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Michael D. Weitzner - Dental

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Contributing Experts

Michael D. Weitzner, D.M.D., M.S.

Dental

Keeping your mouth healthy if you have diabetes

Posted by Michael D. Weitzner – Oct. 3, 2012

Hello, and thank you for visiting my dental blog. When we think of November, we think of Thanksgiving, but November is also Diabetes Awareness month-a terrific time for those with diabetes to learn how to care for their oral health. There is plenty known about treating and managing diabetes, and recent research adds regular oral care to the list.

Gum disease (an infection that affects the gum tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place) may be a sign that something is wrong with a person's ability to control their blood-sugar (glucose) level. Science suggests that controlling gum disease can improve a diabetic's ability to control his/her blood sugar, and that unmanaged blood sugar may lead to difficulty fighting infection, including those infections in the mouth. This then paves the way for serious gum disease.

Advanced stages of gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bad breath and abscesses in the mouth. People with diabetes are more likely to experience problems with gum disease. And, because gum disease is often painless, you may not know you have it until damage has already been done.

Here's what to look for:

  • Red swollen gums that are tender to the touch and bleed during flossing and brushing
  • Gums that have pulled away from the tooth leaving more tooth structure (the crown and/or the roots) exposed
  • Milky-white or yellowish plaque deposits which are usually heaviest between the teeth
  • Pus around the teeth, which may also be tender and swollen in the gum area. This can be very painful and cause rapid and severe tissue damage
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • A bite that feels different
  • A foul, offensive odor from the mouth

Visiting the dentist:

  • See your dentist regularly and be sure to tell him/her you have diabetes. Talk about any issues with infection or problems controlling your blood sugar.
  • Make sure to eat prior to a dental visit. This way your blood-sugar level is stable and your diabetes medication action is low.
  • Be sure to take your normal medications unless your dentist or doctor tells you otherwise. If oral surgery is needed, your dentist and doctor should consult regarding adjustments of your diabetes medication and decide if an antibiotic prior to surgery is needed.

Floss:

  • Flossing cleans plaque and food particles from between your teeth and below the gum line, places where your toothbrush cannot reach. Floss daily.
  • Make a C-shape when flossing the gum line, gently scraping up and down on each side of the tooth.

Brush:

  • Brush your teeth after each meal and snack for at least two minutes. Consider using an electric toothbrush which gets teeth cleaner than a regular toothbrush.
  • The brush should be angled against the gum line.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Happy holidays, and thank you again for reading my blog and your interest in oral health. Remember, if you have general questions about your your teeth and gums, I'm here to help.

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Back to school with a healthy smile

Posted by Michael D. Weitzner – Aug. 1, 2012

As the summer begins to wind down, thoughts and activities begin to turn to the start of a new school year-a perfect time to schedule your children for a visit to the dentist. A visit to the dentist prior to starting school will give your children greater confidence knowing that they have a healthy smile.

According to a report by the U.S. Surgeon General's office, oral-health related problems cause the loss of 51 million school hours per year. Combat tooth decay and other health issues by making some smart choices:

  • Your child should brush at least two minutes, twice daily using the proper brushing technique. Remind them to floss, too! And, if it's possible, encourage a quick brush after meals or snacks they have during the school day.
  • Pick healthy snacks and avoid junk foods. Fruits, vegetables and cheese are a much better alternative than chips or candy. Overly sweet foods and drinks can cause plaque build-up that ultimately lead to cavities without proper care.
  • If you notice crowding of teeth, or an over- or under-bite, schedule a visit with an orthodontist. When a child feels insecure about their smile, it could impact self-esteem and therefore relationships and school performance.
  • Talk with your teen about the risks of tobacco use or oral piercings and the impact both can have on their mouth, overall health and appearance.
  • If your child plays sports, ask your dentist about a mouth guard to protect teeth.

If you have any concerns about the health of your child's teeth or mouth, reach out to your family dentist. Your dentist can be a valuable resource and help guide you when making decisions about protecting and managing dental health.

We hope you and your children have a great school year. Thank you for reading! Check out the information below for more information.

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Piercing and your oral health

Posted by Michael D. Weitzner – June 4, 2012

June is National Smile Month! Treat your smile with care by brushing daily and visiting your dental professional for routine checkups, and protect that beautiful smile by considering the potential impact of oral piercings on your oral health.

Many individuals who choose lip, cheek, chin or tongue piercings end up looking to their dental professional or physician with greater frequency due to problems that arise from piercings including: pain, swelling, infection, drooling, taste loss, scarring, chipped teeth and tooth loss. Most dentists discourage oral piercing due to the many risks involved. If you decide to get an oral piercing, it is important to understand these risks and follow the home-care tips given to you by your dentist and piercing specialist.

By providing you with information about oral piercings, we hope to equip and encourage you to make informed decisions.

Knowing the risks

Infections: In addition to the many bacteria found in the mouth, there may be an increased amount of bacteria around the puncture area, as well as an introduction to more bacteria when handling the jewelry. This increase in bacteria increases the risk of infection.

Nerve damage/bleeding: Numbness at the piercing site can occur if damage has been caused to the nerve.

Punctured blood vessels could lead to prolonged bleeding. A pierced tongue may swell significantly – severely enough to close off the airway, making it difficult to breathe.

Damaged teeth and receding gums: When jewelry pieces – such as long barbells in the tongue or posts/clasps in the lip, cheek, or chin – come into contact with the teeth or gum line, there is risk of irritation and damage.

Over a long period of time, chipping, enamel damage or receding gums may occur.

Difficulty with oral function: The jewelry in a pierced tongue can stimulate the production of saliva. This excess saliva may cause problems with speech, chewing or swallowing.

Choking hazard: If a stud, barbell or ring becomes loose in the mouth, it could present a choking hazard.

Preventing infection

Despite the risks, and after doing the research, if you choose to go through with an oral piercing, be sure to discuss and follow the home-care tips provided to you by your dentist and piercing specialist. This may help prevent infection. In the weeks after piercing, be sure to avoid alcohol, tobacco products and hard or sticky foods as these can easily cause irritation to the piercing site. In addition, be sure to take good care of your piercing at home:

  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash after every meal and brush the jewelry the same as you would your teeth.
  • After your tongue has healed, take the piercing out every night and brush it to remove any unseen plaque.
  • Consider removing the piercing before eating, sleeping or strenuous activity.

Finally, keep in mind that regulations on piercing vary from state to state, so it is important to be careful and find a professional who is prepared to your questions.

Prior to getting pierced, visit the piercing studio to make sure all needles and instruments are either disposable or sterilized in a hospital-grade autoclave, and that all jewelry is kept in sterilized packaging. They should use a fresh needle every time, and sterilize all needles and instruments in an autoclave, which uses extreme heat to sanitize the instruments, to avoid serious infections such as HIV or hepatitis. Also, make sure that they use the right kind of metal, such as surgical-grade stainless steel. Some people have allergic reactions to certain metals, which can lead to further complications.

The decision to obtain an oral piercing is a very personal one. If you do decide to move ahead, consider these precautions to protect your health and your smile. Thank you for reading!

Sources

  1. American Dental Association (ADA) Oral Health Topics A-Z: Oral Piercing
  2. Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) Fact Sheet: Oral Piercing
  3. WebMD Dental Health: Oral Piercing
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