Friday, June 27, 2014

No Numbing Gel for Babies

Teething is a normal part of development.  Baby teeth start to erupt between 5-7 months of age and continue to come in until the child is about three years old.  Babies may seem fussy, cry, and chew on their hands.  A cold cloth or teething ring for baby to chew on or massaging the gums with a clean finger are the best ways to treat discomfort.  (Fever during teething is coincidental and use of products with acetaminophen should be used according to directions to avoid overdose in an infant.)  While parents may be distressed that their child is in pain, numbing gels are never recommended to treat teething pain.  Over the counter products can do more harm than good and can cause a rare but potentially fatal condition called methemoglobinemia in which the oxygen level of the blood drops.  Parents should also never use left over adult prescriptions to treat teething pain in babies. 

For more information about the products in question and to read the FDA's warning, please go to: 

Now a word about the use of numbing gels for adults.  Pain in the mouth that is so severe you find yourself applying numbing gel is not normal.  Cavities or infections in the mouth do not get better, they only get worse.  At best numbing gel will only temporarily alleviate pain and then you may find yourself in a more painful or potentially dangerous situation.  If your teeth or a tooth hurts, see a dentist! 

This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition.  Please visit your medical or dental professional for treatment.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bad Breath and Sniffing out Lung Cancer

I have patients who are diligent about brushing and use mouthwash yet complain of bad breath.  There are several causes of bad breath but I usually address flossing habits first.  Flossing gets in between the teeth where the toothbrush can't reach.  Plaque, which is made of germs, live and grow all over the mouth.  Not flossing is like taking a shower and washing your face but not washing your hair or your ears - you're not doing the whole job.  Plaque stinks and unfortunately there is no other way to effectively get the plaque out from between the teeth.  Even new electronic devices, which are like mini water-picks, still recommend flossing in their instructions.  There simply is no substitute.  When investigating reasons for bad breath, other things to look at are medications, tooth alignment, mouth breathing and other health considerations.  Some medications can cause dry mouth, a common side effect of certain meds, which can lead to bad breath.  Supplements like fish oil or garlic, foods like onions or other odiferous foods can also cause it.  Tooth alignment can cause the mouth not to fully close, leading to drying of the mouth tissues and again, bad breath.  Mouth breathing at night or snoring, sometimes a sign of a serious health issue like sleep apnea, can also cause this problem as can life style habits, like smoking and drinking.  Bad breath certainly can be troublesome so it is best to discuss the issue frankly with your medical or dental professional especially since chronic bad breath may indicate underlying health problems.  It was also reported recently that the breath in general may even reveal other important information about a person's health.  At a conference of the American Society for Clinical Oncology new research revealed some amazing results.  Researchers reported that they have developed a machine using nanotechnology that can "smell" the breath of patients with lung cancer and other lung ailments.  Simply by breathing into a tube subtle changes in the body chemistry of the person are detected.  While this technology is still being tested the initial results seem promising.  (Please see the original article at ) Perhaps someday your doctor, dentist, or dental hygienist will be able to administer a simple breath test that can save your life or the life of your loved one.  That sure smells sweet.
This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any dental or medical problem or illness.  Please visit your medical or dental health professional if you need medical or dental treatment!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

For Brighter Smiles

There is nothing like being with friends to make me feel like a million bucks.  Friday night it was at a formal, lavish affair to celebrate our town's anniversary and honor community members who make it a great place to live.  It was a little daunting to walk by myself into this throng of people dressed to the nines, laughing, talking and drinking.  Making my way through the crowd I saw my friends across the room and social anxiety faded to relief!  These are the friends I have made since moving to town twenty years ago.  (Where has the time gone!?)  Some of them I have known for more than a decade and others met more recently but all are cherished.  One who knows my kids well and whom we affectionately called "Crossing Guard Lady" for years.  We now paint sets together for our community theater show and I so appreciate her common sense and no nonsense advice.  Another who simply cracks me up with her wit and uncommon humor.  She's that person who makes you feel like you're in 4th grade again.  And several more friends each of whom evoke such wonderful memories and have a special spot in my heart.  It makes me feel so blessed.  On Saturday, it was by contrast a very informal affair - girls night out at a friend's home.  Just pull up a chair and grab a glass of wine or a beer.  We know each other so well that when we see each other it's almost as if the conversation picks up where it left off.  These are the women I have known since I was a teen and who know where the bodies are buried!  (What happens in the Poconos stays in the Poconos.)  We've gotten in trouble together, had a blast together, and celebrated the specials times in each other's lives together.  We joke and laugh so hard it's hard to breathe.  We talk about our lives, jobs, families, various gynecological and medical procedures, and everything else we can think of to talk about.  We can say anything to each other and we do.  I find that so amazing.  I can't imagine my life without these people in it.  So driving home today, I was smiling.  I was ear to ear grinning just thinking about this weekend, the many past weekends and days, and more I hope to come.  Nothing makes my smile brighter than my friends.