Top 5 Dental Problems and How to Prevent Them

Dental Problems

Maintaining good oral health is crucial for overall well-being. However, despite regular brushing and flossing, many people suffer from various dental problems. In this blog post, we will discuss the top 5 dental problems and provide tips on how to prevent them.

Tooth Decay:

  1. Tooth decay, also known as cavities, is the most common dental problem. It is caused by bacteria that produce acid which erodes the tooth enamel. To prevent tooth decay, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks.

Gum Disease:

  1. Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a bacterial infection that affects the gum tissues and can lead to tooth loss. It is caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking, and genetics. To prevent gum disease, you should brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, use an antimicrobial mouthwash, and quit smoking.

Bad Breath:

  1. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is caused by poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and dry mouth. To prevent bad breath, you should brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, scrape your tongue, drink plenty of water, and avoid foods that cause bad breath.

Teeth Grinding:

  1. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a habit of clenching and grinding your teeth while sleeping or awake. It can lead to tooth damage, headaches, and jaw pain. To prevent teeth grinding, you should reduce stress, avoid caffeine and alcohol, wear a mouthguard at night, and get enough sleep.

Tooth Sensitivity:

  1. Tooth sensitivity is a common problem that causes discomfort or pain when you eat or drink hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks. It is caused by thinning tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. To prevent tooth sensitivity, you should brush your teeth gently, use a soft-bristled toothbrush, avoid acidic foods and drinks, and use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

In conclusion, dental problems are a common issue that affects many people. By following simple steps, such as brushing and flossing regularly, limiting sugary and acidic foods, and quitting smoking, you can prevent dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, teeth grinding, and tooth sensitivity. Remember to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings to maintain good oral health. By taking care of your teeth and gums, you can ensure that you have a healthy and beautiful smile for years to come.

The Devastating Effects of Methamphetamine Use on Dental Health

Methamphetamine Affected Teeth
Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a drug that is highly addictive and can result in serious health complications, including stroke, permanent brain damage, and oral health issues. Meth use can lead to a condition known as “meth mouth,” characterized by severe tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. This article will discuss the effects of methamphetamine use on dental health and the symptoms of meth mouth.

Symptoms of Meth Mouth

Dry Mouth:

Methamphetamine use can cause a reduction in saliva production, leading to a dry mouth. Saliva helps buffer acidic substances in the mouth that we consume. When there is not enough saliva, acid content in the mouth can destroy the enamel on the teeth, causing cavities.

Cracked Teeth:

Meth users may clench or grind their teeth due to anxiety, hyperactivity, or nervousness, leading to severe wear patterns on their teeth. Sometimes even biting or chewing soft foods can cause their teeth to break. Meth users may suck on lollipops or pacifiers to prevent grinding.

Tooth Decay:

Meth users often crave sugary drinks and foods, and the bacteria in the mouth that feed on these sugars secrete acid, leading to more tooth decay. Tooth decay typically starts at the gum line and can eventually spread throughout the tooth, often destroying the front teeth first.

Gum Disease:

Meth users may neglect oral health care, leading to periodontal disease or the destruction of the bone that supports the teeth. Methamphetamine can cause the blood vessels supplying blood to oral tissues to shrink in size, causing tissues to break down over time.


Meth users who smoke may have lesions or burns on their lips, gums, cheeks, or hard palate. Snorting meth may cause burns in the back of the throat. Meth use can also decrease a person’s ability to fight infection and heal after injury.

Deferred Pain:

Meth users may not feel the pain expected from extensive tooth decay due to the drug’s ability to block or lessen dental pain. They may use their decay to try to obtain prescription pain medications.

The Effects of Methamphetamine Use on the Body

In addition to the devastating effects on dental health, methamphetamine use can cause other health problems. Methamphetamine use can increase the risk of stroke due to damage to the blood vessels, cause liver damage due to chemicals involved in making the drug, increase body temperature, lead to brain damage, and weaken the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight off infections. In severe cases, methamphetamine use can lead to death.

Preventing Meth Mouth

Abstaining from using methamphetamine entirely is the most effective way to prevent meth mouth. Regular dental visits can also help identify and address dental problems before they become severe. Maintaining good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding sugary drinks and foods, and staying hydrated, can also help prevent meth mouth.


