You and your dentist have a range of options in addressing pain, including medication.  When choosing a pain medication, you might consider

–the level of pain you are having or likely to have;

–whether the pain is acute (expected to last a short time) or chronic (happening for a longer period);

–your health history (including past or current conditions);

–other medications you currently are taking (including over-the-counter ones). (Note: Any medication has the risk of causing side effects.  Talk to your dentist about possible side effects.)


OTC pain medications can be bought without a prescription and include non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).  Examples of OTC NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn), or aspirin.  Some of these drugs may be better suited than others for treating certain types of pain.  For example, naproxen may relieve pain longer than other medications in some people.  This could be helpful when taken at bedtime, offering a better chance at a good nights sleep.

Sometimes using 2 of these drugs together may boost the effect of either used alone. For example, some study results show that ibuprofen and acetaminophen taken together may improve pain relief after third molar extraction.  At times, though, 2 drugs taken together may react poorly.  People who have had a heart attack or atrial fibrillation, which is a type of irregular heartbeat, and are taking medication intended to prevent blood clots, like aspirin, may be at increased risk of serious bleeding, high blood pressure, or more serious cardiac reactions when prescribed an NSAID.  People with asthma and kidney disease also should be cautious about using NSAIDs.


Some OTC medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen’ are available in higher dosages and need to be prescribed by your dentist or physician.  Opiods also require a prescription.  Opiods may be combined with an OTC medication or used on their own.  For example, Vicodin is a combination of the opiod hydrocodone and acetaminophen, and OxyContin (also known as oxycodone) is an opiod that is used alone.

Some people find that opiods make them sleepy.  If this is a problem for you, you may have to make adjustments like not driving while using this medication.  Because opiods are narcotics, there is also a risk of developing an addiction to the drug.  This is 1 reason to share with your dentist any problems you have had or currently have with drug or alcohol abuse.


Take your medicine exactly as directed. Also, remember, your prescription is written for your use only.  It can be harmful or even fatal when used by someone else.  Also, it is against the law to give narcotics (like opiods) to another person.  Tell your dentist if you are or will be taking any other medications (even OTC medications) because some combinations can be dangerous.

For information about how to store or dispose of unused prescription medications, visit, the American Dental Association’s website for patients, at


When you talk to your dentist about pain relief, be sure to tell him or her about any medications you are taking and provide a full health history (including drug or alcohol abuse).  This information will influence the type of pain relief that is right for you.

Make sure you understand how often you should take your medication and whether there are any special instructions for its use (for example, whether you should take the medicine after a meal).  Always follow your dentist’s instructions, whether you are taking an OTC or a prescribed medication.

If you find that the recommended medication is not relieving your pain or is causing unusual side effects, call your dentist.  Because a number of medications are available for controlling pain, he or she might be able to suggest another option that is better suited for you.




Have you ever noticed how uneven the chewing surfaces are on your back teeth?  That’s because these teeth (your molars) have pits and grooves. Though these pits and grooves help grind food, they can also make it easier for cavities to develop.

Cavities occur when acid breaks down the hard, protective enamel surface of the tooth.  Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that coats everyone’s teeth all the time.  When you eat, the bacteria in plaque produce the acids that can break down tooth enamel.  Brushing your teeth and cleaning between them helps remove the plaque and food particles that can cause this breakdown, so these are 2 important things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing decay.  However, it is difficult to clean inside the pits and grooves on your molars with a toothbrush.  Luckily, sealants can protect your teeth from decay by filling in those pits and grooves, keeping food and plaque out.  Sealants may even stop very early stages of tooth decay from going on to form a cavity.


Usually, sealants are made of a special type of plastic, although sometimes other dental materials may be used.  The sealant is applied in a thin coat to the chewing surfaces of your molars.  It covers the deep pits and grooves that put you at risk of developing tooth decay.  “This coverage makes sealants one of the most effective interventions available for prevention of tooth decay,” according to Dr. Alonso Carrasco-Labra, director of the American Dental Association’s Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry.  With the exception of an allergy that may exist, there are no known side effects to sealants.


