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How to Check for Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer - What You Should Know

Oral Cancer Self Examination: What Should You Look for?  

Just like with any other type of cancer, early detection of oral cancer increases your chance of beating it and maintaining a fairly normal life. The key to catching it early is performing regular self-examinations to see if you spot any changes in your body from the neck up, including your tongue, mouth, cheeks, neck, lips, and airways. Here are some ideas of what you should look for on each body part.

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Oral Health Care for Babies

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Oral Health Tips for Babies

Oral health care first starts at home and at an early age. The appropriate preventative steps to prevent tooth decay in children should start before your baby cuts their first tooth. Even though your child’s baby teeth will be replaced by their adult teeth, children are still susceptible to tooth decay. When infants and toddlers get tooth decay it is often referred to as baby bottle decay. Your baby’s first teeth play an important role in ensuring their adult teeth come through correctly and unfortunately, if children get tooth decay in their baby teeth, it may have a serious impact on their adult teeth. As soon as your baby’s first tooth appears, they are risk of tooth decay (baby bottle decay). Along with routine visits to your pediatric dentist, here are a few tips to help reduce the risk of tooth decay in babies.

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Ways to teach your kid how to floss

Regular toothbrushing is essential to oral health, but flossing is equally important. Often thought of as an adult activity, flossing is critical for kids, too. Teach your children at a young age how to properly floss, and you’ll be preparing them for a lifelong healthy habit.

Starting Early

Young children need your help to floss correctly, but don’t wait until they are capable of doing this chore on their own. Flossing cleans out particles from between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, so flossing should become a regular practice as soon as your child’s teeth begin to touch one another. For most kids, this happens between ages two and six.

At first, you will have to floss your youngsters’ teeth for them. Growing kids often want to do everything on their own, but don’t just surrender this job to them right away. This independent phase is a great time to start teaching children the proper process, however, so they’ll eventually be ready to do it on their own. By age 10, as fine motor skills become more refined, they should be able to tackle this task independently.

Teaching The Hows

Flossing isn’t particularly tricky, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a right way to do it. With your help and plenty of regular practice, your children will soon have the technique down pat.

The first thing to do is to pull about 18 inches of floss off of the spool. One end of it should be wrapped around the middle finger of the right hand; wind the other end around the middle finger of the left hand. Use your thumb and index finger to hold the material in place while you floss.

Slide the floss between two of your children’s teeth. Gently shimmy it back and forth. Next, curve the floss into a C-shape and move it up and down. Get under the gums with the floss.

Repeat these activities between all of your child’s teeth. Use a clean section of floss each time.

Final Notes

Flossing should be done once a day, preferably before bed.

Sometimes flossing causes gums to bleed, especially when it’s a new practice. As it becomes a regular habit, the bleeding should stop. If not, try sliding the floss gently without jerking it between the teeth. Consult your child’s dentist if the bleeding doesn’t ease up.

In fact, your child’s dentist is an expert on helping kids learn to floss. Oral health is your dentist office’s priority, so don’t hesitate to contact them with questions or concerns. With the dentist’s help, you and your children will soon be flossing pros.

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Everything you need to know to handle dental emergencies

A dental emergency can leave you in pain and worried, especially if it is after normal office hours. Examples of emergencies include the following:

  • A cracked or broken tooth
  • A knocked out or loose tooth
  • A lost filling or crown

If one of these issues is affecting your tooth, the following guide can help you make the right decisions to get you through the emergency.

 

Cracked and broken teeth

This is usually due to some trauma – either outside trauma such as when playing sports, or inside trauma such as biting into a hard popcorn kernel. The treatment is the same regardless.

First, rinse well with salt water. This will remove blood from the injury so you can better view it. It will also help prevent infection and bring down swelling. If there are no major lacerations in the mouth, simply bite down on a folded piece of gauze and call your dentist’s after hours emergency number. You can also purchase dental wax to smooth over the rough edges of the crack or chip until you can get in to see your dentist.

If there are major lacerations, visit the emergency room. Damage to the inside of your cheek and your gums has to be stitched and tended to before the broken tooth can be fixed.

 

Knocked out teeth

The loss of a tooth is a more immediate injury than a crack. If you still have the tooth, rinse it off with clear water and place it back in the socket, if possible. Otherwise, place it in a cup of milk. You will need to call your dentist or a 24-hour emergency dentist immediately so they can try to root the tooth back in your mouth.

