Oral Cancer

2018-09-07 15:39:38 admin

oral cancer

If there were a quick and painless way to identify pre-cancerous cells in the mouth of someone you loved, would you want them to try it? What if that person were you? The truth is, as uncomfortable as it may be to even think of the word “cancer,” thinking about it, and thus detecting it early, is key. That’s why, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit, because while the oral exam that accompanies your cleaning may not be noticeable to you, it’s often your earliest line of defense in the detection of oral cancer.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the risk factors and symptoms, and consider a few options you may have to help reduce risk. Keep in mind that no list is exhaustive, and to always share with each of your health care providers your concerns and strategies regarding your oral health.

Those at Risk for Oral Cancer

Passing certain age thresholds and engaging in certain lifestyle habits can place you at increased risk for oral cancer. For example, men tend to have higher rates of oral cancers than women. Here is the short list:

  • Patients age 40 and older (95% of all oral cancer cases)
  • Patients age 18-39 who use tobacco, are heavy drinkers, or may have a previously diagnosed oral HPV infection.

Oral Cancer Signs

PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST ORAL CANCER

Warning Signs If you experience any of the below symptoms lasting more than 7-10 days, please seek the advice of your doctor. Also, keep in mind that aside from an obviously sore throat, the below symptoms can present themselves in the absence of pain. Look out for changes that can be detected on the lips, inside the cheeks, palate, and gum tissue surrounding your teeth and tongue. [Have you had the occasion to catch lesions early in a patient? Or, detect concerns with salivary glands, or lymph nodes? Here would be an opportune time to mention that. You don’t have to get too specific… rather, a simple mention that you’ve helped patients catch things early. You could say something like: “At PRACTICE NAME, we occasionally run across such concerns a few times a year, and are able to help patients get treatment early.”]

  • Reddish or whitish patches in the mouth • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth • Chronic sore throator hoarseness • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Reducing risk If you do not visit the dentist regularly, you could be missing out on the benefits of early cancer detection. Currently, just over half of all those diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years – a statistic driven by late diagnosis – so please visit your dentist and get an oral exam at least once a year. If you are considered “high risk,” (see list above) you should be receiving an oral exam at least every six months, if not more frequently.

Below is a short list of healthy habits you can start doing now, which may reduce your risk.

  • Avoid all tobacco products
  • Avoid or reduce your consumption of alcohol
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables (good for everything, of course)
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure that can result in cancer of the lip (using lip balm with an SPF of at least 30 can be helpful)
  • Avoid exposure to environmental hazards (wood dust, formaldehyde, printing chemicals)
  • Conduct a self-exam monthly so you can catch any of the symptoms listed above. Use a small hand-held mirror so you can see the back of your mouth and tongue Ask any of our Dental Hygienists how to perform an oral cancer screening. It only takes a minute and anyone can do it at home. If you haven’t been in to see us in a while, give us a ring at (707)795-4523, and we’ll show you how to perform this exam in between visits.]
  • Consider coffee. While the jury is still out, some research suggests coffee may help protect the mouth from oral cancer.

Oral cancer is serious business. Yet, it can be managed when caught early. So, do the right thing and visit your dentist regularly, and get that screening.

Family dental care and cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.

Blue Apple Dental Group
6230 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 795-4523

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Dental Fear

2018-08-01 21:08:17 admin

Dental Fear

Dentistry has come a long way over the years.

Can you imagine undergoing an extraction in ancient times with no anesthesia and unsterilized tools? Luckily, we live in the right century when it comes to having a positive experience at the dentist.

But no matter the times we live in or current technology, fear of the dentist is a real thing experienced by many Americans. It’s normal to be a bit fearful of certain experiences, but if fear is preventing you from getting the dental care you need, it’s time to find some help.

Here are a few ideas to help you calm your nerves!

Identify your fears

It’s helpful to identify the specific aspects of a dental visit that cause you anxiety. Write them down on a piece of paper.

Sometimes this exercise alone can help you identify fears that may be unfounded or overblown by your imagination.

Once you have them written down…

Ask your dental team how they can help

Perhaps they can dim the lights to provide a calmer experience. Or they can tell you about what to expect each step of the way. Or perhaps you prefer they remain silent so you can focus on relaxing.

Most dental offices work hard to alleviate patients’ fears and may have suggestions of their own for you!

