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Over 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oropharyngeal or oral cancer this year alone. It will cause almost 10,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day for the entire year. Of those 50,000 or so newly diagnosed oral cancer cases, about 57% will be alive in 5 years. The death rate of oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we routinely hear about such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, testicular cancer, and many others. Worldwide the problem is far greater, with over 450,000 new cases being found each year.

The death rate for oral cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to this type of cancer being routinely discovered in its later stages. In many cases oral cancer is only discovered when the cancer has metastasized to another location, most likely the lymph nodes of the neck. Prognosis at this stage of discovery is significantly worse than when it is caught in a localized intra oral area. Besides the metastasis the primary tumor has had time to invade deep into local structures.

Oral cancer can develop silently because it generally does not produce pain or symptoms initially. For patients who survive the first bout with oral cancer, they have a 20x higher risk of developing a 2nd oral cancer. This increased risk usually tuns 5-10 years after initial treatment. 90% of all oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. In the past, the majority of oral cancer was found in older males who drank and smoked heavily. Now, due to HPV (human papilloma virus), cancer affect anyone , male or female, even  healthy, non-smoking, non- drinking young adults.

The treatment of oral cancer very often produces major changes in speech, chewing, swallowing and oral health, which in addition to the disease, affects the social life and self confidence of the person afflicted with oral cancer.

Can Oral Cancer Be Detected Early?

While difficult it can be possible. Detection relies upon a good dentist who has tools that can help the diagnosis. One such tool is called the Velscope enhanced oral assessement tool. The Velscope oral cancer Marielaina Perrone DDSVELscope light technology uses fluorescence of the tissues to allows detection of changes of the oral tissues in a non-evasive manner. This gives your dentist an extra view into your tissues beyond a thorough head and neck examination. These examination should be performed routinely at your dental visits.

The VELscope technology does not have the ability to diagnose oral cancer by itself, but is used for additional information along with a thorough head and neck examination by your dentist. The VELscope will not determine whether or not the change in oral tissues is cancerous. It simply cannot replace a surgical biopsy. It simply aids in finding abnormalities not visible to the naked eye that may require further examination.

I personally never charge anything extra for use of the VELscope system. It is too important a tool to not use it on every patient that undergoes treatment in my office. When it comes to possibly saving lives I feel we should provide the highest level of care along with the latest technology to do the job. VELscope is that tool. Marielaina Perrone DDS

Is the Velscope the perfect tool?, no…..but it is better to refer someone to the oral surgeon for a oral biopsy then to have completely missed the early warning signs. The VELscope is a tool that gives us added information above a normal examination and should be the standard of care in every dental office. The other important preventive is to be vaccinated against HPV at a young age so that you don’t get infected.

Different Types Of Oral Cancer

-Squamous cell carcinoma: Over 90% of oral cancers are of the squamous cell carcinoma variety. Normally, the throat and mouth are lined with squamous cells, which are flat and arranged in a scale-like way. Squamous cell carcinoma means that some squamous cells have become abnormal and changed from their normal state.

-Verrucous carcinoma: Around 5% of all oral cavity tumors are verrucous carcinoma. This is a type of very slow growing cancer made up of squamous cells. This type of oral cancer rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but can invade the tissue surrounding the site where it began.

-Minor salivary gland carcinomas: This category includes several types of oral cancers that can develop in the minor salivary glands. These glands are found throughout the lining of the mouth and throat. This type of carcinoma includes adenoid cystic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinoma.

-Lymphomas: These are oral cancers that develop in lymph tissue (part of the immune system) are known as lymphomas. The tonsils and base of the tongue both contain lymphoid tissue. 

-Benign oral cavity and oropharyngeal tumors: Several types of non-cancerous tumors and tumor-like conditions can arise in the oral cavity and throat. Sometimes, these nonOral Cancer Screening Las Vegas Marielaina Perrone DDS cancerous conditions may develop into oral cancer. For this reason, benign tumors, which usually do not recur, are often removed surgically.

