Category Archives: Blog

Oral Cancer and Oral Hygiene West Seattle Dentist

Oral Outcomes with Chemotherapy: What to Expect

While chemotherapy aims to fight cancer, the treatment can cause some unwanted though expected side effects to manifest in your body. The mouth and its structures can be affected and that can be problematic. Best to consult your dentist first to be able to understand what to expect or to be able to minimize the symptoms, discomfort or xxxx.

Chemo drugs kill cancer cells but they may also harm normal cells, including those in the mouth. Side effects include problems with your teeth and gums, the mucosal lining and your salivary glands. The effects can be painful and can make it hard for you to talk, swallow or eat.

Apart from painful mouth and gums, there may also be burning, peeling, or swelling tongue, and also dryness of mouth, and change in taste. Mouth infection, like gum disease, is very likely because your immune system is down. The effects might be so intolerable, you may not be able to keep up with your cancer treatment. Your doctor may need to cut back on your cancer treatment or may even stop it.

Professional advice from your dentist may help you cope with cancer treatment, so see one first before your chemotherapy starts. Your dentist will instruct you to always keep your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water, sucking on ice chips, using sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy. Your oral hygiene should not be neglected. Brush teeth, gums and tongue with very soft bristled brush using fluoride toothpaste.

Floss where gums do not bleed. Use mouth rinses without alcohol content. Or better use a solution of ¼ teaspoon of salt or 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup (8 ounces) of warm water. Follow with a plain water rinse.

Be careful what you eat and drink. Choose foods that are soft and moist, easy to chew and swallow. Take only small bites of food, chew slowly, and sip liquids with meals. Avoid sharp, crunchy, hot and spicy foods; likewise, acidic and sugary food and drinks; needless to say, tobacco products and alcoholic drinks. All these precautions are helpful and will see you through from the beginning of your cancer treatment until sometime after your therapy. Consult regularly with both your doctor and dentist for better and successful outcomes.

Working Together with Your West Seattle Dentist

Let your First Impressions team in West Seattle help you along with your chemotherapy. For better outcomes, it pays better to heed dental advice while you’re on cancer treatment.

Handling Tooth Sensitivity in West Seattle

The Biggest Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Are your teeth sensitive? There are a variety of reasons that are causing you to wince from tooth sensitivity. Some of the biggest causes are everyday activities you take for granted, while others aren’t so simple. All must be looked into and treated by your dentist or you may end up losing teeth.

The way you brush is one reason. You might be brushing too hard, using too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Over time, hard brushing can erode the protective layers of your teeth and expose microscopic hollow tubes that lead to dental nerves. When exposed to cold or hot temperatures, such as drinking cold water or sipping coffee, the teeth become sensitive.

Sometimes acidic or sweetened foods can cause the same. Your dentist will tell you to use gentler motions while brushing. Also, cut down on acidic intake, like tomato sauce, lemon, grapefruit, kiwi, and pickles, for acid wears down enamel.

Are you using whitening toothpaste? Some brands use hard chemical formulas as whiteners. Ask your dentist about it and he may switch you to another less caustic formula. In like manner, some mouth rinses bought over-the-counter can make teeth sensitive due to their alcohol content. Rinses can be real irritants especially if your dentin is already exposed. Gargle with water instead and don’t forget the brushing and flossing.

You might have a cracked or chipped tooth that exposes dentin or pulp, or you might have open spaces at the edges of tooth fillings, openings that expose the tooth to bacterial attack and decay.

Are you a tooth grinder? Called bruxism, you unknowingly clench or grind your teeth while you sleep. Over time you can erode enamel layer and expose sensitive dentin. Your dentist can prescribe a nightguard for you. Another cause of sensitivity is an excessive buildup of plaque that can cause tooth enamel to wear away.

And do you notice receding gums? Receding gums are looking like your teeth are elongating as gums pull away from hugging your crowns. You might even have pockets, spaces created between your teeth and gum tissue. It’s a sign of late gum disease. It also causes sensitive teeth. A dental visit is long overdue.

Saving Sensitive Teeth in West Seattle

Where sensitive teeth are concerned, come to your West Seattle dentist here at First Impressions. We can point out to you where your problems lie and give you tips to prevent further sensitivity. Treatment procedures are in order to prevent loss of teeth.

West Seattle Dentist: Oral Changes in the Elderly

What Oral Changes are Seen in the Elderly?

With the rise of the elderly population, an increasing trend towards poor oral health is seen. Traditionally, the trend is manifest in high levels of tooth loss, dental caries and periodontal disease experience, as well as dry mouth and oral precancer or cancer. On top of these, there is also evidence of the relationship between oral health and poor general health with links between severe periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus, ischaemic heart disease and chronic respiratory disease.

With advancing age, there are changes in the dental and oral structures and are a combination of physiological age changes with superimposed pathological and physician-induced effects.

Take bone changes for example. While alveolar bone in your jaws naturally waste away if no longer supporting teeth, its decline is more pronounced in the elderly if they lose their teeth and don’t wear dentures. There’s loss of facial height as the lower jaw tends to move up and forward. And due to the decline in a particular enzyme (COX-2) for bone repair, healing of bone tissue is delayed. There are also changes in the elderly’s TMJ, that joint which articulates with the upper jaw.

