If you’re brushing your teeth without flossing, you’re leaving the job half-finished! While brushing is a great way to remove plaque, tartar, food debris, and oral bacteria, it is not enough to completely clean your mouth on its own.
This is because a simple brushing cannot reach in-between the teeth. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque and bacteria from areas in between your gums and teeth. This is often a challenge for many patients, particularly when it comes to flossing your back teeth. Here are a few tips and tricks from the team at Honest Teeth that will make flossing your molars a bit easier:
Start With The Proper Length Of Dental Floss And Good Technique
Proper flossing technique is critical for cleaning your rear molars. To floss, you’ll want to dispense about 18-24 inches of dental floss from your container. Then, wrap the ends around your index and middle fingers.
Pull the floss between each of your teeth in a “sawing” motion to dislodge debris and clean the surface of the tooth. Need an example? This video from eHowhealth provides a great visual of proper flossing technique.
Use A Longer Piece Of Floss To Reach Your Back Teeth
When it’s time to move onto your rear teeth, it can be helpful to use a slightly longer piece of floss. Unwind the floss from your fingers somewhat, so that you can use the longer length for more maneuverability.
Consider A Floss Pick If You’re Having Trouble With Your Rear Teeth
If you are having trouble flossing your back teeth due to issues with manual dexterity or a strong gag reflex, a floss pick may be a viable alternative to traditional floss.
Floss picks use a hard, plastic head with a piece of floss stretched between its two tips, and they have been proven to be nearly as effective as traditional floss at safeguarding the health of your gums, so they are a viable alternative if you are struggling with proper flossing technique.
A Water Flosser May Also Be A Good Option
Water flossers, such as the widely-known WaterPik, have been proven to be very effective at removing plaque from the teeth. If you are having problems flossing your rear teeth with traditional dental floss or a floss pick, a water flosser may be a good option for you.
Flossing Is Better Than Not Flossing, No Matter How You Do It!
Whether you use traditional dental floss, floss picks, or even a water flosser like the WaterPik, the most important thing to do is floss regularly with your chosen product. Regular flossing along with proper brushing is the single best way to protect your oral health.
Add risk of developing memory problems later in life to the list of consequences linked to poor oral health.
Not taking care of your mouth and teeth has already been associated with heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and preterm birth. Now, a new study finds that folks with gum disease or tooth loss have evidence of shrinkage within the hippocampus, a brain area essential for memory.
"Retaining more healthy teeth without periodontal disease may help to protect brain health," said study author Dr. Satoshi Yamaguchi, an associate professor at Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry in Sendai, Japan.
The new study was not designed to say how, or even if, the number of healthy teeth or gum disease status causes dementia or memory problems, but previous research suggests that simmering inflammation may be a smoking gun.
"It has also been suggested that the pathogen of periodontal disease itself may invade the brain and damage nerve tissue," Yamaguchi said. "Fewer teeth reduce chewing stimulation, which can also lead to brain atrophy."
The new study included 172 people (average age: 67) with no memory problems at the outset. Participants had dental exams and took memory tests when the study started. They also had brain scans to measure the volume of the hippocampus at outset and again, four years later. Researchers also counted the number of teeth and checked for gum disease.
People with mild gum disease who had fewer healthy teeth and those with severe gum disease who had more healthy teeth showed a faster rate of shrinkage in the left hippocampus.
The increase in the rate of brain shrinkage due to one less tooth was equivalent to nearly one year of brain aging for people with mild gum disease, the study found.
Among folks with severe gum disease, an increase in brain shrinkage due to one more tooth was equivalent to 1.3 years of brain aging.
"It is important to retain more teeth, but retaining more teeth with severe periodontal disease may be detrimental to the brain," Yamaguchi said.
"Regular dental visits are important to control the progression of periodontal disease, and teeth with severe periodontal disease may need to be extracted and replaced with appropriate dentures," he said.
The study was published online July 5 in Neurology.
The message is clear: Take care of your oral health, said Dr. Saul Pressner, a dentist in private practice in New York City who reviewed the findings.
