Posted by Dr. Thomas Flavin May 28,2020
Your dentist in St. Louis knows that your oral health can say a lot about your overall health. But the connection doesn’t just involve your teeth and gums. In fact, at every one of your dental appointments, your dental team takes a good, hard look at your tongue, as well as your teeth and gums, and for a good reason. The color and even the texture of your tongue can give your dentist some helpful clues into your overall wellbeing.
The tongue is a marvelous part of our anatomy and is actually quite interesting and helpful. Our tongues are made up of eight strong muscles that work tirelessly day in and day out to help us break down food as we chew, help us speak, swallow, and even filter out germs. But its usefulness goes beyond that. The tongue’s color and texture can help your dentist in St. Louis identify and catch potential problems before they have a chance to become serious.
When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your tongue in the mirror? While this sounds odd, it’s beneficial to keep a close eye on the health of your tongue. In fact, we recommend that you examine your tongue often in between your bi-annual dental appointments. But what exactly should you be looking for? Well, we’re mostly concerned with changes in color or texture, but not every change is cause for concern. Your dentist in St. Louis can help you differentiate between what’s worrisome and what’s no big deal.
White Patches – Small white spots all over the tongue or even a white film are usually no cause for concern, but you should still seek treatment. Typically, white spots on the tongue is a sign of too much candida yeast, known as oral thrush. However, white patches may also be a sign of leukoplakia, but this is most common in tobacco users or those who drink alcohol excessively. Sometimes, leukoplakia can develop into oral cancer, so it’s important to keep an eye on it.
Black, Hairy Appearance – We know this sounds really gross and scary, but the truth is, a black, hairy tongue isn’t normally a sign of any illness or disease and typically goes away on its own. A black, hairy tongue is usually a result of tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, diabetes, a yeast infection, poor oral hygiene, or cancer therapies. Also, the hairy appearance isn’t actual hair (thank goodness!) but rather a buildup of dead cells that essentially flatten out the tiny bumps (papillae) that cover our tongue (not that this sounds any better than actual hair!).
Redness – All tongues are naturally some shade of red, but it’s usually a light red or pinkish color. When a tongue appears bright red, it can be called strawberry tongue thanks to the bold, bright color. Strawberry tongue may be caused by strep throat or deficiencies in B-12, folic acid, or iron. A red tongue may also indicate erythroplakia which can increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer. Because of this, it’s important to let your dentist in St. Louis know if your tongue starts to appear bright red and doesn’t go away.
Lumps & Bumps – Every tongue is naturally bumpy thanks to the tiny papillae that cover the surface. However, if a new bump or lump appears and doesn’t go away within two weeks or is painful, you should contact your dentist. New, long-lasting bumps can be an early sign of oral cancer. While oral cancer can be treated successfully, success is achieved more often when the disease is found early. If you notice a bump that doesn’t go away, see your dentist as soon as you can.
If you don’t already spend some time looking at your tongue in the mirror, we encourage you to do so. Being aware of the changes happening in your mouth can go a long way in getting early treatment if necessary and avoiding bigger problems from occurring.
