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What exactly is preventive dentistry and why is it important in maintenance of our overall health?

Preventive Dentistry – The aspects of dentistry concerned with the teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures, including early detection,  prevention of disease, diagnosis, treatment of oral tissues, and restoration of defective or missing tissue.

“The body is like a piano, and hap­pi­ness is like music. It is need­ful to have the instru­ment in good order”

- Henry Beecher Ward

Dentistry as a whole focuses on prevention and treatment of dental disease. Preventive dentistry includes both at home and in office dental care. At home dental care includes maintaining a healthy dental hygiene regimen in between dental visits, trying to eat healthier meals and snacks, cessation of harmful habits such as smoking, and managing health issues. In office dental care includes regular dental examinations along with professional cleanings, oral cancer screenings, updated health history, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, and other required dental restorations. Home care and in office care work hand in hand to keep our teeth healthy, strong, and free from dental disease.

Unfortunately, many of us tend to neglect our dental care in one way or another. This could mean not following up with care recommended by your dentist or just not brushing and flossing properly (or even regularly). Tooth decay left untreated or undetected, can lead to more serious dental treatment being needed or even to loss of teeth. Periodontal disease can and will progress if not treated in its earliest stages. Periodontal disease can also lead to serious health issues such as heart disease or stroke, and recent studies link poor oral hygiene to pancreatic cancer. Preventive dentistry is an integral part to protecting not just our teeth but also our general health. Preventive dentistry acts as health guard.

What is Included In Preventive Dentistry?

-Dental Hygiene. This might very well be one of the most important things you can do to maintain both your dental health as well as general health. Numerous studies have shown that the build up of plaque, tartar, and bacteria in periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, strokes, cancer, and even alzheimer’s disease. Flossing and brushing is an integral part of guarding against tooth decay and periodontal disease but it also acts as a protector for your heart and vascular systems. Without a proper dental hygiene regimen plaque and tartar will quickly form leading to tooth decay and periodontal disease.

-Dental X-Rays. Routine x-rays are an important part of preventive dentistry. X-rays can detect tooth decay, bone loss, some tumors (oral cancer), cysts, poor bone quality, and bone infections which in their earliest forms would not be detectable using a visual examination alone.

-Fluoride Treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that plays an important part in preventative dentistry by strengthening teeth and preventing tooth decay. For those with a history of tooth decay your dentist may recommend the use of a fluoride mouth rinse, or prescription fluoride products between dental visits.

-Nutritional Counseling. Most people do not realize how important a balanced diet is to their dental health. Foods and drinks containing sugar quickly begin to attack the teeth after entering the mouth. Most dentists recommend avoiding soft drinks or sugary foods as often as possible. If you choose to eat or drink these sweets, brush and rinse your teeth as soon as possible following ingestion of these items. Keep snacking to a minimum, try to eat well balanced meals, and you will find that your healthier choices will affect your dental health in a positive way.

-Cessation of Habits. Many harmful habits can be eliminated with help from your dentist. Nail biting, tooth grinding and clenching can be kept under control with dental appliances. Smoking can be stopped with prescription drugs such as chantix, nicotine patches, and counseling, Drug use may be addressed and a rehab program suggested.

-Dental Sealants. A dental sealant is a thin plastic-like coating that is applied over back teeth. Sealants are placed in areas of grooves and ridges where plaque can hide and the toothbrush can’t reach as easily. Covering up the grooves helps to prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants are most often applied as preventive dentistry for children but can also be used for adults.

-Oral Cancer Screening. Early diagnosis of oral cancers give patients the best chance for survival in the long term. Find a dentist who uses the Velscope early detection oral cancer screening system to ensure you are being checked regularly. The best defense against oral cancer is an early diagnosis. The mortality rate of oral cancer increases dramatically if not detected in its earliest stages.