Sometimes the tooth is simply loosened and not knocked out completely. In this case, it may tighten back up if you are careful. Avoid chewing on that side of the mouth as much as possible until you can schedule an appointment with your dentist.

 

Lost fillings and crowns

When a filling comes out there may be no immediate pain. You can usually place a small piece of dental wax on the area to prevent a cavity from taking hold, and then schedule an appointment at your next convenience.

Crowns are a different matter, since their loss may uncover the nerves inside the tooth and cause pain. If you have the crown, place it back over the tooth and secure it with a bit of dental wax or denture adhesive. Otherwise, cover the tooth with a dental wax so that the nerves aren’t exposed. Usually your dentist can replace the crown if you still have it, saving you the expense of a new one.

For more help with your dental emergencies, call South Temple Dental with any questions.

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5 Ways to Determine If You Need Braces

Braces are an orthodontic appliance designed to correctly align the teeth and jawbones. Not every person with slightly crooked teeth with need braces, but they can be very beneficial. Since braces are not installed until a patient’s mouth is more developed, it can be tricky to determine if younger children will need braces. Here are a few ways of telling if you or a family member will need braces.

Look at Your Teeth

This is the first step you should do. Examine to see if your teeth are overlapping each other, turning sideways, or sticking farther out than each other. All of these can be signs that you have crowded teeth that are not sitting properly in your jaw. You can also check for large gaps between your teeth. These gaps can harm your bite, but braces will fix them.

See What Happens When You Bite Down

In addition to spacing issues, braces can also be used to fix misaligned bites. The ideal bite is one where the upper teeth are set just slightly farther out than the lower teeth. Bite down firmly and see if either your upper or lower teeth are extending significantly past each other.

Consider Your Pains

Try to remember if you frequently get headaches, jaw pains, or sore teeth. These symptoms might not be extremely noticeable, but they are signs that the jaw and teeth are not working together.

Think About Your Oral Hygiene

Do you regularly suffer from bad breath or have problems with cavities and gum disease? If any of these issues happen even though you frequently brush and floss your teeth, it may be because crowded teeth are trapping bacteria in places where you cannot clean it away. Having oral issues even though you practice good hygiene can mean that your crooked teeth are interfering with tooth cleanings.

Try Chewing Food

In addition to making smiles look more appealing, braces are important because they help people to chew correctly. Therefore, the biggest sign of needing braces will be difficulty chewing your food. If you have trouble biting down on items or have to hold your mouth in strange positions to grind up food, you definitely need braces. Many people who need braces regularly bite their tongue or cheeks because they are having trouble chewing.

Since it can be difficult to figure out whether or not you need braces, it can be helpful to get advice from a professional. Talk to your dentist if you think braces might be needed or if you have any more questions about the teeth straightening process. This can often be very helpful because your dentist can refer you to a talented orthodontist in the area.

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Finding the Right Dentist for You and Your Family

Great oral care begins by having the right dentist for you and your entire family. You need a professional dentist who will not only meet your needs but also provide superb pediatric care. When you have the right dentist, every dental visit will be an enjoyable experience. A professional dentist will also give you enough information on how to take care of your oral health. How do you find that special dentist to look after your family’s teeth? Here are some tips that can help.

Experience

When looking for a professional family dentist, experience is one factor that you need to consider. You want to have a dentist who is experienced in treating both children and adults. You also want a professional dentist who can easily recognize a problem and recommend what you need to do about it. A family dentist should be able to comprehend and respond to the various needs of every family member. He or she should be able to advise your children on what to do when they lose their first teeth.

But how will you know about all these? Before getting the first appointment with the dentist, you can find out if he or she has a website so that you can go through his or her biography online. Alternatively, you can ask relatives and friends for referrals or read reviews and do some research on dentists who are available in your area.

 

Availability and Proximity

How available and reliable is the dentist? This is another factor that you should not take for granted. You definitely don’t want a dentist who will not have time for you when either you or one of your children is in need of dental care. You also need a dentist who can be easily reached. Therefore, consider the distance from your home to the dentist’s office.

 

Cost and Payment Options

As you consider quality, also make sure the services are affordable as well. Find out also about the payment terms and options.

