General Dental Advice
1. Mouth Ulcers
2. Smoking and Electronic Cigarettes
1. Mouth Ulcers
An ulcer is where the surface of the skin breaks down and exposes the underlying deeper skin or tissues. Mouth ulcers can occur anywhere inside the mouth - lips, cheeks, on and under the tongue and on the palate.
How do they vary?
There are three types of common mouth ulcers – Minor, Major and Herpetiform.
Minor are generally small, pin head size and there may be more than one. They can be surprisingly sore despite being very small. They generally disappear with in a few days.
Major are much larger, sometimes bigger than a penny. They can last up to two weeks and may or may not be painfull.
Herpetiform are very small and often occur in clusters al over the mouth. They can be quite painfull but generally disappear after a week or two.
What Causes Mouth Ulcers?
Many people suffer from mouth ulcers at some point in their lives. While we generally don’t know what causes them, there are a few known things that can trigger ulcers to form:-
Acidic drinks eg grapefruit.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, sometimes found in toothpaste.
Lack of vitamins B12 or C.
Tiredness or stress
How can mouth ulcers be treated?
Use a Chlorhexidine mouthwash such as Corsodyl. This has been found to be the most effective way of soothing and healing common mouth ulcers.
Avoid the known causes!
Vitamin B12 or C supplements.
Topical Gels such as Bonjella can offer some relief but they are difficult to apply.
In severe and persistant cases we can prescribe Steriod Lozenges
Some other Points
Mouth Ulcers are fairly common.
They are not infectious.
There are no long term consequences and ulcers can completely disappear at any time.
Most mouth ulcers disappear in a week or two. If you have had an ulcer for more than two weeks you should see your dentist and get it checked.
2. Smoking and Electronic Cigarettes
Ok, we all know smoking is bad for your health so I won't preach on the subject especially since I do like the occasional cigar! However, what I will say is that smoking is also bad for teeth and gums. I have seen patients who smoke regularly loose teeth in a matter of years. It seems the teeth and gums tolerate it for many years then suddenly things change with decay and gum disease starting and progressing rapidly.
Excellent oral hygiene with proper brushing & flossing, using TeePee brushes in-between teeth if there are gaps between teeth and a good mouthwash (e.g. Listerine) is essential for smokers.
Electronic Cigarettes came on the market a few years back and have the advantage of not having the tar and 4000 toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke. So they don't stain teeth or have all the other health issues. Of course, they still contain nicotine so are just as addictive as tobacco cigarettes, but all the research is showing there appears to be no health issues, so far, apart from remaining a nicotine addict.
Do you find it hard to think up snacks and drinks that are safe for teeth? The following are some examples of alternatives to confectionery and sugar based drinks. It is not intended to be a fully comprehensive list but rather a rough guide to show that these days there is a wide selection of alternatives to be found on supermarket shelves that will not harm teeth in between meals. By reading food labels and using a little imagination you will no doubt find many more. Look at labels carefully, and beware of the following: sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, glucose syrup, honey, corn syrup, invert sugar syrup, molasses, treacle, maltose. These are all sugary types of products and can damage the teeth. Brown sugar is just as bad as white!
Water, Tea and coffee without sugar, Milk: children under 5 should be given whole milk not skimmed or semi-skimmed The following drinks are all sugar free and will not cause decay but it should be remembered that as with any fruit drinks, they are acidic and if drunk to excess, can dissolve the surface of the teeth.
Kia-Ora whole orange drink , Robinson's Special R Fruit Juice drinks Supermarkets own brands: check labels Diet lemonade, Diet Cola, Diet Pepsi, Diet 7 Up
The sweetening agent in these will be one of the artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Saccharin, Acesulfame-K.
Rolls Sandwiches Pitta bread French bread Cheese scones
Cornish wafers (Jacobs)
Cream crackers (Jacob ' s/Sainsbury/Tesco) Butter puffs (Crawford's)
Crunchy sticks (Tesco) Wotsits
Crisps: various assorted, check labels if unsure. Low fat and low salt crisps are also available
Crisp rolls - (in pre-packaged bags from supermarkets)
Fillings/toppings for sandwiches, rolls
Meat and fish spreads Cold meat
*not suitable before 6 months of age Bovril:
*not suitable before 6 months of age Peanut butter: sugar free, e.g.
Whole Earth Original Crunchy Cheese: low fat is available
Kraft Dairylea cheese slices
Delight low fat dairy cheese slices Sun-Pat medium cheddar spread Laughing Cow low fat Dairy Spread
Raw Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit is sweet and not surprisingly contains sugars. Although not sugar free it is a good alternative to biscuits or cakes, which are high in sugar
Apples, oranges, pears, bananas, etc. Carrots, celery, radish, etc.
Nuts: *not suitable before 5 years of age NB. Dried fruit (e.g. raisins, sultanas) is high in sugar and therefore not a safe snack. Muesli bars - often sold as healthy snacks - are often high in dried fruits, honey, glucose syrup, and sugar and are therefore potentially harmful to teeth.
St Ive! Shape
Marks and Spencer Lite
Tesco Health Eating very low fat Boots Shapers
The sweetening agent in these products will be Aspartame or Aspartame & Acesulfame-K
Chewing gum: various sugar free Trebor Sugar Free Cool mints
Alternative Sweeteners In tablet and granule form
(Nutra Sweet) Canderel Spoonful Canderel tablets
Boots Shapers Granulated Sweetener
Boots Shapers tablets
Aspartame & Acesulfame-K:
Hermesetas 'New Taste' tablets
Hermesetas Granulated Sweetener Hermesetas 'Original' tablets Sweetex tablets
Aspartame and saccharin:
RECOMMENDATIONS TO HELP YOU AND YOUR FAMILY KEEP TEETH HEALTHY I. Have 3 meals a day containing protein, green vegetables, salad, fruit or cheese
Discourage sugary snacks and drinks between meals; if you are really hungry or thirsty between meals try to choose 'safe' items.
Limit sugar intake to the 3 meals because sugar does less harm to teeth if taken with meals. Give any sweets at the end of a meal.