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Xerostomia: What does that mean anyway?

July 29th, 2020

Does your mouth always feel like it’s dry? If it does you may be suffering from xerostomia. Xerostomia is defined as dry mouth resulting from reduced or absent saliva flow. There are various medical conditions that can cause this type of dry mouth, which you can ask more questions next time you visit us at Dr. Kenneth J Cavallari, DDS.

Xerostomia can factor into both minor and more serious health problems. It can affect the ability to eat and enjoy food and it can jeopardize one’s dental health. Some of the more common symptoms can include sore throat, burning sensation in the oral cavity or tongue, and difficulty swallowing.

One of the more serious problems associated with dry mouth is an increased risk of tooth decay. Decrease in saliva causes more plaque to form and there is less saliva to act as a buffer to the things we eat and drink. Less saliva also means more food debris is retained in the mouth. These things can lead to an increase in tooth decay.

So, what causes xerostomia?

There are several things that may cause xerostomia. Among the biggest culprits are prescription medications. Some examples are antihistamines, antidepressants, anti-hypertensives, anti-anxiety agents, anti-diarrheals, bronchodilators, and muscle relaxers.

Certain diseases can also cause dry mouth. The more common ones include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes, hypertension, and thyroid disease. Xerostomia is also common in patients being treated for cancer. Head and neck radiation as well as certain chemotherapy drugs can cause severe dry mouth.

What should you do if you are experiencing dry mouth symptoms? First make sure to hydrate with plenty of water. If you are taking medications that cause xerostomia, make sure to drink water before taking the medication as well as a full glass of water with the medication. Be diligent with brushing and flossing and discuss your condition at your next appointment with Dr. K Cavallari. We can recommend specific products to help moisten the oral cavity and reduce your symptoms such as saliva substitutes, xylitol products, and certain toothpastes. Another option may be a prescription home fluoride treatment to help prevent new cavities. You may want to try gum or candies to stimulate saliva flow but make sure they are sugar free! Avoid food and beverages that dehydrate such as caffeine and alcohol.

Xerostomia is a common problem that is currently on the rise. Our team can help you to reduce any symptoms and improve your comfort while living with a dry mouth. Contact our Virginia Beach, VA office today!

Women’s Medications and Dry Mouth

July 22nd, 2020

Women using medication to treat a variety of medical conditions are often unaware of the potential side effects. One common side effect of medications such as blood pressure medication, birth control pills, antidepressants, and cancer treatments is dry mouth. The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia.

Xerostomia can lead to undesirable effects in the oral cavity including periodontal disease and a high rate of decay. Many women who have not had a cavity in years will return for their routine exam and suddenly be plagued with a multitude of cavities around crowns and at the gum line, or have active periodontal disease. The only thing that the patient may have changed in the past six months is starting a new medication.

Saliva washes away bacteria and cleans the oral cavity, and when saliva flow is diminished harmful bacteria can flourish in the mouth leading to decay and gum disease. Many medications can reduce the flow of saliva without the patient realizing the side effect. Birth control pills can also lead to a higher risk of inflammation and bleeding gums. Patients undergoing cancer treatments, especially radiation to the head and neck region, are at a greatly heightened risk of oral complications due to the possibility of damage to the saliva glands.

There are many over the counter saliva substitutes and products to temporarily increase saliva production and help manage xerostomia. One great option for a woman with severe dry mouth or high decay rate is home fluoride treatments. These work in a number of ways, including custom fluoride trays that are worn for a short period of time daily at home, a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste, or an over the counter fluoride rinse. If you have more questions on fluoride treatments, make sure to ask Dr. K Cavallari at your next visit to our office.

The benefits of many of the medications on the market outweigh the risks associated with xerostomia, however, with regular exams you can manage the risk and prevent many oral consequences of medications.

Dentin Tooth Sensitivity Treatments

July 15th, 2020

Dentine hypersensitivity can be described as a sharp and sudden pain caused by cold food and beverages. It’s present in more than half the population and result from receding gums that expose the root surfaces of your teeth.

