Posts for: December, 2016
If you've ever been alarmed to find oddly-shaped red patches on your tongue, you can relax for the most part. Most likely, you're part of a small fraction of the population with a condition known as geographic tongue.
The name comes from the irregular shape of the patches that seem to resemble land formations on a map. Its medical name is benign migratory glossitis, which actually describes a lot about the condition. The patches are actually areas of inflammation on the tongue (“glossus” – tongue; “itis” – swelling) that appear to move around or migrate. They're actually made up of areas where the tiny bumps (papillae) you normally feel have disappeared: the patches feel flat and smooth compared to the rest of the tongue.
We're not sure why geographic tongue occurs. It often runs in families and seems to occur mostly in middle-aged adults, particularly women and non-smokers. It's believed to have a number of triggers like emotional stress, hormonal disturbances or vitamin or mineral deficiencies. There may also be a link between it and the skin condition psoriasis. Under a microscope the red patchiness of both appears to be very similar in pattern; the two conditions often appear together.
The bad news is we can't cure geographic tongue. But the good news is the condition is benign, meaning it's not cancerous; it's also not contagious. It poses no real health threat, although outbreaks can be uncomfortable causing your tongue to feel a little sensitive to the touch with a burning or stinging sensation. Some people may also experience numbness.
Although we can't make geographic tongue go away permanently, you should come by for an examination to confirm that is the correct diagnosis. Once we know for sure that you do have migratory glossitis, we can effectively manage discomfort when it flares up. You should limit your intake of foods with high acidity like tomatoes or citrus fruits, as well as astringents like alcohol or certain mouthrinses. We can also prescribe anesthetic mouthrinses, antihistamines or steroid ointments if the discomfort becomes more bothersome.
It may look strange, but geographic tongue is harmless. With the right care it can be nothing more than a minor annoyance.
If you would like more information on benign migratory glossitis, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Geographic Tongue.”
Everyone knows that in the game of football, quarterbacks are looked up to as team leaders. That's why we're so pleased to see some NFL QB's setting great examples of… wait for it… excellent oral hygiene.
First, at the 2016 season opener against the Broncos, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers was spotted on the bench; in his hands was a strand of dental floss. In between plays, the 2105 MVP was observed giving his hard-to-reach tooth surfaces a good cleaning with the floss.
Later, Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was seen on the sideline of a game against the 49ers — with a bottle of mouthwash. Taylor took a swig, swished it around his mouth for a minute, and spit it out. Was he trying to make his breath fresher in the huddle when he called out plays?
Maybe… but in fact, a good mouthrinse can be much more than a short-lived breath freshener.
Cosmetic rinses can leave your breath with a minty taste or pleasant smell — but the sensation is only temporary. And while there's nothing wrong with having good-smelling breath, using a cosmetic mouthwash doesn't improve your oral hygiene — in fact, it can actually mask odors that may indicate a problem, such as tooth decay or gum disease.
Using a therapeutic mouthrinse, however, can actually enhance your oral health. Many commonly available therapeutic rinses contain anti-cariogenic (cavity-fighting) ingredients, such as fluoride; these can help prevent tooth decay and cavity formation by strengthening tooth enamel. Others contain antibacterial ingredients; these can help control the harmful oral bacteria found in plaque — the sticky film that can build up on your teeth in between cleanings. Some antibacterial mouthrinses are available over-the-counter, while others are prescription-only. When used along with brushing and flossing, they can reduce gum disease (gingivitis) and promote good oral health.
So why did Taylor rinse? His coach Rex Ryan later explained that he was cleaning out his mouth after a hard hit, which may have caused some bleeding. Ryan also noted, “He [Taylor] does have the best smelling breath in the league for any quarterback.” The coach didn't explain how he knows that — but never mind. The takeaway is that a cosmetic rinse may be OK for a quick fix — but when it comes to good oral hygiene, using a therapeutic mouthrinse as a part of your daily routine (along with flossing and brushing) can really step up your game.
Do you suffer from frequent jaw pain? You may have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a condition that affects between five to 12 percent of people in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. David Gailey, your Spokane, WA oral surgeons at Inland Oral Surgery, share information about TMJ and treatment options.
What is TMJ?
TMJ affects the hinge joints just below your ears that connect your jaw to your skull. Bones, ligaments and muscles in the joint work together to open or close your jaw when you eat, speak or yawn. TMJ affects the normal functioning of the joint, resulting in significant pain and other symptoms.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
If you have TMJ, you may develop:
- Pain in your jaw and jaw joint
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Facial pain
- Trouble chewing
- Pain or ringing in the ears
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Tightness in your shoulder and neck muscles
- Temporary locking of your jaw
- Popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth
- A change in your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth fit together)
How is TMJ treated?
If you only have mild TMJ, over-the-counter pain medication, ice packs, jaw stretching exercises and a soft diet may help ease your pain. Custom-made nightguards can stop grinding or clenching that can cause TMJ. If your symptoms are caused by a bite problem, braces can help improve the alignment of your teeth. Your Spokane oral surgeon may also recommend that you wear special splints. These splints gradually improve the alignment of your jaw. Once your jaw is properly aligned, your ligaments and muscles relax and your pain eases.
If you've had orthodontic and other types of treatment and don't notice any changes in your symptoms, your oral surgeon may recommend oral surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the cause and extent of your problem. Surgery is commonly used to remove scar tissue and adhesions, improve range of motion, reposition jaw discs, shave bone spurs or repair ligaments.
There's no need to suffer from TMJ pain. Call Dr. Gailey, your Spokane, WA oral surgeons at Inland Oral Surgery, at (509) 321-1404 to schedule an evaluation of your symptoms.