dental exam

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.

Common Misconceptions About Gum Disease

March 28th, 2017

WE BELIEVE the more educated our patients are about dental health issues, the better they’ll be able to prevent them. We often warn of periodontal disease and the detrimental effects it has on the mouth and body. But there are also many common misconceptions about gum disease. To help you better understand it, we’ve decided to bust some myths today!

Myth #1: Bleeding Gums Are Normal
This is probably one of the most perpetuated dental health myths. The truth is, bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. Gums swell, bleed and become tender when plaque accumulates on the teeth and around the gum line. Keep your gums healthy by removing plaque and food debris with daily brushing and flossing.

Myth #2: People Get Gum Disease Because They Don’t Clean Their Teeth
While poor oral hygiene definitely contributes to the development of gum disease, there can be many other factors involved. Tobacco use, stress, a bad diet, genetics, and certain illnesses such as diabetes can all increase your risk of developing gum disease. And as we’ve explained before, even being pregnant makes you more susceptible!
We also don’t want our patients to think that if they are cavity-free they couldn’t possibly have gum disease. Gum disease is painless in its beginning stages and many people don’t know they have it. That’s why proper oral hygiene and twice-yearly visits to your dentist are essential for your oral health, even if you don’t have a cavity!

Myth #3: Gum Disease Is Irreversible
What we really want our patients to understand is that gum disease is reversible in its earliest stage: gingivitis! The earlier gingivitis is caught, the easier it is to eliminate it before it advances to full-blown periodontitis. Finding out you have gingivitis can be worrisome but here’s the good news: good oral hygiene habits and professional cleanings can, in most cases, rid you of gingivitis and stop gum disease in its tracks.
To learn more about periodontal screenings, check out the video below!

Myth #4: Only Adults Can Get Gum Disease
Gum disease is much more prevalent in adults, but that doesn’t mean that our children are invulnerable. Children can be more susceptible to gum disease if they are genetically predisposed or have certain illnesses such as autoimmune disorders or diabetes. Even puberty, with all its hormonal changes, can put your child more at risk. Their best defense against any dental disease–gum disease and tooth decay included–is to take care of their teeth at home and visit the dentist on a regular basis.

Myth #5: Everyone With Diabetes Has Gum Disease
If you have diabetes, developing gum disease is not inevitable, although you are certainly at a higher risk. Now more than ever you’ll need a good relationship with and frequent visits to your dentist. A rigorous oral hygiene regimen as well as frequent cleanings can help stave off the onset of gum disease. Proper blood glucose control can also help you lower your risk.
Now that you know more about gum disease, keep up the good work avoiding it! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!  We hope it helps you stay healthy!

Have You Gotten Screened For Oral Cancer Lately?

September 21st, 2016

THROUGHOUT LIFE PEOPLE get regular prostate exams, mammograms and colonoscopies. These preventative health care exams are extremely important for detecting any abnormalities–including cancer–early, so they can be treated as soon as possible. These exams save lives. So do oral cancer screenings.
Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that a regular oral cancer screening is just as important as these other preventative exams. We want our patients to know that coming in to see us every six months isn’t just to make sure you don’t have cavities; it can actually save your life.

The Truth About Oral Cancer
There are 400,000 people throughout the world who are diagnosed with oral cancer every year–in the U.S. alone, that’s about 100 new cases every day. Oral cancer is a particularly deadly cancer, as only about half of oral cancer patients survive five years past their diagnosis.

These statistics are frightening, but there is some good news: early detection of oral cancer can boost survival rates 80 to 90 percent.The reason oral cancer is so harmful is because many patients aren’t diagnosed until late in the game. By raising awareness about this disease and the need for regular screenings, we hope to help stop that from happening.

Lifestyle Choices Can Put You At Higher Risk
Certain lifestyle activities can put you at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Familiarize yourself with these risk factors:

Tobacco use–Smoking and other tobacco use makes you three times more likely to develop oral cancer
Age–Two-thirds of individuals with oral cancer are over age 55
UV exposure–Frequent and prolonged exposure to sunlight increases your risk of developing lip cancer
Alcohol consumption–Drinking alcohol more than doubles your risk of oral cancer
While knowing the risks can help us prevent oral cancer, it still occurs in people without any of the above risk factors. In fact, it is becoming increasingly more prevalent among non-smoking, healthy individuals. The reason for this shift is the rise of HPV, or human papilloma virus, a common sexually transmitted infection.Individuals with HPV are 32 times more likely to develop oral cancer–even more so than tobacco users.

Monitor Abnormalities And Get Regular Screenings
We’re all used to the occasional canker sore or sensitive cheek that we accidentally bit while eating dinner. While sores in the mouth are common, it’s important to remember that oral cancer often begins as a painless sore that simply outstays its welcome. If you experience any of these symptoms, come in to see us right away:

A lump or thickening of your cheek
A white or red patch on any part of your inner mouth or throat
Numbness inside the mouth
A sore inside your mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks
Difficulty with swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue or jaw
The most important thing you can do to combat oral cancer is get regular screenings. Dental professionals are the first line of defense against this disease and we are often the first health care professionals to notice any abnormalities.

So, ask us more about oral cancer screenings when you come in for your biannual checkup. Or give us a call today to set up a screening for yourself or someone you care about. We want to see you healthy and smiling bright for a lifetime.

Thank you for placing your trust in our practice.

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