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Smoking and your Oral health

Smokeless Tobacco

5 steps to quit

Smoking and your oral health

Americans continue to die due to the health effects of smoking. According to US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 20 million Americans have died since 1964 when the first report on Health effects of smoking was issued. Also, more than 2 million of these deaths were nonsmokers who were breathing smoke contaminated air (second hand smoking).

In general, any form of smoking is bad for our health.  Smoking releases certain toxins to our body, and inhibits the right processes for healing.

The mouth is not left out of the bad effects of smoking. The following are some of the negative consequences of smoking:

  • Bad breath
  • stained teeth and tongue
  • dulled sense of taste and smell
  •  slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery
  • difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems
  • gum disease
  • oral cancer

Smokeless Tobacco

These are often marketed as a healthier option to smoking. They are even perceived as a way to help quit smoking. Quitting smoking is the only way to decrease any health problems related to tobacco

There are two basic types of smokeless tobacco:

  • Chewing tobacco: Strands of loose leaves or twists of tobacco
  • Snuff: Dry or moist finely ground tobacco packaged in cans or pouches.

Smokeless tobacco can cause these health problems:

  • Gum disease that can lead to tooth loss
  • Tissue and bone loss around the roots of the teeth
  • Scratching and wearing down of teeth
  • Stained and discolored teeth
  • Bad Breath

American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smokeless Tobacco.

 5 steps to quit

Here are 5 steps to quitting from is a website by the National Cancer Institute that provides free, accurate, and evidence-based information and professional assistance to help you quit smoking.

Step 1:  Have a plan

Once you’ve made up your mind to quit smoking and set the date, develop a plan. There are free tools online at and a toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, to help you succeed. Download an app to track your progress.

Step 2:  Don’t go it alone

It will be easier to quit smoking if you have support from family and friends. Let them know you’ve decided to quit, ask for their support, and tell them specifically what they can do to help. Spend time with people who want you to succeed. Talk to friends who have quit and ask for their advice.

Step 3:  Stay busy

Replace your smoking habit with a healthy habit like exercise. Make plans for dinner or a movie with non-smoking friends. Instead of smoking, chew sugarless gum—it keeps your mouth busy and helps prevent cavities, too.

Step 4:  Avoid smoking triggers

Stay away from people, places, and things that tempt you to smoke. Some common triggers include stress, alcohol, coffee, and hanging out with people who smoke. Throw out cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays, and go to places where smoking isn’t allowed.

Step 5:  Reward your accomplishments

Quitting is hard. And, every hour or day you go without a cigarette is an achievement. Take it hour by hour, and reward yourself for small successes. With all the money you save on cigarettes, you can treat yourself to a stress-relieving massage or a pedicure!

More resources to quit smoking:

Surgeon General’s guide

 American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smokeless Tobacco.  


Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Heart patients

2000mg Augmentin ……… hour before dental procedure

Familiar with that? or wondering what this prescription means?…

Some people may be told by their physicians to take the above prescription before certain dental treatments. This is because they may have some heart condition that could be life-threatening if bacteria got into their bloodstream. While for most people, routine dental work would pose no life-threatening illnesses if bacteria got into their blood stream (their immune support being optimal), in those with specific heart conditions, this is not the case. An extra step of protecting the patients from bacteria entering into their blood (bacteremia) by prescribing antibiotics is very important.

Who Might Benefit from Antibiotic Prophylaxis?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA): 

Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for a small number of people who have specific heart conditions. The American Heart Association has guidelines identifying people who should take antibiotics prior to dental care. According to these guidelines, antibiotic prophylaxis should be considered for people with:

  • Artificial heart valves.
  • A history of an infection of the lining of the heart or heart valves known as infective endocarditis, an uncommon but life-threatening infection.
  • A heart transplant in which a problem develops with one of the valves inside the heart.
  • Heart conditions that are present from birth, such as:
    • Unrepaired cyanotic congenital heart disease, including people with palliative shunts and conduits.
    • Defects repaired with prosthetic material or device—whether placed by surgery or catheter intervention—during the first six months after repair.
    • Cases in which a heart defect has been repaired, but a residual defect remains at the site or adjacent to the site of the prosthetic patch or prosthetic device used for the repair.

More on Antibiotic Prophylaxis



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Examining the Causes of Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

Dry mouth also referred to as xerostomia, is a condition whereby the salivary glands within the mouth fail to produce sufficient saliva to wet the mouth resulting in a dry or parched feeling in one’s mouth. Dry mouth usually results due to aging issues,  smoking, cancer radiation therapy, and as a side effect of some medications. It may be less often caused by a condition affecting the salivary glands directly. 

Find out about Smoking and 5 steps to quit smoking tobacco

Saliva prevents tooth decay by washing food particles away, restricting bacterial growth, and neutralizing acids from bacteria. It also boosts your tasting abilities and makes it easy to swallow food and chew. Saliva also has enzymes beneficial for aiding digestion. 

