Health Library

The Health Library is a collection of health and wellness resources created for learning and accessibility. Select a topic below for related health information or search for a topic in the search bar for more information on other medical conditions.

Dentistry and Oral Surgery

  • What is cleft palate? Cleft palate is a treatable birth defect. It happens when the roof of the baby's mouth (palate) doesn't develop normally during pregnancy, leaving an opening (cleft) in the palate that may go through to the nasal cavity. A cleft can form on any part of the palate, including the front part of the...

  • What is an abscessed tooth? An abscessed tooth is an infection in or around the tooth. It can be very painful. If the infection isn't treated, it can spread and you can lose your tooth or have other health problems. What causes an abscessed tooth? Damage to the tooth, an untreated cavity (tooth decay)...

  • It's important to take care of your body when you are pregnant. This includes your teeth and gums. A healthy mouth and good dental habits are an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Regular brushing and flossing can help keep your teeth and gums...

  • Provides links to information about mouth and dental health. Includes info about toothaches, thrush, TM disorders, canker sores, wisdom teeth, and dental care.

  • A dental sealant is a clear or white, liquid-plastic material put on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of teeth and protects them from tooth decay and cavities. Although...

  • Learn what you can do to help with throat pain and eating challenges caused by cancer treatment.

  • Learn what a tracheostomy is and how it is done.

  • Learn how to take care of yourself at home after a tracheostomy.

  • If a tooth or dental appliance breaks, take the following steps: Remove loose dentures and the parts of broken dentures. Find any pieces of tooth or the broken dental appliance and take them with you when you go to see your dentist. Your dentist...

  • Some babies bite during teething, because they feel discomfort or pain. The most common symptoms of teething include: Swelling, tenderness, or discomfort in the gums at the site of the erupting tooth. Increased saliva, which can cause drooling....

  • Guides through decision to remove or not to remove wisdom teeth. Discusses causes of problems. Offers reasons for and against removal. Covers risks related to both choices. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • Feeding a baby who has cleft palate can be a challenge. Your baby may have a problem making a tight seal between his or her mouth and the nipple. But with a little preparation, you can successfully feed your baby with breast milk or formula. A...

  • Dry socket is a painful inflammation that can develop in the open tooth socket of the jawbone after a tooth has been removed (extracted). Dry sockets often develop after an extraction and are more common after extraction of third molars (wisdom...

  • At one time or another, everyone has had a minor facial injury that caused pain, swelling, or bruising. Home treatment is usually all that is needed for mild bumps or bruises. Causes of facial injuries Facial injuries most commonly occur during: Sports or recreational activities, such as ice hockey, basketball...

  • What is thrush? Thrush is a yeast infection that causes white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. Thrush is most common in babies and older adults, but it can occur at any age. Thrush in babies is usually not serious. What causes thrush? You get thrush when a yeast called Candida, normally found on the body...

  • Provides info on basic dental care like brushing and flossing regularly, seeing your dentist or dental hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings, and eating mouth-healthy foods. Offers info on dental care for children.

  • Root planing and scaling is one of the most effective ways to treat gum disease before it becomes severe. Root planing and scaling cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the roots. Your dentist may need to use a local anesthetic to numb your gums and the roots of your teeth. Some dentists and dental hygienists...

  • You may need surgery for severe gum disease ( periodontitis) if it cannot be cured with antibiotics or root planing and scaling. A gingivectomy removes and reshapes loose, diseased gum tissue to get rid of pockets between the teeth and gums. A gum specialist (periodontist) or oral surgeon often will do the procedure...

  • You may need surgery for severe gum disease ( periodontitis) if it cannot be cured with antibiotics or root planing and scaling. A flap procedure cleans the roots of a tooth and repairs bone damage caused by gum disease. A gum specialist (periodontist) or an oral surgeon often performs the procedure. Before the...

  • Covers symptoms and causes of gum disease (also called gingivitis, periodontitis, or periodontal disease). Covers what increases your risk. Discusses home treatment. Covers treatment with medicines, root planing and scaling, and surgery.

