March 9th, 2023
Drs. Peter Vogel, Vijal Vadecha and our team want you to have the healthiest possible smile in the healthiest possible body. Oral cancer can affect the mouth, tongue, throat and jaw. Early detection is vital for the best possible outcome when treating this disease. That is why we check for symptoms of oral cancer at every dental examination.
What can you do to reduce the chance of oral cancer? Reduce your risk factors. You can help prevent oral cancer by adopting these healthy habits:
- Don’t smoke. Don’t chew tobacco. Don’t use a pipe. If you use any tobacco products, quit. Tobacco use is the single largest risk factor for head and neck cancers. Talk to us—we have suggestions for helping you break the habit.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Heavy drinkers have a higher rate of oral cancer. More than one to two drinks per day can be considered heavy drinking, depending on factors such as weight, age, and even gender. Check with your doctor to find your personal definition of moderation.
- Eat a healthy diet. Cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables are a great addition to any menu.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Help prevent sun-related lip cancers by always wearing a UVA/UVB blocking sun screen or lip balm whenever you are working or playing outside—and reapply frequently.
- Some forms of the HPV virus have been linked to oral cancer, and those affected are generally younger and less likely to be smokers. Research indicates that the HPV vaccine, known for preventing several types of cancer, might also help prevent HPV-related oral cancers.
- Schedule regular dental exams. We are trained to recognize oral cancer and precancerous conditions that you might miss.
Of course, cancer can occur even with the healthiest habits. Do come see us if you detect any of these symptoms:
- A sore or ulcer that doesn’t heal, or persistent tenderness and pain in the mouth
- Lingering sore throat, hoarseness, or vocal changes
- Pain in the neck or ear that doesn’t go away
- A lump, a rough or thickened area, or eroded tissue in the skin lining the mouth
- Red or white patches in the lining of the mouth or on the tongue
- Difficulties chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the tongue or jaw
- Numbness in the tongue or mouth
- Changes in the way your natural teeth or your dentures fit together.
Not every symptom is caused by cancer, but it is important to rule out the possibility. We are trained to recognize early signs of oral cancer, and can recommend further tests if needed. Call our Anthem office immediately if you have any concerns. Early detection and treatment lead to the most successful outcomes.
Aging and Dental Health
March 9th, 2023
What’s life like for the average 60-year-old today? It’s complicated! We travel. Or we work out. Or we relax with friends. We pursue favorite hobbies or we develop new ones. We work, or start businesses, or volunteer for schools, museums, and charities. We practice the art of writing letters or we text our grandchildren. Whatever else we do, we do our best to stay healthy so we can live our lives to the fullest.
Part of living our lives to the fullest means caring for ourselves. And caring for ourselves means learning how to look out for the potential dental problems that might come with age, and how to keep ourselves in the best of dental health.
- Gum Disease
Gum disease, or periodontitis, is not uncommon in older patients. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can leave you more vulnerable to gum disease. Because gum disease is often symptom free, it can remain unnoticed until the disease has progressed. Good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are the best means of prevention—we are trained to discover gum disease in its earliest stages, and can treat it before the disease causes serious damage to gums, teeth and bone. But if you have delayed seeing a dentist, the good news is that there are many methods of treating gum disease available, including antibiotics, professional plaque removal, and periodontal surgery.
- Tooth Decay
As we age, our gums can recede from the teeth. The new root area that is exposed is more vulnerable to decay because it is not shielded by the hard enamel which protects the upper part, or crown, of the tooth. Maintaining your brushing and flossing routine is the best way to keep cavities from developing. If gum recession is severe, there are surgical methods we can discuss to restore gum health.
Cosmetically, teeth can yellow with age as the dentin beneath the enamel darkens and the enamel covering it thins. Years of coffee, wine, smoking and other stain-makers take their toll. If you are self-conscious about the appearance of your smile, talk to us about suggestions for whitening and brightening.
