April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Know The Warning Signs!

Ask most Americans which cancers are the most deadly and you’ll likely hear replies of pancreatic, prostrate or breast cancer. While these cancers are widespread and can be deadly, you rarely hear about oral cancer.

What makes Oral Cancer so deadly is its ability to progress long before symptoms emerge. By the time they do, it becomes a difficult cancer to battle. Treatment is often very disfiguring. Even worse, it is known to be one of the deadliest of all cancers, taking the life of one American every hour of every day.

In the majority of dental offices, regular dental exams include an annual screening for Oral Cancer. However, a 2014 Gallup poll showed that one-third of American adults have not seen a dentist in over a year (http://www.gallup.com/poll/168716/one-third-americans-haven-visited-dentist-past-year.aspx), leaving a significant percentage of adults unchecked. If a key component in catching Oral Cancer before it becomes deadly involves a dental visit, the challenge will continue until more individuals are in a dental chair.

For many individuals, dental fear can be a deterrent to having regular dental care. This is why we offer oral and I.V. sedation. These relaxation options, in addition to providing a gentle touch, have opened the doors for many fearful adults to have regular dental care. Still, there are an estimated 70 percent who have fears or anxiety when it comes to dental visits. Some are so fearful that they avoid dental visits altogether.

Those with the highest risk are adult males, with Black males being the most susceptible. Oral cancer risk also increases with age, especially after age 50. Risk levels generally peak between ages 60 – 70. The highest rates have been noted with males between ages 50 – 59.

Other risk factors (for all ages) includes tobacco and alcohol use. However, a particular factor that is spiking numbers in younger age groups is the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).

A National Cancer Institute Survey shows a 15% increase in oral cancer rates over the past three decades. Still, many people assume “if it doesn’t hurt, then nothing’s wrong.” I believe this has lead to such high levels of periodontal (gum) disease and subsequent adult tooth loss. And, as rising Oral Cancer statistics show, the casual attitude toward dental exams can result in far worse than losing teeth.

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Begin by becoming familiar with the symptoms. Acting on these early warning signs means we can take prompt, appropriate action. These include:

•    A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in the mouth, lip, or throat
•    White or red patch inside the mouth
•    Feeling something is stuck in the throat
•    Difficulty chewing or swallowing
•    Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
•    Numbness in the tongue or other areas of the mouth
•    Unexplained swelling of the jaw
•    Pain in an ear without hearing loss

While these symptoms do not always indicate Oral Cancer, anything in the mouth that does not go away on its own in 10-14 days should be examined immediately. Early treatment can mean the difference between resolving the problem simply or disfiguring surgeries, and even death.

Call 586-739-2155 for an examination appointment if you have not had regular dental check-ups. In the meantime, learn more about Oral Cancer at the American Cancer Society’s web site:

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/oralcavityandoropharyngealcancer/detailedguide/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer-key-statistics

Gentle Dental Care + Sedation = Confident Smiles!

If going to the dentist invokes feelings of anxiety, nervousness or fear, you are in good company. Over 70% of American adults are estimated to have some level of fear or anxiety associated with dental visits.

For many adults, this keeps them from having regular dental care. And, it’s the regular cleanings and exams that help to prevent problems in the first place. Because fear holds many people back from having these appointments, their needs become gradually more complex as a result. As a matter of fact, many high-fear adults only see a dentist when a problem becomes so painful they are forced to set their fears aside to achieve pain relief.

As far as who has dental fear, it certainly doesn’t discriminate. With fearful adults, there is no typical age group, income level, or gender and it effects all ethnic groups.

As a dentist who has built a reputation for a gentle touch, I see a number of patients who come from a wide vicinity because of their fear issues. Sadly, by the time they arrive, many high-fear patients have already lost natural teeth and are at risk of losing more. A large percentage have some level of periodontal (gum) disease.

In addition to being the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, the bacteria of gum disease has been found to trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This infectious bacteria has been associated with heart disease, stroke, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, impotency, preterm babies and more. This greatly amplifies the need for good oral health.

In addition to providing respectful care with a gentle touch, we offer Oral Sedation or I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) in addition to our standard relaxation features . We also pace your care according to what is comfortable for you. Patients tend to relax when they realize they are in charge of what is done at each appointment and how frequently those appointments occur.

No matter how you would categorize your anxiety when it comes to dental care, we know you can overcome these challenges and achieve a healthy mouth and confident smile. Many of our formerly-fearful patients have even overcome their dread of dental care altogether. We love seeing these patients walk in with a smile and leave smiling – and knowing that they love sharing their smile often!

Begin by calling 1-866-9-Smiles to arrange a no-charge Consultation. This is a discussion that takes place in a private, living-room style setting that is removed from the clinical side of the office. During this time, we’ll discuss your concerns and how we can help you move at a pace that’s right for you.

