Oral Cancer Awareness Month

oral cancer screeningApril has been designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Oral cancer is the largest group of cancers affecting the head and neck. It includes cancers of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, and throat.

The Oral Cancer Foundation predicts that 45,750 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States in 2015. This includes cancers in the mouth, oropharyngeal cancer in the back of the mouth, and cancer on the exterior of the lip. The rate of oral and oropharyngeal cancers has been rising for over a decade. Over 450,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year.

Oral cancer has two main causes. One common cause is the longterm use of tobacco and alcohol. Another common cause is exposure to the human papilloma virus version 16 (HPV-16), which is also responsible for most cervical cancer diagnoses. Less than 7 percent of people who develop oral cancer do not get it from any of these causes. It is believed that those individuals are genetically predisposed to the condition.

A person dies from oral cancer every hour. The death rate is 43 percent five years after diagnosis. About 12,000 new cases of laryngeal cancers are diagnosed every year, and death rates are significantly higher.

Oral cancer can usually be treated effectively if it is detected early. The survival rate is 80 to 90 percent if the cancer is detected in its early stages. Unfortunately, in most cases the cancer is detected later, which is largely due to a lack of awareness about oral cancer and screenings that can catch the disease early.

Your dentist can conduct an oral cancer screening at a routine exam and check for early signs of disease. If it is caught early, your chance of surviving oral cancer increases dramatically. If you are due for your routine dental checkup, schedule an appointment and ask your dentist to screen you for oral cancer.

BruxZir® Solid Zirconia Restorations

BruxZir restorationsBruxZir® Solid Zirconia is the brand of full-contour zirconia most commonly used for dental restorations in North America. It is stronger and more durable than other commonly used materials and is more aesthetically desirable than cast gold and porcelain fused to metal.

BruxZir® Solid Zirconia can be used for a variety of dental treatments, including crowns, bridges, screw-retained implant crowns, full-arch fixed implants, and inlays or onlays without porcelain overlay. It can be used for problems such as bruxism (teeth grinding), missing teeth, and limited space.

BruxZir® now has a shaded formulation that improves its transparency and makes its color similar to that of natural teeth. The color penetrates completely through the restoration to create a consistent shade and to prevent the color from changing after the restoration is inserted. Since they are more natural looking, BruxZir® Solid Zirconia restorations can also be used in front teeth.

BruxZir® Solid Zirconia restorations are better than the alternatives for several reasons. Full-cast gold crowns and bridges are strong and durable, but they don’t look like natural teeth. Porcelain metal restorations look more natural, but they can become cracked and chipped. Since zirconia is nearly indestructible, BruxZir® restorations are a good choice for people who have broken their natural teeth or porcelain restorations by grinding their teeth.

The restorations are designed and milled with CAD/CAM technology for extreme durability. The final restoration is glazed to create a smooth surface that prevents plaque from accumulating. Glidewell Dental Lab, which manufactures BruxZir® restorations, provides a seven-year free replacement warranty.

DentalVibe Eliminates Injection Pain

DentalVibeMany people dread going to the dentist’s office because they are afraid of getting a painful injection. Some people with dental anxiety choose to have procedures performed while they are sedated, either by oral medication or intravenous solutions. This can eliminate pain, but it also requires the patient to take time to rest after the procedure and allow the drugs to leave the body.

Some products, such as a topical anesthetic or controlled-release pump, can make injections less painful, but new technology called DentalVibe completely eliminates the pain commonly associated with receiving an injection. With DentalVibe, there are no side effects and no downtime. The technology can be used to make injections more comfortable so that the dentist can perform a variety of common dental procedures, such as fillings, crowns, and extractions.

DentalVibe is a cordless, handheld device that can be used with a needle and syringe to make injections in any part of the mouth painfree. Its tip is placed against the inside of the mouth and uses VibraPulse technology to deliver a vibrating pulse to the area for 10 seconds. The tip produces a pleasant tickling sensation, and then the dentist administers the injection.

The vibration distracts the nerves in the area so that when the dentist gives the injection, the patient does not feel any pain from the needle. Most patients do not feel the injection at all. The vibration also stimulates the surrounding nerves and tissues, which makes the liquid numbing agent take effect more quickly.

National Facial Protection Month

National Facial Protection MonthDental professionals have designated April as National Facial Protection Month. The American Dental Association, the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists encourage people participating in sports, both children and adults, to take precautions to protect themselves from facial injuries.

It is estimated that 12 million people between the ages of 5 and 22 suffer sports-related injuries every year. These injuries lead to 20 million lost school days and cost $33 billion in healthcare bills. Many of these injuries could be prevented by using protective equipment.

Mouthguards, helmets, protective eyewear, and face shields are useful in a variety of recreational and organized sports, including baseball, basketball, football, hockey, volleyball, gymnastics, martial arts, and biking. Dentists encourage children to get used to wearing mouthguards whenever they participate in sports or recreational activities where there is a risk of contact or injury to the mouth or face and to wear other protective gear when appropriate.

