Having a cold sore can be really embarrassing. Unfortunately, there’s no cure, so if you have contracted the virus that causes these sores, they’ll continue to come and go. The good news, however, is that there are remedies you can use in order to shorten healing time and relieve discomfort. read more
Dental Health Articles
Some people wear mouthguards when they’re playing sports or doing other activities that may put them at risk of mouth injuries. Others need mouthguards that are made for nighttime wear while they sleep so they can combat bruxism or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Regardless of the reason why you need to wear a mouthguard, one thing that you always want to do is clean it properly. Doing so will help ensure you can keep the mouthguard free of pathogens like bacteria or fungus. What are some of the easy ways to clean mouthguards? We’ve got you covered with some handy tips below! Be Prepared to Regularly Clean, and Eventually Replace, Your Mouthguard To keep your mouthguard sanitary, it’s best to develop a routine for cleaning it after use. But, after a certain point, it will be necessary to replace your mouthguard with a new one, even if you never skip cleaning it. When should you replace a mouthguard? Generally, if it becomes damaged in any way, or it starts to irritate your delicate gums, it’s wise to replace it. This will ensure the mouthguard will function correctly and protect your pearly whites comfortably. Even if you notice cracks, tears, or dents that seem minor, replacing your mouthguard might be necessary because those little imperfections may end up harboring bacteria. Another sign that it’s time to replace your mouthguard: you notice staining that you can’t get rid of. For example, you might start to see that the mouthguard is yellowing. Or you might notice the development of dark spots, which might be mold—not just gross, but also a potential health hazard! Here Are the Basic Steps Involved in Cleaning a Mouthguard Do you think that simply rinsing your mouthguard with water after you take it out of your mouth is good enough? Well, the truth is that water alone won’t sufficiently disinfect it. So, what are some steps to follow? 1. Start by using warm water to rinse your mouthguard after you are done using it. 2. Using a bit of mild soap that doesn’t contain alcohol, gently clean every surface of the mouthguard, with or without a soft-bristled toothbrush. Alternatively, you can try a mixture of water and baking soda to clean the mouthguard with a toothbrush. Why not use toothpaste? Well, you can, but you need to be careful about the type of toothpaste you use, as some are too abrasive. 3. On a regular basis, such as once a week, it’s a great idea to soak your mouthguard. You have a few options here as well. For example, you can try putting some mouthwash in a glass of water to create a solution for soaking your mouthguard. As another option, you might soak it in some distilled vinegar, followed by some hydrogen peroxide (allow it to soak for about 30 minutes in each solution, and be sure to rinse the mouthguard thoroughly before putting it in the hydrogen peroxide). Or you can simply use a denture cleaning solution or a cleaner that’s made for mouthguards. 4. After you brush the mouthguard or take it out of whichever cleaning solution you prefer, rinse and dry it with a soft cloth. You can then let it air dry to ensure it’s completely dry before storing it. 5. When you aren’t using it, you can protect your mouthguard, and keep it as sanitary as possible, by placing it in a ventilated case. Just remember that the case should also be cleaned on a consistent basis with soap and water, and the mouthguard should be totally dry before putting it away. Your Dentist Can Give You Tips on How to Keep Your Mouthguard Clean! Different mouthguards might have different requirements and precautions when it comes to cleaning. Consider talking to your dentist about the steps you should take to keep your particular mouthguard as hygienic as possible. See? It isn’t so hard to clean mouthguards! But if you want to be absolutely sure you’re taking the right approach, talk to your dentist, who can also ensure you get the right type of mouthguard that will be comfortable and effective. Sources: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/dental-emergencies-and-sports-safety/cleaning-a-mouth-guard https://www.smiletownlangley.com/site/blog/2017/12/06/caring-for-cleaning-mouth-guards-langley-children-dentist https://blog.sisuguard.com/how-do-you-clean-a-mouth-guard https://www.sosbraces.com/how-to-clean-your-mouthguard/ https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-clean-mouthguard#takeaway