  • What is cleft lip? Cleft lip is a treatable birth defect. It happens when the tissues of the upper jaw and nose don't join as expected during fetal development. This causes a split (cleft) in the lip. A cleft lip may be complete or incomplete. With either type, it may involve one or both sides of the upper lip...

  • Looks at possible problems with wisdom teeth. Covers symptoms and how problems are diagnosed. Covers treatment options, including surgery. Offers home care tips.

  • Describes root canal surgery in detail. Covers what to expect after surgery, why surgery is done, and how well it works. Lists risks involved. Also provides a list of suggested questions to ask your doctor about root canal treatment.

  • Describes surgery to remove a tooth that is damaged. Discusses why surgery is done and how well it works. Covers what to expect after surgery. Covers possible risks. Offers home care tips. Provides questions to ask your dentist about tooth extraction.

  • Discusses tooth decay and cavities (dental caries). Covers preventing decay by brushing and flossing. Discusses increasing risk of tooth decay by letting a child sleep with a bottle in his or her mouth. Discusses reversing slight decay by using fluoride.

  • Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a problem that is present at birth. It happens when the tissue that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth (lingual frenulum) is too short. This can limit the movement of the tongue. See a picture of tongue-tie....

  • Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in any part of the mouth or lips. Most oral cancers start in the lining of the lips or mouth where you have thin, flat cells called squamous cells. This type of cancer may also be called oral cavity cancer or oropharyngeal cancer. Risk factors (things that increase your...

  • Changes in your diet can reduce the mechanical stress on your temporomandibular (TM) joint and may help relieve your jaw pain. Avoid hard or chewy foods (such as popcorn, jerky, tough meats, chewy breads, gum, and raw apples and carrots) that cause...

  • To help prevent or treat a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), you can try gentle jaw exercises. You can also try techniques that help you relax your jaw muscles. Try a gentle exercise to restore normal range of motion, improve flexibility, and...

  • If you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), you can try ice or heat to relieve your pain. Put either an ice pack or a warm, moist cloth on your jaw for 15 minutes several times a day. You can try switching back and forth between moist heat and cold. Gently open and close your mouth while you use the ice pack or...

  • Changing body mechanics can help you prevent or treat a temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Maintain good posture. Slumping your shoulders or staying in positions in which your upper body is thrust forward (many people do this to relieve back pain)...

  • Dental splints are the most common dental treatment for temporomandibular disorders (TMDs). These splints are used for short periods of time. They do not cause permanent changes in the teeth or jaw. Dental splints, also called occlusal splints,...

  • Some people with temporomandibular disorder (TMD) have areas of the jaw joint that "trigger" severe pain. Trigger point management includes trigger point compression and trigger point injections. Trigger point compression is done by a doctor or physical therapist, who applies firm pressure to the jaw...

  • For arthroscopic jaw surgery, the surgeon inserts a pencil-thin, lighted tube (arthroscope) into the jaw joint through a small incision in the skin. The arthroscope is connected to a small camera outside the body that transmits a close-up image of the joint to a TV monitor. The surgeon can insert surgical instruments...

  • Open-joint arthroplasty is surgery to repair, reposition, replace, or remove parts in a joint. When used to treat temporomandibular disorder (TMD), this usually involves the articular disc that cushions the jaw joint. During open-joint arthroplasty of the jaw, an incision is made in the skin to expose the jaw joint...

  • A physical therapist can develop a program for you that includes learning and practicing techniques for regaining normal jaw movement. The focus of physical therapy for temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) is relaxation, stretching, and releasing tight muscles and scar tissue. Physical therapy is an especially important...

  • Discusses temporomandibular disorders (TMD, TMJ). Describes symptoms, including problems with jaw movement, pain in and around the jaw joints, and headaches caused by bruxism. Discusses treatment with occlusal splints. Offers home treatment tips.

