Family & Cosmetic Care in a Comfortable, Relaxed Environment.

Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

As we are in the middle of the Holiday season there are lots of tempting treats to pick on. Most are okay in moderation but some are likely to create problems for your dentalDental Care Marielaina Perrone DDS health. Issues that could be created include tooth decay and even fractured teeth. Below are a listing of some to be careful of:

1. Popcorn. An old favorite usually enjoyed at the movies but around holiday time regular old popcorn becomes coated in caramel. Normally popcorn presents challenges for teeth due to biting on popcorn kernels and popcorn husks getting stuck between teeth. Those pesky popcorn kernels have been known to cause broken teeth and fracture fillings. Add the caramel and it is a recipe for disaster as the caramel masks the kernels and sticks in and around your teeth. This can break a tooth, or create an environment ripe for development of tooth decay. So think twice and beware if  indulging in this holiday favorite.

2. Dried Fruit. Seems like this would be a healthy snack but the sugars in the dried fruit are concentrated and their dry texture makes them stick longer to teeth. This allows acid producing bacteria in your mouth to have a chance to work on your tooth enamel. Be smart, and floss after or chose fresh fruit instead.

3. White Flour Crackers. We love these crackers with cheese spreads as a pre holiday meal snack. Did you know the bleached white flour turns almost immediately into sugar, which is food for the bacteria in your mouth to create an acid filled environment for tooth decay. Choose whole grain versions of these favorite crackers for better dental health as well as general health.

4. Candy Canes. A traditional favorite that can also cause fractures to teeth if you choose to bite into them. Sucking on hard candy makes the sugar acids linger longer in your mouth. Break off a small piece, and drink water after.

5. Christmas cookies and fudge.These are hard to pass up, especially at a party! Remember that very high sugar content, white flour and the stickiness are the contributors to tooth decay. Try eating some carrots or celery directly after you partake in these sweet treats.

6. Peanut brittle. Some peanut brittle is harder or stickier than others. You can pull out a crown or filling or break a tooth. Try moistening a small piece in your mouth to soften it before chewing. You will certainly need to floss after this snack!

Dental Hygiene Tips for Holidays

-Drink Water. Plenty of it to swish and rinse your mouth.This will reduce the acid producing sugars and food debris from holiday snacking.

-Crunch on raw veggies. They will help clear the stickiness and stimulate salivary flow.

-Brush and Floss After Snacking. Brushing and flossing after snacking will neutralize the acid build up and not allow the tooth enamel to be broken down.

Enjoy the Holidays, just use your judgement to make good choices. You can still eat the special foods you love, just do it wisely. Remember, smiles are contagious, spread some holiday cheer with your beautiful smile!

 

Xray showing swallowed Tongue Piercing

Radiograph Showing Swallowed Piercing

Tongue Piercing dangers. It is very hard to believe or understand how certain things ever become popular. But they do like, pet rocks, 8 track tapes, and the rubik’s cube. Fortunately over time, these fads fade away into oblivion. The latest craze over the last few years has been tongue piercing. Tongue Piercing has become very popular, especially among teenagers and young adults. Most people generally believe that tongue piercing is a safe and fun way for young people to express themselves, similar to piercing our ears. Unfortunately, tongue piercing can cause significant damage to our teeth as well as risks to our general health. According to one study, 16% of the females and 4% of the males at a prominent U.S. University had a tongue piercing. The tongue piercing fad may come and go, but for people with pierced tongues, the adverse effects could last a lifetime. Tongue piercing can result in chipped or broken teeth, infections, gum and nerve damage, excessive drooling, taste sensation loss, and tooth loss. Irritation from the jewelry can cause periodontal disease or even oral cancer. So for a teenager or young adult, it may seem cool but damaged and missing teeth, infection, and life threatening cancer are far from cool.

Approximately 45-50% of people who have worn tongue jewelry for four or more years have chipped or fractured their teeth. This damage can eventually send people to the dentist for fillings, crowns, root canal therapy, or even extractions. Because tongue jewelry from a tongue piercing can break or chip teeth, people wearing this jewelry may have to spend thousands of dollars on dental work to regain the smile they will want and desire later in life .

