Posts for: May, 2017
Biting the inside of your cheek is high on the list of minor but painfully irritating occurrences like paper cuts or tongue scalding from hot coffee. A mouth bite, though, has an additional tormenting feature — there's a good chance you'll bite the same spot again.
This kind of repeated mouth injury results in an enlargement of the soft tissue that has been traumatized. They're often diagnosed and referred to as a traumatic fibroma. When you bite your cheek, lips or tongue, you create a small wound that usually heals quickly. This healing process, though, can be interrupted if you bite the area again, which can then cause excess scar tissue to form.
The fibrous scar tissue, made up of a protein called collagen, is similar to a callous. You can often feel it with your tongue — a knot of tough skin that protrudes from the otherwise flat cheek wall. Because of this prominence, it tends to get in the “line of fire” during eating or biting, so you'll bite it again — and again. If this cycle continues, then even a more prominent scar tissue forms that you're more likely to bite again.
The wound will heal most of the time, unless you continually bite it. If it becomes a nagging problem, we can surgically remove the lump. After numbing the area with local anesthesia, we'll either use a laser or scalpel to remove it. The area is easy to fix and will flatten out the cheek surface. The entire procedure takes fifteen minutes or less and in a few days to a week you won't even notice it had been there.
While the vast majority of these lesions are harmless, it's still standard protocol to biopsy the removed tissue: a pathologist examines it under a microscope for cancer cells. This is a routine part of any medical practice and not a cause for alarm.
If you've had a lump for awhile that you always seem to be biting, see us for an examination. With a simple procedure, we may be able to remove that irritation once and for all.
If you would like more information on treating mouth lumps and other sores, 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 “Common Lumps and Bumps in the Mouth.”
When the multi-platinum recording artist, songwriter and TV personality Jason Derulo was recently asked about his ideal woman, his answer covered a remarkably broad spectrum. "There’s no specific thing," he said, "so I think it’s unfair to say what my ‘type’ is." But it turns out that there is one thing the So You Think You Can Dance judge considers essential: A beautiful smile.
"I’m not into messy teeth," Derulo said. "If the grill has spaces and different colors, it’s not my vibe."
As it turns out, he may be on to something: A number of surveys have indicated that a bright, healthy smile is often the first thing people notice when meeting someone new. Yet many are reluctant to open up that big grin because they aren’t satisfied with the way their teeth look. If you’re one of them, consider this: Modern cosmetic dentistry offers a variety of ways to improve your smile — and it may be easier and more affordable than you think.
For example, if your smile isn’t as bright as you would like it to be, teeth whitening is an effective and economical way to lighten it up. If you opt for in-office treatments, you can expect a lightening effect of up to 10 shades in a single one-hour treatment! Or, you can achieve the same effect in a week or two with a take-home kit we can custom-make for you. Either way, you’ll be safe and comfortable being treated under the supervision of a dental professional — and the results can be expected to last for up to two years, or perhaps more.
If your teeth have minor spacing irregularities, small chips or cracks, it may be possible to repair them in a single office visit via cosmetic bonding. In this process, a liquid composite resin is applied to the teeth and cured (hardened) with a special light. This high-tech material, which comes in colors to match your teeth, can be built up in layers and shaped with dental instruments to create a pleasing, natural effect.
If your smile needs more than just a touch-up, dental veneers may be the answer. These wafer-thin coverings, placed right on top of your natural teeth, can be made in a variety of shapes and colors — from a natural pearly luster to a brilliant "Hollywood white." Custom-made veneers typically involve the removal of a few millimeters of tooth enamel, making them a permanent — and irreversible — treatment. However, by making teeth look more even, closing up spaces and providing dazzling whiteness, veneers just might give you the smile you’ve always wanted.
If you would like more information about cosmetic dental treatments, please call our office to arrange a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry — A Time for Change.”
EVERY DAY INSIDE YOUR MOUTH, there is an epic battle of good versus evil being waged over the ultimate prize: your teeth! And guess what… only YOU can protect them from the destructive forces that seek to harm them.
The Good Guys And The Bad Guys
Because tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body (it is made up of mostly minerals), we automatically think of it as a tough shield that nothing can get through. In reality, tooth enamel is porous!
