Yearly Archives: 2019

What Your Tongue Says About Your Overall Health

What does a healthy tongue look like? A healthy tongue should be pink and covered in papillae (or small nodules). Any change in your tongue’s appearance or any pain could mean something more about your oral health or your overall health. When you go through your nightly routine, be sure to check your tongue. Notice any differences? In this post, we’re talking about what tongue abnormalities could mean.

If your tongue has white patches on it, it could mean a few things:

  • Oral thrush—this is a yeast infection that develops in the mouth. It usually looks like white patches in a similar consistency to cottage cheese. Oral thrush is most common in infants and the elderly.
  • Leukoplakia—this condition occurs when the cells in the mouth grow too excessively. It can be identified by white patches on the tongue and on the inside of the mouth. Leukoplakia develops when the tongue is irritated. It’s most common in tobacco users.
  • Oral lichen planus—this condition appears as little raised white lines on your tongue. Its cause is unknown, but it usually goes away on its own.

If your tongue is unusually red, it could be:

  • Vitamin deficiency—both vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies can cause a red tongue.
  • Geographic tongue—this is a condition that leaves a pattern similar to a map of reddish spots on the surface of the tongue. It is usually harmless.
  • Scarlet fever—this is an infection that can lead to the tongue looking red and bumpy, similar to a strawberry. Antibiotics are usually necessary to kill the infection.  
  • Kawasaki disease—this condition can also lead to a strawberry-like appearance on the surface of the tongue. It’s usually seen in children under the age of 5 and often accompanied by a high fever. It is a serious condition. If you suspect Kawasaki disease, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If your tongue is sore and bumpy, it may mean:

  • Trauma—have you recently bit or burnt your tongue? Grinding or clenching teeth can also irritate your tongue and mouth.
  • Smoking—smoking irritates your tongue and throat. It can lead to soreness.
  • Canker sores—mouth ulcers are common and can develop on the tongue. It can be caused by stress. They normally heal on their own but can also be treated by ointments.
  • Oral cancer—signs of oral cancer can appear in your mouth and on your tongue. A lump or sore on your tongue that doesn’t go away on its own, usually within two weeks, seek an evaluation from a medical professional. Oral cancer usually is not painful in its early stages, but it much easier to deal with if caught early on.  

How To Prevent TMJ

What is TMJ? Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ is a medical condition that is manifest by joint pain and tension in your jaw. When these joints aren’t working properly it can be painful. TMJ pain can lead to muscle spasms throughout the head, neck, and jaw. It can also lead to a change in tooth structure or cause trauma to the joint or cartilage. Warning signs of TMJ include restricted jaw movement, jaw locking, and jaw popping. Other signs may be headaches, neck aches, stiff shoulders, sensitivity to sound, and vertigo. Though it can be very painful, it is also preventable.

How To Prevent TMJ

TMJ is preventable by developing or in some cases avoiding daily habits. One of the best things you can do is to keep your face and jaw relaxed. Keep your teeth apart and lips together for a relaxed position that will not put tension on your jaw. You can also massage your jaw, cheeks, and temples. This will help to release and reduce tension; even possibly tension you don’t realize that you have. You should also avoid grinding or clenching your teeth or chewing too much on hard foods. Overuse and grinding can create tension and impact your jaw. Eat excessively chewy foods often or chewing gum too often can also lead to tension in your jaw. Be sure to use both sides of your mouth when chewing. Putting too much pressure on one side of your mouth can also lead to TMJ. Taking smaller bites can also be helpful. Biting down on hard objects like pens or fingernails can also be tough on your jaw and on your teeth. If you have the developed bad habits of biting your nails, try to overcome that to avoid TMJ. You should also avoid cranking your neck, which can lead to tension and TMJ. Supporting your jaw with your hand while you yawn can also help you to avoid pulling any muscles. Overall, stretching your muscles regularly and moving around to relay your joint will help you prevent TMJ.

How To Treat TMJ

TMJ is preventable but it’s also very treatable. If you are experiencing TMJ pain, simple things like resting your jaw, taking over the counter pain medication, and doing some physical therapy exercises can help. Massages and heat treatments can make a big difference when it comes to TMJ.

In some more extreme cases, orthodontic work or surgery may be a good option. Severe cases may require surgery to repair the point. Injections can also help to reduce inflammation. Orthodontic devices can help you reduce grinding teeth. If grinding is causing your TMJ, a night guard may be the answer.