Do you suffer from frequent headaches? Well, the cause of that pain might actually be in your mouth or jaw. It’s true! A lot of people don’t realize that there’s a connection between oral health issues and headaches, but it turns out that the relief you seek might actually be found in your dentist’s chair. Below, we cover what oral health problems might lead to headaches and migraines. With this information, you can then take steps to avoid headaches and keep your mouth healthy. Perhaps the Pain Is Starting in Your Jaw Believe it or not, tension in your jaw might lead to tension in your head. The temporomandibular joint that connects the jaw to the skull might become tense on one or both sides, and that could lead to pain that radiates to your head. If you’re experiencing headaches that you think might be caused by a tense jaw, your dentist can perform a checkup to see if you’re dealing with TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), also known as TMJ. Then, by getting the right treatment for TMJ, you might be able to get relief from your headaches and migraines as well. Note: There are several factors that can lead to TMJ, and your dentist can work on figuring out the cause of your discomfort. For example, one potential cause is clenching and grinding the teeth. Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth Might Lead to Headaches, Too Known as bruxism, clenching your teeth or grinding them might lead to problems with your jaw, and that may result in pain in your head. Sometimes, people don’t even realize that they’re clenching their teeth throughout the day, particularly during periods of stress. On top of that, clenching and grinding can also occur during the night while you’re asleep. And if that’s the case, you might wake up with a painful headache. There are a few signs that can point to whether or not you’re grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. For example, you might notice that your teeth are more sensitive than usual, or your teeth look worn or flatter than they should. If your jaw feels tight, sore, or tired, or if you tend to wake up with headaches, those symptoms might also point to bruxism. Rest assured that there are treatment options available. Your dentist might recommend a mouth guard, or you may find relief if you begin incorporating stress relieving techniques into your daily life. It Might Even Be a Problem with Your Bite If your bite isn’t right (known as malocclusion), you might end up with TMJ and headaches. Basically, when your bite is misaligned, your jaw muscles need to work more, and they become increasingly more strained, thereby leading to pain. So, are you missing a tooth? Or do your teeth fail to line up properly when you close your mouth? Consider talking to your dentist about the treatment options that are available, such as braces for malocclusion and dental implants for missing teeth. That way, you won’t have to keep getting headaches because of your bite. Cavities, Infections, and Headaches There’s a connection between cavities and infections in your mouth and headaches. Who knew?! Put simply, your headache or migraine might be an extension of a toothache, thanks to the trigeminal nerve. Basically, when there’s pain in one area of the nerve, other areas of the nerve might also react, leading to headache. Or, your body might be reacting to a toothache by tightening your jaw—and, as discussed above, that could lead to headaches too. Brushing and flossing at home, along with professional checkups and cleanings, can help you keep your oral health on track. Plus, when you see your dentist on a regular basis, he or she can spot problems in their earliest stages, before they can lead to other symptoms like headaches. Pro tip: If you’re worried about affording the checkups and treatments you need, don’t worry, as there are affordable dental insurance plans that help cover the cost of everything from cleanings to fillings. Consider Seeing Your Dentist About Your Headaches Seeing a doctor about your headaches is wise, but if no cause is found, the problem might be originating in your mouth or jaw. At that point, your dentist might be able to pinpoint the cause of your headaches or migraines, as well as give you the treatment that will make the pain go away. Sources: https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/migraine-dental-problems#1 https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_bt01oaam https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/dental-headaches.html https://drsykes.com/blog/can-cavities-cause-headache-pain/ https://www.humana.com/prevention-and-care/healthy-living-and-prevention/dental-health/tension-headaches https://www.humana.com/dental-insurance/toothache https://www.humana.com/prevention-and-care/healthy-living-and-prevention/dental-health/tension-headaches