  • Explains what dental X-rays are and why they are done. Covers commonly used types of dental X-rays, including bitewing and panoramic X-rays. Includes info on risks. Also covers what results mean.

  • Describes a test you can do at home that will show how well you're brushing and flossing your teeth. Covers over-the-counter products that can be used to identify plaque. Covers how to do the self-exam and what results mean.

  • What are cold sores? Cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. Often the first sign of a cold sore is a spot that tingles, burns, or itches. A blister usually forms within 24 hours. The skin around the blisters is often red, swollen, and sore. The...

  • People with diabetes have a greater risk for gum (periodontal) disease when blood sugar is high. And gum disease can cause higher blood sugar levels, which makes it hard to fight infection, including infections in the mouth. To help prevent dental...

  • Discusses teething and what to expect during teething. Covers symptoms and common concerns. Offers home treatment suggestions and tips for keeping your child's teeth healthy. Explains when to call the doctor.

  • Tooth decay , called dental caries, is caused by bacteria eating away the outer protective layer (enamel) of a tooth. Help prevent tooth decay in young children by adopting the following healthy habits: Teach your child to brush and floss every day. Clean your baby's gums with a soft cloth or gauze...

  • It is not unusual to have a problem with your mouth from time to time. A mouth problem can involve your gums, lips, tongue, or inner cheeks, the roof of your mouth (soft and hard palates), under your tongue, your neck, or your teeth. Your mouth may...

  • Discusses common injuries such as a chipped or broken tooth, mouth pain, or a puncture or tear in your lip, tongue, or inside your mouth. Offers home treatment and prevention tips. Includes interactive tool to help you decide when to call a doctor.

  • Lip and oral cavity cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lips or mouth. The oral cavity includes the following: The front two thirds of the tongue. The gingiva (gums). The buccal mucosa (the lining of the inside of the cheeks). The floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue. The hard...

  • Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread. Scientists are trying to better understand which people are more likely to...

  • Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer in a group or population is lowered. Hopefully, this will lower the number of deaths caused by cancer. To prevent new cancers from starting, scientists look at risk factors and protective...

  • Oral cavity cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the mouth. The oral cavity includes the following: The front two thirds of the tongue. The gingiva (gums). The buccal mucosa (the lining of the inside of the cheeks). The floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue. The hard palate...

  • Everyone gets a bad taste in the mouth from time to time. Try the following simple home treatment measures to improve the taste in your mouth: Gargle with water. Using toothpaste, brush your teeth, tongue, roof of your mouth, and gums at least two...

  • Home treatment may be all that is needed for a black or coated tongue. Brush your tongue daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste or a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 2 parts water. Scrape the tongue with an upside-down teaspoon...

  • A painful sore or ulcer inside your mouth may make it hard to eat and drink. Be sure to let your doctor know you are having mouth sores. You may need to have your medicines adjusted. And try some of the following home treatment measures to help ease...

  • Discusses common skin rashes that affect those 11 and younger. Covers chickenpox, diaper rash, prickly heat, and contact dermatitis. Offers home treatment tips for fever and itching. Includes interactive tool to help you decide when to call a doctor.

  • Mouth injuries that are forceful enough to knock out a tooth may also damage other teeth or other structures in the mouth or face, such as the roof of the mouth, gums, lips, or cheeks. A permanent tooth can sometimes be put back into its socket (reimplanted). The best results occur if a dentist puts the tooth back in...

  • A chip or break in a tooth may occur suddenly with an injury or develop slowly over time because of wear and tear. A chip, crack, or break in the tooth enamel is less serious than one to a deeper layer of your tooth. A chip may result from grinding the teeth at night. A dentist can recommend a course of treatment for...

  • Dry mouth (xerostomia) may make it hard for you to eat, talk, swallow, wear dentures, or taste food. In most cases, home treatment will relieve symptoms of a dry mouth. An ongoing dry mouth can lead to mouth infections, gum disease, and dental cavities. Some causes of dry mouth include dehydration, breathing through...

