Causes of Dry Mouth and Top Remedies

Dry mouth, medically referred to as Xerostomia, occurs when you have insufficient saliva or spit in your mouth. Almost everyone has a dry mouth once in awhile, especially when feeling stressed, upset, or nervous. But if you have a dry mouth most or all the time, it can be an uncomfortable indicator that you have an underlying disease or condition, so it’s important that you see your dentist.
 
causes of dry mouthDry mouth can make it difficult to chew, swallow, and speak, and may even alter the taste of your food. It may also result in hoarseness, sore throat, and bad breath.
 

Are you at risk for dry mouth?

 
Although older people are more susceptible to dry mouth, the condition can affect people of any age. Dry mouth is not a standard consequence of aging; rather, older people are more likely to take multiple medications that cause dry mouth.
 
A recent report on Oral Health in America suggests that dry mouth is a side effect of over 400 over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, high blood pressure medicines, and muscle relaxants.
 

Other causes of dry mouth include:

 

  • Hormone changes – like those that occur during menopause or pregnancy
  • Cancer treatments – like chemotherapy and radiation of the head/neck
  • Health problems – like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Nerve damage – trauma to the head or neck can damage the nerves connected to the salivary glands
  • Snoring or breathing with your mouth open

 

Why is saliva important?

 

  • Saliva is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth, and include lubricants and enzymes. The enzymes help to digest food, whereas the lubricants make chewing, swallowing, and speaking more comfortable.
  •  

  • Saliva helps in the control of bacteria that bind to the surface of teeth. They feed on sugar in the food consumed, and use it to grow. At the same time, the breakdown of sugar releases acid that erodes tooth enamel. Saliva helps to wash away sugar and food particles from the teeth and mouth, and neutralizes the acid, preventing cavities.

 

What to do when you have a dry mouth:

 
It is important that you visit your dentist to help you identify the exact cause of your dry mouth. Your dentist or doctor may then recommend oral rinses and moisturizers, or the use artificial saliva.
 
Also referred to as saliva substitute, artificial saliva is regulated by the FDA as a medical device. Unlike drugs that work by chemical action, saliva substitute function mechanically by lubricating or moistening the mouth without stimulating the salivary glands to produce saliva. Artificial saliva only provides short-term relief of the symptoms of dry mouth, and is usually used to reduce discomfort after an oral procedure.
 
Artificial saliva is available in different forms including sprays, gels, rinses, swabs, and tablets that dissolve in the mouth, and can be purchased over-the-counter. Other ways to relieve dry mouth include sipping water or sugarless drinks; chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy; avoiding spicy foods that irritate the mouth; avoiding irritants like caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol; and using a humidifier in the bedroom when sleeping.
 
Remember, if you have dry mouth, you should be extra careful about oral hygiene. Use a fluoride toothpaste, brush and floss twice a day, and avoid sugary or sticky foods and drinks.
 
 

Teeth Whitening Myths

teeth whitening mythsWhen it comes to teeth whitening, there seems to be several different approaches to choose from. And of course all of them boast results. However, which ones should you be weary of? We’ll let you know which teeth whitening methods you shouldn’t waste any time or money with, according to Woodland Hills dentists.

Teeth Whitening Myths Debunked

 
Strawberries & Lemons
 
Yes, believe it or not you CAN whiten your teeth by using the pulp of crushed fruits such as strawberries or lemons mixed with baking soda. Yes, this method will work to whiten your teeth because the acids eat away at your enamel, which can cause permanent damage to your teeth if continuously used (we say “continuous” because teeth whitening results do not last forever & you will have to reapply every so often). Because of the issue of permanent damage we recommend avoiding this technique.
 
Baking Soda
 
People believe whitening may be achieved by applying baking soda to your teeth. However, this simply does not work and can disrupt the bacteria in your mouth. We advise against trying this method.
 
Hydrogen Peroxide
 
Hydrogen Peroxide has many uses, but teeth whitening is not one of them. In fact, when hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with gum tissue it causes free radical reactions that will quickly age these tissues so we advise against this option as well.
 
