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.
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  • 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.
 
 

Do You Have Bleeding Gums?

Do you have bleeding gums?

It’s never a great sign when blood is present. For our teeth and gums, this is no different. If you notice blood after performing your daily oral care duties such as brushing and flossing, then you may have a deeper issue. We’ll help you discern the different possibilities that bleeding gums may be indicative of.

Bleeding Gums Causes

Gum Disease

Now, before you panic, gum disease is a lot more common than you think. It also happens to be a disease that can be easily addressed with the right treatment and follow up at home.

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease. It is actually the earliest form of gum disease and the main symptom is of course… bleeding gums. During this period, the damage can be easily reversed. Provided you follow up with your doctor and stay on top of your oral hygiene habits.

Too Rough

A common occurrence is improper brushing and flossing technique; specifically, brushing or flossing too hard. Our gums are sensitive. When we apply too much pressure to them with floss or a toothbrush, they will respond by producing blood. This doesn’t mean you have gum disease, it just means you need to be more gentle.

Pro tip: Replace your toothbrush often to avoid hard bristles, which would also cause your gums to bleed.

Medication

Sometimes, bleeding gums has nothing to do with gum disease or oral care technique, but rather medications that you may be taking. Blood thinner medication almost always results in bleeding gums. Consult with your doctor if it starts to become worrisome.

Pregnancy

For pregnant mothers, bleeding gums may be a symptom due to the hormonal changes that take place during this time. This is called “pregnancy gingivitis”. The good news is that once pregnancy is over, the problem should correct itself.

 

Addressing the Cause

Once you’ve determined the cause, the treatment becomes clear. We wouldn’t classify bleeding gums as an alarming issue, but it most certainly is an issue that should be addressed sooner than later. It’s equally as important to visit your dentist twice a year for best hygiene results.

5 Possible Causes of Unexplained Facial Pain

5 causes of facial pain
Are you experiencing a dull, severe, momentary, or persistent pain; perhaps on one side of your face or both?
 
Pain is a regular, though unwelcome reality for everyone. As with any other kind of pain, the first step in treating facial pain is a diagnosis. There are several likely causes of facial pain, including injury, infections, and nerve problems. So, how do you recognize the source of your facial pain? Your Woodland Hills dentists will help you determine potential causes of facial pain.

5 Possible Causes of Facial Pain

 
1. Headaches
 
There are some people who experience headaches a lot, which can lead to intense facial pain associated with a cluster headache or migraine. These headaches typically occur on one side of the face and head, with the pain focused around the eye area. There may also be some pain in the teeth and jaw area. This pain can be managed with painkillers, though it is best to visit a physician for proper diagnosis.
 
2. Dental Abscess
 
An abscessed tooth is one that has been infected so severely that bacteria has reached the blood vessel and nerve portion of the tooth as a result of periodontitis, advanced tooth decay, or a cracked tooth. The symptoms of dental abscess include excruciating and persistent pain, red gums, facial swelling, fever, and a bad taste in the mouth.
 
3. Sinus infections
 
Also referred to as sinusitis, these infections cause extensive facial pain, especially in the upper jaw and teeth. You can also experience some pressure around the cheeks and eyes, facial swelling, bad breath, ear pain, and fever. Pain due to sinusitis is usually confused with tooth pain because it appears at the sinus cavity, which is close to the roots of the upper molar teeth.
 
4. Dry Socket
 
A dry socket occurs when the blood clot after tooth extraction fails to form properly or gets displaced. The symptoms are similar to those of an abscess, and include throbbing pain, fever, swelling, and bad taste in your mouth.
 
5. Temporomandibular joint disorders
 
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) play a vital role in opening and closing your mouth. So, any problem that interferes with the function of the TMJ can result in facial pain. There are many things that can affect your TMJ, including habitual teeth clenching and grinding; misaligned bite; dislocation; injury; and arthritis.
 
Final Note
 
Facial pain can also be caused by Herpes Zoster or Trigeminal Neuralgia. Considering the numerous likely causes of facial pain, it is important that you visit your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that remedies for facial pain depend on the cause of the pain, and may include wearing a mouth guard, jaw exercises, or medications.
 

