Each year, more than 30,000 Americans receive an oral cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, less than 57 percent will live beyond five years. In fact, the death rate for oral cancer is higher than cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, brain cancer, and liver cancer. Usually seen in older patients, oral cancer in individuals under 40 is on the rise.
Fast Facts about Oral Cancer
• Early detection increases the survival rate to almost 90 percent.
• Initially, oral cancer patients may have few obvious symptoms of the illness.
• Certain factors, such as gender, lifestyle choices, and age can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. An estimated 25 percent of oral cancer patients, however, have no risk factors for the disease.
• Famous people who have battled oral cancer include Michael Douglas, Roger Ebert, Aaron Spelling, Humphrey Bogart, Eddie Van Halen, and Babe Ruth.
• Signs of oral cancer include a sore that does not heal after two weeks, color change in oral tissue, hoarse or scratchy throat, and difficulty with chewing or swallowing.
• Side effects of oral cancer may include chronic discomfort, loss of oral function, and difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or speaking.
• Research suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables decreases your chances of developing cancerous lesions.
• Routine dental visits allow your dentist to look for signs of oral cancer, which can lead to early detection if there is a problem.
• Tobacco and alcohol use can result in a 75 percent chance of receiving an oral cancer diagnosis.
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When you visit the dentist, you often see other professionals in the office. Usually, the dentist will have a hygienist and a dental assistant as part of the team. While their roles aren’t the same as the dentist’s job, these individuals do play an important part in your dental care. Understanding what the hygienist and dental assistant do can make you feel more comfortable at your dental appointments.
The Dental Assistant
To become a dental assistant, an individual usually completes course work through a community college or technical school. This training will provide hands-on experience before the dental assistant works in an actual dental practice. A dental assistant can serve many functions, including assisting the dentist during treatment, taking impressions, sterilizing instruments, and making temporary crowns for patients. Dental assistants also welcome patients and help them feel comfortable in the dental office.
The Dental Hygienist
At a minimum, a dental hygienist must earn an associate’s degree, though many hygienists choose to obtain four-year degrees. Additionally, hygienists must be licensed in the states where they practice. The dental hygienist is generally responsible for taking patient x-rays, performing an initial periodontal assessment, and cleaning your teeth. During your appointment, the hygienist will also offer tips on home hygiene to help you maximize your oral car routine. A dental hygienist may also perform deep cleanings for gum disease, apply fluoride, remove sutures, and administer local anesthetic.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is taking care of your oral health throughout your life. Practicing a consistent dental hygiene routine and maintaining regular visits to your general dentist are the best ways to increase your chances of a beautiful, healthy smile.
General dentists focus on preventive care and treating minor problems before they have a chance to worsen into serious issues. Even if you regularly brush and floss your teeth, plaque and tartar can be quick to develop. A dentist has the necessary tools and training to remove damaging deposits before they harm your smile. In addition to professional cleanings and examinations, most general dentists fill cavities, perform root canals, whiten teeth, and even offer additional cosmetic dental procedures like dental implants or veneers.
One of the main reasons for routine examinations is to identify various problems. One common issue that you want your general dentist to catch early is gum disease. When it is treated soon after it starts, you are more likely to avoid bone deterioration or tooth loss. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and can be handled by your dentist with simple techniques. If it advances to periodontitis, that’s when bone or tooth loss become a possibility and more invasive procedures like scaling or root planing may be required.
Once you make your dental appointment, which is typically recommended every six months, make sure you keep your scheduled visit. Many patients fall victim to scheduling appointments and then cancelling, not realizing how important seeing your general dentist can be. If you have dental insurance, you can even use your dental benefits for examinations and treatments. This office accepts Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana, MetLife, and Cigna.
Choose a qualified general dentist and establish a long-term relationship now, so that you can enjoy your healthy and appealing smile for years to come.
Finding the right dentist is an important decision because it’s a healthcare relationship that can last a lifetime. The need for dental care starts around age one and continues through senior adulthood. For routine dental care, you might choose to see a family dentist or a general dentist. Although there are some similarities, the two types of dentists have some unique aspects.
