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Dentistry is about more than just checking your teeth. Most dentists have extensive training, education, and knowledge of systemic and oral diseases, and the symptoms to be on the lookout for.  A good dentist will know how to diagnose these conditions, refer you to specialists, and sometimes prevent them from progressing. All of this adds up to comprehensive dental healthcare for you and your family.

Conditions Associated With Oral Medicine

-Oral Cancer – Can be diagnosed in early stages by your dentist. If oral cancer is not diagnosed early, it can be life threatening. About 40,000 new oral cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Overall survival rate at the 5 year mark is just 42%. However, if diagnosed early, the survival rate significantly improves to just over 90%.

Routine dental examinations include a full head and neck examination. This allows the dentist to monitor for any changes in the tissue. Also, many dentists use a VELscope for early oral cancer detection. The VELscope is a special light that allows the dentist to see changes in the tissue before the naked eye can see them. This improves chances of early diagnosis via biopsy and thus, higher chance of survival.

If oral cancer diagnosis is confirmed, the patient needs to be monitored during cancer treatment to ensure there is minimal detrimental effect to the teeth and oral tissues. Chemotherapy tends to create oral issues like xerostomia (increases chance of fungal infections of the mouth), mucositis (very painful mouth irritations), tooth decay(due to dry mouth), radiation necrosis (bone death), and periodontal disease. This is why it is recommended that care is coordinated between the oncologist, physician, and dentist.

Following treatment, it is imperative to get routine oral cancer screenings as the chance of oral cancer recurring is quite high.

-Temperomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) – TMD issues can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. As TMD progresses it creates an imbalance in the facial muscles and bone structure leading to issues with simple facial movements and even chewing. Once it gets to this point, the issues get worse as the pain just increases as well as the imbalance. These patients will be at increased risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease since they will be unable to properly perform routine oral hygiene maintenance.

Treatment for TMD ranges from medications and steroids to manage the discomfort and pain to surgical options. Surgery is always the last resort as the surgery does not always pose the answer patients are looking for. Botox is a newer treatment used to freeze the muscles and attempting to restore facial muscular harmonies before the situation gets worse.

-Anemia- Patients who are anemic tend to lose papilla on the tongue, giving it a bald appearance, also, fissures of the tongue increase in depth. Anemics also tend to crave ace, and brgin to chew on ice. This is a habit that can easily cause tooth fractures.

-Herpes Simplx Viruses (HSV)  - This virus is responsible for cold sores (HSV-1) and genital herpes (HSV-2). Studies have shown that almost 70% of all Americans have been exposed to the herpes simplex virus. Luckily, even if exposed they do not always show symptoms of the virus. Those that do will show the classic mouth sores around the lips. These sores or blisters can be quite uncomfortable and embarassing.

Herpes Simplex virus generally does not affect our oral health unless they are so uncomfortable that we are unable to maintain proper oral hygiene. Treatments for cold sores include changes in diet, increase intake of certain vitamins like E and Zinc, as well as pharmaceutical options. Pharmaceutical options include Xerese and Viroxyn. Both have been shown to be effective in limiting symptoms of outbreaks.

-Canker Sores (also called apthous ulcers) – Often confused with cold sores, they are very different. Most canker sores are single, isolated oral lesions usually caused by stress or trauma to oral tissues. Canker sores can occur a few times per year but are not known to be contagious. It is believed that canker sores have a genetic component to them but studies have not confirmed this to date.

It should be noted that canker sores can also be the sign of something more ominous and should be ruled out. General rule of thumb, is if they go away in under 7-10 days, only appear a few times per year, and are small there should be nothing to worry about. However, if they are large, last longer than 7-10 days and occur much more frequently, the patient should be investigated further for the presence of a systemic disorder. These disorders could include anemia, autoimmune disorders, or even inflammatory bowel disease. Sometimes the answer can be as easy as changing your toothpaste to a brand that is SLS (sodium laryl sulfate) free.

Treatment for canker sores include cauterization of sore (to facilitate faster healing), use of topical corticosteroid, or application of Debacterol. Most people will just allow the lesion to heal on its own. If the sore are SLS related, then changing toothpaste to a non-bubbling, SLS-free brand can bring instant relief.

-Autoimmune diseases- Many different autoimmune diseases cause issue in the mouth, or face, and jaw joint. Oral fungal infections, arthritic TMJ, oral tissue sloughing and blistering, facial rashes, bone growth, and other symptoms can give your dentist reason to refer you to an immunologist for a thorough workup.

Oral Medicine Conclusion

The bottom line is a well educated and trained dentist is capable of diagnosing more than just tooth decay. Your oral health is inherently linked with your general health. Understanding the importance of regular dental care for you and your family will allow you to get a jump on many diseases that might develop. Early diagnosis is the key to treating many conditions and diseases.

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April, 2013

 

Oral Cancer Facts

-Expected to have approximately 42,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed in 2013 alone.

Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

VELscope Saves Lives From Oral Cancer

-Males account for almost 70% of all new cases.

Survival Rates of Oral Cancer

1 year – 89% survival

5 year – 56% survival

10 year – 41% survival

-Approximtely 8,000 deaths per year from oral cancer.

