Posts for: May, 2017
A third of people treated for cancer develop adverse side effects within their mouth. But while these effects can be devastating to teeth and gums, there are ways to minimize the damage.
Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation work by destroying cancer cells. Unfortunately, they may also destroy normal cells. The accumulation of this “collateral damage” ultimately affects uninvolved areas and organ systems of the body. Chemotherapy, for example, can interrupt bone marrow blood cell formation and decrease the body's ability to fight infection.
These ripple effects can eventually reach the mouth. It's not uncommon for cancer patients to develop mouth sores or see an increase in tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease. The treatments may also inhibit saliva flow: because saliva neutralizes acid and provides other benefits that lower disease risk, dental disease is more likely to develop when the salivary flow is reduced.
The first step to minimizing these effects is to improve oral health before cancer treatment begins. An unhealthy mouth vastly increases the chances for problems during treatment. Cooperating with your cancer physicians, we should attempt to treat any diseases present as soon as possible.
During cancer treatment we should also monitor your oral health and intervene when appropriate. If at all possible, you should continue regular dental visits for cleaning and checkups, and more so if conditions warrant. We can also protect your teeth and gums with protective measures like antibacterial mouth rinses, saliva stimulation or high-potency fluoride applications for your enamel.
What's most important, though, is what you can do for yourself to care for your mouth during the treatment period. Be sure to brush daily with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. You can use a weak solution of one-quarter teaspoon each of salt and baking soda to a quart of warm water to rinse your mouth and soothe any sores. And be sure to drink plenty of water to reduce dry mouth.
While you're waging your battle against cancer, stay vigilant about your teeth and gums. Taking care of them will ensure that after you've won your war against this malignant foe your mouth will be healthy too.
If you would like more information on taking care of your teeth and gums during cancer treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”
Are you ready to learn more about this simple, non-invasive cosmetic treatment and how it could improve your smile?
Are you only dealing with very minor flaws in your smile that others may not notice at first glance but still bug you? Wish there was a simple and painless way to fix small cracks, chips and uneven areas of your smile? Well, your wish has been granted. Our Midtown, GA, dentists - Dr. Laura Koch, Dr. Andrew Soulimiotis and Dr. Sunny Patel - can easily improve the shape, color or size of one or more teeth through reshaping and bonding. Here’s how:
A dentist can reshape the tooth you were born with, provided we aren’t removing too much enamel in order to do it. This is purely a cosmetic procedure, and by shaving down small bits of enamel from your teeth we can change its size or shape. You may sometimes hear it referred to dental contouring, and this procedure is completely non-invasive and doesn’t even require local or topical anesthesia.
Dental recontouring only takes about 30 minutes to complete, depending on how much needs to be changed and which tooth our Midtown general dentist is treating.
This treatment may go hand-in-hand with dental reshaping or may be performed on its own to improve the color or shape of a tooth. Bonding uses the same material that fills a cavity. Dental bonding only applies this tooth-colored material over certain imperfections to hide small discolorations, chips, gaps between teeth and other aesthetic issues. Just like recontouring, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the severity of the issues and tooth or teeth we are treating.
Who’s a good candidate for these treatments?
Anyone who has an overall healthy smile that just needs a little cosmetic work might be able to benefit from what dental contouring and bonding have to offer. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you hate having a slight gap between two teeth?
- Do you dislike small chips or misshapen areas of a tooth?
- Do you want to smooth away those extremely pointy canines?
- Do you want to hide minor dental imperfections that still make you self-conscious?
If so, then perhaps dental bonding and recontouring can help. If you want to find out if your smile could benefit from these cosmetic procedures, it’s time you called Dentistry for Midtown to schedule your no-risk consultation. Let’s get you one step closer to the smile you deserve.
It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.
“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”
While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)
When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.
Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.
But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.
Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”