The ADA offers dentists a variety of brochures and educational tools to explain the need and benefits of using protective equipment when participating in sports. They cover topics such as how mouthguards can prevent mouth and jaw injuries, how to find a mouthguard that fits well (the best type is custom-made by a dentist), how to care for a mouthguard, and special considerations for patients who are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment.

The ADA also offers parents brochures about how to handle common children’s dental emergencies, such as a knocked-out tooth, an object caught between teeth, a toothache, and a broken jaw. The ADA’s consumer-friendly website, MouthHealthy.org, has additional information and resources related to facial protection.

Tips to Help You Overcome Dental Anxiety

dental anxietyFear and anxiety keep many people from seeking dental care. Some people go many years without seeing a dentist and later find themselves with severe pain, tooth decay, or gum disease. Studies have also linked poor oral health to heart disease, stroke, and a host of other medical conditions. It is therefore essential to seek routine dental care.

People experience dental anxiety for many reasons. Some had a painful or frightening experience in the past that affects their perception of dentists in general. Others may have heard stories about other people’s negative experiences and fear that something similar could happen to them. Many people are afraid of procedures that they don’t understand or are nervous about giving up control. Some people have a fear of doctors or hospitals that also applies to their view of dentists.

In many cases, anxiety about dental procedures is unfounded. Dental care has advanced a great deal in recent years. Many procedures that used to be painful and stressful are now easier and produce little or no pain.

If you are nervous about the idea of visiting a dentist, look for one who has experience treating patients with dental anxiety. Talk to the dentist and staff about your fears and ask how they can help you deal with your apprehensions. They may recommend sedation dentistry.

If you tend to be more anxious at a particular time of day, schedule your appointment for a time when you will be less nervous.

Ask your dentist if you can take a friend or family member with you to the office when you are having your procedure done.

If it has been a long time since your last visit to a dentist, schedule your first appointment for a simple checkup and have any procedures done at a later date.

If you are having a treatment, ask your dentist or hygienist if you can use a signal to indicate that you are feeling anxious and need to take a break. This will give you control and a way of communicating with the person performing your dental treatment.

Seeing the dentist on a regular basis will help you better manage your anxiety.

Air Abrasion Eliminates the Noise of the Dentist’s Drill

air abrasionFor many years, dentists have used drills to prepare teeth for dental crowns, treat cavities, and perform root canals. Many people feel anxious when they hear the sound of a drill. Fortunately, dentists have another method that they can use for many common dental procedures without the unnerving noise, heat, and vibrations of a drill.

Air abrasion is an alternative treatment that can be used to remove tooth decay. It uses tiny particles of aluminum oxide or silica to gently remove decayed material. Compressed air sprays sand-like particles at the teeth being treated, and an assistant suctions away excess material. Air abrasion does not cause the type of friction that is common with a drill. Air abrasion is also referred to as microabrasion or kinetic cavity preparation.

Air abrasion can be used to treat cavities or to prepare a tooth for sealants or bonding. The technique can also be used to remove old composite resin fillings and to remove surface stains from teeth.

Less tooth material is removed with air abrasion than with drilling. This can reduce discomfort and the need for anesthesia. More than one section of the mouth can be treated in one session, which can reduce the number of appointments required.

If you are treated with air abrasion, your dentist will probably provide you with goggles to protect your eyes from particles being sprayed. He or she will use a rubber dam or resin to protect other teeth from the particles.

A traditional drill is still needed for certain dental procedures. A drill is required to prepare a tooth for a crown, remove deep decay, or perform a root canal. Air abrasion can only be used with composite resin fillings because it smoothes the surface of a tooth. Amalgam fillings need a rough surface to adhere correctly, which means a drill needs to be used.

Air abrasion is a better choice than a drill for children and people who experience dental anxiety because it eliminates the sound, heat, and vibrations caused by a traditional drill. It may be more costly than using a drill, but for some patients, the extra cost is worth it.

The Wand® Can Eliminate Injection Pain

The Wand dentist injectionMany people avoid the dentist out of fear. According to the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington, 5 to 8 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of fear. The American Dental Association estimates that 40 million people are afraid of the dentist.

People have different reasons for being afraid of the dentist, but the most common is a fear of getting a painful injection. Fortunately, new technology can make getting an injection more comfortable and less stressful.

Pain from an injection is not caused by the needle, but rather from anesthesia being delivered and building up too quickly. The Wand® is an instrument that uses a computer to control the flow of anesthesia. This eliminates the inconsistent pressure of a manual injection and makes getting a shot of anesthesia virtually pain-free.

The Wand® is an instrument about the size of a pen. It delivers anesthesia to a specific place where it is needed, such as a single tooth, rather than a large area. This eliminates the feeling of a fat lip or numb tongue that is often caused when a large area of the mouth is numbed.

The device has an ergonomic design that makes it comfortable for the dentist to hold. This makes it easy for the dentist to provide patients with injections that are consistent, accurate, and painless.