What Children Like

Kids always prefer patient and gentle dentists who are used to working with them. You want to make your children get excited whenever they think of meeting their dentist. Kindness and friendliness will make children feel encouraged and motivated to take care of their teeth. When you have a dentist who is loved by your children, you will be amazed at how easy it becomes to convince the kids to go for dental visits.

The right family dentist is the one you and your family members are comfortable with. Also, the right dentist is the one who is properly trained to provide you with the quality dental services that you need.

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Dental Care 101: Untreated Cavities

One day you forgot to brush your teeth. The next day you forget to floss. Soon you arrive at the dentist office with a toothache for your worst fear to be confirmed: you have developed a cavity. Usually the next step is either a filling or, for a bad case, a root canal. Neither of these is fun or inviting, so let’s take a look at what can be done to avoid developing a cavity.

Formation

In general, tooth enamel can repair itself with aide from saliva, toothpaste with fluoride, or other sources. However, if tooth decay continues to occur, more minerals are compromised. This leaves the enamel weakened and allows a cavity to develop. A cavity is permanent damage to a tooth that requires a filling from a dentist.

Cavities can develop from a variety of sources, including:

  • Dental Plaque
  • Sugary Drinks and Snacks
  • Infrequent Brushing
  • Using Tobacco Products
  • Alcohol Consumption

These habits can result in repeated acid attacks on teeth, which may cause white spots that depict the breakdown of enamel. This is an early sign of decay, which may lead to the development of a cavity.

 

Avoidance

As with many other health problems, cavities can be avoided by practicing routine dental hygiene. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing, using fluoride, and scheduling regular dental cleanings are essential. In addition, sealants can also help protect teeth that are particularly vulnerable to cavity development.

 

Untreated Cavities

The best course of action is to visit a dental office when you first suspect a cavity. Cavities may also be detected at routine visits. If left untreated, the tooth will gradually continue to decay. Sensitivity to hot and cold and strong pain in the general area are common indicators that a cavity has formed. Bacteria may begin to grow and pus can develop, which may cause additional pain. Untreated cavities can also worsen and can kill the pulp of the tooth or cause an infection. If left untreated, these infections can spread throughout the body compromising one’s overall health. In this case, antibiotics and a root canal or extraction may be necessary.

While visiting the dentist for a potential cavity is hardly any fun, if left untreated it can become a major health concern. Fixing a small problem becomes a minimal task compared to correcting a systemic infection or painful extraction. Promoting dental health is always the best option. However, once a cavity has formed the patient often only has one choice: to visit the dentist.

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5 Tips for Healthy Gums

If you are like most people, your morning dental routine consists of brushing your teeth and heading out the door. In fact, so long as your teeth look nice and white, you probably call it good and give it no further thought.

But that could be a costly mistake. Issues that seem like no big deal at first, like a bit of blood while flossing, can bloom into a much larger problem, and may even be an indicator of early gum disease.

Prevention is key when it comes to oral health, and the best place to start is your gums. Here are 5 steps towards complete oral health:

Brush your teeth after eating

So often we are told that we need to brush twice a day, morning and night. While this is a good benchmark, and definitely better than nothing, it is far better to brush following each meal.

After all, tooth decay and gum disease is caused by food, and brushing twice a day is not a guarantee that you’ll be brushing at the best times. So always brush directly following a meal

Also, the way that you brush is important, too. Don’t brush too hard and aim for two minutes.

Floss every night

When it comes to healthy gums, nothing is more effective than flossing. Flossing gets to the small food particles that can hide out between teeth and in the gums.

Flossing prevents bleeding gums, as well. And believe it or not, this contributes to a healthy heart. If you have bleeding gums, that means that bacteria from your mouth (which is a pretty dirty place) has a direct pathway to your bloodstream. So always remember to floss.

Use a good antiseptic mouthwash

In addition to flossing and brushing, antiseptic mouthwash delivers the final blow to bacteria that can cause unhealthy gums. Be sure to get the kind that has actual antiseptic properties, rather than the kind that just provides a minty smell.

Another thing that is important is to rinse with mouthwash before you brush. This softens the plaque that causes gingivitis and makes brushing more effective.

Watch your sugar intake and eat healthy foods

Sugar is what causes cavities and gum disease. Bacteria use sugars as a food source and will swarm to any area that has them. Limit your sugar by eating healthy foods such as leafy greens, which aside from being good for you, have a gentle cleansing effect on the mouth. The same holds true for apples and other astringent fruits.

