Tag Archives: dry mouth

Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health

Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health

AllergiesSpring has sprung! And, that means the temperatures are getting warmer and the April showers are bringing May flowers. All is good! Except that is, for seasonal allergies that come along with all those May flowers this time of year. From itchy eyes, to alternating runny/stuffy noses, and uncontrollable sneezing, many allergy sufferers across Texas know the pains of this seasonal dilemma. But, did you know seasonal allergies can also affect oral health? We, here at Paul Griffin, DDS, want to make sure you know how your teeth and mouth can be affected by seasonal allergies.

Tooth Pain

Have you ever experienced a toothache, in your upper teeth, from out of nowhere and thought it was a little peculiar? Turns out, it may not be a toothache at all, but instead symptoms of your seasonal allergies that are acting up. Your body’s immune reaction to the allergens in your system causes mucus to build up in the sinus cavities, which in turn, causes congestion, pressure and pain. When the maxillary sinuses, which are located just above the roots of the upper molars, are affected it can cause the molars, and sometimes premolars, to be sensitive to cold, biting or chewing, and sometimes even cause a throbbing sensation.

Dry Mouth

As if the pain and discomfort from your clogged sinuses and aching teeth weren’t enough, many allergy sufferers tend to suffer from dry mouth, as well. Allergies themselves, along with allergy medications, decongestants, and oral inhalers you use can make your mouth become extremely dry. This can really affect your oral health because saliva, which is full of antibacterial enzymes, is known to help prevent decay, and keep your breath and mouth from smelling and feeling like an old shoe. When your mouth becomes dry, you put yourself at risk for bad breath, tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis, and periodontitis.

If you suffer from dry mouth, drink plenty of water to keep your oral tissues moist, and alleviate dryness. Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol is recommended to encourage saliva production and xylitol is proven to help reduce cavities. There are also oral rinses and other solutions that may alleviate symptoms.

Mouth Breathing

A stuffy nose due to allergy congestion can result in breathing through the mouth causing dry mouth. Air against oral tissue dries up saliva, this lack of saliva causes to the gingival, or gum, tissue to become dry which can lead to swelling, gum sensitivity, and tooth decay. Research indicates that mouth breathing can actually change the shape of your face and alter your appearance. This is especially true for children because they are still growing. When breathing through the mouth, the tongue rests on floor of the mouth, causing cheek muscles to relax onto the upper teeth. This long-term pressure can lead to crooked teeth, dental overbites, as well as palate malformations.

So how do you know if that toothache is an actual infection or if it’s just your allergies playing tricks on you? Give us a call, at 972-242-2155, or, use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page, and we can schedule you an appointment. Dr. Griffin and his team can help get you fixed up no matter if it’s allergies or a more serious issue.

American Diabetes Month®: Diabetes & Oral Health

DIabetes and Oral HealthNovember is American Diabetes Month®, during which the American Diabetes Association encourages everyone to raise awareness about diabetes, educate themselves on preventive measures and donate to finding a cure. American Diabetes Month is an important element in the American Diabetes Association, with programs designed to focus the nation’s attention on the issues surrounding diabetes and the many people who are impacted by the disease.

This is also a great time to examine the connection between diabetes and dental health. We want to help you understand the risks to your oral health and what we can do together to prevent them!

Many diabetics may still be unaware that they not only need to follow a specific diet to help control their condition, but they also need to follow a strict dental care regimen to keep from developing gum disease and other major issues.

Diabetes is a disease where the body does not make enough of the hormone, insulin, causing blood sugar to be too high. In addition to causing symptoms such as extreme fatigue, and excessive thirst and hunger, diabetes also greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, this disease also increases diabetic patients’ risks for specific oral health problems. Increased blood sugar can lower the body’s ability to produce white blood cells that fight off bacteria, which are abundant in the mouth. Understanding the effect of diabetes on oral health can help diabetes patients and their loved ones better avoid these conditions.

Dry Mouth

High blood sugar and the side effects of some diabetes medications can decrease saliva flow in the mouth, causing xerostomia, or dry mouth. Saliva is extremely important to oral health. In addition to washing away plaque and debris, saliva includes enzymes that break down food and important elements such as bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate. These elements not only neutralize plaque acids, but also help repair early tooth damage and decay. Having too little saliva increases your risk for both cavities and gum disease.

To treat dry mouth, patients should begin by drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. They may also use sugarless gum or lozenges, since the motion of chewing or sucking on these can stimulate saliva production. Dr. Griffin may also recommend special toothpastes, or rinses formulated to help with dry mouth.

Gum Disease

While dry mouth can bring about gum disease, diabetic patients also tend to be more prone to periodontal disease because increased blood sugar often causes blood vessels to enlarge, slowing the transmission of important nutrients. This makes it even harder for the mouth to fight off bacterial infections. Periodontal disease comes in two stages. First, the gums around the teeth become inflamed and sensitive, bleeding when flossed, which is gingivitis. If this is left untreated, the bacterial growth can develop into the more serious periodontitis, in which the bacteria damages the gums to such a degree that they begin to separate from the teeth.

