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Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Perils of Piercing: How Oral Piercings Can Affect Your Dental Health

While the practice of piercing the lip, tongue or cheek can be attractive, particularly to young people, many don’t fully understand the risks associated with oral piercings. In fact, these piercings can be very detrimental to oral health and can cause a number of complications.

Dental Health Risks:

  • Infections: one of the most common complications associated with oral piercings are infections. Because of the large amount of bacteria in the mouth, infection can occur when the piercing creates a wound, which can also contain additional bacteria on its surface. Because the mouth is a moist place, it is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, meaning that infection can spread quickly. It’s important to treat any infection promptly as it can quickly become dangerous if left untreated.
  • Swelling: Given the trauma that occurs when your tongue, cheek or lip is pierced, significant swelling and bruising is expected. Usually this will begin to subside after three to five days. Depending on the level of trauma, in some rare cases, the tongue can become extremely swollen which can block the airway, although this is uncommon.
  • Difficulties in oral function: While the area around the piercing is swollen, oral function such as speaking clearly and swallowing may be more difficult until the area heals. In some cases, there can be a permanent loss of sensation if nerves are damaged during the piercing. The jewellery can also stimulate excessive saliva production, which can cause temporary or permanent drooling.
  • Damage to teeth: When teeth come into contact with the hard metal surface of jewellery, they can chip or crack. A high proportion of individuals with tongue rings damage their teeth.
  • Nerve damage: Sometimes a piercing can damage a nerve, which can, in turn, cause numbness or loss of sensation around the piercing.
  • Gum disease: Studies have found that those people with oral piercings, especially tongue piercings, have a much higher risk of gum disease than those who have no piercings. This is because the jewellery can cause a recession of gum tissue by frequently coming into contact with gums. In severe cases, this can lead to tooth loss.
  • Transmission of diseases: Piercings can potentially transmit diseases such as hepatitis B and C as well as the herpes simplex virus.
  • Allergic reaction: Some people discover that they are allergic to the metal in the piercing, which is known as hypersensitivity to metal.

Manual vs Electric Toothbrushes: Pros and Cons

Choosing an effective toothbrush is vital for maintaining good oral health. With so many toothbrushes on the market these days, it can be difficult to decide on what is the best option for you. The first decision you need to make, however, is whether to use a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. To help make the decision easy, here are the pros and cons of each:

Manual Toothbrush:

Pros:

  • With correct brushing technique, a manual toothbrush effectively cleans the teeth
  • It is easy to travel with. There is no need to worry about packing batteries or charging outlets. All you need is a toothbrush case.
  • It is inexpensive and easy to replace. You should replace your manual toothbrush every three months and they are very affordable.

Cons:

  • Correct brushing technique is important for the effective removal of plaque.
  • You must estimate how long to brush your teeth for since manual toothbrushes have no timer.

Electric Toothbrush:

Pros:

  • Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes do a more effective job of cleaning your teeth than manual toothbrushes.
  • The built-in timer takes the guesswork out of the length of time you need to brush your teeth for. The timer stops the toothbrush after two minutes.
  • Electric toothbrushes are very easy to use. All you need to do is angle the head 45 degrees and the toothbrush will do all of the work for you.
  • Children find them fun to use. Brushing the teeth can be a chore for children, resulting in challenging behaviour or ineffective brushing. Using an electric toothbrush adds an extra element of fun to the routine, making children more likely to want to brush.

Cons:

  • Electric toothbrushes are considerably more expensive than manual toothbrushes. Although there are a number of different types on the market at varying prices, expect to pay a lot more money for an electric toothbrush.
  • You need to charge an electric toothbrush or have it plugged into a power socket.
  • Travelling with an electric toothbrush is more of a hassle than travelling with a manual toothbrush. They are bulkier and you need to think about power outlets and charging.
  • If you drop an electric toothbrush, it is quite easy to break, which can be a financial burden given the cost to replace.
  • You need to buy replaceable heads that fit onto the top of an electric toothbrush, which are also a lot more expensive than manual toothbrushes.

