The Impact of Oral Cancer Screening

It has been beaten into your brain, you have heard it so many times you could scream... The American Dental Association recommends you see your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and check-ups. One of the reasons it is recommended to have regular check up's for your mouth, much like for the rest of your body, is to screen for any abnormalities. The impact of oral cancer screening is just as vital as screening for cancers anywhere else. According to The American Dental Association, 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers this year. The 5-year survival rate of those diagnosed is only slightly more than 64% therefore, when cancer is detected and treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced. Oral Cancer can range from your lips all the way to back of your throat and everywhere in between. Look inside your mouth and think about all that surface area. As your dentist, I make it a point to look for any signs or symptoms of anything abnormal in your mouth, this does not just include decay in or on your teeth. I am looking for any redness, lumps, lesions and your bite. When I ask you questions about how your mouth is feeling, I am wanting to know if you are having any soreness, tenderness, and swelling. What you may think something that is not that big of a deal, it may be. When I am asking about your family history - though it may seem strange that I am a dentist, as you know, having an idea of what the family's history of illness is can be an indicator in your own body.

 

I encourage that if between your regular visits to your dentist's office you notice anything that seems off, do not hesitate to give your doctor a call. I am sure he/she will be more than happy to schedule an appointment even just to put your mind at ease. Keep in mind there are many things that can stick out to indicate something may be abnormal. According to The American Dental Association, the symptoms of mouth or throat can include:

 

  • A sore or irritation that does not go away
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

 

Patients over the age of 40 tend to be more at risk of these factors, it has however been found in patients younger than that. Contributing factors can include tobacco/nicotine users of all kinds, HPV has even been associated with certain types of oral cancer. Keeping your mouth healthy with brushing, flossing, fluoride use, regular dental visits, a good diet, and keeping your mouth moist will not only assist in presentation of tooth decay but oral cancers as well.

 

For more information about oral cancers please visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/o/oral-cancer or http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/

5 Reasons You May Need Orthodontics

Orthodontics are not only for teenagers anymore, adults can benefit just as much from orthodontics (braces or clear aligners). The advancements in orthodontics over the years is absolutely astounding. General dentists are even able to take on some cases now. If you have ever wondered about the benefits of orthodontics, here are 5 reasons you may need orthodontics:

 

  1. To improve your overall oral health. Too much crowding or spacing in your teeth and create little harbors of plaque and bacteria which we already know can lead to decay, gum disease and bone loss. Straightening your teeth will help to eliminate some of these issues with regular brushing and flossing. Maintenance of your oral health and prevent costly and timely restorations in the future.
  2. To relieve discomfort stemming from poor alignment of your upper and or lower jaw. The human body is so intricately connected that even if your bite is off by mere millimeters your body will find a way to compensate in one way or another to feel normal.
  3. To tie directly into the poor alignment of your upper and lower jaw, you may notice that you have an overbite or an under bite.
  4. Reducing a "gummy" smile. Are you embarrassed about having a gummy smile? The only option available many years ago was to due crown restoration on each tooth, not anymore!!
  5. This brings us to cosmetic. Straightening your teeth can add confidence to your smile that you didn't even know you were missing.

 

Braces come in all shapes and sizes anymore. There are traditional or metal braces for more extensive treatments on adults. Metal braces are recommended for adolescents as well because clear aligners such as Invisalign® or ClearCorrect tend to require more discipline with use. Clear aligners allow you freedom to straighten your teeth virtually invisibly. There are also options like MTM® (Minimal Teeth Movements) or Fastbraces® that are much faster than traditional braces. Most offices in your area, dental or orthodontic will offer free consultations allowing you to meet with a doctor to go over all of your concerns and see what options best suite you.

Do You Really Know How To Floss?

Let's face it - flossing is a little tricky. Are you doing it properly? Are you doing it often enough? Are you using the correct flossing instrument? Are you getting sick of your dental hygienist lecturing you at every dental appointment about flossing? The question of the day is do you really know how to floss? I personally always love when I get my teeth cleaned and the hygienist finishes off my cleaning with a good thorough flossing. They are able to get in to all the areas that it seems like I cannot. How am I supposed to fit my hands ALL the way back there??!? I wanted to simply the technique for you at home - so it doesn't seem so daunting.

Step 1: Grab some floss, the ADA recommends about 18 inches. Really just grab enough to be able to use some clean floss after each tooth.

Step 2: Get the floss between the teeth and all the way up to the gum line gently and "wrap" your tooth with the floss. Use an up and down and back and forth (or zig-zag) motion to get all those surfaces.

Step 3: Once all your teeth are squeaky clean, rinse your mouth very well - you did just clean out a lot of bacteria from under your gums.

Easy enough, right? If you are a type of person that struggles with standard floss, there are lots of other options out there to help you achieve your flossing goals and make your hygienist beam with pride at your next cleaning. I she has even offered you a handheld flosser at one of your appointments. Take her up on it next time. The technique with these is similar but it gives you the luxury of not having to struggle getting around those back teeth and hard to reach places. All the major dental companies have created water flossers or air flossers as well. The water and air flossers are easy to use, gentle and incredibly effective. Have a lot of bridge or crown work, maybe even braces? We have floss for that too! Special floss to get around those wires to keep your gums healthy! Remember, flossing is the most effective way to keep plaque out of your gum tissue and off of your teeth in between your dental cleanings. Research your options and start flossing - this way if someone should ask do you really know how to floss? You can say, YES and I have the gums to prove it!

Fluoride, nature’s cavity fighter

Have you ever sat and wondered to yourself, "What is fluoride anyway and why is my dentist all about it?" - Well, I am here to fill you in. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in all water sources without additional fluoridation. Depending on the region you live in the level of naturally occurring fluoride may be different. The mineral itself is renowned for strengthening teeth and helping prevent tooth decay. Fluoride, nature's cavity fighter! According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) 92% of adults between 20-64 have had decay in their permanent teeth and 26% of adults the same age have untreated decay. Now, don't get me wrong - these statistics are not simply because people chose not to have fluoride treatments at their dental cleanings or refuse to drink fluoridated water, there are many reasons as to why tooth decay occurs. Fluoride is simply an overlooked good.

Fluoride works by fighting acids in our food and drinks that attack teeth and cause decay. Think of fluoride as D vitamins in your milk - or juice with added calcium, it is simply an added benefit to help protect your very precious smile. The American Dental Association suggests that "for children younger than 3 years, start brushing their teeth as soon as they start to appear in the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush your children's teeth twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by your dentist or physician. For children 3 to 6 years of age, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth twice a day. Always supervise your child's brushing to make sure they use the right amount of toothpaste and try and get your child to spit out most of the toothpaste." The ADA also states that "if you have a good chance of getting cavities, your dentist can apply fluoride to your teeth during your dental visit. Your dentist might also tell you to use a special fluoride rinse, paste or gel at home." The ADA is absolutely correct in this, and I practice it here in my office. Why not take advantage of fluoride, nature's cavity fighter. For more information about fluoride or fluoridation head straight to www.mouthhealthy.org/fluoride