Let your smile be a beautiful reflection of who you are, inside and out! We’ll help you convert your fear of dental visits to the terrific smile you desire.

Adults Gravitate To ‘Invisible Braces’ For Comfort & Easy Care

Would you be surprised to learn that one-fourth of people who are in treatment to straighten teeth are adults?

Apparently, the benefits of properly aligned teeth have gained due recognition in recent years. While the number of teens in braces has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, the number of adults in orthodontic treatment rose almost 40% between 1996 to 2015. And, there seems to be no slow down in sight.

The power of an appealing smile in the U.S. has taken on its own persona. Other than make-up, cosmetic dentistry represents the largest non-surgical beauty industry. In one study, 38% of Americans stated they would decline a second date with someone with crooked teeth. The study also showed the same percentage perceived that those with straight teeth are more intelligent.

While beautiful smiles have been known to enhance facial appearance while boosting self-esteem and self-confidence, they can come at a steep price. For a smile makeover (porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns  applied to teeth most visible in a smile), costs can easily reach $12,000 and above.

While it is far more economical to move your natural teeth into their proper positions for a more appealing smile, there are health benefits to doing so as well. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean. Crowded, crooked teeth form tight angles that allow debris and food particles to accumulate. These tight nooks make brushing more difficult, providing a breeding ground for oral bacteria.

As oral bacteria multiply, a sticky film known as plaque forms. When not thoroughly removed, it can form cement hard colonies of bacteria known as tartar, or calculus. Tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away and requires the use of special tools by dental professionals to remove.

These hardened masses may seem dormant but are actually thriving colonies of bacteria that attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. As they continue to thrive and reproduce, the damage can result in cavities and periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease caused by infectious bacteria. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. and affects nearly 47% of the population.

Another bonus of properly-aligned teeth is their role in keeping the TMJ (jaw joints) in healthy position. The jaw joints are located just in front of the ears. Proper bite alignment aids these joints in moving fluidly in their sockets. When misaligned teeth disrupt the ease of jaw joint movement, the result is typically stress and strain on the joints.

When stressed or strained, a domino effect tends to radiate out in a number of ways. TMJ disorder can lead to migraines, frequent headaches, sore jaw joints, difficulty opening the mouth fully, worn or chipped teeth from night-time clenching or grinding, ear ringing, jaw popping and dizziness.

For adolescents in braces, many proudly draw attention to their treatment with colored bands. However, adults often feel awkward when it comes to wearing wires and brackets. This method of realignment also makes eating difficult, creates challenges with oral hygiene and is physically uncomfortable. For adults in social and business settings, traditional braces can also cause discomposure.

Fortunately, today’s dentistry offers an effective, comfortable and affordable alternative to the challenges associated with braces.  Invisalign is an ‘invisable’ tooth realignment system that uses custom-made molds to gently ease teeth into proper positions. There are no brackets or wires, so the gums and lips are not subject to sore spots or tears. The molds are nearly undetectable, so patients avoid uneasiness when speaking or smiling.

As a dentist, I’m especially pleased that Invisalign helps patients be more thorough with their oral hygiene while in treatment. Since the molds are removable for eating and brushing, you can eat the foods you want and properly clean your teeth without the brushing and floss-threading challenges required for traditional braces.

We offer Invisalign for both teens and adults. However, we’ve seen that Invisalign is most appealing for adults, especially those who wore braces in their teen years and have experienced shifting over the years. The Invisalign process eases teeth back to their proper positions simply and comfortably.

Invisalign isn’t appropriate for all situations, however. Some bite realignment requires the more-involved process of traditional orthodontics. For these needs, we have an orthodontic specialist on staff. Dr. Jerry Wesley is an Orthodontist who can provide traditional realignment with braces. He and I are both certified Invisalign providers.

Let’s discuss the option best for you. Begin by calling 586-739-2155 to schedule a no-charge exam and consultation. I will explain the process and determine if Invisalign is appropriate for the degree of realignment you need. During this time, we can also discuss payment plans, many with no down payment required and interest-free.

How To Make Dental Implants Last A Lifetime

Of all implant-in-bone procedures performed today, Dental Implants hold the highest success rate of all – over 94%. That includes hips and knees. However, like any medical procedure, Dental Implants can fail. How can you help to ensure an optimal result and enjoy a confident smile for your lifetime?

One of the keys to the lasting success of implants begins with the Doctor you choose. An experienced and skilled implant Doctor will make a proper diagnosis, selecting the best implant system for your needs. The Doctor will also provide precision placement so the implanted portions are to a proper depth and angle.

The highest risk of implant failure actually occurs after an implant patient leaves the office. The implant recipient has a significant role in the life of their implants.

