April 7-14th is Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness week and we are so grateful to be able to share information about these cancers to bring awareness about the causes and dangers of cancer. Cancer is defined as a disease caused by uncontrollable division of abnormal cells in a part of the body - oral, head and neck cancers are unfortunately quite common. Worldwide, over 550,000 cases of oral, head or neck cancer are diagnosed each year, and 110,000 of those cases are in the United States alone (American Academy of Otolaryngology). As your dental team, we are very passionate about this topic and want to use this blog post to educate everyone on these types of cancers, and how to stay healthy to try and avoid them.
Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. Oral cancer most often is identified by a sore or growth in the mouth that does not go away. It can also appear as reddish or whitish areas in the mouth, lumps, bumps, or raised surfaces in the mouth, or patchy, bumpy areas in the mouth. Other symptoms can include difficulty swallowing, numbness, bleeding, loose teeth or soreness/tenderness in the mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms or abnormalities in your mouth, contact your dentist and schedule an appointment.
One of the biggest causes of oral cancer is tobacco. Smoking, including cigars, cigarettes, vape pens, or smokeless tobacco, including dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco dramatically raises your chances of getting oral cancer. Genetics also play a role in oral cancer, and if you have a family history of oral cancer you are at higher risk. Consuming alcohol and overexposure to the sun also increase your risk of getting oral cancer or melanoma of the lips.
Head and Neck Cancer
Cancers of the head and neck often include the pharynx and larynx - or throat and voice box, including the vocal cords and epiglottis, the sinuses and nasal cavity, and the salivary glands. Symptoms of the various types of head and neck cancers include trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing, pain of the head or neck that does not go away, ear pain or headaches, swelling under the chin or jawbone, lumps or bumps in your throat, or numbness and pain in various parts of your head and neck.
Head and neck cancer makes up approximately 6% of all cancers in the United States and is more common in people over the age of 50. Tobacco use is one of the main preventable causes of these types of cancer. Smoking (cigarettes, cigars and vape pens) and using smokeless tobacco (dip, snuff and chewing tobacco), as well as over-consuming alcohol can increase your risk of these types of cancer.
Oral, head and neck cancers are serious diseases and steps should be taken to protect yourself as much as possible from these forms of cancer. The most preventable cause of these various cancers is smoking. Approximately 200,000 people die each year from smoking related illnesses (American Academy of Otolaryngology) - this is a dangerous habit that should be avoided at all costs. Common misconceptions are that smokeless tobacco and vape pens are safer than smoking cigarettes, but this is false - these habits increase your risk of getting oral, head and neck cancers just as much as smoking cigarettes does. Additionally, in the United States, 1 person is diagnosed with a new case of oral, head and neck cancer every 10 minutes, and someone dies of these kids of cancer every 45 minutes (American Academy of Otolaryngology). According to this data, these cancers should not be taken lightly.
Aside from not using tobacco products, make sure that you are not consuming alcohol in excess as this has been found to have a link with these types of cancer. Additionally, be sure to always wear sunscreen and a chapstick with SPF in it - you can get melanoma on your lips if you are not careful about protecting them from the sun. Another great way to ensure you can protect yourself from oral, head and neck cancer is to be checked regularly. At your dentist appointments your doctor will give you a head and neck examination in order to look out for these symptoms - they will feel around your head, throat and neck and look around your mouth and throat to determine if there are any irregularities or concerning areas. In addition to these physical examinations, our office provides the opportunity to get an oral cancer screening. We recommend getting an oral cancer screening once a year, however people who heavily use tobacco products can opt for a screening more than once a year. At Dental BLU we use Identafi - a painless light that we shine around the patients mouth that uses various wavelengths to show the hygienist any suspicious areas in the mouth. Ask about Identafi at your next hygiene visit to make sure you are not at risk for having oral cancer.
We are very passionate about the topic of oral, head, and neck cancers and hope that after reading this article, you are too. Cancer is a dangerous disease and unfortunately 66% of the time oral, head and neck cancers are found in stage 3 or 4 meaning that they are more serious and have spread to other areas in the body (American Academy of Otolaryngology). In order to learn more about these diseases and their risks, schedule an appointment with your dentist or visit https://www.entnet.org/OHANCAW to read articles about oral, head and neck cancer.
During Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week please use this opportunity to educate yourself and your family and friends about the dangers associated with these types of cancer, and use this week as motivation to live a healthier lifestyle to try and avoid these cancers.
Baking soda has a wide variety of uses such as baking, deodorizing, and many homemade remedies including toothpaste. Different articles have been released over time that claim varying things about baking soda. Some say it's too abrasive and should never be used as toothpaste, whereas others say it's one of the best products you can use! After researching and discussing the details with the doctor's at Dental BLU, we are writing this blog to tell you everything you could ever want to know about using baking soda as toothpaste!