How to Respond to a Dental Emergency

emergency dentist woodland hillsJust as with any other health crisis, a dental emergency usually happens without warning. You may find yourself in sudden need of a dentist due to an accident, neglect of a specific dental issue, or perhaps as a reaction to an earlier dental treatment.
 
Knowing how to respond in different situations will help you lessen the severity of the problem as you wait to see a dental professional, according to emergency dentists in Woodland Hills. First and foremost, in the unfortunate event that you damage or lose a tooth or injure your lips, jaw, or mouth, you should try to stay calm. If the incident occurs during regular office hours, contact your dentist immediately so they are ready to receive you when you arrive. Your dentist will then assess your case and schedule the necessary treatment as soon as possible.
 
If the incident occurs outside regular hours, go to the closest after-hours dental practice near you. If none is available, contact the emergency department in your local hospital for advice on how to proceed.
 
But as you prepare to seek professional diagnosis and treatment, there are some things you can do right after the dental emergency to help the situation. Here are some ways to respond to different dental emergencies:
 
Severe toothache – This could be caused by an abscess that needs immediate treatment. Before you get to the emergency dentist, rinse your mouth with some warm water to manage the pain. Avoid putting aspirin in the damaged tooth as you risk burning the gums.
 
Severe bleeding – This can occur following a previous dental procedure or injury like biting your lip. As you seek emergency treatment, clean the site gently and apply a cold compress.
 
Chipped or cracked tooth – Such tooth damage can lead to an infection, so it is important that you seek emergency treatment. If the damaged tooth section fell out, place it in milk as you await treatment. Otherwise, rinse your mouth with a saline solution and cover the damaged tooth with sugarless gum as you wait for treatment.
 
Partially avulsed tooth – For a tooth that has been moved or dislodged from its right position, try exerting some pressure to move it back in place and seek emergency treatment.
 
Completely avulsed tooth – If the tooth is completely knocked out, make sure that you don’t touch the root to avoid causing irreparable damage. If the tooth fell out, clean it with a milk or saline solution as you hold it by the crown. You can also clean it with plain water, but don’t scrub or brush it. As you await treatment, try to put the tooth back into the socket or in a glass of milk.
 
Keep in mind that most dental practices prioritize dental emergency procedures. Depending on the severity of your case, seeing a dentist within a few minutes of the incident can mean the difference between saving and losing your tooth. So, you should have easy access to your dentist’s emergency contact information at all times.
 

Salivary Gland Cancer – What You Need to Know

salivary gland cancer
The thought of having cancer is scary for everyone. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in a certain part of the body begin to grow out of control. When this unusual cell growth occurs in one of the glands that make saliva, it is known as salivary gland cancer. Compared to other types of cancer, salivary gland cancer is very rare, affecting less than one percent of cancer patients in the US.
 
There are several different salivary glands under the tongue, under the jawbone, and on the sides of the face just before the ears, and any of them can be affected by different types of cancer and non-cancerous (benign) tumors.
 
About Our Salivary Glands
 
The role of the salivary glands is to produce saliva. Saliva acts as a lubricant for the mouth and throat. It contains enzymes that initiate the process of food digestion, and also contains antibodies that help fight infections of the throat and mouth. The main types of salivary glands are:
 
1. The major salivary glands
 
There are three sets on each side of the face, and include:
 
● The parotid glands – These are the largest salivary glands located just in front of the ears. About 70 percent of salivary gland tumors start here, most of which are benign (though most malignant tumors also start here).
 
● The submandibular glands – These are smaller and located below the jaw. They are responsible for secreting saliva under the tongue, and account for 10-20 percent of salivary gland tumors.
 
● The sublingual glands – These are the smallest and located below either side of the tongue, under the floor of the mouth. Tumors hardly start here.
 
2. Minor salivary glands
 
There are several hundred minor salivary glands that are too minute to be visible without a microscope. They are located inside and around the mouth (lips, tongue, cheeks, nose, sinuses, larynx) and hardly have cancers. But if they occur, they are more likely to be malignant.
 