"Generally, good oral hygiene, flossing daily, using a water flosser, and regular twice-yearly dental checkups can all help prevent the onset and progression of periodontal disease," Pressner said.
Percy Griffin, director of scientific engagement at Alzheimer's Association, also reviewed the findings.
"This research adds to existing evidence connecting oral health and cognition," Griffin said. "We've previously seen some data to date linking periodontal diseases and cognitive decline, but this research looks specifically at the number of teeth."
Still, more research is needed in larger and more diverse groups of people to draw any definitive conclusions, Griffin said.
"We don't know at this time whether things like brushing your teeth will reduce your risk of developing cognitive decline as you age," he said. "What we can say is good oral hygiene is important for overall health and healthy aging."
Griffin noted that there are several other modifiable lifestyle risk factors, including exercise and diet, that can reduce your risk for thinking and memory problems as you age.
What This Means for You
What's good for your oral health also benefits your brain. Brushing and flossing may help preserve brain areas critical to thinking and memory.
Even when you feel physically well, your mouth could be telling a different story by revealing some warning signs of possible disease.
When the inside of your mouth becomes sore or painful, chances are, it’s trying to tell you something, and several conditions could be oral warning signs of bigger issues. Don’t ignore your symptoms—a serious illness could be brewing and delaying treatment could worsen it. It is not unusual for these early warning signs to be detected during your regular dental exam and is often the first opportunity for diagnosis and treatment.
White streaks or lesions on the inside of your mouth or throat or on your tongue may indicate a case of thrush. This is an oral yeast infection that occurs in both adults and children. The environment in your mouth is receptive to this disease when the yeast that normally resides there goes off balance, and an infection develops. Thrush most often occurs when the immune system is weak from chemotherapy treatments or steroid drugs.
Thrush is normally treatable if you are in good health. If left untreated, patches of these lesions can affect your ability to eat and swallow. When thrush continues to reoccur, even after treatment, it can be a symptom of an undiagnosed disease like diabetes or AIDS and should be investigated by your family doctor.
2. Oral Cancer
Most oral cancers begin as thin, flat cells known as squamous cells. They can appear as red or white patches, or a combination of both, lining the throat, tongue, lips and other areas of the mouth. It can feel like a lump or an irritation or even cause numbness in the tongue. Other symptoms include difficulty chewing or swallowing, or feeling like something is stuck in your throat.
Oral cancer becomes increasingly more common as people get older, usually after the age of 40. Risk factors include tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and exposure to sunlight. Part of your routine dental checkup includes a screening for oral cancer. Depending on the results, your dentist may refer you to your primary doctor or another specialist.
3. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Mouth blisters, fever, sore throat and loss of appetite are all signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). The disease originates from a virus and is common in children, but can quickly spread to adults through contact with saliva or blister fluid. Lesions are more common in the mouth but they can also develop on your hands and feet.
Your dentist can be the first to spot HFMD, as oral lesions are the first clinical signs that it exists. It can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Red, sore, and bleeding gums are signs of gingivitis (the first stage of gum disease), but did you know they also can be a symptom of diabetes? If sore gums are accompanied by chronic bad breath and oral fungal infections, it may signal that something else is going on.
The high blood glucose levels that accompany diabetes allow germs to build up, and can eventually lead to tooth loss. In this case, more than one disease could be at work. When gingivitis is left untreated, it leads to periodontitis, a gum infection that creates deep pockets of germs and pus between the teeth. Treatment depends on how much to the teeth, gums, or jawbone has already sustained. Your dentist will discuss both non-surgical and surgical treatment options. You may also need blood work and medication from your family’s physician.
Your mouth can speak volumes about you and your health. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis for preventative dental care will ensure that your mouth is being well taken care of.
Who doesn’t love the rush of sugar a fizzy drink or a piece of candy offers? Most people consume a fair amount of sugar each day. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you should limit added sugars to 10 percent of your daily calories. However, many people’s added sugar intake exceeds this limit. Unfortunately, consuming high quantities of sugar can result in tooth decay symptoms, such as dental caries (commonly known as cavities), gum recession, and tooth sensitivity. The good news is that you don’t have to cut out sugar. By just cutting back on the amount of sugar in your diet, you can avoid having tooth decay.