Dry mouth and reduced saliva production can cause a range of oral health issues including:

  • Poor oral hygiene and increased potential for gum disease
  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Bad breath
  • Compromised tasting abilities
  • Difficulty chewing food and swallowing

Salivary gland dysfunction and extreme dry mouth can result in permanent throat and mouth disorders as well as significant anxiety, which can affect your quality of life.

Learn more about gum disease


Dry mouth is frequently caused by dehydration. Also, some illnesses like diabetes can affect saliva production resulting in dry mouth. Some supplements and medications like chemotherapy drugs and appetite suppressants may also lead to dry mouth. Other causes include:


  • Anxiety
  • Marijuana use
  • Radiation therapy on the neck and head
  • Botulism poisoning
  • Stress
  • Smoking of tobacco
  • Tranquilizers
  • Autoimmune disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Aging

What to do to reduce dry mouth

  • Drink plenty of fluid frequently: water is the best, healthiest, cheapest, and most effective way to hydrate
  • Chewing sugar-free gums can help
  • See your Dentist, who might be able to evaluate and diagnose this condition accurately, while medications to help relieve your symptoms



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Bad Breath

Halitosis, commonly referred to as bad breath, is a chronic condition, and is quite different from morning breath or “after an onion or garlic meal breath”. People affected may not know they have halitosis and so, may learn about it from others which can breed distress and discomfort. 

What causes bad breath or halitosis? 

Bad breath can come from the mouth, or farther behind, in the throat, sinus or chest region, and it is usually caused by bacteria containing plaque in the oral mucosa, gums, teeth, tongue (intraoral), and other areas of the throat or body (Extraoral). 


In the mouth, there are hundreds of bacteria living in the oral region. The bacteria will feed on the food debris remaining in the mouth after you eat leaving a bad-smelling waste product, hence the bad breath.

Bacteria may also harm the teeth, causing cavities; They may harm the gum and its attachments, causing gum disease. Cavities and gum disease further cause bad breath because they are extra holes/pockets in the mouth, helping the bacteria grow even further since bacteria like to hide in holes and pockets, undisturbed. The bacteria in the holes and pockets then continue to produce foul-smelling waste products.

Dry mouth can also cause bad breath, since saliva is absent or not sufficient to remove unwanted debris. Dry mouth can be caused by medications, tobacco use, etc.

Find out more about dry mouth


In some cases of halitosis, certain bronchitis, sinusitis, and tonsillitis can be responsible, since bacteria likes the mucous produced and colonizes it during the period of the infection. Also, gastrointestinal disease, uncontrolled diabetes, and advanced kidney or liver disease may also cause halitosis and in such cases, the individual may experience other symptoms prompting a visit to a medical professional. Smoking also causes bad breath aside from increasing your risk for other health problems and staining your teeth. Tobacco irritates the gum tissues and decreases your capacity to taste foods, which is why tobacco users are at a higher risk for gum disease. Considering that smoking also affects the individual’s sense of smell, he or she may also not know they have bad breath. 

Learn more about smoking and 5 steps to quit smoking tobacco


If you think you have bad breath, consider improving your dental habits by brushing with toothpaste containing fluoride, twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day. Drink plenty of water as well. Cut back on drinking caffeine or smoking tobacco. Do attend your regular six-month recall dental visits for further evaluation by the dentist and professional cleaning.

If bad breath still persists, consider speaking with your dentist, so they can help evaluate for any intraoral or extraoral conditions producing this symptom.


How to Deal with Dry Socket as a Result of Tooth Extraction

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How to Deal with Dry Socket as a Result of Tooth Extraction

Dry socket is the discomfort or pain one experiences a few days after undergoing a permanent adult tooth extraction. It is essentially an inflammation of the alveolar or jaw bone and it is also known as alveolar osteitis. This is just one of the few complications that can arise from tooth extractions. This pain results from the failed development of the blood clot at the tooth extraction site or its dissolution or dislodging before the wound heals properly.

Usually, after a tooth extraction, there will be the formation of a blood clot at the site which acts as a protective layer for the nerve endings and bone underneath the empty tooth socket. This clot also forms the foundation for soft tissue development and new bone growth over the clot. When the underlying nerves and bone are exposed this causes intense pain along the nerves extending to the side of the face and within the socket itself.

The socket becomes even more painful when inflammation increases and food debris start to fill up inside it. Dry socket typically tends to develop one to three days after removal of the tooth. The pain resulting from a dry socket is usually accompanied by a foul taste in the mouth and bad breath.

