dentist

Hairy Tongue

 

What is Hairy Tongue?

As the name describes, Hairy Tongue is a condition of the tongue which gives the appearance that it has hair on it. Yes, amazing as it sounds, tongues can appear to grow hair on them Uncle It style. As such, the signs of hairy tongue are easy to spot:

  • Yellow, brown or black discoloration of the tongue,
  • A furry or hairy look to the tongue,
  • Bad breath,
  • A metallic or unpleasant taste in the mouth,
  • A gagging sensation.

With all that happening to a tongue, it’s easy to assume the worst. But in reality, hairy tongue is typically a harmless and temporary condition. Besides being quite shocking and possibly a bit embarrassing, at DentAlign Studio, we have seen it before and we are ready to help anyone clear up this unpleasant condition.

What Causes Hairy Tongue?

When the normal projections on the tongue called papillae grow longer than normal and are not shed, hairy tongue can result. This makes the tongue look “fuzzy” or “hairy,” but the stuff is not really hair. Bacteria and debris build up on the papillae and cause a brown, yellow or black discoloration. If you are experiencing hairy tongue, it is quite likely that one or more of the following is happening in your mouth:

  • Poor oral hygiene,
  • Normal bacteria have been disrupted by antibiotics,
  • Use of medications with bismuth, like Pepto-Bismol. (You can read about it in the common questions portion of the Pepto-Bismol website here)
  • Heavy tobacco use,
  • Use of mouth washes with peroxide or astringents.

The treatment of hairy tongue is directly related to its causes. Home remedies include regular brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning and discontinuing any habits aggravating the condition. Make an appointment with us for a consultation!

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Best and Worst Halloween Candy

We’re so excited it’s only a little less that a week until Halloween!

Your general family dentist? not so much. Trick-or-treating candy haul is a dentistry fright fest.

You and your children can still enjoy Halloween, but remember that moderation is key! Also keep in mind that some sweets may be better or worse for your teeth. Below, we have some recommendations:

WORST: Taffy and candies filled with caramel, coconut, or nuts are the worst kinds of candy for teeth because they stick to everything inside of your mouth, including the grooves of your teeth. The longer a food sticks to your teeth, the longer bacteria can feed on it. which could produce cavity-causing acid.

SECOND WORST: Hard candy like lollipops or jawbreakers, are almost as bad.  Although they do not stick to your mouth, they take a long time to dissolve.  The longer a food stays in your mouth, the more acidic your mouth becomes.

PRETTY BAD: Sour candy is also bad for your teeth because it has a higher acidic content, which can break down tooth enamel. While powdery candy such as Pixie Stix dissolve quickly in the mouth and don’t require chewing, they contain nothing but sugar and can lead to cavities by changing the mouth’s PH and giving bacteria straight sugar to eat.

NOT SO BAD: Chocolate, with no sticky fillings, will generally not stick to your teeth and therefore is a much better option if you’re craving something sweet.

BEST: Sugar-free gum may be the best treat this Halloween season because it leaves no sticky residue, and it is sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar the bacteria is unable to form plaque on.

Which kind of candy are you giving out this year?

Oral hygiene is important- and not just for your smile!!

Dental cavities and tooth decay is one of the most common medical conditions experienced by Americans and the single most common disease of childhood.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 19 percent of children have untreated cavities and approximately 41 percent of children have decay in their “baby teeth.”

Cavities are the result of gradual tooth decay caused by the build-up of plaque and breakdown of protective enamel. Initially cavities are painless, but they open the tooth up to infections, eventually exposure the nerve resulting in pain. The internal structures of the tooth can also be destroyed, ultimately causing the loss of the tooth. While this might not seem important in “baby teeth” as they are going to be lost anyway, infection can cause damage to the growing teeth and subsequent treatments can be painful and expensive.

Overall, oral hygiene is an essential component of one’s health. Researchers from the American Heart Association recently shared findings that professional dental care can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Experts tracked 100,000 people for an average of 7 years in Taiwan. They found that those who had their teeth professionally cleaned at least once every two years were 24 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 13 percent less likely to have a stroke.

Regular dentist visits and oral hygiene reduces the growth of inflammation-causing bacteria that causes periodontal disease. However, these bacteria can also cause inflammation of the vessels, with studies showing that these bacteria are associated with elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for blood vessel inflammation.

