Category Archives: Healthy Smiles

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.

Thanksgiving Dental Tips

5 Thanksgiving Dental Tips
Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Mullaney and the entire team hope you are able to spend quality time with your family and friends while enjoying a feast of foods. Keep in mind, this celebration is no time to slack on your dental care! Having to deal with a filling or dental emergency could put a damper on the holiday season. To help you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, we’ve compiled these five tips:

Five Thanksgiving Dental Tips
Shorten Your Meal Time. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of a typical Thanksgiving meal is its length. Enjoying the company of friends and family for hours is an important part of the day, but try to avoid dragging the meal out too long. Continuing to expose your teeth to the acids in food makes it easier for cavity-causing bacteria to build up in your mouth. Instead of passing the time by munching, focus on sharing stories, watching movies, or playing games.

Stay Hydrated. It’s always a good idea to drink lots of water, but especially when you’re eating lots of rich, sweet foods, staying hydrated can help wash away debris and prevent plaque formation. In addition to providing a light rinse for your mouth between bites, drinking water helps improve your saliva flow, which further fights cavities. Water is also an excellent replacement for more damaging drink options like juice or soda.

Brush and Floss. You need to be especially diligent about dental hygiene on Thanksgiving. Even if you go to a friend or family member’s home for the holiday, make sure you bring a toothbrush and floss. About thirty minutes after you’ve finished eating (so that your teeth have time to produce important protective minerals), quickly duck into the bathroom to brush and floss. If brushing your teeth proves difficult at another person’s house or you forget your toothbrush, at least floss. You can also bring xylitol gum to chew after the meal, which could help wipe away leftover food particles on your teeth, improve your saliva flow, and assist with your digestion.

Ditch the sticky sides. Cranberry relishes are a dentist’s worst nightmare; they’re acidic, sweet, and stick to your teeth for hours to come, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to infect your gums and eat through your enamel. Other sticky offenders are pecan pie and mashed potatoes. If one of these is your favorite, just make sure you swish with water after eating and brush your teeth to wipe away the gummy remains.

Make a Post-Holiday Cleaning Appointment. We all know the holiday season can be bad for your weight, but the desserts and long meals are also tough on your teeth. If you’re concerned about cavities or gum disease, this winter might be the perfect time to schedule a cleaning appointment.  Gina will thoroughly clean your teeth and Dr. Mullaney can examine your mouth for any signs of disease. That way, you can prevent issues before they become more uncomfortable or costly. We can also perform cosmetic treatments to give you a brighter smile for holiday photos or celebrations.

Be Thankful For Your Dental Health
Having beautiful, healthy teeth is certainly something to be thankful for this holiday season. Keep them that way by using our Thanksgiving dental tips and coming in for regular check-ups. Contact Dr. Kathleen Mullaney  with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

 

Why we don’t use silver fillings


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Since amalgam(silver colored) fillings are not bonded to your teeth, they do not strengthen teeth which have been weakened from the cavity and associated loss of healthy tooth structure. A tooth restored with amalgam does not reinforce your teeth and it is common to see cracks and ultimately fractures of your teeth caused by the way the tooth is wedged with a metal filling between its cusp tips. Also, amalgam fillings require additional removal of healthy tooth structure in order to fit the minimum criteria of depth and size for the amalgam material to perform satisfactorily.

As composites have evolved, they have become the restoration of choice for fillings. In our office, we only use composite restorations for fillings because we can perform a better, more conservative, safer, and more cosmetically pleasing treatment. If placed properly, a composite filling can last longer than amalgam fillings and accomplish conservative treatments not possible with amalgam fillings. Composite fillings only replace the portions of your teeth that have been damaged and no additional reduction of healthy areas of your teeth is required. Additionally, composite restorations are bonded to your teeth. When properly placed with maximum bond strength, the composite restoration can strengthen the weakened tooth.  If you have questions or concerns about your old amalgam filling we would be happy to answer them at your next appointment! Call us NOW to schedule.

Tooth errosion and GERD

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Stomach acid—with a pH that’s lower than vinegar—that regurgitates into the esophagus and mouth can dissolve tooth enamel and create erosive lesions near the back of the mouth. While many people with GERD recognize it by the uncomfortable heartburn symptoms, some patients only experience GERD while they sleep and may not know they have it. Some patients complain of not sleeping well but do not even realize they are suffering from GERD.  Sometimes while doing your dental exam we see an increased loss of tooth enamel on your back teeth that is unexplained and we may advise you to check with your Doctor to be tested for GERD. Your Docor will prescribe a medication that will help inhibit the production of acid, which will in turn help with your GERD and help to save the enamel on your teeth.  If you have concerns about GERD and the condition of your teeth ask us at your next visit.

Ovi’s Missing Tooth – the story of a Guard!

Ovi teeth

LET’S GO CAPS!!  Another playoff season is upon us in the DC area as the Cap’s battle for the Stanley Cup.  Alex Ovechkin lost his front tooth to a high stick he took in a game against the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007- hopefully no teeth will be lost in this series with any players.  How do these guys protect their teeth, with a sports guard!  Now these guards can’t prevent all accidents but it is the best way to try and keep your teeth safe while playing sports.  Another type of guard that people don’t give much though to is a night guard.  So many of us in the area have stressful jobs, horrible commutes etc and were does this stress come out- night time grinding of your teeth.  Most people don’t even know they are grinding at night, some people have symptoms of jaw pain or headaches when they wake up in the morning but don’t really know why.  We can see many signs of grinding when you come in for your visits.  A guard made specifically for night time grinding is a must if you want to save your teeth from this wear, just like athletes use them to save their teeth from sports accidents.  We would be happy to review the benefits of our guard at your next visit!  Call us NOW for an appointment- 703-548-8584- you will be glad you did and so will your teeth!

And the winner is…..

We were so excited to present Betty S. with her fabulous gift for referring her family and friends to our practice  Betty will get dinner at the Inn at Little Washington as well as a nights stay at The Middleton Inn.

As always we appreciate your referrals of family and friends as we grow our practice.  We love sharing our passion for great service and continued dental health for all!  Be on the look out for our next program starting in June…you won’t want to miss it!

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