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Can Poor Dental Health Lead to Dementia?

July 3rd, 2018

As part of our focus on Alzheimer's awareness this month, Dr. Powell and Dr. Tiller wanted to share a study showing a possible link between dental health and Alzheimer's Disease.  It is a small and early study which showed a link but much additional research would be needed to discover whether one caused the other or was the result on the other.

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry conducted a small study which looked at donated brain samples in order to further investigate suggested links between oral health and dementia. Half of the brains were from people who had dementia while the other half of the brain samples were from people with no known dementia.

Researches noted the presence of P. gingivalis, a known bacteria in gum disease in 40% of the brain samples of the dementia patients and none in those without.  Dr. Sim Singhrao, PhD a senior research fellow at the university noted that it is possible that "when the brain is repeatedly exposed to bacteria from our gums, subsequent immune responses may lead to nerve cell death and possibly memory loss."  She points out that this could mean that regular visits to the dentist could be essential for brain health according to an interview by Tim Locke.

There is currently on-going research into a link between dementia and inflammation caused by many factors including poor dental health.  Dr. Simon Ridley, PhD, of the Alzheimer's Research UK pointed out that we do not know whether the presence of the bacteria could contribute to dementia or whether perhaps people with dementia are more likely to develop gum disease due to lack of oral hygiene and regular dental care.  More studies will be needed before we have a good understanding of this possible link.

In the meantime, keeping your teeth and gums healthy is a wise idea.   If you know someone with dementia who could use your help caring for their dental health, feel free to ask us or read our blog on Alzheimer's Disease and Dental Care.

Also, don't forget that if you write a review on our office and let us know about it, we will give $5 to the Alzheimer's Association this month.

Alzheimer's Disease and Dental Care

July 3rd, 2018

June is Alzheimer's Awareness Month. For this month's charity, Powell & Tiller Dental Care is giving to the Alzheimer's Association to help with research and awareness into this disease.

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is important that you help them with their dental care. Proper care of the mouth and teeth can help prevent eating difficulties, digestive problems and extensive dental procedures down the road. However, brushing is sometimes difficult because a person with dementia may forget how or why it’s important to take care of his or her teeth.
To assist the Alzheimer’s Association provides this advice (excerpted from Alz.org):
• Provide short, simple instructions. "Brush your teeth" by itself may be too vague. Break down each step by saying: “Hold your toothbrush.” “Put paste on the brush.” Then, “Brush your teeth.”

• Use a “watch me” technique. Hold a toothbrush, and show the person how to brush his or her teeth. Or, put your hand over the person’s hand, gently guiding the brush.

• Monitor daily oral care. Brush teeth or dentures after each meal, and make sure teeth are flossed daily. Disposable flossing devices may make flossing easier. Remove and clean dentures every night. Very gently brush the person’s gums, tongue and roof of the mouth. Investigate any signs of mouth discomfort during mealtime. Refusing to eat or strained facial expressions while eating may indicate mouth pain or dentures that don’t fit properly.

• Keep up with regular dental visits for as long as possible. Seeing a dentist regularly is essential for healthy teeth. Ask the dentist for suggestions or items that may help make dental care easier.

One more way you can help? Help Dr. Powell and Dr. Tiller raise money and awareness for this cause by reposting this blog to your facebook or other social media. Tag us so we know you did, and we will give $5 per share to the Alzheimer's Association.

Oral Cancer Facts and Figures

April 25th, 2018

As you may know from last week's post, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.  And as you surely know if you are one of our patients, Dr. Powell and Dr. Tiller perform an oral cancer screening on all of our patients every 6 months when you come in for your continuing care.

In honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we want to make sure all your friends and loved ones are getting screened.  Help us spread the word!  For every new patient you refer to us this month or even for any review of our office on Google, Facebook, Yelp or elsewhere (to help send people you don't even know), or even just sharing this or any other oral cancer screening post on your Facebook this month, we are donating $5 to the Oral Cancer Foundation.  It's a win/win because more people will know that Powell & Tiller Dental Care is committed to early screening for this disease and more money will go toward treating it.

