What do pork pies have to do with your teeth?

What do pork pies have to do with your teeth? What is a pork pie?

If you are English like Dr Helen and myself, then the answers to these questions are obvious, but many in Wagga Wagga and the surrounds, may not know about the glorious English delicacy the hand-raised pork pie. A very authentic version can be had at the Coolamon Cheese Factory, if you are curious after reading this.

An English pork pie, as you can see from the photo, has little creases round the edges where the pastry is pinched together. Sometimes when we are examining your tongue, we see these little creases along the sides. This is sometimes described as “scalloping of the tongue”. The reason we look for this, is that it can be a sign of other things happening in your body. These could be:

  1. Increased size of your tongue due to genetic conditions, and

  2. Your tongue rubbing alongside the teeth, particularly if you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night.

Sleep bruxism or night-time clenching or grinding of your teeth, is a common cause of tongue scalloping, usually accompanied by biting of the inside of your cheek, demonstrated by white horizontal lines or linea alba.

Frequently, patients are aware if they have a clenching or grinding habit, however a large number of patients have no idea of the implications for their oral and general health.

Over the years, bruxism can result in severe wear and chipping of your teeth, sometimes making them sensitive and in the long term, affecting the appearance of your smile.

Sometimes, bruxism can be associated with sleep apnoea, which is linked to increased risk of stroke and cardiac disease.

Once more serious problems are eliminated as a cause, bruxism can be managed simply with a hard plastic device that sits over the teeth at night. We call these night guards or splints.

So have a look in the mirror and check your tongue. If it looks a little like a pork pie around the edges, then call 69215799 and book an appointment for an examination.

Cristy Houghton