Posts for: May, 2018
Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.
As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.
Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.
Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.
Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome. If you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
Teeth lost to tooth decay can have devastating consequences for a child’s dental health. Not only can it disrupt their current nutrition, speech and social interaction, it can also skew their oral development for years to come.
Fortunately, we have a number of preventive tools to curb decay in young children. One of the most important of these, dental sealants, has been around for decades. We apply these resin or glass-like material coatings to the pits and crevices of teeth (especially molars) to help prevent the buildup of bacterial plaque in areas where bacteria tend to thrive.
Applying sealants is a simple and pain-free process. We first brush the coating in liquid form onto the teeth’s surface areas we wish to protect. We then use a special curing light to harden the sealant and create a durable seal.
So how effective are sealants in preventing tooth decay? Two studies in recent years reviewing dental care results from thousands of patients concluded sealants could effectively reduce cavities even four years after their application. Children who didn’t receive sealants had cavities at least three times the rate of those who did.
Sealant applications, of course, have some expense attached to them. However, it’s far less than the cost for cavity filling and other treatments for decay, not to mention future treatment costs resulting from previous decay. What’s more important, though, is the beneficial impact sealants can have a child’s dental health now and on into adulthood. That’s why sealants are recommended by both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
And while sealants are effective, they’re only one part of a comprehensive strategy to promote your child’s optimum dental health. Daily brushing and flossing, a “tooth-friendly” diet and regular dental cleanings and checkups are also necessary in helping to keep your child’s teeth healthy and free of tooth decay.
We all want great smiles. Strong, attractive teeth, healthy gums--they're part of a smile that can last a lifetime with good preventive care. Your dentist in St. Petersburg, FL, Dr. Rosemarie Marquez, stresses the important role at-home oral hygiene habits play in maintaining your best oral health. Learn here what those habits entail.
The Importance of Brushing and Flossing
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children through senior adults brush their teeth twice a day for a full two minutes. Also, everyone should floss once a day to remove plaque from between the teeth and at the gum line. But, are we all doing those tasks consistently and correctly? The Centers for Disease Control reports that most American adults do not floss consistently, if at all, leading, not only, to gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, but also to systemic (whole body) diseases.
Is it time for you to straighten up your oral hygiene routine? Here are some tips to assist you in doing so:
- Use fluoride toothpaste (over age 3) and a soft brush. Fluoride hardens tooth enamel, and soft bristles avoid abrading tender gums.
- Set a timer on your phone to ensure you brush for two minutes.
- Floss carefully and gently, particularly if you are just beginning the habit. Never snap floss hard against your gums, and rinse with water afterwards.
- Brushing after meals and snacks is beneficial but not always possible. For those times when you can't brush, chewing a sugar free gum (preferably one with xylitol) is a good alternative. Chewing stimulates salivary production which helps cleanse the mouth and xylitol helps to keep your bacterial count down.
- Use a mouth rinse only as recommended by your St. Petersburg dentist. Some formulations help control gum disease, bad breath, and cavities.
- Get semi-annual check-ups and hygienic cleanings with Dr. Marquez. She'll spot problems before they do a lot of damage. Your friendly hygienist will scale your teeth to remove harmful plaque and tartar. Plus, you'll receive important assessments for tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, dental bite and more. Ask your hygienist how to improve your flossing and brushing routines.
The Importance of Diet
You are what you eat. Dr. Marquez asks her patients to limit processed sugar and alcohol and to avoid tobacco in all forms. Also, she says to increase fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, grains, and dairy products for calcium.
Interestingly, water is an essential part of a healthy diet. The American Dental Association says water washes teeth and gums, avoiding dry mouth. It controls bacteria and their acids, and water increases saliva and its antimicrobial properties. So drink several glasses a day, and take that water bottle along to the gym.
The Importance of Preventive Dentistry
It starts at home at the bathroom sink and at the kitchen table. If you need to schedule your six-month appointment with Dr. Marquez, please contact the office today for an appointment in St. Petersburg, FL. We have convenient early morning hours. Call (727) 345-1774.
Famed educator Maria Montessori once said, “Play is the work of the child”—and most kids take their “work” very seriously. But their avid enthusiasm might also raise the risk of blunt force injuries, particularly to the mouth.
While you should certainly take steps to protect their mouth (like a custom-made guard for contact sports), you can’t completely erase the risk. You should know, therefore, what to do in case of a mouth injury.
The lips, tongue, and other soft oral tissues often get the brunt of any contact injury, ranging from minor bruising and swelling to severe cuts that require medical attention. First, clean the area as thoroughly as possible to remove trapped dirt or debris in the wound. If bleeding occurs, apply continuous gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze for 10-15 minutes until it stops, and cold compresses for any swelling. If the wound looks deep or severe, take them to an emergency room.
Blunt force can also impact teeth in a variety of ways. If part of a tooth chips, attempt to find the pieces and see a dentist as soon as possible—they may be able to bond the pieces back to the tooth. If a tooth gets moved out of place, call your dentist immediately or go to an emergency room after hours.
If a permanent tooth gets completely knocked out, find it and rinse off any debris with clean water. Then, place it gently back into its socket, or alternatively between the child’s cheek and gum or in a glass of cold milk. You’ll need to see a dentist as soon as possible to have the tooth replanted. With this kind of injury, time is of the essence.
A hard impact can also fracture the jawbone, which may be suspected if the face appears distorted or the teeth can’t make contact with each other when the jaws are shut. Control any bleeding, apply cold compresses or mild pain relievers to ease any pain or swelling, and go to an emergency room immediately.
A traumatic injury can heighten everyone’s emotions, including yours. You can avoid your emotions turning into panic, though, by following these common sense guidelines to help your child get through this unfortunate event.