Whitening Toothpaste
 
Any type of whitening toothpaste you see in stores should not be purchased. These toothpastes are too weak to make any significant impact and often leave people very discouraged as a result. Keep in mind that for any color change to occur the active chemical must be applied for at least 20 minutes. Most toothbrush sessions do not even last 2 minutes, which is the recommended amount of time to brush.
 
Teeth Whitening Lasts Forever
 
We’ve seen the rumors float around, that teeth whitening results last forever. Unfortunately this is not the case as the natural aging process will still occur and cause teeth to yellow overtime. As a result, touch ups are necessary to maintain results.
 
The Best Way To Whiten Teeth
 
Currently professional in-office teeth whitening and custom whitening trays remain the quickest and most efficient ways of whitening the teeth without causing much damage to the enamel, teeth, or gums.
 

How Are Dentures Made & What to Expect

dentures woodland hillsDentures are one of the tooth replacement options that may be recommended to you by your dentist following the loss of your teeth due to trauma, periodontal disease, decay, or some other reason. Dentures restore the aesthetics of your smile and function of your mouth, allowing you to socialize, eat, and speak nearly as well as before you lost your teeth, according to Dr. Molayem, a denture dentist in Woodland Hills.
 
As a first-time denture wearers, you must be curious about how these prosthetic teeth are made and how they’ll work. Here are some things to expect before you can start enjoying you new set of teeth:
 
Initial Consultation
When you first visit your dentist, you will receive a thorough examination of your mouth for proper diagnosis, to identify your restorative needs. You will discuss a few things with your dentist, including:
 
● Whether the remaining teeth will be extracted
 
● The type of denture that is right for your case
 
● When to start your treatment
 
You will need some x-rays for proper assessment of the condition of your teeth underneath the gums.
 
Fitting Your Dentures
During subsequent appointments, you should be prepared for the following:
 
Tooth extraction – This step may require more than one appointment depending on the number of teeth being removed.
 
Taking impression of your mouth – Your dentist will take molds of your mouth upon which your dentures will be designed.
 
Using bite molds – Your dentist will use wax blocks to ensure that you have a comfortable bite with your new dentures. You can also customize your smile by choosing the color, shape, and size of your prosthetic teeth.
 
Trying out the wax models – You can try out your wax-made teeth to get a feel of how your final dentures will feel.
 
Fitting – Your personalized dentures will be fitted as you discuss about caring for your new set of teeth. If they don’t fit comfortably, they may need adjusting before you can start wearing them.
 
How long does it take to get new dentures?
Getting your dentures made can take several weeks and multiple separate appointments, from teeth extractions to healing to denture adjustments to ensure that your dentures fit comfortably in your mouth. But right after tooth extraction, you may be fitted with an immediate denture to maintain the function of your mouth before your customized dentures are ready.
 
It will take some time for you to adjust to your new teeth, as your tongue, mouth, and facial muscles gradually adjust to the denture. But soon you will be able to talk, eat, and smile normally.
 
Learn more about Dentures & the process involved as outlined by denture dentists in Woodland Hills, CA.
 

The Effects of Poor Dental Hygiene on the Body

effects dental hygiene bodyYour mouth has a huge impact on your overall health, because of not only the foods, drinks, and other items (such as tobacco) that you put in your mouth, but also the health of your oral tissues, including the teeth and gums as noted by Woodland Hills dentists, Dr. Arash & Shervin Molayem.
 
Numerous studies have linked oral hygiene to a number of serious health problems. Beyond the common dental issues associated with poor dental hygiene, such as tooth decay or cavities, gum disease, and halitosis or bad breath, all of which can adversely affect your social life, harmful bacteria can build up in your mouth and get into your bloodstream.
 
