What Is Your Tongue Telling You About Your Health?

What Is Your Tongue Telling You About Your Health?

When was the last time you looked at your tongue? A healthy tongue should appear pink and should be covered in small, evenly sized nodules, which are called papillae. If your tongue changes in color, texture, or size, this could be a sign of an underlying health problem. What is your tongue telling you about your health? Keep reading to find out.

A White, Patchy Tongue

If your tongue develops white patches that seem to have a fuzzy appearance, you might have a health condition known as thrush. This is a fungal infection caused by a species of yeast called Candida albicans. Everyone has some of this yeast in their mouth, but under certain conditions, it may replicate to the point of over-abundance, and that’s when you get thrush.

Thrush is common in undiagnosed diabetics as it can be the result of sustained high blood sugar. It is also common in patients who wear dentures. Your dentist or doctor can help you get it under control by prescribing anti-fungal medications.

Hairy Tongue

The idea of hair growing on your tongue may sound strange, but it does happen to some people! Hair-like projections that don’t scrape away are actually made from protein. They typically occur in people who have faulty immune systems and are definitely a sign you need to see your doctor.

Red Tongue

If your tongue starts to look more red than pink, this could be a sign of vitamin B3 deficiency. This vitamin, also known as niacin, is important for metabolism. Deficiencies are not very common in the United States, but they can occur. Other symptoms may include headache, fatigue, and dry skin. Your doctor can diagnose a B3 deficiency with a simple blood test, and it is easily corrected with supplements.

A red tongue can also indicate an infectious illness such as strep throat or scarlet fever. If you have any other symptoms of illness, like a sore throat or a cough, make sure you mention the red tongue to your doctor as it can help with the diagnosis.

Dry Tongue

If your tongue always feels dry, that is probably because your mouth, in general, is too dry. Under-production of saliva can be caused by an autoimmune disorder, and it can also be a side effect of certain medications. Dry mouth can lead to cavities and gum disease, but your doctor can recommend a moistening rinse to help combat it.

Burning Tongue

What if your tongue feels like it is burning? This could be another sign of dry mouth. It also commonly occurs after you’ve eaten a lot of pineapple, which contains an irritating compound called bromelain. Burning tongue can also indicate acid reflux, especially if it is accompanied by heartburn. Acid reflux should be treated and managed carefully as it can lead to esophageal damage over time, so talk to your doctor ASAP.

Make sure you check your tongue often and listen to what it is telling you! If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your doctor or dentist.

Tips for Dealing With Dental Emergencies

Tips for Dealing With Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies usually come out of the blue. You can’t usually predict when they will happen, but you can make sure you are prepared. This article will take a look at three of the most common dental emergencies that occur in kids and offer some tips for dealing with each one.

Chipped or Cracked Tooth

Wearing a mouthguard can help protect against chipped teeth when kids are playing sports like hockey and baseball. But accidents still happen, and kids will be kids! If your child chips a tooth, follow these steps:

  1. If you can find the broken-off piece of tooth, put it in a container of milk of water.
  2. If your child’s broken or cracked tooth is dirty, rinse the area with some clean, cool water.
  3. Apply ice to the outside of the mouth if there is any pain. Do not apply ice directly to the damaged tooth.
  4. Call the dentist; if their office is not open, they will refer you to an emergency dentist. Small chips that do not expose the tooth pulp may be able to wait until the next day for repair.

Most chipped and cracked teeth can be fixed! Smaller chips can often be repaired via bonding, which is a procedure very similar to applying dental fillings. Teeth with larger chips may need to be covered with a crown.

Lost Tooth

What do you do if the tooth gets knocked out completely? This is definitely an emergency situation. Knocked-out teeth can often be placed back in the jaw, but only if you get to the dentist within an hour — and the sooner the better. Follow these steps.

  1. Find the knocked-out tooth. If it is dirty, rinse it with clear water. DO NOT USE ANY SOAP. Do not touch the root portion of the tooth.
  2. If your child is in pain, you can give them a dose of ibuprofen.
  3. Place the tooth back in its socket, making sure that it is facing the right way. Have your child bite down on it gently.
  4. If you cannot get the tooth back in its socket, place it on a container of milk.
  5. Call your child’s dentist or an emergency dentist, and head to the office ASAP.

Your child’s dentist will attempt to place the tooth back in the jaw. If this is not possible, they will clean the empty socket and make plans for a tooth replacement, such as a dental implant.

Severe Toothache

Most toothaches can wait until the next day for treatment. You can give your child a dose of ibuprofen to ease the pain. If the pain remains out of control, or if the toothache is accompanied by a high fever or dizziness, treat it as an emergency. Apply ice to the outside of your child’s mouth to ease the pain and call the dentist. Severe toothaches are usually due to an infection, and your child will likely need antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how to deal with common dental emergencies in kids. If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to contact us or ask during your child’s next checkup appointment.