Fortunately, removing a dental implant is a rare occurrence. Most often, an implant has to be removed because of the onset of an infection that cannot be adequately treated while the implant remains.

Infection typically occurs when oral bacteria amasses and creates an inflammatory state. Once this inflammation penetrates the gum tissues and bone surrounding the implant’s post, it becomes more difficult to treat. With prompt treatment, some infections can be resolved without complications. However, at a certain level the implant must be removed.

What leads to the problems associated with inflammation caused by oral bacteria? After all, we all have bacteria in our mouths, don’t we? Yes, oral bacteria is a normal part of any mouth. The problems begin when too much bacteria develop and are not sufficiently removed on a daily basis. While the most common cause is poor oral hygiene, smoking (which is drying to oral tissues) and diabetes contribute as well.

Another lesser-known but significant reason for failure is teeth grinding. Bruxing (clenching and grinding teeth during sleep) contributes to implant failure in more cases than many realize. One study of dental implant recipients noted that 29% of patients who were teeth grinders had failed implants. Nearly the same number of patients with diabetes experienced implant failure.

Bruxing is as much of a problem for natural teeth as for teeth held by implants. The force of grinding is often so much that it wears the tops of teeth down, referred to as worn teeth. Not to be outdone, the force of clenching can be hard enough to crack a walnut. Grinding and clenching can cause teeth to chip, crack, break and even tilt out of position. These actions can also lead to frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, ear ringing, dizziness, and sore facial and neck muscles.

Obviously, a newly-placed implant is not up for the challenges of bruxing. That’s why it is important to resolve the problem before implants are placed. However, bruxing should be corrected regardless of the situation.

Bruxing and clenching are the result of a misaligned bite in most cases. Once the misalignment has been pinpointed, mild cases may be corrected with simple reshaping of selected teeth. More severe misalignment may require the placement of crowns to adjust tooth height or even orthodontics.

Keeping a clean, healthy mouth and ensuring your teeth are in proper position will help in protecting the life of your implant, After placement, we will advise you on ways to avoid risks and potential failure. It is our goal for every patient to have a positive experience and successful outcome.

While not all aspects of after-treatment are within our control, I believe that thorough communication with patients is important. It is our belief that patients are able to increase their success potential when they understand the importance of their role.

To learn more about Dental Implants, call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a free consultation. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and make recommendations. If desired, we can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment options, most interest-free with no down payment required.

Position Of Each Tooth Can Effect More Than You May Realize

In dentistry, precision is everything. As a neuro-muscular dentist, I know just how true that is.

Good oral health relies upon a delicate balance of upper teeth to lower teeth as well as the unity of teeth on both sides. What occurs when a tooth is lost and not replaced is a perfect example of the the problems that can occur without each tooth in its proper position.

When a tooth is lost, the tooth above or below the open space is left without an opposing tooth. The opposing tooth helps to keep its upper or lower ‘neighbor’ at a proper length. Without it, the tooth grows longer. Additionally, the teeth adjacent to the open space are no longer held in their proper positions. These teeth can soon tilt into the open space and lean into range of the elongated tooth.

The longer tooth can now ‘hit’ the leaning teeth in chewing or speaking. Initially, this may cause a dull tooth ache. As the tooth grows longer and the others tilt further, chips, fractures or breaks can occur. The effects of bite misalignment don’t stop there, however.

Bite misalignment tends to put stress and strain on the jaw joints. These are the joints just in front of your ears that hinge the lower jaw to the skull. Stress on these joints is referred to as TMJ disorder.

When the bite is misaligned, the jaw joints become so as well. During sleep, there becomes a subconscious struggle as the jaw joints search for a proper relaxation point during sleep. As the jaws seek this out, clenching and grinding can occur. This can result in worn teeth, frequent headaches, migraines, soreness when opening the mouth, ear ringing, facial muscle pain and dizziness. Jaw Joint

Yet, you don’t have to be missing a tooth for these problems to occur. A crown that is placed at an improper height can just as easily disrupt the balance required for teeth and jaw joints to work together harmoniously.

My advanced training in neuromuscular dentistry and modern technology are ways I help our patients avoid the long list of problems that can easily occur when the delicate balance of occlusion is disrupted. Proper bite alignment is an important element in the overall skeletal alignment. Without it, a domino effect is set into motion.

If you are experiencing any of the problems related to bite misalignment or TMJ disorder (as mentioned above), call to arrange a no-cost consultation. During this time, I’ll discuss ways that we can determine if your bite is truly the source of your problems. If so, there are several options available to help restore the balance of a healthy bite.

If you are not experiencing these problems, you can rest assured that the work you have performed in our office will be done in a way to help you avoid them. It’s simply a perk of our commitment to exceptional care for each patient!

Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a consultation time that works for you.