Salem, Oregon Center of Cosmetic Dentistry
2510 12th Street SE
Salem, OR 97302
503-378-1212

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By Dr. Karst
December 22, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
CancerTreatmentandOralHealthWhatYouShouldKnow

Statistically speaking, Americans can expect to enjoy a longer life today than at any time in the past. A recent U.S. government interagency study indicated that our oldest citizens are also generally getting healthier and doing better economically. Yet, along with an increased lifespan comes the possibility that at some future time, you or a loved one may undergo treatment for cancer.

There's good news here too: According to the National Cancer Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, both the rate of cancer incidence and the death rate from the disease have been steadily declining. It's true that cancer treatments may cause a variety of oral health problems. But did you know that there are some measures you can take to minimize the discomfort and possible complications from these lifesaving therapies?

Chemotherapy and radiation, two common treatments, work by attacking cancerous cells. However, they can affect normal cells too — including the cells lining the mouth, and the salivary glands. This sometimes results in mouth sores, a dry mouth, and an increased risk of developing dental diseases like tooth decay.

What should you do if you or someone you love needs cancer treatments? The best outcomes can be obtained by a dose of prevention when possible, and by taking a team approach to the treatment.

Oral side effects may be worse if the mouth isn't healthy prior to cancer treatment. So, if there's time, have necessary dental procedures done before treatment begins. During and after cancer therapy, dental surgery should be limited if possible. The first step is to get a complete dental examination, and to develop a treatment plan. It's vitally important to coordinate any dental treatments with an oncologist (cancer specialist).

There are also things a patient can do to help control unpleasant oral side effects. Removing the bacteria that cause tooth decay is more essential now than ever. In addition to thorough brushing, an antibacterial rinse or fluoride gel may be prescribed. To combat the symptoms of dry mouth, it's important to drink plenty of fluids. Chewing gum with Xylitol, or using a mouth rinse or a prescription medication may also be recommended.

It's essential for those having cancer treatment to understand and follow the recommendations of their dentist and doctor. These include taking steps to reduce the chance of complications, and recognizing the warning signs that may indicate a problem.

If you would like more information about cancer treatment and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”

ToothStainingandDiscoloration101-OptionsforBrighteningYourSmile

If a glance in the mirror reveals stained or discolored teeth that are detracting from your self-confidence, it's time to do something about it. The first step is to make an appointment for an office visit to find out how we can help you.

External (extrinsic) stains that form on the surfaces of teeth are usually caused by beverages such as red wine, tea, coffee as well as unhealthy habits like tobacco use. Extrinsic stains generally come in shades of browns, black or grays, but may even be orange or green from color producing bacteria.

Internal (intrinsic) stains are part of the structure of the tooth and cannot be removed by polishing. Among their causes are excessive fluoride levels or tetracycline antibiotics given in childhood and during tooth formation. Teeth do become more yellow and discolored as we age. Discoloration of individual teeth may be indicative of tooth decay, or teeth that have had root canal treatment and have literally lost their vitality tend to darken over time. Internal discoloration comes in a variety of shades and hues from yellows, grays, browns, and even some reds or pink.

Five Ways to lighten, whiten and brighten stained or discolored teeth

  1. Change your habits. Reduce or stop consuming or using foods, drinks or tobacco if they are staining your teeth.
  2. Improve your daily oral hygiene. Make sure to brush your teeth well, twice a day. Change to a toothpaste that contains a mild abrasive. Some toothpastes also contain tooth whiteners.
  3. Visit our office for a professional cleaning and polish. Routine scaling and polishing will remove most superficial external stain and discoloration. Sometimes ultrasonic cleaning (by high frequency vibration) and polishing with slightly abrasive pastes may just do the trick.
  4. Treatment for internal stain and discoloration. Brown colored decaying teeth need to have the decay removed and the teeth restored. Stained old and leaking fillings may also need to be replaced.
  5. Tooth whitening by bleaching. Bleaching or tooth whitening is a safe and effective way to brighten stained teeth. Internal tooth bleaching can whiten even discolored root canal treated teeth. Ask us for more information about this technique.

If your mirror tells you that your smile needs attention, there's no time like the present to get started. Get back your bright, white smile and your self-confidence as well.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth staining and its treatments. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Staining.”

ExtractingWisdomTeethNowMayPreventDentalProblemsLater

The reason for extracting a tooth may be all too obvious — the tooth is too decayed or damaged to attempt saving. The reason for extracting a wisdom tooth, on the other hand, may not be so apparent: from the perspective of pain or reduced function, you may not notice a thing. Our recommendation to remove a wisdom tooth is based primarily on what may be occurring out of view below the gum line and its potential threat to adjacent teeth.

