What Is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

burning mouth syndromeBurning mouth syndrome is a condition in which a person experiences a burning or tingling sensation on the tongue, roof of the mouth, gums, cheeks, or throat. It can be accompanied by dry mouth, soreness, numbness, or a bitter or metallic taste. People with burning mouth syndrome can be so affected by it that they experience depression or have trouble sleeping. The condition can have many causes.

• Several oral conditions, including dry mouth, oral thrush, and Sjogren’s syndrome, can contribute to burning mouth syndrome.

• Menopause and hormonal imbalances can affect the amount of saliva that is produced. This can cause dry mouth, which can lead to burning mouth syndrome.

• Some medical conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid problems, can contribute to the condition.

• Deficiencies in certain vitamins, such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins, can lead to burning mouth syndrome.

• Stomach acid that is brought to the mouth due to acid reflux disease can irritate the mouth and lead to burning mouth syndrome.

• Some medications and treatments, including antidepressants, high blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, and radiation can contribute to burning mouth syndrome.

• Things that irritate the mouth, such as acidic drinks, smoking, some mouthwashes, loose-fitting dentures, bruxism (teeth grinding), tongue thrusting, and hard tooth brushing can irritate tissues in the mouth.

• Burning mouth syndrome can be caused by an allergic reaction to a food or other substance.

• The condition can be caused by nerve damage, which can cause pain.

• Anxiety and depression can contribute to burning mouth syndrome, and the syndrome can also affect a patient’s mental health.

Since burning mouth syndrome can be caused by so many things, you may need help from your dentist to pinpoint the cause. He or she can check for oral problems and may also recommend that you see a physician and have some blood tests performed.

Modifying your habits may help you reduce the effects of burning mouth syndrome. Your dentist may recommend that you eliminate smoking, alcohol, and acidic drinks that could dry out your mouth; improve your diet; drink more fluids; take vitamins or saliva replacements; adjust your dentures; improve your brushing; or possibly take medications to treat any underlying medical conditions that are causing your burning mouth syndrome.

Israeli Oral Surgeons 3D Print New Jaw for Patient

King-lab-articleOral surgeons in Israel used innovative technology to help a patient who was severely injured by fighting in Syria. The man had suffered a bullet wound that had completely destroyed his lower jaw. He was taken to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel and was in critical condition and unable to eat or speak.

The medical team at the hospital decided to try a new approach to treat the patient. They had a new jaw custom-made for him using a 3D printer.

3D printers are being used more and more to create dental plates, veneers, dentures, and implants. These items must be custom-made since every mouth is unique.

With traditional procedures, dentists used impression plates filled with silicone, sodium alginate, or polyether to make models of a patient’s mouth. The patient would bite down into the material and leave an impression of teeth marks. This impression would be the basis for a product that was custom-made for that individual patient. A dentist would then refine the design based on observations and make necessary modifications to the device or product and to the patient’s teeth in order to make it fit properly.

In digital dentistry, molds and impressions are not necessary. Instead, dentists use intra-oral scanners, which provide a complete view of the patient’s mouth, jaws, and teeth. A digital file sends information to a 3D printer, which produces an object that will fit right the first time and will not need to be modified.

The team working with the Syrian patient in Israel used a procedure called Patient Specific Implant to create a jaw perfectly made for him. Unlike past procedures, which required the use of many plates that had to be connected, the team was able to take precise measurements and use statistical models to measure areas that had been destroyed. This enabled them to create a jaw in one piece made from titanium that was a perfect match.

The operation was a huge success. One day after the surgery, the patient was able to eat and speak. Rambam Hospital plans to perform the same procedure on three other patients in the near future.

Breathometer Mint Can Measure Breath Quality and Hydration

Breathometer MintEveryone has woken up with bad breath, but many people do not know what that means about their oral hygiene and overall health. A new app called Mint can measure breath quality and hydration, identify problems, and recommend steps to treat them.

Mint is the latest product from Breathometer, a company that introduced a Bluetooth breathalyzer that measures blood alcohol content in 2014. Both are based on similar technology. Mint connects to a smartphone with an iOS- or Android-compatible Breathometer app.

The device sucks in air from the mouth. You do not need to blow into it because the purpose of the device is to measure the quality of breath from your mouth, not your lungs.

Mint measures two elements in the mouth that affect breath quality: sulfide levels and humidity. Sulfide levels are measured via volatile sulfur compounds. Levels that are too high can be an early indication of periodontal disease, gum disease, or cavities. Humidity levels that are too low can be a sign of dehydration.