The Wand® works quickly, so the amount of time waiting for anesthesia to take effect before the procedure is reduced. Patients are able to return to their normal activities quickly.

Dentists Could Detect Diabetes Early

dentist diabetesA small study conducted in New York City suggests that dentists might be able to test patients for diabetes when they have their teeth cleaned. This could allow people with diabetes who do not visit a doctor regularly to be diagnosed and treated sooner.

Almost one in 10 adults worldwide has diabetes. The World Health Organization predicts that it will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. Most of those people have Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and aging and develops when the body cannot use or produce enough insulin to convert blood sugar to energy. Over 8 million people in the United States have diabetes and don’t know it.

The researchers who conducted the study tested blood that appeared on the gums of 408 patients who were having their teeth cleaned at dental clinics in New York City. In order to get enough blood from participants’ gums, the researchers only included people in the study whose gums bled when they brushed or flossed. They also limited the study to people at the greatest risk for diabetes. This included patients over 45 or younger people who were overweight and either had an immediate family member with diabetes or a sedentary lifestyle or who were Latino, African American, Native American, or Pacific Islander.

The researchers focused on hemoglobin A1c, a protein in red blood cells that can reflect average blood sugar levels over a two- to three-month period. They collected blood samples from the gums and fingers of the patients and tested their A1c levels to determine whether the patients had diabetes or prediabetes.

The results of the oral and finger blood tests matched in 97.8 percent of cases that diagnosed diabetes and in 92.9 percent of cases that diagnosed prediabetes. The oral blood test correctly ruled out diabetes 99.1 percent of the time.

Since the participants in the study were not a random sample, the results might not apply to a wider population. However, by limiting the study to people with bleeding gums, the researchers focused on those with periodontal disease or gingivitis, which are more common among diabetics.

The researchers hope that dentists will be able to routinely screen patients for diabetes in the future. More research is needed, and dentists will have to be trained to explain the results to their patients and to refer them to doctors for treatment for diabetes.

EasySmile LifeLike Veneers Can Be Made in One Visit

EasySmile LifeLike VeneersNew technology allows dentists to improve the appearance of a patient’s smile with veneers in a fraction of the time normally required.

A veneer is a thin piece of material, typically porcelain, that is bonded to the surface of a tooth to cover major imperfections, such as stains, cracks, chips, and gaps. It can completely change the color, size, and appearance of a tooth.

To apply a traditional veneer, it is necessary to remove an amount of enamel roughly equal to the thickness of the veneer. While this is completely painless, many patients would rather avoid removing enamel since the procedure is irreversible. A traditional veneer needs to be made in a lab, which can take weeks, and a patient needs to wear a temporary veneer in the meantime.

EasySmile LifeLike Veneers are natural-looking veneers that can be customized and created in just one dental visit. An innovative foundation, which is not made of porcelain, allows a dentist to create a strong and aesthetically pleasing veneer that can correct cracks, chips, gaps, worn edges, or discoloration caused by thinning enamel. The procedure does not require the dentist to drill or file down the tooth.

The process of making the veneer, attaching it to the patient’s tooth, finishing, and polishing can be completed in less than an hour. Since the procedure is quicker, multiple veneers can be applied in a matter of minutes. EasySmile’s patent-pending Smile Preview lets patients see how their veneers will look before committing to the procedure.

EasySmile LifeLike Veneers are much less expensive than traditional veneers. There is no lab charge because a technician is not required to make the veneer.

TruDenta Treatment Can Relieve Headache Pain

TruDentaChronic migraines, tension headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, and pain in the face, neck, and jaw affect millions of Americans. Unbalanced forces in the jaw can contribute to these problems. Unbalanced forces can affect muscles, which can cause chemical and nerve reactions that create chronic pain.

Many people have tried numerous treatments but found little or no relief for their symptoms. Dentists may be able to help. A dentist can use devices derived from the field of sports medicine to evaluate and treat vertigo, tinnitus, and pain in the head, face, neck, and jaw.

TruDenta is a treatment that can relieve chronic headaches, migraines, TMJ/TMD, and many other conditions. TruDenta treatment does not involve the use of drugs or needles.

Your dentist will have you complete a questionnaire that will ask questions about your pain symptoms, dental history, head and neck problems, and any accidents or injuries that may be responsible for your problem. During an exam, your dentist will take computerized measurements of the force balance of each tooth in your mouth. He or she will also take computerized measurements of the disability of your muscle movement and measure your mouth movement. These tests are simple and painless.

The results of these tests can help your dentist identify the cause of your symptoms. He or she can also identify other issues with your mouth, muscles, and teeth that will be treated with TruDenta therapy.

TruDenta is a type of in-office treatment that includes gentle light therapy, electrical stimulation, muscle manipulation, and ultrasound therapy. One to 12 weekly treatments will be needed, depending on your symptoms and their cause. You will continue your treatment at home with exercises and an orthotic to wear for a short period of time. Many patients report that their symptoms were significantly lessened or completely relieved soon after beginning TruDenta treatment.