Using tobacco products of any kind can not only have a detrimental effect on your overall health, there are multiple oral health diseases and problems that can also occur from the habit. Smokeless tobacco, also referred to as, dip, chew, spit, or snuff, is no exception. During this Oral Cancer Awareness Month, the team at our Sparks dental office would like to share some of the risks associated specifically with smokeless tobacco.
By now, everyone knows that smoking can cause all types of cancer, including oral cancer. But a lesser known fact is that using smokeless tobacco can also increase the risk of oral cancer. If not diagnosed and treated early, oral cancer can lead to death, which is one reason you should visit your dentist in Sparks at least twice a year. It’s also why you should know the signs of oral cancer, even if you don’t use tobacco. If you notice any of the signs below, call your dentist as soon as you can.
Signs of Oral Cancer
- A white, scaly patch on the inside of the cheek or lip
- Sores or lumps in the mouth or throat
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Sensation of something being stuck in your throat
Chewing tobacco is typically done by placing a pinch of tobacco in the mouth between the teeth and lip or cheek and leaving it there. This can cause the gums to recede. Gums normally protect the roots of the teeth, but once they recede, the roots and the nerves in those roots are exposed. This makes the chance of developing cavities much more likely. Not only that, it’s also common for people with receded gums to suffer from tooth sensitivity pain.
Using any kind of tobacco tends to transform teeth from bright and white to a more yellowish appearance. It’s due to in part to what’s in tobacco products, and also because of how often those addicted to tobacco use it. Nicotine and tar, which are commonly found in tobacco products, are a dangerous duo for several reasons, including discoloring teeth. While nicotine is colorless on its own, when it combines with oxygen, it takes on a yellow tint. When exposed to teeth, the tar and nicotine can penetrate tooth enamel, causing the teeth to appear yellow.
At our dental office in Sparks, we care about the health of our patients. And while we encourage each and every one of them to avoid tobacco, we understand that the habit may be difficult to break. If you’re looking for help trying to quit, we’ll be happy to help. Or head over to the American Cancer Society website to get started today.
Frenectomies aren’t all that common in adults, but there are specific instances when the team at our Sparks dental office may recommend one to an adult patient. But why exactly would a frenectomy be needed, and what is it? We’re here to talk all about frenectomies and the benefits behind getting one.
Let’s have a quick lesson on the mouth’s anatomy, specifically the thin, taut pieces of muscle called frena (frenum when referring to one). There are two of these little muscles that are the common culprits behind needing a frenectomy: the lingual frenum and the maxillary labial frenum. First, the lingual frenum is the tight piece of tissue that connects the underside of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. The maxillary labial frenum can be felt if you run your tongue under your top lip in front of your teeth. When either one of these muscular attachments affect proper function, a frenectomy may be recommended.
What is a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy is a fairly simple dental procedure that removes or shortens the frenum that’s causing trouble. First, the area is numbed for comfort. Then, your Sparks dentist will cut the frenum away from either the upper gum line or the base of the mouth. After sealing the cut with stitches, you should be all set. Some dentists can even perform a frenectomy with a laser, eliminating the need for stitches.
How Can a Frenectomy be Beneficial?
Benefits of a frenectomy can vary depending on which frenum is causing the trouble. A lingual frenum frenectomy is recommended if the frenum is too long and extends out too close to the tip of the tongue. When this happens, speaking, swallowing, and eating can be difficult. A frenectomy can help with all of those. This type of frenectomy is usually caught early and is typically performed on young children.
A frenectomy on the maxillary labial frenum is the procedure that’s usually reserved for those with permanent adult teeth. The most common complaint from individuals where this type of treatment is appropriate is a gap between the front two teeth. Usually, patients who are unhappy with a gap in their smile undergo orthodontic treatment, and that can help squeeze the teeth tightly together. However, once orthodontic treatment is complete, there’s a chance those two front teeth can separate once again. If this happens, it could mean the maxillary labial frenum is too long and is actually pulling those two teeth apart. A frenectomy can resolve that issue once and for all.
If you think a frenectomy may be appropriate for you, we welcome you to call our dental office in Sparks. We’ll be happy to help.