That being said, hypersensitivity can be triggered by forceful tooth brushing, teeth whitening products, gum disease, and erosion from acid reflux, bulimia, or highly acidic foods. Symptoms can range from moderate to severe, depending on the cause and how quickly it’s treated.

Tooth sensitivity begins when the dentin develops some exposure. This layer that surrounds the nerve of the tooth is usually covered by gum tissue, but when recession takes place, the dentin can get exposed and the pain begins. The dentin contains numerous pores that run from the surface of the tooth inward. This direct connection to the nerve and blood supply of the tooth can be affected by external stimuli, such as the triggers cited above.

The good news is there are several different ways to treat dentinal hypersensitivity at Dr. Kenneth J Cavallari, DDS.

Treatment of dentin tooth sensitivity begins by making an appointment with Dr. K Cavallari. We encourage you to begin treatment sooner rather than later in order to figure out the cause and to reduce the pain you’re experiencing. In most cases, quick treatment options will solve the problem, including the use of desensitizing toothpaste, switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush, starting a daily fluoride rinse treatment, or minimizing teeth grinding with the help of a custom mouthguard.

For more serious cases, we may recommend you get crowns put on problematic teeth, start a gel or varnish fluoride treatment, or even schedule a surgical gum graft or root canal, depending on the cause and severity of your pain.

If you’re concerned about any tooth sensitivity you’re experiencing, please give our Virginia Beach, VA office a call and schedule an appointment. Dr. K Cavallari and our team want to help you identify the cause of your pain, and give you the best possible treatment plan. We look forward to seeing you to help alleviate discomfort and solve your tooth sensitivity.

Treating Gum Recession with Tissue Grafting

July 8th, 2020

If you have started to notice that your teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold, or if you actually seem to have a longer smile than you used to, it could be that receding gums have left more of your tooth and root area exposed. This condition is not uncommon. While periodontal disease is often the cause of receding gums, injury, aging, genetics, even overly energetic brushing—all can lead to gum recession.

This is a gradual process, but over time gum recession can lead to dissatisfaction with your appearance, discomfort and sensitivity, and even tooth loss. Luckily, there are several options available to restore the appearance and health of your gums. One of the most effective is tissue grafting.

In this procedure, a thin section of tissue is used to replace the gum tissue that has receded. This new tissue will serve to restore a healthy gumline and protect tooth structure and placement. The method we recommend will be based on doing what is best for the condition of your gums.

  • Pedicle Grafts

If you have a lot of gum tissue near the site to be repaired, a flap can be cut in the gum tissue close to the tooth being treated. That piece will be drawn over the root area and sutured into place.

  • Connective Tissue Grafts

When there is not enough gum tissue near the tooth needing treatment, tissue from beneath the skin on the roof of your mouth can be used. Your doctor will create a flap, remove some connective tissue, and reattach the flap. The connective tissue will be sutured to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. This is the most common procedure used for grafting.

  • Free Gingival Grafts

If your original gum tissue is very thin, more tissue might be needed for a graft. In this case, tissue will be removed from the roof of the mouth and sutured in place on your gum.

  • Other Options

Other options such as donor grafts and specially treated collagen grafts may be considered if, for some reason, it wouldn’t be practical to use your own tissue.

Mild cases of gum recession might be helped without surgery, but, if a gum graft is necessary, call Dr. K Cavallari at our Virginia Beach, VA office. We will be happy to discuss the procedure and address any concerns you might have. Don’t be put off by the prospect of oral surgery. We will make this procedure as comfortable as possible using minimally invasive techniques. We will provide a prescription for pain medication, if needed, and tips for taking care of yourself gently afterward. Most of all, we can offer the best medical and cosmetic options for your individual smile if gum recession treatment is recommended. Our goal is the same as yours: to improve both the appearance and the health of your smile.

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