Category Archives: dental disease

Oral Cancer on the rise in the US- Are you being screened?

 

velscope%20cartoonAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancers of the oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are usually caused by tobacco and alcohol, but recent studies show that about 72 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV.

“There has been significant change in the last decade. The HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer has reached epidemic proportions,” Stenson warns.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 45,780 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity and oropharynx in 2015.

If this trend continues, the number of cases of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer will surpass the number of cervical cancer cases.

Early detection is key

The HPV vaccine currently in use has been shown to decrease the incidence of cervical infections and cancer associated with the virus. While the same result is anticipated for HPV-associated head and neck cancer, the impact of vaccines on incidence of persistent oral HPV infection and/or HPV associated oropharyngeal cancer has not yet been investigated. Still, head and neck surgeons, medical oncologists and other researchers strongly advocate vaccination of both girls and boys to help prevent all HPV-associated cancers.

“For all individuals, the key is in early detection, as with any cancer,” Stenson observes.

In addition to being vaccinated, Stenson stresses the importance of regular visits to the dentist. “Dentists play a key role in detecting oral cancer,” she says. “You might not see a primary care physician even once a year, but most people see their dentist twice a year. Having regular dental visits can  help catch cancers early to help ensure the best outcome.”

The American Dental Association states that 60 percent of the U.S. population sees a dentist every year.

Oral cancer warning signs

The Oral Cancer Foundation presumes that cancer screenings of the existing patient population would yield tens of thousands of opportunities to catch oral cancer in its early stages.

Possible warning signs of oral cancer may include difficulty swallowing, pain when chewing, a white patch anywhere on the inside of your mouth, a lump or sore in the mouth or on the lip that does not heal. If you notice any of these symptoms, ask your dentist or doctor about it.

Treatment includes surgery for early or low-volume late stage lesions and radiation or chemoradiation for more advanced cancers.

“There is much that can be done for those who are diagnosed with head and neck cancer.  Since early detection and treatment is critical, it’s important to see your dentist regularly and to promptly see a medical professional if there are any warnings signs,” Stenson advises.

We screen all of our patients yearly with the Velscope as well as visual exams at each visit- call us today to schedule your appointment.

Diabetes and Your Smile

 

Blood sugar monitor for someone with diabetes

By Laura Martin, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine

Did you know that 29.1 million people living in the United States have diabetes? That’s 9.3% of the population. Approximately 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year—and 8.1 million people living with diabetes don’t even know they have it.

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. All food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.

So what does this have to do with that smile of yours — and how can you protect it? First, it’s important to understand the signs of diabetes and the roles they play in your mouth.

The Symptoms of Untreated Diabetes

The warning signs of diabetes affect every part of your body. After a blood test, you may be told by a doctor that you have high blood sugar. You may feel excessively thirsty or have to urinate a lot. Weight loss and fatigue are other common symptoms. Diabetes can also cause you to lose consciousness if your blood sugar falls too low.

If diabetes is left untreated, it can take a toll on your mouth as well. Here’s how:

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry. (Dry mouth is also caused by certain medications.)
  • Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities.
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis).
  • You may have problems tasting food.
  • You may experience delayed wound healing.
  • You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

Why People with Diabetes Are More Prone to Gum Disease

All people have more tiny bacteria living in their mouth now than there are people on this planet. If they make their home in your gums, you can end up with periodontal disease. This chronic, inflammatory disease can destroy your gums, all the tissues holding your teeth and even your bones.

Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed. Especially with increasing age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk for gum problems.  In fact, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar control. As with all infections, serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums.

How Your Dentist Can Help You Fight Diabetes

Regular dental visits are important. Research suggests that treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar control in patients living with diabetes, decreasing the progression of the disease. Practicing good oral hygiene and having professional deep cleanings done by your dentist can help to lower your HbA1c. (This is a lab test that shows your average level of blood sugar over the previous three months. It indicates how well you are controlling your diabetes.)

Your Diabetes Dental Health Action Plan

Teamwork involving self-care and professional care from your dentist will be beneficial in keeping your healthy smile as well as potentially slowing progression of diabetes. Here are five oral health-related things you can do to for optimal wellness:

Download this helpful infographic to learn more:

 

This article is reposted from the ADA