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Chessington Dental Practice Blog

White Spots on Gums: Causes, Symptoms and Cures

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White spots or patches appearing on the gums can have a range of causes -- and the symptoms and cures will depend on the diagnosis.
Generally speaking, there are four dental conditions that can result in these patches or spots developing. Some are easily treated with medication while others will need the attention of a dentist or oral specialist.

The four main culprits that cause white patches or spots are canker sores, oral lichen planus, oral thrush and leukoplakia.

Canker Sores

Causes - The precise cause of canker sores remains unclear but experts suspect that bacteria, improper diet, oral irritation or injury and even stress may all be contributory factors.

Symptoms - Often referred to as mouth ulcers, canker sores are round or oval shaped with a red edge and have either a white or yellowish centre.

Cure - Most minor cases of canker sores will generally clear up within one to two weeks without treatment. More persistent cases will need to be discussed with a dentist who may recommend a mouthwash or an over-the-counter medication.

Oral Lichen Planus

Causes - As with canker sores, there is no exact cause for oral lichen planus but experts believe it may be an autoimmune reaction to oral infections or injury to the teeth. Other possible causes include an autoimmune disorder or reactions to medications or certain materials.

Symptoms - Oral lichen planus causes inflammation of mucous membranes in the oral cavity which can cause white lace-like patches or red swollen patches to appear. These sores can sometimes peel or blister and be accompanied by burning sensations or pain. In some cases, there can also be discomfort or slight pain when speaking, chewing or swallowing.

Cure - There is no cure for this chronic condition but it can be controlled with proper treatment. This focuses on healing any sores or lesions and relieving any pain or discomfort.

If white spots on the gums are the only issue, then treatment may not be necessary but more severe issues may require the use of topical numbing medications for pain relief or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

Oral Thrush

Causes - Also called oral candidiasis, the condition occurs when an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the mouth allows for the growth of the candida albicans fungus. This imbalance can be be caused by a number of factors including:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases such as leukaemia and AIDS
  • Vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy
  • Certain medications may also reduce the amount of good bacteria in the body.

Symptoms - Oral thrush is typified by the presence of raised sores which are cream or white in appearance and have a soft cheese-like texture.

Cure - Treatment is aimed at preventing the fungus from spreading -- but the underlying cause must also be explored to prevent a recurrence.

Many topical medications including tablets, lozenges and mouthwashes are widely available and a dentist or doctor can recommend which may work best on an individual basis.

Leukoplakia

Causes - Another cause of thick, white spots or patches on the gums, the inner cheeks, in the mouth and (occasionally) on the tongue is leukoplakia. Like other dental issues that cause white patches, the exact cause is unknown but the use of tobacco products and the excessive intake of alcohol are the chief suspects.

Symptoms - In many ways leukoplakia is very similar to oral thrush with symptoms including patches or spots that are:

  • White, grey or grey-white in colour
  • Thick to the touch or slightly elevated
  • Coarse or hard in texture

Although leukoplakia patches are generally painless, they may be sensitive to heat, touch, irritation or spiced food.

Cure - Treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. Smokers will be encouraged to quit or cut down as will heavy drinkers.

If the condition is caused by irritation from rough teeth or ill-fitting dentures, this issue will need to be resolved. If the root problem cannot be rectified, it may be necessary to have the patches surgically removed by a dentist or oral specialist.

A Reason to Smile

In the vast majority of cases white spots and patches are nothing to worry about -- and will either clear up on their own or are easily treatable. It should be noted, however, that some very isolated cases of leukoplakia can be an early indication of cancer.

White or cream spots are most common but occasionally the lesions may be red in colour (called speckled leukoplakia) and these may be cancerous growths.

Pre-cancerous leukoplakia is called dysplasia which can be mild, moderate or severe. Severe cases are most likely to develop into cancer and the diagnosis will determine the best course of treatment.

Whatever the size, shape, colour or location of white patches or spots they should never be simply ignored and always brought to the attention of a dentist or doctor.

As is the case with any physical ailments, it is good practise to keep the teeth, gums, tongue and mouth in the best condition possible by following a good dental health regimen and scheduling regular appointments with a dentist.

Sources:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321454

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/mouth-sores-and-infections/white-gums

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-leukoplakia

Help Your Child Feel Good About Dental Visits

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Visiting a dentist for the first time can be confusing and even slightly frightening for some children. This is why parents should begin to prepare them for what they can expect.

Indeed, fostering healthy teeth and gums at an early age is the best way to avoid problems in the future.

Here are three effective strategies to embrace:

  • Always answer any questions that your child may have.
  • Play a game of dentist at home.
  • Explain why dentists are important as well as some of the procedures that will be performed.

"Your child will likely have some questions or even concerns about going to the dentist."

Read more here:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/preparing-your-child-for-their-first-trip-to-the-dentist/

Are Dental Implants Suitable for Everyone?

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Dental implants are a secure and permanent way to replace missing teeth. Many people prefer them to dentures. This is because the implant is fixed into the jaw.

The crown on top of the implant replaces the missing tooth and will match your existing teeth. However, your dentist will need to make sure that you are a suitable candidate for dental implants.