Preventive Dentistry Conclusion

Considering that oral health is linked to overall health, preventive dentistry is important to your overall well being.  Oral diseases can interfere with eating, speaking, daily activities and even self esteem. Preventive dentistry can lead to less extensive (and less expensive!) treatment for any dental conditions that may develop, and help you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime.



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.



In today’s modern world, dentistry comes in all forms. How do you know which dentist is right for you and your growing family? There are various specialties in dentistry and many of them overlap between different populations of patients. This overlap is very pronounced between family dentists and pediatric dentists. If you have  children, do you choose a dentist for yourself and a different one for your children?

What Is Family Dentistry?

Family dentists are trained to treat patients of all ages. Family dentists care for your child’s baby teeth, older child’s mixed dentition, adult teeth, and senior dental care. Everyone in the family going to the same dentist can be quite convenient. A child can become easily acclimated to the family dentist by simply watching and modeling another family member. It is usually a very easy transition.

Family dentistry provides preventative dental care, such as regular professional cleanings and oral cancer screenings, and other basic dental care that may be needed. It is important to schedule regular appointments for checkups, so that your dentist can catch any problems before they require the care of a specialist like an oral surgeon or orthodontist. Specialists offer advanced services like treatment of difficult root canals, periodontal surgery, bone surgery, braces, etc. While specialists are still used routinely many of these procedures can be done at the family dental practice. Most dentists will also take x-rays of the teeth on a timely basis to examine for cavities, TMJ problems, diseased tissues, and infection. Your family dentist can fill the cavities, use dental sealants to help to prevent cavities, monitor growth and development to evaluate need for braces, tooth extractions, etc.

If you see your dentist every six months, you will be less likely to have severe breakdown and tooth loss. Your family dentist is trained to help you keep your teeth healthy and can even provide cosmetic dentistry services to keep your smile bright and healthy. Your dentist will educate you and give recommendations for brushing, flossing and rinsing to prevent plaque and tooth decay between appointments. Finding a family dentistry practice that your whole family is comfortable with can take a lot of stress out of making and keeping your regularly scheduled appointments with a variety of dentists.

What Is Pediatric Dentistry?

Where a family dentist will see patients from age 2 to 102, pediatric dentists only see patients from approximately 2 to 18 years old. The pediatric specialty is only related to a young population and does not offer many advanced services of dental care for permanent teeth. Root canals, crowns, impacted teeth, and braces are generally not treated by a pediatric specialist. Many of the services offered do overlap with the family dentist such as x-rays, exams , fillings, sealants, dental cleanings, tooth extractions, baby root canals/crowns, space maintaining appliances. The Pediatric dentists role is important for patients who need specialized care like children with disabilities, those that need sedation, children with severe, full mouth breakdown, and those with behavior issues.

Conclusion

When making the choice between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist, it comes down to you and your child’s comfort levels. Feeling scared or uncomfortable in the exam chair or being scared of the dentist can ruin a child’s confidence and create a situation of dental anxiety or dental phobia. A good dentist, whether family or pediatric, will understand your child’s needs, make the experience a good one, and give great dental treatment. You want a dentist who will  provide a smooth, positive experience so that the little patient is motivated to continue good oral hygiene habits and regular appointments. When she/he is older and has to make health decisions on his/her own, they should have learned to establish a rapport and ease with their dentist. Choose wisely, but realize that a pediatric dentist may or may not be the best choice for your little ones if you have a good family dentist now.

Most family dentists will be happy to see your child even just to meet them and bring them back to get comfortable with the office.If you already have a family dentist that is experienced and willing to take on young children, you may want to start out in this environment to save the the hassle of going between various offices. Selecting a dentist who will treat your child throughout his or her growth has its distinct advantages, and a steady knowledge of patient history is one of them.  Family dentistry is a good choice for many due to the ease of having everyone in the family treated by the same doctor or at least in the same office.

When making any decision for your family it is always best to be informed and have options. There are many dentists with varying personalities, abilities,and skill levels. Find the one that fits you best, and you and your family will be much happier with your choice!

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