Oral health issues that may arise with age

by MikeMeehan 9/13/2018 2:09 PM

As you age, your body can experience shifts in health that affect your mouth in ways you might not expect. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, take a look at two conditions people may encounter with age that can affect their oral health – Sjögren’s syndrome and bone loss. Sjögren’s syndrome People age 40 and older can develop a chronic autoimmune condition called Sjögren’s syndrome. Currently, as many as 4 million Americans are living with Sjögren’s. While experiences with the disease vary widely, some of its symptoms include difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing; a sore or cracked tongue; a dry or burning throat; dry or peeling lips; and severe fatigue.  One symptom that’s shared to some degree among almost every person with Sjögren’s, however, is dry mouth. Without adequate levels of saliva to help remove mouth debris, your teeth become increasingly vulnerable to decay. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the effects such as taking frequent drinks of water, reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, avoiding tobacco and limiting the number of carbonated beverages you drink. Additionally, chewing sugar-free gum, using artificial saliva and trying an oral rinse may help.  Bone loss As you age, you become increasingly vulnerable to bone loss. One of the more common causes is osteoporosis, which causes bone density to decrease. In the United States alone, over 53 million people already have osteoporosis or are at high risk for developing it. Women are especially susceptible to bone loss, since many experience lower estrogen levels after menopause. What does all this have to do with your smile? When your jaw bones lose density, you become more susceptible to loose teeth and tooth loss. It can also cause your gums to recede, leaving more of your tooth exposed and susceptible to tooth decay.  With these threats to your oral and overall health, it’s important to take proactive measures to stay in control. Calcium and vitamin D are both critical to preventing bone loss. It can also help to avoid smoking, limit alcohol consumption and engage in regular weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging and weight training. Work with your dentist to prevent bone loss or to treat it if you’ve already begun experiencing symptoms.  By staying vigilant and working with your dentist and physician, you can help ease the effects of Sjögren’s syndrome and bone loss.

Prevent oral cancer from growing

by MikeMeehan 4/12/2018 1:03 PM

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, but every month is a chance to take steps to prevent oral cancer from growing. Oral cancer is known as a lifestyle disease, meaning that you can dramatically reduce your risk by adjusting your daily habits.   Tobacco, alcohol and diet are some of the biggest lifestyle factors that lead to oral cancer. Tobacco is involved in roughly 90 percent of oral cancer instances, while 7 out of 10 people who develop oral cancer drink heavily.  Heavy drinking is considered to be more than seven drinks per week for women and more than 14 for men. These high levels of alcohol consumption decrease the body’s ability to absorb nutrients that may help prevent cancer. When combined with tobacco use, alcohol has an even greater chance of causing cancer. In addition, not getting enough fruits and vegetables increases your risk. Adding non-starchy fruits and vegetables such as berries and broccoli to a diet has been shown to reduce the chances of developing oral cancer. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is another leading cause of oral cancers, especially oropharyngeal cancers found in the back of the throat. Luckily, there is an HPV vaccine that’s effective against the most common strains of HPV that cause oral cancer. This vaccine only works before becoming infected, so it tends to be most appropriate for preteen and adolescent girls and boys. When it comes to oral cancer, early detection can be a lifesaver. Perform home screenings and ask your dentist about oral cancer screenings during regular checkups. Mouth symptoms to look for can include sores, red or white patches, persistent pain or numbness, lumps or rough spots, and issues chewing and swallowing.  By avoiding risk factors, adjusting your daily habits and staying vigilant for symptoms, you can help protect your future from oral cancer. 

Oral Cancer and HPV

by Jason 4/15/2014 8:00 AM

Each year in the U.S., about 8,400 people are diagnosed with oropharynx cancer –a cancer that may be caused by HPV. ... more...

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