Methamphetamine use can have devastating effects on dental health, leading to severe tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Meth mouth is a serious condition that can cause permanent damage to teeth and gums. Preventing meth mouth requires avoiding methamphetamine use, maintaining good oral hygiene, and seeking regular dental care. The risks of methamphetamine use extend beyond dental health and can have severe consequences on overall health and well-being.

Gingivitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Gingivitis treatment

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues surrounding your teeth caused by a buildup of plaque. In its early stages, symptoms may include:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red, swollen, tender gums
  • bad breath

Some factors that can put you at higher risk of developing gingivitis include:

  • poor dental care
  • smoking or chewing tobacco 
  • genetics 
  • crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean 
  • pregnancy 
  • diabetes 
  • medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives

This might sound scary, but at this stage, the disease is still reversible. Eliminating the infection can be as easy as a trip to the dentist’s office for professional cleaning, as well as daily brushing and flossing.

Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. This is why it’s important to schedule regular dental checkups in addition to maintaining a good dental routine of brushing and flossing


A dentist or oral hygienist will check for symptoms, such as plaque and tartar in the oral cavity. They may also order tests to check for signs of periodontitis. This can be done by X-ray or periodontal probing, using an instrument that measures pocket depths around a tooth.


If diagnosis happens early and treatment is prompt and proper, a person may be able to treat gingivitis at home with good oral hygiene.

Learn more about home remedies for gingivitis here.

However, if symptoms do not resolve, or the condition affects a person’s quality of life, they may wish to seek professional help.

Treatment often involves care by a dental professional and follow-up procedures carried out by the patient at home.

Professional dental care

A dental professional may initially carry out scaling. This is so they can remove excess plaque and tartar. This can be uncomfortable, especially if the tartar buildup is extensive or the gums are sensitive.

Once they have cleaned a person’s teeth, the dental professional will explain the importance of oral hygiene and how to brush and floss effectively.

They may recommend follow-up appointments to monitor a person’s plaque and tartar. This will allow the dental professional to catch and treat any recurrences quickly.

Fixing any damaged teeth also contributes to oral hygiene. Some dental problems, such as crooked teeth, badly fitted crowns, or bridges, may make it harder to remove plaque and tartar properly. They can also irritate the gums.


A person may be able to prevent gingivitis at home by practicing regular good oral hygiene. This includes:

  • brushing teeth at least twice a day
  • using an electric toothbrush
  • flossing teeth at least once a day
  • regularly rinsing the mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash


Treating gingivitis and following the dental health professional’s instructions can typically prevent complications.

However, gum disease can spread and affect tissue, teeth, and bones if left untreated.

Complications include:

  • abscess or infection in the gingiva or jawbone
  • periodontitis — a more serious condition that can lead to loss of bone and teeth
  • recurrent gingivitis
  • trench mouth, where bacterial infection leads to ulceration of the gums


Gingivitis is a common type of gum disease. It is the result of bacterial buildup on the teeth. This buildup irritates surrounding gum tissue and can cause the gums to become inflamed, discolored, and painful to the touch.

Most people can treat gingivitis with regular good oral hygiene practices. Regular dental checkups can help to identify signs of gum disease and treat them in good time.

How fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay

fluoride tooth decay treatment

Fluoride is often called nature’s cavity fighter, and for good reason. This naturally occurring mineral helps prevent tooth decay by making the surface of our teeth (known as tooth enamel) stronger and more resistant to cavities.

How exactly does fluoride work?

Cavities are caused by bacteria that live in our mouths. They feed on leftover food they find there, including sugary foods and drinks. When these bacteria consume sugars, they release acids that attack tooth enamel. Over time, damage to this protective outer layer of our teeth sets the stage for tooth decay.

Fluoride helps fight cavities by repairing the damage these acids can do to our teeth. The repair process is called remineralization.

How fluoride protects a child’s teeth from the very start?

When infants are born, their baby (primary) teeth are already present in their jaws. Even before teeth break through the gums, they benefit from fluoride in the food and drink a child takes in. These early doses of fluoride strengthen the enamel on baby teeth, making them more resistant to cavities. (This is known as a systemic benefit.)

As a child’s primary teeth come in, fluoride helps rebuild any damage that happens when cavity-causing bacteria release acids in the mouth. This is why it’s important for children to use fluoride toothpaste and drink plenty of tap water, which usually contains fluoride.

