Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt like your mouth was filled with cotton? We've all had bouts of occasional dry mouth, but the unpleasantness usually goes away after we eat or drink something.
But what if you have dry mouth all the time? In that case, it's more than unpleasant—it could be increasing your risk of dental disease. That's because your dry mouth symptoms are being caused by a lack of adequate saliva. Besides providing antibodies to fight harmful bacteria, saliva also neutralizes mouth acid that can cause tooth decay.
Your decrease in saliva could be caused by smoking or moderate to heavy alcohol consumption. It could also be a side effect of medications you're taking, one reason why older people, who on average take more prescription drugs than other age groups, have a high incidence of dry mouth.
So, what can you do to alleviate chronic dry mouth?
Watch what you eat and drink. Certain foods and beverages can worsen chronic dry mouth. Try to avoid or limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea or soft drinks, as well as salty or spicy foods.
If you use tobacco, quit. Tobacco, especially smoking, can dry out your mouth, as well as damage your salivary glands. Abstaining from tobacco can alleviate dry mouth and help prevent dental disease.
Drink more water. Simply drinking water ensures your body has an ample supply for producing saliva. It's also beneficial for your dental health in general, as it can help buffer your mouth's acid levels and rinse away food remnants that could become food for bacteria.
Speak to your doctor. If you suspect a drug that you're taking may be causing dry mouth, discuss with your doctor alternative medications that may minimize this side effect. Simply changing prescriptions could alleviate your dry mouth symptoms.
You can also try saliva stimulants, both over-the-counter and prescription, to help your mouth produce more saliva. And be sure you also keep up daily habit of brushing and flossing to clear away bacterial plaque and lower your risk of dental disease.
The mouth is a crowded place with nerves, blood vessels and sinus cavities sharing common space with the teeth and gums. Although important in their own right, these structures can also hinder treatment for complex dental situations like dental implant surgery or impacted teeth.
Treating these and similar situations depends on getting an accurate depiction of “what lies beneath.” Conventional x-rays help, but their two-dimensional images don't always give the full picture. There's another way—cone beam computed tomography (CBCT).
Similar to CT scanning, CBCT uses x-ray energy to take hundreds of “sliced” images that are then re-assembled with special software to create a three-dimensional model viewable on a computer screen. CBCT is different, though, in that it employs a scanning device that revolves around a patient's head, which emits a cone-shaped beam of x-rays to capture the images.
A dentist can manipulate the resulting 3-D model on screen to study revealed oral structures from various angles to pinpoint potential obstacles like nerves or blood vessels. The detailed model may also aid in uncovering the underlying causes of a jaw joint disorder or sleep apnea.
CT technology isn't the only advanced imaging system used in healthcare. Another is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which excites hydrogen atoms in water molecules. This produces different vibration rates in individual tissue structures, which are then translated into detailed images of these structures. Unlike CT or CBCT, MRI doesn't use x-ray energy, but rather a magnetic field and radio waves to produce the atomic vibrations.
But while providing good detail of soft tissues, MRI imaging doesn't perform as well as CBCT with harder tissues like bone or teeth. As to the potential risks of CBCT involving x-ray radiation exposure, dentists follow much the same safety protocols as they do with conventional x-rays. As such, they utilize CBCT only when the benefits far outweigh the potential x-ray exposure risks.
And, CBCT won't be replacing conventional x-rays any time soon—the older technology is often the more practical diagnostic tool for less invasive dental situations. But when a situation requires the most detailed and comprehensive image possible, CBCT can make a big difference.
If you would like more information on advanced dental diagnostics, 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 “Getting the Full Picture With Cone Beam Dental Scans.”
Even a tiny flaw can make you feel a little self-conscious about your teeth. When you're unhappy with your smile, porcelain veneers, one of the dental services offered by your Sherman Oaks, CA, dentists, Dr. Michael Amir and Dr. Larry Hamer of SC Dental Group, offer a simple solution.
Veneers transform your smile
Veneers conceal flaws on the fronts of teeth, the area where they're most noticeable. The porcelain shells are as thin as a fingernail yet provide effective coverage for a range of flaws.
Before you receive porcelain veneers, your dentist may need to remove a tiny amount of tooth enamel to ensure a perfect fit. (This step isn't always necessary.) During your trip to the Sherman Oaks dental office, he'll also make an impression of your mouth. The dental technicians who create your veneers will use the impression as a guide.
