I don’t know what topics come up at your dinner table every night, but at mine, we often talk about teeth—save your shocked look for someone else, my friend—and last night we talked about drooling. I personally thought the conversation was über interesting, but there was some eye-rolling between my wife and daughter.
Drooling, when saliva drains out of your mouth, is a natural occurrence. Most often, drooling occurs when we sleep. Saliva keeps the mouth lubricated and the tissue firm and helps prevent tooth decay. It also neutralizes normal bacteria and flushes away small food debris. And while normal drooling can leave your pillow damp, it is essential to a healthy mouth.
Most people produce about 48oz of saliva everyday. That’s equal to four 12oz cans of soda. Since you swallow most of it (unless you’re a baseball player, then you spit it in the dugout—gross!), you don’t notice it. However, excessive drooling can be an indicator of other problems. In general terms, excess saliva is a result of:
Hypersalivation can be caused by everything from teething to more serious causes. The salivary glands go into overdrive as a result of infections like tonsillitis or strep throat, and certain poisons, including venom and insect bites. Fortunately, this is a temporary problem that can be remedied with antibiotics, antidotes, or the eruption of pearly white new teeth. Certain medications have excess saliva production as a side effect. Chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease can also cause an increase in salivary activity and many doctors can prescribe drugs that can reduce production if it becomes an issue.
Dysphasia —difficulty swallowing—has it own list of related causes. Infection and illness are primary causes since any swelling of the throat, tonsils, tongue, or glands can narrow the throat opening and restrict muscles that swallow. There can be a neurological cause for dysphasia, but under normal circumstances, the causes are not permanent.
If you feel like you are becoming a saliva factory and you cannot pinpoint a cause, don’t panic. Call your doctor or dentist. That’s why we are here and why we have phones.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have dry mouth, also called xerostomia. Patients with dry mouth have special challenges since the lack of saliva can make even routine swallowing feel scratchy and uncomfortable. Like drooling, there are many causes:
So what does dry mouth cause? Glad you asked. Problems from dry mouth include:
And my favorite and least favorite—increase in dental decay. Now while I can always use the business, and I love interesting fillings, I hate to see people get cavities that they could have prevented. If you have dry mouth, let’s get to the root cause, then we can tackle both the cause and the symptoms.
Things that can help you live with dry mouth:
Remember, we’re in this health thing together! And to my wife and kids: Tonight let’s talk root canals!
Directly from the American Dental Association website
ADA, CDC, OSAP Provide Resources to Dental Professionals
The ADA remains in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) regarding Ebola and is dedicated to providing the most up to date information for dental professionals on this evolving issue.
As of October 17, 2014, dental professionals are advised of the following:
A person infected with Ebola is not considered contagious until symptoms appear. Due to the virulent nature of the disease, it is highly unlikely that someone with Ebola symptoms will seek dental care when they are severely ill. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ADA Division of Science, dental professionals are advised to take a medical history, including a travel history from their patients with symptoms in which a viral infection is suspected.
As recommended by the ADA Division of Science, any person within 21 days of returning from the West African countries Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea may be at risk of having contacted persons infected with Ebola and may not exhibit symptoms. If this is the case, dental professionals are advised to delay routine dental care of the patient until 21 days have elapsed from their trip. Palliative care for serious oral health conditions, dental infections and pain can be provided if necessary after consulting with the patient’s physician and conforming to standard precautions and physical barriers.
An elevated temperature (fever) is often a consequence of infection, but Ebola is not the only infection that may have similar signs and symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms of Ebola infection are:
You are advised not to treat dental patients if they have these signs and symptoms for Ebola. If a patient is feeling feverish and their travel history indicates they may be at risk of Ebola, dental professionals and staff in contact with the patient should:
The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood and body fluids (urine, feces, saliva, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola, or with objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the virus. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food. Again , there is no reported risk of transmission of Ebola from asymptomatic infected patients.
A patient came into the office today and as he sat down in the chair he told me that he had read something about Gandhi teeth. Gandhi was a fragile man, so very thin, had very few teeth, and sufered from bad breath. He often went barefoot so his feet were heavily calloused.
"So, " says my patient, " I guess you could call him a Super calloused, fragile mystic hexed with halitosis!"
We're here all week people, and the jokes are free!
Hello, smiling faces! I know you are smiling because you are reading a dentist's blog and that is kind of funny. Now I will give you a great reason to smile....my patient's recipe for Christmas Cheer. WARNING: This stuff is addictive! Proceed with caution. And brush. And floss!
Here it is, in her own handwriting:
Last week, a patient brought in treats for the office. (Note to readers and patients: this is a great idea!). My lovely receptionist (and wife) put the ziploc container in the break room and when she came back at lunch, I was chowing down on these little turtle treats.
They are amazing!
Here is the RECIPE:
But wait.... there's more...
Just this morning, Sabrina received an email from her art teacher, Sandy Jones, here is an excerpt.....
Also, I wanted to let you know that the pretzel/Rolo/pecan jobbies were a HUGE hit this weekend at my neighbor's BBQ!!! Her son (My quasi-nephew) was home from the Marines and he flipped. How-EVER, he had an excellent suggestion to substitute mini Reese's PB cups, which I did, and I honestly can't decide which is better!! You should try it. I sent him back to base with about 50 of those puppies and he couldn't be happier.
PLUS, I passed the "recipe" to 3 other women at the BBQ, so this thing is going viral - HA! Curses on your patient....thankfully I only had about 20 over the course of the 3-day weekend JEEEEZ.
So Reeses...a BRILLIANT substitution. Go forth and go viral, y'all..
Happy Smiling and Snacking and Brushing and Flossing!
Happy New Year! I hope all of you have had a lovely holiday season and that you maintained a consistent brushing and flossing schedule in spite of excesses in Rum Toddies, Peanut Brittle, and Cheese Balls. I have nothing pithy to offer at this time, but I wanted to start the year with a blog, so here are two humorous and completely unrealated bits of fun:
Derek THompson did an unemployment study in the Atlantic Monthy, which you can read in full below the graph. The graph shows lowest unemployment rates by profession--just the top thirteen. Take a look at the third from the left...and thank you very much from me.
and in unrelated humor: