dentist austin tx

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.

The Link Between Osteoporosis And Gum Disease

July 26th, 2017

WHAT DO OSTEOPOROSIS and gum disease have in common? Bone loss! For anyone with gum disease, osteoporosis, or both… it’s important to know about the correlation between these two conditions.

How Does Gum Disease Cause Bone Loss?

Are you surprised to hear that gum disease can contribute to bone loss? The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis, rarely affects bone structure. But if it progresses to advanced periodontitis, then the infection spreads beneath the teeth to destroy connective gum tissue AND supportive structure in your jaw.

Those With Osteoporosis May Have 85% Greater Periodontitis Risk

A recent study showed an alarmingly high correlation between low bone density and gum disease risk. Bone density was measured using a FRAX score (fracture risk assessment tool). Even disregarding common risk factors like age, smoking, or diabetes, it was shown that patients with osteoporosis have an 85% greater likelihood of periodontal disease.

More research is needed to find the reason for this correlation. However, one factor is important to note: advanced gum disease degrades bone mass in the jaw. For those with already-low bone mass, thanks to osteoporosis, the risk is even greater. Gum disease can very quickly cause a lot of damage.

We’re Looking Out For Your Whole-Body Health

So, if you have gum disease, along with other possible risk factors for osteoporosis, don’t be surprised if we ask you the last time you had a checkup with your physician. After looking at a dental x-ray, we may recommend that you have your bone health assessed.

In the meantime, take good care of your teeth. Gum disease can be worrying, but it’s preventable with good personal care habits and frequent visits with our team.

The relationship between osteoporosis and gum disease is just one example of the mouth-body health connection. The more we learn, the more we see that what happens in your mouth doesn’t just stay in your mouth. Dental health has an effect on your entire body.

Let us know if you have any questions about your dental health. We’re honored to be your partners in oral health care.

3 Tips To Keep Teeth Clean Between Meals

July 12th, 2017

WE UNDERSTAND HOW BUSY life can get–between work, school, sports, and having a social and family life, it can be hard to find time for your dental health. Because we know how precious your time is, we’ve decided to compile a list of quick, easy tips to keep your teeth clean in between meals and on the go!

First Of All, Snack Healthy

Did you know that frequent snacking throughout the day can contribute to tooth decay? Try to keep snacking to a minimum. If you do need a pick-me-up during the day, choose tooth-friendly snacks, such as broccoli, carrots, seeds, nuts or apples. These are also great choices when finishing off a meal! Because of their abrasive texture, these foods act as a natural toothbrush, scrubbing your teeth as you chew and removing bacteria and plaque.

Brush And Floss Your Teeth, Even On The Go

This is an obvious one. One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay and dental disease is to brush and floss often! With that being said, we understand that not everyone has time to make a trip to the bathroom to brush their teeth after every meal. A quick on-the-go tip is to brush your teeth without toothpaste!

Carry a travel toothbrush with you and when you feel plaque or food on your teeth, simply pull it out and brush! Even without the added benefits of toothpaste, this will help remove plaque and bacteria adhering to your teeth. You can do this sitting at your office desk or waiting in the car for your kids to come out from school!

A lot of our patients have also benefited from floss picks. Because of their easy-to-use handle, you can use them one handed and without a mirror. This makes flossing in between meals much easier and more accessible!

Chew Sugar-Free Gum And Drink Plenty Of Water

We’ve mentioned the benefits of chewing sugarless gum after a meal plenty of times before. It’s such an easy and enjoyable way of protecting your teeth from cavities that we can’t say enough about it!

The act of chewing increases saliva flow in your mouth, which washes away food particles and neutralizes acids. Saliva also promotes remineralization, helping teeth to recover from any damage incurred while eating. Just pop a piece of sugar-free gum especially one with Xylitol (which also kills bacteria)  in your mouth for 20 minutes after a snack or meal to reap the benefits!  Next time you are in ask us for a sample of Xylitol gum (like Spree - available at Whole Foods too).  It's great for on the go!

Water, similar to saliva, washes away food debris and cleans between teeth. Rinsing your mouth out frequently, especially after eating, is a simple way to bolster your teeth’s defense against cavity-causing bacteria.

Keep Your Oral Health In Check

We know life gets busy. We hope these tips will make it a lot easier to keep your oral health in check! By taking care of your teeth throughout the day, not just in the morning and at night, you can ensure that your smile will be happy and healthy for a lifetime. Do you have any more on-the-go tips? Let us know in the comments below!

We love to serve you!

Your Continuing Care Dental Visit Primer

May 10th, 2017

VISITING POWELL & TILLER DENTAL CARE every six months is an important part of maintaining your oral health. Not only does it keep your smile clean, but it can help you keep an eye on your overall health too!

Many of you are so used to our routine that the minute you see the gauze you stick out your tongue (you know who you are!).  For some, it may have been a while since your last visit or you or a loved one may be apprehensive about coming in. Knowing what to expect can help.  Even for those of you who know the routine, it's great to hear why we do what we do.  So today we want to explain the basics of what happens during your bi-annual check up and how you can prepare for your next appointment!

Gather Necessary Information Beforehand

Discussing your family history may not be the first thing you think of when scheduling your dental appointment, but being familiar with your family’s medical history allows us to better care for your oral and overall health.

Like many other conditions such as heart disease and certain forms of cancer, periodontal disease has strong genetic ties that can run in your family. Knowing your family’s medical history can help your dentist keep an eye out for oral health issues such as gum disease or other conditions which present symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes.

Aside from gathering any relevant personal or family medical information, be sure to review your dental insurance benefits as you prepare for your appointment. Knowing your level of coverage will help you understand what costs will be associated with your care. If you have any questions about using your dental insurance in our practice or if you would like information about paying for care without insurance, give us a call!

What Happens During Your Appointment?

Although this varies from patient to patient based on their individual needs, a dental check-up generally consists of a professional cleaning, a comprehensive dental examination, and potentially X-rays.

Dental X-Rays

How frequently you need dental X-rays relies largely on your medical and dental history, your age, and your current oral health. New-patient examinations often include X-rays as well.

If required, dental X-rays are generally taken at the beginning of your dental appointment. Dental X-rays allow us to detect and diagnose tooth decay between teeth, on hard-to-reach surfaces, and under existing dental work. X-rays can even be helpful in identifying dental and orthodontic issues that exist beneath the gum line.

Dental Cleaning

Once it’s time for your cleaning, your dentist or hygienist uses a small metal instrument known as a scaler to remove tartar above and below the gum line and in between teeth. Drs. Powell and Tiller are committed to the latest in research and technology so we also use an ultrasonic scaler which allows for more comfortable, efficient and effective cleaning for our patients.  We will polish your teeth using a polishing tool and a lightly abrasive paste to deep clean your pearly whites and remove any tartar left behind after the previous step. We will finish your cleaning with a thorough flossing.  Most importantly, we will educate you on the best way to maintain your oral health and provide you the tools that will work best for your situation.  There are so many products available, each with their own advantages.  We will work with you to find the best way to maintain your clean smile and help you prevent decay and gum conditions.

Comprehensive Exam

Dr. Powell or Dr. Tiller will also perform a comprehensive oral examination to ensure your oral health is in tip-top shape. They will:

  • examine your teeth for signs of decay
  • check for gum swelling and redness, and measure the depth of your gingival pockets to check for signs of periodontal disease
  • test how your top and bottom teeth come together and check for signs of teeth grinding or other potential orthodontic issues
  • examine your neck, lymph glands, and oral cavity for signs of oral cancer

Based on your exam, we’ll further discuss any necessary treatment recommendations and offer helpful tips on how to improve your oral hygiene before your next appointment.

What Should You Do After Your Appointment?

Whether your next appointment is in 6 months or even sooner, we’re looking forward to seeing your smile! Be sure to maintain a good oral hygiene routine and follow any additional instructions provided by your dentist before your next visit. If you have any questions about what to expect from a visit in our office, let us know!

We love our patients and want our focus to be on keeping you healthy so that you don't need so much of us!

Back to Top