Category Archives: Blog

Mouth Burns – Dos and Don’ts

Mouth Burns

Have you ever taken a bite of food or a drink of a beverage that is hotter than anticipated? If the temperature is high enough, you can burn your tongue, cheeks, or worse, the top of your mouth. What should you do if this happens? For starters, you can read this informative article with information and advice on healing mouth burns.  If you don’t have time, we’ve prepared the following summary of important takeaways from the article.

Burns on the roof of your mouth, also known as your palate, tend to heal more slowly than burns to your tongue. This is related to the fact that the tongue has the most blood supply of any organ in the body. In addition, the skin on your palate tends to be more sensitive. This, coupled with the fact that there is little fat in this area of the body, causes pain to linger longer.

The Dos And Don’ts Of Healing Mouth Burns

The article linked above includes both dos and don’ts.  The “don’t” you want to remember about mouth burns: Don’t put an ice cube in your mouth! Ice cubes can stick to a burned area and cause additional damage.

The Do’s are more extensive:

  • Spit out the hot food
  • Swish with cold water or milk
  • If the pain is intolerable, try acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Some people find relief with numbing gels
  • Stick to eating soft foods and avoid items such as nuts and chips
  • Avoid foods that are too hot or too cold. Go for room temperature foods
  • Avoid acidic drinks such as coffee, wine or pop for several days
  • Avoid spicy foods

Follow-up

Depending on size and severity, discomfort from a mouth burn should lessen within two to three days. The wound itself should heal within a week. If you have a burned mouth that isn’t healed after a week, or if pain persists, you should consider calling a dental professional.

Dental Procrastination is Expensive

Dental Procrastination = $$

If you’ve read through the pages on our website, you know that our dental philosophy stresses prevention of dental problems. This is important because dental procrastination is expensive.

Last fall, I received a call from an out-of-state relative who hadn’t seen his dentist for over 2 years. He had no symptoms suggesting potential dental problems. When he went in for an exam, cleaning, and updated x-rays, though, his dentist found a tooth with a cavity. The dentist started to remove the decay, but it was extensive enough that he ended up recommending a root canal and a crown. This relative had the benefit of dental insurance but had neglected to schedule regular dental appointments. When discovered early, dentists can often fix cavities with small fillings. Because our relative’s problem was not discovered in its early stages, however, he underwent more expensive and extensive dental treatment.

Dental procrastination is common. Every week, I see patients who have delayed scheduling an appointment to address a dental problem. Unfortunately, I also routinely see patients who – because of the delay in scheduling recommended dental treatment – need more extensive treatment than originally recommended.

Dental Procrastination Factors

Dental procrastination happens for many reasons. Patients have busy work and personal lives. Some patients have avoidance issues with dental procedures. Other patients have financial issues which impact their choices. A recent Washington Post article dealing with dental procrastination  noted that postponing dental care can be expensive. The story cited a recent study on the high level of dental care needs being postponed relative to other medical care, many times due to cost.  Studies like the one cited are why I regularly volunteer at Mission Medical’s dental clinic and other free clinics such as Colorado Mission of Mercy.

New Year’s Resolution 2018

If you can afford regular dental care, and especially if you have dental insurance, make a New Year’s resolution to address problems when they’re small and easily treatable. Food for thought: many dental plans cover up to 80% of the cost of fillings while only covering 50% of more expensive procedures such as crowns. Remember, dental procrastination can be expensive!

Habits That Aren’t Good For Your Teeth

Well, it’s been awhile since our last blog post. October found me back in Nebraska two different weekends, once for a football game (don’t ask), and the second time to celebrate my dad’s 96th birthday. November found us busy with therapy dog events and kid visits.   That said, we’re ready to get back in the saddle regarding items of interest for our patients.  And, with the holidays here, we thought it would be timely to do a post on unhealthy dental habits.

Unhealthy Dental Habits

A recent article from Business Insider titled “17 ‘Healthy’ Habits That Aren’t Doing You Any Good,” caught our eye because of two dental related “habits.” Habit #5 deals with the benefits (or lack thereof) of drinking lemon water. Habit #14 talks about the detriment of brushing too quickly after meals.