Using fluoride toothpaste or getting a special fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office puts fluoride on a child’s teeth, creating a topical benefit. Also, the fluoride children get from foods and drinks becomes part of their saliva, bathing their teeth in tiny amounts of fluoride that help keep enamel strong and healthy.

How do we know fluoride is safe and effective?

For more than 70 years, the best scientific evidence has shown that adding fluoride to community water supplies is safe and effective. More than 100 health organizations recognize the cavity-fighting benefits of fluoridated water, including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Dental Association.

Studies show that fluoride in water is especially helpful in fighting childhood cavities. In fact, one study revealed that children who live in communities without fluoridated water are three times more likely to end up in the hospital needing dental surgery.

Research also shows that fluoride in local water systems prevents at least 25% of tooth decay in people of all ages. Better dental health helps save money since when more people need treatment for cavities, we all pay in the form of higher insurance premiums and taxes. In fact, the average lifetime cost per person of adding fluoride to local water supplies adds up to less than the cost of a single dental filling.

How much fluoride is added to local water supplies?

Fluoride is a natural element found in groundwater and our oceans. When we add fluoride to drinking water, we are adjusting it to the level that science shows will help prevent tooth decay. (The current recommendation is that communities adjust fluoride levels to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water.)

Adding fluoride to water is very much like adding vitamins and minerals to certain foods and drinks, a step that helps us get the nutrients we need. Examples include the iodine added to salt, vitamin D in milk, or calcium added to orange juice.

Around 75% of the water supplies across the U.S. have added fluoride. Use this online map to find out if your local water is fluoridated.

Making fluoride toothpaste part of your cavity-fighting routine

Drinking water with fluoride is an important step in protecting your teeth. The ADA also recommends brushing with fluoride toothpaste. Here are healthy brushing tips for all ages.

Children under 3 years old: As soon as baby teeth appear, gently brush them with a small, soft-bristled brush and a little fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice).

Children aged 3 to 6: Around this time, children begin learning to take care of their own teeth. They should brush twice daily for at least two minutes each time, using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Brushing in the morning and evening is usually best. Supervise your child to make sure they use the right amount and don’t swallow too much toothpaste. (Here’s a kid-friendly article on why fluoride is a superhero in fighting cavities.)

Older children and teens: As they grow, continue to encourage kids to use fluoride toothpaste in their twice-daily brushing routine. Here are tips for caring for children’s teeth and special advice for teens. Adults: Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes each time, or as directed by your doctor or dentist. Brushing in the morning and evening is usually best.

Can mouthwash with fluoride prevent cavities?

Mouthwash that contains fluoride can help make your teeth more resistant to decay. If you are concerned about your dental health, ask your dentist if mouth rinses with fluoride might be a good idea.

Children under age 6 should not use mouthwash unless it’s been recommended by a dentist. This is because younger children are more likely to swallow mouthwash than spit it out since their swallowing reflexes are not fully developed.

Fluoride treatments your dentist may recommend

Your dentist may apply fluoride directly to your teeth during a dental visit. This in-office treatment is often recommended for children to prevent early cavities. Adults may also have fluoride treatments in the dentist’s office. This topical fluoride may come in a gel, foam, or liquid.

In some cases, dentists recommend fluoride supplements that come in tablets, lozenges, or liquid drops. These prescription-only supplements may be helpful for children aged 6 months to 16 years who live in areas where fluoride is not added to local water supplies.

If you’re concerned that your child or teen isn’t getting enough fluoride to prevent cavities, ask your dentist, pediatrician, or family physician for advice.

Diet and Dental Health Tips

Women eating an apple

Our body is a complex machine. The foods you choose and how often you eat them can affect your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, too. If you consume too many sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks, you could be at risk for tooth decay. Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, but the good news is that it is entirely preventable.

Tooth decay happens when plaque comes into contact with sugar in the mouth, causing acid to attack the teeth.

Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. To control the amount of sugar you eat, read the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on foods and beverages and choose options that are the lowest in sugar. Common sources of sugar in the diet include soft drinks, candy, cookies and pastries. Your physician or a registered dietitian can also provide suggestions for eating a nutritious diet. If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection. This may contribute to gum disease. Severe gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and is potentially more severe in people with poor nutrition.

To learn what foods are best for you, visit, a website from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The site contains dietary recommendations for children and adults based on their levels of physical activity.

Wise choices

For healthy living and for healthy teeth and gums, think before you eat and drink. It’s not only what you eat but when you eat that can affect your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks. If you are on a special diet, keep your physician’s advice in mind when choosing foods.

