Dental Implants: Stains, Whitenings and Other Considerations
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Dental Implants: Stains, Whitenings and Other Considerations

Dental implants can make a smile look fabulous – I know I have them. However, if you are just thinking about getting them, you may have a lot of questions. You may be wondering how smoking affects implants, whether or not wine will stain them, if they can be whitened or other concerns. I also know from experience that it can be intimidating to ask some of these questions to your dentist. In my dental implant blog, I am going to answer the questions that can be hard to ask. I hope you find the info you need in this blog and that it guides you to the right decision about dental implants. Thanks for reading!

Dental Implants: Stains, Whitenings and Other Considerations

Don't Get Stoned: Non-Surgical Solutions for Removing Salivary Gland Stones

Isobel Berry

Suffering from salivary gland stones is an uncomfortable and potentially painful condition, but in the past the one way to remove these nasty little growths was with invasive mouth surgery. However, modern dental medicine now allows dentists to deal with salivary stones quickly, effectively and without the need for painful incisions. If you're lucky, your dentist may even be able to solve your stony issue in a single visit.

What are salivary gland stones, and how do they form?

More properly known as sialolithiasis, salivary gland stones are small, jagged accumulations of calcium and other minerals that form stones within the salivary glands in the mouth. If they grow large enough, they can partially or even block the affected salivary gland, potentially causing a range of symptoms including:

  • Dry mouth and reduced salivary flow
  • Redness and swelling of the affected gland
  • Intermittent, throbbing pain which worsens when the salivary gland is stimulated, for instance by the smell of food
  • Pus discharge and blood in your saliva
  • Increased vulnerability to infection of the affected gland, which may spread to affect the roof of the mouth, the gums and the tongue

As for what causes salivary gland stones, in many cases they have no obvious cause. However, you may be more likely to develop salivary stones if you are poorly hydrated, malnourished, or taking medications that reduce blood flow (many medications used to treat allergies and abnormal blood pressure have this effect). Stone formation may also be caused by a compromised immune system, or by auto-immune disorders such as lupus.

So how can they be removed without the need for surgery?

There are several ways you and your dentist can approach treatment of salivary stones without having to resort to surgical removal:

  • Home remedies: If the stone is small, you may be able to induce it to come out of the gland naturally, by stimulating increased salivary production. You can do this by drinking large amounts of water, or by sucking on citrus fruits or sugar-free sweets. Massaging the affected area of the mouth can also help ease the stone out with a minimum of pain.
  • Antibiotics: Often, a salivary stone is associated with chronic infection and swelling of the affected gland. Treating the infection with antibiotics should cause infection to recede and swelling to be reduced, which may allow the stone to pass naturally.
  • Sialendoscopy: This high-tech procedure is performed with small instruments and cameras, and avoids the need for large incisions. Your dentist will probe around within your blocked salivary gland with a tiny pinhole camera until the stone has been located. A slender grabbing tool is then inserted into the gland, and used to pull the stone out, either whole or in smaller chunks. This procedure is usually done under local anaesthetic, and you should be able to return home straight after the procedure is finished.
  • ESWL: This procedure was initially designed for the pain-free removal of kidney and bladder stones, but has now been extended to removing salivary stones. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, but does not involve any surgical procedures. Instead, an ultrasound device is placed on the skin of the jaw, and sonic shockwaves are directed towards the stone, causing it to shatter and break into much smaller pieces. These pieces are then passed naturally or extracted by the dentist.

Learn more about this condition, and more importantly how to treat it, by contacting clinics such as Rutherford Dental.