How Do Sugars Cause Tooth Decay?
Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on the surface of your teeth. When you consume sugary foods or drinks, the bacteria in plaque will produce acids. These acids will attack your tooth enamel. The stickiness of plaque keeps these acids in close contact with your teeth, ultimately destroying your tooth enamel. This is when cavities can form.
If plaque stays on your teeth, it hardens into tartar, which can cause gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease.
Which Sugars Cause Tooth Decay?
When sugars are added to foods to sweeten them, they add calories but don’t add any nutritional value. They are known as added sugars, unlike the naturally occurring sugars that exist in fruits and milk. Foods like candy, cookies, cakes, and muffins not only offer no nutritional value, the high amount of sugar they contain can adhere to your teeth, resulting in tooth decay. Sugar-containing drinks, including sodas, juice, sweetened coffee, or tea, are also very harmful because they provide a constant sugar bath for your teeth.
You might wonder if all types of added sugars cause tooth decay. For instance, you might be curious if dextrose (a type of sugar that comes from corn) is bad for your teeth. The answer is yes. While refined sugar found in candy or sweetened cereals is typically the most harmful, all added sugars can create plaque and cause tooth decay. This is especially the case when they’re consumed in excess.
Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay
Swap Added Sugars with Natural Sugars. While it might be nice to treat yourself now and then with a dessert, try to reduce the number of times in a day or week that you consume added sugars. Replace them with fruit. Remember that unsweetened cranberries, raspberries, and blackberries have the lowest amount of sugar, while mangoes have the highest.
Check the Food Labels. Don’t forget to check the labels on everything you buy so that you can avoid foods with high quantities of added sugar. Since ingredients are typically listed in order of weight, if a type of added sugar is listed as one of the first few ingredients, it’s likely that that food is high in sugar and should be avoided.
Have a Good Oral Care Routine. Along with paying attention to your diet, it’s also essential to follow a thorough oral care routine to prevent tooth decay naturally. If you don’t brush regularly, plaque builds up on your teeth, increasing your chance to experience tooth decay. That’s why it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth with floss or another type of interdental cleaner.
Sugar can be hard to avoid, but paying close attention to what foods you’re buying and eating can help you stay away from tooth decay. Avoid added sugars and instead, have some raspberries for dessert. And of course, maintaining good oral hygiene will leave you with a healthy mouth for many years to come.
Gum disease affects a large number of Americans but it is surprisingly easy to ignore its signs. Since many people often focus their attention on issues with their teeth and since gum disease is often painless, the signs of gum disease can be ignored until they’re very severe. Unfortunately, while it is easy to disregard the symptoms of gum disease, its consequences are not; indeed, gum disease is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. Fortunately, paying attention to the early symptoms of gum disease can allow you to deal with the issue before it leads to more serious effects.
GUM DISEASE SYMPTOMS
Maintaining a regular tooth brushing regimen in conjunction with frequent flossing is both the best way to prevent gum disease and a chance to detect symptoms of gum disease before they become severe. Here are six signs that you shouldn’t neglect gum disease.
While typically the pain does not develop until gum disease has increased in severity, any pain in your gums should not be ignored; for many people, the first symptom of gum disease they notice is tenderness or discomfort in the gums or teeth.
2. Swollen gums
While safe disease-free gums look solid and pink in color, gums that have gum disease can swell, turning red or purple in color.
3. Bad taste in the mouth
Do you have in your mouth a persistent bad taste that won’t go away no matter how much mouthwash you ‘re using? It might just be a symptom of gum disease.
4. Bad breath that persists
Bad breath that doesn’t dissipate with daily tooth brushing or flossing can be a symptom of gum disease, like an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
5. Bleeding gums
Normally, healthy gums don’t bleed from daily tooth brushing or flossing; if your teeth bleed during your usual oral hygiene routine, you may have developed gum disease.
6. Lose teeth or spaces that grow between teeth
Changes to the spacing of the teeth are one of the more severe possible effects of gum disease. As your gums decay due to the effects of gum disease, spaces between your teeth can grow. This may allow pockets to grow which will cause bacteria to build up in your mouth. In turn, when you close your mouth or cause your teeth to feel loose, those pockets can affect the way your teeth line up.
