Oral cancer may not be in the news as often as other cancers, but at Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis, it’s on our minds daily. Nearly 7,000 people will die in 2013 as a result of oral cancer, with approximately 36,000 new cases diagnosed. (Source: American Cancer Society)
It’s important to have an oral cancer screening at every dental checkup. Oral cancer isn’t difficult to diagnose, but the danger is that it’s often caught in late stages when it’s spread to other parts of the body. If you notice any of the following symptoms in between checkups, please call us right away:
More than 80% of oral cancers in men (65% in women) occur in tobacco and alcohol users, and combined heavy tobacco and alcohol use increases the risk 300 times than that of non-users. (Source: National Institutes of Health, 2006)
Notice we don’t say “smokers.” There is NO safe tobacco product, despite what you might hear. Even smokeless tobacco, pipes, and clove cigarettes increase your risk nearly 100 times more than non-tobacco users.
The human papillomavirus virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that causes approximately 25% of head and neck cancers, including oral cancer.
At our dental practice in St. Louis, we use a tool called a VELscope® for oral cancer screening. It’s a blue-spectrum light that highlights any unusual cells in the tissues in your mouth. (It’s well tested, safe, and approved by the World Health Organization.) If we see anything unusual, we’ll take a sample with a Brush Test® and send it to a specialized laboratory for examination.
If you’ve been avoiding checkups, why not call our dental office at now? Information and prevention is key to your dental health, as well as your overall health!
Most people neglect their dental health and dentist visits when they are busy or stressed out. However, it is important to visit your dentist regularly to prevent dental issues. There are many reasons why you might want to schedule an appointment with your dentist after a long time of being away from the office. Here are a few of them. CHECKUPS AND CLEANING ARE IMPERATIVE FOR YOUR HEALTH. Even if you haven’t had any issues with your teeth lately, you still need to see a dentist regularly for a checkup and cleaning. Regular checkups are important because they allow your dentist to catch problems before they become severe and more expensive to fix. For example, if the dentist notices some tooth decay during cleaning and is able to treat the issue before it turns into an infection, you are less likely to need a root canal or extraction later on. Similarly, if you have gum disease and you do not see your dentist for regular cleanings, the infection can spread to other parts of your mouth, including your jaw and your neck, resulting in the need for surgery. Plus, most dental insurance plans cover routine dental care like exams and cleanings. So even though you might feel like you can skip these appointments to save money, you’re actually wasting money by not getting the care you need. By visiting the dentist for preventive care, you will be saving money in the long run as you won’t be dealing with any expensive procedures in the future. They are also able to advise you on how you can improve your oral care routine at home for best results, including which tools to use to clean between teeth and how to clean teeth in general. YOUR TEETH MIGHT HAVE SHIFTED OVER TIME. Teeth shift as we age. This can affect the alignment of your teeth, which can, in turn, affect the appearance of your smile. If teeth are crooked, they are more likely to become discolored because they aren’t being cleaned properly when you brush them. Also, misaligned teeth can cause issues such as tooth grinding. And if you have suffered tooth loss, you might not have the teeth necessary to chew your food properly. Visiting your dentist can help you choose the best new options for restoring your smile. To learn more, contact Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis at 4224 Watson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63109, or call (314) 832-1366.
We all mouth breathe a little bit during a cold, while running, or when lifting something heavy; however, doing it all the time may have negative effects on your dental health. Most people who are chronic mouth breathers do not even realize it, which is especially distressing for all of us at my Saint Louis dental office. People don’t mouth breathe because they choose to, they typically do it because there’s something wrong with the nasal passage. When you can’t get enough oxygen by breathing through your nose, you do the only other thing you can – you breathe out of your mouth. Chronic mouth breathing may result in some serious dental and facial issues. When a child mouth breathes, it may actually impact the natural growing process of their face. When we use our mouths to breathe, our posture has to change to keep the airway open. In a kid, if mouth breathing and this change in posture is left untreated, it may lead to a long, narrow face, a narrow or flat nose, a short upper lip, and a pouty lower lip. Additionally, it could create some other concerning oral health problems in both children and adults. Many people don’t know the multitude of issues that are linked to mouth breathing, which worries your dentist in Saint Louis. However, the many problems associated with mouth breathing are so serious, they were highlighted in a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry. Chronic mouth breathing may lead to overcrowded teeth, a gummy smile, problems with facial development, even with the overall health of your mouth. Using your mouth to breathe instead of your nose increases your risk for several oral health issues. Breathing out of your mouth dries it out and decreases saliva production. Without saliva, dangerous acids and bacteria are left to create problems like tooth decay and gingivitis. More so, mouth breathing can lead to chronic bad breath, poor sleep, headaches, and sore throats. SOME SIGNS & SYMPTOMS * Dry lips * Crowded teeth * Snoring and open mouth while sleeping * Increased number of airway infections including sinus, ear, colds * Chronic bad breath If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of mouth breathing, or if you know you are a mouth breather, call my dental office in Saint Louis. We have the ability to recognize mouth breathing and can work with you to fix the problem and get your mouth, and quality of life, back to health. Serving patients in Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.
We all know that February is the month when we all feel a bit more in love. We hug more, cuddle more, and kiss more. At the Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis dental office, we’d like to take you away from your partner for just a minute to talk a bit about the pros and cons of kissing, and how it can affect your oral health. When you want to know more about kissing, your dentist in Saint Louis may not be the first person you think to turn to for advice. But we’re the experts in everything oral health related so there’s actually nobody better! Kissing, like almost anything, not only has its benefits, it also has some disadvantages. Since we’re feeling the love that February brings, let’s cover the positives first. Kissing is actually good for your teeth. Smooching increases saliva production, and saliva helps remove food particles and cavity-causing bacteria, so it protects teeth from decay and neutralizes acids. But kissing also has some dangers lurking behind those locked lips. We all know that kissing is a great way to spread germs, colds, and the flu. What some people may not know is that kissing can also share cold sores, Mononucleosis (Mono, or the kissing disease), and even gum disease. Does that mean we recommend no more kissing? Of course not! But we do recommend keeping your mouth healthy and free of gum disease and dangerous bacteria that can be easily transferred from one person to another. The best way to make sure your mouth is kissable is to keep up with your professional cleanings and checkups with your Saint Louis dentist. If you’re in need of a cleaning or checkup during this kiss-filled holiday, call Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis today!
Cold drinks, hot soup, and a whole lot of pain. If you’re struggling with eating what you want without pain, especially if it’s common with hot or cold foods, you’re probably suffering from sensitive teeth. At my Saint Louis dental office, we hear this often and we’d like to help. THE WHY There are many reasons your teeth could be susceptible to pain while eating or drinking something hot or cold. One of the most common is the tooth’s root structure has become exposed. This anatomy of the tooth contains a lot of nerves, and when it’s open to contact with elements, the pain can be extreme. The root structures typically become exposed through gum recession or eroded enamel, both of which can be caused by grinding, a lot of acidic drinks, and even aggressive brushing. HOW TO FIX IT Toothpaste Choice. By simply changing your toothpaste, you can help ease pain caused by sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth, it’s wise to avoid toothpastes that contain sodium pyrophosphate, which is found found many whitening and tartar-control pastes. Instead, choose a toothpaste that designed specially for sensitive teeth and use it regularly. Softer is Better. When selecting a toothbrush, make sure you choose one that has soft bristles. Hard-bristled brushes can contribute to wear and tear on the tooth’s enamel and put you at increased risk for sensitivity. Additionally, brushing too hard can lead to similar results. If your brush’s bristles are sporadically angled, chances are you’re brushing too hard. Easy on the Soda. And acidic juice and food. The more acidic the food or drink, the more damage to your tooth enamel and the more likely you’ll suffer from sensitivity pain. Choosing water over soda is always wise. If sensitive teeth are keeping you from enjoying the foods and drinks you love and you can’t seem to ease the pain, call my dental office in Saint Louis. We’ll work with you to determine what may be causing your sensitivity and talk about proper treatments to get you back to eating and drinking without pain. Some common treatments may include application of a desensitizing agent, bonding, or sometimes a root canal. Accepting patients from Saint Louis, Affton, Webster Grove, and neighboring areas.
Your tooth is throbbing, and you’re in a lot of pain. It’s unlike any pain you’ve ever felt before, and it’s definitely worse than a typical toothache. What could be going on? You may have an infection called an abscess. Besides the pain, the team at our dental office in St. Louis wants you to know other signs that could indicate an abscessed tooth. WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ABSCESSED TOOTH? Before we launch into some of the usual signs and symptoms of an abscessed tooth, let’s take a closer look at what it is. An abscessed tooth is a deep tooth infection that has spread into the root. The infection begins inside the tooth in an area known as the pulp chamber. The pulp chamber houses the tooth’s nerves. As the infection grows, it moves into the root and eventually the bone. This will cause severe pain. SIGNS OF AN ABSCESS We already know that pain is a warning sign of a problem. But there are a few other symptoms that could help you identify whether the pain is caused by an abscess such as: * A dark, discolored tooth * Increased pain when pressure is applied * Swelling on the gums that resembles a pimple * A bad taste in the mouth * Swelling of the jaw or face While pain is usually the most recognized sign of an abscess, there are times when an abscessed tooth doesn’t hurt or show any of the symptoms above. In those cases, an abscess is typically diagnosed by your dentist in St. Louis at a routine appointment through dental x-rays. WHAT CAUSES AN ABSCESS? There’s no one single thing that causes a tooth abscess. Many times an abscess forms from an untreated cavity and when the decay seeps into the pulp chamber. An abscess can also be caused by a tooth injury or injury to the mouth, prior dental treatment such as a root canal, crown, or filling, or from too much tooth grinding or repeated clenching. HOW TO PREVENT AN ABSCESS? The best way to protect yourself from an abscess is by taking good care of your teeth and overall oral health. This means brushing and flossing every day and maintaining regular visits to your dentist in St. Louis at least every six months. Tooth pain, and especially pain caused by an abscess, can take its toll on you. If you’re experiencing any pain or signs of an abscessed tooth, call our dental office in St. Louis as soon as you can. The earlier you seek help, the more successful treatment can be.