-Leukoplakia and erythroplakia: With leukoplakia, a white area can be seen, and with erythroplakia, there is a red area, flat or slightly raised, that often bleeds when scraped. Both conditions may be precancerous; that is, they can develop into different types of cancer. When these conditions occur, a biopsy or other test is done to determine whether the cells are cancerous. About 25% of cases of leukoplakia are either cancerous when first discovered or become precancerous. Erythroplakia is usually more serious, with about 70% of cases cancerous either at the time of diagnosis or later.

Known Links To Oral Cancer

Medicine is not entirely sure exactly what causes oral cancer, but they have found links that put some people more at risk.

-HPV (human papilloma virus): Contact with HPV 16 (a sexually transmitted disease) has been found to be linked to certain oral cancers.

-Age: Oral cancer risk increases with age; It is predominantly seen in people 40 and over.

-Tobacco: The majority of cancer cases are associated with some form of tobacco use, specifically cigarette smoking.

-Alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of oral cancer and those risks are even greater with combined use of alcohol and cigarettes.

-Diet: A diet that lacks proper nutrition such as vegetables and fruits can increase the risk of oral cancer (as well as other types of cancer).

-Exposure To Sun: Cancers of the lip can been caused by exposure to the sun.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

-A persistent sore throat that does not get better over time.

-Loose teeth.

-Increased difficulty swallowing.

-Increased difficulty chewing.

-Lump in lining of mouth.

-White or reddish patch inside mouth or on the lips.

-Pain in the Jaws.

-Tongue pain or numbness.

-A feeling that something is caught in your throat (even though nothing is there).

Oral Cancer Treatment

If during your routine dental examination, your dentist finds anything out of the ordinary or 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 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 oral cancer treatment.

Oral Cancer Conclusion

As dentists we play an important role in patients’ oral and overall health. Detecting possible hidden lesions before they have the chance to progress will most definitely save lives. It is a proven fact that the detection of oral cancer in its early stages makes up an important facet of oral cancer prevention and is the key to survival.




Periodontal disease, comes in two (2) forms gingivitis (earliest form and reversible) and periodontitis (treatable but non reversible), is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. Recent studies have shown between 50-75% of people have some form of periodontal disease. More statistics show that approximately 30% of Americans are at an increased risk of developing periodontal disease due to genetic factors. These statistics show how much a health concern periodontal disease can be especially when you add in even more research showing periodontal disease links with systemic diseases.

Factors in Development of Periodontal Disease

-Poor Oral Hygiene.

-Tobacco Use.

-Medications.

-Teeth Grinding or Bruxism.

-Genetics.

-Poor Immune System

-Systemic disease.

The earliest and mildest stage of gum disease is gingivitis, where the gums redden and bleed easily. If not treated, inflammation of the tissue occurs, resulting in progression of  the disease to periodontitis. Gingivitis is characterized by receding gums, loose teeth, sores, sensitive gums, swollen gums, red or discolored gums, chronic bad breath, change in teeth alignment and teeth movement. The ultimate consequence of advanced periodontal disease is loss of teeth, which occurs when the tissue and bone supporting the tooth breaks down.

Periodontal disease was previously thought to affect only the teeth and gums, but researchers have discovered that periodontal disease influences the overall health and well-being of an individual. Research has shown that gum disease is a risk factor for many health conditions throughout the body. The gum disease causing bacteria that normally resides around the teeth can enter the blood stream and reach other organs and tissues in the body. Once there, the bacteria  release disease-causing agents that can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions that can include:

Diabetes Mellitus (or simply Diabetes)

Periodontal disease impairs the body’s ability to maintain blood sugar levels making you more prone to diabetes or making diabetic symptoms worse. On the other hand, diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease due to a weakened immune system, making it easier for them to catch infections, viruses, and exhibit delayed wound healing.

Stroke

According to scientific studies, gum disease increases the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. A chronic infection of the gums can be directly related to an increased risk of reduced blood flow to the brain. Stroke and gum disease have similar risk factors and severe inflammation from periodontal disease increases the risks of having a stroke.