What to do if you have these symptoms
If you are exhibiting any of the above gum disease symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist.
Just as many people ask “what is plaque on teeth?” as “what is tartar on teeth?” So we’re going to take a look at both. While you’ve probably heard that each of these is bad, you might not have learned exactly what they are. In this article, we’ll answer all your questions, from “what does plaque vs tartar on teeth look like?” to “what causes plaque and tartar and how do they build up?” Most importantly, we’ll address how to prevent plaque and tartar buildup on teeth and how to remove them once and for all. Let’s take a look at all you need to know about dental plaque and tartar.
What is plaque? And what is tartar?
Let’s begin with the basics. What is plaque? And what is tartar? Well, they’re actually two different things, let's start by taking a look at plaque: what is it and what is it made of? The dental plaque that you can find on teeth is a sticky and colorless layer that builds up on the tooth surface due to the accumulation of bacteria and food debris. Among other oral diseases, the accumulation of bacterial plaque is the main cause of cavities and gingivitis, hence its need for removal.
Next, what is tartar and what does it look like on teeth? The tartar on teeth is simply the calcification of dental plaque, which is why it's also referred to as dental calculus. While bacterial plaque is colorless, tartar is usually yellowish or brown. When we don't brush our teeth properly, the accumulation of plaque can solidify, giving rise to tartar. Tartar or dental calculus can build up on or between the teeth and in the gums, where it is more difficult to remove.
What is the difference between plaque and tartar on teeth?
Essentially, tartar is the next level of plaque. Unlike plaque, which is sticky, tartar is hard.
Their consistencies go hand in hand with another main difference between plaque and tartar: plaque removal from teeth is simple vs tartar removal, which is a bit more complicated. If you have tartar buildup on or between your teeth, you’ll need to go to the dentist immediately in order to remove it and prevent possible dental diseases.
So overall, when discussing plaque vs tartar on teeth, tartar is the progressed and more dangerous plaque.
How does plaque or tartar buildup form and what is it made of?
Bacterial plaque is formed by the accumulation of food debris on the tooth surface, which is colonized by various bacteria found in the oral cavity that feed on these debris. So, what exactly is the plaque on teeth made of? Just that; the combination of food remains, along with bacteria and other elements. They build up on the teeth and create the sticky substance known as dental plaque.
Your next question might be, so how does tartar form and build up? Tartar or dental calculus buildup forms when dental plaque is not cleaned. When the bacterial plaque comes into contact with saliva, there is a reaction that calcifies the plaque, turning it into tartar. Tartar buildup on or between the teeth should be avoided at all costs, as we mentioned earlier, because it’s more difficult to remove and more dangerous to your oral health.
What causes dental plaque and tartar buildup on teeth?
Now that we understand what they are, we need to look at what causes dental plaque and tartar buildup on teeth. The main cause of dental plaque is usually not maintaining good oral hygiene. If plaque is not properly removed by brushing and using floss, it will accumulate and calcify, forming tartar or calculus teeth. Since both are interrelated, it could be said that poor oral hygiene is also the main cause of tartar on teeth.
That being said, when talking about what causes plaque and tartar on teeth, we should also consider that sometimes oral hygiene can be difficult to maintain, like with braces. Plaque caused by braces is relatively frequent, since these devices make it difficult to thoroughly brush the teeth and gums, and may facilitate the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth around the device.
Although poor oral hygiene is the main cause of both, it is also true that plaque and tartar on the teeth don’t come from bad brushing exclusively. There are other factors that can influence their development, for example, if we eat a lot of sugar, the pH of our saliva will be altered and we're more likely to create and accumulate dental plaque and tartar buildup. On the other hand, there are people who naturally have a more acidic pH, which creates the ideal climate for plaque and other oral diseases such as cavities.
Types of bacterial plaque and dental calculus on teeth
Depending on where the problem is located on the teeth, there are different types of dental plaque and calculus. Let’s take a look at the types below.