Children and adults both can benefit from sealants.  The earlier in life they are applied, the greater the protection sealants offer, but it’s never too late to protect any chewing surface that is free from tooth decay with sealants.  Sealants are a good investment for anyone, as they can save time and money down the road because you won’t need to treat tooth decay.  However, you should check with your insurance carrier to be sure that sealants are covered under your policy.


The dental professional who applies your sealant will need to start with a clean and dry surface.  To make sure the sealant forms a strong bond with the tooth, the tooth’s chewing surface will be roughened with a special gel.  Then, the gel is wiped off, and the surface of the tooth is dried once more.  Finally, the sealant is applied to the tooth.  When applied, sealants have the consistency of a gel or paste and then harden into a strong, protective coating.  Some sealants require intense light to harden, so your dentist or dental hygienist may shine a light on the molar surface.


Sealants are very durable, and in most cases, hold up for several years.  Everyone is different, however, and sometimes sealants need to be reapplied.  Your dentist will check them at every visit.


Nothing takes the place of good oral care.  Your daily routine should include brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day.  Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a tooth paste (or gel) with fluoride that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  Flossing goes hand in hand with brushing.  Once a day, you should floss or clean between your teeth.  This can be done with dental floss or another product made specifically to clean between the teeth, such as pre-threaded flossers, tiny brushes that reach between the teeth, water flossers, or wooden plaque removers.  Cleaning between your teeth once a day helps remove plaque from between your teeth–another area your toothbrush can’t reach.


In addition, you should see your dentist on a regular basis for professional cleanings.  Treatments such as topical fluoride, provided by your dentist when needed, also can be important in keeping your teeth cavity-free.

Sealants are easy to apply and, along with good daily care and regular visits to your dentist, they can be part of a complete dental health plan.




Clostridium difficile (or C. diff for short) is a germ that can cause diarrhea.  Most of the time, people are infected with C. diff after they have taken antibiotics.  The antibiotics kill the good germs in the gut that stop C. diff from growing.  As it grows, C. diff releases toxin that irritate or even damage the colon.  These infections usually occur in places where people receive medical care.  The germ can be spread from person to person on contaminated equipment and on the hands of physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers. But C. diff is found not only in places such as hospitals and other health care facilities.  These germs can be found on many surfaces, especially in bathrooms.  C. diff spores can live outside of the body for a long time on surfaces such as bathroom fixtures.

Who Is At Risk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 94 percent of C. diff infections occur in people who recently received medical care in a hospital, a nursing home, a physicians office or an outpatient surgical center.  The germ is linked to 14,000 deaths each year in the United States.  More than 90 percent of the people who die of this infection are older than 65 years.  The chance of getting this infection also is higher for people who have another medical problem or a depressed immune system (for example, from cancer, steriod use, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection). People who take antibiotics for a long period of time also are at higher risk.

What Are The Symptoms?

Most of the time, C. diff infections occur after people take antibiotics.  If you are taking antibiotics otr took them within a few months, the following symptoms may be caused by a C. diff infection:

watery diarrhea (at least three times a day for two or more days)


belly pain and tenderness


loss of appetite.

What Can I Do To Prevent Infection?

Always take your antibiotics the way your dentist or physician told you to take them.  Don’t skip doses or stop taking the medication before you run out.  Make sure to clean your hands often, especially after using the bathroom and before eating or preparing food.

What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms?

If you have had diarrhea for several days within a few days to months of taking an antibiotic, tell your physician.  A stool sample can be tested for the germ.  Your physician may do other tests if he or she thinks there may be complications.

How Is The Infection Treated?

In about one of four people, the C. diff infection will go away two to three days after stopping the antibiotic.  If treatment is needed, your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic that is different from the one that caused the C. diff infection.  A bad infection can damage the colon, and surgery may be needed.