Symptoms and Diagnosis
 
The standard symptoms of salivary gland cancer include:
 
● Numbness or paralysis of the facial muscles
● Swelling under the chin or around the jawbone
● Persistent pain in the face, neck, or chin
 
Salivary gland cancer can be detected during a normal dental checkup. During the cancer exam, your doctor will examine you and feel for lumps in your mouth, neck, and throat. In some cases, the doctor may take images of your head. If abnormal tissue is found, a small piece will be removed (biopsy) to check for cancer cells under a microscope.
 
Treatment for Salivary Gland Cancer
 
Depending on the location of the cancer and how far it has spread, your doctor may recommend surgery to cut out the affected tissue; radiation therapy to kill and shrink the cancer cells; or chemotherapy, which involves the use of strong drugs to kill cancer cells.
 

Implications of Smoking and Tobacco on Oral Health

smoking tobacco oral health risksMany people are aware of the detrimental effects of smoking on the smoker, as well as on non-smokers who inhale tobacco smoke. There’s a lot of attention directed towards the consequences of smoking, with the most troublesome being heart disease, lung cancer, and low birth-weight babies. Tobacco is also considered the number one preventable public health concern, and one of the leading causes of premature death – resulting in more deaths than those caused by AIDS, traffic accidents, and suicides combined.
 
What has not been publicized enough is the high risk of both smoked and smokeless tobacco on your oral health. Some smokers switch to using smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco, snuff, snus, and dissolvable tobacco) in an effort to evade the dangers of tobacco smoke on themselves and others, though both forms have been proven to be harmful to your teeth and gums, causing tooth decay and gum disease.
 
The Dangers of Tobacco to Your Oral Health
 
All forms of tobacco are processed with chemicals such as amplifiers, fertilizers, and preservatives, which are hazardous to your dental and general health. It is because of these chemicals, and nicotine, that warning labels are placed on tobacco products.
 
The use of tobacco is associated with:
 
1. Diminished blood flow
 
Nicotine in tobacco is responsible for the constriction of blood vessels, especially those in the mouth. The diminished blood flow implies that your gums will not get sufficient oxygen and nutrients to heal or stay healthy.
 
The mouth encounters lots of injuries frequently, from cuts caused by sharp foods like potato crisps to burns resulting from taking very hot coffee, soup, and other drinks and foods. Chewing mishaps can also cause you to bite your cheek, lip, or tongue. Even more serious injuries from oral surgery, auto accidents, and spots require good blood flow to heal fast and properly.
 
2. Diminished saliva production
 
Smoking is also known to reduce the production of saliva, which, in turn, encourages the growth of bacteria in the mouth. Saliva not only creates an unfavorable environment for bacteria, but also helps to wash away food particles.
 
Without enough saliva in the mouth, there is increased buildup of plaque, increasing the risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. The extent of damage to your teeth and gums depends on how long you’ve been smoking, as well as how heavily you do it.
 
The Only Solution: Kick the habit.
 
Tobacco use is also associated with teeth discoloration, bad breath, decreases sense of taste and smell, and greater risk of developing cavities and oral cancer – lip, mouth, and tongue. Many people don’t realize how much damage smoking does to them, because tobacco contains a mild numbing agent.
 
You can achieve immediate health benefits the instant you quit smoking. When you’re ready to quit, talk to your oral health professional for support and assistance.
 

Limited-Time Special Offers by Woodland Hills Dentists, Mint Dentistry!

woodland hills dentist special offersIn case you haven’t seen them yet, Mint Dentistry is running awesome special offers that won’t last forever! These limited-time Woodland Hills dentist special offers give patients a chance to save BIG this Spring. Without further ado, here they are.
 

Mint Dentistry – Woodland Hills Dentist Special Offers

St. Patrick’s Day Specials
 
What better way to celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day than by discounting our teeth whitening trays, which include 2 syringes, for only $150!
 
This gives our patients a great opportunity to experience the power of professional teeth whitening. Our dentist will give you complete instructions on how to utilize your whitening trays for the best results.
 
Complete Set of Dentures Discounted
 
We’re offering a complete set of FULL DENTURES for only $2,199! This is a very competitive price for a full set of dentures and this opportunity will not last much longer. Combined with the experience of a 5-star dentist, this is the perfect opportunity to receive a full set of new teeth!
 
