Tag Archives: dentist

A Look at Oral Cancer

oral cancer nycLives all around us are being touched by cancer. We all have friends, family members, or co-workers that have battled this ever-spreading disease, yet we try to ignore the possibility of it ever happening to us. However, ignorance is not bliss in this instance, and we should be aware of warning signs. This is true for the mouth as well. Oral or pharyngeal cancer affects almost 37,000 Americans each year, and is usually far-advanced before it is detected. Traditional methods of detecting oral cancer relied on visual check and physical palpitations by hand. New methods of detection are making dental news, making your Dental Life professional a key part of your cancer prevention regime. And while your dentist is not responsible for treating oral cancer, he is certainly a vital part of early detection and dealing with the effects of cancer.

Risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco and alcohol use as well as HPV (human papillomavirus). Men over 40 are also more susceptible, but just because you don’t fall into one of these categories does not mean you are immune to oral cancer. Anyone can get oral cancer, so it is important to know the signs for early detection.

Symptoms of oral cancer can include:

●      White or red patches in your mouth

●      Loose teeth

●      Oral Bleeding

●      Mouth sores that do not heal

Keep in mind that these symptoms do not mean you have cancer. Many people have similar issues that are not cancerous at all. However, it is important to keep an eye on these issues and check with your dentist if they persist. More advanced signs of oral cancer can include:

●      Earaches

●      Lump in the neck

●      Difficulty or pain with swallowing

●      Numbness in the mouth

nyc oral cancerSo, what should you do if you are suffering some of these symptoms? Scheduling an appointment with your dentist is often a good first step. A dentist will not treat oral cancer, but he can quickly eliminate other factors that may be causing your symptoms. A dental visit may be all you need to put your fears to rest and ensure your mouth is in optimal health. After you have explained your concerns, the dentist will perform an examination of your mouth’s condition. This will involve a physical inspection, but may also include some of the latest technology in dentistry news, including an intra-oral screening light that helps make cancer easier to spot. With three different colors of lights, the tool allows your dentist to check for unusually high cellular activity, and monitor vein condition. If any sign of possible cancer is apparent, your dentist will refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

Oral cancer can lead to damaged teeth which can be addressed after the cancer has been treated. Cosmetic dentistry brings bright smiles back to cancer patients with the use of a number of progressive treatments, including dental implants. NYC cancer survivors have the benefit of many of America’s finest dental professionals. Remember mouth reconstruction is a crucial part of healing from oral cancer.


Feeding Your Teeth This Holiday Season

turkey, dentist, teethAre you ready to sink your teeth into Thanksgiving turkey? What about the Christmas ham? The meats you enjoy probably won’t make the dentistry news headlines, but all of those delectable sweets just might! You know the old saying, “You are what you eat?” This is true when it comes to the health of your teeth. Drinking and snacking on sweet or starchy things is not just a treat for yourself, but for the plaque building up on your teeth as well. And while we don’t want to become the Grinch that stole your holiday treats, we would like to offer a few suggestions to combat those goodies and promote a healthy holiday smile.

High Fiber Fruits and Vegetables

Fiber is exceptionally good for your teeth, acting somewhat like a detergent in your mouth, helping to scrub off that unwanted plaque. There are a number of fruits and vegetables that have good fiber content, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to include a few more veggies into your holiday menu. At the top of the list are:

● Artichokesplaque, saliva, teeth

● Peas

● Broccoli

● Kale

● Raw carrots

● Avocados

● Asparagus

● Apples

● Bananas

● Blueberries

● Raspberries

● Pears

Not only do fibrous foods act as scrubbers, they also promote saliva flow, which aids in neutralizing acids and enzymes which attack your tooth enamel.

Dairy Productscalcium, enamel, teeth, dentist

Incorporating dairy products into holiday meals is a cinch. Many recipes call for cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. What makes them so good for your teeth? The calcium in milk helps to build stronger enamel, providing better protection from those less healthful holiday choices.

