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Most people tend to focus on teeth and not the big picture. They see flaws in their smile and want them corrected but many often overlook the lips which frame our smiles. Our lips take a lot of abuse every day. From the wind, the sun, and our own bad habits. Did you know that our lips have no natural protections from the elements like other parts of our body? Our lips have no sweat or oil glands and to make matters worse we often neglect their care. Most of us are not careful enough to protect our lips from exposure to the Herpes virus, which affects the lips with painful blistering sores. By age 50, almost 90% of Americans have been exposed to herpes simplex 1 or 2, the viruses that cause cold sores

Harmful habits

We are often our own worst enemy when it comes to our body. Some habits that are harmful to our lips include:

-Constantly licking or biting our lips – Licking our lips cools and moisturizes them for a short period. Once they dry out, they become even drier than before. On top of that the enzymes in your mouth are also too harsh for your lips. Biting is usually a nervous habit which can cause a large fibrous nodule to form in the lip, or expose us to more bacteria by leaving a chronic open wound on the mouth.

Kissing, and sharing lip products.– Herpes of the lips is usually transferred via kissing an infected person or using their lip product on your lips. Never kiss anyone with sores on their lips, even if it is almost gone! Never borrow lipstick or chapstick from anyone! Children can have a terrible outbreak from being exposed to herpes the first time. Many people don’t realize they are still contagious when their sore is almost gone and will kiss you or your child without thinking twice, you need to keep your eyes open!

Smokingsmoking chronically irritates lip tissue, and can even stain the lips with nicotine.

-Open Mouth Breathing – Breathing through our mouths dries our lips out even more as the air travels in and out of our mouths. Whereas nose breathing will stop that dry air from drying our lips.

Picking– Peeling or picking the chapping skin on your lips can lead to more damage and bleeding. Moisturize your peeling, chapped lips well with vaseline. You will be surprised at how fast they heal when kept moist.

Piercings– lip piercings tend to cause increased saliva, lip licking, and lip biting. This leads to chronically irritated lips.

 Tips To Care For Lips

Choose A Nutritious Diet – Our skin as well as our lips are very dependent on what we eat. Our skin reacts differently to greasy foods vs healthy nutritious ones. Your lips need a continuous intake of vitamins and minerals to stay soft and supple. Vitamins that are important for healthy lips and skin include Vitamin B and Vitamin E. Drinking plenty of water is also very important, because when we are dry we tend to lick our lips more.

Use The Right Lip Moisturizer – Products containing petroleum jelly, beeswax, paraffin, and some sun protection are the most effective. These ingredients do the best job sealing our lips keeping moisture in. In extreme irritations, aloe vera is a great ingredient to look for as well. This is an effective product since it is also has the ability to heal sensitive sunburns. Many people overlook their lips when putting sunscreen on. The lips can burn just like any other part of our skin. Be on the lookout for ingredients like salicylic acid or menthol. They can end up drying your lips out even more.

Lip Enhancements

Lipstick – Beauty experts say the trick is to select a cool toned lipstick with blue undertones that will counteract the yellowing of our teeth. This will make your teeth appear instantly whiter in contrast against the lipstick. Seemingly, instant teeth whitening. Lipstick tips include:

Choose a contrasting lip color.

Choose lipsticks with blue undertone shades, such as bright pinks and reds.

Experiment with bronzing.

Save the gold tones for your eyelids and avoid gold tones near your lips or teeth.

Surgical – This type of enhancement includes the use of implants to make the lips fuller. Another is lip shortening, when the lip appears to be too long.

Injections – The use of dermal fillers (like collagen, Restylen, or Juvederm) give the ability to change lip fullness on a temporary basis. Beware this technique is very dependent on the skill of the injector. These injections normally last from between 4 months and a year. Botox is also used to deaden the lip and help with a gummy smile.

Conclusion

Our lips are an important part of our smiles and should be treated and cared for properly too. A set of healthy, full lips will make our teeth stand out even more. Follow proper care and you will have something to smile about!.



