Every November, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout to encourage smokers to quit. As we all know, smoking can lead to serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. Your dentist in Lawrenceville also wants you to know that smoking can have a negative effect on your oral health, too. Let’s take a look at some of the ways smoking can cause problems in your mouth.
One of the most serious ways smoking can affect your oral health is by increasing your risk of developing oral cancer. While oral cancer doesn’t only occur in smokers, smoking does greatly increase the chances. In fact, smokers are six times more likely to get oral cancer than non-smokers. Like any cancer, oral cancer can be deadly if not caught and treated quickly and appropriately. This is one reason why seeing your Lawrenceville dentist at least twice a year is so important. Your dental team will check for signs of oral cancer at every appointment so if something suspicious does show up, you’d catch it early and when treatment is often more successful.
Another serious oral health problem that oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with smoking is gum disease. Gum disease can affect anyone but smokers are 50% more likely to get it than non-smokers. It’s a serious oral health problem that can lead to tooth loss and even other health are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Bad Breath & Discolored Teeth
Smokers often have a clear giveaway that they smoke — their breath. Smokers’ breath isn’t something that goes away easily and it can linger around for quite a while. Bad breath may seem like no big deal but it can affect relationships and health. What’s more, the ingredients in cigarettes (such as tar and nicotine) can easily stick to any plaque that may be on your teeth, gums, or tongue. When too much of these sticky substances are introduced to the mouth, they can actually change the color of your teeth into a dull, dingy yellow. These stains are also tough to remove and sometimes even professional tooth whitening isn’t enough to get rid of them.
Smokers may experience the discomfort of dry mouth more often than non-smokers. While dry mouth may seem like simply an annoyance, the truth is, it’s actually pretty bad for oral health. In order to stay healthy, your mouth needs to produce enough saliva to rinse away bacteria and neutralize acids that would otherwise lead to decay and cavities. But when the mouth is dry there isn’t enough saliva to do its job correctly, leaving your teeth exposed to all of the dangerous bacteria and plaque acid.
As you can see, the risks of smoking go well beyond the commonly known risks and can certainly take its toll on oral health. But there’s hope. Your dentist in Lawrenceville wants to encourage all smokers to pick a quit date and work towards a smoke-free life. We understand quitting smoking can be very difficult, and it may take a few tries to finally kick it. Don’t give up. Quitting smoking now can save your smile and your life.
It’s that time of the year again when the sounds of sneezes and sniffles, and coughs and congestion, are in the air. That’s right, it’s flu season, which can be a concerning time for all of us. At our dental office in Lawrenceville, we want you to know that you don’t have to suffer this year. There are some easy tips you can try to keep your family healthy all the way to spring.
Wash Those Hands
There’s a reason you’ll find posters in every bathroom stressing the importance of proper handwashing and why your dentist in Lawrenceville stresses washing those hands regularly — because it works! A little bit of soap and warm water can go a long way in keeping you healthy and flu-free. Make sure to wash your hands after using the restroom, touching another person, touching anything in public (think escalators and doorknobs!), and before every meal or snack. While soap and warm water work best to kill those pesky germs, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can work well in a pinch.
Having clean hands is one thing that can certainly help reduce the risk of catching the flu, but having a clean house is also important. Pay attention to the areas where your family spends the most time, like the bathrooms (don’t forget the toilet handles!) and kitchen. Sanitize things that are often overlooked, such as remote control, faucets, and toys. When in doubt, give it a quick wipe down with an antibacterial cleaner.
No Hands to the Face
Hands touch so many things throughout the day, and even if you’re washing them regularly, there’s still a chance germs are lingering around. In fact, the CDC states that one of the most common ways germs are spread is by touching a contaminated surface, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. These body parts have mucus that can easily transport germs into the body and make us sick.
Take Care of That Toothbrush
The truth is, toothbrushes can play host to all sorts of gross germs that can make you sick. But with proper care, those germs don’t stand a chance. Make sure the bristles are getting a thorough rinsing with warm water after every use to help flush bacteria down the drain (where they belong!). When it comes to storage, keep all toothbrushes in an upright position with the bristles at the top and allow them to air dry. Avoid using those little plastic toothbrush covers — they create the ultimate home for bacteria because it’s wet, cold, and dark. Keep family members’ toothbrushes separated from each other to avoid cross-contamination, and of course, never share toothbrushes.