Abrasiveness is the capability of a substance to polish a hard surface by rubbing or grinding. We want the toothpaste we use to be abrasive enough to brush away the stains and bacteria that sit on our teeth, but not abrasive enough to scrub away our enamel itself. Enamel, the hard mineralized surface of the tooth, cannot be regrown or replaced once damaged, so it is important to protect it from toothpaste that is too abrasive. Abrasiveness should not be confused with hardness. For instance, Dr. Rod Kurthy (Founder and CEO of Evolve Dental Technologies) compares your tooth and toothpaste to a diamond and glass. Although both feel very hard, a diamond will easily scratch glass. We attribute this to the Mohs Hardness Scale. Glass is rated a 5 whereas a diamond is rated a 10, therefore the diamond is capable of scratching the softer material, glass. This is similar to baking soda and your teeth. Baking soda feels very hard and gritty; the little pieces have rigid edges that feel rough in your mouth. It seems like this baking soda would damage your teeth. However, on Mohs Hardness of materials scale, tooth enamel is rated a 5 whereas baking soda is rated 2.5. Since baking soda is the softer material, it is not considered very abrasive and it will not harm tooth enamel! The American Dental Association studied Relative Dentin Abrasiveness to determine abrasiveness of various toothpastes. The scale used below shows the low-harmful levels of abrasiveness.
Low RDA is 0-70
Medium RDA is 70-100
High RDA is 100-150
Harmful RDA is 150-250
The chart below shows the RDA of many common types of toothpaste. Notice that baking soda is only listed at 7, meaning that it is extremely low and therefore a safe, low-abrasive material to use in place of abrasive toothpaste! Look through this chart to see what toothpaste you're using to determine if you should make the switch to lower RDA toothpaste!
Using Baking Soda as Toothpaste
When using baking soda as toothpaste Dr. Depp recommends putting baking soda in a small dish or shot glass, wetting your toothbrush and dipping it in the baking soda, making a thick paste, and then brushing like normal. This thick paste will scrub away stains and bacteria. Baking soda is a great alternative to regular toothpaste for people who are worried about scrubbing away their enamel with abrasive paste, however it should be noted that baking soda does not have fluoride in it, which is important to protect your teeth from cavities. It also does not have the fresh minty taste that many types of toothpaste have, making it less desirable when someone wants fresh-tasting, minty breath!
It is important to be cautious when reading online toothpaste remedies that involve baking soda. A common misconception is that if you mix baking soda with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic substances that it becomes a great tooth whitener but this is incorrect. Acidic materials such as these will harm your teeth more than help them. Acid will eat away at the tooth enamel, softening your teeth and allowing the baking soda to erode away even more of the structure of your teeth causing many more problems like cavities. Harmful combinations with acids like these should not be used. Plain baking soda and water does a fine job at scrubbing away stains and spots. Instead of using a homemade whitening remedy that could be dangerous, if you're looking to have a whiter smile, we offer a variety of whitening options at Dental BLU – call our office to schedule a consultation!
Baking soda is a great product with many uses and we love when our patients use this low abrasive toothpaste to protect their enamel! If you have any more questions about abrasiveness, whitening, or which toothpaste to use, please call our office to schedule a visit. We would be happy to help you!
February is an exciting time of the year with Valentine's Day, President's Day, random snow days and many other fun events. Another holiday to celebrate this February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Many of us don't even know where to begin to protect our children's teeth, when to bring them to the dentist, or what sealants are, so if you're curious like the rest of us, this blog post is for you! Below we have the facts and recommendations on protecting your child's smile from when they're born up until when their adult teeth grow in.
Why To Care: The Facts and Figures
If you're not curious on how to take care of your children's teeth, you should be! Tooth decay, or a cavity, is known as a disease in medical terms - this disease is actually the most common disease in children. This disease is also 5 times more common than asthma in children and affects 3 in every 5 kids. Approximately 51 million hours of school are missed each year due to dental problems in children; and the estimated number of children that go without dental care each year is 17 million. Dental health is also connected to overall health, such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, and more. In order to keep our kids healthy, we should be more concerned on how to protect their baby teeth, even when they first grow in.