Your dentist in St. Louis is all about patients getting exercise and engaging in sports. It’s good for your body, mind, and spirit. However, there are quite a few sports that put your smile in danger every time you suit up. Some sports, for various reasons, put your teeth at a higher risk for injury and issues. Let’s countdown the top three sports that can do some serious dental damage to your smile. #1 – BALL AND STICK SPORTS There’s a reason this is number one on our list. Sports involving the combination of ball and stick or bat are a big danger to your smile. These pastimes include: – Baseball – Hockey – Field Hockey – Lacrosse – Cricket – And More A hard ball or puck moving at a high rate of speed directly at your head or mouth is never going to have an ideal outcome if contact is made. And don’t think that football shouldn’t be included in this list. Football players wear mouthguards for a reason, whether it’s body contact or even a football to the face, there’s definitely damage to be done on the gridiron. Guess what? Basketball is just as dangerous for your smile. It sounds surprising for some patients when they hear it… but think about how physical a good basketball game can get. You can feel every second tick by whether you’re courtside or chairside. Basketball can become increasingly physical, “inside the paint,” or inside of the key on the court. Some big guys are throwing some serious weight around, and one false move to the mouth can mean disaster for your teeth. #2 – BOXING, MMA, MARTIAL ARTS Sports such as martial arts, mixed martial arts, boxing, and others can also spell trouble for your teeth. There’s no denying that these sports are full-contact and sometimes mean hitting someone directly in the face. Oral injury is occasionally imminent. But it can be avoidable if you remember to wear a custom mouthguard courtesy of your St. Louis dentist. #3 – X-TREME SPORTS We’re talking to all the thrill-seekers out there. You know the ones who just can’t resist shredding some pipe on the skateboard, enjoying corduroy conditions on their snowboard, or doing some freestyle tricks on their BMX bike. You may think these sports are reserved for the pros you see killing it at the X-Games, but in all reality, they’re still pretty popular recreational activities. Sometimes you take a tumble or suffer a fall that impacts your smile. This can spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E for your teeth. It all comes down to this: Give it your all, no matter what you do. Just don’t let your game get out of hand. Remember that it only takes a few seconds to do damage to your teeth, whether they’re broken or completely knocked out. Your smile is yours for the rest of your life, so you want to make sure you’re taking all of the necessary steps to protect it both on and off the field, court, or ice. Please remember to wear a mouthguard or sportsguard whenever you can while you’re engaging in these activities we’ve talked about today. Stay away from overly aggressive sports where you’re doing more damage to your health than helping it. Stay safe and have fun! If, for whatever reason, you ever find yourself in a dental emergency, please don’t hesitate to call our St. Louis dental office right away. There’s always someone ready to listen and help you get out of pain, fast. Call us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment for you and your smile.
Wisdom teeth can be a pesky problem, whether they need to be removed or not. While there are times when your dentist in St. Louis may suggest keeping wisdom teeth around, it’s most common to have wisdom teeth removed. In fact, over 90% of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed. So when can they stay and when do they have to go? REASONS WISDOM TEETH NEED TO BE EXTRACTED There’s No Room For Them The top reason wisdom teeth need to be removed is that there’s no more room in your mouth for four more teeth. If this is happening, your dental team will be able to identify it early through dental x-rays. When there’s simply not enough room for your wisdom teeth, extraction will be recommended. If treatment is not completed and the teeth start to erupt, a whole host of issues can occur including overcrowding, crookedness, and jaw pain. Your wisdom teeth may also become impacted, which is just a way to say that the teeth become stuck. Once wisdom teeth are impacted, the surgery is a bit more complicated but still fairly easy. Proper Care Becomes Difficult If you’re one of the rare cases where your wisdom teeth grow in straight and healthy, your St. Louis dentist may still recommend having them removed. This is to prevent additional problems such as cavities and gum disease in the future. You see, wisdom teeth are way in the back of the mouth and are very difficult to brush and floss properly. This can cause bacteria and plaque build-up, which will put you at an increased risk of decay. WHEN DON’T WISDOM TEETH NEED TO BE REMOVED? Even though 90% of Americans need to have their wisdom teeth out, there are a few cases when wisdom teeth grow in just fine. If your wisdom teeth have enough room to fully erupt without disrupting the neighboring teeth and you’re not having trouble taking care of them, you may just be able to keep them. Remember, your dental team will continue to monitor their health to make sure they’re still ok where they are, and that your mouth and smile are staying healthy. Seeing your dentist regularly is the best way to determine whether or not you should have your wisdom teeth removed. If you think you may need to have your wisdom teeth checked out, give our St. Louis dental office a call to schedule an appointment today.
