Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tongue Hygiene

Most people know that to keep your teeth for a lifetime, we must brush and floss regularly. Even then, only about 5% of the population flosses on a regular basis. Even fewer people maintain good tongue hygiene!

I could write an entire book on the tongue alone. So, for the sake of keeping things simple, we'll only talk about tongue hygiene.

Taste buds free of bacteria and debris

Let's first start with what a healthy tongue looks like. A healthy tongue is pink. A healthy tongue has healthy taste buds. A healthy tongue is not smelly. Simple enough right?

Now, let's look at a tongue that isn't well maintained. The appearance is quite variable depending on what is living on your tongue. It could be white, black, brown, yellow or anything other than pink.

Significant accumulation of bacteria
and debris is evident
White bacteria and
debris is evident

We get many people that complain about their bad breath. There are many potential sources for this condition. The tongue has an irregular surface with much surface area. It's a perfect place for bacteria to hide in and colonize. A tongue full of bacteria is a common cause for bad breath.

There are different ways you can clean your tongue. One way is to simply brush the entire surface of the tongue. You can also use a tongue scraper. The main goal is to remove foreign debris and bacteria from the surface of the tongue. It only takes a short time. Incorporate this into your daily oral hygiene regimen to maintain a healthy mouth

Tongue hygiene using a tongue scraper

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pregnancy Gingivitis

During pregnancy, 50-70% of women will complain of swollen, sore or bloody gums. We call this condition "pregnancy gingivitis".

Before reading any further, if you aren't familiar with what gingivitis is, I encourage you to read my blog What is Gingivitis?

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Healthy gums are pink--not red

As the pocketing gets deeper,
hygiene becomes more challenging.
There are several factors that influence this condition. A change in hormones (mainly progesterone) will increase edema in the gums. When this occurs, the gums have more fluid. This will make the pocketing deeper than normal. We call the space below the gum line a "pocket". The picture on the right demonstrates this. It is showing an instrument that measures how deep the pocket is in millimeters. When the pocket is deeper than 3 mm, it becomes more difficult to keep clean. When debris is left below the gum line, the gums will get irritated, tender and very prone to bleeding. This inflammatory process is not much different than having a splinter in your finger.

So how do we prevent this? The answer is simple…..immaculate hygiene. You must remove the debris that forms in the pockets. Use an electric toothbrush and floss daily.

One interesting fact about women that experience pregnancy gingivitis is that they are four to seven times more likely to deliver prematurely and have underweight babies. So, not only is it important to maintain immaculate oral hygiene for the mother's health, it is also incredibly important for the health of the baby!

If you believe you are suffering from pregnancy gingivitis, simply improve your oral hygiene. If swelling, tenderness and bleeding remains an issue, see your dentist or dental hygienist to help you clean below the gums. This will often resolve the issue.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy Marriage and Sleep Apnea

My Hygienist Stephanie suggested I write this blog. So here it is.

We routinely go to bridal shows to promote our services. Both the groom and especially the bride want to look their best on their momentous life changing event.

When we do these shows, we are assuming that the future married couple will be happily married for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately over half of the marriages end in divorce here in the United States. We can never predict with absolute certainty whether a couple will still be married in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years or until "death do they part". However, we do know that there is a much higher incidence of divorce in these couples where one or both suffer from sleep apnea.

One often overlooked variable is the ability of the couple to get restful and peaceful sleep. When we discuss sleep apnea, we don't normally approach it from this perspective. It is a fact however, that when at least one of the partners suffer from sleep apnea, the other partner in their own way also suffers from it. These couples tend to be more irritable with each other for a couple reasons. One is because the person that has to hear the snoring gets irritable and is often resentful towards their spouse. Another reason is the person that snores doesn't get enough restful sleep and is therefore more irritable because he or she constantly feels tired.

Even if a relationship does not end in divorce, it may end prematurely by death of one of the partners. We know that sleep apnea can take 12-15 years off of someone's life expectancy. In contrast, smoking on average only takes off about 7 years. I shouldn't say "only". That is still quite significant. But sleep apnea is much worse!

I've written a few blogs on the subject. Read them for a brief overview on the subject. There is much more information regarding sleep apnea that is readily available on the internet. If you suspect that you or someone you love may be suffering from sleep apnea, I highly encourage you to research the subject and have a professional evaluate and treat as necessary. Not only will it spare you or a loved one's life, it will increase the quality of life tremendously in many ways.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit