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At the first-ever Players Weekend in August 2017, Major League Baseball players wore jerseys with their nicknames on the back. One player — Cleveland Indians shortstop, Francisco Lindor — picked the perfect moniker to express his cheerful, fun-loving nature: “Mr. Smile.” And Lindor gave fans plenty to smile about when he belted a 2-run homer into the stands while wearing his new jersey!
Lindor has explained that he believes smiling is an important part of connecting with fans and teammates alike: “I’ve never been a fan of the guy that makes a great play and then acts like he’s done it 10,000 times — smile, man! We’ve got to enjoy the game.”
We think Lindor is right: Smiling is a great way to generate good will. And it feels great too… as long as you have a smile that’s healthy, and that looks as good as you want it to. But what if you don’t? Here are some things we can do at the dental office to help you enjoy smiling again:
Routine Professional Cleanings & Exams. This is a great place to start on the road toward a healthy, beautiful smile. Even if you are conscientious about brushing and flossing at home, you won’t be able to remove all of the disease-causing dental plaque that can hide beneath the gum line, especially if it has hardened into tartar, but we can do it easily in the office. Then, after a thorough dental exam, we can identify any problems that may be affecting your ability to smile freely, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or cosmetic dental issues.
Cosmetic Dental Treatments. If your oral health is good but your smile is not as bright as you’d like it to be, we can discuss a number of cosmetic dental treatments that can help. These range from conservative procedures such as professional teeth whitening and bonding to more dramatic procedures like porcelain veneers or crowns.
Tooth Replacement. Many people hide their smiles because they are embarrassed by a gap from a missing tooth. That’s a shame, because there are several excellent tooth-replacement options in a variety of price ranges. These include partial and full dentures, bridgework, and dental implants. So don’t let a missing tooth stop you from being Mr. (or Ms.) Smile!
If you’d like more information about oral health or cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”
Recently I've discussed how imperative it is to actively address dental health during treatment for various types of cancer. Cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy can lead to a wide range of side effects, and their impact on oral health is no exception.
But what about your dental health care once you've completed your cancer treatment? While your oncologist may have given you a cancer-free bill of health, in terms of your dental health, you might not be out of the woods yet. Chemotherapy, in particular, can have lasting effects on your oral wellness.
To evaluate your ongoing dental health, make sure to keep up with your regularly-scheduled dental appointments. Although most people can stay on top of dental developments with regular appointments every six months, your dentist may feel the need for you to schedule additional appointments following cancer treatment. You should also continue to practice good oral hygiene and a regular routine of brushing and flossing. After finishing chemotherapy you may be able to return to using the dental health products you preferred prior to treatment. Your dentist can help you make this decision.
Chemotherapy can change mouth structure and the fit of dentures and other appliances. Your dentist can help with an examination by making adjustments to your appliances to make them fit better and be more comfortable.
If you've been waiting to finish cancer treatment in order to address any specific dental problems like cavities or oral surgery, now may be the time to consider any such necessary procedures. Your dentist can continue to consult with your oncologist and other physicians as to your ongoing care. Chemotherapy can affect platelet count and the production of white blood cells, and your dentist will take these concerns into consideration when scheduling and handling any procedures. Platelets are essential in clotting and healing, while white blood cells are integral to warding off infection, which is always a concern with any type of surgery.
Having undergone cancer treatment, you may be at greater lifelong risk for certain oral health complications. Your dentist will closely follow any developments that might have an adverse impact on the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. You might see an increased incidence of cavities, thinning of the roots of the teeth, or increased tooth stains or discoloration. Your dentist will know to be alert for the increased probability of such issues.
As with any matters of your well being, when it comes to your oral health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The good news is that your dentist will know what to watch for following your cancer treatment and can work with you to prevent future problems.
Keeping up with your dental health should always be a priority
Did you know that hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy can have an impact on your teeth? While taking good care of your teeth and keeping up with your dental health should always be a priority, a little extra attention should be exercised when you become pregnant.
Here are a few pregnancy-related dental issues to watch for:
• Inflamed gums. Just as other mucous membranes in the body can become inflamed during pregnancy, so can your gums. Pregnancy gingivitis can develop in as many as 50% of pregnant women and is characterized by swollen and bleeding gums. The best defense against problems with your gums is to brush and floss regularly but with care to avoid further irritation in sensitive spots. Try a fluoridated mouth rinse with an ADA seal to ensure it's a trusted brand. Also, more regular cleanings is a preventative way to avoid gingivitis or any like conditions.
• Morning sickness. Frequent vomiting can be hard on your teeth, so make certain that you are rinsing your mouth out with water or a dental rinse following a bout of sickness. Morning sickness can also involve an aversion to the taste of toothpaste. If this is a problem for you, speak to your dentist regarding recommendations for a different brand or a palatable rinse that is less likely to induce nausea.
• Diet. Just as you're going to monitor what you're eating to promote the health of your unborn child, your diet can affect your oral health. Frequent snacking can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay due to the increased exposure to sugar for the cavity-causing bacteria to feed on. And that old adage about "eating for two" can also make a difference in the development of your child's teeth in utero. Within three months of conception, a baby's teeth begin to form, which means eating healthy dairy products like yogurt and cheese is important to the babies' the mineralization of teeth as well as bones. Also, try to stay away from foods high in sugar; this is good not only for the health of your teeth but also for the development of your baby.
• Pregnancy complications. Untreated dental problems can lead to infection, and any infection in the body during pregnancy can pose a risk to an unborn child. It's important to make every effort to avoid any such infections. If an infection does develop, work with your dentist and doctor to treat it immediately.
In order to catch any emerging dental problems before they become serious, make sure to see your dentist at least once during your pregnancy for a checkup and cleaning.
According to the Massachusetts Birth Report for 2011-2012, only 46% of women had their teeth cleaned during pregnancy. If possible, schedule a checkup before you plan to try to conceive so that you can be proactive about any potentially serious problems that may arise. However, even is complications were to occur, it is safe to get x-rays done if needed. Frequent trips to the dentist during pregnancy are not only safe but also encouraged.
Once your baby is born, schedule an appointment with your dentist to make sure your mouth is healthy and address any non-urgent problems that have arisen during your pregnancy. The most important step you can take to ensure your dental health while pregnant is to pay attention to what your mouth is telling you.
While there are many causes of periodontal (or gum) disease, from family history to poor oral hygiene to medications to changes in hormones, undergoing cancer treatment can also have an impact on gum health. Some cancer therapies can exacerbate existing periodontal disease, while others can increase the risk of developing new disorders of the gums.
Periodontal disease is a serious issue that must be addressed in cancer patients because it can lead to not only local problems, such as oral pain and infections of the gums and mouth, but also systemic infections that could become life-threatening. Because of the potential for these more serious conditions, it is important to address periodontal problems before, during, and after cancer treatment and to monitor the gums carefully throughout treatment.
To mitigate some of the periodontal problems associated with treatment for cancer, here are some important steps to take:
If you have an existing periodontal concern, it's important to consult your dentist before receiving cancer treatment. This is particularly crucial if you are due to receive radiation therapy to the head or neck. Any periodontal treatment that you need to help control existing disease should be carried out, if possible, before cancer treatment commences.
For those patients who have not been diagnosed with periodontal disease, a full dental examination is still an important step to take before receiving any type of treatment. Your dentist will screen for problems that you might not know you have and give you tips for maintaining a healthy oral environment during and after completing treatment.
Be Aware of Signs.
Your dentist can work with you to identify possible concerns that could crop up during treatment so that you can be primed for the early detection of periodontal disease that could occur due to a compromised immune system. You should keep an eye out for gum inflammation resulting in swollen and tender gums as well as bleeding gums, as these are signs that you may be developing periodontal disease.
Schedule a Follow-Up.
Once your cancer treatment regimen has been completed, it's important to schedule another visit with your dentist to assess whether there have been any changes to your oral health. At this point, it's a good idea to address any problems that have arisen, particularly if you will be undergoing future rounds of treatment. Certain types of chemotherapy can also predispose patients to future gum problems, and patients should be aware that their gums will need careful future monitoring.
Your dentist's oral care recommendations during cancer treatment may vary depending on the type of treatment you will receive. As mentioned, radiation therapy of the head and neck can put patients at higher risk for gum problems, and patients undergoing this type of cancer management should be carefully supervised by a dentist throughout treatment. Meanwhile, chemotherapy treatment can also have an impact on oral health, including oral discomfort. It's important that chemotherapy patients continue an oral hygiene regimen to guard against the development of periodontal disease; your dentist can help you develop a modified oral hygiene plan. Ask for advice on types of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouth rinses to use as well as the best way to go about brushing and flossing for minimum discomfort.
As with any disease, periodontal disease should be screened for continually and monitored in the long term. This is even more important if you are due to receive cancer treatment. By partnering with your dentist and other healthcare providers, you will be able to stay on top of any periodontal problems that might arise.
Certain health conditions are correlated to an increased risk for periodontal disease – perhaps better known as gum disease. While some of these conditions are serious health concerns (heart disease, certain cancers), one condition isn't a permanent condition and it isn't a disease at all. That condition is pregnancy.
While most people don't probably think much about the link between pregnancy and oral health, the fact is that pregnancy brings with it a major shift in a woman's hormone levels, which can have an impact on various aspects of overall health. One of the potential health problems associated with these hormonal changes is an increased risk for gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. Untreated gingivitis can lead to more serious dental problems, including periodontal disease and tooth loss.
The Possible Health Impacts
Periodontal disease may boost bodily levels of a hormone called prostaglandin, which is a compound that is known to induce labor. Elevated prostaglandin levels can lead to premature labor and delivery and low-birthweight babies.
In addition to increased prostaglandin levels, periodontal disease may also raise the body's inflammatory response and levels of a protein called CRP. An elevation of CRP is associated with an increased risk of stroke or heart attack, and it can also cause preeclampsia, an increase in maternal blood pressure that can have deleterious effects on a pregnant mother and her unborn baby.
Preventing the progression of gingivitis and the onset of periodontal disease is the easiest way to protect against its harmful effects during pregnancy. Daily, diligent brushing and flossing are of utmost importance during pregnancy to reduce the potential for gum problems; regular dental checkups can reveal the signs of gum disease in its nascent stages.
Following a diagnosis of periodontal disease, there are non-surgical treatment options to halt its progression, such as scaling and root planing to remove calculus and bacteria. These non-invasive treatment options pose little risk to an unborn child.
If you're pregnant or thinking of having a baby, talk to your dentist and discuss your dental treatment options. With your background in mind, your dentist can help you develop a timeline for ensuring your oral health care.
If you are pregnant, check with your dental insurance company. Some insurance carriers are now allowing for dental checkups more often than every six months for women who are pregnant or those dental patients with other pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or cancer, which may increase the potential for periodontal disease. Contact your insurance provider to find out whether you qualify for additional visits to your dentist. Staying on top of any potential problems is your best source of prevention.
Would you like to know more? Visit www.SmileShrewsbury.com, www.smileandover.com, and www.smilesbystiles.com for more information.