If you’re experiencing TMJ pain that isn’t going anyway or seems to be worsening, come see us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. We may be able to help you find a long term solution to TMJ pain. Our team of professionals is dedicated to your comfort.

   

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that involves having trouble breathing regularly during sleep. There are two forms—obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common and occurs when breathing is briefly, but repeatedly interrupted during sleep. It means that the muscles in the back of the throat have failed to keep airways open. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep.

Who is at Risk?

Anyone can be at risk for sleep apnea, but there are a few things that may put someone at higher risk. For example, having a small upper airway can make you more vulnerable to respiratory issues. Other things that put you at risk include:

  • A large tongue, tonsils, or uvula
  • Being overweight
  • A recessed chin
  • Small jaw
  • Large overbite
  • Large neck size
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Being age 40 or older

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, there are many symptoms to look for. The most common symptom is chronic snoring. People who suffer from sleep apnea often have trouble sleeping and may experience sleep deprivation, excessive sleepiness, or disturbed sleep. Other symptoms may include difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, or high blood pressure. Sleep apnea can also contribute to other serious conditions such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, or stroke.

Treatments Options for Sleep Apnea

Once you’ve determined that you have sleep apnea, there are a few different courses of action. One option may be dental appliances that can reposition the lower jaw. You may also want to try some lifestyle changes such as living a more active lifestyle, losing weight, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and so on. There may also be surgical options to open up airways in the upper respiratory system. Using a CPAP mask is also a quick fix that is very effective. These masks fit over the nose and mouth to blow air gently through airways during sleep.

Treatment options may differ based on each person, the severity of their condition, and personal preferences. Many people may want to avoid a CPAP mask as it can make sleeping uncomfortable. Surgery options may be a more long-term solution to getting your restful night’s sleep back. At Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah, our trained team of professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your desired result. Our top priorities are your health and comfort.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, see your doctor. They may refer you to a sleep center where you can determine a plan of action. Usually, sleep apnea is diagnosed with a sleep study that requires an overnight stay.

How To Prevent Dry Mouth

Dry mouth or xerostomia occurs when your salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva, leaving your mouth feel dry and uncomfortable. It can be caused by many different factors—medications, other health issues, stress, nutritional deficiencies, etc. Changing a few of your oral health care habits and eating habits may be able to solve the problem for you.

  • Chew gum—chewing will help you produce salvia. For better dental health, be sure that it’s sugar-free gum.
  • Avoid mouthwash with alcohol—many types of mouthwash contain high levels of alcohol, which will dry out your mouth. Look for a mouthwash with no alcohol, and preferably with fluoride.  
  • Drink more water—sipping water regularly throughout the day will help to keep your mouth damp. Dehydration could be causing your dry mouth. According to the Mayo Clinic, men should be drinking about 3 liters of water a day and women should be drinking about 2.2 liters of water a day. Water can also to cleanse your mouth, increase your saliva flow, and wash out harmful bacteria.
  • Limit caffeine intake—caffeine can dry out your mouth. You make find that second cup of coffee each day is drying out your mouth.
  • Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes—if you are having trouble producing salvia, look for products to help. Some of these may include Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray or Mouth Kole.  
  • Don’t take antihistamines and decongestants—certain over-the-counter medications can worsen dry mouth.
  • Quit smoking—smoking can cause dry mouth and slow down your body’s production of saliva.
  • Use a humidifier—many people sleep with their mouths open and experience dry mouth at night. If you must sleep with your mouth open, try using a humidifier. It could make a big difference for your mouth.
  • Suck on a mint or sugar-free candy—sucking will also produce salvia. If your mouth is feeling dry, pop in a mint. Plus, you’ll have fresher breath!
  • Breathe through your nose—this may seem like a no brainer, but if you aren’t breathing through your mouth, it won’t be as dry. You can also produce more salvia when your mouth is closed.
  • Incorporate fluoride into your routine—fluoride is extremely beneficial to your teeth in many ways. Be sure that you are brushing with fluoride toothpaste. You can also use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel for extra fluoride protection.
  • Practice good oral hygiene—having overall good oral health will help you prevent dry mouth. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once a day, and visit your dentist for cleanings semi-annually.  

If your symptoms continue or worsen, see a dentist. There are medications that can help, or it’s possible your dry mouth is being caused by another underlying condition. For long-term relief from dry mouth, see your dentist.