Types of plaque on teeth
Dental plaque can be located in various places in the mouth, and depending on where it accumulates, determines the type. Let’s take a look at the types of bacterial plaque on teeth:
Marginal plaque is on top of the tooth's surface
Coronal plaque is located plaque on the border of the teeth and gums
Subgingival plaque accumulates in the pits of the gingival sulcus and within the periodontal pockets, causing tartar pockets in the gums.
Types of tartar or dental calculus
Like plaque, tartar or dental calculus can also appear in various places around the mouth, but unlike plaque, there are only two types of dental calculus:
Supragingival tartar is found on the border of the gums and teeth
Subgingival tartar accumulates under the gums, and can form in the periodontal pockets.
How to remove plaque and tartar from teeth
How to remove plaque buildup from teeth
Want to know how to get rid of plaque buildup? When it comes to the removal of plaque on teeth, we need to maintain proper dental hygiene, brushing and flossing after every meal. In addition, we can complement this with clinic visits for professional dental cleaning from time to time. We can count on these to achieve a deeper cleaning of the oral cavity. So luckily, knowing how to get rid of plaque buildup doesn’t require much.
How to remove tartar from teeth
Wondering how to get tartar off teeth? Unfortunately, calculus teeth or tartar removal is not as simple as cleaning dental plaque. To remove hard tartar from the teeth you will have to go to your dentist. During the consultation, the hygienist or dentist will perform a dental cleaning in the event that calculus is found on the dental surface, breaking the tartar off the teeth. But if you want to know how to remove tartar from teeth when it's found under the gums, a tartarectomy or dental curettage will be necessary for tartar removal. With the help of a curette or an ultrasonic cleaner, the professional will help you remove the tartar by breaking it off your teeth and gums.
How to avoid and prevent plaque and tartar buildup
Now, the most important part, how to avoid plaque buildup and how to prevent it from turning into tartar. For starters, good hygiene is vitally important. It's as simple as using the toothbrush with toothpaste and dental floss after meals. This way we can avoid the accumulation of plaque, the formation of tartar and the diseases that may arise. Also, remember that professional dental cleanings are a great resource in avoiding and preventing plaque and tartar buildup.
It can be alarming when you notice a bump on your gums, especially if it’s painful. While any time you experience changes in the soft tissues of your mouth or have oral pain, you should visit your dentist, not every bump is a sign of a serious issue. In this post, we’ll cover the causes and what to do to get relief.
Why Is There a Bump on My Gums?
Here are a few common reasons why you might have a bump:
An Abscess – An extremely sensitive, painful bump on your gums that looks like a pimple is likely an abscess. An abscess is due to a bacterial infection and occurs as pus collects under the gum, forming a bump or boil.
There are different types of abscesses, including a periodontal abscess, which is usually caused by periodontitis (advanced gum disease), and a periapical abscess, which is an infection at the tip of your tooth’s root from tooth decay or an injury. A periapical abscess usually presents as a bump on the gums above or below the affected tooth.
If you do have an abscess, it will often be accompanied by other symptoms including:
Sensitivity to hot and cold
Persistent pain that may spread to the ear, jaw and neck
It’s important to have an abscess evaluated and treated. It won’t go away on its own. While it can drain and provide temporary relief, the infection will still be present and can spread to the jaw and supporting tissues. In rare cases, a dental infection can reach the brain and cause serious health complications.
Treatment for an abscess will involve treating the infection, whether through periodontal care or a root canal, and, sometimes, antibiotics. We might also drain the abscess to give you immediate relief.
A Canker Sore – We’ve had patients at our Naperville dental practice visit worried they had an abscess and it turned out they had a canker sore, or aphthous ulcer. Even though canker sores are benign and don’t cause serious issues, they can be extremely painful.
A canker sore usually looks like a flattish, yellow or white bump or blister on the gums surrounded by a red border. The sores can appear in a cluster and they make talking and eating difficult.
Canker sores are not contagious and no one knows exactly what causes them, though it’s thought that the following can play a role:
The mouth ulcers don’t usually require treatment and tend to resolve on their own within two weeks.
