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Look Out for Oral Cancer

Look Out for Oral Cancer

The word cancer strikes fear and dismay in most people, and it’s no different when the diagnosis is oral cancer. Nearly 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with this disease each year and about 8,000 succumb to it. You should know the risk factors and symptoms so that you can either avoid it completely, or catch it early enough that you’ll have the best chance of recovery.
Who is at risk?
Oral cancer is not contagious, but there are some activities that put you at higher risk for the disease. Both smoked and smokeless tobacco are linked to oral cancer, and the more you use tobacco the greater your risk becomes. Excessive alcohol consumption also increases your risk, and paired with tobacco use your risk is even higher. Sun exposure heightens your chances of developing cancer of the lip.

What are the symptoms?
Oral cancer patients may experience any of these signs of the disease:

  • A sore in the mouth or throat that bleeds often and doesn’t heal within two weeks
  • A thick area or lump in the cheek
  • Patches in your mouth or on your lips that are red, white, or a mixture of the two
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty wearing your dentures
  • A sore throat
  • Tongue or mouth numbness
  • Difficulty chewing, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • Earache

What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you notice any of these signs, visit your dentist right away to get screened for oral cancer. When diagnosed early, there is an 80 percent survival rate. Unfortunately many patients wait too long to see their dentist, and late-stage diagnosis is the reason for most oral cancer deaths.

Schedule your appointment at our Meriden dental office

I Can’t Give Up my Coffee!!

I Can’t Give Up my Coffee!!

You’ve probably seen what coffee can do to a cup. Those brown stains that you see left on your cup are also sticking to your teeth. Coffee is especially hard on your teeth due to an ingredient called tannic acid, which gets into the grooves and pits of your tooth enamel and can stain it brown. Certainly the ideal way to stop the staining is to quit drinking the java, but that’s an unrealistic solution for many people. So what else can you do to save your pearly whites?

Drink smart

First, try and reduce the amount of coffee you drink. If you drink a lot of coffee, even cutting out one cup a day can lessen the dark stains on your teeth. Another suggestion is to drink your coffee in one or two sittings instead of sipping it all day long. Also, try lowering the temperature of your coffee. The hotter the coffee is, the more easily it can stain your teeth. Just letting it cool a couple of degrees can make a difference to your teeth.

Rinse

After every cup of coffee you drink, rinse your mouth with room-temperature water. This will remove some of the staining elements before they have a chance to set in. The water also helps neutralize acids in your mouth, which will lower the bacteria in your mouth that can lead to cavities.

Use a straw

If you like iced coffee or tea, drink it with a straw so that the dark beverage doesn’t directly contact your front lower and upper teeth. Using a straw reduces your teeth’s exposure to liquids that can stain.

Whiten your teeth

Ask your dentist about professional whitening methods, as well as products you can try at home. There are even some brands of whitening toothpaste made especially for coffee drinkers.

Practice good hygiene

Brush your teeth several times a day, especially after drinking coffee. Flossing daily also helps prevent stains, and is important if you add sugar or cream to your cup of joe. See your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings, which can do a better job of removing stains and restoring your smile.

Schedule your appointment at our Meriden dental office

Oral Cancer Explained

Oral Cancer Explained

Most people have friends or family who have had to deal with the disease cancer in some area of the body. Cancer can be described as uncontrollable cell growth that invades and damages surrounding tissue. Oral cancer often shows up as a persistent sore or growth in the mouth, but also includes cancers of the tongue, lips, cheeks, palate, throat, and sinuses. Like most cancers, it can be life threatening without early detection and treatment.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Swelling, lumps, or rough spots on your lips, gums, or other mouth areas
  • White or red patches in your mouth
  • Numbness or tenderness in your mouth, neck, or face
  • Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
  • Sore throat or feeling that something is stuck in your throat
  • Persistent sores in the mouth, neck or face that bleed easily and do not heal in two weeks
  • Hoarseness or chronic sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, talking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • Earache
  • Substantial weight loss

Risk factors

Men are at twice as high risk for oral cancer than women, and men over 50 are at greatest risk. The biggest risk factors include any kind of smoking or using smokeless tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure, or family history of cancer. However, it’s important to know that more than 25 percent of oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke or only drink alcohol occasionally.

Diagnosis

Routine dental checkups include an examination for signs of oral cancer. A biopsy may be performed on any suspicious areas. Regular checkups are important so that tests can identify oral cancer early, before it can spread or progress.

Treatment

Oral cancer is often treated similarly to other types of cancers. It may include surgery to remove the growth, followed by radiation or chemotherapy to destroy remaining cancer cells.


