What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

Your tongue is pretty amazing. Just think of all the things it does for you! It lets you taste your favorite foods. It helps you chew. It starts the process of swallowing. It’s clear that your tongue plays a very important role in your life. But did you know that your tongue can also be a good indicator of your overall health? Join us at the Dentist of Siouxland as we take a look at what your tongue can tell you.

Symptoms and What They Mean

There are many different things to look out for when inspecting your tongue. We’ve outlined some of them below so that you can look out for your oral and overall health.

    • White Tongue: If your tongue has white patches, it could be thrush. Thrush is a fungal infection that most often occurs after an illness or if you are taking medications that can affect the bacteria in your mouth. However, if the white areas are hard and can’t be scraped away it could be leukoplakia, which is linked to cancer.
    • “Hairy” Tongue: If it looks like there are patches of brown, black, or white “hair” on your tongue, it could be caused by certain antibiotics, diabetes or smoking.
    • Blue Tongue: If your tongue has a bluish color to it, it may be an indicator of poor oxygen circulation. This could be caused by an issue with the lungs.
    • Yellow Tongue: Yellow tongues are caused by a buildup of bacteria. This is most commonly associated with poor oral hygiene, tobacco or alcohol use, or dry mouth.
    • Dark Red or Purple Tongue: This coloration could be caused by a simple vitamin deficiency. However, it can also be an indicator of Scarlet Fever.
    • Burning Feeling: If your tongue feels like you just scalded it with hot coffee, you might be suffering from burning mouth syndrome. It could indicate an issue with the nerves in your tongue or could be caused by other issues, such as diabetes, infections, or acid reflux.
  • Smooth Tongue: If your tongue looks glossy red and has no bumps, it could be a nutrient deficiency. Being deficient in iron, folic acid, or Vitamin B is associated with this. However, it could be caused by something more serious, such as celiac disease.

 

You should make checking your tongue part of your regular oral hygiene routine. Now that you know some of the symptoms that you should keep an eye out for, you can take better care of your oral health and your overall health. 

If you have any questions about your tongue or overall health, please contact any of our three offices.

Is Nicotine Gum Bad for Your Teeth?

It’s well known that smoking and other types of tobacco use have a negative effect on our health. Even vaping, popularly considered to be less harmful than traditional methods of using nicotine is harmful to your overall health, including your teeth. Smoking and vaping can cause delayed healing, bone loss, increased risks of gum disease, and more. If you’re trying to quit it’s natural to wonder if cessation products can still harm you and your teeth. But with all that in mind, is nicotine gum itself bad for your teeth?

Nicotine Gum and Oral Health

One major advantage for your oral health that nicotine gum has compared to smoking or vaping is that it doesn’t cause dry mouth. Chewing any gum stimulates the production of saliva which helps to fight cavities, bad breath, and staining. Nicotine gum is also sugar-free so there’s no cause for concern about it causing cavities because of excess sweeteners.

Nicotine gum can cause harm, however. Nicotine taken in any form has health risks. In particular nicotine gum restricts blood flow which can increase the odds of developing gum disease. Nicotine gum can also cause dry mouth and gum sores in some users. 

However, nicotine gum is only intended to be used for a few months as a cessation method. So these negative effects should be weighed against those of continuing to smoke, chew tobacco, or vape as normal. Nicotine gum is highly effective for quitting smoking.

Some Things to Consider About Cessation Methods

Nicotine gum like any gum can cause or worsen certain dental problems through the action of chewing. TMJ or a previous traumatic oral injury could be worsened or inflamed as a result of consistent gum chewing. Certain dental work like fillings, veneers, and crowns could also be dislodged or damaged. For that reason, if you are looking to smoke it might be worth considering nicotine patches or lozenges as an alternative or supplement to nicotine gum. Nicotine gum is a form of harm reduction and while harmful, is less harmful than alternative means of nicotine intake.

Nicotine Use and Teeth Stains

If you’ve been a long-term smoker or are worried about the cosmetic effects of using nicotine gum several different treatments can help.

  • Teeth Whitening. For teeth yellowing or staining, professional teeth whitening offers a great solution. In-office teeth whitening treatments use stronger, more effective, and faster-acting whitening solutions than those available to consumers.
  • Veneers. Dental veneers are a cosmetic dental treatment where thin pieces of porcelain or composite material are placed over your existing teeth. This is an effective solution for teeth with deep stains or damage and can restore a smile easily.
  • Dental Implants. Effectively an artificial tooth or crown is rooted into your gums by an artificial root. These can even restore bone loss caused by smoking. Patients with severely damaged or missing teeth may be good candidates for dental implants.

If you’re looking for recommendations on how to use nicotine gum as a cessation method the CDC has information available. Nicotine gum and alternatives are also covered in a guide by the American Cancer Society.

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Increase Your Confidence: Take Your Teeth a Shade Lighter

Yellow and stained teeth are a thing of the past—or at least they can be. Teeth whitening is one of the easiest and most commonly requested ways to quickly improve the appearance of your smile. There are several ways in which you can get your teeth to a lighter shade, and the two primary places to get the shade you’re looking for is either at-home or in the dental office. Read more below to find out which options are most effective. 