Key takeaways:

  •  There must be sufficient bone in the jaw in order for the implant to be successfully inserted.
  •  Any other cavities, decay or gum disease should be treated prior to having dental implants.
  •  Smokers should quit or refrain from smoking or using tobacco.

An experienced dentist can assess your smile and check if dental implants are the best solution to replace one or more of your missing teeth. If you would like more information about dental implants, talk to your dentist today.

More:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/are-you-a-good-candidate-for-dental-implants/

Factors Increase the Risk of Gum Disease

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Periodontal (gum) disease affects millions of individuals from all walks of life. This is why properly caring for our teeth and visiting the dentist on a regular basis are so crucial.

However, it is just as important to appreciate some factors that may increase your chances of developing this condition. Here are three examples:

  • Those who smoke or use chewing tobacco are at a higher risk.
  • Genetics can play a role, particularly a predisposition to diabetes.
  • Taking certain medications may lead to dry mouth.

"Having a family history of gum disease may make you more likely to get the condition."

Learn more about gum disease here:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/are-you-at-higher-risk-for-gum-disease/

What Is Tooth Resorption?

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Once the inner or outer layer of a tooth deteriorates, your body may start the process of resorption – when the body absorbs damaged tissue. Without treatment, the tooth can continue to weaken and become more prone to injury, cavities and infection. However, your dentist has some treatment options.

 

Key takeaways:

- Root canal therapy may be used to remove damaged or infected tissue from the inner tooth.
- Gum surgery and fillings are sometimes needed to repair minor tooth and root resorption.
- Once a tooth has been treated, a dental crown may be used to restore a tooth and prolong its life.

Extraction of a tooth is usually the last resort. As symptoms are not always obvious, it is important to maintain regular check-ups with your dentist to monitor your oral health and to have X-rays if necessary to maintain your beautiful smile.

Read the full article here:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/how-is-tooth-resorption-treated/

Tips To Help You Manage Dry Mouth At Night

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Dry mouth can affect the quality of your sleep and cause discomfort. If it isn’t treated, it could also damage your teeth and gums. Here are some tips to help you manage it.

Key takeaways:

  • Ensure you drink at least 4 glasses of water every day.
  • Limit your intake of salty foods, especially before bed time.
  • It can be helpful to reduce your caffeine intake and avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes.

If you’re on medication, talk to your dentist to see if the drugs could be causing dry mouth.
Read the full story here: https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/how-do-i-address-dry-mouth-at-night/

Preparing for a Tooth Extraction?

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After a tooth extraction, it’s important to follow your dentist’s advice on self-care. Your dentist will also advise you on tooth replacement options sooner.

Key takeaways:

  • Make sure you have soft foods such as fish, soup, yogurts and oatmeal for the days following an extraction.
  • Avoid eating immediately after the extraction and until the anaesthetic wears off.
  • Don’t drink anything hot or use straws after the procedure.
  • Fever, severe pain, nausea and vomiting are signs you may have an infection following an extraction.

"Bone preservation is when your dentist ensures the tooth socket remains intact to save space for a tooth restoration, such as a dental implant, following the extraction."

Read the full story here
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/what-to-know-before-a-tooth-extraction/

What Causes Tooth Loss?

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The principal reason why teeth fall out (or have to be extracted by a dentist) is basically a failure to take proper care of teeth and gums.
Brushing and flossing daily (and properly) will prevent dental issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. Both of these can result in tooth loss -- but there are other factors which can determine how healthy our teeth and gums are including:

  • A poor diet with too much sugar, leading to tooth decay
  • Use of tobacco and tobacco products
  • Excessive use of alcohol

Another common cause of tooth loss is injuries to the teeth -- which can best be avoided by using a protective mouthguard while participating in sporting activities.

Learn more at https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/top-causes-of-tooth-loss/

Oral Bacteria and High Blood Pressure

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Studies continue to show a clear link between our oral health and general health. Poor oral health is associated with various conditions such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A number of studies have looked at the links between high blood pressure and oral hygiene in particular.

Key takeaways:
- Recent studies indicate that good oral hygiene may boost your general health.
- People who have advanced gum disease have a far greater risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
- Overuse of antibiotics or mouthwash can kill off good oral bacteria and increase blood pressure.

Studies continue to demonstrate the links between good oral hygiene and better general health so it's really important to maintain your smile. See your dentist for regular check-ups and advice on how to use mouthwash safely. Brush and floss your teeth regularly because your health may depend on it!

Full article here:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/the-link-between-oral-bacteria-and-blood-pressure/

Dental Orthodontics for Adults

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An orthodontist is a dentist who specialises in the prevention and treatment of irregularities with the teeth and jaws.
In most cases an orthodontist will treat children and teenagers who suffer with dental issues such as misaligned teeth and overcrowding and will typically correct these problems with dental braces.

However, it is not just younger people who can benefit from orthodontics as adults can also avail of these treatments to improve:

  • The appearance of teeth
  • Overall dental health
  • Self-confidence

Today’s orthodontic treatments are not confined to traditional braces as a dentist can also offer clear aligners or lingual braces which are more discreet and far less noticeable.

Find out more at https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/adult-orthodontics-is-worth-the-investment/.

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