In order to avoid gum disease, that could eventually cause tooth loss, diabetic patients must be very conscientious about flossing each day. While brushing removes bacterial film and food particles from the front and back of the teeth, flossing cleans the gum line. In addition, patients with diabetes should inform their dentists immediately if they experience constant bad breath, if they notice any changes in their gums, or if their teeth seem to be loose. These could all be signs of significant gum disease, which may require immediate treatment.

Fungal Infections

High blood sugar also creates a more hospitable environment for fungus within the body, which can result in conditions like thrush. Thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by the candida fungus, also known as yeast. The yeast that causes this infection feeds on sugar, so it can grow more easily and quickly in diabetic patients. People suffering from thrush get soft white sores on their gums and tongue, which can be painful, make swallowing food or water difficult, and even cause fever, in extreme cases.

Diabetic patients should be careful about wearing poor fitting dentures or partials. The soft tissue of the mouth can get irritated and inflamed from wearing a denture that doesn’t fit well and that creates an environment that is ideal for candida growth. Especially if the appliances are not kept clean, or are worn for very long periods of time, like sleeping in them. People who smoke and wear dentures, are at an even greater risk of getting thrush.

To reduce the risk of getting thrush, diabetic patients should avoid smoking, especially if they wear dentures or partials. Limit the amount of time dentures and partials are worn, and remove and clean them daily. Try to limit antibiotics, and use antibacterial mouthwashes sparingly, since these might actually kill some of the good bacteria that keep fungi in check.

If you are experiencing thrush, Dr. Griffin can prescribe antifungal medications to kill the yeast.

Take Charge of Your Diabetes and Your Oral Health

First and foremost, you must control your blood glucose levels. If your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and experience tooth loss.

Secondly, take care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing at least twice daily, eating a balanced diet, and scheduling your regular checkups, every six months, with Dr. Griffin.

Remember, keeping your teeth and mouth healthy requires a team effort and you are the most important person on this team to do the day-to-day mouth care.

If you have any questions about diabetes and your oral health, or to make your next appointment please call us, at 972-242-2155. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

The American Diabetes Association provides more information about oral health concerns for diabetic patients.

Xerostomia. Xero What?!

Paul A. Griffin, DDS, PAXerostomia. Xero What?!

Do you ever wake up in the morning feel like you have to peel your tongue off the roof of your mouth? Does your mouth often feel as dry as the Sahara desert? Do you feel the urge to drink lots of water? You may have xerostomia. Xero what?? Don’t panic! Xerostomia (zero-STOW-me-uh) is just the fancy medical word, for dry mouth, which comes from the Greek “xeros” (dry) + “stoma” (mouth).

Dry mouth can make it hard for you to swallow, chew your food, or speak clearly. Dry mouth can cause tooth decay very quickly. Dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath, and sometimes others will notice the stale odor. Most often, dry mouth is the result of a decrease in saliva produced by the glands in your mouth (salivary glands), and it’s frequently a side effect of hundreds of medications and some diseases. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in digestion.

Dry mouth is a common problem that can range from being merely a nuisance to something that has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.

Dry Mouth Symptoms

If you’re not producing enough saliva, you may notice these signs and symptoms all or most of the time:

  • Feeling like your mouth is stuffed with cotton balls.
  • Burning feeling in mouth or tongue and sometimes tongue feels like shoe leather.
  • Saliva that feels like glue
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
  • A changed sense of taste
  • More frequent tooth decay
  • Gum irritation and gum disease
  • Problems wearing dentures
  • In women, dry mouth may result in lipstick sticking to the teeth

What causes dry mouth?

There are several things that can cause your mouth to feel as dry as a desert. People get dry mouth when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. Because of this, there might not be enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. There are several reasons why these salivary glands might not work right.

    • Side effects of some medicines. More than 400 medicines can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva. For example, medicines for high blood pressure and depression often cause dry mouth.
    • Drug use. Recreational drugs such as methamphetamines, cannabis, hallucinogens, or heroin can cause dry mouth.
    • Systemic Diseases. Some diseases affect the salivary glands. Sjögren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes can all cause dry mouth.
    • Radiation therapy. The salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.
    • Chemotherapy. Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel dry.
    • Nerve damage. Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves that tell salivary glands to make saliva.
    • Tobacco use. Smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.There is no need to have xerophobia (the fear of dryness) when it comes to xerostomia. Here are some tips that may help alleviate dry mouth symptoms.

Dry Mouth Comfort Tips

There is no need to have xerophobia (the fear of dryness) when it comes to xerostomia. Here are some tips that may help alleviate dry mouth symptoms.

  • Sip water throughout the day and night and carry a water bottle with you at all times.
  • Drink sugarless drinks and avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate salivary flow.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Both alcoholic beverages and smoking dry out the mouth and make you more susceptible to gum diseases and oral cancer.
  • Select an alcohol-free mouth rinse if you’re in the habit of using a mouthwash. Read the label and make sure alcohol is not listed as an ingredient.