The Effects of Poor Dental Hygiene on the Body
 
When the bacteria in your blood travel to various organs and parts of the body, it can contribute to the severity of health conditions such as:
 
1. Heart disease and stroke.
Studies show that periodontal disease doubles the risk for arterial narrowing and developing heart disease. This is because the bacteria that get into your bloodstream via the gums contain a clot-promoting protein that causes the arteries to clog, making you prone to heart attack. If the bacteria get into your carotid artery and restrict blood flow to the brain, you are at greater risk of suffering a stroke.

2. Respiratory infections.

Studies show that advanced gum disease can cause an infection in your lungs that lead to pneumonia. Though it seems like an unlikely way to get infected, failure to address gum disease at an early stage increases the amount of bacteria that get into your respiratory systems every time you inhale. This is in addition to the contaminated blood passing through and feeding the lungs and other parts of the system.
 
3. Diabetes.
Majority of diabetes patients are known to have periodontal disease as well, one-third of whom have such a severe case that they have lost one or more teeth. Studies show a direct correlation between diabetes and gum disease: people with diabetes are at higher risk of contracting gum disease. At the same time, people with advanced gum disease (periodontitis) find it harder to control their blood sugar, increasing the risk of diabetic complications.
 
4. Dementia.
Studies show a close relation between tooth loss due to improper oral hygiene and increase risk for memory loss and early stage Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, researchers found that gum infections release inflammatory substances that, in turn, cause the brain to swell resulting in the death of brain cells.
 
5. Cancer.
Undoubtedly, poor oral hygiene increases the risk of oral cancer, especially oropharyngeal cancer. Studies also show that gum disease increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and other cancers.
 
Final Note
Poor dental hygiene has also been linked with osteoporosis, immunity system disorders, pregnancy complications, and other health issues. It is critical that you maintain proper dental hygiene, which includes regular brushing and flossing and dental checkups at your Woodland Hills dentists to enjoy the benefits of a healthy mouth, including a better quality of life.
 

What’s the Deal with Coconut Oil Pulling?

coconut oil pullingOil pulling is an age-old detoxifying Ayurvedic technique that uses natural substances to detoxify the mouth – teeth and gums. Evidence suggests that this remedy removes harmful bacteria, improves the health of gums, and naturally whitens your teeth.
 
The technique involves swishing about one to two tablespoons of oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes each day to improve your oral health. The oil effectively cuts through plaque on your teeth to remove toxins without disturbing your teeth or gums. It is essentially substituting your mouthwash with high quality organic oil that “pulls” harmful bacteria off your teeth and gums.
 
The longer you pull and push the oil around your mouth, the more microbes you pull free. It is recommended that you swish the oil until it turns to a milky white, indicating that the bacteria, viruses, and other microbes have been pulled off. This usually takes about 20 minutes, after which you spit out the oil and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.
 
In many cases, oil pulling has been claimed to help:
 
● Reduce gingivitis
 
● Alleviate halitosis – bad breath
 
● Whiten teeth
 
● Relieve tooth and gum sensitivity
 
● Prevent cavities
 
What oils are used?
To begin with, you should note that most microbes found in the mouth comprise a single cell. Cells are surrounded with a fatty membrane, which is essentially the skin of the cell. When these cells come in contact with oil (fat), they naturally hold on to each other.
 
People use a range of oils for this purpose, including sunflower and sesame oil. However, these oils are high in omega 6 fats, which are pro-inflammatory. So, coconut oil is preferred.
 
About half of the fat in coconut oil consists of lauric acid, which is known to fight bacteria. Studies have shown that coconut oil:
 
● Moisturizes the skin
● Improves digestion
● Balances hormones
● Balances blood sugar
● Improves energy
● Kills Candida
● Decreases wrinkles and age spots
● Burns fat
● Increases HDL and lowers LDL cholesterol
 
In addition, research suggests that the oil is highly absorbable, which means that you can gain these benefits by simply oil pulling.
 
Final Note
Oil therapy is claimed to be both preventative and curative, with numerous benefits that reach far beyond dental health.
 