As people age, oral health needs can change as well, Here are some things to think about.

-Decreased Sensitivity–You may begin to experience less pain or discomfort in your mouth, but this may not mean that your mouth healthy.  In some older adults, nerve changes may lessen sensitivity.

*How to help.  See your dentist regularly, as your dentist can check for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, poorly fitting dentures, and oral cancer.

-Dry mouth– A number of factors can cause dry mouth, including many medications.  This can be detrimental, as saliva helps you eat and talk.  It washes food away from the teeth and lessens the effect of acids in the mouth that can cause tooth decay.  Saliva also carries minerals that keep teeth strong.

*How to help.  To combat the effects of dry mouth, take small sips of water throughout the day.  You can also suck sugar-free lozenges or chew sugar-free gum.  Avoid alcohol and tobacco.  A saliva substitute may also help.

-Gum Problems–Anyone can develop gum disease.  Caused by a build-up of plaque, gum disease affects the attachments between your teeth and gums.  Left untreated, gum disease may result in tooth loss.  Older adults may also experience receding gums, which exposes the roots.  Teeth with exposed roots may be at increased risk of developing decay or becoming loose.

*How to help.  Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush along the gum line using a fluoride-containing toothpaste.  Clean between your teeth with floss or another tool designed for this task once a day.  See your dentist regularly, because plaque can harden along the gum line, making it difficult to keep your teeth clean on your own.  A professional cleaning is the only way to remove hardened plaque.

-Tooth Decay (Cavities)–Several factors can increase your risk of experiencing tooth decay, sugars in food and drinks, dry mouth, not cleaning your teeth everyday, and exposed tooth roots.  Even teeth with fillings or crowns can develop cavities.

*How to help.  Luckily, the things you do to help prevent gum problems are the same things that can help you avoid cavities.  Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush along the gum line using a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and clean between your teeth once a day.  See your dentist regularly.  Your dentist may suggest that you also use a fluoride-containing mouth rinse or an in-office fluoride treatment or varnish.

-Tooth Loss–Tooth loss can affect what you eat and how you look, talk, and feel.

*How to help.  You may be able to restore your smile with implants or a partial or full denture.  No matter how many teeth you have (even if you have lost them all), see your dentist regularly.  Your dentist can check that all is well in your mouth, checking for things like sores, irritation, infection, and oral cancer.




Gum disease is an infection by germs in the gums around the teeth.  It is one of the most common infections in people around the world.  In its more serious form–known as “periodontitis”–the infection is long lasting.  The soft gums and bone around the teeth dissolve over time.  This can lead to loss of teeth.  One-half of the U.S. population 30 years and older has periodontitis, as do 60 percent of 60- year-olds.

Periodontitis Raises Blood Sugar And May Lead To Type 2 Diabetes

People with diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, have more gum disease than those without diabetes.  We have known that for a long time.  Now, scientists are finding gum disease may raise blood sugar levels in people with or without diabetes.

At a recent meeting of top experts in dental and diabetes research from around the world, scientists looked closely at the latest research into how gum disease could affect diabetes.  They found that, compared with those with healthy gums, people with severe gum disease

have higher long-term blood sugar levels

might be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes

may be at a higher risk of developing pregnancy (gestational) diabetes

have a harder time controlling their type 2 diabetes

are at a higher risk of experiencing harm to eyes and kidneys, as well as a heart attack and stroke if they have diabetes.

How Does Gum Disease Make Blood Sugar Levels Go Up?

Scientists think that some of the germs in infected gums leak into the bloodstream after normal activities such as chewing or toothbrushing.  This starts a reaction from your body’s defense system, which in turn, produces some powerful molecules that have harmful effects all over your body.  An example is raising your blood sugar level.

Can Gum Disease Treatment Help Control Your Diabetes?