If you have any questions, or if you feel you have symptoms of dry mouth, and would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Griffin, please do not hesitate call us at 972-242-2155. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

Seasonal Allergies and Your Teeth

Paul A. Griffin, DDS, PASpring has sprung! Warm weather is here and all is good! Except that is, for seasonal allergies that decide to join us this time of year. From itchy eyes, to alternating runny/stuffy noses, and uncontrollable sneezing, many allergy sufferers across Texas know the pains of this seasonal dilemma. But, did you know seasonal allergies can also affect your teeth and mouth? We, here at Paul Griffin, DDS, want to make sure you know how your teeth and mouth can be affected by seasonal allergies.

Tooth Pain

Have you ever experienced a toothache, in your upper teeth, from out of nowhere and thought it was a little peculiar? Turns out, it may not be a toothache at all, but instead symptoms of your seasonal allergies that are acting up. Your body’s immune reaction to the allergens in your system causes mucus to build up in the sinus cavities, which in turn, causes congestion, pressure and pain. When the maxillary sinuses, which are located just above the roots of the upper molars, are affected it can cause the molars, and sometimes premolars, to be sensitive to cold, biting or chewing, and sometimes even cause a throbbing sensation.

Dry Mouth

As if the pain and discomfort from your clogged sinuses and aching teeth weren’t enough, many allergy sufferers tend to suffer from dry mouth, as well. Allergies themselves, along with allergy medications, decongestants, and oral inhalers you use can make your mouth become extremely dry. This can really affect your oral health because saliva, which is full of antibacterial enzymes, is known to help prevent decay, and keep your breath and mouth from smelling and feeling like an old shoe. When your mouth becomes dry, you put yourself at risk for bad breath, tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis, and periodontitis.

If you suffer from dry mouth, drink plenty of water to keep your oral tissues moist, and alleviate dryness. Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol is recommended to encourage saliva production and xylitol is proven to help reduce cavities. There are also oral rinses and other solutions that may alleviate symptoms.

Mouth Breathing

A stuffy nose due to allergy congestion can result in breathing through the mouth causing dry mouth. Air against oral tissue dries up saliva, this lack of saliva causes to the gingival, or gum, tissue to become dry which can lead to swelling, gum sensitivity, and tooth decay. Research indicates that mouth breathing can actually change the shape of your face and alter your appearance. This is especially true for children because they are still growing. When breathing through the mouth, the tongue rests on floor of the mouth, causing cheek muscles to relax onto the upper teeth. This long-term pressure can lead to crooked teeth, dental overbites, as well as palate malformations.

 

So how do you know if that toothache is an actual infection or if it’s just your allergies playing tricks on you? Give us a call, at 972-242-2155, or, use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page, and we can schedule you an appointment. Dr. Griffin and his team can help get you fixed up no matter if it’s allergies or a more serious issue.

 

Dry Mouth

dry mouthWhat is dry mouth? 

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition that results from reduced saliva flow. The condition is estimated to affect millions of people in the United States. Saliva is vital to everyday processes, such as tasting, swallowing, speech, and digestion. Saliva also helps defend against tooth decay and bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. The components of saliva protect teeth and oral soft tissues and facilitate speech and swallowing.

  • What are the causes of dry mouth?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of dry mouth?
  • How can I manage dry mouth symptoms?

Causes of dry mouth:  Many commonly prescribed medications can cause a decrease in salivary function. These medications include antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihypertensives, anti-inflammatories, diuretics, sedatives, and narcotics. In total, there are more than 400 medicines that may cause dry mouth. Medications are the cause of more than 90 percent of dry mouth cases. Dry mouth also may be the result of Sjögren’s syndrome, a disorder of the immune system in which white blood cells attack the moisture-producing glands. Other conditions may cause dry mouth, including diabetes, lupus, kidney diseases, stress, anxiety, depression, nutritional deficiencies, or a dysfunction of the immune system, such as caused by HIV/AIDS. In addition, nerve damage or trauma to the head and neck from wounds or surgery can damage the nerves that supply sensation to the mouth. Certain cancer treatments can alter the flow and composition of saliva, resulting in dry mouth. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments to the head and neck region can permanently damage the salivary glands, significantly reducing saliva production or halting it altogether.

Symptoms of dry mouth may include:

  • increased need to sip or drink fluids when swallowing
  • difficulty speaking
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • a burning or sore sensation in the mouth
  • an inability to eat certain foods
  • diminished or altered sense of taste
  • increased susceptibility to oral infection
  • sleep interruptions due to thirst
  • difficulty wearing dentures
  • tooth decay
  • gingivitis
  • stale or bad breath

How to manage dry mouth:  There are a variety of methods available for managing symptoms of dry mouth. Dr. Griffin may advise changes in your diet; using salivary substitutes and over-the-counter salivary mouthwashes, gels, and sprays; and speaking to your physician about changing the dose or brand of your medications.

If you have any questions about dry mouth, or any other dental issues, please feel free to give us a call here in Carrollton, TX at 972-242-2155.  Or, simply use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form on this page. (Information gathered from the Academy of General Dentistry)