Note that regular (4-5 times a week) oil pulling is not a substitute for traditional at-home care and dental visits. As good as this 3,000 year old practice may be, it does not reverse the effects of tooth decay & should be used as a supplement.
 

Water is Essential to a Healthy Smile!

water essential oral healthThere is no argument about the numerous benefits of proper hydration for your health, skin, and general wellbeing. Drinking water is also important for your oral health, in combination with regular brushing and flossing, good nutrition, regular dental visits, and good lifestyle habits.

Benefits of Drinking Water for Your Oral Health


 1. Rinses sugars and acids from your mouth.


Acidic and sugary foods promote the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth and the demineralization of tooth enamel, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars from the items you consume and convert them to lactic acid. The consumption of acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus further increases the acid content in your mouth.
 
The longer the acids remain in your mouth, the more your tooth enamel is eroded. Drinking water after meals and drinks helps to flush sugars away and dilutes the acids in your mouth to minimize any damage before you have a chance to brush and floss your teeth.

2. Combats dry mouth.


Saliva plays a vital role in your mouth, and when the supply runs low, sipping water can help prevent a dry mouth and maintain some of the functions of saliva, which include:
 
● Balancing the pH level in your mouth by diluting the acids formed in the mouth that may erode tooth enamel causing tooth decay
 
● Washing away food debris in your mouth
 
● Facilitating swallowing of food and drinks
 
● Maintaining strong teeth by washing them with calcium, fluoride, and phosphate
 
● Inhibiting the growth of bacteria that may lead to chronic bad breath or halitosis
 
Drinking water can help reduce some of the risks of diminished saliva secretion as you work on a more permanent solution, or just to augment the functions of saliva.

3. Prevents tooth staining.


There are many foods and drinks that can discolor your teeth, including candy, berries, deep-colored sauces, tea, coffee, and wine. If you don’t rinse your mouth with water after consuming these foods and drinks, you allow them to penetrate your porous tooth enamel and dentin, resulting in stained teeth. Experts recommend that you swish water in your mouth after consuming any food or drink to flush away anything that may cause staining.
 
Lastly, it is worth noting that drinking fluoridated water can help strengthen your teeth and prevent tooth decay. Water fluoridation is regulated by the government as a preventive measure for tooth decay. It is an important accomplishment that has been identified by the US CDC as one of the health achievements of the 20th century. That said, you should discuss with your dentist whether you need to supplement your fluoride intake depending on the state of your teeth.
 

Why Alcohol is Damaging to Your Oral Health

alcohol damaging oral healthModerate alcohol consumption is largely considered a part of healthy living, but alcohol is also associated with a number of health conditions affecting your blood sugar, the brain, and the liver.
 
Alcohol also affects your oral health, says Dr. Molayem. In fact, research shows that people suffering from alcohol dependency usually have higher plaque buildup on their teeth, plus they are three times more likely to face permanent tooth loss.
 
How Alcohol Damages Your Oral Health
 
Sugar content and acidity.
Alcoholic drinks are dangerous because they contain the two most harmful substances to your teeth: sugar and acid. So, even non-sugary alcoholic drinks are still dangerous.
 
The amount of sugar you take, as well as the duration of time you allow it to stay in your mouth can adversely affect your dental health, increasing the risk for tooth decay. This is because harmful bacteria in your mouth convert the sugar into acids that erode tooth enamel.
 
The problem with alcoholic drinks is that you can keep sipping for hours, maintaining a high level of sugar content in your mouth for hours. The situation gets worse if you don’t rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth before going to bed, and maintain this cycle several days a week.
 
Some alcoholic drinks contain more sugar than others. Drinks like cocktails could be worse, because they combine high levels of sugar and acidity. The resulting tooth erosion (demineralization) can be much higher than mineral buildup (mineralization), resulting in tooth decay.
 
Dehydration.
According to the American Dental Association, dehydration is one of the most forgotten side effects of alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol causes less saliva production, which means that you don’t have enough fluid to keep the mouth clean and remove food debris, bacteria, acids, and sugar from your teeth and gums.
 