Medically, over time our teeth are subject to damage. Enamel and tooth surfaces can wear away, leaving our teeth more at risk for breaks or fractures that can lead to infection, which can result in the need for root canal work. Simple chewing puts an amazing amount of pressure on the teeth—and if you grind your teeth, there is even more stress placed on them. See us regularly for ways to maintain strong teeth, to repair damage if necessary, and to keep your gums and bones healthy if you are a denture wearer.
- Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be a problem for older patients, often caused by medical conditions or medications. When we produce saliva, it helps remove sugar and the acids sugars produce which attack our enamel. Without normal saliva production, we are more vulnerable to cavities. Dry mouth can also lead to mouth ulcers, oral thrush, sores and infections. If you have been suffering from this condition, talk to us. Drs. Peter Vogel, Vijal Vadecha and our team have suggestions that will help.
- Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is something we look for during every check-up. And, if you ever notice any change that causes you concern, call us immediately. Early treatment of oral cancer and other oral diseases leads to the best possible outcome.
- Keep Up With Your Dental Care
The best way to keep our teeth and mouths healthy as we age is with prevention. Regular daily brushing and flossing and office visits twice a year for an examination and a professional cleaning are habits that should last a lifetime. Make sure to tell us about any medical conditions you may have and any medications you are taking, to avoid interactions and relieve unpleasant side effects.
What’s life like for the average older person today? There is no average older person! As we age, we are free to explore our interests in any number of creative and individual ways. But there is one goal we have in common: we all want to keep our smiles healthy and attractive. Call our Anthem office for preventative and restorative care. We want to help you work toward an ageless smile!
Why Do Molars Seem to Get More Cavities?
March 2nd, 2023
Probably because, for many kids, molars do get more cavities. So let’s answer two better questions: Why do molars get more cavities? And, how can we help prevent them?
It’s the Pits. (And Fissures.)
The reason molars are so useful—and more likely to develop cavities—is because of their shape. Unlike our front teeth, which are used to bite through foods, molars are used to grind and chew. That’s why they are so much larger, with a flat surface on top. Well, not exactly flat.
When you look at a molar, you’ll notice that the top isn’t really smooth at all. It’s covered with little indentations known as pits and longer grooves called fissures. These irregular features both trap food particles and make it more difficult for bristles to clean them away. Cavities in molar surfaces are so common that they even have a specific name: “pit and fissure cavities.”
But molar biology does not mean tooth decay is inevitable! There are steps you can take to protect your children’s molars as they grow, while you’re providing them with dental strategies that will keep their adult molars healthy and cavity-free.
Preventing Pit and Fissure Cavities
- Don’t Just Brush—Brush Effectively
The first step in preventing any kind of cavity is brushing properly. Your child should be brushing at least two minutes, at least twice each day. And while the time we spend brushing is important, technique is also key.
When you’re showing your child how to brush, be sure that the tops of molars, upper and lower, get brushed thoroughly, with special emphasis on cleaning pits and fissures. Make sure the toothbrush is small enough to fit your child’s mouth comfortably and reach all the tooth surfaces. Replace worn-down brushes or electric toothbrush heads after three to four months when they no longer clean as effectively.
Your child will probably need adult supervision from toddler years through the early years of grade school to learn how to brush properly. This is time well spent, as your child learns cavity-preventing brushing techniques which will last a lifetime.
- Eat a Tooth-Healthy Diet
Plaque bacteria use the sugars in our food to make acids. These acids break down the mineral strength of tooth enamel and eventually lead to cavities. And because pits and fissures are great hiding places for bacteria and food particles (especially sticky ones), molars are even more at risk for cavities. Limiting sugary, sticky foods like sweet treats and simple carbs helps reduce that risk.
Acidic foods like flavored juices, sour candies, sodas, and power drinks also weaken enamel and can leave teeth more vulnerable to decay. Help your child avoid cavities by limiting acidic foods and drinks, making them part of a balanced meal, and/or rinsing with water after eating.
- Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste not only reduces the risk of cavities, it also helps strengthen enamel that has been weakened by bacterial and dietary acids. Win-win!
- Ask About Sealants
Sealants are invisible, safe coatings which protect molars by preventing food and bacteria from getting trapped in their uneven surfaces. The top of the molar is first treated with an etching solution to allow the sealant to bond tightly to the tooth, a thin coat of sealant is painted on, and then it’s hardened under a curing light. That’s all there is to it.
Sealants are often recommended when children’s permanent molars first erupt, when they are especially at risk for cavities. Sealants can last from three to five years (or even longer), and studies have shown a dramatic reduction in cavities for patients who use sealants compared to patients with untreated teeth. Depending on your child’s individual needs, Drs. Peter Vogel, Vijal Vadecha might recommend a sealant for baby molars as well.
- Regular Exams and Cleanings
It might be hard for you to tell if your child’s molars have been affected by sticky plaque, or sugary foods, or acidic drinks, or inadequate brushing, or any other potential cavity-causers. It’s not a difficult job for Drs. Peter Vogel, Vijal Vadecha, though! Through regular checkups and cleanings at our Anthem office, we will discover any conditions that might lead to cavities, and, if necessary, treat small cavities before they lead to more serious decay.
Statistically, childhood molars have a greater chance of developing cavities than incisors and canines. Help your child beat the odds by understanding why these teeth are at risk and by working with your dental team to give your child years of healthy teeth now and a future filled with beautiful smiles!
Pros and Cons of Veneers
March 2nd, 2023
You might have a small chip in a tooth from an unfortunate encounter with peanut brittle, or even several chips from a touch football game that got a little out of hand. Perhaps you have a gap in your teeth that you’ve always wanted to address. Or it could be that you are not happy with the shape or color of your teeth, and are looking for a straighter, brighter smile. In all these cases, veneers may the perfect solution for you.
Veneers are one of the most dramatic ways to improve your smile:
- Realistic Appearance: A dental veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that is bonded to your tooth. Because they are semi-translucent, much like actual enamel, veneers look like natural teeth.
- Rapid Transformation: Normally, the application of veneers requires only a few visits. Your tooth will be shaped to accommodate the veneer for a smooth, flat appearance. A mold will be made to ensure an exact fit. On a subsequent visit, the new veneer will be bonded to the tooth permanently.
- Whiteness that Lasts: Veneers are stain-resistant, so if you are looking for a long-lasting bright smile, they are a good option. (If you are getting only a few veneers, it is a good idea to have your natural teeth whitened to the shade you desire before the veneer color is selected. Veneer color is permanent.)
There are also some aspects to consider before going ahead with the procedure:
- Be Sure About Your Decision: Veneers are a permanent choice. Some enamel might need to be removed for the veneer to fit and the surface of your tooth will be treated to allow the veneer to bond to it properly.
- Check Your Overall Dental Health: You should have a check-up before starting the process to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough for veneers. If you have severe orthodontic issues, grind your teeth, or have a habit of clenching your jaw, your veneers will be put under pressure they were not designed to take. We can let you know if you are a good candidate for this procedure.
- Expense: Veneers are more expensive than some other options, such as whitening and bonding, but can offer more benefits. Veneers will cover staining that whitening cannot eliminate. Their translucent quality makes them look more realistic than bonding, and they are also far more stain resistant. The cost of a crown might be comparable, and a crown is recommended if there is significant damage to the underlying tooth. If you are looking for cosmetic improvement only, veneers leave more of the tooth intact.
- Longevity: Veneers do not last forever, and will need to be replaced eventually. However, they can have a life expectancy of ten to 15 years, and we can give you tips to keep your veneers looking and lasting their best.
If you decide veneers are right for you, give our Anthem office a call. We will be happy to discuss the procedure with you and help you discover the best possible path to your best possible smile.