can increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities, you shouldn’t suffer through a cold by not taking it. However, your dentist in Reno my recommend: 

  • Taking a pill instead of liquid medication. Liquid medication can basically coat your mouth with sugar and alcohol, while pills greatly reduce how much contact your mouth has with those ingredients. 
  • Taking cold medication with food. When we eat we tend to produce more saliva which, as we know, will help wash away sugar and alcohol before they have a chance to cause damage.  
  • Brushing your teeth after you take medicine, especially before bed. Taking medicine then brushing your teeth will help reduce the amount of sugar and alcohol left in the mouth. This is particularly important before bed. Taking cough syrup before bed without brushing your teeth after means the ingredients are lingering in the mouth all night long.  

While we truly hope our patients and neighbors stay healthy all year round if you do happen to get sick, try taking medicine using the tips above to protect your smile.

Common Dental Problems Older Patients Can Experience

If you want to keep your smile in great health over the years, you should understand that effective practices today may be less helpful in later years. Our bodies can go through considerable changes as we age, and those changes can impact our health. Our oral health can also be impacted by different issues. The level of care you provide your smile over the years can keep you from issues that might leave you in poor condition. That being said, natural friction can lead to the wearing away of protective enamel, and health problems like dry mouth can make it easier for cavities to form. Professional preventive dental care can be highly important for older patients struggling to adapt to these changes. Continue reading “Common Dental Problems Older Patients Can Experience”

The Real Problem Of DIY Orthodontics

An unfortunate new trend has started to develop, one that can cause serious harm to your smile. The concept of “DIY orthodontics,” the practice of attempting to correct your own teeth, has started to grow in popularity. Hopefully, you already understand why this is an ill-conceived idea. Without the training and tools at the disposal of your orthodontist, you are likely to do far more harm than good to your dental alignment when you embark on this project. Many of those who have attempted to shift their teeth without the direct involvement of their orthodontist have experienced serious dental troubles. Remember that advanced dental work is best left to the professionals, who have years of training and education behind the comprehensive oral care they provide. Continue reading “The Real Problem Of DIY Orthodontics”

Quiz: Dealing With Tooth Decay And Gum Disease

What does it mean to have a healthy mouth? You might be tempted to say that a healthy smile is simply one that is cavity-free, but you should keep in mind that gum disease can also be a serious oral health threat. Fortunately, you can protect your gums with the actions you take to protect your teeth. Brushing and flossing will eliminate oral bacteria – by removing these harmful agents, you prevent them from infiltrating your gums, and requiring some form of periodontal treatment. In the case of tooth decay and gum disease, prompt restorative dental care is important. These conditions will grow in severity, and you can find yourself dealing with a more complicated dental trouble. Continue reading “Quiz: Dealing With Tooth Decay And Gum Disease”

Human Bites To The Hand

catbiteWhile human bites to the hand only account for two to three percent of bite injuries they can be serious. Many of you know that cat bites can often become infected. Infections due to dog bites occur at not even half the rate of cat bites. It is estimated that anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of cat bites become infected. Fifty percent of infected cat bites become infected within three hours of the bite. Although you are aware that dog and cat bites can be dangerous would you be as cautious if you incurred a human bite to the hand?

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Digestion And Dental Health

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You learned about digestion in biology; that it begins with chewing and ends with…well you know. What does that have to do with your dental health? Without teeth you can’t chew. Take our true or false quiz to find out how much you still remember about digestion and what it has to do with your dental health.

Continue reading “Digestion And Dental Health”