You'll wear temporary veneers until your permanent veneers are ready in a week or two. Your dentist will check the fit of your porcelain veneers by temporarily applying them with water or glycerin. After making a few minor adjustments, he'll use dental cement to attach them to the fronts of your teeth.
Can veneers help your smile?
Veneer conceal many types of imperfections and can help you:
- Change the Shade of a Discolored Tooth: Once your new porcelain veneer is attached to your discolored tooth, it will look just like your other teeth.
- Hide Minor Damage, Flaws, and Gaps: Small chips in teeth may not affect tooth structure but they certainly change your appearance. Veneers hide chips, shallow cracks, uneven tooth surfaces, and other imperfections. They can also close slight gaps between teeth.
- Improve Your Tooth's Shape or Length: Shape and length issues can disrupt the symmetry of your smile. Veneers make crooked teeth look straight and help oddly shaped teeth look more uniform. They can even extend the length of short teeth.
- Whiten Your Smile: Because veneers are available in so many shades, they offer a long-lasting way to whiten your smile. The restorations are stain-resistant and won't become dull if you drink coffee, tea, or red wine or eat foods that contain dark pigments.
Are you ready to enhance your smile with porcelain veneers? Call your dentists in Sherman Oaks, CA, Dr. Michael Amir and Dr. Larry Hamer of SC Dental Group, at (818) 905-5400 to schedule your appointment.
You may think it’s too late or too intensive of a procedure to straighten a crooked or misaligned smile, but you would be wrong! Invisalign makes straightening your smile quick and easy, no matter what age you are. Dr. Michael Amir and Dr. Larry Hamer at SC Dental Group in Sherman Oaks, CA, are here to answer any questions you may have about Invisalign and help give you the smile you deserve.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a set of clear aligner trays that discreetly straighten your smile with no extra work by you! To start your Invisalign treatment, your Sherman Oaks, CA, dentists will fit you for custom aligners that you will wear all day unless you’re eating, drinking, or brushing and flossing. That means they will be on for about 22 hours a day. Since Invisalign is clear, no one will even know you’re wearing them unless you want them to know!
Each aligner is designed to subtly begin to push your teeth into the correct position to give you the smile that you desire. Every few weeks, you will switch out your aligner for a new one, and each aligner is designed to fit where your teeth have been pushed to. The process can take anywhere from 9 to 15 months, and a few times throughout this process, you will have a checkup with your dentists to be sure that you are progressing as expected. Your dentists will take this time to address any issues and check that your treatment is going according to schedule.
Contact Your Dentist Today!
If you struggle to feel confident with a crooked or misaligned smile, Invisalign may be the right treatment for your lifestyle! Contact Dr. Amir and Dr. Hamer at SC Dental Group in Sherman Oaks, CA, to see if Invisalign is right for you! Call (818) 905-5400 today!
Although dental care is our primary focus, we dentists are also on the lookout for other health problems that may manifest in the mouth. That's why we're sometimes the first to suspect a patient may have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are abnormal dietary patterns that can arise from mental or emotional issues, the most common being anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Each has different behaviors: Anorexics abnormally restrict their food intake (“self-starvation”), while bulimics typically eat heavily and then induce vomiting (“binge and purge”).
Although bulimics are more likely to binge and purge, anorexics may also induce vomiting. That practice in particular can leave a clue for dentists. While vomiting, powerful stomach acid enters the mouth, which can then soften and erode tooth enamel.
It's the pattern of erosion a dentist may notice more than the erosion itself that may indicate an eating disorder. A person while vomiting normally places their tongue against the back of the lower teeth, which somewhat shields them from acid. The more exposed upper teeth will thus tend to show more erosion than the bottom teeth.
A dentist may also notice other signs of an eating disorder. Enlarged salivary glands or a reddened throat and tongue could indicate the use of fingers or objects to induce vomiting. Lack of oral hygiene can be a sign of anorexia, while signs of over-aggressive brushing or flossing may hint of bulimia.
For the sake of the person's overall well-being, the eating disorder should be addressed through professional counseling and therapy. An excellent starting point is the website nationaleatingdisorders.org, sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association.
The therapy process can be lengthy, so patients should also take steps to protect their teeth in the interim. One important measure is to rinse out the mouth following purging with a little baking soda mixed with water. This will help neutralize oral acid and reduces the risk of erosion. Proper brushing and flossing and regular dental visits can also help prevent dental disease.
An eating disorder can be traumatic for both patients and their families, and can take time to overcome. Even so, patients can reduce its effect on their dental health.
If you would like more information on eating disorders and dental care, 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 “Bulimia, Anorexia & Oral Health.”
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