Heart Disease

Having periodontal disease puts you at higher risks of heart disease. Just like periodontal disease, heart disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which can be greatly impacted by periodontal disease. The more severe the periodontal infection, the higher the risk of developing heart conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acute coronary syndrome.

Respiratory Infections

When the bacteria in the plaque that causes gum disease goes to the lungs, it can cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. This explains the increased cases of pneumonia and other respiratory conditions in people with periodontal disease. This also is in conjunction with patients with lowered immune systems which makes it easier for them to be susceptible to these bacterial attacks.

Cancer

After considering risk factors for cancer including age, diabetes, smoking, BMI and more, experts found periodontal disease as a risk factor for lung, kidney, pancreatic, head, neck and hematologic cancers. Inflammation caused by periodontal disease is a major contributing factor to these cancers.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Periodontal disease can result in chronic bad breath which is more of a social issue than a medical one. Bacteria deposits on the tongue can also cause bad breath. This is one of the few conditions caused by periodontal disease that can be treated at home by practicing proper dental care to control halitosis (brushing, flossing, mouthrinses, tongue scraping).

Complications with Birth and Pregnancy

Periodontal disease in pregnant mothers has been shown to increase the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. The  periodontal bacteria involved cause inflammation of the uterus and cervix. Periodontal disease also increases the risk of developing preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints. The relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease goes both ways as each increases inflammation in the other. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are faced with increased risks and severity of periodontal disease and treating periodontal disease can relieve some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Conclusion

The best and easiest way to prevent and control periodontal disease is by maintaining a good oral hygiene program which includes regular dental visits as well as diligent at home care. This includes brushing, flossing, use of mouth rinse, and tongue scraping. Your health is important, taking care of your dental health is a great way to start taking care of your overall health.

 

For most of the world the mere mention of the word cancer is frightening. Everyone’s lives have been touched in some way by this dreaded disease. However, with today’s medical advancements many different types of cancer of very treatable and very curable. Unfortunately, oral cancer is not one of those types of cancer. In fact, oral cancer kills one person per hour every day of the year in the United States alone. Another issue with oral cancer is it is often not detected until the later stages when it is too late for treatment.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer includes any cancer that begins and develops in your mouth. This can mean the throat, cheeks, tongue, hard and soft palates, floor of the mouth, or lips. Oral cancer usually begins as a sore in the mouth that does not heal. Unfortunately, many assume it is just a canker sore or a pizza burn and ignore it. This usually leads to a much later detection of the disease. The majority of oral cancer is classified as squamous cell carcinoma, which attacks epithelial cells.

Males are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. They run 2 times (2x) the risk as females do of developing oral cancer. That may be because many of the top causes of oral cancer, such as smoking, are more widely practiced by men than women. As for age, people who are middle-aged and older are most likely to develop the disease.

Oral cancer kills over 8,000 people every year in the United States. Approximately 43,000 are newly diagnosed each year, but many others go into remission only to have the cancer come back a few years later. The oral cancer survival rate is 57 percent, and this has actually improved over the past decade (used to be 50% survival rate) as people become more vigilant about getting screened.

A disturbing trend is that an increasing number of oral cancer cases are being caused by HPV16 (a type of Human Papilloma Virus) that effects the mucus membranes and skin. It tends to affect the back of the mouth, including the oropharynx, the tonsils, and the base of the tongue.Unfortunately, since these types of cancer are in the back of the mouth, the color changes and lesions that often signal the presence of oral cancer can be more easily overlooked by patients. They may not know that their mouth has undergone any chance and not seek professional care.

Oral cancer has a high risk of recurring for the first 10 years after diagnosis. Patients are up to 20 times (20x) as likely to get cancer again as those who have not been diagnosed with oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

There are many risk factors and these can include:

-Smoking (Tobacco use).

-Excessive Drinking Of Alcohol.

-Smog.

-Herpes Infections.

-Age.

-Periodontal Disease.

-Poor Nutrition.