Infection

Tongue Piercing Infection

Infection from tongue piercing

The tongue is covered with bacteria, and when pierced, that bacteria can get in the blood stream and underlying tongue tissues. This can cause a serious infection. Unfortunately, tongue piercing jewelry wearers may not be aware of a problem since the symptoms of infection, such as swelling, redness, and pain, are quite similar to the after effects of the piercing itself. Dentists are learning very quickly that oral infections can also lead to infections in other parts of the body. If you have certain health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, joint replacements or congenital heart conditions, you will be even more susceptible to developing infection.

Dentists have reported a rise in cases of Ludwig’s angina, a very severe infection of the floor of the mouth and jaws, in patients who have a tongue piercing. In Ludwig’s angina, the tongue may swell to the point that it constricts the airway causing breathing to be difficult.

Another condition afflicting patients with a tongue piercing is endocarditis, a disease which occurs when bacteria enters the blood stream and infects the heart valves while weakening them. This can occur in certain patients with underlying ( often undiagnosed and without symptoms) heart problems.

Oral Cancer

Patients with a tongue piercing may develop ulcers in the oral cavity from constant irritation. These ulcers can possibly progress to oral cancer. Precancerous ulcers can be detected during an oral cancer screening by your dentist. For patients with a tongue piercing, it is doubly important to see your dentist regularly. Especially one using the Velscope oral cancer screening system.

velscope

Velscope Oral Cancer Screening

Broken or Chipped Teeth

Fractured Tooth

Damage from Tongue Piercing

It is not uncommon to see perfectly healthy teeth chipped or fractured from a tongue piercing. People chip teeth on tongue piercings while eating, sleeping, talking and chewing on the jewelry. The fracture can be confined to the enamel of the tooth and require just a simple filling or it may go deeper into the tooth, which may require a root canal, tooth extraction, or crown. This can often happen when a person carelessly biting on the tongue jewelry during chewing or sleeping.

Allergic Reactions

Developing an allergic reaction is not uncommon depending on the type of metal the piercing is made of. Some types of tongue piercings are not high quality surgical grade stainless steel and a person can experience an allergic reaction even if they do not typically have metal allergies. Please be aware of the type of tongue piercing being placed before going ahead with it.

Disease Transmission

Oral and tongue piercings are a potential risk factor for the transmission of hepatitis B and C and herpes simplex virus.

Nerve Damage and Prolonged Bleeding

Numbness or loss of sensation at the site of the tongue piercing or movement problems can occur if nerves have been damaged during the piercing. Blood vessels can be punctured leading to prolonged bleeding.

Periodontal Disease

Tongue piercing casuing gingival recession

Gingival Recession Caused by Tongue Piercing

People with a tongue piercing have a increased risk of periodontal disease than those without a tongue piercing. The jewelry can come into contact with gingival tissue causing injury which can cause recession of the gum tissue ( and possibly bone loss). This can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.

Difficulties in Daily Oral Functions and Possible Aspiration of Jewelry

Tongue piercing can result in difficulty in speaking clearly and annunciating properly. Chewing and swallowing food can also be a challenge. This is because the tongue piercing jewelry stimulates excessive salivary production. Temporary or permanent drooling is another consequence of increased saliva production. Altered taste can also be present. Jewelry that becomes loose in the mouth can become a choking hazard and, if swallowed, can result in injury to the digestive track or lungs.

Another problem that is of concern is that few standards for body piercers exist. Dental offices must follow strict guidelines (developed by OSHA and the CDC) for sterilization and infection control. Contaminated tools used in tongue piercing can expose people to an increased risk for serious infections like hepatitis and HIV.

If a person does decide to have his or her tongue pierced, they should know that it will take 4-6 weeks to heal and it may be very uncomfortable during that time. The piercer

Radiograph showing bone loss from piercing

Radiograph Showing Bone Loss Due to Tongue Piercing

will place a larger, starter barbell jewelry in the tongue to give it enough room to heal when the tongue swells. After the  swelling goes down, he or she should get a smaller barbell, which will be less likely to get in the way of teeth and more difficult to chew on.

If there are no complications, the barbell can be removed for short periods of time without the hole closing. Some dentists  suggest that to protect teeth patients should remove the barbell every time they eat, sleep or participate in a strenuous activity. There are also plugs available to place in the hole, so the jewelry can be removed for as long as needed.