Baby Teeth: Little Teeth with a Big Impact
Most babies will begin teething between 6 and 12 months - but if your baby is ahead or behind of that curve, don't worry, it's totally normal for every child to be on their own timeline. When a baby is teething, their gums usually will appear more red and slightly swollen, your baby also might be drooling more than normal. Some babies will experience discomfort during this time. Some great tricks to help teething pains are letting your baby suck on a frozen or wet washcloth or a teething ring. A popular question is: When should I start brushing my kid's teeth? The answer is: the moment a little tooth pokes through the gums! Children will keep baby teeth for a very long time, up to an average of about 11 years old. Starting brushing habits early will help prevent cavities and get your child used to the feeling of a toothbrush in their mouth, preventing fussing later on in life. Once children start showing interest in brushing their own teeth you can allow them to brush on their own, however a parent should always follow and brush afterward to make sure they are cleaning every surface. Brush gently in small circles for 2 minutes, making sure to brush the top and sides of every tooth! Flossing is usually not necessary for children until the age of around 5 years old, or when recommended by your dentist or hygienist; once the teeth appear to be crowded with very small spaces in between them you should floss your child's teeth along with them to make sure they are cleaning all surfaces. Children's handheld flossers can be bought in a variety of fun shapes and colors to make flossing easy and fun!
Protecting baby teeth early will lead to lifelong healthy habits and a healthier smile!
Visiting the Dentist: The Best 2 Days of the Year!
Many people also don't know when to bring their child to the dentist, and we say it's never too early! The most important thing for young children is to learn to enjoy the dentist. At Dental BLU we make visiting the dentist a fun experience with toys, stickers and a cool new toothbrush to encourage children to come back and see how fun the dentist office is! Usually the perfect age to start bringing your child in is around 18 months to 2 years old. At their first visit, a hygienist will show them our 'big chair', 'tickle toothbrush' and count their teeth. This initial visit is important to help children learn that the dentist is fun, and to ensure your child's teeth are developing properly. After this, it's recommended to bring your child back every 6 months for cleanings and examinations by the doctor. Having your children grow up in the dentist chair is the perfect way to ensure they will never be fearful of the dentist and they will develop healthy habits!
Sealants: Protecting Groovy Teeth
Around the age of 6 your dentist or hygienist may recommend sealants for your child. Sealants are a quick, easy way to protect your child from cavities! The molars, or back teeth that do most of the grinding and chewing in the mouth, are very groovy teeth that tend to trap a lot of bacteria in little pits and ridges; these areas are hard to brush, and cavities often form here. When placing sealants we use a tooth colored material to fill in the groves on the curvy molars so that the surface of the tooth is slick and bacteria can't get trapped in the ridges. Sealants are a great way to protect your children's teeth and diminish their risk of getting decay in those groves. Most insurances will cover sealants for children, so be sure to ask about your coverage.
Fluoride: The Vitamins Our Teeth Need!
Our mouths contain bacteria that eat away at sugar and leftover residue on our teeth. These bacteria give off acid as a byproduct, and this acid is what ultimately causes decay or cavities in our mouth. Fluoride works by protecting our teeth, making them stronger and shielding them from the acid, therefore preventing tooth decay. Fluoride has been researched and shown to also reverse early signs of decay - making it an extremely important vitamin in our diet! There are many ways to obtain fluoride today, such as in tap water, through using toothpaste, and at the dentist's office. It is recommended to start using fluoride as early as possible in your child's toothpaste to allow them to get the appropriate level of these teeth vitamins; ask your dentist or hygienist for advice on when to start use of fluoride. The hygienist will also apply fluoride to your child's teeth at every 6 month checkup to protect their smile!
Aside from fluoride, there are many other beneficial vitamins for children in food. It is important that your child eats a well balanced diet, low in sugar, and gets plenty of fruits and vegetables! A sweet treat is okay every now and then, but be sure to brush and floss away the cavity-causing bacteria afterwards. Additionally, while milk and juice are usually children's favorite drinks, make sure your child is brushing their teeth after these sugary drinks and not going to sleep with a bottle. This causes the sugar and bacteria to sit on their teeth all night, easily causing cavities.
Below are some great links to make dental health a fun activity for your children:
Calendar to check off when you brush:
If you have any questions about children's dental health, call our office at (859)-442-8200.
Have a happy, healthy Children's Dental Health Month!
CAMBRA is an acronym for Caries Management By Risk Assessment – This is a preventative form of dentistry in which patients are categorized by their relative risk for developing dental caries, based on risk factors including diet, oral hygiene, fluoride regiment and past oral health history.
According to the CDC, dental caries (cavities) is an epidemic in the United States. Though it’s largely preventable, dental caries remains the most common chronic disease of children aged 5-17 years—4 times more common than asthma (42% versus 9.5%). In the United States, while children are largely affected by this disease, cavities do not discriminate against age. Adults are at risk as well.
- 28% of children aged 2-5 have already had cavities in their baby teeth
- 50% of children have had a cavity by the age of 11
- 68% (2/3rds) of 19-year-olds have had cavities in their permanent teeth
- 16% of children aged 6-19 years have untreated cavities
- 23% of adults aged 20-64 have untreated cavities
- 85% of all adults will have cavities in their lifetime
- More than 60% of adults will lose a permanent tooth to cavities
As a dental professional, these statistics don’t surprise me. They’re disappointing and upsetting, but not unbelievable. I see it first-hand every day. New patients and return patients, children and adults, good hygiene and poor hygiene – cavities may be present in each one.
