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March 2016

Salivary Stones and Blocked Ducts…OUCH!!

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My son had a blocked salivary duct and I thought I’d share with you what it is, what it looks like and what we did about it!

Saliva is important because it keeps our mouth moist, helps with swallowing and protects our teeth.  We produce about a quart of saliva every day.  There are 3 major pairs of salivary glands in our mouth as well as several hundred minor glands through the mouth and throat.  Saliva drains into our mouth through ducts that are kind of like small tubes.  Sometimes there can be a buildup of crystallized saliva deposits that interferes with the drainage of saliva.  Until the blockage can be cleared, you end up with an infected gland or duct.  It causes swelling and pain, and sometimes there may even be drainage of foul-tasting pus in the mouth.

I took these pictures of my 6 year old, Cole.  The night before at bedtime he started complaining that the side of his face hurt.  There was no redness, swelling, lumps or bumps so I assumed, like any parent, that he was stalling bedtime!  This is what he looked like the next morning (yes, I felt like a schmuck for not believing him).  The pain was incredible and he was scared to eat because of the pain.  We took him to our doctor immediately and she diagnosed him as having a blocked salivary duct.  She prescribed an antibiotic and asked that we return for a follow up in 3 days.  In the meantime, like any worried mother, I turned to Google and researched everything I could about this type of infection!

Coley 2 (004)Coley (003)

One thing I read was to try encouraging the saliva to flow and help the blockage clear up by sucking on sour candies.  So, I went to Foodland and bought every sour hard candy that I could find.  Cole was happy that I actually wanted him to suck on Jolly Ranchers for the day!

By dinner time he was still swollen but not as sore.  By bedtime he was only a little sore and the swelling had started to go down.  The next morning he woke up looking like his cute normal self.  I never thought Jolly Ranchers could save the day!!

Blocked ducts and salivary stones can happen to people of all ages, including infants.  Treatment includes warm compresses and getting to your doctor for an antibiotic…oh, and sour Jolly Ranchers!

What is “Meth Mouth”?

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Note:  Graphic photo at the end of this blog.

Does anyone else watch ‘Intervention’ on A&E?

I decided to do a little research on Methamphetamine and its effect on the mouth.  In just one year a meth addict can go from a beautiful smile to missing and decayed teeth.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug.  The devastating effects it has on the mouth is caused by a combination of factors.   Dry mouth (resulting in poor gum health and cavities), poor dental hygiene and the fact that meth itself is acidic, all contribute to ‘Meth Mouth’.  When a user is high, there are often cravings for sugary carbonated drinks that will destroy teeth over time, especially when oral hygiene is not good.

“Meth Mouth” involves rampant tooth decay, dry mouth, cracked teeth and gum disease in a short period of time.  Teeth and gums need blood in order to stay healthy but meth causes the vessels that supply blood to oral tissues to shrink.  This is why meth can be so destructive to the mouth.

The first stage of meth mouth is bad breath, cavities and red, swollen gums.  The front teeth are usually the first to decay.

In the second stage of deterioration, sores appear on the lips, gum tissue starts to recede and the decay gets worse.

In the final stage of meth mouth, teeth rot down to the gum line and teeth start to fall out.  Meth users may severely grind and clench their teeth and this also damages the teeth.

Methamphetamine blocks or lessens pain so users don’t usually experience dental pain that would be expected of such extensive damage and destruction.

Methamphetamine use is prevalent here in Timmins.  If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, there is help.  Call the Jubliee Center 705-268-2666.