When tooth enamel loses minerals, teeth are weakened and more susceptible to decay–we call this demineralization. If tooth enamel is demineralized enough, a cavity will form. But here’s the good news! The enamel can also be strengthened by receiving nutrients and minerals in a process we call remineralization. This constant dynamic of tooth enamel losing and gaining minerals is the battle that goes on inside your mouth every day!
So, who are the bad guys? Although there are a lot of good bacteria in our mouths, there’s also the cavity-causing bacteria found in plaque. They feed on sugar and other carbohydrates and produce harmful acids in the process. These acid attacks demineralize, or break down tooth enamel, and if left unchecked, can lead to tooth decay.
Check out the video below to learn a little more about plaque:
But all is not lost! You have a secret weapon in your ammunition… and that’s saliva! Not only does saliva wash out food debris and neutralize harmful acids, but minerals in saliva like fluoride, calcium and phosphate can be deposited back into tooth enamel, strengthening and defending it against bad bacteria. That’s why we call saliva the unsung hero of oral health–it works around the clock to protect our smiles and keep our teeth healthy and strong!
Whose Side Are You On?
This “battle” isn’t something that just goes on in your mouth without you having any say in it. You can promote tooth enamel remineralization and help your saliva fight off harmful bacteria by practicing mouth-healthy habits. In the end, you are the ultimate protector of your teeth!
The first thing you can do to defend your teeth from cavity-causing bacteria is eat a nutritious diet. Sugary drinks and treats, crackers, bread and processed foods are just what these bad bacteria love and eating these types of foods can lead to tooth enamel demineralization. On the other hand, foods like cheese, eggs, apples, celery, carrots, dark leafy greens and wild-caught fish promote enamel remineralization. So the next time you open up the fridge or pantry, make the mouth-healthy choice!
Another way to prevent demineralization is to brush with fluoride toothpaste! Where plaque breaks down the tooth, fluoride builds it up. This cavity-fighting mineral protects teeth from bacteria by remineralizing tooth enamel and reducing plaque bacteria’s ability to even produce acid in the first place!
You Are Responsible For Your Oral Health
The battle to keep teeth strong and healthy depends on you! By eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can have a lifetime of healthy smiles. Keep up the good work, soldier. You’re doing great!
We’re grateful for our awesome patients!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Life would be harrowing if we had no ability to feel pain. Although experiencing it is unpleasant, pain's purpose is to alert us to something wrong in our body. Without pain diseases and other problems could worsen to the point of life-threatening.
But pain without a purpose — the nerves simply misfiring — can make life miserable. This can happen with the trigeminal nerves that exit the brain stem and end on each side of the face. Each nerve has three branches that serve the upper, middle and lower parts of the face and jaw.
When they don't work properly, trigeminal nerves can give rise to a disorder known as trigeminal neuralgia. Beginning often as an occasional twinge, they may escalate to several seconds of mild to excruciating pain occurring over weeks, months or even years. An episode may erupt from chewing, speaking or even lightly touching of the face.
We see this condition most often in people over fifty, particularly women. We don't know the exact cause, but there's strong suspicion that the nerve's protective sheath has been damaged, similar to what occurs with multiple sclerosis or other inflammatory conditions. Another possibility is a blood vessel putting pressure on the nerve and disrupting its normal operation. Such an impinged nerve might transmit pain signals at the slightest stimulation and then fail to “switch off” when the stimulation stops.
Although we can't cure trigeminal neuralgia, we can help you manage it and reduce discomfort during episodes. We'll first try conservative, less-invasive techniques, like signal-blocking medications or drugs that reduce abnormal firing.
If these aren't effective, we may then recommend a surgical solution. One such procedure is known as percutaneous treatment in which we insert a thin needle to selectively damage nerve fibers to prevent their firing. If we've determined an artery or vein has compressed the nerve, we might surgically relocate the vessel. These techniques can be quite effective but they do have possible side effects like numbness or hearing loss.
If you've experienced facial pain, don't continue to suffer. Visit us for a complete examination and learn about your options for pain relief. More than likely, there's a way to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.
If you would like more information on facial pain, 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 “Trigeminal Neuralgia.”