You will need to keep the tongue piercing clean and use an antiseptic mouthwash (example Listerine) after every meal and brush the jewelry the same as you would your own teeth to remove any unseen plaque. See your dentist or doctor at first sign of infection or change to the area surrounding the piercing.

Most importantly, people with pierced tongues should see a dentist regularly to make sure tongue, surrounding tissues, and teeth stay healthy.

A phobia is generally defined as an irrational severe fear that leads to avoidance of the feared situation, object or activity. Most people can live with some level of anxiety about going to the dentist. However, for those with dental phobia, the thought of going to the dentist is terrifying. They may be so afraid that they will do anything to avoid a dental appointment. Exposure to the feared stimulus provokes an immediate anxiety response, which may or may not take the form of a panic attack. The dental phobia causes a lot of stress, and not only affects your oral health but other parts of your life as well. People with a dental phobia will spend a large amount of time fretting about their teeth, dentists or dental situations. Some do the exact opposite and spend a lot of their time trying not to think of teeth, dentists or dental situations. People with a true dental phobia often put off routine care for years or even decades. To avoid it, they will deal with periodontal disease, pain, infections, or even unsightly and broken teeth.

The dental phobia may take an emotional toll as well. Damaged or discolored teeth can make people self conscious and insecure. When speaking, they may smile less or keep their mouths partly closed. Some people can become so embarrassed about how their teeth look that their personal and professional lives begin to suffer. There is often a serious loss of self-esteem. People with dental phobia also may suffer from poor general health, and possibly lowered life expectancy.  This is because poor oral health has been found to be related to some life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease and lung infections.

Dental phobia and anxiety are extremely common. Estimates show that 50% of Americans do not visit the dentist regularly. Of those people, an estimated 9-15% are avoiding dental care due to their dental phobia, anxiety of the unknown and phobias that grow with time. This translates into 30-40 million people per year who do not see the dentist because of dental phobias or fear.

Anxiety and Phobia are often interchanged, but they are very different. Phobias are generally much more serious than fears or anxieties. They are deeply rooted within a person. Unlike fears that are learned and can possibly be unlearned, phobias are not as easily dismissed with confronting the situation. It takes time and attention by both patient and doctor to move forward.

Some of the known causes of dental phobia include, previous negative experiences, an uncaring dentist, humiliation, history of abuse, or even the phobia could be learned from a parent or relative when young.

Dental phobia and anxiety come in varying degrees. At the extreme end, a person with dental phobia may never see a dentist. Others may force themselves to go, but they may not sleep the night before. It’s not unusual for people to feel sick (or actually get sick) while they are waiting to be seen.

The dental phobia can be treated. Without treatment, the dental phobia is likely to get progressively worse. That is partly because emotional stress can make dental visits more uncomfortable than the situation warrants.

People who are unusually tense tend to have a lower threshold of pain. This means they may feel pain at lower levels than other people. They may need extra anesthetic. They may even develop stress related problems in other parts of the body. For example, muscle stiffness and headaches are not unusual.

There isn’t a clear boundary that separates “normal” anxiety from dental phobia. Everyone has concerns and fears and deals with them in different ways. However, the prospect of dental work does not need to fill you with terror. If it does, then you may need some help overcoming the fears.

Some of the signs of dental phobia include:

1) You feel tense or have trouble sleeping the night before a dental visit

2) Increased nervousness while you are in the waiting room.

3) Overcome by bouts of crying when you think of going to the dentist. The sight of dental instruments (or even the white lab coats) increases your anxiety.

4) Feeling physically ill with the thought of a dental visit.

5) When objects are placed in your mouth during a dental appointment you panic or have trouble breathing.

Phobias are not easily treated like fears are, however the same techniques can be helpful. Your dentist can prescribe muscle relaxers that help their patients relax before and during an appointment. If the dental phobia is extremely severe, talk with your dentist about the problem. If you can, seek help from a psychiatrist that too may benefit you, allowing you, your dentist and doctor to work together to find the best course of overcoming the dental phobia. Overcoming dental phobia is best done with a team approach. meaning you, your loved ones and the dentist and his/her staff must all work together to move past this. Thankfully it can be overcome. Some of my best patients were former dental phobics with severe anxiety. They are now comfortable having dental work done and actually look forward to coming to their dental visits.