Archive: April 2016

Smokeless Tobacco Is Still Playing with Fire

smokeless tobacco

There are many forms of tobacco without smoke, but no matter how it’s used, smokeless tobacco is still trouble. Cigarettes get the most attention for causing lung cancer, but many don’t realize that using cigarettes and other forms of nicotine can be just as damaging to your general and oral health. Get a closer look at what’s really being sold and how it could be more harmful than you think.

Smokeless Tobacco

There are many forms of smokeless tobacco, and even one try can lead to addiction and serious throat and mouth issues. You should also know that regulations differ by country, so the lack of clear warnings doesn’t mean the product is less harmful. Here are some examples of common smokeless tobacco products:

  • Chewing tobacco: loose leaves (sometimes in pouches) for placement inside the cheek
  • Snuff or “Dip”: ground or shredded tobacco stored in tins for sniffing or chewing
  • Tobacco lozenges: powdery, tobacco-infused candies that dissolve in the mouth

Risk to Your Oral Health

Your oral health is greatly affected by tobacco use:

  • Stained or yellowed teeth from contact with tobacco juices
  • Periodontitis, or gum irritation from exposure to tobacco
  • Bad breath as tobacco mixes with saliva and other food particles
  • Cavities due to the sugar found in sweetened tobacco products
  • Oral cancer

Other possible side effects include teeth sensitivity, enamel erosion and decreased sense of taste or smell. As bad and potentially costly as these dental problems may be, they pale in comparison to the lethal threat of cancer.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Smokeless tobacco contains over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, which can result in cancer of the mouth, tongue, lip, and throat, as well as many other cancers of the body. Warning signs of oral cancer include red or white lesions inside the mouth that won’t heal, usually referred to by dentists as “leukoplakia.” However, not all symptoms are easily detected without the help of your dentist.

Kicking Your Tobacco Problem

Your best bet is to seek professional help to kick your nicotine habit, and prevent long-term and possibly irreversible damage to your health. Although it may be difficult to share your struggles, your dentist can offer guidance and point you to effective treatments. Regular dental care is critical to minimizing your risk for oral cancer and other serious health problems.

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Habits that Harm Your Smile

Healthy teeth last a lifetime, but only if you take care of them. You might not realize it, but some common habits could be harming your teeth and their durability.

By recognizing these behaviors, you can take steps to protect your teeth and the health of your smile.

1. Skipping Regular Dental Care

Some individuals avoid regular trips to the dentist for hygiene visits or procedures due to anxiety, busy schedules, or other personal reasons. But doing so puts your teeth at risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. Be sure to visit the dentist every six months for a thorough cleaning, or as needed if you notice a change or issues with your teeth.

2. Brushing Too Hard

Brushing is the basic component of good oral health, but only when done correctly. If you brush too hard, you can wear down tooth enamel, irritate the gums, and further teeth’s sensitivity. An electronic toothbrush [link to past blog post on electric toothbrushes] can help you avoid damage while increasing brush strokes to remove more plaque. A soft-bristled toothbrush can help protect your teeth against aggressive brushing.

3. Using the Wrong Tools on Your Teeth

If you’re on the go, or out of floss, it can be tempting to reach for other objects like toothpicks, paper clips or paper to remove food stuck in your teeth. But these things can cause damage to your teeth and gums. We have small floss containers at Dental Design Studio that can easily go in your purse, bag or car – stop by the office for floss on-the-go!

4. Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can cause many oral health issues, including fractures, headaches and jaw pain. There are many causes and solutions to this issue. [link to past blog post on teeth grinding] If the grinding or clenching happens while sleeping, a night guard can help cushion your teeth and reduce impact to your jaw. Chewing sugar-free gum may help to prevent teeth clenching during the day.

5. Biting On Your Nails, Ice, Pens or Other Hard Objects

Biting on your nails or chewing on hard objects such as pens, ice, or even hard candy, could cause cracks in your teeth and irritate the jaw muscles. But biting any foreign object can also introduce bacteria to your mouth, which could cause infections. Overcoming these habits can help protect your teeth and avoid additional germs in your mouth.

6. Using Your Teeth As Tools

You may use your teeth improperly without thinking about it and more often than you realize – to open a package or cut something with your teeth. Even biting off a shirt thread can cause micro cracks that can lead to more serious damage over time. Try to use the proper tools, not your teeth!

7. Drinking Soda, Sports Drinks, and Alcohol

Healthy nutrition is all about moderation, so be aware of beverage consumption with drinks that contain higher amounts of sugar that leave teeth susceptible to cavities. Sports drinks and soda contain acid and sugar that feed bacteria in your mouth and erode teeth enamel. Alcohol produces a similar effect and dries out the mouth, which reduces saliva production allowing bacteria and plaque to thrive.

8. Tobacco Use

Smoking cigarettes or cigars, or using chewing tobacco, also puts your teeth and overall health at risk. Not only does nicotine stain your teeth, but it also increases your risk for oral cancer. Chewing tobacco is worse as it puts the carcinogens directly in contact with your gum tissues for longer amounts of time.

Quitting tobacco can be difficult, but there are tools to help. It’s worth the effort when you consider the oral, and general, health risks of tobacco use.

Turn Bad Habits into Good

Transforming bad habits into protective measures can help keep your smile looking great for years to come. The first step is noticing the behavior, followed by alternative habits and practicing new behavior. Ask your dentist for advice on how you can eliminate bad habits that harm your smile – ensuring you keep healthy smiles for life!

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Composite Fillings – Tooth-colored Solution for Cavities, Broken or Decayed Teeth

Composite filling is a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture used to fill cavities or reshape broken or decayed teeth. This procedure provides good durability and resistance to cracks in smaller to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth. Beyond cavities, composite fillings are used for cosmetic improvements by changing the color or shape of teeth. Watch how anterior and posterior composite fillings are done and how they might help improve your smile.

Composite Filling (Anterior) Video    Composite Filling (Posterior) Video

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Dental Design Studio, LLC 561 Merchant Drive Norman, OK 73069 Phone: (405) 321-6166