Yes, the good news is that in people with type 2 diabetes, treatment of severe disease (for instance, deep cleaning)can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels,  The benefit is about the same as might find if you added anothr drug to your usual diabetes medicine.

What Can You Do

Keep your gums as healthy as possible, whether or not you have diabetes.

Brush your teeth gently twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste.

Clean between your teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner daily.

Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

Make sure you have your gums checked; the dentist or dental hygienist should measure the space between the teeth and the gums to look for gum disease.

If you have type 2 diabetes keeping your gums healthy could help you control your disease.  It also may help lower your risk of experiencing problems, such as blindness and kidney disease, because of your diabetes.

The latest research on links between gum disease and diabetes shows how important it is to have healthy gums.

A healthy mouth is an important part of good overall health.




Saliva coats and lubricates tissues in the mouth.  It helps cleanse the mouth and begins the digestive process as you chew.  Speaking, chewing and swallowing all are made easier when the mouth is moist.  When saliva glands do not work properly, the mouth becomes dry.

Artificial saliva is a product that is used to help relieve dry mouth.  It is available in an aerosol or a liquid that is squirted into the mouth.

What Is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth results from an inadequate flow of saliva.  Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection.  Severe dry mouth can promote the growth of harmful organisms.  Without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate salivary flow, caries (tooth decay) and periodontal (gum) disease become much more common.  Constant dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva contribute to bad breathe.  Dry mouth also causes full dentures to become less comfortable because there is no thin film of saliva to help them adhere properly to oral tissues.

How Does Artificial Saliva Differ From Real Saliva?

Artificial saliva is not a perfect substitute for natural saliva, which is complex physically and chemically.  Although more than 99 percent of saliva is water, saliva also contains buffering agents, enzymes and minerals that keep teeth strong and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy mouth.  Artificial salivas typically contain a mixture of buffering agents, cellulose derivatives (to increase stickiness and moistening ability) and flavoring agents (such as sorbitol).  However, they do not contain the digestive and antibacterial enzymes and other proteins or minerals present in real saliva.  Research is under way to try to develop artificial salivas that more closely mimic natural saliva.

Artificial saliva can be used as often as needed.  Saliva substitutes are awallowed quickly and, therefore, the moistening and lubricating action has limited duration.  Repeated applications may be needed.  Although saliva substitutes will not cure dry mouth, they can provide temporary relief of some symptoms.

Artificial saliva does not require a prescription, but it may be difficult to find on store shelves.  Check with your pharmacist if you don’t see it displayed with other oral hygiene products.


Where do you get news about issues related to health and healthy habits? The Internet? Magazines? Newspapers? Television? Any of these might be a good source if you know what to look and listen for.  The National Institutes of Health ( offers some questions to help you tell fact from fiction.

Who Is Putting Out The Story?

Whenever you are looking for information or the latest advice on a topic, consider the source.  Who is producing the information?  For example, when you find information on the Internet, who runs the Web site that publishes the story?  You should be able to find a link to an “About” section on most Web sites.  That link should take you to a page that tells you who sponsors or pays for the site.  Often, you can tell who sponsors the site by the URL typed into the address bar.  Addresses that end in .gov are government agencies, and addresses ending in .edu are schools.  Both of these are generally trustworthy sources of information.  Not-for-profit organizations usually have .org at the end of their Internet addresses.  Some not-for-profit organizations are unbiased; however, others may have a particular position on a topic that causes them to slant the story in their favor.  You may have to investigate your source to determine whether  or not they are telling you all sides of the story.

When getting your information in print, you might want to consider the type of publication you are reading.  Are you looking at a reputable news magazine or a tabloid known for celebrity gossip?

What Do They Want From You?

This question really relates to Web sites that ask for you to offer information about yourself.  Be cautious about the personal information you provide, especially sensitive health care information.  A Web site may have a link to a section that explains its privacy policy.  It may be marked “Privacy” or “Privacy Policy”.  Read the privacy policy.  It will tell you what the Web site owners plan to do with your information.

