Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

It’s Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, April 7-14th.

The most common of these cancers are in the mouth, on the tongue and lip. Your Link Dental Care staff is on the front line when it comes to examining for oral cavity lesions.

These lesions (sores) in your mouth are inspected visually. When we perform our examinations we aren’t just checking teeth and gums, we look out for any irregularity – white or red lesions, any ulcers and bumps/lumps.

The leading causes of these cancers are tobacco, alcohol and the human papilloma virus.

Cancers attributed to tobacco have declined, but the number of HPV related oral cancers has increased dramatically with most of the patients between 50 and 60-years of age.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call!

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Brush and Floss for a Healthy Future

You know that taking care of your teeth and gums is imperative to keep your teeth and gums healthy – but a healthy mouth can may help you avoid many additional, and serious medical disorders.

Researchers have linked gum disease, to an increased risk of serious health problems like heart attack, stroke, and poorly controlled diabetes.

Your mouth is a window into what’s going on in the rest of your body. Doctors often examine the mouth to detect early signs and symptoms of systemic disease — a disease that affects or pertains to your entire body, not just one of its parts. Systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes, for example, often first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.

Practicing good dental hygiene; brushing and flossing at least 2x a day, regular dental check-ups and cleanings, can help you avoid gum disease.

Gum disease is basically a chronic bacterial infection. This bacteria at times can make it’s way into your bloodstream. If you have a healthy immune system, your body will quickly dispense the bacteria, preventing infection. However, if your immune system is weakened, for example because of poor health, disease or cancer treatment, oral bacteria in your bloodstream (bacteremia) may cause you to develop an infection in another part of your body.

A compelling case for good dental hygiene habits

If you didn’t already have enough reasons to take good care of your mouth, teeth and gums, the relationship between your oral health and your overall health provides even more. Practice good oral hygiene every day and come see us at least twice a year.

 

Remember, proper dental hygiene is an investment in your overall health, not just for your immediate health, but also an investment in your future. Your future self will thank you!>

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Why is a Dental Checkup Important?

The semi-annual dental checkup is important to keep your teeth, gums and all soft tissue healthy.

We perform at least 2 functions as part of a regular dental visit; examination and cleaning.

The Examination
We check your teeth for cavities, plaque and tartar. If not removed, plaque becomes tartar. Tartar is bacterial laden and left untreated can become oral diseases.

Next, your gums are examined, checking the spaces between teeth and gums. Healthy gums have shallow space while gum disease, causes these spaces to become deeper.

A careful examination of your tongue, throat, face, head, and neck is also part of the Dental Checkup. This is to look for any signs of trouble – swelling, redness, or possible signs of cancer.

The Cleaning
Your teeth will also be cleaned at your visit. Even though at home brushing and flossing help clean the plaque from your teeth, but you can’t remove tartar at home. We “scale” your teeth, which just means we use a special instrument to remove tartar.

After your teeth are scaled, we clean and polish. A paste is applied that helps to remove surface stains on your teeth. And lastly, we floss, making sure the areas between your teeth are clean.

As you can see, the dental checkup is important. There are several steps you can take at home to take care of your teeth and gums between visits.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Be sure to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use a mouthwash to help control plaque bacteria. This will also help to keep your breath fresh.
  • If it’s been longer than 6 months since you’ve seen a dentist, give us a call. Your oral health and comfort are our top concerns – we cater to Dental Chickens!

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Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Are you so embarrassed by your teeth you don’t go to the dentist? Or have you had such a bad dental experience that you stay away from dentists?

Maybe you…
-Are tense or have trouble sleeping the night before a dental exam.
-Get increasingly nervous while you’re in the waiting room.
-Feel like crying when you think of going to the dentist.
-The thought of a dental visit makes you feel physically ill.
-You panic or have trouble breathing when objects are placed in your mouth during a dental appointment.

If you see yourself in any of the above, maybe you should see yourself here.

Dental Anxiety is no joke – we help put you at ease. Avoiding the dentist can result in decay, gum disease or tooth damage. Unfortunately, it’s a self- fulfilling prophecy. The longer you stay away, the more difficult and expensive the solution.

We are a judgement-free zone, trained and equipped to cater to the apprehensive patient. I have assembled a professional, compassionate staff understands dental anxiety and caters to your unique needs and comfort.

Feel free to contact us and schedule a first consultation to discuss your fears about dental work. We do all we can to ensure you are comfortable before having any exams or procedures done. While I understand that going to the dentist will probably never be your favorite thing to do, we can work together to help you improve your health by getting you into a healthy dental routine.

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National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, so let’s discuss foods that are healthy for your teeth.

Foods like meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs that are rich in protein and good sources of phosphorus. Milk, cheese, plain yogurt, tofu, almonds and leafy-greens, are high in calcium and other nutrients. The minerals in both these types of food play a critical role in dental health, by rebuilding and protecting tooth enamel.

Vegetables and fruits are good for a healthy smile since they are high in fiber and water. Foods high in water content offset the sugars they contain. These foods also help to increase saliva production, which washes acids and food particles away from teeth and protects teeth from decay. Plus, some contain vitamin C (crucial for gums and quick healing) and vitamin A (key nutrient in increasing tooth enamel).

Water – particularly fluoridated water – is the most tooth-friendly beverage, hands down.

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Scaling? Planing?

Dental scaling is a procedure that removes excessive plaque buildup. A standard 6 month cleaning will clean the surface of the tooth. Scaling takes clean a step further. If we suggest dental scaling and root planing for your teeth, it’s to avoid or treat gum disease because of an excessive buildup of plaque.

Here’s what to expect
Everyone gets plaque buildup. Saliva, bacteria, and proteins in your mouth cover your teeth. Food particles, acids, and sugars stick to the film. This creates plaque. Bacteria live in plaque, causing gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings will help remove the plaque and prevent more serious problems.

In a healthy mouth, with healthy gums, gum tissue fits tightly your teeth to keep plaque out. Gum disease loosens gums and you’ll develop pockets. These pockets fill with plaque, worsening your problems and causing symptoms like bad breath, tooth decay and tooth loss.

After we carefully remove plaque bacteria from the tooth’s surface just below the gumline, we may proceed with a procedure known as root planning to reach a little deeper to address the surface of the tooth’s root. This smooths the surface of the root so the gums can reattach properly.

What to Expect Afterwards
Some patients experience swelling and sensitivity for a few days following the procedure. We’ll have you back to examine the gums and make certain that you’re healing properly.

Gum Disease is serious. Think of it as a chronic bacterial infection in your mouth. Studies show that the bacteria found in periodontal disease — including Streptococcus sanguis, which plays a role in strokes– spreads to the heart. Staying ahead of gum disease starts with good daily care.

If you have any questions about Scaling and Planing – give us a call, we’re here to help!
Smile!

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What You Should Know About Teeth Whitening

Tooth discoloration is natural
For each and every person, teeth yellowing is a normal part of life. It simply comes with the process of aging. The inner part of the tooth, called dentin, can become discolored due to a significant events such as certain diseases, medications or injuries. The yellowing of dentin is usually due to unfortunate circumstances and not the actions of the person. The outer part of the tooth, called enamel, can also turn yellow. However, this is due to the habits or choices of the person, or just everyday life. Actions such as grinding your teeth, smoking tobacco or taking in acids from foods and drinks that you eat can thin enamel earlier, making teeth become yellow sooner.

Two types of whitening strategies
“Intrinsic” whitening refers to targeting the inner part of the tooth. The dentin soaks up whitening agent and becomes lighter. When the inner part of the tooth becomes whiter, that is reflected through the enamel. Intrinsic whitening treatments can include laser whitening, resin bonding, veneer treatment.

“Extrinsic” whitening is the removal of stains on the outer part of the tooth, the enamel. This is a much easier process and can be done at home or in-office. Techniques for extrinsic whitening can come in the several forms including trays, strips and toothpastes.

What to know before you begin
Teeth Need to be Healthy – Refrain from whitening your teeth is you already have a dental condition such as gum disease, exposed roots, cavities, crooked teeth, or gum recession. Exacerbating these problems can easily lead to further issues.

Tooth Sensitivity Can Occur – One common side effect of teeth whitening is brief sensitivity after your teeth have been exposed to whitening gel. This is normal but should still be taken into consideration. Use of a pain reliever is acceptable when sensitivity is particularly high.

It Won’t Last Forever – Tooth whitening does not last for forever. That’s the unfortunate truth. Regardless of treatments, teeth naturally yellow overtime with age, diet and lifestyle. Most results from a round of whitening last from 6 months up to 2 years, depending on the individual. Then it will be time for another round.

More is More – Exercise caution as you strive for whiter teeth. Too much whitening in too short of a time period will cause permanent damage to teeth. Whitening too frequently can cause teeth to look translucent or discolored, of which the only fix is completely replacing the affected teeth. Whitening is safe when done correctly.

When you should NOT whiten
● Your teeth are already very sensitive
● You have gum recession or sensitivity
● You have sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide
● You have cavities
● You are pregnant or breastfeeding
● You’re under age 18
● You have visible plastic fillings or crowns

The takeaway

Teeth whitening, whether in-office or at home, is a relatively safe and low-risk cosmetic dental treatment when performed on healthy teeth. It can be used to treat the yellowing of enamel due to aging, smoking or certain drinks. Remember to keep the treatments few and far between to ensure the health of your teeth. For remedies concerning the darkening of inner-tooth dentin, schedule an appointment with us to discuss.

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Stay Healthy this Halloween (and Keep your Dentist Happy, too)

Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children and adults alike! However, the candy-centric holiday can be absolutely frightening when it comes to dental health. Sugar (and plenty of it!) is hard to escape this time of year.

Here are some tips for enjoying Halloween while keeping your dental wellbeing in mind!

Fill Up
Before heading out for an evening of trick or treating, gather the family around for a nice healthy meal that includes plenty of veggies and protein. The more satisfied you feel thanks to real food, the more reasonable you’ll be with your candy consumption later on. This will help curb the “junk food for dinner” temptation that kids love so much.

Think Small
Don’t head out into the night armed with obscenely large receptacles such as standard size pillowcases. You’re only setting yourself up for sugary defeat. Allow children to only bring a smaller container each in which to collect their treats. These containers will fill up quicker and signal a successful haul sooner.

Set a Limit
Schedule a specific cut-off time when it comes to Halloween night consumption. After that, it’s your night time dental routine and then off to bed – no excuses!

Act Fast
To help minimize damage from the candy onslaught, be sure to floss and brush immediately after the night’s feast. Stop the sugary bacteria in its tracks and ensure a healthier mouth.

Ration it Out
Set a certain number of candy pieces that are allowed to be eaten each day until the supply runs out. Once it’s gone, it’s gone! This will help limit daily sugar intake and avoid an initial splurge. Try pairing each candy session with something a bit healthier, such as apples or celery with peanut butter.

It IS possible to enjoy your Halloween goodies while still keeping your dentist happy. Just remember to eat real food, set boundaries with candy consumptions and brush as soon as possible. Your mouth will thank you!

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Can Dental Bonding Fix My Chipped Tooth?

Yes! Of course, the health of the tooth and severity of any damages will determine if you are a good candidate for dental bonding.

Dental bonding is a cost effective procedure that involves applying a resin composite (a “tooth colored filling”) to one or more teeth using adhesives and a high intensity curing light. Often used to improve the appearance of teeth from imperfections such as discolorations, irregular shaping, chipping, or abnormal gaps, dental bonding can also be used to protect a portion of a tooth’s root that has been exposed due to gum recession. Bonding is typically a quick and non-invasive procedure.

Teeth that have been treated with dental bonding require the same care as your natural teeth. The key to maintaining a healthy smile and preserving the resin material for as long as possible is all in the upkeep of a good oral hygiene routine. Having routine checkups, brushing at least twice a day, and flossing are great ways to promote oral health.

Is there one little thing about your smile that you wish you could change? Bonding is something you may want to consider. Only an in-person consultation can determine if dental bonding is right for you. Give us a call to schedule a visit!

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