It is estimated that well over 1 billion people in the world smoke. Many of these smokers have their health directly affected by their choice of habit. Research has shown time and again that smoking is a significant hazard to a person’s general well being but it has been less publicized the effect smoking has on a person’s dental health.

Logically, the mouth is the primary recipient of the tars, nicotine, and smoke from either smoking or chewing tobacco. The tissues of the oral cavity would be the first to come into contact with these harmful and toxic materials. Even though the smoke is in the mouth for only a short period of time it is more than enough time for it to cause damage.

The following are some of the effects smoking has on a person’s dental health:

1) Increased risk of developing oral cancer. Oral cancer affects almost 40,000 Americans each year. Oral Cancer kills one person per hour (totals about 8,000 deaths per year). Only a little more than 50% of those 40,000 diagnosed, will be alive in 5 years. This is a sobering statistic that has stayed steady for quite a few years. Around the globe, the problem is even greater. There are a reported 640,000 new cases of oral cancer each year.

2) Increased risk of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. The most recent research studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and advancement of periodontal disease.  A study published in journal of periodontology highlights that smokers are 4X more likely to suffer from advanced periodontal disease. Also, the chemicals in tobacco can make oral surgery or periodontal treatments less predictable. It seems that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease. Every Time you inhale, the blood vessels in the mouth constrict and impair blood flow to the gums. This decreased blood flow affects wound healing. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have the following issues:

-Increased build up of plaque and tartar.

-Deep pockets between your teeth and gums

-Loss of the bone and tissue that support your teeth

smoking facts

Facts about Smoking

If the bacteria is not removed during a professional cleaning, and it remains below your gum line, the bacteria can destroy your gum tissue and cause your gums to become inflamed, swollen, and pull away from your teeth.  When this happens, periodontal pockets form and fill with disease-causing bacteria. Periodontal disease is a progressive disease and if this situation is left untreated it will only get worse. The pockets between your teeth and gums can get larger allowing more bacteria to get in to destroy and breakdown gingival tissue and supporting bone. The gums may shrink away from the teeth making them look longer. Without any further treatment to slow or stop the progression your teeth may become loose, painful, and will probably fall out.

3) Discoloration of teeth. Nicotine and tar present in cigarette smoke, form deposits on tooth surface and cause discoloration of teeth. These discolorations can range from yellow to black. Most smokers are aware of this discoloration but it is almost impossible to remove via regular home care techniques.

4) Halitosis or smoker’s breath. Every smoker at some time or another has probably been told that their breath smells bad. Most smokers become used to the bad smell and hardly notice it but the bad breath is quite obvious to non smokers. This is not something that will go away without cessation of smoking.

5) Increased risk of tooth decay.  The deposits from tar and nicotine caused by smoking add to the plaque build up in the mouth creating a environment for tooth-decay causing bacteria to flourish. Smoking will also affect dental work and will reduce success rates of procedures such as periodontal surgery and dental implants. Dental implants are quite costly and smoking can mean the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one.

6) Xerostomia or Dry Mouth. Cigarette smoking causes the condition known as dry mouth. This decrease in saliva is generally caused by the inflammation of the salivary gland ducts. This can in turn lead to a variety of problems including bad breath and cavities.

Some lesser effects from smoking include change in taste sensation, sinusitis, and delayed wound healing.

Quitting Tobacco Use

If you wish to quit smoking, your dentist can help calm your nicotine cravings with certain medications. These can include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, or puffers (an artificial cigarette with nicotine only). Most of these are over the counter medications but others need a prescription. For example, Zyban and Chantix are prescription drugs used to help patients quit smoking, and must be

quit smoking - chantix

chantix – quit smoking

monitored by your physician.

Smoking cessation classes and support groups are often used together with drug therapy. Ask your dentist for information they may have on similar smoking cessation programs.

Herbal remedies, along with hypnosis and acupuncture, are other treatments that may help patients quit smoking.

The bottom line is that the habit of smoking poses a very significant threat to your overall health and that includes your dental health. Education is the key to making current smokers aware of the pitfalls of smoking as well as the rest of the population who may take up the habit now or in the future. As always regular dental visits are recommended.