There are a few mouth conditions so rare most of us have never heard of them. Geographic tongue would fall into this category, affecting only one to three percent of the population. Even so, these irregular reddish patches resembling land masses on a map (hence the name) might be alarming at first glance—but they pose no danger and usually cause very little discomfort.
Geographic tongue is also known as benign migratory glossitis. As its clinical name implies, the unusual red patchy areas (often surrounded by a grayish white border) aren't cancerous nor contagious. The patches also appear to change shape and move around ("migrate") the tongue.
The reddish appearance comes from the temporary disappearance of tiny bumps on the tongue surface called papillae, which can leave the tongue smooth to the touch in affected areas. The lost papillae may reappear again a few hours or days later, and may occasionally disappear again. While it's not painful, you can experience a stinging or burning sensation emitting from these patchy areas.
We're not sure how and why geographic tongue erupts, but it's believed high emotional or psychological stress, hormonal imbalance or certain vitamin deficiencies might be factors in its cause. There may also be a link between it and psoriasis, a condition that can cause dry, itchy patches on the skin.
If you're one of the rare individuals who has episodes of geographic tongue, the good news is it's harmless, only mildly uncomfortable and usually temporary. The bad news, though, is that there's no known cure for the condition—but it can be managed to ease discomfort during outbreaks.
It's been found that highly acidic and spicy foods, as well as astringents like alcohol or some mouthrinses, can increase the level of discomfort. By avoiding these or similar foods or substances, you can reduce the irritation. Your dentist may also be able to help by prescribing anesthetic mouthrinses, antihistamines or steroid ointments.
For the most part, you'll simply have to wait it out. Other than the mild, physical discomfort, the worst part is often simply the appearance of the tongue. But by watching your diet and other habits, and with a little help from us, you can cope with these irritations when it occurs.
If you would like more information on geographic tongue and similar oral issues, 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: No Cause for Alarm.”
How dental implants from Lynch Dental Center can make you smile again
It’s easy not to smile if you are missing teeth. An incomplete smile can lead to all sorts of problems, including lack of self-confidence and avoiding social situations,. When you don’t have all of your teeth, it can also cause problems enjoying the foods you love and chewing them fully.
Dr. John Lynch, Dr. Sheila Lynch, and Dr. Frances Lynch at Lynch Dental Center in River Forest, IL, and Chicago, IL, offer a full range of cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dental services, including dental implants, to make you smile again.
These are just a few of the best reasons to choose dental implants to replace your missing teeth:
- Beauty: Dental implant crowns are made of light, reflective materials that mimic the appearance of tooth enamel, so dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
- Stability: Your bone fuses with the dental implant, firmly embedding and locking it in place, so it never moves around.
- Convenience: You never remove dental implants. They are a permanent, beautiful part of your smile.
- Easy maintenance: You simply brush and floss dental implants, just like your natural teeth, making them a user-friendly solution to replace lost teeth.
- Long-term results: Dental implants will never decay, and the implant crown material resists stains, so your dental implants will stay beautiful for years.
You can choose dental implants whether you have lost a single tooth or multiple teeth. Dental implants are also a great solution for people who have worn dentures for a long time. Implants can provide the stability long-term denture wearers need. A denture is simply snapped in place over the dental implants.
Dental implants have become the most successful surgical implant, with a success rate of over 95 percent, according to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. If you want to experience the success of dental implants, it’s time to talk with the experts at Lynch Dental Center. Call (708) 366-6411 to schedule an appointment at the River Forest, IL, office or (312) 263-3235 to schedule an appointment at the Chicago, IL, office today!
Sometimes it seems that appearances count for everything—especially in Hollywood. But just recently, Lonnie Chaviz, the 10-year-old actor who plays young Randall on the hit TV show This Is Us, delivered a powerful message about accepting differences in body image. And the whole issue was triggered by negative social media comments about his smile.
Lonnie has a noticeable diastema—that is, a gap between his two front teeth; this condition is commonly seen in children, but is less common in adults. There are plenty of celebrities who aren’t bothered by the excess space between their front teeth, such as Michael Strahan, Lauren Hutton and Vanessa Paradis. However, there are also many people who choose to close the gap for cosmetic or functional reasons.
Unfortunately, Lonnie had been on the receiving end of unkind comments about the appearance of his smile. But instead of getting angry, the young actor posted a thoughtful reply via Instagram video, in which he said: “I could get my gap fixed. Braces can fix this, but like, can you fix your heart, though?”
Lonnie is raising an important point: Making fun of how someone looks shows a terrible lack of compassion. Besides, each person’s smile is uniquely their own, and getting it “fixed” is a matter of personal choice. It’s true that in most circumstances, if the gap between the front teeth doesn’t shrink as you age and you decide you want to close it, orthodontic appliances like braces can do the job. Sometimes, a too-big gap can make it more difficult to eat and to pronounce some words. In other situations, it’s simply a question of aesthetics—some like it; others would prefer to live without it.