For good dental health, keep these tips in mind when choosing your meals and snacks:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups, including:
    • whole grains
    • fruits
    • vegetables
    • lean sources of protein such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish; dry beans, peas and other legumes
    • low-fat and fat-free dairy foods

Limit the number of snacks you eat. If you do snack, choose something that is healthy like fruit or vegetables or a piece of cheese. Foods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm to teeth than eating lots of snacks throughout the day, because more saliva is released during a meal. Saliva helps wash foods from the mouth and lessens the effects of acids, which can harm teeth and cause cavities.

For good dental health, always remember to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly. With regular dental care, your dentist can help prevent oral problems from occurring in the first place and catch those that do occur in the early stages, while they are easy to treat.

Wisdom Teeth

With age comes wisdom. Specifically, wisdom teeth.

Your mouth goes through many changes in your lifetime. One major dental milestone that usually takes place between the ages of 17 and 21 is the appearance of your third molars. Historically, these teeth have been called wisdom teeth because they come through at a more mature age.

When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew. It’s normal to feel a little discomfort when your wisdom teeth appear, but if you have pain, see your dentist immediately.

Room to Grow?

Wisdom teeth can lead to problems if there isn’t enough space for them to surface or they come through in the wrong position. If your dentist says your wisdom teeth are impacted, he or she means they are trapped in your jaw or under your gums.

As your wisdom teeth make their way through your gums, your dentist will be monitoring your mouth for signs of the following:

  • Wisdom teeth that aren’t in the right position can allow food to become trapped. That gives cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow.
  • Wisdom teeth that haven’t come in properly, which can make it difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them.
  • Wisdom teeth that have partially come through can give bacteria a place to enter the gums and create a place for infection to occur. This may also lead to pain, swelling and stiffness in your jaw.
  • Wisdom teeth that don’t have room to come through are thought by some to crowd or damage neighboring teeth.
  • A wisdom tooth that is impacted can form a cyst on or near the impacted tooth. This could damage the roots of nearby teeth or destroy the bone that supports your teeth.

Why You Might Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Every patient is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)

Your dentist may also recommend the removal of wisdom teeth as part of treatment for braces or other dental care.

Before making any decisions, your dentist will examine your mouth and take an x-ray. Together, you and your dentist can discuss the best course of treatment.

Keeping Your Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth that are not removed should continue to be monitored because the potential for developing problems later on still exists. As people age, they are at greater risk for health problems—and that includes potential problems with their wisdom teeth. Be sure to, floss around your wisdom teeth and visit your dentist regularly. Regular dental visits allow your dentist to evaluate your wisdom teeth and your overall dental health.

Antibiotics for Pain and Swelling

Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat bacterial infections. When it comes to toothaches, however, an antibiotic prescription should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. By understanding antibiotics, you can talk confidently with your dentist about what’s causing you pain and how to fix it.

Understand your symptoms

Talk to your dentist about your symptoms. Your tooth may hurt when eating hot or cold foods or when you’re doing nothing at all. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may ease pain in and around your tooth. However, only your dentist knows when to treat pain with antibiotics.

Get to the root of it

If you have a fever, an infection may have spread beyond its original source and an antibiotic can help. If you have an infection that hasn’t spread, it might be treatable at the original source. For example, a contained toothache probably won’t require antibiotics, but you might need dental treatment, such as a root canal, depending on the severity of the infection.

Medications are unique

You wouldn’t share your toothbrush, right? Medications are just as personal—what works for one person may not work for the next. The antibiotic prescribed for someone else’s fever may not treat your toothache and can cause unwanted side effects. Trust the professionals; your dentist knows what will work best for you.

Side effects

While antibiotics are meant to treat painful infections, unwanted side effects can happen. Yeast infections, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are a few side effects associated with antibiotics. Tell your dentist if you’re allergic to any medications or if you have side effects that don’t go away.

Keep antibiotics strong

The overuse of antibiotics can cause bacteria to become harder to kill. Misusing antibiotics may similarly contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Taking antibiotics only when they are prescribed to you can help keep you and your antibiotics strong.

Talking with your dentist about symptoms, pain relief methods and proper antibiotic use can help improve your health and the health of those around you.


Braces and orthodontic treatment are used to correct “bad bites,” or malocclusion (teeth that are crowded or crooked). In some cases, your teeth may be straight, but your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly. These jaw or tooth alignment problems may be inherited or could result from injury, early or late tooth loss, or thumb sucking.