  • Mouth sores may make eating and talking painful. The most common mouth sores are cold sores and canker sores. In severe cases of canker sores, a doctor may prescribe a medicine to ease inflammation and pain. Other possible causes of mouth sores include: Impetigo. Symptoms may include oozing...

  • Brightly colored changes in the color of your tongue may be caused by eating or drinking something that may have stained your tongue, such as soft drinks or candy. The bright colors can be alarming. Stains caused by soft drinks or candy will brush off or wear off. A buildup of food debris and bacteria on the tongue may...

  • When is bad breath most likely to occur? Everybody has bad breath from time to time, especially first thing in the morning. You also may have bad breath when you are hungry, when you are dieting, or after eating foods with a strong odor, such as garlic, onions, or pastrami. What causes bad breath? Many things can...

  • Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause mouth problems. A few examples are: Antibiotics. Some seizure medicines. Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy). Steroid medicines. Medicines used after organ transplant. Antibiotics may cause many mouth problems. If you have recently started an...

  • Infants and preschoolers By the time your child is 6 months old, your doctor should assess the likelihood of your child having future dental problems. This may include a dental exam of the mother and her dental history, because the condition of her teeth can often predict possible problems with her child's teeth. If...

  • If the herpes simplex virus (HSV) invades a part of the body other than the genital area, it may cause disease in that part of the body. In general, complications are rare. And they usually occur with the first-time (primary) genital herpes outbreak. Some of these complications include: Meningitis, an infection of the...

  • There are many ways to help your baby who is teething. You can help relieve discomfort by offering your baby safe objects to chew or suck on. A wide variety of teethers and toys are made of nontoxic materials and are specially designed for teething...

  • Start caring for your child's teeth as soon as you see the first baby (primary) tooth. Some tips on dental care for a child include the following: Use a soft cloth to clean your baby's gums. Start a few days after birth, and do this until the first teeth come in. Clean your baby's first teeth with a...

  • An oral and maxillofacial surgeon or your dentist can remove (extract) a wisdom tooth. The procedure often can be done in the dentist's or surgeon's office. You may have the surgery in the hospital, especially if you are having all your wisdom teeth pulled at one time or if you are at high risk for complications. If...

  • Describes causes and symptoms of crooked teeth (called malocclusion). Covers treatment with orthodontics (braces) or surgery.

  • Bruxism is the unconscious act of grinding the teeth. This usually occurs at night during sleep. Bruxism has been observed in people of all ages, including young children. It is a contributing factor in temporomandibular disorders (TMDs). Like daytime teeth clenching, bruxism is often considered to be stress-related...

  • Growth modification (early treatment) is part of the first phase of two-stage orthodontic treatment of children with malocclusion (poor bite). Growth modification is only possible when bones are still growing. It is most effective during children's growth spurts. Orthodontists use growth modification devices...

  • Orthognathic surgery treats malocclusion ("poor bite") by restructuring the jaw through cutting the bone and repositioning the bone segments. Adults who have jaw-related malocclusion are sometimes offered a choice between simple orthodontic treatment and orthodontic treatment combined with orthognathic surgery. Adults...

  • Serial extraction is the carefully planned and selective removal of baby ( primary) teeth to create room for incoming permanent ( secondary) teeth. Dentists or orthodontists consider removing teeth because after age 8, the space for a child's teeth (arch length) doesn't increase. Severe crowding of teeth at this age...

  • Guides through decision to have surgery for jaw pain (TMD). Includes symptoms of temporomandibular disorders and treatment options. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • Describes toothache. Lists symptoms and possible causes. Also describes gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontal disease. Includes interactive tool to help you decide when to call a doctor. Offers prevention tips.

  • If emergency care is not needed, the following steps will protect the wound and protect you from exposure to another person's blood. Before you try to stop the bleeding: Wash your hands well with soap and water, if available. Put on medical gloves, if available, before applying pressure to the wound. If...