Dental health should begin in childhood as even babies are susceptible to cavities. Most children get their first tooth around 6 or 7 months of age and dental care should begin promptly thereafter with a visit to the dentist, as well as, regular tooth brushing. One major risk for early childhood cavities is consumption of sugary liquids, particularly allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk.

The extended contact with sugar increases the rate of tooth decay. Avoiding sticky foods and frequent snacks are other strategies to ward off cavities. Instilling these routines in childhood promotes their continuation into adult life and with more studies showing broad health benefits from dental hygiene it is essential.

So don’t forget to schedule your six month check up and cleaning!
Call our office today for an appointment.

Children’s oral health: Starting early

Your child’s baby teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they first appear, which is typically around age 6 months. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. It most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected. In some cases, infants and toddlers experience decay so severe that their teeth cannot be saved and need to be removed.

The good news is that tooth decay is preventable!

Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3-years-old. As your child grows, their jaws also grow, making room for their permanent teeth.

Cleaning Your Child’s Teeth:
•Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
•For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste.

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•For children 3 to 6 years of age, caregivers should dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to minimize swallowing of toothpaste.
•Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily.

First dental visits:
As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, it’s time to schedule a dental visit. Don’t wait for them to start school or until there’s an emergency. Get your child comfortable today with good mouth healthy habits.
Although the first visit is mainly for the dentist to examine your child’s mouth and to check growth and development, it’s also about your child being comfortable.
To make the visit positive:
•Consider making a morning appointment when children tend to be rested and cooperative.
•Keep any anxiety or concerns you have to yourself. Children can pick up on your emotions, so emphasize the positive.
Never use a dental visit as a punishment or threat.
•Never bribe your child.
•Talk with your child about visiting the dentist.

During this visit, you can expect Dr. Scopu to:
•Inspect for oral injuries, cavities or other problems.
•Let you know if your child is at risk of developing tooth decay.
•Clean your child’s teeth and provide tips for daily care.
•Discuss teething, pacifier use, or finger/thumbsucking habits.
•Discuss treatment, if needed, and schedule the next check-up.

Smoking impacts your oral health

Its common knowledge that smoking is terrible for your overall health. When you really think about it, it’s your oral health that gets affected first. After all, it’s the first part of your body that the smoke, tar, and all those other chemicals hit first.

According to the American Cancer Society, the most serious illness caused by smoking that is directly related to dental health is oral cancer. Studies have shown that over 90% of people who have any form of oral cancer are smokers, and that people who smoke are six times more likely to contract the disease than non-smokers.

Smoking also affects the gums, and can cause periodontal disease. It starts out as gum discoloration, and the more tar particles that build up in your gum tissue, the more likely you will get periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can lead to a whole array of dental issues such as loose teeth and extractions. 

Eventually, your gums will become inflamed, which causes the bones underneath to become infected. Tooth deterioration and loss are inevitable for heavy smokers.

Another important effect to consider is the inevitable yellowing of the teeth and the constant cigarette breath. Those two factors alone are aesthetically unpleasant, not to mention that smoking increases a build up or tartar and plaque around the teeth. 

In general, no form of tobacco is safe. It doesn’t matter whether you’re chewing, smoking, or inhaling your tobacco; if your mouth is in regular contact with tobacco, it is dangerous and can cause cancer.  The most effective way to prevent oral cancer is to not smoke or use tobacco.

While it is difficult for most smokers to quit, it is a personal achievement that will reward you for a long time to come.  Not only will you live a longer, happier life, but you’ll enjoy a great white smile and fresh breath as well. You now know how smoking negatively impacts your oral health and we hope this helps you make the commitment to quit. By simply quitting smoking, smokers, can, over time, reduce their risk levels and the sooner one quits, the greater the reduction in risk levels.

Making your child’s dental visits a smooth process.

 Fear of the dentist is pretty common for kids, especially for younger ones who can get overwhelmed with all the lights, sounds, smells and tools.

Regular checkups and cleanings are as important for children as they are for adults, and it’s vital to help them feel comfortable so they don’t form dentist-avoidance habits in the future. Here are a few things you can try to help them overcome their fears and make your trips to the dentist pleasant ones.

