This month is Oral Cancer Awareness Month — a month-long dedication to increasing the public’s knowledge of this serious and scary disease. At our dental office in Sparks, we’re all about doing whatever we can to help keep our neighbors healthy, so we’re spreading the word about just how serious oral cancer is, how to recognize the signs, and what you can do to reduce your risk.
Oral Cancer Statistics
The word “cancer” itself instills some fear in all of us. It’s a scary disease that affects millions of Americans every year. Oral cancer is no different. It’s a widespread problem that can take the lives of those affected. In fact, oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day annually. That’s more than 8,500 people each and every year. This year alone, more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can save your life. However, many signs of oral cancer can resemble other non-serious oral health problems. So if you notice any of the signs below and they don’t go away, call your dentist in Sparks as soon as possible to get checked out and ease your mind.
- Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
- Changes in voice
- A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
- A lump inside the mouth or neck
- Chronic bad breath
The most successful way to treat oral cancer is to diagnose it early. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Oral cancer can happen to anyone, but there are factors that can put someone at greater risk. Some we can control, others we cannot. Some risk factors are:
- Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
- Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
- Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.
At our Sparks dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If you have any questions, are concerned about your risk of oral cancer, or it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen a dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us.
Halitosis, or more commonly referred to as bad breath, can happen to anyone. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. But what’s more concerning for the team at our dental office in Sparks is that bad breath can be a sign of something more serious. Let’s take a look at what causes bad breath and some ways you can get rid of it.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath can be caused by something temporary such as fragrant food or something like coffee. This type of bad breath usually resolves itself and is probably nothing to worry about. However, when bad breath becomes an ongoing occurrence, you should consider calling your dentist in Sparks.
Chronic bad breath is typically caused by an overabundance of bacteria in the mouth. Now, while the bacteria themselves don’t smell bad, the byproduct they give off after feeding certainly does. This byproduct is stinky hydrogen sulfide and it’s what we’re referring to when we talk about smelling bad breath.
Why is Bad Breath Concerning?
Besides causing embarrassment, bad breath can be an early symptom of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious problem not only for your mouth but also for your body. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, sensitivity, and has even been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Essentially, bad breath is something you should take seriously and seek proactive treatment.
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath
If you suffer from bad breath, there are few tips you can try.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene. Making sure that you brush and floss daily is a great way to get rid of bacteria that could contribute to bad breath if left alone. Clean the surface of every tooth, under the gum line, and the tongue.
- Choose Water. Keeping your mouth hydrated helps wash away bacteria which can lower your risk of bad breath. When our mouths don’t get enough water, they dry out and saliva production slows, leaving bacteria free to linger around.
- See Your Dentist. Maintaining regular visits to your Sparks dentist can not only help protect your smile from cavities, it can also help catch any potential problems before they have a chance to become serious… including gum disease. If you’re worried about your bad breath, or if it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment, give us a call today.
By now we all know that smoking is bad for our health. It increases the risk for cancer, heart disease, and numerous other problems throughout the body. Your mouth is no exception. This November, during the Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society, our dental office in Sparks wants to help the cause of moving towards a smoke-free life by providing our community members with some more reasons to quit.
How Smoking Affects Your Oral Health
One of the commonly overlooked dangers of smoking is how it affects oral health. But it’s certainly a concern for your dentist in Sparks. The truth is, several oral health problems are directly related to smoking, and continuing to smoke can put you at increased risk for:
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
Tips to Quit
Smoking is addictive and therefore not easy to quit. Some people even try quitting multiple times before they succeed at never picking up another cigarette. We understand how difficult quitting can be and are here to provide support for anyone looking to improve their health by never lighting up again.
- Find a Support Team. Trying to do something as difficult as quitting smoking isn’t easy to do on your own. Sometimes it’s made easier by finding trusted friends, family members, or health professionals to help. Make sure your chosen quit team can be supportive in the way you need them to be and set up a plan with them.
- Identify Your Reasons to Quit. Writing out a physical list of why you want to quit smoking can be a great first step to success. Seeing your reasons on paper may help them feel more ‘real.’ When you have a strong craving, get out your list and remind yourself all of the reasons why quitting is important.
- Know Your Triggers. Part of what can make quitting so difficult is that smokers often develop a routine to when they smoke — on the car ride to work, when drinking alcohol, drinking coffee in the morning, to name a few. While some triggers may be harder to avoid than others, try your best to steer clear of anything that will make you want to light up.
- Find Alternatives. Another thing that makes it difficult to quit smoking is that smokers get so used to having something in their hand that when they suddenly don’t, it feels uncomfortable. Keep your hands busy by holding a pencil or straw. This can mimic the feeling of a cigarette and ease the mind.