Ginger root is a great flavor enhancer and has long been recognized for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

If you do eat something with sugar in it, make sure that you brush afterwards.

Visit your dentist on a regular basis

Ideally, this is at least once every 6 months. A dentist can see any upcoming tooth or gum problems before they become major issues. Dentists can also provide a thorough cleaning twice a year, and give you pointers on keeping your gums in tip-top shape.

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Everything You Need To Know About Tongue Scraping

 

We all know that we are supposed to brush and floss our teeth after meals. It is ingrained in us from the time we are small children. There is also a lesser known process for oral health that can make a difference in our overall health. This process is referred to as tongue scraping.

 

Where Did Tongue Scraping Begin?

Tongue scraping began over 5,000 years ago in India in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the oldest medical systems in existence. The Indians believed that the tongue was representative of overall health in the body.

 

What Is The Proper Tool To Use?

Some people use a brush to scrape their tongue. It is believed, however, that this can push bacteria deeper into the tongue. The best tool to use will be made of some type of metal. It will be curved or U-shaped. This eliminates any sharp edges that may cause damage to the tongue or to the mouth.

 

How Often Tongue Should Be Scraped?

While the teeth should be brushed and flossed several times a day, tongue scraping should be done once or twice daily before brushing.

 

What Is The Proper Way To Scrape The Tongue?

When scraping the tongue, long strokes should be used. The strokes should begin at the back of the tongue and go towards the front. This should be repeated several times. When the tongue scraping is finished, the mouth should be rinsed with mouth wash to remove any excess bacteria or scrapings left behind.

 

Three Interesting Facts About Tongue Scraping

1. In Chinese Medicine, many illnesses throughout the body are diagnosed by the health of the tongue and the location of any abnormalities or issues on the tongue. Each location on the tongue correlates to an area of the body.
2. It is believed that scraping the tongue improves the sense of taste, decreasing the use of salt and sugar in foods, and thus improving overall health.
3. George Washington has a traveling tooth kit on display in Mount Vernon. In this kit, he has a tongue scraper.The body is amazing in the way that everything works together to maintain life. It is a long believed theory that the mouth can contribute to the overall state of health in the body. Tongue scraping is a very beneficial process that should be added to everyone’s oral health practices. If done the correct way, it will remove harmful bacteria, improving breath, health and overall well being.

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5 Things You Should Know About Braces: Traditional vs. Invisible

Smiling Teenager Girl with Braces

If you or a family member needs braces, deciding which type is for you can be a difficult step. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both traditional braces as well as invisible braces that have to be considered. To make your decision, it is important to know the pros and cons associated with each type of braces.

Food is Different with Braces

Anyone who has had braces knows that food is a challenge. Regardless of what type of braces you get, eating will be painful for a few days as your teeth move into place. The difference is that invisible braces must be removed before eating or drinking anything but water, because the food and drink could get stuck in the braces and damage them. Conversely, traditional braces cannot be removed to eat, so food can sometimes get caught in the braces.

Straightening Teeth is not the Only Use for Braces

Traditional braces are not just used to straighten teeth; they also fix a lot of other oral issues like bite, bridgework, and tooth rotation. If you are someone who has more complex needs than straightening teeth, then invisible braces likely are not for you.

Cost Makes a Difference

It all depends on what each individual needs, but invisible braces tend to cost a bit more than traditional braces. Traditional braces can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $6,000, while invisible braces tend to be around $3,500 to $8,000. This is something to keep in mind when making your decision, as each individual has different values sought from their braces.

Consider Your Personality

It does not seem like a big deal, but when you consider the cost of these braces, discipline matters. Because invisible braces must be removed to eat and have to be cleaned regularly, they are often recommended to more responsible people. Traditional braces cannot be removed and thus are generally easier to maintain. It is important to consider your personality and willingness to maintain these appliances before making your decision.

They Take About the Same Amount of Time

Unfortunately, neither option is going to provide miraculous results. Both traditional and invisible braces take about 1.5-2 years, depending on the individual case. And, while you have to remove invisible braces to eat and clean them, they must be worn essentially all day, just like traditional braces. It is important to keep in mind that both options are a long commitment and that real results are going to take time.

If you have other questions about the various benefits of these different types of braces, contact us to learn more.