Drinking Lemon Water

Unhealthy Dental Habits - Lemons

Acidic Foods Can Harm Dental Enamel

This habit caught our eye because it applies to us.  Carla and I periodically blend up a mixture of lemons, olive oil, and ginger and drink it first thing in the morning. The article notes that per the American Dental Association (ADA), exposure to acidic foods such as lemons can wear down tooth enamel over time. The ADA article titled “Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth”  includes the following language:

The truth is that frequent exposures to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time. So even though a squeeze of lemon or lime can turn a simple glass of water into a fun beverage, it’s not always the best choice for your mouth. Citric fruits and juices can also irritate mouth sores. Make sure to drink plenty of plain water.

While this advice regarding acidic foods is correct, it also needs to be placed in context. If you drink an acidic beverage in a short amount of time, you can minimize any negative impact to your teeth. Where dentists tend to get concerned is when people sip acidic (or sugary) beverages over a long period of time. Constantly bathing your teeth in an acidic or sugary beverage over a period of hours is more detrimental to tooth enamel health than a quick drink of lemon water first thing in the morning.

Brushing Right After Eating

Habit # 14 suggests that brushing immediately after eating can be harmful to teeth, and also cites an ADA article titled “7 Bad Brushing Habits to Break in 2017.”  The fourth habit to break in this article deals with brushing immediately after eating. According to the ADA:

If you feel the need to clean your teeth after eating or drinking, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing—especially if you have had something acidic like lemons, grapefruit or soda. Drink water or chew sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to help clean your mouth while you are waiting to brush.

The Business Insider article also includes a link to a New York Times article (“Really? Never Brush Your Teeth Immediately After a Meal”)  which talks about studies on the effect of brushing too soon after eating. The article cites a study where researchers found an increase in dentin loss when volunteers brushed within 20 minutes of drinking soda. Bottom line, there is evidence to suggest that brushing too soon after eating, especially if the meal contains acidic foods, can possibly affect your teeth in a negative manner.

Conclusions?

Do we want you to avoid eating acidic citrus foods or not brush after eating? No, but we do want you to be aware of unhealthy dental habits, the potential problems they pose, and what you can do to ensure that you are protecting your teeth. If you have any questions about the issues raised here, please feel free to call our office or to ask questions the next time you are in the office.

 

COMOM 2017 – Free Annual Dental Clinic

Dental professionals seeing patients at COMOM

2017 COMOM Dental Clinic

This past weekend, Colorado Mission of Mercy held its annual free dental clinic, this year in Pueblo, Colorado. I volunteer at this clinic when I’m in town, but unfortunately, I was out of state this year. Luckily, we had several staff members – and a dog – who did a good job representing our office. Along with 200 dentists, 120+ hygienists, and countless other volunteers, they had a very rewarding weekend. We don’t know the final numbers yet, but it looks like over 1700 dental procedures were performed.

COMOM Mission

From the COMOM website, its mission is as follows:

The Colorado Mission of Mercy (COMOM) provides quality dental services, at no cost, to individuals of all ages who cannot afford and access dental care; eliminating dental pain, promoting oral health, creating smiles, and providing oral health education.

COMOM 2017, Pueblo, Colorado

Susan holding a portable x-ray unit

Susan at COMOM 2017

Almost every staff member has volunteered at COMOM in one capacity or another. This year, Susan, Lee Ann and Jane attended. Susan is not holding a ray gun, that’s a portable x-ray unit! She spent all day Friday (and I mean all day) taking x-rays of patients once they were seen in the triage area.

Lee Ann explaining findings to a patient.

Lee Ann, 2017 COMOM

Lee Ann helped with oral cancer screenings.  The good news is that she only saw one patient with a suspicious lesion in their mouth.  Here, she is relaying her findings to a patient and explaining next steps.

Jane took on a different role this year and served as co-lead for all 120+ hygienists. She attended planning meetings, helped set up, organize, and tear down hygiene stations, and made sure hygienists had everything they needed. Some days, she arrived at 5:00 a.m. and didn’t leave until 7:00 p.m.  Near the end of the last day, with 70 patients still waiting to have their teeth cleaned, she even rounded up a few dentists to help work through the back log.