Oral cancer is largely viewed as a disease that affects those over the age of 40, but it can affect all ages, even non-tobacco and alcohol users. Oral cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth. Our team at Powell & Tiller Dental Care put together some facts and figures to illustrate the importance of regular screenings.

Our friends at the American Cancer Society recommend an oral cancer screening exam every three years for people over the age of 20 and annually for those over age 40. Because early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment, we perform them every 6 months on everyone at their routine continuing care exam.

  • In most cases a patient is not aware that they have oral cancer.  Oral cancer is particularly deadly because it rarely leads to symptoms until it is fairly advanced.  It is often not diagnosed until the cancer has already metastasized to another location in their bodies.  Once any cancer has metastasized, survival rates decrease dramatically.
  • The primary known risk factors for oral cancer in American men and women are tobacco (including smokeless tobacco), alcohol use, and most recently a certain strain of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16). Your risk is 15 times larger if you smoke AND drink.
  • Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer among men.
  • Oral cancer is more likely to affect people over 40 years of age, though an increasing number of young people are developing the condition due to the increase in the prevalence of HPV.
  • Close to 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral oropharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 49,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%) according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
  • According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development, as there is not a comprehensive program in the US to opportunistically screen for the disease, and without that; late stage discovery is more common. Having said that, those who routinely see the dentist should be screened on a regular schedule and certainly if you come to Powell & Tiller Dental Care, we will ensure that you are.
  • It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States annually on treatment of head and neck cancers.

Cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the lip, tongue, mouth, and throat. Through visual inspection and touch, Dr. Juli Powell and Dr. Ada Tiller and our team at Powell & Tiller Dental Care can often detect premalignant abnormalities and cancer at an early stage, when treatment is both less extensive and more successful.

Contact us today if you are overdue for your exam.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 17th, 2018

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. If you are not already scheduled for your regular check-up, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits to Powell & Tiller Dental Care can be the first line of defense against oral cancer, by identifying early warning signs of the disease, or helping you with preventive care tips to lower your chances of developing it.

 

Oral Cancer Rates in America

Nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and nearly 10,000 die every year from this disease. It is a devastating illness: almost half of those people who are diagnosed with it do not live more than five years beyond their diagnosis. Oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other common cancers, including cervical cancer, testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thyroid or skin cancers. The high death rate results from the fact that most oral cancers go undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced and has spread to another part of the body—most often, the lymph nodes in the neck.

What Causes Oral Cancer

While there is no way to predict exactly which individuals will get oral cancer, there are some potential causes you should know about—because in some cases, you can minimize these risk factors.

  • Age (most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 40)
  • Tobacco use, either from cigarettes or smokeless chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (especially in combination with tobacco use)
  • Persistent viral infections, such as HPV16
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables

In addition, oral cancer tends to occur twice as often in men than in women, and more often for African Americans than other ethnic groups. No genetic links have been identified to explain the higher incidence in these populations, so lifestyle choices remain the likeliest cause.

Oral Cancer Treatments

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment of oral cancer usually involves a multi-disciplinary team that includes surgeons, oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and rehabilitation and restorative specialists. Our team will decide on the best approach for each patient, depending on the risk factors and how far the cancer has progressed. The strategy will be different in every case. Some of the most common methods include chemotherapy, radiation, and potential surgery.

Finding out you have cancer can be devastating news, but better to know and start fighting it than not to know that it is fighting you. If you are concerned that you might be at risk for developing oral cancer, talk to Dr. Powell and Dr. Tiller about it at your next appointment and they can show you more about how they are screening you and what they are looking for in person.  They can also discuss with you any other things you can do to reduce your risk.

Help us educate and screen more people for Oral Cancer in one of several ways and Powell & Tiller Dental Care will give $5 to the Oral Cancer Foundation during the month of April.

  • For every new patient you refer to us this month
  • Any review of our office (to help send people you don't even know)
  • Share this on Facebook this month
  • With your help more people will know that Powell & Tiller Dental Care is committed to early screening for oral cancer and more money will go toward treating it.

References:

The Oral Cancer Foundation. (2018). Oral Cancer Facts. Retrieved from http://oralcancerfoundation.org/.

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