If you live in the Meriden area contact us today

Obesity and Your Oral Health

Obesity and Your Oral Health

Obesity, defined as an excess proportion of body fat, has reached epidemic levels in the United States. This condition presents health risks to many areas of your body, and takes a toll on just about every aspect of your life. What does obesity have to do with oral health? Recent studies have linked the development of obesity with oral bacteria.

By testing the saliva of overweight people compared to individuals within a healthy weight range, researchers have discovered an oral bacteria present in 98 percent of the obese subjects. Experts believe this bacteria is an indicator of developing an overweight condition. Also, they suspect that the bacteria may participate in the body functions that lead to obesity.

Preventing and controlling obesity usually begins with analyzing and changing your diet. A high glycemic diet, which generally means a diet high in sugars, contributes to weight gain. It is also connected with your dental health, because sugars in your mouth are converted into plaque. If plaque accumulates on your teeth and gums, the risk increases for tooth decay and gum disease.

While it will likely benefit your waistline to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, doing so will reduce your risks for oral disease. Likewise, regular dental checkups, proper oral hygiene including brushing and flossing twice daily, and smart diet modifications will also lower your oral health risks. As experts continue to investigate the connection between your mouth and your overall health, following recommendations for caring for your mouth will likely decrease oral bacteria and possibly limit your risks of other health concerns such as obesity.

If you live in the Meriden area contact us today

Mouthwash Does More Than Freshen Breath

Mouthwash Does More Than Freshen Breath

Most people turn to mouthwash when they suspect their breath is bad and they want a quick boost. It’s true that mouthwash comes in handy for this purpose, but did you know that it offers other benefits too?

Reduces bacteria

Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinses are intended to kill germs that cause gum disease, plaque, and bad breath. Swishing this type of mouthwash around your mouth after brushing has been shown to lower the bacteria levels, and therefore decrease your risks of the problems that bacteria can cause. It is especially helpful in senior adults or others who have trouble brushing and flossing their teeth.

Promotes healing

Rinsing with antiseptic mouthwash promotes natural healing of mouth and gum irritations, minor wounds, and canker sores. It removes debris that can irritate your mouth, and can also help reduce inflammations from dental and orthodontic appliances.

Adds fluoride

Some rinses contain fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and strengthen teeth. Studies have shown that using fluoride mouth rinses in addition to fluoride toothpaste gives you more protection against cavities than toothpaste alone. Fluoride mouth rinse is not suggested for kids under six years old because they might swallow it.

Relieves pain

Antiseptic mouth rinses have been shown to help reduce tooth pain, probably due to lowering the bacteria and inflammation in your mouth.

Helps with certain conditions

Dentists sometimes prescribe special mouth rinses designed for various oral conditions. This may include gum disease, high risk of tooth decay, or dry mouth. Also, oral rinses may be prescribed after periodontal treatments or oral surgery.

Supplements dental hygiene

Many dentists suggest making dental rinses part of your oral hygiene routine, but remember that it’s only a supplement to brushing and flossing regularly.

If you need a dentist in Meriden contact us today

Tartar is the Enemy

Tartar is the Enemy

It’s hard to miss with advertisements and visits to the dentist that tartar is something you want to avoid for good oral health. But do you know what this substance is, how to keep from getting it, and what to do if tartar does develop?

What’s so bad about tartar?

Even if you brush and floss regularly, it’s impossible to get rid of all of the bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria and food residue combine to form plaque on your teeth. If left to thrive, plaque attacks your teeth and gums. It causes decay, gum inflammation, and will harden into tartar if not removed before it has the chance.

What does it do to my teeth and gums?

Tartar buildup makes it more difficult to brush and floss well, and tartar along your gums may lead to gum disease. Mild gum disease, or gingivitis, is often caused by plaque and tartar on your teeth. It can usually be reversed with careful dental hygiene. If left untreated, it will progress into periodontitis. This more serious gum disease can damage the bones and tissue that support your teeth, increasing your risk of tooth loss. It may also cause infections that contribute to heart disease and other health problems.

How can I control tartar?

Here are some ways to prevent tartar formation:

  • Brush at least twice daily long enough to thoroughly clean every tooth and all of your gums. Consider using an electric toothbrush, which may be more effective for plaque removal.
  • Use tartar-control fluoride toothpaste. It is formulated to help prevent tartar formation, and the fluoride can repair damage to your teeth that may have already begun.
  • Floss every day to reach the areas that brushing cannot.
  • Eat a healthy diet low in sugars and starches, and limit snacks between meals. Drink plenty of water to help rinse away plaque and bacteria.
  • Don’t smoke because tobacco use has been shown to increase tartar buildup.

How do I get rid of it?

A professional cleaning is the only way to successfully remove tartar. See your dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings.

If you live in the Meriden area contact us today