Dental Visit

The Scoop On Oral Cancer

There’s one word no one ever wants to hear – cancer. However, getting all types of cancer screenings, including oral cancer, can save your life. Oral cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks, sinuses, throat, or any other part of the mouth. If detected, early, the survival rates of oral cancer are very high. However, if it is not treated it can be life threatening.

Your dentist will always notice signs of oral cancer during routine appointments, but it’s up to you to keep an eye out between checkups. If you notice the following signs, you need to see your dentist right away:

  • Numbness or pain anywhere in or around the mouth
  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Sores or swelling anywhere in or around the mouth
  • Feeling like something is stuck in your throat
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue (including difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking)
  • Pain in one or both of your ears

So who normally gets oral cancer? Although the exact cause of oral cancer is unclear, we do know some demographics about the people that typically contract it. Oral cancer is more common in men than women, specifically men over the age of 50. The use of tobacco products will greatly increase one’s chance of developing oral cancer. This includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, dip, chewing tobacco, etc. Heavy alcohol use can also contribute to oral cancer, especially when combined with tobacco use. Family history, sun exposure, diet, and HPV are other factors that can contribute to your risk for oral cancer.

How will you know if you have oral cancer? It is vital to visit your dentist regularly for checkups. He or she will visually look for signs of oral cancer each time you come into the office. If your dentist sees any suspicious tissue, he or she will biopsy the area to test for cancer.

What do I do if I test positive for oral cancer? Like other cancers, oral cancer is treated by removing the cancerous tissue and using radiation and/or chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Prevention is always the best method. In addition to a healthy oral hygiene regime that includes brushing and flossing, you should also limit your oral cancer causing activities. Refrain from using tobacco products, and if you choose to consume alcohol, do it in moderation. Limit your exposure to the sun and wear sunblock as well as Chap Stick that offers protection when exposed to UV rays. Eat a balanced diet, go to the dentist regularly, and be on the lookout for early warning signs. Oral cancer is not completely preventable, but these simple lifestyle chances can significantly lower your chances for its development.

Braces

How To Keep Your Permanent Retainer Clean

The day has finally arrived – you get to have your braces taken off! Your orthodontist gives you the option of a removable or permanent retainer, and you choose the permanent one. It seems so easy, nothing to remember to put it and nothing to lose! However, you soon realize that your permanent retainer is more work than you originally thought.

During our routine cleanings, the biggest buildup of plaque we normally see is around permanent retainers. If you have a permanent retainer, you know how difficult it is to floss it. However, this is a necessary step to ensure plaque does not build up around it. Although it may take a little extra time and effort, flossing your teeth bonded by your permanent retainer is worth it.

Do you hate it when the dentist uses that sharp pointy object to scrape the yellow gunk off the back of your permanent retainer? Most patients do. The yellow stuff is plaque, and you can keep it off of your teeth by flossing.  We’re going to give you a few tips on how to prevent plaque buildup around your permanent retainer.

There are a few options when it comes to flossing your permanent retainer. The first tool is a floss threader, which is a plastic needle that can help get the floss under the wire. Then, you can floss your teeth normally. You have to do this between every tooth covered by the retainer, which can be time consuming, but necessary. Another way to floss is to use “superfloss”, which has a plastic end. This floss is precut and each piece has the stiff end that can be used to push the floss under the retainer. The last option to floss your permanent retainer is a pick, called Soft-Picks. These are plastic picks with a rubber end that can fit between your teeth.

In addition to flossing properly, you also need to make sure you come regularly for your dental cleaning because your dentist can get your teeth cleaner than you can at home. Overall, cleaning your permanent retainer isn’t a difficult task; it just requires a little bit of extra effort.

Cupcake

Cutting The Sugar

It’s no secret that too much sugar is bad for your teeth. But how much is too much and what can you do to cut your sugar intake? Americans consume an average of 20 teaspoons of sugar each day. This is not only bad for your oral health, but your overall health as well. However, sometimes it is hard to avoid sugar with sodas, candies, and cookies tempting you everywhere you go. Don’t fear – we are here to help! We’re going to tell you what sugar can do to your teeth and what you can do to cut the sugar in your diet.

Why is sugar bad for my teeth?

Bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar, and when sugar is consumed in excess over extended periods of time the bacteria produce acids that will destroy tooth enamel and cause decay. The acids do most of their damage directly after consuming sugar, so the more sugar you consume throughout the day, the more your teeth are affected by these acids.

How can I stop this from happening?

The answer seems simple – cut out all sugar. But there’s more to it than simply cutting out sweets. Eliminating sugar is nearly impossible, but you can reduce your sugar intake. Here’s how:

1. Read nutrition labels.

Sugar isn’t always as obvious as we assume. Of course cookies and candy have sugar in them, but what about those “healthy” granola bars you buy for the kids? Make sure you always read the labels and try to limit your sugar intake. Women should try to stay under 25 grams of sugar per day, and men should try to stay under 37.5 grams per day. Also look out for hidden sugars such as sucrose, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup when reading the ingredients list.

2. Look out for drinks.

Many people assume that if they’re not drinking soda, then sugar isn’t a problem. However, beware of the sugar in fruit juices, coffee, smoothies, etc. If you can drink it unsweetened, do it!

3. Watch the starches.

Did you know starches such as bread break down into sugar? Limit your intake of these too because they can cause tooth decay as well!

We hope you better understand how sugar influences your oral health and what you can do to prevent its adverse effects. Feel free to share any additional tips you can think of for limiting sugar intake!

Toothbrush

Eclectic vs. Manual Toothbrushes

Should you be using an electric or manual toothbrush? It really depends on each individual. We will help you go over the pros and cons of each, and who might benefit from either toothbrush.

First, we will start with the manual toothbrush.

Pros:

  • Manual toothbrushes are fairly inexpensive and often free with every trip to the dentist.
  • The manual toothbrush is easy to transport, so if you are traveling you can easily pack it.
  • The manual toothbrush can clean your teeth thoroughly.
  • It is customizable, with many shapes, color, and styles to choose the best one for you.
  • You don’t have to worry about keeping up with batteries or charging your manual toothbrush.

Cons:

  • There is no timer on a manual toothbrush, so you have to guess how long you have been brushing your teeth (two-minutes is recommended).
  • A manual toothbrush is more work than an electric toothbrush.

Now, we will take a look at the pros and cons of an electric toothbrush.

Pros:

  • Ease of use. The electric toothbrush does all the work for you!
  • It also has a built in timer so the toothbrush stops after it has been going for two minutes.
  • Studies have shown that the electric toothbrush does have a slight advantage over the manual toothbrush in the removal of plaque.

Cons:

  • Electric toothbrushes are more expensive than manual toothbrushes.
  • You have to either charge an electric toothbrush or replace the batteries.
  • Because electric toothbrushes have more pieces and parts, they can break easily.

So which toothbrush should you use? Studies have shown there is no significant difference between an eclectic or manual toothbrush for most people, but there are a few exceptions. Most children, for example, hate brushing their teeth. An electric toothbrush can help make this task more fun. Many children like the tickling sensation and of course less work! Electric toothbrushes can also benefit those with arthritis or any problem that makes brushing difficult. Other than that, Consumer Reports show that, unless you have a pre-existing dental problem, it really doesn’t matter what toothbrush you use. Happy brushing!