There’s a flip side to this issue as well. When teeth need to be replaced, many people opt to have their smile restored just the way it was, rather than in some “ideal” manner. That could mean that their dentures are specially fabricated with a space between the front teeth, or the crowns of their dental implants are spaced farther apart than they normally would be. For these folks, the “imperfection” is so much a part of their unique identity that changing it just seems wrong.
So if you’re satisfied with the way your smile looks, all you need to do is keep up with daily brushing and flossing, and come in for regular checkups and cleanings to keep it healthy and bright. If you’re unsatisfied, ask us how we could help make it better. And if you need tooth replacement, be sure to talk to us about all of your options—teeth that are regular and “Hollywood white;” teeth that are natural-looking, with minor variations in color and spacing; and teeth that look just like the smile you’ve always had.
Because when it comes to your smile, we couldn’t agree more with what Lonnie Chaviz said at the end of his video: “Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Do you. Be you. Believe in yourself.”
If you have questions about cosmetic dentistry, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
Oral cancer is an insidious malignancy affecting people of all ages and walks of life. That's why here at Lynch Dental Center in both Chicago and River Forest, IL, every patient 18 and older receives an oral cancer screening as part of their six-month exam. Read on to learn how this screening from Dr. John Lynch, Dr. Sheila Lynch, or Dr. Frances Lynch, could end up saving your life!
Risk factors for and symptoms of oral cancer
The Oral Cancer Foundation cites these risk factors for developing cancer of the mouth, lips, salivary glands, or back of the throat:
- Age (over 40)
- Gender (males over females by a ratio of two to one)
- Tobacco usage (both smokeless forms and cigarettes)
- HPV exposure (the Human Papilloma Virus is sexually transmitted and on the upswing among young people)
- Sun exposure (along with artificial tanning)
- Alcohol abuse
As symptoms develop over time, people may notice a lump or sore which does not resolve, hoarseness of voice, difficulty swallowing, unilateral earache, or a sore throat which just does not resolve.
Alarmingly, early symptoms can go unnoticed. That's why routine screening—visual inspection and painless palpation of soft oral tissues and lymph nodes in the neck—is so important.
Cure rates increase to 80 to 90 percent when dentists and doctors detect oral cancer in its earliest stages. So, when you come to Lynch Dental Center, you can rest assured that you are creating the best possible chance for a healthy mouth!
Additionally, you can employ some simple lifestyle changes to increase your chances of avoiding oral cancer altogether. These changes include:
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Stopping all tobacco usage
- Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Avoiding high-risk sexual behaviors (such as having multiple partners)
- Seeing your dentist or primary care physician any time you are concerned about a sore or lump in your mouth, throat, or neck
Don't worry about oral cancer
Instead, be proactive—get your semi-annual check-ups and cleanings at Lynch Dental Center! When here, you will know that Drs. John, Sheila, and Frances Lynch will check you carefully every time. Remember, it's only what you do not know that can harm your health!
If it's time for your six-month examination, please call one of our offices for an appointment. For the Chicago office, phone (312) 263-3235, and for River Forest, call (708) 366-6411.
As spring weather heats up, so do a lot of outdoor sports like baseball or soccer. Unfortunately, the chances of sports-related injuries increase as well. Your child’s mouth in particular is a prime target for injury—and you need to be prepared.
First and foremost, players should wear a mouthguard during contact sports to reduce their risk of injury. Mouthguards can absorb much of the force generated during impact—and may make the difference between minor bruising and a fractured or knocked-out tooth.
“Boil and bite” mouthguards available from the local pharmacy or sporting goods store are popular because of their cost and availability. These are softened in hot water before the wearer bites down to create a semi-customized fit. An even better option, though, is a custom mouthguard that is made from a precise impression of your child’s teeth that we take in our office. This type of mouthguard costs more, but it provides greater protection and comfort than one from your corner store.
A mouthguard can significantly reduce the risk of injury but won’t eliminate it entirely. If a dental injury does occur, you need to know what to do. This will depend mainly on the type of injury: If the tooth is chipped but not pushed out of position, you can collect any tooth fragments and see us within 12 hours for an examination and possible repairs. If the tooth has moved or is loose, you should see us even sooner—within 6 hours so we can readjust the tooth and, if needed, splint it until it is securely reattached.
A more serious injury is a tooth that has been knocked completely out of its socket. It can often be saved, but you’ll need to act quickly—optimally, within 5 minutes—by reinserting the tooth in its socket. Although it sounds daunting, it’s really a matter of a few simple steps: First, find the tooth and rinse off any debris with clean water. Holding it by the crown (the visible part you are used to seeing) insert the root end into the empty socket. If your placement isn’t “just right,” don’t worry; we can adjust it later, but it will require some pressure to place it in the socket. Have the person bite down on a piece of gauze or clean cloth to hold the tooth in place. Call us immediately. If you cannot reach us, go to an emergency room.
Quick action and prompt follow-up dental care after a mouth injury increase the chance of a happy outcome. Along with proper mouthguard protection, remembering these pointers will help ensure that your family has an enjoyable sports season this year!
If you would like more information about sports-related dental injuries, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards” and “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”
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