Age 0-44 – 9%

Age 45-54 – 20%

Age 55-64 – 29%

Age 65-74 – 21%

Over Age 75 – 21%

Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

Keep The Whole Family Healthy With Regular Oral Cancer Screenings

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

-Family History of Cancer

-Presence of HPV-16 Virus

-Smoking Tobacco – Increases risk by a factor of 6.

-Alcohol Consumption – Increases risk by a factor of 6.

-Chewing Tobacco – Increases risk by a factor of 50!

-25% of all new oral cancer cases are patients who never smoke and only drink on occasion (or never). This is where the biggest growth of new oral cancer cases is occurring.

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

-White or red patches.

-Long term earache that never seems to go away.

-Bleeding.

-Tooth Loss

-Sores in mouth that never heal.

-Lumps in head and neck area.

-Numbness of jaw or surrounding tissues.

-Pain upon swallowing.

Early Diagnosis Is The Key To Beating Oral Cancer

The earlier the cancer diagnosis is made and the quicker treatment is begun, the better chance for a successful long term prognosis from oral cancer. Oral cancer will spread very quickly and needs to be found early in its localized state before it progresses to other parts of the head and neck as well as the rest of the body.

The tool of choice in early diagnosis of oral cancer by many dentists is the VELscope. The Velscope uses a special light that can distinguish normal healthy tissue from precancerous and cancerous tissues. The VELscope examination takes about 1-2 minutes (and is non invasive!) and has literally saved thousands of lives. There are currently about 10,000-12,000 VELscopes in the United States alone. Make sure your dentist has a VELscope to ensure you are getting proper dental care for the possibility of oral cancer development.

Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

Did you know that oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer and accounts for approximately 4% of all cancers diagnosed? Most of the oral cancer diagnoses are in

Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

Early Oral Cancer Diagnosis is Key To Survival

patients older than 45 years old. Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancers. The key to oral cancer, as in most cancers, is in early diagnosis. If diagnosed in its earliest stages, the chance for full recovery is at about 70% survival rate. The problem is that most are not diagnosed in its earliest forms, so less than half of all oral cancer patients are cured. Oral cancer also has the worst 5 year survival rate among all cancers, at about 57%.

If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement, and even death. Oral cancer accounts for about 8,000 deaths annually.

What’s the best way to get an early diagnosis early? Visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations, which typically include an oral cancer screening in the form of a soft tissue exam and in some cases the use of the Velscope oral cancer screening system. If you are not sure if your dentist has conducted a soft tissue exam, ask him or her to perform this screening for oral cancer, which includes a visual inspection of the oral cavity and palpation of the head, neck and oral cavity.

Causes of Oral Cancer?

As of now there is some debate over the actual cause of oral cancer but it is believed certain activities raise your risk for developing it. These include use of tobacco products, human papilloma virus (HPV), heavy alcohol use, as well as excessive exposure to the sun have all been found to have a link to developing oral cancer.

Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

The most common site for oral cancer are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips and gums. Oral cancer shows up as red, white or discolored lesions, patches or lumps in or around the mouth, and it is typically painless and without symptoms in its early stages. As the malignant cancer spreads and destroys healthy oral tissue, the lesions or lumps can become quite painful. However, oral cancer is almost impossible to self diagnose so frequent dental examinations are

Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

highly recommended. You should see your dentist immediately if you notice any of the following:
-Persistent mouth sore. Any mouth sore that persists longer than 10-14 days.

-a swelling, growth or lump anywhere in or near the mouth or neck.

-white or red patches in the mouth or on the lips.

-repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat.

-Persistent Sore Throat. Difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness.

Dental Screening for Oral Cancer

Your dentist should screen for oral cancer during routine dental examinations. He or she feels for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity, and thoroughly examines the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues. The use of the Velscope oral cancer screening system has been proven to diagnose precancerous as well as cancerous changes in the tissue as early as possible to give you the best chance for recovery and survival from oral cancer.

Treatment of Oral Cancer

If during your dental examination your dentist finds anything suspicious they will recommend that you have a biopsy performed of that area. The biopsy of the lesion will be used to confirm the diagnosis of oral cancer. If it is confirmed that you do indeed have oral cancer you will probably be referred to an oral surgeon for removal of the tumors. Radiation or chemotherapy may be also used in the course of your treatment.

Prevention

There are some preventive measures an individual can take and these include:

-Do not use tobacco products.Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

-Refrain from excessive alcohol use.

When tobacco and alcohol use are combined, the risk of oral cancer increases 15 times more than for non-users of tobacco and alcohol products.

Research suggests that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may also safeguard against oral cancer development.

Because successful treatment and rehabilitation are dependent on early detection, it is extremely important to see your dentist for regular checkups including an oral cancer screening at least once a year. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. During your next dental visit, ask your dentist to do an oral cancer screening.

Oral Cancer Conclusion

Oral cancer is one of the deadliest cancers we can face. Luckily, as science advances we have some tools at our disposal, like the Velscope, to give us the best chance for early diagnosis. Live a healthy lifestyle and you will decrease the chance of developing oral cancer.