If you have an abnormal bite your dentist may recommend braces or another orthodontic treatment to straighten out your smile. Correcting the problem can create a nice-looking smile, but more importantly, orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth. Not correcting an abnormal bite could result in further oral health problems, including:

  • tooth decay
  • gum disease
  • tooth loss
  • affected speech and/or chewing
  • abnormal wear to tooth enamel
  • jaw problems

Straightening your teeth can be accomplished in different ways. The kind of orthodontic treatment you have will depend on your preference and the options provided by your dentist or orthodontist. Traditional braces realign teeth by applying pressure. They usually consist of small brackets cemented to your teeth, connected by a wire, which is periodically tightened by your dentist or orthodontist to gradually shift your teeth and jaw. The brackets may be metal or tooth colored. Sometimes they are placed behind your teeth. Under the direct supervision of a dentist or orthodontist, removable aligners are another option for treating orthodontic problems.

Orthodontic treatment may be provided by your dentist or an orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. It will depend on the orthodontic experience of your dentist and the severity of your case.

Since abnormal bites usually become noticeable between the ages of 6 and 12, orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14. Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results. That doesn’t mean that adults can’t have braces; healthy teeth can be orthodontically treated at any age.

Treatment plans will vary based on your situation, but most people are in treatment from one to three years. This is followed by a period of wearing a retainer that holds teeth in their new positions. Today’s braces are more comfortable than ever before. Newer materials apply a constant, gentle force to move teeth and usually require fewer adjustments.

While you have braces it’s important to maintain a balanced diet for the health of your teeth. Of course, a healthy diet is always important, but eating too many sugary foods with braces can lead to plaque build-up around your brackets that could permanently stain or damage your teeth. Avoiding foods like popcorn, corn on the cob, chewing gum, whole apples, and other sticky foods is also a good idea. Ask your dentist about foods to avoid while you are in treatment. Not all of us are born with beautiful smiles, but with a good oral hygiene routine, and a little help from orthodontics, you can have a beautiful and healthy smile.

Are E-Cigarettes Harmful To Your Oral Health?

People tend to assume that as dentists, we only care if our patients brush and floss their teeth regularly. While it’s true that we appreciate good at-home dental care, we know that oral health goes beyond brushing and flossing and can be impacted by activities like smoking and vaping.

For that reason, we’d like to discuss with you the harmful effects that electronic cigarettes have on oral health, despite their reputation as a safe alternative.

What is an E-Cigarette?

An e-cigarette refers to a handheld electronic device that creates an aerosol by heating a liquid, typically made of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavourings. E-cigarette users inhale this aerosol, which is called “vaping.”

Why do People Vape?

Many cigarette smokers use vaping as a method to quit smoking. Because e-cigarettes don’t have tobacco in them, vaping has long been thought of as a healthier alternative to smoking. However, studies are beginning to show that it’s not quite a harmless habit.

How Does Vaping Affect My Health?

Just as with smoking, vaping has negative health effects. Despite their lack of tobacco, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, the highly addictive drug that is found in real cigarettes which causes a number of negative effects when ingested. In one study from the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology reported that nicotine may have a significant contribution to the development of both gingivitis and periodontitis. In addition, nicotine use can actually mask the bleeding gums side effect of gingivitis, making it more difficult to be diagnosed.

In one study of habitual e-cigarette users and non-users, e-cigarette users showed increased adrenaline in the heart, and greater oxidative stress; two factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, gum disease  and strokes. Unfortunately, your heart is not all vaping can harm.

Because the mouth is the first place the vapor goes, it’s also when it’s the most concentrated, and hot. A popular complaint about side effects from using e-cigarettes is “mouth and throat dryness and irritation.” In a separate study, researchers placed mouth cells in a chamber before pumping in e-cigarette vapor to monitor the effects. After just three days, 53% of the mouth cells were dead or dying. By comparison, mouth cells that weren’t exposed to the e-cigarette vapor only had a 2% death rate.

Users have also experienced the extreme danger involved with e-cigarettes overcharging and exploding. Multiple incidents have been reported where e-cigarettes explode while being used , knocking out teeth and damaging tongue, cheeks and lips. Hence requiring extensive dental, cosmetic and surgical repair to restore their once beautiful smile.

How Does Vaping Compare to Smoking?

