Aloe Vera Soothes Mouth Sores

As winter makes its last stand, keep in mind that the aloe vera plant, which has been used to heal sunburned skin in the summer, can also treat common oral health conditions, including cold sores and fever blisters outside of the mouth and canker sores in the mouth.

Common mouth sores have many causes, including illness (such as colds or flu), food allergies, stress, or bacterial or fungal infections. Inside the mouth, the culprits also may include a loose orthodontic wire, a denture that doesn’t fit or a sharp edge from a broken tooth or filling.

Aloe vera accelerates healing and reduces pain associated with external cold sores. In addition to its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera provides benefits to the skin by adding amino acids and B1, B2, B6 and C vitamins. To treat a cold sore, apply aloe vera lip balm or gel three times per day until a lesion has dried. Cold sores are highly contagious, so be sure to wash your hands after applying the aloe vera.

Aloe vera juice also can help internal ulcerations of the mouth, including canker sores (a common condition usually caused by stress) and lichen planus (a disease of unknown origin affecting the skin and mucus membranes). However, always discuss with your dentist proper treatment techniques for conditions inside your mouth or for serious outbreaks.

Mouth sores may be a symptom of a disease or disorder. Your dentist should examine any mouth sore that lasts a week or longer.

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Green Tea May Boost Dental Health

Green tea

Looking for a caffeine boost? Consider swapping out your daily coffee for a cup of green tea. The brewed drink may improve your oral health.

Regularly drinking green tea can protect against cavitiesgum disease and bad breath, according to a 2016 study that compiled research on the beverage’s oral health effects. The study indicated that green tea may reduce oral bacteria which, in turn, can promote the health of teeth and gums.

What’s more, drinking green tea may lower your chance of developing oral cancer. Researchers also noted a significantly lower risk of oral cancer among individuals who drank green tea.

But before you load up on green tea, don’t forget to skip the sweeteners. Sugar and honey still promote cavities, even when you drink them with green tea.

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Chocolate and Your Teeth

Women eating chocolate

Attention, sweet tooths! Eating chocolate may not be as bad for your teeth as commonly thought.

The Benefits of Chocolate

When it comes to sweets and your teeth, time is of the essence. Chewy treats and hard candy stay in the mouth longer than most foods, allowing cavity-causing bacteria to thrive and create plaque. Chocolate, on the other hand, dissolves easily, which means the sugar has less contact with your teeth.

That’s why nearly 80% of dentists who hand out candy on Halloween choose chocolate, according to a Delta Dental Plans Association survey in 2011. Only 13% of the 250 dentists surveyed said they gave out hard candy or lollipops.

How to eat chocolate responsibly

Despite its advantages over other candies, chocolate is still full of sugar, so make sure to indulge carefully.

If you’re craving chocolate, choose dark chocolate that’s low in sugar. Wash it down with plain milk or water, and always brush your teeth after eating.

Stay away from chocolate that has nougat, caramel or cookie bits. These can get stuck in your teeth, risking decay. Avoid chocolate-flavored cereals and cakes, too — their high starch content means a feast for cavity-causing bacteria.

Chocolate of the future?

As researchers work to unlock the secrets of the cocoa bean, some studies have observed anti-cavity effects of tannins and flavanols, two natural compounds found in the bean. Of course, the cocoa-derived drinks used in the studies aren’t what you’ll find at the grocery store, but this research may offer the possibility of dentist-approved candy bars in the future.

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Are Oral Health Issues Genetic?

5 conditions that can run in the family

Your parents may have given you more than just your eye color and your sense of humor. You might also have inherited an increased risk for dental problems.

Yes, dental issues can run in the family. And it’s not just because you’ve learned bad habits from your family, or passed on oral bacteria by sharing silverware. Many oral health conditions have a hereditary basis. That means you may be at higher risk for developing certain conditions, in spite of your habits.

To get a better picture of your risks, find out if your relatives have a history of any of the following conditions.

1. Periodontal (gum) disease

Up to 30% of the population may be genetically predisposed to gum disease. Characterized by sensitive and inflamed gums, this common problem is linked to decay and, when left untreated, can result in tooth and bone loss.

Early diagnosis and treatment can go a long way in protecting your gums and teeth. Is gum disease a problem your family members have struggled with? Make sure to mention it to your dentist.

2. Tooth decay

Got cavities? Your ancestors may be to blame. Certain variations of the gene beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) are linked to a greater risk of cavities in permanent teeth.

If your teens are at high risk for cavities, talk to their dentist about sealants and fluoride treatments. Adults with a high risk of tooth decay may benefit from prescription toothpastes or mouth rinses. And make sure to visit the dentist for frequent cleanings and exams. If left untreated, tooth decay can aggravate gum disease and eventually cause tooth loss.

3. Oral cancer

This deadly disease is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans every year. Although lifestyle choices, such as tobacco and alcohol use, are the top risk factors for oral cancer, genetics can also play a minor role. People carrying certain genetic markers have been found to have a higher risk of developing the disease.

You can lower your risk by quitting tobacco, cutting back on alcohol and eating a balanced diet.

4. Misaligned teeth

If you need braces, you’re probably not the only one in the family. Genetics play a major role in determining the size of your jaw. This, in turn, can cause crowding, gaps, overbites and underbites.

If tooth misalignment is a common problem in your family, don’t wait to find an orthodontist for your child. Early orthodontic treatment can benefit many young patients, allowing developing bones and teeth to grow in properly and prevent more serious problems down the road.

5. Cleft lip or cleft palate

A common birth defect, cleft lip or palate occurs when the sides of the lip and roof of the mouth don’t fuse together properly. Genetics can be a factor: Babies of Asian, Latino and Native American descent are the most likely to be born with a cleft, as are children whose parents themselves had cleft lip or palate.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Teething Treatments

Dos and Don'ts

When a baby’s first teeth come in, it can be a pain for the whole family. Incisors usually break through around age 6 months, leaving parents and infants in sore need of relief.

Although a number of popular treatments promise to soothe sensitive gums, not all methods are reliable, or even safe. Here’s an overview of the best — and worst — ideas.

Don’t try this at home

Proponents of amber teething necklaces claim that the stones release a pain-relieving substance that is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. However, closer scrutiny reveals no scientific evidence to back up those assertions – and the beads may even pose a choking hazard.

Another no-no is lidocaine. The topical anesthetic can be toxic to infants and young children, leading to seizures, brain damage or even death.

Tried-and-true methods

Rely on these proven strategies to give your child risk-free relief:

  • Massage the gums with your finger, after washing your hands
  • Hold a cool spoon to the sensitive area
  • Let your child chew on a cold washcloth under supervision
  • Chill pacifiers in the fridge before use
  • Give your child a teething ring to bite on

And, finally, just wait. Your child’s last teeth should come in by age 2 or 3, bringing teething troubles to a close.

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