Oral Cancer Signs And Symptoms

The most commons signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:

-Oral sores lasting for 2 weeks or more without healing.

-Facia or oral numbness.

-Unexplained facial or oral pain.

-Unexplained lingering sore throat.

-Changes in your voice (increased hoarseness).

-Ear pain.

-Unexplained weight loss.

-Frequent oral bleeding with no apparent cause.

-White or red patches in the mouth.

-Crusty lesions inside or outside the mouth.

Oral Cancer Screening By Your Dentist

Your dentist should screen for oral cancer during routine dental examinations at least twice a year. A manual and visual examination is necessary. 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 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.

Oral Cancer Conclusion

If you have any concerns about your oral health or have any of the warning signs listed above, see your dentist immediately. As in any disease, an early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. So be vigilant and, even if you do not have any warning signs, visit your dentist for routine oral cancer screenings.

As summer gets underway, the oppressive heat can wreak havoc on our dental health. Dry climates and extreme heat can damage your teeth and surrounding tissues. High humidity causes excessive sweating and loss of hydration, also damaging oral tissues. Below are a list of some simple tips to keep you and your family healthy while having fun this summer.

Summertime Oral Care Tips

-Keep Hydrated. This helps stave off tooth decay and also protects your skin (lips) and gum tissues. Drink lots of water and stay away from sugary drinks. Lemonade is a summer favorite, but citric acid + sugar + dry mouth = tooth decay. Sucking on hard candies that are artificially sweetened or chewing on sugar-free gum (preferably xylitol) is ideal to help promote the production of saliva which can prevent tooth decay.

-Use Protection. Summer heat can cause dry, chapped lips. It is important to protect your lips with lip balm or lip gloss. Use products that provide moisture and SPF protection. It will also ward off possible skin cancer. Your lips are more susceptible to burning than most parts of your body, yet many people don’t even consider protecting them from the sun. Damage to the lips over an extended period of time can lead to skin cancer. Use a lip balm or lip gloss with an SPF of at least 15.

-Snack Wisely. A popular summer snack is fresh fruit. It is important to choose the right fruits to help your teeth. Watermelon is an excellent choice as it helps clean your mouth due to its high water content. On the other hand, citrus fruits are highly acidic and can cause tooth enamel erosion. If you choose citrus fruits, brush and rinse often to keep the acid from harming your teeth. Stay away from fruit gummies and roll ups as they will stick between the teeth and stay longer in a dry mouth causing in-between the teeth cavities.

-Humidify Your Home. To prevent our mouth and skin from drying out use a humidifier filled with distilled water. This will keep your lips from chapping and your mouth from drying out.

-Protect Your Teeth. Summertime includes playing outdoor sports. It is important to use a mouthguard for proper protection. Mouthguards are fairly inexpensive and can protect your teeth as well as your lips, cheeks, and gums. Wearing a mouthguard will also prevent grinding of teeth during play.

-Swim Wisely. Excessive swimming in a pool can erode and weaken our teeth. This is due to the high content of chlorine in most pools. On the other hand swimming in the ocean, can actually help decrease the oral bacteria. This is due to the oceans salt water content. If you choose swimming in a pool, remember to brush following swimming to limit damage from the pool’s chemicals.

-Pack healthy picnics/lunches. Try to limit sweets when you will be outdoors for an extended time. Chips are better than cookies, water is better than juice which is better than soda pop. Increase protein and decrease white carbohydrates. White carbs are broken down into sugars in the mouth immediately and can begin to break down enamel.

-Don’t Forget Breakfast. We tend to be a bit relaxed in the summer, but breakfast remains the most important meal of the day. When we skip breakfast we tend to snack on more unhealthy items throughout the morning. If you start with a healthy breakfast, and brush after, you won’t be tempted to cheat.

Summertime Smile Conclusion

Summertime presents its own challenges in maintenance of your smile. Understanding the above information can help you make good choices to help yourself and your family to get through summer cavity free. The above tips will help you to maintain your dental health while having a fun summer and continue your excellent dental health throughout the year.