What Is a True Dental Emergency While Under a Stay-at-Home Order?

What Is a True Dental Emergency While Under a Stay-at-Home Order?

At this time, following Michigan’s stay-at-home order and isolating yourself from others is the best way to protect your family and your community from COVID-19. In order to reduce the spread of the virus and protect our patients’ and employees’ health, we are rescheduling all routine dental appointments. If your child is due for a checkup or requires a minor dental procedure like a filling, it can likely wait — but we are aware that some dental emergencies may occur during the stay-at-home order.

In the case of a dental emergency, you should call your (or your child’s) dental office and follow the prompts. But what constitutes a dental emergency? Take a look.

1. Severe Toothaches

If you or your child have a severe toothache, this may indicate an infection of the tooth pulp, which can be quite serious since the infection could spread to surrounding tissues, including the blood. Definitely call the dentist; antibiotics and an emergency root canal may be performed.

2. Post-Surgical Pain

If you or your child had a dental surgery performed recently, such as an extraction or wisdom tooth extraction, severe pain at the operation site is considered a dental emergency. You may have dry socket, a condition in which the blood clot falls out of the empty tooth socket, exposing the nerve. The dentist may need to pack the surgical site and prescribe pain relievers.

3. Fractured Tooth

If you or your child crack a tooth to the degree that it is causing pain, this is probably due to exposed tooth pulp. Prompt treatment is needed to save a tooth in this case, so you definitely want to call about emergency dental care. The same is true if you or your child chip a tooth badly. Tiny chips that don’t extend through the enamel are not a major concern, but a large chip that causes pain or bleeding is a dental emergency.

4. Lost Bridge or Crown

If you have a bridge, crown, or other dental restoration and it falls off or out, this is considered a dental emergency during the stay-at-home order. Exposure of the tooth beneath the restoration could lead to lasting damage, so you need to call a dentist promptly to have the restoration replaced, even if a temporary restoration is used for the time being.

5. Abscess or Infection

If you or your child notice a pocket of pus or an abscess inside the mouth, this is a dental emergency that may require treatment with antibiotics or a root canal procedure.

The American Dental Association has offered guidance for dental professionals during the COVID-19 outbreak and associated stay-at-home orders. We use that guidance to inform our policies. When it is safe to do so, we will continue offering routine dental care for new and existing patients, but for the time being, we encourage you to stay at home, stay safe, and only contact us in case of a true emergency.

 

6 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cavities

6 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cavities

Most people have a general idea of what cavities are. They’re spots of decay on your teeth that grow larger over time, and that a dentist can typically treat with a filling. But there’s a little more to cavities than this. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to detect, prevent, and treat cavities in your own mouth and your kids’ mouths. To that end, here are some facts you probably didn’t know about cavities.

1. Cavities are caused by acid.

You’ve probably heard that cavities are caused by sugar. This is sort of true, but it’s a bit of an oversimplification. Cavities occur when the bacteria in your mouth consume sugar and then secrete acid. It’s actually the acid that causes decay. To fight cavities, you should try to avoid sugar, but when you do eat sugar, making sure it’s rinsed out of your mouth promptly can also help prevent cavities since oral bacteria won’t have a chance to consume it.

2. Even some “healthy” foods can cause cavities.

Some foods that are commonly thought of as “healthy” can contribute to the development of cavities because they are high in sugar. Dried fruit is an example; it tends to stick on your teeth and leave sugar on the surface of your teeth for long after you eat it. Juice is another example; it can contain as much sugar as soda and is therefore not a tooth-friendly choice.

3. Really large cavities can’t just be filled.

It a cavity becomes too large, your dentist may not be able to treat it with a simple filling. Doing so may require the removal of too much tooth structure, leaving the tooth weak. You might need a crown or even a root canal if a cavity gets too big. This is a good reason to visit your dentist for a checkup every 6 months; cavities will be detected when small and easy to treat.

4. Cavities do not heal on their own.

You may have seen some folk remedies, like charcoal and essential oils, that claim to heal cavities. These remedies are nothing more than hoaxes and snake oil. Once a cavity has formed, it will not heal. Having the cavity filled really is the best way to treat it and keep the decay from worsening.

5. Cavities do not always cause pain.

In fact, most do not cause pain until they are very deep. Do not assume your mouth is cavity-free because you don’t feel any pain. Your dentist can detect cavities far before they are painful.

6. Cavities in baby teeth need treatment, too.

Some parents assume that since kids lose their baby teeth, there’s no need to treat cavities in those teeth. That’s not at all the case. Your kids need their baby teeth to speak, chew, and guide the adult teeth into place. Work to prevent cavities, and have cavities that do appear filled.

Now that you know a bit more about cavities, you’re prepared to take better care of your teeth! Reach out to us if you have any lingering questions about dental health, or to make an appointment.