This year’s Great American Smokeout can be your time to finally quit smoking. On November 15, make a plan to quit and stick to it. Select a quit date and take the steps to become smoke free by that date. Your physician, along with our Sparks dental office, can also provide you with additional ways to help.
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Dedicating four of those minutes to brushing your teeth will not only help protect your smile and keep your breath fresh, but it can also protect your overall health. While brushing your teeth may seem like a pretty simple task, there are a few tips our dental office in Sparks wants to share with you to make sure you’re getting the best clean possible so that you can keep your whole body healthy.
Choose the Right Brush
The right toothbrush for you depends on a few factors, including the size of your mouth. Toothbrushes come with various sized heads, so if you have a smaller mouth, choose a brush with smaller brush head. Also make sure the bristles are labeled as soft. Using bristles that are too tough can damage enamel and create problems.
Use Proper Technique
It doesn’t take a lot of elbow grease to thoroughly clean plaque and bacteria off of teeth. In fact, scrubbing too hard can damage teeth. Instead of using a back and forth motion, try to focus in brushing in soft, gentle circles. Don’t forget to hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to get up under the gum line, too.
Replace When Necessary
If your bristles have begun to fray, it’s time to get a new toothbrush. It’s actually overdue for a replacement. When the bristles are nice and tightly fit together they can more easily get in between teeth and under the gums. When they separate, you won’t get as good of a clean.
Commit to Twice a Day
Your dentist in Sparks and the American Dental Association recommend brushing for two minutes, twice day, every day. A thorough cleaning in the morning helps remove plaque and bacteria that have built up overnight, and another two minutes before bed removes food particles and even more bacteria. Not brushing as often as you should may lead to gum disease, which not only affects your oral health, but overall health as well.
Gum Disease & Overall Health
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria under the gum line. If left untreated it can cause tooth loss and other whole-body concerns including:
- Heart Disease
- Respiratory Problems
- Diabetic Complications
Following the two minute, twice a day guideline and using the right technique goes a long way in keeping your smile in its best shape. But it’s more important than that. Proper oral hygiene can reduce the risk of gum disease and help protect your entire body.
Besides a great at-home routine, maintaining appointments at our Sparks dental office bi-annually will do even more for your health. These regular visits provide a deeper cleaning and remove even more plaque and bacteria buildup. They also give us a way to monitor your oral health for any potential problems so we can treat them early.
If you’re overdue for a dental cleaning, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.
At our dental office in Sparks, we know that there are a lot of things that can affect oral health — from genetics to tobacco use, to not brushing enough to eating too much sugar. But can your allergies actually be one of those things that puts you at increased risk for more cavities? The truth is, they can. Let’s see how….
Itchy, Stuffy, and Drippy
Most of us are well aware of the unpleasant symptoms of an allergy flare up. The itchy, watery eyes, the neverending nasal drip, and the sinus stuffiness are all common side effects. And while they’re certainly annoying, they can also affect more than you may think. When your body comes in contact with an allergen, it responds by producing more mucus than normal. This mucus is gross, thick, slimy stuff that blocks airways and sinuses and makes it hard or impossible to breathe out of the nose. Instead, our bodies automatically adapt to breathe from the mouth. This mouth breathing is what’s concerning to your dentist in Sparks.
Why Mouth Breathing is Concerning
Mouth breathing is a bigger problem than it may initially appear. In fact, a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry reported that mouth breathing can affect oral health in a variety of ways. Too much mouth breathing as a child can cause a gummy smile or even problems with facial development. And the problems don’t go away in adults either. Mouth breathing has been linked to overall oral health issues, mostly because it causes dry mouth.
Dry Mouth & Oral Health
Dry mouth is an incredibly common complaint in many dental patients, and while it’s certainly uncomfortable, it’s also dangerous. Dry mouth essentially means that saliva production has decreased. And this is a problem. Saliva is responsible for rinsing away bacteria and neutralizing acids in the mouth that attack tooth enamel and lead to decay. Without saliva, teeth are constantly exposed. But that’s not all. Dry mouth can also cause chronic bad breath and is one of the causes of gum disease. Gum disease, if left untreated, can begin to affect the rest of the body and increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.
The Problem with Allergy Medicine
To get relief from allergy symptoms, we usually turn to our trusted antihistamine. However, while this medicine may indeed ease itchy eyes or decongest sinuses, they may also make dry mouth worse. To help protect yourself and get the allergy relief you want, try:
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Using lubricating mouthwash
- Drinking water
- Sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom
Never stop any medication recommended by your doctor without first talking about it.
If you’re concerned that your allergies or allergy medication is causing dry mouth and putting your oral health at risk, we welcome you to call our Sparks dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help keep our neighbors’ smiles healthy and can help you find relief.