Often we think of a healthy mouth as straight, white teeth. But the truth is, a healthy mouth goes beyond our smiles. Our gums are easily overlooked when it comes to talking about our oral health. However, our gums are crucial to not only our mouths but to our overall health. At our dental office in St. Louis, we strive to educate our patients about the importance of healthy gums, so in this blog, we’re going to talk about just how serious of a role our gums play in our bodies. GUM DISEASE When we don’t take care of our gums, we can develop a serious condition called gum disease. Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque. Plaque is loaded with dangerous bacteria that if not removed, can lead to infection of the gums. This infection is gum disease. There are three stages of gum disease — gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis – This is the earliest stage of gum disease and can be treated. Periodontitis – If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis when the disease starts to affect the bones holding our teeth in place. Advanced Periodontitis – As periodontitis gets worse, it can turn into advanced periodontitis. If this happens, the bones supporting our teeth are beginning to break down, and we may experience tooth loss. GUM DISEASE & YOUR BODY The bacteria that cause gum disease can also lead to other serious problems in the body. In fact, many research studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and several health conditions, such as: * Lung Disease * Cancers * Heart Attacks * Strokes * Signs of Gum Disease * Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing * Red, swollen, or tender gums * Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth * Receding gums * Loose or shifting teeth In the early stages, gum disease may not necessarily show any signs. This is why appointments with your dentist in St. Louis every six months are so important. Your dental team is trained to look for early warning signs of gum disease so they can recommend treatment quickly. Early diagnosis is key to successful treatment. If it’s been more than six months since your last visit or you notice any signs of gum disease, call our dental office in St. Louis to schedule a visit.
While the origin of this February 9th holiday is unknown, it’s definitely a holiday we support. Toothaches are painful, and they’re not something we ever want you to experience. That’s why Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis wants all of our patients to see National Toothache Day as an important reminder to maintain your checkups. We know it may seem odd to dedicate a holiday to toothaches. However, we like to see this as a day to celebrate good dental hygiene. Good dental hygiene, and a toothache free mouth, is easily attainable with a thorough, at home routine as well as regular professional cleanings from our Saint Louis dental office. In fact, practicing good oral hygiene is the best preventative measure you can take to protect yourself against a toothache. Good Oral Hygiene Practices Include: * Brushing your teeth at least twice a day. * Flossing to remove plaque and particles your toothbrush alone can’t reach. * Avoiding tobacco products. * Being mindful of what you eat – easy on the sugary and acidic foods! If you’re suffering a toothache in Saint Louis, don’t hesitate to call Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis. We’ll get you in for a visit and take a look at what’s going on in your mouth. Once we determine the cause of the pain, we’ll work with you to fix it and get you smiling again.
Think back to the last time you woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on your daily demands. It’s so nice to have the energy and mindful clarity to help you be productive and make the most of your day. Has it been a while since you felt like this? Does your bed partner complain because your snoring keeps them up at night? Your St. Louis dentist will tell you that if snoring is disrupting your life (and your family’s sleep), it might be time to consider learning more about something called sleep apnea. It could be the annoying (and dangerous) condition that’s keeping you and the ones you love from enjoying a peaceful, rejuvenating night’s sleep. Let’s take learn more about sleep apnea, its symptoms, and side effects. WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA? If you think snoring while sleeping isn’t that common, think again! The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates nearly 90 million Americans are snoring away while trying to achieve a healthy night’s sleep. Sometimes snoring is just that, and people who have this condition are called “simple snorer’s” or primary snorers. This generally true for about half of the 90 million people sawing logs at night. But for the other half, there’s a good chance they’re struggling with a more serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea without even knowing it. Sleep apnea is dangerous because you can wake up as many as 100 times during the night, stop breathing, snore loudly, and struggle to regain a normal breathing pattern – and you don’t even know it! ARE THERE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SLEEP APNEA? Sleep apnea is usually classified in two distinctively different ways: 1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This is, by far, the most common form of sleep apnea being diagnosed across the country today. If you or someone in your household is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s usually caused by a blocked airflow during sleep due to your soft tissue collapsing in the back of your throat. At our dental office in St. Louis, we’ll always tell you to seek help if you or someone in your family continues to have issues with snoring. 2) Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea is more difficult to diagnose because it involves a specific problem with how your brain signals your breathing muscles to respond. Unlike OSA, your airway isn’t blocked. In this case your brain fails to signal your muscles to breathe. Brain tumors, brain infections, and strokes are often to blame. SNORING AND SLEEP APNEA Even though snoring can be a big indicator of sleep apnea, it also wreaks havoc on your oral health due to dry mouth because everyone needs saliva in their mouth to help: * Rinse and cleanse your teeth to help reduce plaque build-up * Wash away food particles leftover from brushing and flossing * Remove dead cells that can lead to sore, infections, and bad breath * Neutralize acids that cause plaque and erode your tooth enamel Our St. Louis dental office will always go out of our way to keep you and your smile healthy. If you think snoring is affecting your teeth, don’t hesitate to talk to us. We’re always happy to help and answer any questions you may have.
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