Cyst – A cyst will look like a small, liquid-filled bubble, or bump, on the gums. Dental cysts tend to pop up around the root of diseased, malpositioned or impacted teeth. Many times, cysts are painless. However, they can grow larger and put pressure on the teeth and jaw or become infected, both of which will cause pain.
While you should have a cyst looked at by your Naperville general dentist, whether it requires treatment or not will depend on its cause and size. Most cysts resolve on their own, however, some need to be removed surgically.
Oral Fibroma – An oral fibroma appears as a smooth, hard bump on the gums. A fibroma is a tumor-like mass of connective tissue that’s almost always benign. Fibromas develop when an area of the mouth is constantly irritated or traumatized, such as from a habit like biting the inside of your cheek or from ill-fitting dentures or another oral appliance.
Treatment will depend on the size, location, type and cause of the fibroma. You may need to have your dentures or oral appliance re-fitted so that it stops irritating your mouth.
Though fibromas aren’t usually painful, if they get larger, they can become easily irritated, leading to discomfort. In those cases, surgical removal could be recommended.
Bony Growth – A bony, round, hard bump on the gums is known as a dental torus (or tori plural). It’s a bony protrusion that grows on top of existing bone. The bumps are usually smooth and covered completely in gum tissue.
The different types of dental tori are classified by their location. For example, a torus mandibularis is located on the inside of the lower jaw on the side nearest the tongue. A torus palatinus is a protrusion from the roof of the mouth, or palate.
Dental tori don’t usually interfere with function or cause pain. Rarely, a tori will continue growing and become irritated or get in the way of dentures. In these cases, it may need to be removed.
There isn’t a known cause of bony growths on the gums but some experts think bruxism, genetic factors, diet and/or stress on the jaw from a bad bite may be the cause.
Oral Cancer – While most bumps are benign, occasionally, a small growth or lump on the gum tissue is a sign of oral cancer. It might be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
A red or white patch on your gums
Thickening of the skin
A sore that bleeds and/or won’t heal
Jaw or tongue pain
Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
A family history of oral cancer
Having human papillomavirus (HPV)
Being over age 40
Having a weakened immune system
A lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet.
Can I Pop a Bump on My Gums?
No. You should never pop a bump on your gums. Even popping a harmless bump will cause irritation and pain, making the situation worse.
Though an abscess will sometimes drain on its own, popping it can damage the soft tissue and it will release bacteria into your mouth. If an abscess does drain on its own, gently swish with a saltwater rinse to get rid of the foul-tasting liquid and keep your mouth clean.
How to Get Rid Of Bumps on Gums
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to get rid of bumps on your gums at home, in most cases. You should see your dentist for treatment if the bump doesn’t go away after a few weeks or it is accompanied by the signs of an abscess or oral cancer we noted above.
While you’re waiting to see your dentist, you can alleviate pain by:
Swishing with a saltwater rinse (½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water)
Avoiding irritating the bump when brushing or flossing or wearing an appliance
Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed
Sticking with a soft foods diet
To prevent painful bumps on your gums in the future:
Practice good oral hygiene
Break repetitive habits that cause oral irritation like biting the inside of your cheek or grinding your teeth
Most people experience a sore tongue at some point in their lives. Usually, a sore or swollen tongue is not a cause for concern, but it can be uncomfortable and painful in certain cases.
Causes and Symptoms of Sore Tongue
There are a number of reasons as to why your tongue may be sore. Usually not a major health emergency, a painful tongue goes away on its own. Below are common causes that can contribute to your tongue feeling sore:
Bites or injuries: Accidentally biting down on your tongue while eating can cause injury and swelling. For those prone to seizures, teeth often bite down on the tongue and result in injury.
Oral thrush: A fungal infection caused by Candida, the condition often leaves painful white or yellow lesions on the tongue. Your doctor or dental professional may recommend antifungal medication for treatment.
Canker sores: A small, round bump usually making an appearance on the tongue, inner cheeks, or inner lips, can make eating or talking painful. Canker sores are not contagious and usually go away on their own.
Cold sores: Highly contagious, these blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus and can appear on the outside of the mouth. In some cases, a cold sore can cause pain and a burning sensation on the tongue.