April is recognized as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our Sparks dental office, we know just how serious this epidemic is in the United States. In fact, just over 51,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with it this year. While there have been advancements in oral cancer treatment, and often times the disease is successfully treated, it still takes the lives of approximately 10,000 Americans yearly. This April, join us in learning the risks and symptoms of oral cancer that could save your life.
Know The Risks
It’s important to note that anyone can develop oral cancer whether they have or engage in factors that increase their risk or not. Some of the risks are unavoidable, but many can be controlled through making smart lifestyle choices. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or using smokeless tobacco greatly increases your risk of oral cancer. Statistics show that 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users.
- Drinking Alcohol: Consuming alcohol regularly can also put you at greater risk. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Drinking & Smoking: Since both tobacco use and drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the likelihood of getting oral cancer, if you do both, your chance for oral cancer can be as high as 100%.
- Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women. While this risk factor can’t be changed, men can reduce their risk by not drinking or smoking.
- Age: Our chances of getting oral cancer increases as we age. The average age of diagnosis is 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are at least 55.
- UV Rays: Skin cancer isn’t the only thing that can happen from too much unprotected sun exposure. Oral cancer is also higher in those who spend a lot of time in the sun without wearing sunscreen.
Recognize The Symptoms
Being able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancer early increases the chance of survival. Oral cancer treatment is often successful in the earlier stages, so the sooner you see your dentist in Sparks if you suspect anything, the better. The most common signs include:
- Chronic bad breath
- Sores that won’t heal
- A lump on the cheek
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in your voice
During your regular dental cleanings and exams, your hygienist and dentist will monitor your mouth for any abnormalities and can use high-tech equipment that can show what the human eye can’t see. This is just another reason maintaining your bi-annual dental appointments is so important to your overall health.
If it’s been longer than six months since your last visit, call our dental office in Sparks to schedule an appointment today. You never know, one visit could save your life.
At our dental office in Sparks, we occasionally have a patient who is concerned with a recurring dream where they lose their teeth. Sometimes one tooth becomes curiously loose and just pops right out. Other times the whole mouth of teeth begins to crumble, leading to a totally toothless smile. While we understand these dreams can be disturbing, the likelihood that they’re related to your real dental health is slim. Instead, we’re going to look at three possible explanations…
Feelings of Anxiety or Helplessness
The most widely accepted interpretation of dreams where your teeth fall out revolve around feeling anxious or helpless. Occasionally, the dreams only happen during when you’re life is a bit too stressful. Other times, however, the dreams are recurring and happen regularly. According to a Psychological Reports study, repeatedly experiencing dreams in which you lose your teeth may be more common in those in those whose personality contains high levels of anxiety, those who are depressed, and those who struggle with self-esteem issues.
An Impending Serious Decision
In life, there are times when we need to make difficult decisions that can affect everything. Perhaps you’re considering quitting your job, but are nervous about how that decision will affect your family. Maybe you’re unhappy in a relationship and are questioning how that decision will change your life as you know it. When these stressful decisions need to be made, it can make us feel as if we don’t have any control over our own lives. During these events we’re more likely to experience tooth loss dreams.
A Positive Rebirth
Not all of the common dream interpretations are attributed to something so worrisome. In fact, according to research conducted by psychologist Carl Jung, dreaming about your teeth falling out can be a sign of rebirth. Whether you’re starting a new, exciting job, finally getting serious about that hobby you’ve always wanted to try, or embarking in a new relationship, there are many life events that can be fulfilling and positive. But they are still changes and sometimes our unconscious mind constructs that in a subconscious dream. In this case, a dream where you lose your teeth.
If you suffer from dreams about your teeth falling out, try not to worry about your real-life teeth. There’s no studied evidence that suggests the two are linked together. In fact, most dreams are not accurate representations of what will happen in real life, but rather symbols of how our psyche reacts to life’s situations.
However, if you are missing a tooth or are at risk for losing one or several, we welcome you to talk to us about some tooth replacement options including dental implants, a dental bridge, and dentures. Call our Sparks dental office to schedule a consultation today!
During this American Heart Health Month, our dental office in Sparks wants to do our part and raise awareness of how gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease. While these two areas of the body seem to be unrelated, there’s a clear connection between gum disease and heart health that you need to know about.
Gum disease is a serious infection that requires a proper diagnosis and early intervention to treat. It’s typically caused by a buildup of plaque that’s not removed through proper brushing and flossing at home. When left on the teeth too long, this plaque builds and transforms into hard tartar. This tartar is impossible to remove on your own and requires a professional dental cleaning. However, if the tartar is not removed, the bacteria within it can move into the gum tissue and cause an infection. This infection can easily progress into gingivitis or periodontitis and may cause tooth loss. But the worries don’t stop in your mouth. In fact, research shows that gum disease has been linked to heart disease.
