Posts for: August, 2016

By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
August 19, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dry mouth  

Saliva is a true workhorse among bodily fluids — it breaks down food for digestion, keeps harmful bacteria in check and neutralizes acid that is destructive to tooth surfaces. So when saliva flow is chronically diminished, it’s more serious than the uncomfortable feeling of “dry mouth” — it can have a detrimental effect on your overall health.

It’s normal to experience temporary mouth dryness: in the morning (because saliva flow slows during sleep), when we’re under stress, or after smoking or consuming certain foods and beverages like onions or coffee. But chronic dry mouth (“xerostomia”) is different — the mouth remains dry for extended periods, leading to problems like tooth decay caused by inadequate acid neutralization.

Medications are one of the most common causes for xerostomia. According to the Surgeon General, there are over 500 medications — both prescription and over-the-counter — that can cause it, including antihistamines, diuretics and antidepressants. Radiation or chemotherapy used for cancer treatment may also cause dry mouth, sometimes permanently. There are also systemic conditions that affect saliva flow like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and many autoimmune diseases.

Treating chronic dry mouth will of course depend on the underlying cause. If drug-related the first approach should be to find a substitute medication that won’t as readily cause reduced saliva flow. If that’s not possible, then it’s helpful to drink more water when taking the medication (a few sips before and a full glass afterward). You can also cut back on caffeinated, acidic or sugary foods and drinks as well as alcohol, and refrain from tobacco use.

A saliva stimulant might also help. Besides prescription medication, there are other products like xylitol, a natural alcohol sugar found in chewing gum, toothpaste or rinses, that help increase saliva flow — and xylitol also inhibits the growth of decay-causing bacteria.

The most important thing for chronic dry mouth is maintaining consistent daily hygiene through brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings and checkups. Helping to increase your saliva flow and making every effort to prevent dental disease will help keep this condition from harming your teeth and gums.

If you would like more information on the causes and treatment of dry mouth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.”

By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
August 04, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

If we could go back in time, we all probably have a few things we wish we could change. Recently, Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors, shared one of his do-over dreams with Dear Doctor magazine: “If I [could have] gone back and told myself as a teenager what to do, I would have worn a mouthguard, not only to protect my teeth but also to help potentially reduce risk of concussion.”

What prompted this wish? The fact that as a teenage basketball player, Stork received an elbow to the mouth that caused his two front teeth to be knocked out of place. The teeth were put back in position, but they soon became darker and began to hurt. Eventually, both were successfully restored with dental crowns. Still, it was a painful (and costly) injury — and one that could have been avoided.

You might not realize it, but when it comes to dental injuries, basketball ranks among the riskier sports. Yet it’s far from the only one. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are some two dozen others — including baseball, hockey, surfing and bicycling — that carry a heightened risk of dental injury. Whenever you’re playing those sports, the ADA recommends you wear a high-quality mouth guard.

Mouthguards have come a long way since they were introduced as protective equipment for boxers in the early 1900’s. Today, three different types are widely available: stock “off-the-shelf” types that come in just a few sizes; mouth-formed “boil-and-bite” types that you adapt to the general contours of your mouth; and custom-made high-quality mouthguards that are made just for you at the dental office.

Of all three types, the dentist-made mouthguards are consistently found to be the most comfortable and best-fitting, and the ones that offer your teeth the greatest protection. What’s more, recent studies suggest that custom-fabricated mouthguards can provide an additional defense against concussion — in fact, they are twice as effective as the other types. That’s why you’ll see more and more professional athletes (and plenty of amateurs as well) sporting custom-made mouthguards at games and practices.

“I would have saved myself a lot of dental heartache if I had worn a mouthguard,” noted Dr. Stork. So take his advice: Wear a mouthguard whenever you play sports — unless you’d like to meet him (or one of his medical colleagues) in a professional capacity…

If you would like more information about mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.”

By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
August 01, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: braces  

Thinking about getting braces? Then it’s time you had some of your questions answered.

While getting braces might not seem like the most appealing or attractive dental treatment, after all is said and done the beautiful bracessmiles they create are well worth the treatment process. If you are considering getting braces from our Marion dentist Dr. Wayne Cook then it’s time you learned more about them.

Q. What types of braces are available?

A. Patients choosing to get braces certainly have a lot more options then they used to. We offer everything from traditional metal braces to tooth-colored porcelain braces.

Each type of braces come with their own pros and cons and based on certain factors like the severity of your dental problems, your age, and your financial situation, your Marion dentist will be able to help you decide which kind is right for you.

Q. How long will my treatment be?

A. This really depends on what dental issue or issues you need to treat and how severe they are. Orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years.

Q. Will my braces hurt?

A. Advancements in traditional metal braces have made it so the brackets are smaller and the wires are thinner (but still just as strong), which often means more comfort and quicker treatment times. However, it is normal to experience some soreness for a few days after getting your braces or after braces have been tightened.

Q. How do I care for my braces?

A. A lot will depend on what kind of braces you get. Traditional braces can be a bit challenging to keep clean, so it’s important that you maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing after every meal. You will also need to adhere to a special diet to protect your braces from damage. We will be happy to go through detailed instructions on how to care for your braces.

Q. Will I need to come in for checkups?

A. No matter what type of braces you get you will still need to come in for routine checkups to make sure everything is going smoothly. These visits will happen about every 4 to 6 weeks.

Braces are the best way to get the straighter smile you’ve always wanted, whether you are a child or an adult. It’s never too late to consider braces. Call our Marion dental office today to discuss your options.

Marion, AR Family Dentist
Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
303 Bancario Rd.Suite 7
Marion, AR 72364
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