  • If your baby is teething, you may have questions that many other parents ask. Are my baby's symptoms caused by teething? When teething, many babies drool. Teething happens during the same time that babies are putting "everything" into their mouths. (Your baby is going through the oral discovery phase of...

  • Dental care for older people is much the same as for younger adults. But older adults do have concerns that younger adults do not. These may include: Caring for dentures. Having trouble holding a toothbrush. Having gum disease. Having tooth decay on the roots of teeth. Replacing missing teeth and broken fillings...

  • Teeth whitening is not a medical procedure—it does not result in healthier teeth—but it can result in whiter teeth and a brighter smile. This in turn can make people feel better about themselves. There are two types of teeth whitening: Bleaching your teeth changes the color of the tooth enamel and removes both...

  • Many people worry about going to the dentist. You may be very nervous and may actually feel sick to your stomach. Some people become so nervous that they just don't go to the dentist. But this can lead to serious problems, including infected gums and teeth, difficulty chewing, and lack of self-confidence because of bad...

  • A visit to the dentist can be a scary thing for children. The odors, the tools, the sounds, and the big person with the mask can all upset a child. When choosing a dentist for your child and preparing him or her for a visit, think about the following to make the visit as pleasant as possible. Choosing a dentist...

  • Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay and dental cavities. It may be added to local water supplies, toothpastes, and other mouth care products. Pediatric dentists recommend that you use a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste up to age 3. Ask your dentist if this is right for your child. Use a...

  • Your child's primary teeth usually begin to break through the gums (erupt) at about 6 months of age. This is called teething. Teeth break through the gums in a certain order, typically from the front to the back of the mouth. Lower teeth often appear 1 to 2 months before the corresponding upper teeth. A change in...

  • A child's dental care really starts with his or her mother's healthy pregnancy, because baby teeth begin to form before birth. If you are pregnant, eat a balanced, nutritious diet and be sure to get enough vitamins and minerals. Pregnant women should have a complete dental exam and have any cavities or gum disease...

  • Your baby's first tooth usually breaks through the gum (erupts) at about 6 months. Many times you might not know that your baby has a new tooth coming in until you see it or hear it click against an object, such as a spoon. Some babies may show signs of discomfort from sore and sensitive gums, be cranky, drool, and have...

  • All of a child's 20 primary (baby) teeth usually break through the gums (erupt) between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. Then the permanent teeth begin to emerge, usually starting at about age 6. Your child probably had his or her first trip to the dentist between 6 and 12 months of age, and now you probably have...

  • By now your child has been seeing a dentist regularly for years. Continue with your usual schedule. If for some reason your child has not yet seen a dentist, make an appointment for an exam. More and more of the responsibility for good dental habits belongs to your child now. What your child can do Your child...

  • Looks at the importance of good dental hygiene. Suggests basic practices for when and how to brush and floss. Provides interactive test of knowledge about dental hygiene.

  • A crown (often called a cap) fits over and replaces the entire part of a decayed tooth above the gum line. It encases the tooth and becomes the tooth's new outer surface. You may need two or more visits to your dentist to repair a severely decayed tooth with a crown. Crowns may be made of porcelain or a metal base...

  • A filling is a material that your dentist uses to fill a cavity after he or she removes any tooth decay. To fill a tooth, your dentist will: Numb your teeth, gums, tongue, and surrounding skin. Your dentist will first put a substance that feels like jelly directly on the area to start the numbing process, and then...

  • A dental implant is an artificial tooth. Your dentist may suggest it if a permanent tooth fell out from an injury or was taken out because of bad tooth decay. Implants are natural-looking, can provide support for dentures, and do not affect the teeth bordering them. But after you have an implant, you may need to have...

  • What is a canker sore? A canker sore is a shallow sore shaped like a crater (ulcer) on your tongue or on the inside of your lip or cheek. Canker sores have a red border and a white or yellow center. They may be painful and can make it hard to talk and eat. You may have one or more than one canker sore at a time...

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