April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month: Here’s What You Should Know

Your dentist wants you to feel secure about the health and well-being of your mouth. Help your dentist and his dedicated and friendly team observe Oral Cancer Awareness Month by booking a comprehensive oral exam. Your dental checkup will include palpating the tongue and tissues for lumps or bumps and noting any lesions, discolorations, sore spots or abnormal bleeding. Learn more about oral cancer below: More than 21,000 men and 9,000 women in the United States annually receive oral cancer diagnoses, according to the National ...
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April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month: Here’s What You Should Know

Your dentist wants you to feel secure about the health and well-being of your mouth. Help your dentist and his dedicated and friendly team observe Oral Cancer Awareness Month by booking a comprehensive oral exam. Your dental checkup will include palpating the tongue and tissues for lumps or bumps and noting any lesions, discolorations, sore spots or abnormal bleeding. Learn more about oral cancer below:
More than 21,000 men and 9,000 women in the United States annually receive oral cancer diagnoses, according to the National Cancer Institute. In 2013, there will be 41,380 new cases of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx in the U.S., resulting in 7,890 deaths, according to NCI.
Oral cancer can strike in the mouth and throat with most of these cancers beginning in the flat cells—squamous cells—that cover the surfaces of the mouth, tongue and lips. Some of the risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, infection with human papillomavirus, sun exposure, diet, betel nut use, and personal history of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Symptoms
Did you know that numbness along the chin and lower lip can be a little known symptom of oral cancer? Lip sores that do not heal, difficulty swallowing, loose teeth or unexplained mouth pain are more potential symptoms you don’t want to ignore. If you ever feel something unusual is occuring with your mouth, teeth, jaw, head or neck, immediately make an exam appointment. As you will read below, time is crucial when it comes to oral cancer:
Oral and pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the mouth and upper throat) collectively kills nearly one person every hour of every day of the year. Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, only about 60% will live longer than 5 years. Moreover, many who do survive suffer long-term problems such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties eating and speaking. The death rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. AAOMS has more excellent information

Stay On Top Of Your Oral Health
The best and easiest way to be proactive against oral cancer is have regular screenings. Don’t put off yours by wrongly assuming you’re not at risk. The following post has some eye-opening information you should definitely be aware of:
While smoking and tobacco use are still major risk factors, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals due to the connection to the HPV virus. We cannot stop this virus from spreading; our only hope to save lives is with professional involvement and public awareness. This is your opportunity to get involved and give back to your community in hopes to raise oral cancer awareness and the need for early detection in order to save lives. Together, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the world of oral cancers. Check out the Oral Cancer Foundation for additional info

Halloween Tips for Scaring Up a Healthy Smile

Enjoying all of those tasty Halloween treats — and the following holiday sweets as well — will be much easier when your mouth is in optimum health. Exposed cavities and tender gums will not mix well with an onslaught of sugar and candy galore. It is vital to enjoy your treats in moderation and practice good oral hygiene to protect your smile.
You can minimize the cost of your indulgence by analyzing your candy and limiting yourself to the treats that will be least harmful to your teeth.  The following post from the Academy of General Dentistry provides some eye-opening insight into which candies are better and which are worse for your dental health.
“Of course, dentists do not advocate that children eat large amounts of sugary treats, but it is that time of year, so we want to clarify for parents which treats are better for their kids’ teeth and which ones may increase the risk of developing cavities,” says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Cynthia Sherwood, DDS, FAGD.

  • Chewy/sticky sweets, such as gummy candies, taffy, and even dried fruit can be difficult for children and adults to resist, and even more difficult to remove from teeth. “These candies are a serious source of tooth decay, particularly when they get stuck in the crevices between teeth, making it nearly impossible for saliva to wash them away,” Dr. Sherwood says.
  • Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down tooth enamel quickly. The good news: Saliva slowly helps to restore the natural balance of the acid in the mouth. Dr. Sherwood recommends that patients wait 30 minutes to brush their teeth after consuming sour/acidic candies; otherwise, they will be brushing the acid onto more tooth surfaces and increasing the risk of enamel erosion.


  • Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies stimulate saliva, which can help prevent dry mouth. “A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities,” Dr. Sherwood says.
  • Sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities as it not only dislodges food particles from between the teeth but also increases saliva — which works to neutralize the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay. Read more at Know Your Teeth

What to Do With Extra Candy?
Here at Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne, we’ve heard all sorts of creative ways our patients with children have minimized the candy consumption in their homes. They include purchasing candy from their kids, inaugurating a year-round candy bowl (stocked wisely and with controlled access) in lieu of Halloween’s sugary free-for-all, and donating excess treats to the local food bank. These are all great ideas, and here are more excellent suggestions from Parenting.com, including:
Use it for your kid’s birthday party

  • Make a board game and use the candy as playing pieces.
  • Create DIY candy necklaces.
  • Stuff it into a piñata.

Send it overseas
Groups like Operation Shoebox, which supports our troops, will gladly take donations as will groups for the homeless and disadvantaged. See Parenting.com for more outstanding ideas

Brush & Floss To Avoid Tooth Nightmares
Halloween is the perfect time to (re)commit to a good daily oral hygiene regimen. Remember that your children and grandchildren watch your teeth cleaning habits. After everyone has had their scary sugar treats, participate with the kids in a dedicated brushing and flossing time. Your example can help instill among your little ones a lifelong commitment to maintaining a healthy smile.

Is Gingival Recession and Exposed Root Surfaces Causing You Grief?

Dental sensitivity due to gingival recession, which is also known as receding gums, and exposed root surfaces can seem to strike out of nowhere. This dental issue can produce pain from eating or drinking hot or cold beverages and make brushing and flossing very uncomfortable. On the other hand, some people don’t realize they have sensitive spots until they come in for a cleaning appointment and it’s revealed during dental scaling.
Learn more about gingival recession here:
Gingival recession, also known as receding gums, is the exposure in the roots of the teeth caused by a loss of gum tissue and/or retraction of the gingival margin from the crown of the teeth. Gum recession is a common problem in adults over the age of 40, but it may also occur starting from the age of a teenager, or around the age of 10. It may exist with or without concomitant decrease in crown-to-root ratio (recession of alveolar bone).
There are many possible causes for gingival recession:

  • By far the most common cause is gum disease (periodontal disease) Inadequate brushing and flossingallows bacteria to build up between the teeth and below the gum line, which leads to painless, chronic inflammation of the gums and gradual recession, with increased tooth mobility as the supporting bone is lost.
  • Overaggressive brushing which causes the enamel at the gum line to be worn away over time by scrubbing the sides of the teeth in a washboard fashion.
  • Improper flossing (i.e., flossing too roughly or aggressively) which may cut into the gums.
  • Hereditary thin, fragile or insufficient gingival tissue predisposes to gingival recession.
  • Excessive clenching and grinding of the teeth (Bruxism) can sometimes worsen pre-existing periodontal disease. By itself, bruxism may cause a reversible increase in tooth mobility, but not any gingival recession.
  • Stomach acid damage from self-induced vomiting, which may be associated with certaineating disorders.
  • Dipping tobacco which affects the mucous membrane lining in the mouth and will cause receding gums over time.
  • Self-inflicted trauma, such as habits like digging a fingernail or pencil into the gum. This type of recession more commonly associated with children and persons with psychiatric disorders.
  • Scurvy (lack of dietary Vitamin C).
  • Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
  • Adult orthodontic movement of teeth.
  • Abnormal tooth position, such as tooth crowding, giving inadequate cover of one or more teeth by the jaw bone.
  • Piercings in the lip or tongue that wear away the gum by rubbing against it.
  • Intentionalgingival retraction.
  • For example, the adult tooth may not grow out of the gum, and to remedy this, a procedure called an exposure is done. It involves the gum tissue being cut open to allow the adult tooth to grow out. This is a less common cause of gum recession. Additional info at Wikipedia

Anatomical and Hereditary Issues
When you brush and floss consistently, it can be hard to accept that you have receding gums. But, there can be numerous causes in play. Dr. Robert Harrell and his team at ADOB will assess your mouth with a comprehensive dental exam to identify problematic areas and set a course of treatment. For example, some people discover they are clenching their teeth at night when the telltale smooth grooves on their molars are discovered. This extra pressure can cause tenderness and speed up gum recession and root exposure in some patients. In other cases, there are hereditary and anatomical factors responsible — such as simply the way your adult teeth moved into place. Presented here are more signs and symptoms:
Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The three stages of gum disease — from least to most severe — are gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.
Signs & Symptoms
Gum disease can be painless, so it is important to be aware of any of the following symptoms:

  • Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
  • Gums that recede or move away from the tooth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums

Don’t Skip Your Dental Checkups Due to Sensitivity Issues
As a patient with gingival recession, the thought of someone working on your tender gums can cause anxiety and even lead to missed appointments. Rest assured that your dentist knows that pain from gum disease is a concern for many people. Making you comfortable is their top priority, which is why they have a variety of dental sedation options available for patients.
Between appointments, here are some tips for dealing with sensitive teeth you might want to try:
At least 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth in the United States, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
The pain is often sharp and sudden, but it is temporary. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the pain may shoot into the tooth’s nerve endings. Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be treated and the condition can improve.
The following are some at-home treatments suggested by the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. There are several brands of toothpaste for sensitive teeth available. Your dentist may recommend one or you may have to try different brands until you find the product that works for you. Be sure to use fluoridated toothpaste for sensitive teeth, not tartar-control toothpaste. Try spreading a thin layer of the desensitizing toothpaste on the exposed tooth roots before bed.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Avoid highly acidic foods.
  • Use a fluoridated mouthwash daily.
  • Avoid teeth grinding. Consider getting a mouth guard. See more at Live Science

Every time you have a dental appointment, the hygienist will check to see if there are any indications of gum disease. This is one of the main reasons maintaining a regular dental exam schedule is vital to your oral health. With the early stages of gum disease often going undetected by patients, it is helpful to have the experienced eyes of your dentist and hygienist available to keep your mouth as healthy as possible.

What You Should Know About Dental Emergencies

Mouth-related accidents and injuries can occur at any time, wreaking havoc on your teeth and the quality of your smile. The cause can be anything from getting socked in the kisser to something as simple as eating popcorn and chomping on a kernel. Whatever the reason, the friendly, caring team at your denist will be here to handle your dental emergency.
Playing sports is a major cause of unintentional damage to your teeth. Discover more below:
Dental Emergencies & Sports Safety
Any trauma to the mouth that may cause bleeding and lacerations to the gums, and dislodge or fracture teeth, and may require immediate medical attention.
Whether the result of an accident or biting on a piece of food that’s too hard, mouth injuries can cause teeth to become cracked, broken, or knocked out/dislodged. It is important to see a dentist because if left untreated, a dental emergency can lead to serious complications. Colgate has other excellent oral health tips for you to check out!

  1. Pick up the tooth by the crown (the chewing surface) not the root.

Locate the tooth immediately; don’t leave it at the site of the accident. Handle the tooth carefully when you pick it up, and never touch the root of the tooth, only the crown (chewing surface).

  1. If dirty, gently rinse the tooth with water. 

Use only water to gently rinse off any dirt. Do not use soap or chemicals. Don’t scrub or dry the tooth, and don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth.

  1. Reposition the tooth in the socket immediately, if possible.

Try to put the tooth back into its socket right away. Gently push it in with your fingers, by handling the crown, or position it above the socket and close your mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it.

  1. Keep the tooth moist at all times.

The tooth must stay moist at all times, either in your mouth or, if it can’t be replaced in the socket, put it in milk, in your mouth next to your cheek, or in an emergency tooth preservation kit (such as Save-a-Tooth®). Don’t use regular tap water; root surface cells can’t tolerate that for extended periods of time. Learn more, compliments of the American Association of Endodontists

Pay Attention To Your Smile Every Day
Some conditions begin and/or worsen quickly, so taking stock of your teeth and gums every day, both visually and physically, is vital for the health and well-being of your smile. Daily brushing and flossing provides the perfect opportunity for your mouth check. Look in the mirror as you attend to your smile and note any tender areas, bleeding gums, sensitivity, discoloration and more. Get regular dental checkups to help monitor your oral health; and, never hesitate to contact ADOB if something suddenly goes awry.
Get acquainted with some everyday dental emergencies below:
Common dental emergencies are:

  • gum abscesses
  • pulpal abscesses
  • swelling, bleeding
  • broken teeth
  • pain on biting — often related to infection or cracked tooth
  • inflammation around wisdom teeth
  • trauma to a tooth from an accident

Emergencies may involve swelling, bleeding and severe pain from a variety of causes. It is important to have treatment from a dental professional for diagnosis and treatment of the problem. Otherwise, you may think something will resolve the problem, but unfortunately, the treatment option chosen may have nothing to do with the problem.

Funny hockey player smiling, bruise around the eye. Black background

Never Ignore A Damaged Smile
Whether the cause is accident, injury or disease, dental issues that are dealt with as soon as they occur are easier to treat. Plus, pain levels can become severe without appropriate care. To avoid complications, let your dentist address your dental emergency and save your smile.

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