At-Home

It can be hard to argue the perks of pursuing an at-home teeth whitening regimen. They are often the most cost effective options available. With their decreased cost, however, they tend to be less effective than in office whitening. Some of the most simple options are most likely the ones you have already heard of:

  • Whitening toothpaste: This special kind of toothpaste typically contains special abrasives that gently polish the teeth. It also contains chemicals, such as peroxide, that help break down and dissolve stains. Using this product can take around 6 weeks or more to see a lighter shade appear on the teeth.
  • Teeth whitening strips: This whitening method can be more effective than using a tooth whitening toothpaste, and it uses similar kinds of chemicals. It does not contain the abrasives that whitening toothpastes have, which can be better for dental health. This method requires you to wear the whitening strips twice a day for roughly two weeks for you to see your results.

When using both of these methods it is important to only use products that are endorsed by the American Dental Association and use the products as they are recommended. Whitening toothpaste and teeth whitening strips can more or less be effective ways of whitening teeth but they still pale in comparison to the products available at the disposal of your dentist.

Take-home teeth whitening kits: This method involves going to your dentist and being fitted for a teeth whitening tray that can be taken home. Your dentist will also send you with a teeth whitening gel that is often higher in concentration than anything you are able to get at the store. Your dentist will have special instructions on how to properly use this method and it can be much more effective than other take-home methods.

In-Office

Professional in-office teeth whitening is the quickest and easiest way to obtain the smile of your dreams. The process itself only takes about two hours to complete and will have you leaving the dentist office with a smile that can be several shades lighter than the one you walked in with. The level of shade reached is determined by several factors. The more stained teeth are, the more difficult they are to whiten. This type of staining can come from drink, food, or lifestyle habits. Even if they are stained, whitening is still possible. The only time when whitening is not possible is when the stained areas are artificial, such as veneers, crowns or fillings. Before beginning the whitening process, your gums will be protected either with special gels or rubber dams. Professional teeth whitening typically involves the use of special, highly concentrated gels, that only dentists can use. This method gets rid of stains deeper than surface level, and does a significantly better job than methods of those that can be bought at the store. At the end of treatment, there is typically a small increase in tooth sensitivity that will subside after a few days. 

Getting your teeth whitened in the office can not only have you feeling like you’re a celebrity, it will have you looking like one too. Teeth whitening can be the most dramatic way to improve your smile in the shortest amount of time. One of the other biggest chief complaints of an imperfect smile is having un-straight teeth. Our practice also offers Invisalign® which together with our powerful teeth whitening application, will give you a smile to be proud of. At The Dentist of Siouxland, we can give you the prizewinning smile of your dreams. Schedule an appointment today for a consultation.

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Signs That a Root Canal is Needed

Each year, over 60 million Americans visit the dentist. Many of these visits can be attributed to cavities, which are small holes in your teeth that allow bacteria to get inside. But sometimes, other oral health issues occur that require additional treatments. If you experience severe tooth pain, bleeding, or swelling (other than after eating), you may need a root canal treatment. At The Dentist of Siouxland, we provide root canal treatments at each of our locations—Sioux City, IA and Elk Point, SD. Contact the location nearest you for an appointment.

Root canals are considered the best option for saving a damaged tooth when an abscess is present. Below are a few signs you may need a root canal.

Persistent Pain

Having persistent pain is one way to tell if you need a root canal. The pain might be constant, or it might go away, but it always comes back. You may feel the pain deep in the bone of your tooth, or it might be in your jaw, face or other teeth.

Tooth pain may have other causes, such as gum disease, cavities, or an impacted tooth, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your dentist if you have tooth pain.

Tooth Discoloration

An infection in the pulp of your tooth can cause your tooth to become discolored. Trauma to the tooth or the breakdown of the internal tissue can damage the roots and give the tooth a grayish-black appearance. While there might be other reasons a tooth is discolored, it could be caused for a root canal so talk with your dentist!

Sensitivity to Heat and Cold

When your teeth start to hurt from drinking a hot cup of coffee or drinking ice water, you may need a root canal. The pain can be just a dull feeling, or it can be a sharp pain that lingers for an extended period of time, even after you’ve finished eating or drinking. If your tooth hurts when you eat or drink something hot or cold, it may be an indication that the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth are infected or damaged.

Swollen Gums

Swollen gums near the painful tooth can be a sign of an issue that requires a root canal. The swelling may come and go. It may be tender when you touch it, or it may not be painful to touch.

There also might be a pimple-like abscess on your gum, which may ooze pus from the infection of the tooth. This can give you an unpleasant taste in your mouth and make your breath smell bad.

A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

If you’ve chipped or cracked your tooth in an accident, in a contact sport, or by chewing on something hard, bacteria can set in and lead to inflammation and infection. Even if your tooth didn’t crack but you did injure it, the injury can still cause damage to the nerves of the tooth. The nerve can become inflamed and cause pain and sensitivity, which may require root canal treatment.

These are just a few signs that you may need a root canal. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with your dentist. Contact our office nearest you with any questions or to set up an appointment.

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