Once this pain starts, you can be able to tell that the normal healing of the socket has been interfered with. Dry socket is usually caused by physiologic, mechanical, and chemical factors.

a) Physiological factors preventing blood clot formation include poor blood supply to the tooth extraction site, a dense jawbone, and hormones from oral contraceptives which can interrupt healing

b) Mechanical factors include loss of the blood clot, smoking by dragging on the cigarette, aggressive spitting or rinsing, and the action of sucking through a straw

c) Chemical factors may primarily affect smokers as the nicotine in cigarettes reduces blood supply to the mouth hence the blood clot might not form at the tooth extraction site

d) Bacterial factors include specific oral bacteria that can breakdown the blood clot and a preexisting mouth infection before the tooth extraction i.e. periodontal or gum disease to keep the blood clot from forming properly. 

Learn more about periodontal or gum disease


You can only temporarily manage the pain from a dry socket at home until you go to a dental professional for treatment. You can use over the counter pain medication to relieve pain and apply an insulated ice pack or a cold compress on the affected area of the face for fifteen minutes on and off. Rinse your mouth using salt water to get rid of any food debris then gently apply one or two drops of clove oil to the area using a clean cotton swab. Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol. Take note that these methods only offer temporary relief and you should still visit your dentist for dry socket treatment for quick recovery. 

After diagnosis, the dentist typically rinses out the dry socket to get rid of any debris inside then he or she applies medicated dressing to reduce pain and protect that area. Your dentist can also prescribe a painkiller to relieve your discomfort and an antibiotic to keep any infections at bay. You will be advised on what to drink and eat and you will also be shown how to care for and clean this dry socket area. The site should heal in about 10 days and the dentists will request that you set up another appointment to follow up on your progress and observe healing of the area. 

Sources they are.

Why You Need to Get a Fluoride Treatment

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Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by strengthening your teeth. Fluoride fights against bacteria that are harmful to the gums and teeth and supports a healthy enamel layer for the teeth. Fluoride is very beneficial for people with a higher risk of developing cavities or dental caries, and children. Cavities result when bacteria build up on the gums and teeth forms a sticky plaque layer, which produces an acid eroding the gum tissue and the teeth. Once the plaque breaks down the enamel, the bacteria can cause an infection harming the blood and nerves within the tooth core.

Fluoride can be applied to the teeth systemically and topically. Topical fluoride is usually applied to the tooth enamel directly via fluoride mouth rinses and toothpaste not to mention fluoride treatments by a dentist. Systemic fluorides are swallowed and they include dietary fluoride supplements and fluoridated water. You can get an optimum reduction of dental caries by getting both systemic and topical fluoride treatments. Professional fluoride treatments at dental offices are beneficial to anyone with a risk of developing dental cavities. These fluoride preparations are stronger in concentration in comparison to that of fluoride mouth rinses or toothpaste. 

Fluoride treatments only take several minutes to complete whereby the fluoride is applied using a cotton brush or swab in varnish, foam, gel, or solution form. It can also be used as a rinse or placed in a tray to be held in the mouth for a few minutes. After the treatment, the patient is not supposed to drink or eat anything or rinse out the fluoride for at least 30 minutes so it is absorbed by teeth to fix any microscopic carious regions. It is advised to get a fluoride treatment every 3, 6, or 12 months depending on your oral health. 

So, the next time you go to the Dentist, at Smile League Dental, ask us about fluoride!

Consider dropping that bottled water...

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Drinking fluoridated water prevents tooth decay but drinking bottled water can rob you of these benefits as bottled water does not have fluoride. Food has plenty of minerals that are good for you but water also has naturally occurring minerals that seep into the ground when it rains, fluoride included. 

This is evident in research conducted which found that people living in places with a high soil fluoride content had fewer cases of tooth decay. In terms of oral health, bottled water is definitely a healthier alternative to bottled soda or sugary drinks. However, the water is usually subject to processes such as distillation or reverse osmosis which takes out any substances that can influence the water’s flavor. These processes remove fluoride that is in the water, thus the fluoride content will vary depending on the company. According to research, some bottled water is also shown to be slightly high in acidity and this acidity can harm or damage your teeth. 

Tap water, on the other hand, may be safer for your teeth as it is government regulated to ensure it has the right fluoride levels in some areas. Also, if you are worried about bad taste, and the possibility of leakage in tap water, you can either buy your own gentle water filter (ensure it does not filter out fluoride) or obtain baby (nursery) water, which has added fluoride in it, at the right amount (0.7-1.2 parts per million).


Dental Abscess

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When you get irritated or hurt on the inside of your mouth, bacteria can enter the affected areas causing an infection. This may manifest in the form of painful, pus-filled swelling and if this pus is unable to drain out, the area will become even more painful and swollen. This is referred to as an abscess, which creates a barrier surrounding the infection as the body’s way of preventing the infection from spreading any further. 