Dental Cleaning Discounted (For NEW or CASH Patients Only)
 
We’re discounting our dental check-up for a limited time. For $90, no insurance necessary, you will receive a professional dental cleaning, an oral examination, and dental X-Rays. Again, this offer is for NEW or CASH patients only.
 
Invisalign® Discounted
 
Our Invisalign invisible braces start at only $3,400! This is a competitive price for a treatment that is very popular amongst adults in correcting issues with the jaw, as well as straightening your teeth for an aesthetically pleasing appearance that often results in a boost to your self-esteem.
 
Braces Removal & Hawley Retainer Discounted
 
For those with traditional metal braces, we have a special for you. We will carefully remove your braces and replace them with a Hawley retainer for only $650. Retainers are necessary for maintaining the results gained from braces treatment. Our orthodontist will cover everything you need to know following your braces treatment.
 
Claim your special offer today by scheduling an appointment with our dentists.
 

5 Common Root Canal Myths & Misconceptions

root canal myths misconceptionsThere is probably no dental procedure that is feared as much as root canal therapy. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Association of Endodontists, most people who are afraid of the treatment base their fear on other people’s experiences – not their own.
 
There is plenty of inaccurate information about root canal preventing potential patients from benefitting from the option to save their tooth with this treatment, and possibly opting for more dangerous options like tooth extraction. Before you start looking for alternatives, you should first learn about the true nature of root canal therapy, and decide for yourself whether it is something you should consider. Here are some common misconceptions:
 
Misconception #1: Root Canal Treatment is Painful
 
First, if you’re considering root canal, you must be already suffering excruciating tooth pain from an irreversible condition, like an infected pulp, pulpitis, a slowly dying nerve, or a broken tooth. Though there are some cases that require a root canal without the patient experiencing any pain – like with a dead tooth that may cause infection.
 
Actually, root canals are recommended to alleviate the pain, plus you get to retain your tooth. Most people who have undergone the procedure admit that the experience was painless, and felt better afterwards. The perception of pain may be associated with earlier treatment methods, but not with recent advancements in dentistry.
 
Misconception #2: Root Canal causes Illness
 
A certain study conducted by Dr. Weston Price between 1910 and 1930 concluded that the bacteria trapped inside the endodontically-restored tooth will cause illness, such as arthritis, heart disease, and kidney disease.
 
A century later, there is still no research that has successfully verified these claims. Bacteria are ever present in the mouth, but they can be effectively managed with proper cleaning, flossing, and routine dental check-ups. And even with a root canal, the inside part of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned after the removal of pulp and nerve tissue to get rid of all bacteria.
 
Misconception #3: The treatment required many appointments.
 
On the contrary, you only need one or two appointments before the procedure is completed. Factors that influence the number of appointments needed for root canal therapy include:
 
•Extent of the infection

•Whether you need to see an endodontist – root canal specialist

•Difficulty of the actual procedure

 
After the root canal, you may need to restore the tooth – with a crown or cap – for it to function properly, though the restoration procedure should not be considered as part of the root canal process.
 
Misconception #4: The Benefits of Root Canal are Short-lived
 
After a root canal, you should have a follow-up appointment to get a crown or permanent filling that protects the tooth from breaking under the forces of chewing and grinding.
 
Root canals have a success rate of over 85 percent, and even when you experience pain or infection years after the treatment, you can get the treatment redone. For more information, refer to our Woodland Hills root canal specialists.
 

Toothbrush Tips to Increase Cleaning Effectiveness

toothbrush tipsPersonal dental care involves regular flossing and brushing with fluoride toothpaste. With flossing, you only need to use the strips once before discarding. Brushing diligently twice a day can also be hard on your toothbrush, though it can last you three to four months with good care.
 
The concept of brushing teeth has been around for thousands of years, long before the invention of the first toothbrush in 1938. Back then, people were using sticks, bones, and even hog bristles to keep their teeth clean and healthy, but now you have a range of toothbrushes to choose from.
 