Therapy Dogs at COMOM

Lee Ann, Jane and Indy at the 2017 COMOM dental clinic

Lee Ann and Jane posing with Indy

Carla usually stays home with the dog when I volunteer, but had the idea last year that therapy dogs would be a good fit with COMOM. Often times, patients camp out over night to save a place in line. Once inside, they wait to be triaged, wait for x-rays, and then wait for whatever procedure they are going to have done. In other words, a lot of waiting. Carla and I have both gone through the Go Team therapy dog training with Indy, seeing first hand the positive reactions he receives.  Therefore, Carla started talking with COMOM coordinators early this year about having therapy dogs visit with waiting patients, and they agreed to have Indy come on a test basis.

Therapy dog Indy getting petted by kids

Indy getting petted by kids

What a hit he was! Hundreds of patients gave him hours of non-stop affection. Carla and Indy started outside, greeting patients as they were waiting in line to come in. Then they came inside and worked the waiting areas where people he’d met outside would call for him to come over for another round of petting. The volunteers also found Indy to be a good stress reliever.  As a result, Carla was asked if she could get more Go Team dogs/handlers there for the Saturday clinic. Because there’s a Go Team in Pueblo, she was able to get three more dogs and handlers to come and visit patients and volunteers on very late notice.

Indy Visits Waiting Patients

Indy Visits Waiting Patients

Indy Visiting With Patients

Indy and the Old Man

COMOM in Greely, 2018

Next year’s event will be held in Greeley, CO. This is such a rewarding opportunity for us, you can be sure our office will be represented again.

Be Smart About Halloween Candy

Halloween Candy

Halloween candyIt’s that time of year – Halloween is just around the corner. As a parent or as someone giving out candy, what do you need to know?

Candy Harmful To Teeth

We’re not sure that there’s such a thing as candy that’s good for your teeth. Why?  Because sugar in candy interacts with bacteria normally present in your mouth to produce an acid byproduct. This byproduct can weaken a tooth’s enamel, the hard protective covering surrounding the tooth. When enamel is damaged, cavities can start to form. That said, some candies are definitely worse for your teeth than others. They include:

  • Sticky or Chewy Candy. These include candies such as taffy or caramel, which tend to stick to your teeth. The longer candy stays on your teeth, the longer the acid byproducts have to wear away tooth enamel.
  • Sour or Acidic Candy. These include candies specifically labeled as “sour” and also an old favorite, lemon drops. Because these candies are both acidic and sugary, you get a double whammy effect. They also tend to be candies that are in the mouth for extended periods of time as they dissolve, thus bathing the teeth in sugar.
  • Hard Candy. Years ago, a patient had a Jolly Rancher in his mouth, bit down, and when he opened his mouth, the candy stuck to his crown and pulled it off. Just this week, a new patient came to our office because he bit down on a piece of candy and broke off a piece of his tooth. (This tooth had filling in it, meaning it was already compromised.) Similar to the sour or acidic candies, many hard candies are meant to be slowly dissolved in your mouth over a period of time, thus giving the sugar more time to bath the teeth, interact with bacteria, and produce acid that is harmful to the teeth.
  • Pop Corn Balls. Who hasn’t eaten a popcorn ball and had part of it stuck in their teeth? And, they are sugar filled and sticky.

Better Candy Options

There is some good news regarding Halloween candy. Chocolate is actually a good choice because it dissolves from your teeth pretty quickly. Dark chocolate is better than lighter chocolates as it contains less sugar.

Do You Need To Avoid Halloween Candy?

No. Halloween is a fun holiday for kids and families. When your kids come home with those bags of candy, though, make sure they are practicing good oral health. In other words, make sure they brush and floss before they go to bed.  For additional information, see  “Halloween Candy: Your Dental Health Survival Guide” at Mouth Healthy, a website maintained by the American Dental Association (ADA), and a Reader’s Digest article titled “Top 5 Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth, According to Dentists.”

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Mark T. Albers, D.D.S.
2155 Hollowbrook Drive
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Colorado Springs, CO
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