Without enough saliva to fight off demineralization, the acid and sugar in alcohol can do a lot more harm to your teeth. So, it is important to alternate drinks with water, not only to fight a hangover, but also for your dental health.
 
Staining.
Some deep hued alcoholic drinks, such as red wine and sangria not only change the color of your teeth temporarily, but also contribute to long-lasting discoloration and overall teeth dullness, which affects your smile. Regular brushing, preferably with a whitening toothpaste or hydrogen peroxide can help keep your teeth white.
 
How to Prevent Oral Health Issues Caused by Alcohol
 
Heavy alcohol consumption has also been linked with a 30 percent chance of oral cancer, due to the serious damage to soft tissues in your mouth.
 
The best way to prevent oral issues caused by alcohol is by preventing the drink altogether. Otherwise, opt for sugar-free alcoholic drinks so you only have to deal with the acidity; drink plenty of water when indulging in alcohol; and brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Give yourself about 30 minutes after the last drink before brushing.
 

4 Tips When Planning a Dental Tourism Trip Abroad

tips dental tourism trip aheadFor centuries, people have sought medical care across geographical boundaries, with wealthy people in the Middle Ages trekking far from home to access therapeutic spas. Today, it is still common for people to travel great distances for different kinds of therapy, including dental work.
 
There are many reasons why you would choose to seek dental treatment outside the US; perhaps to lower costs or to see a renowned specialist. In the United States and other developed countries, dental care can be extremely expensive, especially if you want extensive cosmetic or reconstructive work. Unfortunately, only the most basic dental care is covered by health insurance plans, which makes dental tourism a favorable option for many.
 
When preparing to seek dental treatment outside the country, you should consider the following:
 
1. Different Standards
 
The standards for dental care are not the same across the globe. In the US, dental professionals must complete an accredited program and pass the exams to be certified practitioners. The requirements may be the same or different in other countries. So, before you choose a dentist, find out the requirements for certification, as well as any indicators of safety and good workmanship.
 
2. Communication Barrier
 
Most dental patients looking for dental care outside the country usually prefer to visit a range of countries, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Hungary, and Thailand. Considering that these are not English-speaking countries, it is important that you find out how you will communicate with your dental team and other people during your stay in the foreign country.
 
It is particularly important that your medical team be able to understand your medical records. So, find a provider you can speak a common language, or simply arrange for translation.
 
3. Recuperation Blues
 
Although it is exciting to visit another country for treatment in that it feels like a vacation, many people prefer to recuperate in a familiar environment after a major procedure. To avoid any discomfort you may feel during the recovery period, try to figure out any challenges or inconveniences you may have while there and prepare for them.
 
4. Follow Up Care
 
When scheduling dental treatment outside the country, you should take into consideration how conveniently you can access follow-up care. If you don’t plan to stay in the foreign country until you have fully recovered, arrange with a local provider to see you for any follow-up concerns.
 
Final Note
 
Dental tourism can be both exciting and scary, because travelling is also expensive, and you need things to work out the first time. So, these points should help you better prepare for the trip, and don’t forget to find out how payments will be made in the foreign country.
 

Help! I Chipped My Tooth. What Should I Do?

chipped tooth what should I do

A chipped tooth that was treated by Mint Dentistry.

When it comes to dental injuries, especially when the damage is in the form of a chipped tooth after some sort of trauma or biting down on something hard, you instinctively rush to the dentist to get the damage assessed.
 
Here are some possible causes of a chipped tooth:
 
● Falling and hitting your mouth
● Suffering trauma to the face from an accident or sports injury
● Biting on a hard item or bone or food
● Cavities that weaken the tooth structure and make it vulnerable to impact
 
But is it a big deal? And/or when would it become a big deal?
 
Perhaps it is not as big an event as losing the tooth, and the chip may not be that big to affect your bite or smile, but the fact remains that you have lost valuable tooth structure, and possibly started a series of additional chips and cracks or some other kind of damage that is not apparent.
 