The app gives a score based on its measurement of both sulfide levels and humidity. The score is displayed in a scale of mint leaves. It can also report the percentage of hydration in the body. The data that are collected can be exported and shared with dentists, doctors, personal trainers, or other users who want to compare their results.

Mint also gives recommendations based on the results of its analysis. It can suggest that you brush and floss more, drink more water, or visit a dentist to have a problem it identifies evaluated.

The device is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. If used four to five times a day, the Mint will work for seven to 10 days on one charge.

Mint is currently available via Breathometer’s Indiegogo campaign. It will be more widely available at a lower price starting in August.

Oral Health Problems Can Lead to Low Birth Weight

oral health pregnancyProtecting oral health during pregnancy is important to ensure that you will have a healthy baby. Researchers have found a link between oral health problems, such as gingivitis, and premature birth and low birth weight.

Low birth weight is defined as a weight of less than 5.5 pounds at birth. Low birth weight can contribute to a host of medical problems, lengthy hospital stays, and possibly premature death.

Dentists believe that bacteria in the mouth that cause periodontal disease can spread to the placenta or amniotic fluid. The inflammation caused by gum disease may also contribute to preterm labor and rupture of the membrane around the fetus. This is likely caused by prostaglandin, a chemical in oral bacteria that occurs in high levels in people with periodontal disease and is known to lead to preterm labor.

Pregnant women are susceptible to specific problems that they do not face at other times. About 50 percent of pregnant women get pregnancy gingivitis that starts in the second or third month and gets progressively more serious until the eighth month. This can cause swelling, bleeding, redness, or tenderness in the gums. Women with pregnancy gingivitis can have strong reactions to irritants and develop “pregnancy tumors,” large, non-cancerous, painless growths that may need to be removed by a dentist.

Morning sickness and indigestion can cause tooth decay. Acid from the stomach can remove minerals from tooth enamel. Your dentist can recommend a fluoride rinse to use to reduce your risk of tooth decay.

It is important to protect your oral health at all times, but especially during pregnancy. Brush and floss every day. Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of calcium of vitamin D, and limit the amount of sweets and sugary drinks you consume. Drink fluoridated water to prevent tooth decay. If you smoke, quit. Get plenty of rest.

Make an appointment to see your dentist. Tell him or her that you are pregnant. If your dentist identifies any problems, get them treated as soon as possible. If you need x-rays, your dentist can take precautions to minimize the risk to your baby. Dental x-rays are safe if you are planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding.

Osteoporosis Can Affect Oral Health

osteoporosis oral healthOver 40 million Americans either have osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing the condition. Osteoporosis causes bones to become less dense, which can led to fractures. While the hip, spine, and wrist are most commonly affected, osteoporosis can weaken any bone in the body, including the jaw. Studies suggest a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw, which can lead to tooth loss.

The alveolar process is the part of the jawbone that supports the teeth. Several studies have linked the loss of alveolar bone with an increase in loose teeth and tooth loss. Low bone density in the jaw can also cause dentures to be loose or not fit well.

In patients with periodontal disease, bacteria and the body’s immune system can cause the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place to break down. This can cause the teeth to become loose, fall out, or need to be removed. Some studies have linked bone loss, periodontitis, and tooth loss. Researchers theorize that loss of alveolar bone mineral density makes the jawbone more susceptible to periodontal disease and tooth loss.

Researchers have discovered that dental x-rays can help dentists identify patients with osteoporosis. Dental problems such as loose teeth, gums detached from the teeth, receding gums, and loose or ill-fitting dentures can indicate low bone density. If a dentist detects evidence of osteoporosis, he or she can refer the patient to a doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

Scientists do not know whether treatments for osteoporosis can benefit the jawbone in the same way that they benefit other bones. Bisphosphonates, a group of medications used to treat osteoporosis, have been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw, or destruction of the jawbone. The risk is highest in patients taking large doses of bisphosphonates intravenously and rare in people who take the medications orally.

A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D can help keep your bones strong. Exercise, especially activities such as walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training, can promote strong bones. Don’t smoke, and drink alcohol in moderation. If you have any problems with loose teeth, detached or receding gums, or loose or ill-fitting dentures, discuss them with your dentist and doctor.

Poor Oral Health Increases Pneumonia Risk

oral health pneumoniaSeveral studies have found a link between poor oral health and pneumonia. The elderly, children, and people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.

A study by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine found that changes in bacteria in the mouth occurred before patients developed pneumonia. They concluded that those changes contributed to development of the disease. Other studies have found a relationship between cavities, gum disease, and pneumonia. Researchers in one study found a link between oral health and pneumonia even when they controlled for the number of medications, smoking, and other medical conditions.

