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. 

The seeds of good oral health

by MikeMeehan 4/3/2018 1:21 PM

As we grow, our oral health needs continue to evolve. Cultivate strong teeth by planting the seeds for good oral health early and knowing what to watch for at different life stages.  Babies and Toddlers Baby teeth are susceptible to cavities and need daily upkeep from the very beginning. Before the first tooth arrives, wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, clean cloth after each feeding to get rid of unwanted bacteria. When the first tooth appears, brush with fluoride toothpaste and toothbrushes designed for babies and younger children. For children under 3, use no more toothpaste than the size of a grain of rice and no more than a pea-sized amount for kids between 3 and 6 years old. Babies should also have their first dentist appointment six months after their first tooth or before age 1. During these early years, it’s crucial that children learn oral health routines that will keep their smiles healthy into adulthood. Teach your little one good habits early by demonstrating how to brush, reiterating the need to brush for two full minutes twice a day and making it fun (try playing music during your brushing session or rewarding your child with a sticker for remembering to brush). Children and Adolescents Childhood and adolescence are the times to reinforce good habits and take steps to guard against common mouth issues. Supervise your child’s brushing until age 8 and flossing until age 10. You can also talk with the dentist about preventive measures like sealants to protect against cavities and mouth guards to protect from mouth injuries.   The risk of cavities is highest in adolescents for multiple reasons, including immature enamel, unhealthy diet and lack of oral health care. To help, make sure your child sticks with good oral health practices like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once daily, choosing healthy snacks, drinking fluoridated water and visiting the dentist regularly.  In addition, pay attention to gum health as adolescence is often the time when gingivitis begins. Symptoms like gum redness, swelling, bleeding and tenderness can indicate the presence of gingivitis. Alert the dentist if any of these symptoms are present.  Adults As an adult, the wear and tear your teeth experience over time can become noticeable by causing symptoms like discoloration, cavity susceptibility and tooth cracks or chips. Keep them strong by maintaining a proper oral health routine that includes brushing and flossing daily, eating mouth-friendly foods and scheduling regular dental visits.  Avoid harmful substances like tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption that put you at higher risk for oral cancer, which occurs most often after age 60. Take steps to prevent oral cancer and lookout for early signs with home screenings. Mouth symptoms can include sores, red or white patches, persistent pain or numbness, lumps or rough spots, and issues chewing and swallowing. If you experience any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, speak to your dentist. Another factor to consider is that the nerves in your teeth may grow less sensitive, making it less likely that you’ll notice the development of cavities. Maintain regular checkups so your dentist can catch any mouth issues early before they progress. Good oral health requires dedication, but by tending to your mouth with care, you can keep your smile healthy at any age.

UV Safety Month Tips for Your Oral Health

by MikeMeehan 7/19/2017 10:10 AM

Our awareness of the hazards of UV rays might not include the hazards to our oral health. So, let’s fill in the gap and make sure your smiles are protected from outside oral health dangers. Our focus on this topic also coincides with UV Safety Month, aptly designated as July, when summer pool parties and outdoor activities are at their peak. You may be skipping this important step In the summer, with our trips to the pool and beach, and all the time we spend outside, we remember to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays with sunscreen and hats. Now include your lips when you think about protection from the sun. According to Everyday Health, Inc., 63% of people who use sunscreen don’t protect their lips. Sun exposure can increase your risk for lip cancer. Because the skin on your lips is delicate, it requires UV protection just like the rest of your body. When you stock up on sunscreen for the summer, include SPF 30 lip balm or lip sunscreen. Remember to look for an SPF that covers both UVA and UVB rays and just like sunscreen you use on your skin, reapply often. Now with your lips protected while sitting by the pool, there are two other oral health dangers we’d like you to watch out for. Too much chlorine could hurt your enamel The chlorine in the pool is protecting us from bacteria, but pools with too much chlorine can cause damage to the enamel on your teeth. The pH levels can erode tooth enamel, the hard shell coating that protects from decay. Most pools are regularly checked and monitored for pH levels, but it’s a good idea to remind your kids to keep their mouths closed while swimming. Lifeguard says, “No running!” When the lifeguard blows the whistle and yells at the kids, that lifeguard may very well be saving some teeth! With the slippery surfaces that surround a pool, a slip and fall could result in a chipped tooth. Playing in the water can also lead to hitting into pool walls or floors, and playing with friends can turn into an accidental elbow to the mouth. Encouraging all to follow the pool rules can prevent a dental injury, so remember–no running, no diving in the shallow end and no horsing around. Happy summer We want you and your kids to keep those summer smiles intact. Grab the sunscreen products and your sunglasses, and enjoy the sun and outdoors. And just like we encourage preventive dental care all year, remember to keep it up during the summer.

Archive



©Delta Dental of Missouri 2012