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Coffee is a multi-billion dollar industry. Coffee is a morning staple in most households. Some cannot imagine starting a day without it. New research shows that those whoOral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS drink 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day reduce their risk for oral cancer by nearly half from those who do not drink coffee! This could potentially be a very significant finding as oral cancers are quite common and quite deadly.

Coffee And Oral Cancer Research Link

The research team found evidence that coffee intake and oral cancer risks are closely associated. In the study, they observed that participants who drank more than four cups of caffeinated coffee per day had an almost 50% reduced risk of death from oral cancer compared with those who never or only on occasion drank coffee.

Previous studies have suggested that coffee drinking is associated with lower risk of certain cancers, not necessarily oral cancer. Researchers from the American Cancer Society decided to see if coffee consumption had any effect on oral cancer. They investigated the effects of some of our favorite morning drinks including tea, caffeinated coffee, and decaffeinated coffee. The research concluded that caffeinated coffee significantly lowered the risk of these types of cancers. The findings also suggested that the drink also prevented the growth and progression of the oral cancer.

The study followed almost 1 million participants over a 26 year period. All were cancer free at the start of the study. 868 participants died from oral cancer over that time span. Those participants who had more than 4 cups of  caffeinated coffee per day had an almost 50% reduced risk of death from oral cancer. There was a slight marginal effect from consuming decaffeinated coffee and zero effect found in tea drinkers.

Most head and neck cancers are linked to alcohol consumption and to smoking tobacco. Interestingly, the protective effect of coffee was not reduced in drinkers and smokers. Nor, was the effect boosted by consumption of fruits and vegetables, also shown to protect against head and neck cancers.

What Is Causing This?

It is believed that coffee contains a variety of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other biological active compounds (cafestol and kahweol, have anti-cancer properties) that may help to protect and slow the progression of cancers. It is important to note more research will be needed, but an association seems to be present. This could bode well into the future for development of new treatments to ward off not only oral cancer but other cancers as well.

 

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.

 

Dry socket (also called alveolar osteitis) is an extremely painful dental condition that can occur after removal (extraction) of a permanent adult tooth.

Having a tooth removed is generally not something anyone looks forward to. Most people understand there will be some level of discomfort following the procedure.  Many are given a prescription for pain medication before leaving their dentist. Most people in fact do not even need to get the prescription filled. However, when a patient experiences what is called a dry socket the pain can become quite intense and linger for days.

Very few people are affected by dry socket. The development of Dry socket after a tooth extraction occurs in only about 2-3% of patients. For those who experience dry socket it can be a very scary experience. Fortunately dry socket is treatable.

A dry socket occurs when the blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction has never fully formed, has broken free, or has dissolved before the wound has had a chance to fully heal. The blood clot is the protective layer for the underlying bone and nerves, it begins the process of healing so that gum tissue and bone can refill the area. When the clot is gone the bone and nerves are now exposed to the outside air, food, fluid, and anything else that enters the mouth. This can lead to a dry socket with sharp, aching pain that can last for 5-6 days, and in the case of a patient taking fosamax type drugs the pain can last for weeks.

A dry socket is considered the most common complication following tooth extractions. It happens more frequently with extraction of impacted wisdom teeth, in patients with poor blood flow to the socket, (smokers, patients taking fosamax), delayed healing (diabetics ).  The pain begins to build and develop about 2-4 days following the procedure.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Socket

Signs and symptoms of dry socket may include:

-Sharp, aching pain within 2-4 days after a tooth removal.

explanation of dry socket

Graphic explanation of dry socket…image courtesy of Dental Care Matters

-Partial or total loss of the blood clot at the tooth extraction site. You would be able to visually notice a deep hole or space where tooth used to be, that weeps fluid when pressed vs a blood clot overlaying the site.

-Bone that is visible upon visual examination in the socket

-Pain that radiates from the socket to your ear, eye, temple or neck on the same side of your face as the extraction

-Abnormally bad breath or a foul odor emanating from your mouth. This will coincide with having a bad taste in your mouth as well.

-If you have swollen lymph nodes around your jaw or neck, this is a sign of infection and you need to be seen by your dentist immediately.

Over the counter medications by themselves will not control the symptoms. Your dentist or oral surgeon will need to begin treatments to lessen pain and allow for healing to take place.

Treatment of Dry Socket

Taking a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID – aspirin or ibuprofen) can help to ease the pain but probably will not be enough to take it away completely. When the pain persists you should call your dentist immediately. The dentist may prescribe you a stronger pain medication to allow the pain to subside for you or give you anesthesia in the office to relieve some of the symptoms for a little while anyway.

paste for dry socket

Paste for Dry Socket

What will your dentist need to do for the dry socket? Your dentist will need to numb and clean the tooth socket. This will allow for  removal of any debris from the space where the tooth once was, and allow for rebleeding into the site. The dentist may then fill the socket with a medicated dressing or a special paste to promote healing and soothe the symptoms. Patients with dry socket dressings generally need to come back to be seen by the dentist every day until the pain subsides. The dressing needs to be changed daily. Warm cloth on the outside of the face also helps promote blood flow.

An antibiotic may also be prescribed at this point to prevent an infection from forming. At home care will include rinsing with salt water and being careful what you eat and how you eat it, ( avoiding the side where the dry socket is ).

The site will usually heal completely following treatment in 1-2 weeks.

Who is most likely to get a Dry Socket?

Some patients will be more likely than others to get a dry socket after a tooth extraction. These include the following:

-Smokers. Patients who smoke have twice the chance of developing dry socket over those who do not. Smoking also is believed to slow the healing process.

-Poor Oral Hygiene. Those with poor oral hygiene will have an increased risk due to the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Will be difficult to maintain a sterile field when removing tooth.

-Having wisdom teeth (3rd molars) extracted. Increased trauma to area during procedure is one of the indicators for increasing the possibility for the development of dry socket. 3rd molars tend to be more difficult to remove especially if they are fully or partially impacted.

-Previous history of dry socket. If you have had dry socket previously, you are more likely to develop it after another extraction.

-Use of birth control pills. Contraceptives which contain estrogen effect the blood clotting system of the body. So we see an increased incidence in dry socket in patients on oral contraceptives.

Rinsing and spitting a lot or smoking after having a tooth extracted also can increase your risk of getting dry socket. These activities will increase chances of the blood clot becoming dislodged.

Following the removal of a tooth it is very important to follow all instructions given to you by your dentist. If you are unsure of anything you must ask or call back. At first sign of pain or discomfort call your dentist to be sure it is not something more serious. As always, maintain a regular schedule visiting your dentist, as well as keeping an open communication with your dentist. This will make you feel comfortable asking questions and knowing you are getting the proper information to care for your oral health.