Scientists believe that pneumonia and other respiratory infections can develop when fine droplets from the mouth and throat that contain bacteria make their way into the lungs. These droplets can cause abscesses, inflammation, and infection. They can also worsen existing medical conditions. Even patients without teeth are at risk because dentures can harbor bacteria. Some studies have noted that patients with gum problems who develop pneumonia are at greater risk of dying from the disease than those do not also have gum disease.

Dentists say it is especially important to practice good oral care during the winter, when the cold temperatures can weaken people’s immune systems and make them more susceptible to viruses and bacterial infections. Dentists recommend brushing the teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, and reducing consumption of sugary foods and beverages. Rinsing with an antibacterial rinse can also remove food and bacteria. Elderly patients who wear dentures should clean them with products specifically designed to remove food and bacteria from dentures, not with regular toothpaste.

People should also visit the dentist at least twice a year, and more often if they have any specific concerns. People who take medications regularly should be aware that many drugs can affect oral health. Patients should tell their dentist about any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that they take.

Toothscan Will Monitor Oral Health at Home

ToothscanToothscan, a device that can help users monitor their oral health at home and detect problems early, is currently under development and should be available next year.

The device, which is similar in size to a toothbrush, utilizes spectroscopy to measure oral health. Using Toothscan does not require any special treatment of the teeth. It beams a powerful light on the teeth that is reflected back to a sensor. Toothscan measures and interprets irregular reflections and can detect changes in tooth enamel before they are visually apparent. It will allow users to diagnose dental problems early so that they can seek treatment from a dentist before the problem progresses.

The data can be synchronized wirelessly with a PC, tablet, or smartphone. The Toothscan app allows users to monitor their dental health on a daily or weekly basis. It can make recommendations on the right toothpaste, when to replace a toothbrush, and when to visit the dentist. The more often it is used, the better information and guidance it will be able to provide.

Toothscan can be used by the whole family. It can keep a separate log for each individual to monitor oral health over time and note any problems that are developing. This can encourage users to work on their brushing and flossing habits and seek treatment when necessary.

Toothscan is designed to be used by both dentists and by patients at home. It is intended to help patients detect problems so that they can seek dental treatment, not to replace dentists. According to dentists, the best way to avoid dental problems is to practice good oral hygiene and to detect issues early. Toothscan’s designers hope that it will be a tool that can improve the dentist-patient relationship.

Toothscan is being developed by Tesla Studios Limited. The team is working on making it as small as a toothbrush and perfecting the algorithms that interpret the information and communicate with devices. The company expects to begin selling Toothscan in November 2015.

Is Tooth Whitening Right for You?

tooth whiteningTeeth can become stained over time from food, beverages, and smoking. Many people decide to try tooth whitening treatments to get pearly whites.

Both in-office and at-home tooth whitening treatments use peroxide-based bleaching agents. At-home tooth whitening products have 3 to 20 percent carbamide or hydrogen peroxide concentrations. In-office whitening treatments contain 15 to 43 percent peroxide.

The stronger the solution, and the longer it is left on your teeth, the whiter your smile will become. However, keeping a solution with a high concentration of peroxide on your teeth for too long can dehydrate the teeth and cause sensitivity.

Results can vary from person to person. Tooth whitening is most effective for people with yellow teeth and works less well for people with brown stains. If your teeth are gray or purple, bleaching probably won’t work at all. In-office and at-home bleaching treatments will not whiten porcelain crowns or composite tooth-colored bondings.

Tooth whitening treatments performed in a dentist’s office are often used with heat and/or light. This, combined with their higher concentrations of peroxide, increases their effectiveness. It generally takes several 30- to 60-minute visits to lighten teeth three to eight shades. Some treatments, such as Zoom whitening, can be done in one two-hour treatment.

If you would rather bleach your teeth at home, you have several options. At-home whitening treatments are generally less expensive than those done in a dentist’s office and have less dramatic, but noticeable, results.

Tooth whitening strips and gels are applied directly to the teeth with a brush or thin strips once or twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Results last four months or longer.

Other treatments use a tray similar to a mouth guard that is filled with a peroxide-based gel or paste and placed over the teeth. The tray must be left on for one to several hours per day for up to four weeks. Tray-based whitening treatments can be bought over-the-counter or custom-made by your dentist.

The least expensive option is a whitening toothpaste. These contain chemicals or polishing agents that remove stains and lighten teeth about one shade without using bleaching agents. Some whitening toothpastes contain peroxides, but they are not left on the teeth long enough to have a whitening effect.