Because e-cigarettes haven’t been around as long as regular cigarettes, we don’t have long-term research comparing the two. However, in a recent study done by Cancer Research UK-funded scientists, people who swapped cigarettes for e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy had significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals and carcinogens in their bodies.

Many choose to believe that means e-cigarettes are a safe alternative, but that’s not the case. It merely means that potentially, they are less damaging than real cigarettes. However, more research is required before that can be said conclusively.

What About Using E-Cigarettes to Quit Smoking?

It’s all too common for people to replace an addiction with another one. This is true for cigarette addictions as well, many people end up with an e-cigarette addiction as a result. Our professional recommendation is to avoid vaping altogether, as it causes damage to not only your oral health but your overall well-being.

Speaking of cigarettes, it’s very important for smokers to visit their dentist regularly so their oral health can be monitored. Our goal is your complete health, and the end goal with smoking is to quit.

Oral cancer

Oral cancer is divided into two categories – those occurring in the oral cavity (your lips, the inside of your lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, the front two-thirds of your tongue and the floor and roof of your mouth) and those occurring in the oropharynx (middle region of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue).

Early detection may result in better treatment outcomes and help keep you or someone you love from becoming one of the 11,230 people whose lives may be claimed this year by the disease. The 5-year survival rate of those diagnosed is approximately 60 percent.

Where Can Oral Cancer Appear?

The oral Fincludes your lips, cheek lining, gums, the front part of your tongue, the floor of the mouth beneath the tongue and the hard palate that makes up the roof of your mouth. The throat (pharynx) starts at the soft part of the roof of your mouth and continues back into your throat. It includes the back section of your tongue, as well as the base where the tongue attaches to the floor of your mouth.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

It’s important to be aware of the following signs and symptoms and to see your dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks. 

  • A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

Some people complain of a sore throat, feeling like something is caught in their throat, numbness, hoarseness or a change in voice. If you have any of these symptoms, let your dentist know, especially if you’ve had them for two weeks or more.


What Are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?

Research has identified a number of factors that increase the risk of developing oral cancers. Men are twice more likely to get oral cancer than women. Smokers and excessive alcohol drinkers older than 50 are the most at-risk. 

The human papilloma virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted, has also been associated with throat cancers at the back of the mouth. HPV-positive head and neck cancers are related to the rise in throat cancers in non-smoking adults. HPV-positive head and neck cancers typically develop in the throat at the base of the tongue and in the folds of the tonsils making them difficult to detect. Although people with HPV-positive cancers have a lower risk of dying or having recurrence than those with HPV-negative cancers, early diagnosis is associated with the best outcomes. Regular dental check-ups that include an examination of the entire head and neck can be vital in detecting cancer early.  

How Can My Dentist Help Detect Oral Cancer Early?

During your regular exam, your dentist will ask you about changes in your medical history and whether you’ve been having any new or unusual symptoms.

Then, your dentist will check your oral cavity. This includes your lips, cheek lining, gums, the front part of your tongue, the floor of your mouth and the roof of your mouth. Your dentist will also examine your throat (pharynx) at the soft part at the roof of your mouth, including your tonsils, the back section of your tongue and where your tongue attaches to the bottom of your mouth. The dentist will then feel your jaw and neck for any lumps or abnormalities.

What Happens If My Dentist Finds Something Suspicious?

Stay calm. Your dentist won’t be able to tell right away if what he or she is looking at is cancerous, so he or she may refer you for testing. Your dentist might also reexamine you a week or two later to see if questionable spots are healing on their own before recommending additional follow-up. Together, you and your dentist can create the best strategy for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

What Can I Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?

The most important thing is to be aware of your risk factors. Men are twice more likely to get oral cancer as they get older. If you smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol or have a poor diet, changing these habits can decrease the chances of developing oral cancer.

Certain strains of HPV can also put you at risk. The CDC recommends that 11- to 12-year-old boys and girls get two doses of HPV vaccine to prevent cervical and other less common genital cancers. It is possible that the HPV vaccine might also prevent head and neck cancers – since the vaccine prevents an initial infection with HPV types that can cause head and neck cancers – but the studies currently underway do not yet have sufficient data to say whether the HPV vaccine will prevent these cancers. Routine vaccination can be started as early as 9 years of age, according to the CDC. 

If you have had oral cancer before, you may be more likely to develop it again so keep up those regular visits.