Untreated gum disease leaves the infection free to do whatever it wants, including traveling into other areas such as the bloodstream. If this happens, your body responds by producing too much C-reactive protein (CRP). Higher than normal levels of CRP can lead to serious conditions such as:
- Inflamed arteries
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease
Diagnosing gum disease and beginning treatment is key to protecting your mouth and your overall health. To do that, you need to be able to recognize the common signs of gum disease including:
If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, call your dentist in Sparks to schedule an appointment.
Besides brushing and flossing every day at home, the best way you can avoid gum disease and protect your heart is to maintain regular dental visits at least twice a year. These appointments can go a long way in keeping you healthy. If it’s time for your bi-annual dental cleaning, give our Sparks dental office a call today.
Nobody enjoys the threat of the flu lurking everywhere this time of year. But with the right precautions you can protect yourself and your family and reduce your risk of contracting the flu. Our dental office in Sparks has put together a guide to help you avoid the flu and keep you healthy all year long.
- Wash Your Hands Often
Using warm water and soap, scrub your hands before preparing food, after eating or using the restroom, and after shaking hands. If soap and water are unavailable use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face
Germs spread easily through the eyes, nose, and mouth. If your hands get in contact with flu germs and you rub your eye, itch your nose, or bite your fingernail, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll get sick.
- Drink Plenty of Water
Your body functions optimally if it’s hydrated. This includes its ability to fight off germs. Not to mention, a well hydrated mouth is a healthy mouth, and that’s sure to make your dentist in Sparks happy.
- Eat a Well Balanced Diet
Fueling your body with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and proteins is crucial in helping your body stay healthy. Proteins, in fact, have been proven to support the immune system so make sure you’re getting your fair share.
- Clean Your Home and Your Office
Sanitize the areas you or others use most. Think about the items that get touched often like doorknobs, toilets, elevator buttons, or your computer mouse. A good rule of thumb to follow is to clean it even it doesn’t look dirty.
- Take Care of Your Toothbrush
Toothbrushes can hold a lot of bacteria and if not taken care of properly could make you sick. Make sure you rinse the bristles thoroughly after each use, store family members’ brushes far away from each other, and consider sterilizing them once a week in hot water.
- Avoid People Who Are Sick
Although this seems obvious, it’s not always simple. If a co-worker comes to the office sniffling and sneezing, it’s difficult to avoid them and everything they touch. Try to communicate via email instead of face-to-face meetings, carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you, and again, always wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
If you do happen to get sick, try your best to stay home to help prevent the illness from spreading to others. Our dental office in Sparks also encourages you to find sugar-free medications so as you’re working on feeling better, you’re not doing damage to your oral health.
When we hear the word ‘probiotics,’ we don’t typically consider them beneficial for the mouth, but rather, the gut. While probiotics certainly have their place in digestive health, at our dental office in Sparks, we’ve come across some research that may suggest a link between certain types of probiotics and better overall oral health.
What Are Probiotics?
Talks about probiotics have been increasingly popular throughout the past couple of years. But what are probiotics and why are they good for you? Simply, probiotics are live microorganisms that help support our bodies. These microorganisms are usually bacteria, but not the bad bacteria that we normally think about and that make us sick. The bacteria we refer to when talking about probiotics are the good bacteria that help us stay healthy.
Different Probiotics Treat Different Things
You may remember some yogurt companies in particular mentioning probiotics in their advertisements. These probiotics specifically help with digestion and support gut health by keeping enough good bacteria around to fight off the bad bacteria off. There are other types of probiotics around that tend to help different areas of the body. In this case, we’re referring to oral probiotics.
Oral probiotics are ones that are being researched to study their effects on oral health. And there may be some exciting news in the future. Initial studies support the idea that there may be a positive correlation between specific types of probiotics and reducing the risk of gum disease, plaque, and bad breath.
Let’s Talk About Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus
Don’t worry about how to pronounce them, let’s just focus on why we’re taking a closer look at them. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are strains of probiotics and are the two that are mainly used in probiotic research in relation to oral health. Found naturally in both the bodies and mouths of mammals, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have been studied closely to see if there was a connection between increasing the amount of them in test subjects and healthier mouths. While the amount of research we currently have is limited, and the evidence is not yet conclusive, there have been cases where Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have helped in the treatment of periodontal disease and halitosis, and has seemed to reduce the risk of cavities.
This is exciting news for the dental community. But while we’re waiting on researchers to continue studying the possible connection, we don’t recommend simply starting yourself on a probiotics routine before discussing it with your medical team, including your dentist in Sparks.