• Talk to your child about the dentist and create excitement. Don’t say “It won’t hurt” or “Don’t be afraid” because your child many not even associate these with a visit to the dental office until you bring it up.
• Explain the importance of prevention to them. They may find teeth cleanings a little uncomfortable, but it’s by far the least invasive procedure.
• The younger your child is when they begin regular visits, the better chance that they will grow accustomed to dental visits rather than developing a fear of them. Even if at each appointment the child just sits on the chair to get familiar with the dental office, little by little they will become comfortable with dental visits and the dentist. 
• Schedule their dental appointments at the same time as yours when possible and have them in the room with you while you get your teeth cleaned. This will show them that there is nothing to fear.
• Keep dental visits consistent (about every 6 months) to avoid problems associated with long breaks, like cavities and plaque buildup. Remember, the longer the break between visits, the longer and more difficult the cleaning will be.
• Let Dr. Scopu or one of the dental assistants know if your child is a little nervous, and they’ll do everything they can to help ease their fears. At DentAlign studio, we deal with this all the time and have gotten pretty good at helping kids feel comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Paola H.

Understanding Dental Insurance

As dental professionals, we get asked all the time “what is the best insurance?” or a variation of “Why is dental coverage so lousy?”.

And our patients have a point. Dental insurance typically is pretty lousy, for the patient and the dentist. There’s not enough coverage, too many things aren’t covered at all, the co-pays are too high, and the limitations are fairly strict. But why is this so?

And the reason is a fairly simple one, dental insurance is simply not profitable to insurance companies. Now, why isn’t it profitable … well, there are lots of reasons and speculation for that. I wish I could say “well, it’s because of XYZ, and if that gets fixed, it’s all sunshine and rainbows” (or fillings and root canals if you prefer). But that’s just not so.

dental-insurance

But when you change your perspective about dental coverage, you will begin to understand that dental care should not be limited to accommodate what insurance companies will cover. For instance, many dental policies have very strict guideliness that (unfortunately) determine the treatment plan for the patient. These guideliness are a broad “one size fits all” approach to dental care, which really hinders the treatment that a dentist can offer on a case per case basis. If your dentist is only giving you the options that your insurance will cover, chances are you are not getting the whole story about what treatment might be better.

For example, some policies that do not cover endodontic treatment for certain teeth would instead cover an extraction.

The best way to take full advantage of your insurance coverage is by understanding how it works. It may seem daunting at first and each insurance plan is designed differently, however there are some basics that can help you get a better idea of how you’re covered.

If you have the benefit of dental insurance provided by your employer, consider yourself lucky. Think of this benefit as a valuable “coupon” that can greatly reduce the cost of dental care. Almost all dental plans are the result of a contract between your employer and an insurance company. Your dental coverage is not based on what you need or what your dentist recommends. Employers generally choose to cover some, but not all, of employees’ dental costs.

For the most part, insurance coverage is broken down into three or four categories: preventive care, basic, major and orthodontic.

Preventive care is usually covered by the insurance by 100%. Routine cleanings, exams dental xrays, flouride treatment and children’s sealants are usually covered as preventive. However, most insurances limit the frequency of each of these services. Some patients may require to upkeep with more frequent dental cleanings due to active orthodontic treatment or periodontal issues, but insurances will limit the number of times a cleaning can be performed.

Basic care is usually covered at a percentage, leaving the patient with copayments to cover the portions that the insurance will not pay. Additionally, most policies have a yearly deductible that applies for basic work. This deductible can vary for each plan. Usual services under basic care are fillings, deep cleanings, root canals, and some simple extractions among other services.

Major work usually requires a pre approval from the insurance company. If the proposed treatment is approved, the insurance will notify the patient what percentage is their financial responsibility. Most major work consists of prosthetics such as crowns, bridges, partial and complete dentures and occasionally some oral surgery or surgical extractions.

Additionally, some policies may cover braces. Orthodontic treatment is also covered at a percentage of the fees and it needs to be pre approved by the dental insurance. The guideliness they follow to determine eligibility for this service, may not always benefit the patient.

To provide “full coverage,” an insurance company would have to charge more for premiums than a consumer would deem worth spending. So we get this hybrid “this is covered up to that amount/waiting periods/low maximums/no coverage at all” scenario that we’re in. Which really helps nobody — insurance companies don’t like it, as dental profesionals, we don’t like it and patients don’t like it.

There are no easy answers. But at least now you sort of have an inkling as to how dental insurance works.

What do you think about this subject?

Until next time, keep smiling.

by: Paola H