Cosmetic Dentistry: Your Options

Many people are self-conscious about their smile and imperfections in the teeth can be detrimental to confidence. These days, more and more people are visiting their dentist to discuss cosmetic dentistry options in addition to having regular check-ups and restorative procedures. So what cosmetic procedures are available to you at your dentist? This guide gives an overview of the most common options for the enhancement of your smile.

  • Teeth Whitening: Over time and as we age, it is normal for our teeth to discolour and to darken in colour. This process occurs much faster in people who smoke, consume food and beverages such as coffee, tea and red wine, as well as those who take certain medications. One of the most popular procedures at the dentist is the bleaching of the teeth to restore whiteness. Generally, the dentist will create a custom-fitted mouthpiece that contains a whitening solution.
  • Bonding: If you are someone who has chipped or cracked teeth, undergoing a bonding procedure in which the dentist applies a bonding material to protect and fill the area of concern can improve the appearance of the affected tooth.
  • Crowns: Also known as caps, crowns completely cover the surface of a tooth to protect it and restore it to its original shape and appearance. Crowns may be recommended to you if you have heavily damaged teeth. This is one of the most expensive cosmetic dentistry procedures, although it is also one of the most long lasting.
  • Veneers: Similar to crowns, veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or sometimes plastic that are placed over the surface of the teeth to restore the original appearance of the tooth. Veneers are a common option for people who have uneven surfaces on their teeth, oddly shaped teeth or teeth that are unevenly spaced or crooked. This is a relatively pain-free procedure and no anaesthesia is required. Veneers are also a much more cost-effective alternative to crowns. They treat the same type of problems as bonding does, although are more durable and long lasting.
  • Contouring and reshaping: If you are someone who has crooked, uneven or overlapping teeth, a contouring and reshaping procedure might be of interest to you. This procedure is appropriate for people who have relatively healthy and stable teeth but who are concerned about their appearance and want subtle changes. It is common for dentists to combine this process with bonding.

Keep Teeth Healthy This Halloween

Halloween is quickly creeping up on us, which for many people is a favourite holiday full of spooky fun. Unfortunately, for many children especially, Halloween also involves stockpiling bags and bags of sweets, accumulated on trick or treat missions around the neighbourhood. For many parents, it’s a tricky balance between allowing the kids to have fun in celebrating the traditions of the event, while trying to care for the kids’ teeth and keep those cavities away! These tips will help you keep a healthy mouth during this sugary time.

Choose soft, chewable sweets

When purchasing sweets for trick or treaters, choose soft and chewable rather than sweets that are hard. Sucking on hard sweets means that the sugars are coating the teeth for a longer period of time, playing a large role in tooth decay.

Eat sweets near mealtimes

If sweets are going to be consumed, it should ideally be around mealtimes, when saliva production increases. Saliva helps to wash away bacteria and neutralise acids that are left in the mouth after eating sugary treats.

Avoid sticky sweets

Refrain from purchasing sticky sweets like gummy bears and toffees, which stick in the grooves of the teeth. These sticky substances are difficult to wash away and put the teeth at higher risk of decay.

Drink water

Encourage your children to drink water regularly and particularly after they consume sugary treats. Like saliva, water helps to wash away bacteria and acids, but it also has the added benefit of containing fluoride, which helps to prevent tooth decay.

Maintain regular eating patterns

Children should be encouraged to eat normal meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner and avoid snacking on sweets throughout the day. You don’t want them filling up on sugar and not feeling hungry for their normal meals!

Brush at least twice per day

Brushing twice per day should be a normal routine anyway, but during times of high sugar consumption, brushing is especially important in order to remove plaque and bacteria. If you can, encourage your children to brush their teeth after they eat sweets.

Visit the dentist

Dental appointments should be made every six months for a routine check-up, but if you are concerned about the state of your child’s teeth after Halloween, it never hurts to check in early for an examination. Catching problems early always makes them easier to treat.

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