Category: Checkups

Oral Cancer: What should you watch for?

 

oral cancer
Many warning signs of oral cancer can appear as other conditions.
Do you know what to watch out for?

Did you know? Each year in the U.S., there are 50,000 new cases of oropharyngeal (mouth & throat) cancer, broadly known as oral cancer. Of those, 10,000 patients will eventually die from it. April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and Drs. Meyer and Johns want to make sure you know what to watch out for.

Cancer Types

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are three main types of precancerous lesions; leukoplakia, erythroplakia, and mixed erythroleukoplakia. The first is the most common, and is visible as a white patch or plaque that does not go away. In the U.S., the incidence of leukoplakia has been declining, mainly due to decreased tobacco consumption. In fact, stopping all forms of tobacco use is the easiest way to cut your risk of oral and other cancers, as well as a host of other health problems.

 

Warning signs

The earliest symptoms of oral cancer may appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small indurated ulcer which looks like a common canker sore. The easiest advice for evaluating skin or tissue irregularities is the 2-Week Rule: Any sore or discolored area that does not heal within 14 days should be checked by a professional.

Other than lesions on the mouth tissue, oral cancer symptoms may include;

    •   lumps or masses that you can feel in your mouth or neck,
    •   discomfort or troubleswallowing, speaking, or chewing,
    •   any wart-like masses,
    •   persistent hoarseness, or
    •   any prolonged oral or facial numbness.

 

We’ve Got Our Eyes on You!

Like other cancers of the skin, oral cancer warning signs are visible long before other symptoms occur, making early detection very important. Early identification of  lip, tongue, or other oral cancers improves control and cure rates to more than 90% and overall survival rates to nearly 100%, according to a study published on the website of the National Cancer Institute.

However, many instances of these cancers are diagnosed in their latter stages, only after metastasizing and causing secondary symptoms elsewhere in the body. In these cases, the 5-year survival rates are only slightly above 50%, according to the National Oral Cancer Foundation.

So if you’ve ever wondered why we look under your tongue during exams, this is the reason. Since early detection is key, we want to make sure we don’t miss a warning sign. Current or former smokers and users of smokeless tobacco should let us know at your next appointment so that we can be on the lookout for early symptoms.

Why Meyer & Johns Needs to Know About Your Heart Condition

dental care heart conditions
Heart conditions can impact dental care. Tell us about yours!

Since February is American Heart Month, you’ve probably heard a lot about cardiac health in the past four weeks. Our nation’s healthcare focus has been on the prevention, treatment, and awareness of heart conditions. But at Meyer & Johns Dental, that awareness extends throughout all 12 months.

We take special precautions for our patients with heart conditions, and may ask you questions about any new diagnoses, existing conditions or ongoing treatments. And it’s important for us to know, because there are numerous unexpected heart complications that can arise from routine dental procedures.

Heart Conditions

Sometimes during normal cleanings, minor bleeding can occur in the mouth. This could allow oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream, potentially making its way to the heart. In heart patients, this increases the risk of endocarditis, which is inflammation of valves or tissue within the heart. In some cases, an antibiotic may be recommended before any visit to the dentist, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart Attack

The general advice for heart attack survivors is a six-month waiting period before having any dental treatments or procedures. As always, it’s important for those patients to let us know about any medications they’re taking, particularly blood-thinners or other anti-coagulants. Even basic conditions that include irregular heartbeat (including some heart mumurs) can present problems unless your dentist is aware of them.

As always, out top priority at Meyer & Johns Dental is the safety and comfort of our patients. Please help us by keeping our staff updated of any changes in your overall health (especially heart conditions). We look forward to making sure your mouth – and the rest of you – stays healthy!

New Year’s Dental Resolutions That We WISH Everyone Made

Dental resolutions
Maybe your 2018 goals include eating healthier or exercising regularly. We have some resolution suggestions for your mouth.

As we begin the New Year, almost half of Americans will make a New Year’s Resolution. Unfortunately, 80 percent of those resolutions will fall by the wayside within six weeks, according to a U.S. News article.  But the good news is that for one out of every five people who make a positive change, they will stick with it long enough to become a habit.

The most common areas targeted for improvement are health-related and include weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and stopping smoking. But if Doctors Meyer and Johns could put together a list of resolutions for our patients, it would include:

Brush and floss daily

Sure, it’s a no-brainer. But we see a lot of patients who aren’t as consistent as they think they are. More than the occasional missed brushing can be the beginning of bad habits.

Pay attention to your gums

As we’ve mentioned, gum disease can be caused by a variety of factors. Make sure you to check for any discoloration or soreness, and point out any problem areas at your next appointment.

Cut the sugar

This may go hand-in-hand with one of your other resolutions. Limiting processed sugar intake is a simple way to improve overall health. Plus, reducing the number of sugary drinks (soda, sports drinks, sweetened/frozen coffees) positively impacts the overall amount of plaque that can accumulate between brushings.

Don’t ignore pain

If you have discomfort in a tooth, gum or jaw, call us! Sudden or persistent pain can be a sign of something seriously wrong in your mouth, so don’t wait to get it checked out.

Whatever your resolution, or even if you don’t make one at all, each of us at Meyer & Johns Dental wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. Celebrate safely, and we’ll see you in 2018!

 

Revenge of the Peeps – Winning the holiday candy battle

brushing teeth fights candy residue
Holidays like Easter are great times to reinforce healthy brushing habits with children.

According to CNBC, Easter barely edged out Halloween in 2016 as the most candy-ful holiday in the U.S., with $823 million in sales. But if you’re a parent, all the numbers boil down to one thing – your little one probably has jellybeans and marshmallow Peeps stuck in their tiny teeth this week.

Easter is a great opportunity to teach or reinforce good brushing habits with your kids. It’s also good time to establish expectations about consuming candy and sweets. This is important for not just their dental health, but also for overall nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Too Early?

Parents can begin brushing from the appearance of baby’s first teeth. You should continue to brush and/or supervise the child’s daily mouth care routine until they are ready for elementary school. The American Dental Association recommends that by the time your child can tie their own shoes, they should also be able to brush and floss their teeth by themselves.

Some standard guidelines for brushing kids’ teeth;

  •    Children should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and not swallow it
  •    Clean all tooth surfaces – inside, outside, and tops – all the way to the gum line
  •    Brush gently, back and forth
  •    Don’t forget to brush that tongue!

You can begin flossing and letting children help brush their own teeth at around age four. Of course, you should supervise and help form healthy brushing habits from the beginning. Additionally, candy-heavy holidays like Easter, Halloween and Christmas are the perfect opportunity to teach kids where, when and how much candy its appropriate to consume.

If you need additional tips or help teaching your kids how to brush their teeth, let us know in the message section when you schedule your next check-up.