The elderly’s muscle mass in the face also is reduced and, hence, their biting forces are no longer at maximum. Their oral mucosa exhibit changes over time showing mucosal trauma, mucosal diseases, and salivary gland hypofunction which can alter the clinical appearance and character of the oral tissues. It becomes susceptible to infection and trauma due to decreased immunological response.

It poorly responds to medications taken, and can develop ulcers, lesions, including oral cancer. Sense of smell is altered; foods become tasteless, due to degeneration of taste buds, resulting in reduced appetites. And due to decreased salivary function, the elderly constantly suffer from dry mouth.

Tooth enamel of older people becomes more brittle and susceptible to chipping, cracking and fracture. It darkens as it easily stains absorbing organic material introduced into the mouth. Secondary dentine forms as one ages, resulting in reduction in size to sometimes obliteration of the pulp chamber. The dentine hardens (dentine sclerosis) and the roots become brittle, tending towards translucency. As the pulp ages, it becomes less vascular, less cellular and more fibrotic, resulting in a reduced response to injury and decreased healing potential.

Know Age-Related Dental Changes in West Seattle

The elderly patient who comes to First Impressions here in West Seattle are treated very specially owing to the particular changes in their oral anatomy. Know more when you visit us.

West Seattle Dentist: Your Medications are Causing Your Tooth Decay

Common Medicines Affecting the Mouth

You seem to be having tooth decay issues more often than before or experiencing dryness of the mouth, swelling gums, discolored teeth, mouth sores and other nuisances. You may not know it but the medications you’re taking may be the ones causing your mouth woes. Many are common, everyday medicines that you take for your condition to stay healthy. If at the same time, they cause mouth problems, then it’s time you ask your dentist.

Did you know that many meds cause mouth dryness? Not a major condition but it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Antacids, like Tums, Prilosec, and Alka-Seltzer, used to neutralize stomach acids, cause dry mouth and besides are also sugary. Both after-effects weaken teeth causing decay and gum disease. Better cut-down on antacids, choose the sugar-free forms, and brush and floss regularly to avoid more damage.

NSAIDs and other pain relievers can also cause dry mouth, especially if you are taking them for chronic pain relief as in cases of arthritis. To counter this, you must take water frequently, chew sugarless gum, and practise dental hygiene faithfully. Antihistamines for allergy also cause dry mouth and dry tongue because they block saliva release. Decongestants, for allergies and the common cold, are the same but for cough syrups, have an added acidic property that can erode enamel. Hydrate frequently and practice oral hygiene still more, especially using fluoride toothpaste.

If you are taking beta blockers, ca channel blockers, diuretics, and ACE-inhibitors for your hypertension, ask your doctor to switch you to other options with less mouth-drying effects. On the other hand, long-term corticosteroid use (for asthma, COPD, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis) has been shown to cause dental pulp calcification or pulp stones which manifest as the pulp is irritated by these drugs. Pulp diseases can cause sudden, intense pain, mouth infections, dental abscess, and a hardening of the pulp tissue that’s so severe a root canal is required.

Keeping Oral Health while Medicating in West Seattle

Know more about how you can cope with the dental side effects of common medications you might be taking. Turn to your West Seattle dentist at First Impressions Dental and Denture for a consultation on how to manage dental issues arising from taking certain prescription drugs.

Going for Safety with Digital X-rays in West Seattle

Digital vs Traditional Radiography

Between conventional and digital dental x-rays, the similarity would be the film used. Traditional dental X-rays use film plates on which the image is reflected; digital uses a sensor, like a film plate, but is electronic and hooks up to a computer where the image is projected on a screen for viewing. The similarity ends there. The properties of digital radiography are weighty enough to overshadow traditional film X-ray features.

Digital X-rays use up to 90 percent less radiation than film X-rays. This makes digital radiography a safer, excellent option for those who take X-rays on a regular basis or for those who are concerned about radiation. Digital X-rays also produce higher quality images of mouth structures, especially tooth surfaces. Brightness and contrast are adjustable, enabling to visualize even small cavities. On the other hand, the standard size of film X-rays can make viewing and study sometimes difficult and may necessitate re-exposure to X-rays to ascertain accuracy of the image produced.

Through the power of the web, digital dental images can be copied, downloaded, printed, and emailed to colleagues, patients, and others, making it easier to transfer data for review, second opinion, and other requests. It eliminates the time and expense to copy files and mail them.

Finally, digital radiography is environmentally friendly for no chemicals are used to develop film, no darkroom, no storage room needed. Definitely it lowers cost and translates to savings. Digital radiography conforms to the ALARA principle: As Low As Reasonably Achievable. This is a radiation safety principle for minimizing radiation exposure to both patient and operator by employing all reasonable means possible.

Low Radiation Concerns with Digital X-Rays

Dental X-rays are an important part of your regular dental visits, helping pinpoint and diagnose dental issues. If you’re concerned about radiation, talk to your West Seattle dentist about digital X-rays. Find out more how we at First Impressions Dental practice safe dentistry.