All About Oral Cancer

oral cancer riskApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and our dental office in Sacramento thought we should dedicate a blog this month to help educate our patients and community on the prevalence of oral cancer in America, what increases someone’s likelihood of developing the disease, and how to spot signs of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Statistics

Like any other cancer, oral cancer is a complicated disease that takes the lives of many individuals. While scientists continue researching cures and treatments are always improving, the data surrounding the oral cancer epidemic is still scary.

  • According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 50,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017.
  • Of those, only a little over half are expected to live longer than 5 years.
  • This year alone, oral cancer will kill one person every hour of every day.
  • Across the globe, an estimated 450,000 oral cancer diagnoses are made each year.

Oral Cancer Risks

While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are several factors that increase the likelihood of diagnosis. Of these, there are few we can control and others we can’t.

  • The top risk factor is tobacco use. An estimated 80% of oral cancer patients are, or have been, tobacco users.
  • As we get older, our risk of oral cancer increases. The majority of oral cancer patients are over the age of 55.
  • Gender can also play a role. Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
  • Drinking alcohol heavily also increases your risk.   

Oral Cancer Symptoms

  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck
  • Chronic bad breath

Signs of oral cancer can be similar to other non-serious oral health issues. If you notice any of the symptoms above, we strongly encourage you to call your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can. Early detection of oral cancer greatly increases the chance for successful treatment. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.

At our Sacramento dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If there are any questions we can answer, or if you’re looking for advice on oral cancer treatment, give us a call.

The Oral Health and Heart Health Connection

heart healthOur Sacramento dental office’s philosophy of patient care revolves around keeping our patients healthy, and not just in their mouths. Many whole-body concerns are associated with oral health problems, including heart disease. This February, in celebration of Heart Health Month, we’d like to educate our patients on the oral health and heart health connection and how keeping your mouth healthy can protect your entire wellbeing.

Gum Disease and Its Link to Heart Disease

One of the main areas we’re going to explore is how gum disease can affect someone’s heart health. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection in your gums caused by a buildup of plaque on your teeth. When there’s an infection in your mouth, it can very easily be transferred into your bloodstream. If this occurs, your body produces more C-reactive protein (CRP), which is one of the known indicators of cardiovascular disease. Elevated levels of CRP can lead to some serious health issues including:

  • inflamed arteries
  • blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • strokes

Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is treatable, and treatment is easier and more successful if it’s caught early. If you notice any of the signs below, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can.

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffy, tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth that feel loose

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

There are things you can do to keep your mouth and gums free of disease. We recommended maintaining appointments at our dental office in Sacramento at least twice a year. But that’s not all. It’s also important for you to follow a proper at-home oral health care routine at home. Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, everyday.  

If you notice any signs of gum disease, or if you’re looking for a new dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today. After all, your dentist is an important member of your health care team and can protect your body from serious diseases, like heart disease.

“What’s Making My Breath Smell?”

bad breathAt our dental office in Sacramento, we’re here to help all of our patients reach their smile and oral health goals, no matter what they are. One of the more common concerns we hear is how to combat bad breath. We’re more than happy to help get breath kissably fresh, but we’d also like to educate our neighbors on what may be causing the bad breath in the first place.

Bad Breath Isn’t Just a Mouth Problem

First thing’s first: bad breath isn’t something that only affects your oral health. In fact, bad breath is linked to several serious whole-body health concerns including, gum disease, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, and respiratory tract problems. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, call your dentist in Sacramento as soon as possible.

What’s Causing the Bad Breath?

Food

When bad breath isn’t a constant thing, it may be nothing to worry about. This is usually the case when you eat something particularly pungent like garlic or onions. While the smell can linger even after brushing, once the food leaves your system, the bad breath disappears.

Inadequate Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day can do wonders for a healthy mouth and fresh breath. Proper at-home oral hygiene helps rid the mouth of any food particles that may be wedged in between teeth and kills odor causing bacteria. Without a proper hygiene routine, bad breath is almost a sure thing.

Tobacco Use

Both smoking and chewing tobacco have a host of health risks on their own — oral cancer, tooth loss, heart disease, and stroke, to list a few. Bad breath happens to be a side effect as well. If you currently use tobacco, talk with your doctor or dental team for help on how to quit.

Dry Mouth

A number of things such as medications or mouth breathing may lead to dry mouth. While this may seem like it’s no big deal, a dry mouth is an unhealthy mouth… and often a stinky one too. A mouth becomes dry when there’s not enough saliva production. Saliva normally helps wash away bacteria and neutralize acid. Without it, teeth are left exposed to decay and bacteria that cause bad breath.

You don’t have to live with the embarrassment of bad breath. Call our Sacramento dental office today to schedule an appointment. We’ll review your oral health, habits, and conduct a thorough exam to get to the root of the problem. Then together, we’ll find a solution that’s best for you.