Have a close friend in the room

Simply having extra social support can make a big difference!

Afraid of the needle? Have your friend hold your hand or share a funny story to make that initial twinge more doable for you.

Use some relaxation techniques

Try deep breathing or repeating a helpful mantra.

Whether that’s your favorite verse, music lyric, or something simple like “I am in control. This will be over soon,” this affirmation can help settle your nerves.

Use hand signals

Inform your practitioner when you need a break.

Let them know that when you lift your left hand, it means you need something.

When you’re ready to proceed, give them permission to continue the procedure.

Ask about your sedation options

The Dentist of any of our helpful and knowledgeable team will be able to explain the different options out there and any associated risks.

Depending on the level of sedation you require, you may need to be referred to a special dentist.

Reward yourself

If it helps, find some type of reward to focus on throughout your visit.

Focus on intrinsic rewards (“I finally won’t have to deal with this toothache”) or extrinsic rewards (“double mocha with whip, please”).

Speak with a psychologist

For some of us, the fear and anxiety can be so great that we avoid the dentist at all costs.

This can be extremely harmful for our health, and can make simple dental problems much worse than they need to be.

If this is the case for you, feel no shame in seeking our professional help. Find a local counselor who is knowledgeable in this area.

Bottom line: your dental health is too important to let fear stand in your way. Your dental office is just a phone call away from starting the process to getting you the help you need.

We are here for you! Good luck!

Be Well!

Dr. Lieu

Family dental care and cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.

Blue Apple Dental Group
6230 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 795-4523

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What Causes Bad Breath?

2018-06-29 17:57:25 admin
Bad Breath
“Hey, what’s that smell? … I’m not so sure it’s the onions you had on that pizza this afternoon – it might be that you’ve just got bad breath.”

Has a friend ever shared this kind of news with you? Probably not. Most of us go about our daily lives unaware the brilliant sentences we speak, are also being delivered with an accompanying odor …  of significantly, less brilliance. Yuck! But, don’t fret my pet! Even thought bad breath can be embarrassing, it can also be addressed once its underlying cause is known. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons, and learn some tips that’ll help you be the one with the freshest breath in the room.

What Causes Bad Breath?

The causes of bad breath range from the simple to the serious. Most often, it’s the result of gum disease brought on by inadequate brushing and flossing. Gum disease has its own special smell…as does rotting teeth. Halitosis (bad breath) can also be caused by certain foods you consume (like garlic and onions), acid reflux, post-nasal drip, sinusitis and tonsoliths(tonsil stones).  More seriously, however, illnesses such as cancer and diabetes can present themselves in this way, so it’s important to visit a dentist if your breath issues are long lasting.

Tips to Keep the Bad Breath Monster Away

Outside a visit to your dentist, a few simple tricks will help you care for your mouth in ways that can translate into fresh breath:

  • Floss daily, or use a water irrigation tool, like a Waterpik.
  • When brushing, don’t forget to brush your tongue and the inside of your cheeks.
  • Purchase an inexpensive tongue-scraper and use it as part of your nightly routine. A scraper will allow you to reach the very back of your tongue that is difficult to reach with a brush.
  • Get regular cleanings from your dental hygienist to keep plaque and gingivitis at bay.
  • And, avoid smoking or too much alcohol. Both dry out your mouth which can lead to bad breath, and can contribute to a higher incidence of oral cancer.

These days, we understand finding the time to stay on top of your oral hygiene can be a challenge. But, the rewards are well worth it. You’ll have less dental expense, a beautiful smile, and fresh breath that will keep you kissable all year round.

 

Family dental care and cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.

Blue Apple Dental Group
6230 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 795-4523

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To Bone Graft or Not to Bone Graft

2018-06-29 17:53:33 admin

bone graft

When we experience the loss of a tooth, either through trauma or decay, the bone that surrounds the tooth undergoes a remarkably quick process known as resorption. This is where the bone is broken down at the cellular level and dispersed elsewhere throughout the body.

Essentially, because the body believes it no longer needs this bony material due to the tooth’s absence, it reclaims this material into the body for other use.

While this might sound like nothing to worry about, it is often that I like to suggest socket preservation to prevent a host of further complications that accompany this rather intriguing bit of biological science.

What Is Socket Preservation?

Socket preservation is another name for what is clinically known as a bone graft. Essentially, it’s a material for filling in the hole where the tooth used to reside, so it can heal in preparation for later treatment.