When Was The Information Released, Posted, Or Reviewed?

Obviously, you want current information to make sure you are getting the latest news.  But staying on top of the news is only one reason to look for articles that are up-to-date.  Reliable sites tend to keep their news reports fresh.  On many Web sites, you can look for a date that tells you when material was posted or the last time it was reviewed.

Where Are They Getting Their Information?

In addition to asking who is providing the information, you should ask where they got their information.  The source should be identified clearly in the story.  An article may credit researchers at a university or a government agency.  Or you may be hearing from an expert spokesperson from a professional organization, like the American Dental Association.  You will want to know whether the story is based on research or policy.  If it is research, the authors should identify clearly who conducted the study and what was being studied.  Some stories are testimonials based on the experience of one or more people.  Keep in mind that these are the experiences of individual people and may not reflect accurate health care information for a large segment of the population.

Why Are They Putting Out This Information?

Who stands to benefit if people take the advice provided in the story?  Is the goal of the article to get you to sign on to a cause?  Are the authors trying to sell you something?  Any of these can bias coverage of a topic.

Other Pointers

Here are some other tips that might help you safely assess health care information:

Steer clear of remedies that rely on “secret ingredients”or promise a “miracle cure.”

Look for the word “advertisement” at the edge of the article.

Most importantly, talk to your dentist or physician.  Do not be afraid to tell them about new treatment options you may have read about or lifestyle    changes you would like to try.  Your health care providers often are knowledgeable about the science behind the story, but most importantly they are knowledgeable about you and your health care history.

There is a wealth of information available through a number of sources.  Work with your health care provider to determine what information is most useful to you.




Life, nerves and stress can often cause people to do unimaginable things to their teeth without even knowing it.  These habits include things as simple and painless as nail biting, sucking on lemons or even chewing on pens.  The effects of having bad habits can take a toll on your teeth over time. so it’s a good idea to stop them while you can.

  1. Thumb sucking: Although this mostly applies to children, it’s important to curb this habit early if you have children who have taken it up.  Permanent teeth start coming in at around 5 or 6 and these teeth could shift if the thumb sucking continues past this time.
  2. No lemons! Lemons are very acidic and can cause severe damage to teeth if it is ongoing as it can eat away at your enamel.
  3. Avoid brushing too hard.  This can eat away at your tooth enamel as well.  We only have one set of teeth per lifetime, take care of them!
  4. Say no to jaw clenching and teeth grinding.  This can affect patients of all ages, including children.  The act of clenching or grinding can cause irreversible damage and costly repairs.
  5. No ice chewing.  It’s fun and is much better than eating food if you’re watching what you eat, right? Wrong! Our teeth are only designed to crush food, not frozen ice.
  6. Your teeth are not a tool.  They are not to be used as can openers, bottle openers, cap unscrewers or anything else along those lines.  Use them only for food!
  7. Avoid holding pens or pencils with your teeth.  Place them on your desk, behind your ear or anywhere else but your mouth.
  8. Stop nail biting.  This is easier said than done, but make an effort.  This will benefit both your teeth and your hands.
  9. Say no to soda.  Not only is soda bad for your body, it’s bad for your teeth!  it also stains them, too.  Keep those pearly whites bright by drinking water!
  10. Be toothpick careful.  You don’t want to harm your gums by poking around too harshly.  If possible, floss instead!



Do you hide your smile because you are missing teeth?  Is it hard for you to chew food?  If you have problems because of missing teeth, see your dentist.  Together, you can talk about choices that may help fix your smile.


Bridges are used when 1 or a few teeth are missing.  they replace the missing tooth or teeth with false ones.  A permanent or fixed bridge is cemented onto specially prepared teeth on either side of the space.  Sometimes, though, a removable bridge can be used.  A removable bridge clips to the teeth on both sides of the space.  You can put a removable bridge in and take it out yourself.