Does your tongue ever feel sore? That’s definitely no fun! But if you understand what could cause the soreness, you can then take steps to make your tongue feel better, and perhaps even prevent that soreness from recurring. Here are some of the main reasons why people experience soreness in the tongue. If your symptoms are severe, they aren’t going away, or you aren’t sure about what’s causing them, be sure to consult with your dentist. You Bit or Burned Your Tongue Trauma is one reason why tongue soreness occurs. Let’s say that you accidentally bit down on your tongue while eating. Hey, we’ve all done it! Soreness afterwards is normal. But before you know it, it will go away, which is good news. Other forms of trauma include burning your tongue by eating or drinking something that’s too hot, especially if the burn causes a blister. Ouch! Once your tongue heals up, though, the discomfort should go away. There’s Inflammation or an Infection Certain infections might lead to a sore tongue. One example is oral thrush (a.k.a. a yeast infection in your mouth). How does this type of infection occur? Put simply, there’s a certain amount of the Candida fungus in your mouth, but when there’s an overgrowth of it, such as when your immune system is compromised, that’s when it’s considered an infection. You’ll likely notice white or yellow patches in your mouth, such as on your tongue, and this is when your dentist can step in and help by prescribing an antifungal medication that will get that fungus under control. Inflammation may also cause your tongue to feel sore. The term for inflammation of the tongue is glossitis, and there are three types: acute, chronic, and atrophic. What could cause this? Well, there are many causes, such as allergic reactions and underlying health problems, so your dentist will need to work on figuring out the cause to determine the appropriate treatment. Plus, if the taste buds or the papillae on your tongue become swollen or enlarged, you might feel discomfort. Many factors can lead to swollen taste buds, such as acid reflux, GERD, food allergy or sensitivity, injuries to your tongue, sour or spicy foods, smoking, and infections. If the issue doesn’t resolve on its own in a few days, it’s a great idea to let your dentist know. You’ve Developed Sores on the Tongue Pain on a particular spot on your tongue might indicate that you have a canker sore, which appears as a round or oval spot that’s yellow or white in the middle and red around its border. There are a few reasons why these sores develop. For example, they might be caused by certain foods, or they might develop when you accidentally bite your tongue. Hormonal changes, stress, and anxiety may even play a role. Thankfully, they typically resolve on their own. Another type of sore that can cause tongue pain is the cold sore that can develop when you’ve been infected with the herpes simplex virus. Unlike canker sores, these are contagious, so take care to avoid spreading the virus to others. But, wait, don’t cold sores appear on the lips? Yes, but the herpes virus can also lead to blisters on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, or roof of the mouth too. Talk to your doctor or dentist about the best strategy for treating sores when they occur, and preventing future outbreaks. What Can You Do About a Sore Tongue? • Talk to your dentist about over-the-counter medications that would be a good idea for controlling the pain in your tongue. • Avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking is wise if you have a sore tongue. When it comes to foods and drinks that are best avoided, they include anything that’s hard, spicy, acidic, salty, or hot, as these can further irritate an already uncomfortable tongue • You might discover that switching to a toothpaste that doesn’t use sodium lauryl sulphate (also known as SLS) helps your tongue feel better. • Although brushing your tongue is part of a smart oral hygiene routine, be gentle and use a soft bristle toothbrush. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Your Tongue! Again, these are just a few of the potential causes of a sore tongue, so if you’re experiencing symptoms that aren’t going away, it’s best to see your dentist to figure out why. Also, if your tongue changes in appearance, or if it’s often sore or painful and you don’t know why, don’t be afraid to talk openly with your dentist about it. Although there are many causes of tongue soreness that will resolve on their own, there are also more serious conditions, such as cancer, that can lead to sores, lumps, and pain. One final note: by signing up for the right dental insurance, you never have to worry about being able to afford checkups that include taking a look not only at your teeth and gums, but also at other areas of your mouth, including your tongue. Sources: https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/sore-tongue#mouth-ulcers https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/sore-tongue https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319699 https://www.medicinenet.com/sore_tongue/symptoms.htm https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sore-or-white-tongue/ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320684 https://www.healthline.com/health/swollen-taste-buds#causes https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/oral-herpes#1 https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/mouth-sores-and-infections/herpes-on-the-tongue https://www.healthline.com/health/glossitis#treatments
Incorporating the use of a mouthwash into your at-home oral hygiene routine can be a great way to keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy, and your breath fresh. But because there are so many different mouthwashes out there, how can you decide which one is right for you? Well, you can consider your specific needs and oral health goals, as well as the ingredients in various types of mouthwash, to narrow down your options. Check out our short guide below as we break down the best mouthwash for you. Do You Want to Freshen Your Breath? Bad breath is a common problem, so don’t feel bad if you find that you have some level of halitosis. You can work with your dentist to figure out the cause of your bad breath if it’s difficult to get rid of on your own. But the right mouthwash might be all you need to avoid embarrassment if a serious problem (like gum disease, for example) isn’t to blame. A basic mouthwash, sometimes referred to as a cosmetic mouthwash, might be good enough to mask bad breath. However, an antibacterial mouthwash can go further by targeting the nasty bacteria that can lead to off-putting breath. Want to Keep Your Gums in Tip-Top Shape? Speaking of gum disease, if you’ve been diagnosed with gingivitis or more advanced gum disease, a mouthwash might be part of your dentist’s recommendations. And using the right mouthwash might even help prevent gum problems before they develop or recur. Mouthwashes that contain stronger ingredients, such as chlorhexidine, might be recommended if you need to combat existing gum problems or you’re at a greater risk of developing them. On the other hand, if your aim is mainly to prevent gum issues, even if your risk is average or low, you might be just fine using mouthwashes that boast antibacterial, antiplaque, or antimicrobial benefits. Are Your Teeth Too Sensitive? Tooth sensitivity is no fun at all. First, it’s a great idea to consult with your dentist to determine if your sensitivity is due to a problem like a cavity or an infection. Then, you can discuss toothpastes and mouthwashes that are designed for sensitive teeth. The right mouthwash, when used consistently, might be able to reduce the amount of sensitivity that you experience. Your dentist may recommend one that includes ingredients that are capable of boosting the strength of your enamel, while also numbing the tubules in the dentin of your teeth. When searching for a mouthwash made for sensitive teeth, you can look for ingredients like potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, calcium phosphate, and potassium citrate. Are You Experiencing Dry Mouth? Dry mouth has a range of causes, so once again, it’s a great idea to talk to your dentist to figure out what’s causing this uncomfortable condition. Then, you can search for a mouthwash that can help bring about some much-needed relief. Anyone with dry mouth shouldn’t use a mouthwash that contains alcohol, as that ingredient can make your mouth even drier. Yikes! So the first step is to search for an alcohol-free mouthwash. If that isn’t enough, though, there are mouthwashes that are specifically made for those with dry mouth, such as products that contain xylitol. Shopping by Ingredients Rather than shopping by condition, you can also shop for the right mouthwash by narrowing your choices down to the ingredients that you want to take advantage of, and the ones you want to avoid. Fluoride: If your goal is to take an additional step towards keeping tooth decay at bay, a mouthwash that contains fluoride might be right for you because it can support strong enamel. But if you’re using a fluoride toothpaste, this might be overkill. Your dentist may only recommend fluoride mouthwash if you have a higher risk of cavities, if you have dry mouth, or if you wear orthodontics, as a few examples. Hydrogen Peroxide: This is an antimicrobial ingredient that might help whiten your chompers and keep your gums healthy. Therefore, mouthwashes that contain this ingredient often claim that they can do things like whiten teeth and freshen breath. Chlorhexidine: Your dentist might recommend a mouthwash containing this ingredient if you need something that will work on killing bacteria that could lead to gum disease. But if you want a mouthwash that will freshen your breath, this isn’t the best choice. It might cause side effects, so only use this type of mouthwash under the guidance of your dentist, and only use it as directed. The Best Mouthwash for You Is Out There! Shopping for the ideal mouthwash for your unique oral health needs involves a few steps. To start, have your teeth and gums examined by your dentist so you’ll know whether you need to go with a particular mouthwash to help prevent or treat certain conditions. And if your teeth are healthy, you can discuss your options with your dentist as well. After getting some professional advice, once you head to the store, it’s a matter of reading labels to check for claims and ingredients that match your needs. Remember: just because you’re using mouthwash doesn’t mean you can skip brushing and flossing. Instead, this is a product that’s meant to be used in combination with other simple daily steps that can help keep