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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.

Recent research has uncovered that humans from the stone age had healthier teeth than modern man. Even though dentistry was limited back then, it is believed thatCosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS dietary factors helped stone age humans maintain their oral health. As man has evolved and industrialized our world it has changed many things including the way we eat.

As we went from a hunter society and began industrialized farming some 150 years ago, the makeup of our oral bacteria has changed slowly. With the introduction of processed sugars and flours to our diet, researchers have seen a dramatic decrease in the diversity of our oral bacteria. This has allowed cavity causing strains to dominate the oral cavity.

Research Study Findings

The research team examined 34 prehistoric skeletons from northern European human skeletons. They gathered the DNA for testing from calcified dental plaque that was found on the subjects teeth. They used these samples to enable them to analyze how the oral bacteria has changed from stone age times all the way up to modern human times. As human society has evolved, they were able to show a negative impact on our dental health.

Further research is now being undertaken to include other time periods to see what changes happened in those times as well.

How To Stop Periodontal Disease and Tooth Decay?

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is not very difficult but it needs to become a habit and performed on a daily basis. Below are some tips to maintain good oral health:

-Brush Twice a Day – We should all strive to brush our teeth for a minimum of 2 times per day for 2-3 minutes each time. Preferably, following every meal but that is not always possible.

Dental Hygiene Marielaina Perrone DDS-Flossing – This is very important to reach those areas that brushing along cannot reach. Flossing regularly will lead to healthier checkups over your entire life.

-Use An Antibacterial Rinse – Another tool that can help reach areas that brushing and flossing cannot. Using a good rinse will also lower the numbers of harmful bacteria in the mouth thus decreasing chances of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease.

-Maintain regular dental visits - for a thorough dental examination and professional cleanings.

Conclusion

The important note to remember is to maintain good oral hygiene regimen along with regular visits to the dentist to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. We live in a modern age with modern tools to combat anything that comes our way.

 

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.

It is estimated that well over 1 billion people in the world smoke. Many of these smokers have their health directly affected by their choice of habit. Research has shown time and again that smoking is a significant hazard to a person’s general well being but it has been less publicized the effect smoking has on a person’s dental health.

Logically, the mouth is the primary recipient of the tars, nicotine, and smoke from either smoking or chewing tobacco. The tissues of the oral cavity would be the first to come into contact with these harmful and toxic materials. Even though the smoke is in the mouth for only a short period of time it is more than enough time for it to cause damage.

The following are some of the effects smoking has on a person’s dental health:

1) Increased risk of developing oral cancer. Oral cancer affects almost 40,000 Americans each year. Oral Cancer kills one person per hour (totals about 8,000 deaths per year). Only a little more than 50% of those 40,000 diagnosed, will be alive in 5 years. This is a sobering statistic that has stayed steady for quite a few years. Around the globe, the problem is even greater. There are a reported 640,000 new cases of oral cancer each year.

2) Increased risk of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. The most recent research studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and advancement of periodontal disease.  A study published in journal of periodontology highlights that smokers are 4X more likely to suffer from advanced periodontal disease. Also, the chemicals in tobacco can make oral surgery or periodontal treatments less predictable. It seems that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease. Every Time you inhale, the blood vessels in the mouth constrict and impair blood flow to the gums. This decreased blood flow affects wound healing. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have the following issues:

-Increased build up of plaque and tartar.

-Deep pockets between your teeth and gums

-Loss of the bone and tissue that support your teeth

smoking facts

Facts about Smoking

If the bacteria is not removed during a professional cleaning, and it remains below your gum line, the bacteria can destroy your gum tissue and cause your gums to become inflamed, swollen, and pull away from your teeth.  When this happens, periodontal pockets form and fill with disease-causing bacteria. Periodontal disease is a progressive disease and if this situation is left untreated it will only get worse. The pockets between your teeth and gums can get larger allowing more bacteria to get in to destroy and breakdown gingival tissue and supporting bone. The gums may shrink away from the teeth making them look longer. Without any further treatment to slow or stop the progression your teeth may become loose, painful, and will probably fall out.

3) Discoloration of teeth. Nicotine and tar present in cigarette smoke, form deposits on tooth surface and cause discoloration of teeth. These discolorations can range from yellow to black. Most smokers are aware of this discoloration but it is almost impossible to remove via regular home care techniques.

4) Halitosis or smoker’s breath. Every smoker at some time or another has probably been told that their breath smells bad. Most smokers become used to the bad smell and hardly notice it but the bad breath is quite obvious to non smokers. This is not something that will go away without cessation of smoking.

5) Increased risk of tooth decay.  The deposits from tar and nicotine caused by smoking add to the plaque build up in the mouth creating a environment for tooth-decay causing bacteria to flourish. Smoking will also affect dental work and will reduce success rates of procedures such as periodontal surgery and dental implants. Dental implants are quite costly and smoking can mean the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one.

6) Xerostomia or Dry Mouth. Cigarette smoking causes the condition known as dry mouth. This decrease in saliva is generally caused by the inflammation of the salivary gland ducts. This can in turn lead to a variety of problems including bad breath and cavities.

Some lesser effects from smoking include change in taste sensation, sinusitis, and delayed wound healing.

Quitting Tobacco Use

If you wish to quit smoking, your dentist can help calm your nicotine cravings with certain medications. These can include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, or puffers (an artificial cigarette with nicotine only). Most of these are over the counter medications but others need a prescription. For example, Zyban and Chantix are prescription drugs used to help patients quit smoking, and must be

quit smoking - chantix

chantix – quit smoking

monitored by your physician.

Smoking cessation classes and support groups are often used together with drug therapy. Ask your dentist for information they may have on similar smoking cessation programs.

Herbal remedies, along with hypnosis and acupuncture, are other treatments that may help patients quit smoking.

The bottom line is that the habit of smoking poses a very significant threat to your overall health and that includes your dental health. Education is the key to making current smokers aware of the pitfalls of smoking as well as the rest of the population who may take up the habit now or in the future. As always regular dental visits are recommended.