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Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Most Common Tongue Conditions

Our tongue is an important organ that helps us to communicate and allows us to taste, swallow and chew food. Keeping the tongue healthy is very important in maintaining good oral hygiene. There are a number of common conditions associated with the tongue.

Problems with the tongue include:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • changes in colour and texture
  • taste problems
  • difficulties in movement

Common tongue conditions

The above symptoms can be the result of a number of different conditions. These include:

  • Mouth ulcers: small, painful ulcers can appear on the tongue or inside the mouth. This is a relatively common condition, the cause of which is unknown. They should disappear within a few days.
  • Geographic tongue: this harmless condition affects the surface of your tongue. A healthy tongue is usually covered with tiny, pinkish bumps called papillae. A person suffering from geographic tongue will find that some of the papillae go missing and appear as smooth, red ‘islands’ often with slightly raised borders. If your symptoms do not disappear within 10 days, see your dentist or doctor.
  • Black, hairy tongue: this is a temporary, harmless condition that gives your tongue a dark and furry appearance. This is usually caused by a buildup of dead skin cells on papillae or when the papillae trap an area stained by tobacco, food or other substances. The condition usually resolves itself without the need for medical intervention. Poor oral hygiene can sometimes be the cause of this condition. See you dentist for guidance.
  • Leukoplakia: if you have leukoplakia, you will notice thick, white patches forming on your gums, the insides of your cheeks and sometimes on your tongue. The cause of the condition is not entirely certain but tobacco is believed to be a contributor. Leukoplakia isn’t usually dangerous, but it can sometimes be linked to a more serious condition. See your dentist if the white patches do not heal within two weeks.
  • Oral thrush: the main symptom of thrush is a white coating that grows over the surface of the mouth and tongue. Thrush can occur in anyone, but most commonly appears in those taking steroids, people with suppressed immune systems, the very young and the elderly.
  • Burning tongue syndrome: a relatively common condition, this syndrome makes the tongue feel burned or scalded and is quite unpleasant. It can be caused by a minor nerve problem.

If you are concerned by any of these conditions, make an appointment to see your dentist.

Choosing the Right Toothpaste

The number of toothpaste options on the market these days is huge and it can be overwhelming making a decision about the best one to buy. There are toothpastes that whiten teeth, control tartar and contain fluoride. Which one should you purchase? This guide about the various toothpastes on the market should help you choose the right toothpaste for you.

Types of toothpastes

  • Fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride is the most important ingredient to look for when selecting a toothpaste. It is a natural mineral that has contributed to a rapid decrease in tooth decay over the past 50 years. Fluoride helps to protect your teeth from the acid that is released after eating. Using a toothpaste containing fluoride will help you maintain healthy teeth.
  • Toothpaste for sensitive teeth: For people whose teeth are sensitive to either hot or cold temperatures, there is toothpaste available that will help to combat this problem. These toothpastes contain either potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which helps to block the nerve pathway.
  • Whitening toothpaste: There are a number of whitening toothpastes now on the market for people who are concerned about improving the whiteness of their teeth. Contrary to popular belief, whitening toothpaste does not contain bleach. Instead, they contain abrasive particles that act to polish teeth and help remove stains.
  • Tartar control toothpaste: There are many varieties of toothpastes that control tartar on the teeth. Plaque that isn’t cleaned properly hardens into tartar over time. Tartar control toothpastes contain ingredients such as pyrophosphates and zinc citrate as well as an antibiotic called triclosan, which helps to kill bacteria.
  • Natural toothpaste: For those who are uncomfortable with brushing with chemicals, natural toothpastes are an option. Be aware that some of these do not contain fluoride.

10 Tips for choosing a toothpaste

  1. Fluoride is the most important ingredient to look for in a toothpaste
  2. Consult your dentist for their recommendations for any specific dental concerns you have
  3. Avoid whitening toothpaste if you have sensitive teeth
  4. Read the label carefully to ensure that the toothpaste is suited for you
  5. Understand that natural toothpastes usually don’t contain fluoride
  6. Look for dental association approval
  7. Not every toothpaste is right for everybody
  8. Avoid heavily sweetened toothpaste
  9. Discuss additional oral hygiene techniques with your dentist
  10. You may consider purchasing a few different varieties of toothpaste to alternate between.