your pearly whites bright and your gums strong. Sources: https://www.verywellhealth.com/which-type-of-mouthwash-works-best-4126424 https://www.stonewalkdentistry.com/resources/choosing-best-mouthwash-different-types-how-to-pick/ https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/selecting-dental-products/how-does-mouthwash-work https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/tooth-sensitivity/how-does-mouthwash-for-sensitive-teeth-work https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/expert-answers/dry-mouth/faq-20058424 https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/dry-mouth/how-alcohol-free-mouthwash-for-dry-mouth-provides-relief https://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/101/using-mouth-rinses.aspx https://www.verywellhealth.com/which-type-of-mouthwash-works-best-4126424 https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/teeth-whitening/best-whitening-mouthwash https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/adult-oral-care/hydrogen-peroxide-gums-and-teeth-treatments
It’s that time of year again: Open Enrollment has just past, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed the opportunity to sign up for dental insurance. That’s why we’ve put together a list of things you should know! Things can get complicated and confusing when shopping for insurance, but we’ve got you covered with some information to clear things up and help you get started. How to Use the Marketplace to Buy Dental Insurance How can you find the right dental insurance plan? Well, you can start by looking in the Health Insurance Marketplace during Open Enrollment. There, you can purchase health insurance that comes with dental coverage. If you find a health insurance plan that suits your needs and budget, and it also provides some level of dental coverage, the nice thing is that you’ll only be required to pay one premium to get all of that support whenever you see your doctor or dentist. As an alternative, you can also look for stand-alone dental plans on the Marketplace, but you can only purchase one of these plans if you’re also signing up for a health insurance policy at the same time. With a stand-alone plan that’s separate from your health insurance policy, you’ll have separate out-of-pocket costs, such as a premium. But you might discover that these plans provide more comprehensive coverage, as well as a bigger network of providers, that may help you save more money in the long run, especially if you see your dentist regularly or need expensive treatments. What to Expect from the Health Insurance Marketplace As you look through your dental plan options on the Marketplace, you’ll notice that there are two main categories to choose from: Low coverage – You’ll enjoy a lower premium, but the tradeoff will be a higher copay and deductible. High coverage – You’ll pay a higher premium, but you’ll be able to enjoy a lower copay and deductible when you see your dentist. What about adult coverage vs. child coverage? Dental coverage is considered essential for kids. So, if you’re enrolling in health insurance for your child who’s 18 years of age or younger, dental coverage, either through a stand-alone plan or a health insurance policy, has to be available. This doesn’t mean you actually have to buy it, though. When it comes to adults, because dental coverage isn’t considered an essential benefit, insurance companies aren’t required to offer it. The Perks of Choosing a Stand-Alone Dental Insurance Plan Sure, you can sign up for a health insurance policy that includes some level of dental coverage. But these types of plans might be out of your budget, or they might not give you the amount of coverage that you require for your oral health needs. Also, if you ever want to change or cancel your dental plan in the middle of the year, you can do so at any time if you have a stand-alone plan. This won’t affect your health insurance coverage. On the other hand, if you’re getting your dental coverage through your health insurance plan, you’ll need to meet certain requirements to be able to cancel outside of Open Enrollment. Basically, if a specific life event qualifies you for what’s known as a Special Enrollment Period, you’ll be able to pick new health insurance, whether it includes dental coverage or not. However, you won’t be able to get a stand-alone dental plan from the Marketplace under these circumstances. Do You Have to Wait Until Open Enrollment to Buy Dental Insurance? The answer is no, but there are some things to consider: Open Enrollment is great for setting aside time to look at the insurance you have, or don’t have, and then finding the plan that will fill in any gaps in coverage. Plus, certain dental plans might only be available during this time period, so it’s worth taking a look if you’re interested in getting new, or better, coverage. If you aren’t happy with your current health insurance, now is the time when you get to switch to a better plan. When it comes to dental insurance, however, you don’t need to wait until Open Enrollment to make