Teeth grow and develop below the gum line in the jaw, and then push their way through the gums as they appear in the mouth (eruption). After a normal eruption, the enamel-covered crown is visible above the gum line; the remaining tooth root (about two-thirds of the tooth’s length) resides below the gum line. Because wisdom teeth, or third molars, erupt rather late between ages 17 and 25, they may lack the room to erupt properly due to crowding from other teeth that have already erupted. This can cause the wisdom tooth not to erupt fully through the gums, leaving the crown trapped below the gum line, a condition known as impaction. For the tooth, impaction increases the chances of infection, cyst formation and gum disease around it.

An impacted wisdom tooth can also cause problems for the adjacent teeth as well. The impacted tooth may begin to press against the roots of other teeth; the resulting pressure can damage the other roots, increasing the risk for disease or future tooth loss. A person may not even know they have this problem since there’s often little to no noticeable pain or symptoms.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the best time to remove a wisdom tooth is when it’s not causing immediate problems. There will be, however, signs found during examination (particularly x-rays or CT scan) that future problems are in the making. By extracting an impacted wisdom tooth at the appropriate time, we can avoid more serious problems in the future and improve oral health.

If you would like more information on wisdom teeth and your oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”

IncludeaSmileMakeoverinWeddingPlanning

For a bride, there is so much to remember when planning the wedding — invitations, a dress, flowers, the site, the caterers, the cake, the photographer — the list goes on and on. In the midst of all these things, don't let a very important piece of the plan be forgotten — your smile!

Your wedding will be celebrated every year on your anniversary and commemorated in beautiful photos at any time. It is a special occasion you, your family, and your friends will always remember. But how will you and your family look in those photos? You have an opportunity to get makeovers that will make your smiles shine radiantly, and not only in your album. Your makeover will improve your appearance, your self-confidence, and your oral health far into the future.

Start with a visit to your dentist to assess your current situation and discuss your goals and dreams. Each person's situation will be different. At a minimum you may need a professional cleaning to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Get started on treating any cavities or gingivitis (gum inflammation). If you haven't already, now is a great time to establish healthy dental hygiene habits including proper daily brushing and flossing.

You may feel that your teeth are discolored and need to be whiter and brighter. Your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly for the most effective biting and chewing. Your teeth may be crowded or misshapen. All these things and more can be modified and repaired with today's dentistry.

Teeth can be whitened by bleaching in the dentist's office or with products that can be used at home under a dentist's supervision.

Orthodontia may be needed to repair your bite. Today orthodontia may be done either with traditional braces, or with clear aligners. Remember that this process works slowly, so start well in advance of your wedding day.

After your teeth are properly aligned, your dental team can work on subtle contouring, overall shape and color changes for individual teeth, using techniques such as porcelain laminate veneers. Temporary veneers can be made so that you can try out your new look before the final installation.

Wedding planning works best when started early. To make sure you, your new spouse, and your family look and feel their best, remember to include smile makeovers in your plan.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about wedding smile makeovers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”

MouthguardsFoundtobeEffectiveinPreventingTeethandMouthInjuries

Athletes in contact sports are at significant risk for traumatic injury to their teeth and mouth. It’s estimated 600,000 emergency room visits each year involve a sports-related dental injury.

Athletic mouthguards have become the premier safeguard against sports-related oral injuries. First worn by professional boxers in the 1920s, mouthguards are now required for use by various sports associations and leagues — from amateur youth to professional — for a number of sports. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), for example, requires their use during play for hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and football. The American Dental Association recommends mouthguards for 29 sports or exercise activities.

But do mouthguards actually prevent injury? To answer that question in a scientific manner, the Journal of Sports Medicine published an evidence-based report in 2007 on mouthguard effectiveness for preventing or reducing the severity of oral-facial injuries and concussions. While the report objectively analyzed many of the problems and issues associated with mouthguards (like materials, design and durability), it concluded the risk of an oral-facial injury was nearly two times greater without the wearing of a mouthguard.

That being said, most dentists and other professionals in sports safety would advise not all mouthguards are alike. The stock, “off the shelf” mouthguard found in many retail stores with limited size offerings is the least expensive, but also least protective, of mouthguard types. Mouth-formed or “boil-and-bite” protectors, which are softened in boiling water and then bit down on by the player to form the fit, are better than the stock version — however, they often don’t cover all of the player’s back teeth.

The best option is a custom-designed guard made by a dentist for the individual patient. Although relatively expensive (costs range in the hundreds, compared with $25 or less for a stock guard), they provide the highest recognized level of mouth protection.

The bottom line: a mouthguard is a must-wear part of any uniform for any sport that involves contact or high velocity objects of play. If you or a family member is a contact sport athlete, it’s essential you protect your teeth and mouth with a custom-fit, high quality mouthguard.

If you would like more information on mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.”





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