What to know about glossitis

Along with swelling, glossitis can change the color and surface texture of the tongue because the condition causes the small bumps on the surface to shrink, creating a shiny, red surface.

Severe cases of glossitis can be painful and affect the way a person talks or eats.

There are different types of glossitis, including:

  • Acute glossitis. This often develops suddenly and can have severe symptoms.
  • Chronic glossitis. Chronic inflammation of the tongue is often the result of an underlying condition.
  • Atrophic glossitis also called Hunter’s glossitis. Here, the many of the tongue’s small bumps (papillae) shrink, which changes the surface of the tongue, making it appear glossy.
  • Median rhomboid glossitis. A Candida yeast infection often causes this type of glossitis.

Symptoms

The symptoms of glossitis vary from person to person. They may also differ according to the underlying cause of the condition.

Common symptoms of glossitis include:

  • a swollen tongue
  • pain in the tongue
  • burning or itching in the tongue
  • change in the texture of the surface of the tongue due to the change in the size and shape of papillae
  • different color of the tongue’s surface
  • loss of ability to speak or eat properly
  • difficulty swallowing

Causes

There is a variety of possible causes of glossitis, including:

Allergic reaction

When glossitis occurs due to an allergic reaction, a person is most likely to develop acute glossitis and have sudden tongue swelling and pain. An allergy to a particular food, drug, or specific irritant can cause this type of reaction.

Injury to the mouth

Injuries to the mouth, such as small cuts from braces or burns from hot food, might cause the tongue to inflame and swell.

When dental braces cause glossitis, a person is more at risk for chronic glossitis due to the risk of repeated injury to the mouth and tongue.

Diseases

Certain diseases can cause glossitis, especially those where nutritional deficiencies occur, such as celiac disease, protein-calorie malnutrition, and pernicious anemia.

Diseases that attack the immune system, such as Sjögren’s Syndrome, can cause changes in the mouth that lead to glossitis.

Infections

Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can all cause glossitis. However, oral herpes, which is a viral infection, and fungal yeast infections are among the most likely infections to cause glossitis.

Nutritional deficiencies

Iron deficiencies occur when a person does not have enough iron in their blood. This can trigger glossitis since low levels of iron lead to low levels of myoglobin, a substance in the blood that plays a significant role in the health of all the muscles in the body, including the tongue.

What to know about antibiotics and tooth infections

When an infection occurs, it causes a pocket of pus to form in the mouth as a result of an overgrowth of bacteria. This infection often causes swelling, pain, and sensitivity in the area. Without treatment, the infection may spread to other areas of the jaw or even the brain.

Dental decay and cavities are very common. As one article notes, up to 91% of adults ages 20–64 have cavities. Also, around 27% of people in the same age group have untreated tooth decay. Treating tooth decay early is important to prevent complications such as tooth infections.

Anyone who experiences a tooth infection should see a dentist right away to prevent the infection from spreading.

One of the first things a dentist will likely recommend is an antibiotic to kill the infection. Some antibiotics work better than others for tooth infections, and there may also be some over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications to help with the symptoms.

When to use antibiotics for a tooth infection

Dentists will typically only recommend antibiotics in dentistry for tooth infections. However, not all infected teeth require antibiotics.

In some cases, a dentist may simply be able to drain the infected area, remove the infected tooth, or perform a root canal to fix the issue.

They tend to avoid recommending antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary, such as when the infection is severe or spreading, or if a person has a weakened immune system.

How long do they take to work?

How long each antibiotic takes to work varies depending on many factors, such as the severity of the infection and how effectively the drug eliminates the infectious bacteria.

It is important for people to complete a full round of antibiotics, taking all of the prescribed medication exactly how the dentist says to take it. Although a person may begin to notice their symptoms go away after a couple of doses, completing the full round of antibiotics helps prevent the infection from coming back or getting stronger.

As the International Dental Journal study notes, the majority of acute infections resolve in 3–7 days.

Side effects

Although antibiotics can help clear up an infection to prepare a person for dental work, these drugs do have some possible side effects.

The side effects can vary with each type of drug. It is important to discuss any possible side effects from taking a drug with a doctor before moving forward with that particular treatment.

What is the soft palate?

The hard and soft palates make up the roof of the mouth. The soft palate sits at the back of the mouth, behind the hard palate, which holds the teeth and gums.

The soft palate does not contain any bone but is a fleshy area that ends in the uvula. The uvula is the fleshy projection that hangs down from the soft palate and is visible when a person opens their mouth. The function of the uvula is to block the nasal cavity when a person is eating or drinking.

