You may not realize it, but you could be at risk of developing an unsightly medical condition known as hairy tongue. While it is harmless in most cases, hairy tongue is still an unpleasant ailment. The causes are not always completely known, but practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting our dental office for cleanings can help prevent the issue. Here’s what you need to know.
What is hairy tongue?
With hairy tongue, your tongue may look like its covered in fuzz or hair, but this condition is actually caused by an accumulation of bacteria. The surface of your tongue is covered in small, rough papillae which gives it its rough texture. Overtime, these papillae grow, shed, and are replaced. Occasionally, the older papillae may fail to shed properly. This causes a buildup on the tongue and can cause a hair-like appearance.
Who is at risk of hairy tongue?
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, as much as 13% of the population may have hairy tongue. Anyone can develop the condition, but certain risk factors such as age and tobacco use increase your chances.
What causes hairy tongue?
While the exact causes of hairy tongue are not known, there are a variety of factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing the condition. Poor oral hygiene and a diet of soft foods can put you at an increased risk, as a lack of stimulation on the tongue can prevent the shedding of older papillae. Excessive consumption of certain substances, including tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea have been shown to contribute to this condition. Dehydration and dry mouth can slow down the tongue’s natural refresh cycle of replacing papillae.
The best defense against hairy tongue is a regular at-home oral hygiene routine that includes twice daily brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. Visiting our practice at least twice a year for cleanings can also give us an opportunity to regularly examine your mouth and catch any early signs of hairy tongue.
If you’re past due for your regular cleaning or are concerned that you might be developing hairy tongue, don’t hesitate to contact our practice for an appointment today.
Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is commonly associated with certain foods. Garlic, onion, and cabbage can all cause a foul odor and taste for several hours after you’ve eaten them. This type of temporary halitosis is easily solved by avoiding the foods that cause it. However, in some cases bad breath is a chronic problem that simply changing your diet won’t solve.
Long-term bad breath is caused by the presence of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria are most often found on the back of the tongue and thrive when your mouth is dry. There are a variety of ways you can help reduce or eliminate chronic bad breath. Some of these include:
Practice good oral hygiene.
Brush your teeth after you eat as often as possible and at least twice daily. Clean between your teeth using dental floss or another interdental (between teeth) cleaner at least once each day. Food particles between teeth will break down slowly and cause unpleasant odors and tastes.
Brush your tongue.
Even if you brush and floss your teeth as recommended, the bacteria causing your bad breath may remain on your tongue. Use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to gently scrape away any particles of food or bacteria every time you brush. For best results, place the scraper or brush as far back as you can manage without gagging. This will generally become easier over time.
Dry mouths allow bacteria to thrive. By drinking plenty of water, you can help prevent the bacteria growth and reduce or stop bad breath.
Avoid bad breath triggers.
Onions, garlic, cabbage, coffee, and tobacco products are all known to cause bad breath.
Chew sugarless gum.
By chewing sugarless gum, you increase saliva production and keep your mouth moist. This helps slow or prevent bacteria growth, minimizing chances of bad breath.
Improve your diet.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and foods rich in vitamins C and D all work to prevent the growth of bacteria, keep your mouth cleaner, and increase saliva flow.
See your dentist.
Follow your regular schedule of dental hygiene appointments and exams. If you have tried the tips above without improvement, make an appointment for an exam to see if there may be an underlying condition that requires treatment. Treat any oral illnesses, such as decayed teeth, periodontal (gum) disease, or infection.
If carbonated soft drinks are part of your normal daily routine, you may be causing serious damage to your teeth. Recent studies have found soft drinks to be among the most potent dietary causes of tooth decay. Soft drinks have also been implicated in increases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Before you shop for beverages this week, consider a few things you should know about soft drinks.
Most soft drinks contain substantial amounts of sugars, which interact with the bacteria in your mouth. This interaction produces a form of acid that can damage your teeth for about 20 minutes. Each time you take a drink, you reset that time window. If you consume throughout the day, you are essentially bathing your teeth in that beverage for hours.
Most soft drinks contain acids, as well. Even sugar-free varieties contain acids that can weaken the enamel on your teeth. Colas and citrus-flavored soft drinks tend to have the highest levels of acid. Over time, this weakening of tooth enamel has a cumulative effect. This can lead to decay and even tooth loss if not addressed in early stages.
Obviously, the best solution is to stop consuming carbonated soft drinks. However, it can be a difficult habit to break. Here are some tips to help reduce your risks of tooth damage from these beverages:
- Drink in moderation. Too much sugar and acid will eventually cause damage.
- Try sparkling water. This provides the fizzy sensation without all the sugar and acid.
- Drink more water. You will crave soft drinks less when you are fully hydrated.
- Don’t sip. The longer you spend drinking, the more time sugars and acids are reacting with your teeth.
- Use a straw. This can help keep the sugars and acids away from your teeth.
- Rinse with water after drinking to dilute acids and sugars.
- Don’t brush immediately. Wait at least 30 minutes for acids to be neutralized by saliva before brushing.
- Practice good dental hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings and exams.
Carbonated soft drinks can be harmful to your oral and overall health. Be mindful of how often you consume them and consider reducing or stopping your use of these dangerous beverages.
Be a Part of Our Family
Dentist in West Allis, WI
Thanks for choosing Anderson General Dentistry & Implants for your dental services. We’re excited to welcome you to our family!
We look forward to learning more about you and
what we can do for your family’s healthy smiles.
Visit Our West Allis Dental Office
Dentist in West Allis
Our Convenient Office Hours
Monday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Tuesday: 8:30am – 5:30pm
Wednesday: 8:30am – 1:30pm
Thursday: 9am - 12pm
Friday: 8:30am – 4:30pm
We Are Located At
10701 W Lincoln Avenue
West Allis, WI 53227