Dental Tips Blog

May
21

HPV and Oral Health

Posted in Oral Cancer

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) gained a lot of popularity when the vaccine, Gardasil, became available on the market. Originally just meant for female patients to prevent cervical cancers caused by certain strains of HPV, the virus and associated cancers are now gaining more light in the patient community. The virus causes various cancers, usually cervical, with those deaths topping close to 4,220 people each year. The same virus can also increase the risk for developing oral cancer.

Johns Hopkins and the National Cancer Institute believe that nearly 75% of all new oral cancers diagnosed are caused by HPV. The virus is contracted through sexual activity, such as oral sex. The more sexual partners a person has, the more likely they are to contract the virus. Kissing alone is not thought to allow effective transmission. Only in very rare instances have case studies involved participants who tested positive for HPV while also professing to be virgins or to not have practiced oral sex. It is believed that nearly 7% of all Americans over the age of 14 are thought to carry HPV in their mouth. The initial infection of the virus may be fought off, or it could linger and cause infections later on.

People that choose to have the HPV vaccine may include women, men (as the virus can cause certain types of cancers that develop around their reproductive organs.) and parents of children as young as age 11. The vaccine is not effective on every strain of HPV, but can offer protection against primary strains that are linked to oral cancers.  The testing used to screen for HPV in the mouth is similar to the same test used to check the cervix. Above all else, choosing complete abstinence or practicing safe oral sex are the only ways to avoid contracting the virus.

Posted on behalf of Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates

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Apr
22

What is Velscope Oral Cancer Screening?

Posted in Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the mouth, tongue and gums and surrounding bones and tissues.  It is frequently associated with smoking, using smokeless (chewing) tobacco, and excessive alcohol use.  Symptoms of oral cancer include a sore in your mouth that does not heal, bleeding gums that do not respond to other treatments, or unexplained pain or soreness in the mouth.

Oral cancer responds very well to treatments and therapies, if caught early.  During your routine oral examinations with your dentist, he will examine your mouth to see if you have any signs or symptoms of oral cancer.

One of the best and most efficient ways to screen for oral cancer is by using the Velscope oral assessment device.  The Velscope is a small, handheld device that your dentist will use to examine the inside of your mouth.  The Velscope emits a safe, blue light that will identify any suspicious lesions or spots in your mouth that should be investigated further.  By using the Velscope, your dentist can help identify changes in the cells in your mouth that may be cancerous or pre-cancerous.

Other issues that may be detected by an oral cancer screening with the Velscope are early oral infections, inflammation, infection or tumors in the glands that secrete saliva.  When the Velscope is used in conjunction with a thorough oral examination, the rates of early identification are much higher.  The best part of using the Velscope is that it only takes two minutes!

If you have any signs or symptoms of oral cancer, contact a dentist immediately for a thorough examination with the Velscope oral assessment device.  It may save your life!

Posted on behalf of Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates

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Mar
8

Oral Cancer Screening

Posted in Oral Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with some sort of oral cancer each year. Perhaps even more alarming is this statistic: Of those newly diagnosed, a little more than 50 percent will still be alive in five years. The problem, experts say, is not so much that oral cancer is difficult to diagnose, but more often than not, it is diagnosed in the later stages of the disease.

Some warning signs of possible oral cancer include:

– Small red or white patches of tissue in the mouth

– A lump or mass in the mouth or neck

– Pain or difficulty swallowing

– Prolonged hoarseness or trouble forming words

– Numbness in the face or mouth

– A persistent ear ache

Your dentist can perform an oral cancer screening during a routine dental checkup. She will typically do a thorough physical examination, first, to look for any red or white patches or canker type sores in the mouth. If your dentist finds abnormal tissue, she may then opt for one of the following procedures:

Toluidine Blue Stain – The mouth is stained with a blue dye that shows possible cancerous areas to be darker than others. 

Fluorescence Staining – Lesions of the mouth are examined after the patient rinses with a special fluorescent mouth wash that highlights abnormal patches when light is shined on it.

Exfoliative Cytology –  The dentist will use a swab or stick to gently scrape cells from the lips, tongue, mouth and throat. The cells are viewed under a microscope to spot any abnormalities.

Brush Biopsy – A more invasive procedure, the dentist uses a brush to collect cells from the lesion itself.  The cells are then viewed under a microscope to confirm a cancer diagnosis.

If you have never been screened for oral cancer or if it has been awhile since your last screening, now might be a good time to give your dentist a call and ask for one. Early detection, after all, could in fact save your life.

Feb
27

Oral Cancer Detection and Treatment

Posted in Oral Cancer

Oral cancer, also known as mouth or throat cancer, is a cancer that develops in the tissues of the mouth and throat. It is frequently caused from smoking or chewing tobacco, and some strains of oral cancer are also caused from HPV (the virus that causes herpes or genital warts).  Oral cancers are also seen frequently in people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis.

Oral cancers can be treated in many different ways.  Simple oral cancers are removed by a dentist or oral surgeon.  Extensive damage may require medication or chemotherapy, depending on the type.

One of the best preventions against oral cancer is to avoid smoking and chewing tobacco.  The nicotine and other substances in cigarettes and chewing tobacco are known to cause many different types of cancers, including oral or mouth cancers.  Other steps to help prevent oral cancers include limiting how much you drink each day, and being vaccinated against HPV if you are young and have not been sexually active yet.  Although there are many different strains of HPV, the vaccine does help prevent against the types that are more aggressive in causing cancers.

Routine check-ups by your dentist will help identify any suspicious lesions or sores in your mouth that may be cancerous or pre-cancerous.  If you are concerned about a sore, blister, or other type of lesion or rash in your mouth, contact your dentist for an immediate evaluation.  Your dentist can examine the area, take a small sample for investigation under a microscope if necessary, and refer you to a specialist if required.  Rest assured, though, that mouth sores in your mouth are not cancerous.  If you have any concerns, see your dentist right away.

Posted on the behalf of Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates

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