The soft palate comprises muscle and tissue, which make it mobile and flexible. When a person is swallowing or sucking, the soft palate completely separates the mouth from the throat, which helps keep food out of the respiratory tract. The soft palate is also known as the muscular palate or the velum.

Everything you need to know about fluoride treatment

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that fluoridated water has reduced tooth decay by about 25 percent. Fluoride treatments may offer even more significant benefits to protect teeth. These treatments can be beneficial to people at risk of tooth decay but may not be right for everyone.

In this article, we look at the benefits and side effects of fluoride and fluoride treatment, as well as treatment recommendations.

What is fluoride treatment?

Fluoride treatments are typically professional treatments containing a high concentration of fluoride that a dentist or hygienist will apply to a person’s teeth to improve health and reduce the risk of cavities. These in-office treatments may take the form of a solution, gel, foam, or varnish.

There are also some high-concentration fluoride treatments that people can use at home but only under the specific direction of a dentist.

The fluoride dentists use in these treatments is similar to the fluoride in toothpaste. However, the treatment contains much higher doses and may offer more rapid benefits.

Benefits of fluoride and fluoride treatments

Fluoride has several benefits for the teeth:

  1. It helps the body better use minerals, such as calcium and phosphate. The teeth reabsorb these minerals to repair weak tooth enamel.
  2. It joins into the tooth structure when teeth are developing to strengthen the enamel of the teeth, making them less vulnerable to bacteria and cavities for life.
  3. It slows or even reverses the development of cavities by harming bacteria that cause cavities.

When taken together, these benefits may help to:

  • reduce the risk of cavities
  • slow the growth of cavities
  • delay the need for expensive dental work
  • prolong the life of baby teeth
  • reduce the amount of time and money a person has to spend at the dentist

By preventing cavities and slowing the growth of bacteria, fluoride treatment may also:

  • prevent gum disease
  • reduce tooth pain
  • prevent the premature loss of teeth

Fluoride treatments can improve oral health, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a major predictor of overall health. Poor oral health can cause a range of other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease.

Causes and treatment of gingivitis

Gingivitis is a non-destructive type of periodontal disease, but untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Signs of gingivitis include red and puffy gums, that bleed easily when the person brushes their teeth.

Gingivitis often resolves with good oral hygiene, such as longer and more frequent brushing, and flossing. In addition, an antiseptic mouthwash may help.

In mild cases of gingivitis, patients may not even know they have it, because symptoms are mild. However, the condition should be taken seriously and addressed immediately.

Types

There are two main categories of gingival diseases:

Dental plaque-induced gingival disease: This can be caused by plaque, systemic factors, medications, or malnutrition.

Non-plaque induced gingival lesions: This can be caused by a specific bacterium, virus, or fungus. It might also be caused by genetic factors, systemic conditions (including allergic reactions and certain illnesses), wounds, or reactions to foreign bodies, such as dentures. Sometimes, there is no specific cause.

Causes

The most common cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of bacterial plaque between and around the teeth. The plaque triggers an immune response, which, in turn, can eventually lead to the destruction of gingival, or gum, tissue. It may also, eventually, lead to further complications, including the loss of teeth.

Dental plaque is a biofilm that accumulates naturally on the teeth. It is usually formed by colonizing bacteria that are trying to stick to the smooth surface of a tooth.

These bacteria might help protect the mouth from the colonization of harmful microorganisms, but dental plaque can also cause tooth decay, and periodontal problems such as gingivitis and chronic periodontitis, a gum infection.

When plaque is not removed adequately, it can harden into calculus, or tartar, at the base of the teeth, near the gums. This has a yellow color. Calculus can only be removed professionally.

Plaque and tartar eventually irritate the gums, causing gum inflammation around the base of the teeth. This means that the gums might easily bleed.

Other causes and risk factors

Changes in hormones: This may occur during puberty, menopause, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. The gingiva might become more sensitive, raising the risk of inflammation.

Some diseases: Cancer, diabetes, and HIV are linked to a higher risk of gingivitis.

Drugs: Oral health may be affected by some medications, especially if saliva flow is reduced. Dilantin, an anticonvulsant, and some anti-angina medications can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.

Smoking: Regular smokers more commonly develop gingivitis, compared with non-smokers.

Age: The risk of gingivitis increases with age.

Poor diet: A vitamin-C deficiency, for example, is linked to gum disease.

Family history: Those whose parent or parents have had gingivitis have a higher risk of developing it too. This is thought to be due to the type of bacteria we acquire during our early life.