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Asthma and Your Oral Health

People with asthma (approximately 235 million people worldwide) are significantly more likely to develop gum disease according to a study reported in the Journal of Periodontology.  asthma inhaler - paid - Depositphotos 350926360 s-2019

 

Asthma is marked by narrowing and inflammation of your airways, causing shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. Inhaled medication and breathing through your mouth because the nasal airways are blocked or restricted often cause dry mouth. When untreated, dry mouth causes plaque development, tooth decay, and gum disease.

 

It is vital that everyone with asthma focus particularly on oral health. You may need to brush your teeth after using an inhaler (rather than just rinsing). You will need to drink water throughout the day to treat the dryness and stimulate or substitute for saliva. You may need to take a medication for dry mouth. Finally, you may need to speak with your doctor about inhalers that are easiest for you to use, or ask about an adaptive device to use with your inhaler that helps to channel the medication to the back of your throat rather than the sides or roof of your mouth.

 

Just as you need to care for your respiratory system and your airways, protecting your smile and your oral health will also need special attention. Work with your dentist to develop a strong dental hygiene protocol that is right for you.

 
Why do We Have a Hard Palate and a Soft Palate?

What is the difference between the two and what is the function of each?

The hard palate and the soft palate have different functions but together form the roof of your mouth.  anatomy of mouth SM - paid - shutterstock 220669927

The hard palate is the bony part that is the front two-thirds of the roof of your mouth. It holds your teeth (and gums) and creates a chamber where your tongue can move. Thus, it is important to your speech.

The soft palate is the soft one-third of the roof of your mouth, made of fleshy soft tissues and muscles and ends with the uvula (the dangling bit in the back of your throat). Their primary function is to allow you to swallow and direct the food to your esophagus rather than into your nose and your respiratory tract. It is critical, as well, in directing air and sound into and through your mouth to make the appropriate sounds when you speak. The soft palate also plays a role in breathing as a wall between the esophagus and your respiratory tract. This allows you to eat and breathe at the same time. It will not, however, allow you to swallow and breathe simultaneously.

 
Why do We Have a Hard Palate and a Soft Palate?

What is the difference between the two and what is the function of each?

The hard palate and the soft palate have different functions but together form the roof of your mouth.  anatomy of mouth SM - paid - shutterstock 220669927

The hard palate is the bony part that is the front two-thirds of the roof of your mouth. It holds your teeth (and gums) and creates a chamber where your tongue can move. Thus, it is important to your speech.

The soft palate is the soft one-third of the roof of your mouth, made of fleshy soft tissues and muscles and ends with the uvula (the dangling bit in the back of your throat). Their primary function is to allow you to swallow and direct the food to your esophagus rather than into your nose and your respiratory tract. It is critical, as well, in directing air and sound into and through your mouth to make the appropriate sounds when you speak. The soft palate also plays a role in breathing as a wall between the esophagus and your respiratory tract. This allows you to eat and breathe at the same time. It will not, however, allow you to swallow and breathe simultaneously.

 
Your Amalgam Fillings Are Fine

On Sept 24, the FDA issued a statement that dental amalgam fillings are "not harmful to the general population, and treatment options should be thoroughly discussed by the patient and dentist."   amalgam filling - paid - Depositphotos 14039145 s-2019

 

The FDA statement also said that "certain groups may be at greater risk for potential negative effects from exposure to mercury." In this context FDA also noted "there is little to no information" known about the effects dental amalgam may have on these specific groups. Finally, they "stressed there 'was no new scientific evidence cited as part of the FDA recommendation.'"

 

There have been reactions to the FDA statement. Notably, a response from the American Dental Association, the organization "reaffirmed its position . . . that dental amalgam is a durable, safe and effective restorative material." They noted agreement with the FDA that "existing amalgam fillings in good condition should not be removed or replaced unless it is considered medically necessary."

 

At CompleteDentalCare in Salem,VA, we are always ready to answer your questions about filling materials and other matters. Further, it is our custom to discuss treatment options of all sorts with our patients. Determining the best filling material for any tooth should be based upon "size and location of the cavity, patient history, cosmetic concerns and cost."

The ADA statement can be found at https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/20200-archive/september/ada-reaffirms-that-dental-amalgam-is-durable-safe-effective-restorative-material

 
How do I Know if my Child has a Cavity?

It is not always easy for parents to identify the signs that a child has a cavity, particularly if the cavity is on the side of a tooth (or between teeth). Cavities are not uncommon for children. In fact, the CDC has reported that 20%of all children between the ages of 5 and 11 have tooth decay or one or more cavities.   little-girl-is-having-her-teeth-checked-by-dentist - SM  graphicstock - paid - H0dMTFcb-
Your child's dentist will identify cavities at the time of their visits to the office. But, in the meantime, a cavity can be very uncomfortable for your child. Identifying cavities early reduces the damage the decay will cause and reduces the amount of drilling needed to fill the cavity.
So how do you know when your child has a cavity, even if the child doesn't know how to tell you?
1. Compare the color of the child's teeth. In the early stages, a cavity will appear as a bright white spot on the tooth. It will be brighter than the enamel of the tooth. In time, it will turn yellow, then brown. Finally, you will be able to see or feel a very small pit or hole in the tooth.
2. Pain in the tooth is a clear indication of a problem. Your child might complain about pain from a toothache. In some cases, your child might say that it hurts to chew their food. Often, your child will experience some sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages. If your child can locate the pain in a part of their mouth, you will likely find a cavity.
3. Younger children often have difficulty communicating tooth pain. The things to look for include appetite changes, not wanting a favorite food, or not wanting you to brush their teeth.
A final reminder: don't ignore cavities in baby teeth. They are important for development and spacing for permanent teeth, for eating, and for speech.
To your child's dental health,

 
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