The Smoking Gun in Oral Cancer

Most people know smoking is hazardous to your health, especially concerning the lungs and heart. Unfortunately, less attention is placed upon smoking’s negative impact on oral health. Not only does smoking leave brown stains and sticky tar deposits on teeth or dentures, it also contributes to halitosis [bad breath]. But those are the least of the issues.

Smoking is a major risk factor in periodontal [gum] disease. For example, it’s common to see red inflammation on a smoker’s palate [roof of the mouth] from the high temperatures generated by cigarettes, cigars and pipes. This is actually the inflammation of the salivary gland openings and leads to a condition called sialadenitis (reduced saliva flow due to damage to the salivary duct).

Twenty years of research show that smokers are two to three times more likely to develop periodontitis [bone loss] and tooth loss is much more prevalent in smokers than non-smokers. Studies also show a higher rate of dental implant failure for smokers.

When it comes to the cause of most oral cancers, smoking is the “smoking gun.” Of the 9,000 deaths a year in the U.S. from oral cancer, tobacco use accounts for 75% of those tragic, preventable figures.

Even second-hand smoke poses a danger to oral healthcare, especially for children. For example, smoke breathed in by children can affect the development and eruption of their permanent teeth, a process that usually begins between three and six years of age.

The good news is that “kicking the habit” greatly reduces the risk of developing oral cancer. Studies show that, after 10 years of cessation, a former smoker’s risk or oral cancer is reduced to that of non-smokers.

While nicotine creates a formidable addiction to contend with, there are a number of ways to stop smoking without experiencing extreme withdrawal symptoms. For example, nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine sprays or inhalers greatly ease the suffering associated with nicotine addiction.

If you some, or want to quit smoking, call our office and schedule an appointment. We are here to help you with the oral health issues associated with smoking.


Oral Cancer Bad and Good News

Unfortunately, the incidence of oral cancers is rising quickly. While cancers of the mouth used to be seen mostly in people with high risk factors (smoking, snuff use, alcohol use, family history of cancer, aging), the biggest rise has been in people with NO apparent risk factors. One out of four people who get oral cancer fall into the “no risk” group. In addition, oral cancers are very deadly, and horribly disfiguring, with only a 50% survival rate. EARLY DETECTION IS CRITICAL! 

More than 34,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, compared with 9,700 cases of cervical cancer per year. However, unlike cervical cancer, until recently there was no early detection test for oral cancers. The good news is that now that has changed! We now have  Identafi early screening test to assist in early detection.
We’re proud and excited to be one of the few offices in the state to have invested in the latest and best cancer screening technology available, the Identafi screening device. This amazing equipment allows us to “see” down to the inner cell layers for any cancerous or pre-cancerous cell changes, vastly improving our ability for early detection. Best of all, it is absolutely painless.
Patients with no risk factors need to have this inexpensive test done once per year, and those at high risk every six months.

Puberty Causes Swollen Gums

Puberty is a fact of life where a child’s body matures and becomes capable of reproduction. It is during this time that hair sprouts up in unusual places, voices drop, girls start menstruating and smiles can become plagued with swollen gums that are more sensitive to dental plaque and at greater risk for dental problems.

Puberty is fueled by hormonal signals to the brain and the release of those compounds is essential to the maturation process. However, while those hormones are imbalanced, growing girls and boys are more prone to oral issues including infections, gingivitis and mouth sores. Fortunately a good dental hygiene regimen complete with daily brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist will act as a form of preventative dentistry and minimize any oral health risks associated with the natural evolution of life.


Birth Control Pills Trigger Pregnancy Gingivitis

Being with child can be an exciting transition, but as any mother will tell you, pregnancy is no walk in the park. In order for a women to carry a child to full term, hormonal levels will change in order to help a fetus grow and develop, but those fluctuations can also put her a greater risk for dental problems such as gingivitis, pregnancy tumors and periodontal disease. Women on birth control pills have the same oral health risks as their child carrying counterparts.

Oral contraceptives use various hormones to mimic pregnancy, suppress ovulation and will thicken a woman’s cervical mucus in order to block a sperm merging with an egg. Once a body is tricked into copying the indicators of pregnancy, the risks of dental problems including gum inflammation, oral infections, tooth loss will increase and pregnancy gingivitis can occur to women on the pill.

In addition to increased odds of developing pregnancy gingivitis, being on the pill can also make it difficult for women to recover from tooth extractions. Studies have indicated that women on birth control pills, that undergo tooth extractions while on the medication are two times more likely to have to endure dry socket at the tooth extraction site.

Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to combating the smile killing effects associated with birth control pills. For more useful tips please contact our Caliber Dental office


Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?

Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.