Even a healthy mouth is lined with bacteria. Normally, your daily oral hygiene routine helps prevent oral health complications. However, it is possible to develop an excess of bacteria and fungi, which can lead to additional problems. Here’s what you should know about oral thrush and what you can do to prevent it.
What is it?
Oral thrush is caused by a collection of the fungus Candida in your mouth. Bacteria and fungi occur naturally in your mouth, but it is important that they are not permitted to build up. Thrush can appear as white, thick scrapes on your tongue or inner cheek. It may also look like patchy, white sores.
Who does it affect?
Young children, infants, and the elderly are at a higher risk of developing oral thrush. If you have a weakened immune system or diabetes, it is even more important that you stay active to keep your mouth healthy and prevent issues like oral thrush. Smokers also tend to develop oral thrush more than other patients.
What can it do?
Oral thrush can lead to trouble swallowing and tasting. As it develops, it can become painful. Oral thrush can make affected areas feel like they are burning, and slight bleeding can occur if you are scraping your tongue or cheeks. Some describe the feeling as having cotton in their mouth.
Thrush can spread. If you have a weakened immune system, it is possible that thrush moves into your lungs, digestive tract, and even your heart.
How can I prevent It?
Our best recommendation for preventing oral thrush is a vigilant daily oral hygiene routine that includes a thorough brushing and flossing of your teeth, and includes your tongue. We sometimes recommend a patient use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue. Just like brushing your teeth, your tongue depends on daily cleaning to stay healthy and free of germs and bacteria.
The American Dental Association recommends that for some patients it might be helpful to consider an antimicrobial toothpaste or mouthwash. Check with our doctor to see which solutions might be best for you.
We cannot overstate the importance of regularly scheduled dental exams. If you are a diabetic, it is even more important that you schedule regular visits to our Roselle dentist. By having your mouth checked by our staff, we can work with you to prevent oral health issues like thrush.
The hazards surrounding vaping are not entirely clear. More research is needed in this area, but a recent study indicates that e-cigarette vapors could be damaging to your mouth. Here’s what you need to know.
The Vapor Ingredients
Electronic cigarettes are not regulated in the same way tobacco cigarettes are, meaning that their contents can be inaccurately labeled without any oversight. Contents that e-juice usually contains include nicotine, glycerin, chemical flavoring, and propylene glycol. Some of these substances are safe in food, such as chemical flavors, but the effects of inhaling them is not well researched. Heating these chemicals can form dangerous carcinogens such as formaldehyde. E-cigarettes might also include tiny metals and particles that you inhale while smoking.
What This Means for Your Oral Health
A recent study from UCLA found that vapors from an e-cigarette can kill the cells in your oral cavity, or the area of your mouth beyond your teeth and gums. The study placed oral cells in an environment where electronic cigarette smoke was produced for 24 hours, in a machine simulating how a person would smoke. During the test, 85% of the cells died. According to the lead author of the study, they plan to move forward to test the impacts in humans.
These cells are your mouth’s defense by helping to release antioxidants. As the cells die off or become less effective, your mouth becomes more vulnerable to oral diseases.
Another study by the University of Rochester Medical Center concluded e-cigarettes are just as bad for your gums as tobacco cigarettes are. Nicotine, which both types of cigarettes contain, is a known factor in contributing to gum disease.
Steps You Can Take
Since the e-juice industry is largely unregulated, it is best to avoid smoking electronic cigarettes. The carcinogenic contents pose serious risks to your health, especially to your mouth. Your mouth relies on the functions of these important cells to defend itself against dangerous bacteria and other substances. Without your mouth’s natural defense system, you open yourself up to oral disease.
Make sure you are regularly visiting our Roselle dentist, especially if you are a smoker of either tobacco cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes. Our experienced dental team will perform a complete oral examination during your visit to check for signs of oral disease. Being proactive is your best defense against combating oral disease.