Burning mouth syndrome: A condition that results in burning, numb, or tingling sensations on the tongue. The syndrome is often painful and can last years with no visible indications. See your doctor or dental professional for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment options.
Geographic tongue: Known as benign migratory glossitis, the condition occurs when the bumps on the tongue, papillae, disappear and create a map-like appearance. Some people experience burning or pain that can be curbed with topical numbing medications.
Tongue tumors: A sore spot or lump on the tongue, a tumor can cause swelling, numbness, pain, and bleeding. If you think you may have a tongue tumor, see your doctor right away.
Nutritional deficiency: A Vitamin B-12, iron, or hemoglobin deficiency can lead to a sore, burning tongue. Multivitamin supplements and a proper diet can help alleviate the condition.
Allergies: Reactions to certain foods, bug bites, and other allergies can result in a swollen tongue. A severe reaction can inhabit breathing and must be treated right away.
Maintain Good Oral Habits
Keeping your oral health intact is key in tracking your tongue’s appearance, avoiding infections, and treating problems early.
Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
Use an electric toothbrush for additional plaque and tartar removal
Replace brush heads and manual toothbrushes every three months
Floss every day
Visit your dentist at least twice a year
Use an alcohol-free mouthwash if your tongue is sensitive or you’re prone to dry mouth
Use a tongue scraper tool to better clean the muscle, but avoid aggressive scraping
Sore or swollen tongue usually goes away on its own with proper oral care. If you notice any changes on your tongue, unexplained inflammation, or persistent pain then see your doctor or dental professional right away.
Most of us treat our salivary glands with an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. But if something goes wrong with them, we'll quickly notice the problem. We rely on these glands to supply the saliva we need to chew, swallow and speak and to wash food debris away from our teeth. Submandibular gland swelling can be associated with dry mouth, infection and other conditions. However, most causes of gland swelling can be treated.
Where Are the Submandibular Glands?
Firstly, what is the submandibular gland? There is one walnut-sized submandibular gland on each side of the face, just in front of the curve of the lower jaw at the back of the mouth. Along with your other salivary glands, these glands supply saliva that contains enzymes to help break down food and minerals that reduce the damaging effects of food acids on your tooth enamel. Saliva also makes the food you chew wet and easy to swallow.
Causes of Submandibular Gland Swelling
If you feel swelling underneath your lower jaw, it could be a swollen submandibular gland. Swollen submandibular glands are usually caused by tiny stones blocking the ducts that channel saliva into the mouth. According to the Merck Manual, these stones can develop from the salts in saliva, especially if a person is dehydrated. When a stone blocks a salivary gland, a condition known as sialolithiasis, an individual may experience swelling and pain over the affected gland. Why these stones form isn't clearly known, though they can be associated with liver disease and gout. According to The Journal of Medical Research, sialolithiasis is the most common salivary gland disease, and the submandibular gland is affected in 83 percent of cases.
Salivary gland infections can result from blocked ducts. In these cases, swelling of the gland may be accompanied by redness and pus.
More rarely, salivary gland swelling occurs due to a tumor. Merck Manuals explains that swelling caused by a cancerous or noncancerous tumor on the salivary glands may be firmer than swelling caused by an infection. A cancerous tumor will likely be very hard and fixed to the gland tissue, while a noncancerous tumor may be movable.
See your dentist to determine what's causing your submandibular gland swelling. They will help you put an effective treatment plan in place.
Treatments for Swollen Salivary Glands
Early treatment of a swollen salivary gland — particularly when caused by a stone — could save you from developing an infection. The National Health Service recommends increasing your saliva production by drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum. The Government of Alberta suggests gently massaging the stone to help dislodge it.
If you are unable to treat it at home, your doctor or dentist may be able to push the stone out by pressing the submandibular gland or pull it out by using a small instrument, according to Merck Manuals. In rare cases, the stone may need to be removed surgically. If you suffer from a condition that causes salivary gland stones, receiving treatment to alleviate other symptoms may also reduce your risk of developing stones.
If you have an infection in your submandibular gland, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics and, if necessary, drain any pus from an abscess. Swelling caused by a tumor can be addressed by removing the tumor through a surgical procedure. Cancerous tumors should be treated urgently and will likely require monitoring.
To ease the pain of submandibular gland swelling, apply a warm compress to the gland area and rinse your mouth with salt water.
How to Prevent Salivary Gland Swelling
Maintaining a thorough oral care routine reduces mouth bacteria and is an effective first step in preventing swollen salivary glands. Increase your water intake and avoid smoking and using chewing tobacco, because these habits may increase your risk of mouth infections.
Submandibular gland swelling may be caused by a blocked salivary gland that can be easily treated. However, make sure to see your doctor or dentist for an accurate diagnosis to assess this oral care condition.
If you have an abnormally smooth, dark pink, or red flat area on your tongue, you may have a condition called median rhomboid glossitis (MRG). The name may sound serious, but unless you have any additional fungal infections along with this condition, you probably won't require treatment. We'll break down the potential causes of your MRG and the occasions when you should seek diagnosis and treatment so you can ensure your oral health keeps you smiling.
What Is Median Rhomboid Glossitis (MRG)?
Think median rhomboid glossitis is a complicated name to remember? Try throwing its other names into the mix – central papillary atrophy and glossal central papillary atrophy. Don't worry. For this article, we'll stick with calling it MRG.
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, MRG occurs more often in men, ages 30 to 50. However, anyone can have it, and around 1 percent of the total population is affected. MRG is a smooth, dark pink or red, flat area near the back of your tongue. Your tongue gets this appearance when it's missing filiform papillae, small bumps formed by mucous membrane cells that make up your tongue's surface. Filiform papillae are the only papillae that don't have taste buds, so this shouldn't affect your ability to enjoy food. The shape this condition takes is usually abstract and asymmetrical.
What Are the Symptoms of Median Rhomboid Glossitis?
Median rhomboid glossitis is often asymptomatic, meaning you may not notice you have it at all until a dental professional diagnoses you during a routine care assessment. There is rarely soreness or pain associated with this condition, and it's not contagious. However, some people experience a burning sensation when they eat.
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Median Rhomboid Glossitis?
According to a review published by the Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews, about 100 identified fungi species can be found in the human mouth. Most of them don’t cause problems unless there are irregularities.
MRG is believed to be caused by a chronic fungal infection related to the candida group of microorganisms. The fungus Candida lives in most people’s mouths and digestive systems of healthy individuals in low numbers, but it can cause fungal infections when they multiply.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), MRG occurs more often in the following types of patients:
People with diabetes and people with another immunocompromising disease
People undergoing antibiotic, steroid, or chemotherapy treatments
Denture wearers, especially if they don't take their dentures out before bedtime
People with dry mouth
Individuals with low levels of iron, B12, or folate
People who eat a high-sugar diet
How Do You Treat Median Rhomboid Glossitis?
Because symptoms and pain don't usually accompany MRG, there isn't usually a recommended treatment for the condition. A doctor may recommend adjustments in lifestyle to rid yourself of risk factors, like:
Taking dentures out before bedtime
Taking vitamin or mineral supplements
Reducing sugar in your diet
Drinking more water and taking other steps to improve dry mouth
According to a study cited in the Journal of the American Dental Association, more than 500 medications cause dry mouth. If your medication is causing dry mouth, your dental professionals may be able to recommend alternatives that will have less of an impact on your oral health.
Your doctor may recommend a culture or lab biopsy to be safe and determine if medication is necessary. If they notice any additional aggressive fungal conditions are accompanying your MRG, they may recommend an antifungal rinse or tablet to kill the organisms and reduce symptoms you may experience.
Practicing good oral hygiene is always recommended and can help reduce the risk of additional microorganism growth in your mouth. Brush at least twice a day, and don't forget to brush your tongue. Clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day. Consider using other helpful products like an antimicrobial mouthrinse and a tongue scraper. And see your dental professional for regular checkups so they can catch any developing conditions early.
If you notice any abnormal changes in your oral health, it's always a good idea to visit your dental professional to be safe and ensure that it won't develop into anything more severe. When you work with your dental professional, you're best positioned to maintain a level of oral health you can smile about.