Toothbrush Tips to Keep in Mind

1. Choose a toothbrush with the ADA seal.

Brushing is important because it removes remaining food particles and plaque, helps to remove unsightly stains and potentially harmful substances like sugar from soda or acid from citrus juice, and stimulates blood flow in the gums to reduce any inflammation and maintain their health.
 
Toothbrushes displaying the seal from the American Dental Association have soft bristles and sturdy handles that make them very effective at accomplishing these brushing goals. If you have to choose another brush, pick one with soft nylon bristles and rounded heads instead of one with medium or hard bristles. Rounded bristles are healthier compared to protruding bristles (designed to clean between teeth and around appliances).
 
2. Use proper brushing technique.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has established guidelines for proper brushing. To get the most from your toothbrush:
 

•Use a brush that comfortably fits in your palm, with a head that is small enough to maneuver to all teeth surfaces

•Brush with a light touch – using excessive force can damage your teeth and gums

•Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and gums – the ideal position to reach all areas

•Brush in a circular motion – as opposed to back-and-forth – to effectively move plaque away from the gums

•Brush for a minimum of two minutes – studies suggest that this is the minimum amount of time required for thorough cleaning

•Brush at least twice a day – one of those times should be just before going to bed

 
3. Toothbrush hygiene.

Know the right time to get a new toothbrush. You should replace your toothbrush head after every three months and after illness or dental treatment. This is because worn out bristles harbor bacteria, and can irritate gum tissue.
 
With regard to an electric versus a manual toothbrush, none is necessarily better than the other. It is matter of preference – electrics are fun for children, while manuals are cost effective.
 
Lastly, never share your toothbrush. Clean it well after use with warm water, and then store it in an upright position so it can dry in open air.
 

Can You Stain-Proof Teeth?

Everyone loves the appearance of bright smiles with dazzling pearly whites, but how do these people prevent their teeth from staining with shades of yellow, brown, or gray?
 
Tooth discoloration can be difficult to prevent, but possible. There are certain things that you can cut out or limit to get a brighter smile. You can think of it this way: anything that can stain a white shirt can also discolor your teeth, including chocolate, soda, coffee, tea, grape, berries, and red wine. To stain-proof teeth, you have two key options: teeth whitening or preventive procedures.
 
Teeth WhiteningStain-proof Teeth
Also referred to as dental bleaching, teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures in the US. It not only removes dental staining, but also restores the shine and radiance of your smile.
 
Teeth whitening can be done at home or in-office. The latter only requires a single appointment, though stubborn stains often require two visits or more. During the procedure, a gel or rubber shield is applied over your gums and soft tissue to protect them from the bleaching agent applied to the teeth. This agent is activated with a special light to start the cleaning action.
 
For those who prefer at-home teeth whitening, you can get a customized mouth guard – where you put the bleaching gel – that you insert in your teeth for a specific amount of time. There are also some over-the-counter teeth whitening kits, though they are not as effective as the customized ones.
 
A dental whitening treatment typically lasts for decades, if you maintain a proper diet and personal habits, and follow the recommended oral hygiene products and lifestyle changes.
 
Dental Bonding and Dental Veneers
Dental bleaching can yield brilliant results, but it works best on teeth stained yellow by smoking, taking colored drinks, and age. Brown stains may be harder to remove, while gray stains can completely resist bleaching. In such cases, you may consider alternatives to teeth bleaching, like:
 
• Dental bonding – a technique that uses the same tooth-colored resin as that used in cosmetic fillings to seal gaps between teeth and cover tooth discoloration
• Dental veneers – a technique that involves covering the discolored teeth with a thin layer or composite resin or porcelain
 
Both techniques are more invasive and costly than bleaching, but are resistant to stains. You should, however, note that just as porcelain is resistant to stains, your veneers cannot be affected by bleaching agents once they are set. So, if you intend to whiten your teeth, you should do so before initiating the veneer process.
 
Preventive Dentistry
To prevent your teeth from staining, it is important that you exercise good, consistent oral hygiene, which includes:
 
• Rinsing your mouth with water after consuming anything
• Flossing and brushing every night and morning, as well as 30 minutes after eating or drinking colored liquids
• Regular professional cleanings
 
These daily and occasional tips help to prevent plaque buildup, which is one of the things that contribute to stains on your teeth.