   

Cavity Prevention Tips

A cavity is tooth decay. Over time, a cavity can create a hole in a tooth. If left untreated, decay will continue to spread and worsen. Cavities can be painful, but they can also go unnoticed. Cavity treatments usually include a filling that will prevent decay growth and allow you to return to your everyday life eating and chewing without any pain. Cavities don’t need to be a big problem, but if left untreated, they can become a problem. If you are experiencing any teeth pain, be sure to visit your dentist.

Though cavities are not reversible, they are preventable. There are simple, everyday habits that can help you avoid the pain of cavities. Work these habits in your life for a healthier smile that will last throughout your life.

1. Brushing Twice Daily

The best way to prevent cavities is to practice good oral care. That starts with brushing your teeth—no surprise there. Brushing every morning and night will help to keep your teeth healthy and free of plaque. You can ensure that your brushing is effective as you use toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride has been proven in multiple studies to greatly improve oral health and prevent cavities.

2. Floss Daily

Flossing is a great way to prevent cavities. Debris from food is consistently getting caught in between your teeth. Toothbrushes often don’t get to these hard to reach places, which leaves between food to slowly eat away at the enamel protecting your teeth which will eventually lead to decay.

3. Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash cannot replace brushing or flossing, but it can add extra protection against tooth decay—especially if the mouthwash has fluoride.

4. Regular Dental Visits and Cleanings

Even if you have great oral hygiene habits, you should still visit the dentist regularly. Having your teeth professionally cleaned will certainly help to avoid cavities. You can get a good fix of fluoride at the dentist, plus if there is any decay, you can catch it early before it spreads. You should be visiting the dentist every six months.

5. Dental Sealants

Dental sealants fill in the grooves in your molars with a plastic that seal off your teeth. It can prevent food from getting cause in the grooves of your teeth and causing decay. Sealants last up to ten years.

6. Drink More Water

Drinking water is good for your health all around—including your oral health. Water can help to wash out your mouth, loosen any food debris left behind, and increase saliva production—which will also help you have fresher smelling breath. Plus, many cities have fluoride in their tap water which can also help you avoid cavities.

7. Tooth-Healthy Foods

Certain foods can also benefit your oral health. Crispy fruits and vegetables are great for your teeth. Other good options include green tea and sugar-free gum.

   

12 Facts About Oral Cancer

Educate yourself about the warning signs, symptoms, and facts about oral cancer. Hopefully, you never need to apply this information to your life, but better to know and catch any potential signs early.

1. A lump in the mouth, throat, or lip could be a sign of cancer. Oral cancer can manifest in many different ways. Like other cancers, one sign can be a lump. If you notice a lump in your throat or mouth does not go away over time, have it looked at by a medical professional.

2. Oral cancer can be manifest through ear pain. Because the ear, nose, and throat are all connected, oral cancer can be manifest through pain in the ear

3. Oral cancer can lead to a change in your voice. If your voice is more horse or low than usual and this symptom persists, it could be a sign of oral cancer. Of course, there can be other things that are lowering your voice too.

4. White or red patches on the gums, tongue, or anywhere in the mouth could be a sign of oral cancer. There can be other reasons for red and white patches in your mouth or throat, but if these appear, have a doctor take a look.

5. Oral cancer can mean bleeding, numbness, or pain in the mouth. If you have unexplained bleeding, numbness, or other pain in your mouth or throat, get to the bottom of it. There is a reason it’s happening, and it could potentially be oral cancer.

6. People who smoke are at a higher risker for oral cancer. Smoking puts you at risk for many cancers, particularly oral cancer. As your mouth, throat, and lungs are exposed to harmful substances, cancer can develop.

7. Heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of oral cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption is also a risk factor for oral cancer. Cut back on the drinks to lower your risk.

8. Oral cancer usually needs to be diagnosed with mirrors and lighted tubes to examine hard to see areas. Because it often grows in hard to see places, oral cancer can go unnoticed for some time, especially if you don’t have any obvious symptoms. Doctors may need to get creative with their examinations.

9. HPV has been linked to oral cancers. HPV-positive cancers can form in the back of the throat and be difficult to detect. This type of cancer does respond well to treatment.

10. There are about 50,000 cases of oral cancer in the US every year. It is not the most common form of cancer, but it does happen more than you may think.

11. The risk for oral cancer increases as you get older. Oral cancer is extremely rare in children and young adults. It’s much more common in ages 30 plus.

12. Oral cancer is more common in men. According to cancer.org, men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women.