An abscess may form quite rapidly at times, even forming one or two days following the beginning of the infection. There are two kinds of abscesses namely:

  • Periapical abscess or Tooth abscess, which occurs inside one’s tooth when the nerves in the tooth are dying or dead. This kind of abscess will appear at the tip of the roots of the teeth and spreads to the neighboring bone
  • Periodontal abscess or Gum abscess, which is typically the result of an infection within the space between the gum and tooth. This infection can result after food is trapped between the tooth and gum. People suffering from severe periodontal disease can have bacterial build-up in the bone and under the gum. 

Most dental abscesses are often painful thus people typically look for relief or treatment as soon as possible. At times the infection can cause no pain or little pain and if the abscess fails to be treated this infection can go months extending to years. Abscesses do not go away voluntarily so one should not ignore any symptoms. 

If an abscess infection goes untreated, it can cause damage to the teeth and bone surrounding the infected area. Sometimes, there will be the formation of a hollow tunnel known as a sinus tract or fistula through the skin and bone enabling drainage of the pus.  If this happens, the individual may notice a strange taste in his or her mouth. Pressure buildup is responsible for the pain caused by an abscess and draining it via a fistula decreases this pressure. The pain also dissipates but the infection will still require treatment. 

Abscesses always risk being serious, as the infection can spread to other areas within the body and as such, you should always see your dentist if you experience symptoms of the same. 

Gum abscesses typically heal quickly after the area is thoroughly cleaned, the trapped pus is drained, and the infection itself is treated. If there is already a fistula, a dentist can trace it back to where the infection originated. If the infection began within a tooth, the dentist will make a tiny hole in the tooth enabling drainage of the abscess. After that, the tooth will require root canal treatment, then a crown or a filling.

If the tooth is terribly damaged or the abscess is significantly large, the individual may need tooth removal. People suffering from severe periodontal diseases can also have dental abscesses but draining these abscesses can help the immediate issue. On the other hand, the periodontal disease ought to be treated to keep other infections at bay. The dentist may prescribe you painkillers and antibiotics to encourage healing of the abscess and prevent the spreading of the infection.


What are wisdom teeth and how to deal with the symptoms

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Wisdom teeth are those teeth growing at the back of your mouth and they are situated behind one’s molars. There are found on the top and the bottom of your gums. Wisdom teeth usually grow in a misaligned, sideways, or crooked manner and as they come in, they tend to push the other teeth. This causes misalignment and overcrowding problems for the wisdom teeth as well.

Are Your Wisdom Teeth Coming In?

Symptoms of the same include: 

  • Pain behind one’s molars at the back of one’s mouth that increases gradually with time with the continuous growth of the wisdom teeth. This is because the wisdom teeth are growing sideways, thus crowding the neighboring teeth and pushing on the bone and nerves in the gums.
  • Swelling, tenderness, redness, and pain on and around the affected area. As the wisdom teeth start to come through the surface of one’s gums, this gives way for bacteria to pass through the open tissue thus resulting in possible oral infections.
  • The wisdom teeth can also become impacted, whereby the neighboring teeth or the jawbone block the wisdom teeth from eruption. Thus, the wisdom teeth become trapped in place within the gums as the roots continue elongating. The longer they remain in this state, the more problems they can cause to your oral and overall health.

Other symptoms resulting from wisdom teeth impaction include infection, and severe pain at the back of one’s mouth to name a few. Signs of infection include swelling, redness, bad taste when chewing food, and foul breath. If this goes untreated, the impacted wisdom teeth may give rise to cysts and even tumors in rare situations.

Impacted wisdom teeth have a high tendency of developing cysts around them. These cysts can damage the surrounding tissues and the tooth, including the bone. When tumors form around these cysts, it can complicate the extraction of the wisdom teeth. You should seek relief for wisdom teeth pain immediately you can so you can reduce your chances of having an invasive surgical procedure for extraction.

There is also the possibility of the wisdom teeth emerging partially from beneath the gums in which case, it is quite easy for the bacteria to come in through the opening surrounding the tooth. If you do not look for relief for your wisdom tooth pain, you are at a higher chance of experiencing an oral infection. This infection can result in stiffness, jaw pain, swelling, redness, increased wisdom tooth pain, and even overall illness. Oral infections can easily get into the bloodstream affecting the whole body.

Treatment for Wisdom Teeth

The most ideal treatment for symptoms of wisdom teeth is their extraction. Extraction of wisdom teeth is typically done at an oral surgeon’s or a dentist’s office either under general or local anesthesia. If the wisdom teeth have already come out via the surface of the gums, then it is relatively easy to remove them. However, if they are impacted then it will be a bit more difficult to extract them. Regardless, extraction is the most common and the best solution for relieving wisdom teeth symptoms.



At Smile League Dental, we really care about our patients, help alleviate Dental fear and anxiety, and assist with making payment plans for a more affordable dental care