If nothing were done to stop this dissipation of bone it would likely destabilize your neighboring teeth. This would make future implants and other forms of prosthetic devices unlikely to work or look less natural and attractive.

Aside from the clinical consequences of bone loss, what might concern you more is the fact that the bone height determines our facial features, and a loss of that height due to an unpreserved socket can alter one’s appearance dramatically. Because of this, many dentists prefer to proactively stunt this resorption by using a bone graft.

There are four types of bone grafts that can be used at the time of the extraction, to preserve ridge integrity. They are:

  • Autograft: Bone harvested from patient’s own body
  • Xenograft: Bone grafts or collagen from bovine or porcine origin
  • Allograft: Block bone graft from a cadaver
  • Alloplast: Synthetic biomaterials such as PLGA, hydroxyapatite, tricalcium phosphate, bioglass – ceramics, etc.

Generally speaking, a bone graft is a surgical procedure where one of the above materials is layered into the socket where the tooth used to exist.

There is a great variety to the type and procedure involved in bone grafts, and much is dependent on the condition and type of bone with, the quality of the extraction performed, your overall health, your oral health, and the type of material to be used.

However, since preserving the bony ridge of your mouth is critical to future restorative work and your appearance, it is wise to consider the procedure if recommended. The benefits of socket preservation are many.. and most important of them is the overall continual health of the other teeth in your mouth.

If you are considering dental implants or going to have a tooth pulled, ask your dentist if you have more questions about this procedure.  If you are considering dental implants, I welcome you to come visit our office for a no cost consultation.  Let’s meet and chat about your smile goals and see what is possible to design a beautiful smile for you.

Be Well.

Dr. Lieu

Family dental care and cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.

Blue Apple Dental Group
6230 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 795-4523

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Can Bad Oral Health Signal Celiac Disease?

2018-06-05 20:47:29 admin

celiac diseaseCeliac disease includes 300+ symptoms ranging from abdominal distress to irritability and depression. It is caused by a severe intolerance to gluten, and can affect the body so diversely that even the tooth enamel of a celiac isn’t spared.

Undiagnosed in 83% of all cases, Celiac disease is worthy of your attention – particularly when the end result can be multiple tooth extractions and dentures at an early age.

What is Celiac Disease?

Basically, Celiac sufferers have an intestinal intolerance to gluten that causes damage to the surface of the small intestine. This reduces the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients through the gut, which can result in bad mood, bad skin, bad everything … including bad teeth.

In patients with Celiac, enamel defects are common in 85% of cases. That’s a staggering statistic, and one you’re going to want to stay ahead of if you’d like to keep your teeth.

Know the Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Understandably, any long list of symptoms can be attributed to a wide variety of concerns both benign and serious. In considering the list below, it will be beneficial to look for those symptoms that overlap or are chronic in nature.

Here are Celiac’s top sixteen symptoms:

  1. Bloating or Gas
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Constipation
  4. Fatigue
  5. Itchy Skin Rash
  6. Tingling/Numbness
  7. Pale Mouth Sores
  8. Joint Pain
  9. Delayed Growth
  10. Poor Weight Gain
  11. Thin Bones
  12. Infertility
  13. Headaches
  14. Depression
  15. Irritability
  16. Discolored Teeth

The above list is from The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. For more, visit Celiac Central.

Consider Your Oral Health Diagnosis

Dentists are excellent triage doctors for a host of illnesses. The mouth truly is the window to the body.

However, not all dentists have Celiac on their radar, so remember, you alone are your best care provider!

Overly-frequent bouts with cavities, root canals, canker sores, or patchy, ill-formed teeth can all indicate a more insidious problem, especially if you feel your taking good care of your teeth.

So, if your dentist is talking with you about these symptoms over and over again (even if they’re not suggesting Celiac), you should consider getting tested to rule out the disease.

Take Action

Get tested.

If you think you may have the disease, and most certainly if care providers are suggesting you might, you owe it to yourself to get tested.

simple genetic test can rule out whether you’re at risk for celiac, and inform you as to whether you need additional testing.

Gluten is everywhere. And no amount of gluten is worth the range of symptoms you can be afflicted with if you have undiagnosed Celiac.

So, consider your health, consider the test, and be safe!

 

Family dental care and cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.

Blue Apple Dental Group
6230 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 795-4523

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