Services: Both types of dentists offer routine services that are common to oral health care. This includes examinations, cleanings, x-rays, and fluoride treatments. Instructing patients about dental hygiene such as proper brushing and flossing is part of most family and general dentistry practices as well. Poor oral care can cause decay, infections, gum disease, or other problems. Both types of dentists also offer treatment for when problems arise, such as dental fillings.
Patients: General dentists often cater to patients in a certain age range, but family dentists provide treatment for patients of all ages. Infants, children, adolescents, adults, and seniors are all able to seek oral health care from a family dentist. Each age group has unique needs and issues, but family dentists are skilled in caring for everyone.
Specializations: Since they see all ages of patients, family dentists are skilled in a wide variety of procedures. They are able to diagnose and treat many oral health conditions, including gum disease and oral cancer. Typical procedures they offer include tooth extractions, root canals, fillings, crowns, bridges, and sealants. Some are able to perform specialty services like implants and veneers. Many patients enjoy being able to obtain treatment from their family dentist without having to see a specialist.
Benefits: In addition to the benefit of getting a variety of treatments in one location, family dentists are also able to provide ongoing treatment for all household members. Children and parents go to the same location and can even request back-to-back appointments. Everyone learns the same dental care techniques that they can practice at home together. Family dentists encourage every member of the family to take pride in their oral health.
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When you have a tooth or multiple teeth with extensive damage, your dentist may recommend a crown or bridge to restore your smile. Most of the time these restorations provide complete and successful results, but occasionally problems arise.
Tooth decay: Good hygiene is imperative after a crown or bridge because plaque can build up in the area where the tooth and crown meet. Your crown can’t decay, but your tooth still can. Follow your dentist’s instructions for proper brushing, flossing, and fluoride use.
Gum disease: Plaque buildup around a crown can cause gum disease called gingivitis, and if untreated advance to periodontitis.
Chipping or breaking: Crowns and bridges are susceptible to damage like fracturing or chipping. Many crowns are made of porcelain, which can chip or completely fail. Heavy wear or stress such as teeth grinding can cause this type of damage, as well as an accident like hitting your restoration. Small chips may be repaired with composite filling, but larger damage can mean total replacement.
Incorrect color: When having your crown or bridge made, you can choose from a selection of colors. However, the whitest shade is not advised because it likely won’t match the rest of your smile or it can look fake. Make sure you consider the color carefully or else you’ll be faced with redoing the restoration if you dislike it.
Falling out: Several problems can cause your crown to fall out. The core may fail so that the interior portion of your crown is unable to provide a strong base for the restoration. Less likely, the cement can fail so that the crown simply needs stronger adhesion. Or, the post crown can dislodge so that you’ll see a large post sticking out of your crown. If your crown falls out, be sure to save it for your dentist in case it can be reinserted.
In most circumstances, these problems with your crown or bridge do not occur and you can enjoy a long lifespan with your restoration. If you do notice any of these issues, schedule an appointment with your dentist to ensure optimum oral health.
We look forward to seeing you in our Baltimore dental office
At least twice a year, you need to schedule an appointment with your dentist. These visits allow your dentist to assess you oral health, address any concerns you have, and look for signs of problems. Protecting your teeth and gums is a partnership between you and your dentist. For the best results, follow these helpful hints:
Find the right dentist in Baltimore
Selecting a provider and dental office that fits your personality will make you more likely to keep your appointments.
Provide an accurate health history
Although your dentist’s primary concern is your mouth, overall wellness can impact your dental health. For example, chronic health issues like diabetes and HIV can increase your risk for gum disease.
Bring a list of current medications
Your dentist needs to know the names and dosages of any medicine you take regularly. Certain medications, such as pain relievers, allergy medicines, and anti-depressants, can cause dry mouth, which may make you susceptible to dental problems.
Report any issues right away
Sometimes, you may develop a toothache or notice bleeding gums between your visits. Don’t ignore these symptoms because they may indicate bigger problems. The longer you wait to address any issues, the more time and money you will lose.
Share your fears
For some people, dental visits cause anxiety or fear. Let your dentist know exactly what worries you. Most doctors want you to feel relaxed and comfortable, so they will take time to answer your questions and help you feel at ease.
If you need a dentist in Baltimore contact us today