Too Much Sugar in Your Soda!

Too Much Sugar in Your Soda!

There are many popular soft drinks out there. They come in a wide range of flavors and colors, and they are often marketed directly to kids and young people. Do you know the one thing they all have in common? You guessed it: sugar!

A typical 20 oz. soft drink can contain anywhere from 64 to 77 grams of sugar. There are 4.2 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, which means one soft drink can contain more than 18 teaspoons of sugar. Can you imagine feeding your child this much sugar in a single sitting? That’s exactly what is happening when you give them a soda; it’s just not as obvious.

Soda and other sugary soft drinks contain the perfect cocktail for tooth decay: sugar, acid, and carbonation. These three things, especially when combined, can weaken the enamel of your teeth and encourage bacterial growth in your mouth. Oral bacteria, as you probably know, can lead to cavities and gum disease.

Soda, when consumed on a regular basis, can do your mouth more harm than you anticipate. If you Google images for “tooth decay from soda” what you see may change your mind on consuming the beverage ever again — or giving it to your children. Brown teeth and damaged gums are not attractive.

How can you reduce the effects of sugar and soft drinks on your teeth, and on your children’s teeth? Here are some ways to start.

1. Don’t drink soda and soft drinks.

The best way to avoid any type of soda-related tooth damage is to avoid the beverage as much as possible. Give your children water instead. Fruit juice is often just as high in sugar as soft drinks, but if you dilute it with water and only give it on occasion, it can be an acceptable substitute.

2. Drink quickly.

We understand that from time to time, a soda sounds good. Your child may want to indulge at a birthday party or on a holiday. When they do indulge, make sure they drink the soda quickly. Sipping it over a long period of time bathes your teeth in sugar and acid, which can result in damage or decay. Let them have a soda with a meal on a rare occasion, but don’t let them sip one throughout the afternoon.

3. Visit your dentist.

Dental care is so important when it comes to a healthy mouth. Regular visits to the dentist can detect any tooth damage and care for it before it gets worse. Your dentist can also discuss the importance of avoiding soda with your kids. Sometimes, children are more willing when advice comes from the dentist, rather than from their own parents.

When it comes to the ever so tempting soda, just say no! It can introduce a whole new world of problems that you don’t want your children to experience.

Check out this website SipAllDay.org for more information about soda and teeth.

Please call us; we are happy to help any questions you have about soda and soft drinks!

 

Updated 3.19.20

How to Safeguard Your Childs Smile

How to Safeguard Your Childs Smile

Like the rest of their bodies, children’s teeth and mouth are ever-changing as they grow and develop. Are you doing everything you can to protect your children’s beautiful smiles as you would the rest of their bodies?

The Early Years

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to the dentist for the first time about 6 months after the tooth erupts, or when they turn one. However, good dental care should start even before this in the comfort of your own home. You can wipe your infant’s gums with a soft, damp cloth after feeding to help protect against gum disease and oral bacteria.

As soon as their first teeth come in, your baby depends on you to help keep them clean. If your child is not a fan of having their teeth brushed, ask your dentist for tips to make brushing easier. Make sure you are using a small, soft toothbrush that is designed for a baby’s mouth. Play soothing music or sing to your child as you brush their teeth in order to make it a more pleasant experience.

Growing Up

As your child approaches the age of three or four, they can start taking more responsibility for their own dental care. Letting your child help brush their own teeth and making it fun is a great way to teach them the importance of preventive care. A toddler is too young to brush on their own, so make sure to supervise. When they’re done, it is your turn to finish brushing for them! As you brush, explain how you are taking the time to get each and every tooth clean.

If your child does not enjoy having their teeth brushed, allowing them to choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste can help. Kids often love toothbrushes decorated with their favorite cartoon characters. ADA-accepted toothpastes flavored like cherry or bubble gum are more appealing to kids than mint paste.

As your child grows older, keeping up with daily dental care is very important. Continue to supervise brushing and flossing until your child is around age 7 or 8. Before this age, your child may not have enough dexterity in their wrists to brush well.

A Few More Tips

In addition to brushing and flossing, there are other steps that can be taken to prevent dental problems as your child grows.

  • Schedule regular visits to the dentist every 6 months. This will aid in helping your child maintain healthy teeth and gums
  • Fluoride strengthens dental enamel and keeps it strong to help prevent decay. Offer fluoride-rich tap water, use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, and talk to your child’s dentist about fluoride treatments.
  • Dental sealants on permanent molars are also a good way of preventing decay. Sealants are a clear, plastic-like material that is applied to the biting surface of a child’s molar, helping to prevent decay from entering into the grooves of the tooth.

Preventive dentistry means a healthy smile. Are you doing all you can to help safeguard your child’s teeth? Ask us questions; we are happy to help! And don’t forget to schedule your child’s next checkup and cleaning appointment.