   

How Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

What Your Oral Health Says About Your Overall Health

You may not think that your oral health is connected to your overall health, but it can be. Your body is all connected. What is going on in your mouth can impact what is going on in the rest of your body. If there are health issues there, they can be spread elsewhere. Not only can your oral health be telling of other health issues that may potentially be going on in your body, but it can also impact the rest of your body.

If you have infections impacting your oral health, it is likely from bacteria growth. This growth or infection can spread to other parts of your body as well.

Gum disease, otherwise known ad periodontist, is an infection of the gums that is caused by poor oral hygiene. This infection has been connected to other health afflictions such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

As the body is fighting off oral infections, it can also lower the body’s resistance to fight other potential infections and leave you vulnerable to many unwanted conditions.  

Conditions Linked with Oral Health

There are many medical conditions that have been linked with your oral hygiene. Poor oral health can contribute to these health conditions:

  • Endocarditis—this infection of the inner lining of your heart, occurs when bacteria or germs from another part of the body (like your mouth) spreads to your heart through your bloodstream.
  • Cardiovascular disease—heart disease and other heart related conditions such as, clogged arteries, and strokes may be linked to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria growth.
  • Diabetes—gum disease is more frequent in those who have diabetes. Diabetes can reduce your body’s resistance to infection, including oral infection and gum disease.
  • Osteoporosis—this condition causes bones to become weak and brittle. It can be linked with gum disease which can lead to bone loss and tooth loss.

Other conditions that have been linked to oral health include head and neck cancers, eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and even pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weights.

How To Improve Your Oral Health

So how can you avoid your oral health from affecting your overall health? Improve your oral health. Keep your mouth healthy and avoid infection starting at all. Good oral practices include brushing at least twice daily. Flossing your teeth at least once a day. Use fluoride in your oral care. Look for toothpaste with fluoride. Be sure to visit your dentist about every six months for a semi-annual cleaning. This is also a great way to work fluoride into your oral care. You should also replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months. As the bristles wear down, they will be less effective in removing plaque from your mouth. You should also avoid tobacco to ensure better oral health.

   

Signs of Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection that is a result of poor dental hygiene. Gum disease starts as gingivitis and then becomes periodontitis. Gum disease is very common and easily prevented.

At certain stages, it can be reversible. If left untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, and even leave you at risk for heart and lung diseases. An infection left untreated will continue to spread and infect other parts of your body.

The Stages of Gum Disease

Gum disease starts with a built up of plaque. Plaque will start to build up on the teeth and gumline. The first stage is gingivitis—at this point, it is still reversible with some good oral hygiene habits. Getting a professional dental cleaning and practicing good habits like brushing and flossing can reserve it.

The next stage of gum disease is periodontitis. At this more advanced stage, treatment options are more invasive. Techniques may include cleaning of the surfaces of your roots, removing plaque from beneath your gum line, or even surgery.  

Signs of Gum Disease:

Early signs of gum disease can be subtle and often go unnoticed for some time. Look for these symptoms:

  1. Swollen gums—gum disease typically starts with red and swollen gums. They may or may not be tender. It’s common that they will not be painful, and thus get overlooked.
  2. Bleeding when you floss—you may start to notice some bleeding when you floss. Again, it may or may not hurt, but if there is blood, that is a sure sign of gum disease.
  3. Bad breath—this can be caused by many things. But if you are experiencing bad breath regularly and cannot determine another cause, it can be from gum disease.
  4. Gums are pulling away from teeth—gums will become less healthy and start to pull away from teeth.
  5. Change in bite—you may notice your bite slightly changing. This could be a result of teeth moving due to decay.
  6. Your permanent teeth are loose—when gums are infected, they can’t do their job. Your permanent teeth may start to loosen and even wiggle if they are attached to an unhealthy gum.

How To Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease can easily be prevented with good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day will help you to avoid many dental hiccups including gum disease. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings will also help you to prevent any sort of infection or decay. Working fluoride into your dental routine will also help you to avoid decay.

Regular dental visits will also help your catch gum disease in its early stages when it’s still reversible. Prevention and early detection are key to fighting gum disease. The longer the infection lives in your mouth the more it will spread. Avoid dealing with the woes of gum disease all together when you practice good oral care.

How Does “Teeth-in-a-Day” Work?

What are teeth-in-a-day?