your decision. That’s because you’re allowed to purchase stand-alone dental insurance at any time throughout the year. Ready to Shop? Check Out Spirit Dental! Whether you used Open Enrollment to remind yourself of the need to purchase dental insurance, or you decide that you want to wait until the middle of the year to get the coverage you desire, Spirit Dental has your back with affordable plans to suit every budget. Unlike dental insurance that comes bundled with health insurance, Spirit plans offer stellar perks like $5,000 annual maximums, three cleanings per year, and coverage for major services. And you can sign up whenever you’re ready, as well as cancel at any time! When shopping for dental insurance, you can do it all on your own, contact an insurance agent for assistance, or contact insurance providers like Spirit directly for personalized support. Once you have the right plan in place, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to see your dentist whenever necessary to get the care you need to maintain a healthy smile. Sources: https://help.ihealthagents.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009936634-Is-There-an-Open-Enrollment-Period-for-Dental-or-Vision-Insurance- https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage/dental-coverage/ https://www.healthcare.gov/apply-and-enroll/how-to-apply/
A dental infection is never predictable, and it can cause severe pain when eating, as well as sensitivity to heat or cold. Some patients will develop an abscessed tooth, which sounds scary, but it is very treatable to save your tooth and alleviate your discomfort. A dental abscess is a localized pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. It typically results from severe tooth decay, but can also result from a cracked tooth or trauma to the mouth. Common Signs of a Dental Abscess 1. Pimple, Bubble, or Fistula on Gum If you observe a pimple or bubble on your gum near your tooth, the closest tooth may have an abscess. This bubble is also called a fistula because it is a sinus tract that traces from the infected tooth root to the gum, draining pus, exudate, and bacteria. An abscess will usually appear at the root tip of a tooth. 2. Pain Many people with a dental infection or abscessed tooth will experience severe pain, but some are completely unaware they have an abscess. This could be because the fistula is draining pus, which relieves pressure from the abscess. Some individuals will also experience a dull or chronic ear pain that resembles an ear infection. This is because pain and an infection from your tooth can radiate to your ear or neck. If you have pain when chewing, any sensitivities to temperature changes, spontaneous pain at night, or unexplained ear or neck pain, you may have a dental abscess and require dental attention. 3. Swelling A dental swelling can be localized to the site of an infection or generalized resulting in facial cellulitis. A large facial swelling can be dangerous and can spread quickly to your face, eyes, neck, and throat. A dental infection that causes swelling and obstructs your breathing and swallowing can be life-threatening. 4. Malodor A dental abscess can cause a bad taste in your mouth because of the bacteria and draining pus. You may experience a foul odor that has a metallic or salty taste. 5. Pus Commonly a dental abscess is filled with pus, which is composed of bacteria and dead tissue and cells. Pus presents as a thick residue at the site of infection and will usually resolve when the abscessed tooth is treated. Treatment for a Dental Abscess An abscessed tooth is usually treated with root canal therapy. A root canal treatment has to do with removing the pulp of the tooth, which is made up of nerves, blood vessels, and tissue. The pulp chamber and canals are then cleaned, disinfected, and filled to prevent bacteria from entering. Sometimes, teeth simply cannot be saved. If you have a dental abscess on a tooth that is severely decayed or cracked beyond the point of restoration, or if you experience intense pain, you might want to consider an extraction as it would help to alleviate pain and prevent infection. Get Pain Relief Quickly If you experience any signs that may indicate an abscessed tooth, it is important to seek dental care immediately to avoid further medical and dental complications. Going to the dentist quickly will help relieve any pain and infection, and significantly improve your long-term outcome. Dr. Erica Anand is a pediatric dentist in private practice focused on preventative dentistry including SDF, SMART fillings, and myofunctional therapy. She also writes professionally in the dental industry, working with marketing and consulting firms. Her extensive education includes treating children with special needs, dental phobias, and oral rehabilitation under general anesthesia. She maintains memberships of the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and New York State Dental Association, and is an American Board of Pediatric Dentistry Candidate. Learn more about Dr. Erica Anand on her website.