Possibly the most frustrating scenario arises when I have a patient that has impeccable hygiene with no signs of gum disease, brushes 2-3 times per day and flosses daily, returns every 6 months for a professional cleaning, and I have to tell them they have new cavities. It’s heartbreaking, for both of us. How can a patient that does everything right still get cavities?
At Dental BLU, we pride ourselves on teaching excellent hygiene practices. We have conversations with all of our patients about proper hygiene techniques at each professional cleaning, as well as prescribe hygiene adjuncts that can address specific needs. And while we treat cavities daily, it is just as important to us to educate you on your individual cavity risk, and provide you with access to science-based resources and products to prevent cavities.
Sometimes, just knowing your level of risk is enough to help you avoid the risk. This is certainly a possibility with cavities. Knowing that you have a high risk of cavities can help you make better decisions about your oral care. Luckily, our understanding of what causes cavities and what risk factors seem to matter most in cavity formation has grown, giving us more and better information about avoiding cavities.
At Dental BLU, we can help you properly measure your risk of cavities and develop a preventive plan, but there are some simple questions you can answer at home to raise your cavity risk awareness.
So, are you at high risk for cavities?
Have you recently had a cavity filled?
Do you suffer from dry mouth?
Do you snack frequently or drink non-water beverages throughout the day?
Do you have white spots on your teeth?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are likely at high risk for cavities. It’s time to schedule an appointment with the doctors or hygienists at Dental BLU for your personal risk assessment and to obtain your individual risk of cavities. We can help you not just repair your cavities, but we can now provide you with access to CariFree products that are only available through us, your dental professionals.
CariFree elevated-pH products are created from science-based research to prevent cavities at their source and eliminate the disease process so cavities are never able to form. Make your appointment at Dental BLU today to determine your individual risk for developing cavities and ask us how CariFree products can help you.
Summer is our favorite time of the year! It is great for slowing down and relaxing with friends and family, school is out, camps and outdoor activities fill the calendar, and vacations are planned. But it is not the time to take a break from good oral health habits.
Here are some useful tips to help keep your teeth healthy this summer:
Choose water as your main source of hydration this summer and throughout all seasons. Water promotes saliva formation and helps rinse out bacteria that form in your mouth to prevent decay. Limit the number of sweet and alcoholic beverages you consume and opt for ice cold water or make your own fruit-infused water to stay hydrated.
Stock a Healthy Kitchen for Smart Snacking
Nutrition and healthy teeth go hand-in-hand. When you’re munching on snacks this summer, consider foods that can benefit your oral health. Fresh foods, especially those grown and/or purchased locally, are full of vitamins and minerals that are essential to building up bones, warding off cancers, and recovering from injuries. Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are rich in calcium, an essential component for healthy teeth; and contain proteins like casein that is known to fortify your teeth’s surface, protecting it from decay. Snacking at home isn’t the only time to be tooth aware…many summertime activities involve time away from home, so be sure to pack healthy snacks for days on the go!
Stay Safe During Summer Activities
It wouldn’t be summer without lots of swimming, bike riding, volleyball and other playground activities. And while these are great fun, they can, unfortunately, result in a dental injury.
Make sure your kids follow the “pool rules.” According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many summer oral injuries dentists treat are due to a pool accident. Running on slippery pool decks, diving into shallow waters or bumping the pool ledge with their mouth causes many children to either chip or knock a tooth loose. Also, keep in mind that excessive exposure to chlorine can be harmful to teeth by weakening enamel and cause staining known as swimmers calculus. Swimmers calculus is a common cosmetic issue and can be removed by a professional dental cleaning.
Sports-related dental injuries are an unfortunately common issue, but many sports-related dental injuries are preventable by taking appropriate safety measures. Studies have shown that mouth guards provide the best protection against facial and dental injuries. Mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year. Using a mouth guard can prevent damage to braces or other orthodontic work, as well as prevent mouth cuts, jaw injuries and tooth damage.
Establish a Summer Routine to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Habits
While summer schedules are typically a lot more flexible than usual, it’s important to still have a daily routine. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is as important in the summer as it is in any other season. To keep good oral hygiene habits in place, establish a summer routine. Add tooth brushing and flossing to a list of simple tasks, like making the bed and putting away laundry. Have a similar plan as part of a nighttime routine.
Keeping up with your dental health during the summer will help you stay healthy all year long. With a little planning, you can easily maintain healthy, strong teeth during your summer adventures.
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