The best option when you have a chipped tooth is to visit your dentist for an evaluation, and perhaps an x-ray, to identify the extent of the damage and choose an appropriate remedy.
 
When it’s No Big Deal.
 
If the chip was a minor break to the surface of the tooth and did not affect the nerves, roots, or gums, then it is not a big deal. Depending on the extent of damage, your dentist can recommend a quick, easy, and affordable cosmetic remedy like bonding or filling.
 
When there’s Serious Damage.
 
If you experience sensitivity or pain from the chipped tooth when you chew or take something very hot or cold, it means that the damage was severe enough to expose the nerves housed at the core of the tooth.
 
A chip that occurs on any of the pointed chewing surfaces of the molars is known as a broken cusp. It is usually not painful, but should still be checked by a dental professional.
 
Intermittent Emergency Care for a Chipped Tooth
 
If your tooth is chipped, you should make an appointment to see your Woodland Hills 24-hour emergency dentists as soon as possible. But for first aid care:
 
● Rinse your mouth with some warm water
● If the injury causes bleeding, use a gauze to apply pressure to the site
● If you can’t see a dentist the same day, cover the chipped tooth with dental cement to protect the remaining portion until in the meantime
 
Professional care for chipped tooth depends on the extent of damage. For small chips, the dentist may simply smooth and polish the site to remove sharp edges. For larger chips that are not sensitive, the dentist may recommend a crown, filling, or cap over the damaged tooth to restore its normal function and appearance. But for large chips that expose the nerves, you may need endodontic treatment or tooth extraction followed by an implant or bridge.
 

Beating Bad Breath – Home Remedies

bad breath home remediesBad breath can make such a huge difference at times – whether you’re in the middle of a date, trying to impress during a job interview, or out with friends, bad breath is never wanted and will often leave negative first impressions… mainly because our sense of smell has an ability to leave a lasting impact on us.
 
With that said, we wanted to direct your attention to some fundamental changes you could perform at home as a way to prevent the issue from re-occurring. Most often, you may experience a case of intermittent bad breath from certain foods such as spices, garlic, and raw onions. The only suggestion we have there is to be careful of what you eat before going to important events. Otherwise, refer to our helpful guide below.
 
Home Remedies to Improve Bad Breath
 
Diet
 
Briefly touched upon above, our diet and the foods and drinks we consume play an integral role in managing bad breath. This is because both the acids created in our stomach and the decay resulting from rotten tooth enamel will both contribute greatly to bad breath. Make sure you are eating lean meats, whole grains, nuts, fruits (don’t overdo it on fruits as they contain a lot of sugar), as well many vegetables. If your diet consists of a majority of these items then you will benefit in many weighs beyond just preventing bad breath.
 
Hydration
 
Believe it or not, sometimes people who constantly experience bad breath are simply dehydrated all of the time without realizing. It may sound crazy, but the society we live in is very fast paced and some of us get caught in it living very busy lives and forgetting basic human necessities such as drinking water often. If you notice bad breath re-occurring, try drinking more water every day.
 
We Aren’t Chewing Enough
 
How much we chew our food will determine how much work our stomach will have to perform in breaking it down. The more it’s chewed, the less work performed. When our stomachs are forced to break down large solid pieces of food, this will create more gas that must escape one way or another. This would inevitably cause bad breath as a result.
 
Making Better Use of Brushing & Flossing
 
Brushing and flossing are of very great importance in maintaining oral hygiene. Periodontal disease and tooth decay could cause bad breath as a symptom. If you notice bad breath, but also realize you haven’t really been brushing or flossing – then we strongly urge you to develop a consistent routine. You will be benefits in many ways and your mouth will thank you.
 
Make Sure to Monitor The Issue
 
Please keep in mind that bad breath that does not improve at all in over 24 hours should receive professional attention. Bad breath could point to something more serious. By monitoring the issue, you’ll see if any improvement is being made or that maybe it’s time to see a professional.