Drink More Water
Water is the best thing for everyone to drink, but even more so during flu season. The truth is, a well-hydrated body is better equipped to fight off any infection. Try your best to have each member of your family drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. During flu season, if you can get them to drink a little bit more, it can only help.
Follow these tips this flu season to help keep your entire family healthy all winter long. However, sometimes pesky germs find their way inside and make us sick. If that happens, your Lawrenceville dentist encourages you to use sugar-free medicines to help alleviate symptoms.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and our dental office in Lawrenceville wants to encourage all of our neighbors to get regular dental exams to check for signs of this scary disease. The truth is, oral cancer treatment is more successful the earlier that symptoms are detected. It’s important to know the common symptoms of oral cancer so you can seek treatment fast if you do notice anything that might be concerning.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can affect many areas of the mouth including the lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, or the top or bottom of the mouth. Symptoms can include:
- A sore that doesn’t go away
- Irregular areas such as lumps, rough spots, or erosion
- Red or white patches
- Pain or numbness
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, or swallowing
If you’re worried about any concerning areas in your mouth, schedule an appointment with your Lawrenceville dentist as soon as possible.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are several lifestyle factors that can increase the risk. For example, those who drink a lot of alcohol and those who smoke are more likely to get oral cancer than social drinkers and non-smokers. Age can also contribute to someone’s oral cancer risk, as those over 50 years old tend to get oral cancer more often than their younger counterparts. However, more recently the younger population has been put at greater risk of oral cancer due to the increase of HPV (human papillomavirus).
How to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer
Even though there is no concrete way to avoid oral cancer, there are things you can do that can greatly reduce your risk of developing the disease.
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products
- Use a lip balm that contains sunscreen
- See your dentist
An oral cancer screening should be part of your routine dental cleaning. If you’re not sure if you’ve ever been screened for the disease, ask your dentist.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and all month long is dedicated to educating the public on the seriousness of the disease. At our dental office in Lawrenceville, we’d like to help our community by discussing some current oral cancer statistics, sharing the most common symptoms, and talking about some factors that an put you at increased risk.
Oral Cancer Cases Continue to Grow in America
According to the American Cancer Society, just over 51,500 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone. That’s an increase of over 1,750 from 2017.
Death Rates Have Remained the Same Over 10 Years
Even though the survival rate for oral cancer is 65%, it still takes the lives of thousands of Americans every year. In 2018, an estimated 10,000 will die. Advancements in treatment options helped reduced the mortality rates in the past, however they have remained steady over the past 10 years.
Catching Oral Cancer Early Can Save Your Life
One of the contributing factors to the 65% oral cancer survival rate is due to early diagnosis and treatment intervention. The best way you can help protect yourself is by recognizing the signs of oral cancer and seeing your dentist in Lawrenceville as soon as possible if notice any of the common symptoms including:
- A sore in the mouth that doesn’t go away and bleeds easily
- A chronic white or red area
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue
- A lump on the cheek, tongue, or throat
- Coughing up blood
- Ear pain
Tobacco Use Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer
It’s a well known fact that smoking causes lung cancer, but it can also cause other types of cancer including oral cancer. In fact, 80% of those who have oral cancer smoke or use other forms of tobacco. Quitting can help reduce your risk.
So Does Drinking Alcohol Excessively
Approximately 70% of all those diagnosed with oral cancer consume alcohol heavily. And if someone both drinks excessively and smokes, their risk for oral cancer may be as high as 100%.
Avoiding known risk factors such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol can certainly help lower your chances of developing oral cancer. However, there are other factors that we can’t control. For example, men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women and those over the age of 55 are most commonly affected by the disease. While we can’t do much to change those risks, we can do our best to protect ourselves by practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining dental checkups every six months. These appointments can help in catching oral cancer early when chances of successful treatment and survival are highest.
We welcome all of our neighbors to call our Lawrenceville dental office to schedule an appointment with us. We’re here to keep your smile, and your whole body, healthy.