Teeth-in-a-day is a full arch of dental implants that can be surgically implanted in a patient who has lost their entire upper or lower set of teeth. This procedure can be done within a few hours which gives the patient teeth in just a day or less! Teeth-in-a-day can give patients a full, permanent set of teeth. It’s a safe and effective approach to dental implants.  

Does it really happen in a day?

Yes, it does! Because all of the implants are placed at once in a full arch, the procedure takes about an hour or so and just like that, the patient has a full set of beautiful dental implants. Both the procedure and recovery are pretty quick. Most people can return to regular activities within a day or two after their procedure. Recovery time will depend on the person, but it’s typically not too long.

What does the procedure look like?

The procedure of teeth-in-a-day really does take a day but preparing for the procedure may take more than a day.

  • It’ll start by discussing the procedure with your oral surgeon. Your oral surgeon will need to evaluate the health of the gums and the density of your jaw bone to ensure that teeth-in-a-day is a good option for you.
  • Next, you’ll undergo a scan of your jaw for your surgeon to determine how to place your implants.
  • Impressions will be taken to make your implants.
  • If there are any remaining teeth that need to be extracted, that will need to be done before the surgery.
  • Finally, you’ll have the surgery. A set of overdentures will be loaded onto implants and be set in your mouth. You will leave the office with a few hours with a new set of teeth.
  • Recovery time is pretty short. You’ll be back to eating normally, smiling, speaking, and showing off your pearly whites in no time.

Are teeth-in-a-day right for you?

Teeth-in-a-day is a quick and effective procedure. It is a great option for someone who needs a whole set of implants. If you are missing a significant number of teeth, getting teeth-in-a-day can be a great option to replace a large number of teeth at a time. However, if you are missing a few teeth, this is not the option for you.

It’s a very safe, quick procedure. Plus, it’ll get you a new smile overnight. If you are missing a lot of teeth, this could be a great way to restore your smile. Teeth-in-a-day are reliable—you chew normally within a few days.

If you think teeth-in-a-day are a good option for you or if you have more questions about the procedure, contact us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. Our offices at Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan, and Tooele are stocked with medical professional and experienced surgeons who are dedicated to ensuring your health and comfort. Contact us to discuss your teeth-in-a-day options!

Bone Grafting and Dental Implants

Getting dental implants may also require getting a bone graft for some people. Bone graft surgery sounds like a scary thing, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. At Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, our professionals can work with you to make the process as smooth as possible.

Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is not always required for dental implants. But if your jawbone isn’t thick enough or if it’s too soft, a bone graft may be needed for successful dental implants. Bone grafts create a solid base for a dental implant. There are different options for bone grafts—could a natural bone graft where bone is taken from another location in your body. Or there is a synthetic bone graft, where a bone substitute is used. Depending on your situation, you will likely only need minor bone grafting. Your oral surgeon can discuss whether you need bone grafting and what it will look like.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a great way to replace a missing tooth in a very natural way. Usually, dental implant surgery is performed in stages. Firstly, the damaged tooth or teeth will need to be removed. Whether teeth have been lost or damaged due to decay, injury, or trauma—some bone loss has likely occurred. This can be dangerous, the bone around the jaw can start to deteriorate which will lead to whole other set of problems.

What the Procedure Looks Like

So, what does bone grafting look like? Bone grafting involves removing a piece of bone from another part of the body, or using synthetic bone, and transplanting it into the jawbone. Using a synthetic bone will save the patient from needing a second surgical site. It can take a few months for the transplant to grow and become strong enough to support the dental implant. The jawbone will need time to heal. Once healing is complete, an extension of the implant’s mental post—an abutment—can be placed into the jaw. The jaw will need time to heal again. Next, molds of the teeth and jawbone will be taken, and the final tooth (or teeth) will be inserted. To break it down in simple steps, it looks like this:

  • Discuss what an oral surgeon.
  • Damaged tooth is removed.
  • The jawbone is prepared for surgery.
  • A bone graft takes place.
  • The jawbone heals. There is a solid base for implants.
  • The dental implant is implanted.

Post-Surgery

After surgery, you should plan for some down time to heal. You will experience swelling in your gums and face, bruising of your skin and gums around the surgical site, pain at the implant site, and some minor bleeding. You’ll likely need some pain medications or possibly antibiotics to help with the healing process. You will need to eat soft foods while your mouth heals. There will also be stitches in your mouth—they may be the self-dissolving kind or the kind you need to have removed. If your symptoms are worsening instead of getting better, contact your oral surgeon. Your mouth may be vulnerable to infection.