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I am a 42-year-old man who is being treated for a chronic periodontal (gum) infection. I am going to a dental hygienist for removal of plaque. My dentist told me to gargle with Corsodyl liquid to kill oral bacteria twice daily for 10 days but not longer. I asked him the reason for the limitation, but he was called to another patient and didn't answer. If the mouthwash really kills the bacteria, what's wrong with using it on an ongoing basis. Does it color the teeth, or is there another reason? N.D., Tivon
Dr. Steve Sattler, a veteran Jerusalem dentist, replies:
Corsodyl liquid will stain the teeth (to black or brown) after several days of use. For women this is a bigger problem, for men, less so. But by using Corsodyl on and off over several months, the long-term healing effect is better. There is no possibility of sterilizing the mouth completely, because many types of bacteria live in the oral cavity. Thus the real treatment is to clean up chronic infections of the gums and teeth and selectively kill off the pathological germs and fungi and leave the beneficial ones.
I am writing with regard to a question raised in the Friday, March 17th issue by S.F. in Jerusalem regarding the prohibition of eating nuts by children younger than five years old. Dr. Michal Hemmo-Lotem of Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, said it was forbidden. Could Dr. Lotem inform us as to whether this is relevant only to whole nuts, or whether chopped or ground nuts can also be a health hazard for those under 5, i.e. whether in fact there is some component in nuts that can be detrimental to small children's metabolism, irrelevant of the way they are consumed? I would greatly appreciate hearing her reply, as I believe would other concerned grandparents and parents. H.S., Tel Aviv
Dr. Michal Hemmo-Lotem, director of Beterem, replies:
Nuts or grains that are chopped to tiny pieces or powder do not pose a hazard to children under five years old, except in rare cases of allergy. But when they are small pieces or a whole nut, they can pose a hazard for aspiration into the trachea. Seeds are dangerous, too, because when aspirated to the lungs they tend to absorb water and get bigger, thus they block small airways and cause cough or wheezing and shortness of breath.
I am a healthy, 35-year-old woman with a large family. I work a lot in the kitchen and sometimes suffer cuts on my hands. I have some scars from these mishaps. Besides being more careful to avoid cuts, how can I promote healing to avoid scars? S.D., Bnei Brak
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich comments:
A recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Women's Health Source discusses this issue: It's not uncommon to have a mishap that breaks the skin. When a wound occurs, your body quickly begins regeneration and repair. You can facilitate healing with proper home care. Seek medical treatment if you need stitches, can't clean the wound or if it was caused by an animal or human bite.
Otherwise, wash the wound with tap or bottled water or sterile saline. Apply pressure to stop any bleeding. Cover the wound with a sterile dressing to create a warm, moist environment - the best condition for wound healing; this differs from recommendations in the past to leave the wound open to air. A protected environment decreases pain, infection and the likelihood of re-injury.
Next, cover the wound with a topical antibiotic ointment. Create a barrier to keep the wound moist by applying a heavy lubricant such as petroleum jelly. Don't use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide because these harsh chemicals interfere with healing. Avoid plain gauze because it can stick to the scab and cause re-injury when removed.
Instead, use a non-stick dressing and gently change it every day or two. Attempt to keep a wet scab intact. Wounds should normally stay covered for five days or until the surface layers have healed.
Don't scratch. Itching is normal to the healing process and scratching may reopen the wound. If it's been 10 years or longer since you had a tetanus shot, go to the doctor for that. Maintain a healthy diet and don't smoke. These healthy behaviors promote healing. Seek medical attention if the wound develops signs of infection including redness, increased pain or swelling or a yellow or green discharge.
Rx For Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx For Readers, the Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to email@example.com, giving your initials, age and residence.