In order to keep your smile white, you should brush and floss your teeth daily. You should also avoid foods and beverages that could stain your teeth, such as black tea, coffee, red or white wine, sports drinks, sodas, berries, other strongly-colored foods, and sauces, such as soy, tomato, and curry.

Talk to your dentist before you try an at-home tooth whitening treatment. Bleaching can make teeth sensitive, and improperly using at-home kits can burn or bleach your gums.

Short-Term Orthodontics Can Straighten Teeth Quickly

short-term orthodonticsMisaligned teeth can affect one’s appearance and contribute to many other problems, such as periodontal disease, temporomandibular joint disorders, headaches, and neck, shoulder, and back pain. Many adults could benefit from orthodontic treatment, but some decide against it because of the time that treatment requires (typically two to three years) and the unattractive appearance of metal brackets and wires.

Short-term orthodontics allows patients to improve their smiles and overall oral health easily in a fraction of the time required for traditional orthodontics. Treatment can straighten teeth in six to nine months.

Short-term orthodontics can be used to treat many problems, including extrusions, intrusions, rotations, and tipping. Short-term orthodontics is used to straighten the upper and lower front teeth, not the teeth in the entire mouth.

This treatment can be used as long as the jaw and mouth are fully developed and there is a healthy occlusal foundation that requires minimal adjustment. Most adults with misaligned teeth are good candidates for short-term orthodontics.

This type of treatment typically uses brackets and wires that are similar in color to teeth, making it a more aesthetically pleasing solution than traditional braces. It is also less expensive than other orthodontic treatment.

Lucid-Lok (Six Month Smiles) wires gently and consistently apply pressure to move the teeth. If you choose this treatment, your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower arches and send them to the Six Month Smiles Processing Center, where a bracket specialist/technician will create a customized patient kit that includes bonding trays.

The brackets will be accurately positioned in the bonding trays so they can be placed precisely. Your teeth will be etched, rinsed, and dried, and then an adhesive will be applied. The bonding trays will be seated intraorally, the brackets will be light-cured onto your teeth, and tooth-colored wires and ties will be attached and adjusted.

In order to maintain the effects of the treatment, you will need to wear a retainer or mouth guard. If you do not, your teeth can move back into their original positions.

Patients with Some Heart Conditions Need Antibiotics before Dental Procedures

dentist antibioticsSome dental procedures, such as a root canal or tooth extraction, can allow bacteria from the mouth to enter the patient’s bloodstream. Infective endocarditis occurs when the lining of the heart or valve becomes infected by bacteria, fungi, or other organisms. It is most likely to occur in patients who have abnormal heart valves or who have had heart surgery. Infective endocarditis can also occur in people who are healthy and do not have a history of heart disease, although this is less common. It can lead to serious medical problems, including heart failure or leakage of the heart valve.

The American Heart Association recommends that patients with the highest risk of developing infective endocarditis take antibiotic prophylaxis, a dose of antibiotics before undergoing dental procedures. This includes people with a prior history of infective endocarditis; prosthetic heart valves; valves that have been replaced with prosthetic material; and many congenital heart anomalies, including single ventricle states, transposition of the great arteries, and tetralogy of Fallot, even if the problem has been corrected.

Patients with some other heart problems are at lower risk of developing infective endocarditis and do not need to take antibiotics prior to undergoing dental procedures. This includes patients with valves that have been repaired without prosthetic material; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; mitral valve prolapse with valvular regurgitation and/or valvular thickening; most other congenital cardiac abnormalities, including patent foramen ovale; unrepaired ventricular septal defect; unrepaired patent ductus arteriosus; acquired valvular dysfunction (mitral or aortic regurgitation or stenosis); atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, or patent ductus arteriosus that has been successfully closed with surgery or a catheter-based procedure; physiologic, functional, or innocent heart murmurs; mitral valve prolapse without regurgitation or valvular leaflet thickening; mild tricuspid regurgitation; coronary artery disease; simple atrial septal defect; previous rheumatic fever or Kawasaki disease without valvular dysfunction; or placement of a pacemaker or defibrillator.

The American Heart Association recommends that patients who are at the highest risk of developing infective endocarditis take one dose of antibiotics in the form of a pill or liquid one hour before certain dental or oral procedures. Patients who are allergic to penicillin can take an alternate antibiotic one hour before the procedure. Patients who cannot take oral medications can receive an antibiotic injection 30 minutes prior to the procedure.

People who are at risk of developing infective endocarditis should follow good oral hygiene practices. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and having cleanings twice a year.