Most of the time, a removable bridge has an acrylic base with metal clasps or a frame that is made of cast metal.  Permanent or fixed bridges can be made from metal, ceramics, or a combination of the two.  False teeth are mounted onto the base of a bridge to fill the space where the teeth are missing.


Implants are metal tooth roots that are placed into the jawbone through minor surgery.  The bone and gums grow around the implant to hold it in place.  A single false tooth, called a crown, can be screwed onto a single implant.  More than 1 implant also can be placed.  These implants can attach to a bridge or denture when more than 1 tooth is missing.  Implants are not meant to come out.


Full dentures (sometimes called false teeth) may be used to restore the smile when all natural teeth have been lost.  The denture looks like a full set of teeth mounted on an acrylic base made to look like gums.  Dentures can be held in place with implants or by a seal that forms between the denture base and the gums with saliva, along with muscles of your cheeks and tongue.  Sometimes adhesives (or denture creams) may be used to help hold the denture in place.


New bridges or dentures may feel strange at first.  They should become comfortable over time.  Never try to fix the way a bridge or denture feels in your mouth or force a removable bridge into place.  Your dentist will work with you to help you get a good fit.

Some people’s mouths feel sore after getting a bridge or dentures.  Let your dentist know if your mouth feels sore.  He or she may need to adjust the fit of your bridge or denture.


Whether you have a bridge, wear dentures, or have your own teeth, you have to take care of your smile.  Plaque, a thin film of bacteria, forms on your teeth, gums, and other tissues in your mouth all the time.  If not removed, plaque can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.  To take care of your mouth:

brush your teeth, gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your bridge or dentures.  This will help the blood flow into the tissues of your mouth and remove plaque

rinse your removable bridge or dentures before brushing to remove any loose food or debris

use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a nonabrasive cleanser to gently brush your bridge or dentures

gently brush your natural teeth with a fluoride containing toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day for 2 minutes.  Clean between your teeth with floss or another product used to clean between the teeth

always look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on products, a symbol of safety and effectiveness

visit your dentist regularly.


Take pity on the snorer.  He may wreak havoc on his bunk-mate, but his snoring may also signal that something is going on under the hood.  Not all people who snore have an underlying health problem.  But those with sleep apnea, a disorder in which people momentarily stop breathing while they sleep, nearly always snore.  Experts speculate that the number of people with the disorder is on the rise–up to 25 million Americans, most of them men–because of obesity.  Although the disorder requires a visit to a sleep specialist to diagnose, the consequences of untreated sleep apnea are as serious as they are unexpected.  A new study found that men with the disorder were twice as likely to be depressed as men without it.  But breathing devices, lifestyle changes and surgery can improve the overall health of unknowing sufferers (not to mention that of their bedmates).

How Sleep Apnea Works

In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a blockage or collapse in the airway makes it hard for oxygen to reach the lungs.  The air that does get through the blockage can result in snoring.

The lack of air in the lungs–not the snoring–causes blood-oxygen levels to plummet, leading the brain to interrupt sleep.

In central sleep apnea, which is less common, the brain doesn’t correctly send signals to the muscles that control breathing.

As with OSA, that lack of airflow lowers blood-oxygen levels, which triggers the brain to interrupt sleep, sometimes resulting in a gasp.  This often happens repeatedly throughout the night.

Surprising Symptoms of Sleep Apnea–Besides Drowsiness


When your not getting enough oxygen, carbon dioxide can build up in the brain, dilating blood vessels and causing headaches.


A consistent lack of sleep or interrupted sleep can present itself in the form of irritability, personality changes and even depression.


High blood pressure could be a sign of untreated sleep apnea; fluctuating oxygen levels put a lot of stress on the body.


People with sleep apnea may experience memory or learning problems, possibly because of the effects of a lack of oxygen to the brain.