10 Toothbrush Mistakes You Could Be Making

Brushing your teeth correctly is very important in maintaining good oral health. Even if you brush twice a day and feel like it’s second nature, you might not be cleaning your teeth correctly, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Are you making any of these mistakes?

  1. You’re brushing with the wrong-sized toothbrush

It’s important to choose a toothbrush that fits the size of your mouth. If you find yourself straining to open your mouth wide enough for the toothbrush, it’s probably too big. Your toothbrush should feel natural in your mouth and in your hand.

  1. You don’t brush often enough or long enough

You should be brushing at least twice per day and three times is ideal. It’s also important to brush for at least two minutes. Make sure you give each section of your mouth equal attention.

  1. You brush too hard

You must be gentle with your teeth. It doesn’t take too much effort to remove plaque. In fact, brushing too aggressively can wear away the protective enamel of your teeth, leading to tooth sensitivity and other dental problems.

  1. You’re not brushing with the correct technique

If you brush your teeth with wide, side-to-side strokes, your gums may become scraped. Instead, hold your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gums, make an up and down motion and use short strokes. Be sure to give those hard-to-reach places the attention they need to avoid plaque building up.

  1. You always brush in the same sequence

If you always begin brushing in the same place, you can get lazy and commonly miss certain spots. Start in a different place to ensure this doesn’t happen.

  1. You’re using the wrong toothpaste

Even if you use a certain toothpaste to control tartar or whiten your teeth, this can have other harmful affects on your mouth. Some ingredients in these kinds of toothpastes can have an abrasive effect on your teeth. Plain fluoride toothpaste is best.

  1. You brush too soon after consuming acidic foods and drinks

Although it is a good idea to brush your teeth after eating and drinking acidic foods and drinks, make sure you wait half an hour before doing so. The acid you have just consumed softens teeth and brushing directly afterwards can assist in wearing away the enamel.

  1. You don’t rinse your toothbrush

If you don’t rinse your toothbrush regularly, germs and bacteria can gather on the head.

  1. You’re storing your toothbrush flat

Leaving your toothbrush lying flat allows germs and dust to settle on it. Keep it stored upright and let it air dry.

  1. You don’t change your toothbrush regularly enough

It is recommended that you change your toothbrush every 3 – 4 months. Once the bristles lose their regular flexibility, it is a signal that you need a new toothbrush.

Getting Braces: What to Expect

If you have crooked or misaligned teeth (either an overbite or an underbite), there are a variety of different treatments that can help to straighten your teeth. It is important to correct an abnormal bite because, if left unattended to, it may cause one or more of the following conditions:

  • tooth decay
  • gum disease
  • tooth loss
  • affected speech and/or chewing
  • jaw problems
  • abnormal wear of enamel

One of the most common treatments for misaligned teeth is to have braces fitted.

Dentist or orthodontist?

Most general dentists can do basic realignment, but an orthodontist specialises in correcting irregularities in teeth. Your dentist will inform you as to whether he or she can correct your misaligned teeth or whether you need to see an orthodontist.

What’s the best age to get braces?

There is no ‘best’ age to have braces fitted. For children, the ideal time is somewhere between the ages of 10-14 when a child’s mouth and head are still growing. The ideal age for braces depends entirely on a child’s growth. Braces can also be effective in both older teenagers and adults.

The process

During an oral examination, impressions of your teeth will be made and photographs of both your face and inside your mouth will be taken. X-rays of your mouth and head will also be ordered. Once all of this information has been analysed, a treatment plan will be discussed with you.

How are braces fitted?

Initially, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned and dried. The next step involves applying bonding glue to your teeth, which allows the braces to stick to them. Brackets will then be adhered directly onto your teeth and an archwire will then be threaded through them to join them. Finally, elastic bands will secure the braces.

How long will I have to wear braces for?

The period of time you will have to wear your braces for really depends on how much adjustment is required. In general, it takes anywhere between 12 to 24 months for your teeth to be realigned.

Will braces be painful?

Given the fact that your teeth are being gently realigned, it is common to feel some mild pain or discomfort. This occurs most commonly when your braces are tightened during visits to your orthodontist. Some over-the-counter pain medications can help ease the pain. If you experience a lot of discomfort, talk to your orthodontist about it and he or she may be able to make some changes in how your braces are adjusted.

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