Green and Black Tea

Do you have a soft spot for a steaming chai latte? A Chai latte actually has a couple of good things going for your teeth – milk and tea. Both green and black teas contain polyphenols, bacteria, teeth, dentist, plaquepolyphenols that work to counteract plaque causing bacteria. Although tea is acid, the acidity is so weak that it does not affect your teeth. Rather, both black and green teas have been making dental news lately because they contain the properties that break down plaque bacteria, making them a good component of your healthy teeth arsenal. Just cut back on some of the sugar in that latte!

Eating for the health of your teeth need not be a bothersome chore; there are plenty of tooth-healthy foods that are delightful to the palate as well. Incorporating a few of these ideas into your traditional holiday fare is an easy step toward promoting a healthy smile.


Dealing with Acid Reflux (GERD)? Watch Your Teeth!

acid reflux, Gerd, tooth decay, pain, diet

So, you have just come home from a great night of Mexican food – the bean dip was fabulous, chips and salsa were great, and the enchiladas, beyond compare! Now you are dealing with that familiar burning pain in your chest, those feelings of regurgitation: the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). What you may not realize is that the same acid that is causing you such discomfort may actually be eating away at the enamel of your teeth, making you susceptible to tooth decay.

GERD is a common problem today and occurs when ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach fails to close, allowing the contents of the stomach to flow back up into the esophagus. The high acidity of the stomach contents is what GERD, acidity, esophaguscauses the burning sensation in the chest. Eventually the acid can eat away at the lining of the esophagus, producing even more serious complications.

What effect does all this extra acid have on your mouth? Saliva in your mouth is designed to maintain the proper pH balance (levels of acidity or alkalinity) in your mouth. For example, eating sugar causes the acid level of your mouth to rise, putting your teeth at risk. The saliva in your mouth works to restore the balance after sugar consumption. Imagine the effect of continual acid coming up from your stomach due to GERD and entering your mouth – the acidic assault should make dental news headlines as much as the warnings about highly acidic foods, drinks, and sugar.

Acid eats at the enamel that protects your teeth. When the enamel begins to wear off, the sensitive inner layer of your teeth, called dentin, is exposed. This can produce symptoms of tooth erosion, which include:

● Toothache tooth decay, enamel, dentin
● Bad breath
● Spots on teeth
● Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet

Tooth decay can lead to more serious dental issues which could lead to permanent damage or loss of teeth requiring the care of cosmetic dentistry. Because of the serious effects of excess acid in the mouth NY dental professionals recommend following a strict regimen to deal with GERD quickly. Certain dietary and lifestyle choices contribute to GERD, including eating chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. Smoking has also been shown to relax the muscle that contributes to GERD.

If you have been diagnosed with GERD, or you are experiencing the symptoms, you should let your dentist know. If you have already suffered damage to your teeth, you may want to visit a cosmetic dentist. Manhattan area dentists are well equipped both to protect your teeth from damage, and to help you recover your beautiful smile.


Tips Instead of Tricks for the Kickoff of Sugar Season

Halloween CandyThe real danger this season is not the spooks and goblins, but the sugary treats they bring. Halloween ushers in the season of high sugar consumption as the winter holidays follow close on its heels. The season always ranks high in dentistry news because of the assault all the sugar brings to the teeth of children, making them at risk for the development of cavities.

So, what is the real danger of sugar anyway? Our mouths always have bacteria present in them, and when that bacteria comes in contact with sugar, they produce acids that can break down tooth enamel. After sugar is consumed, it can take up to 60 minutes for the saliva in the mouth to neutralize the acid. This means that teeth are under attack for almost an hour each time sugar is consumed. Break down of tooth enamel eventually causes the tooth decay that results in cavities.

You have probably heard of the campaign this holiday by dentists across the country offering to buy candy back from kids and donate it to soldier’s oversees. This is a good start, and makes great dentistry news, but cavity prevention begins at home, and NY dental professionals offer some tips to help protect your child’s teeth.

Trick or Treat Since each exposure to sugar puts teeth at risk for up to an hour, do not let your child munch on candy throughout the day. When sugar is consumed continually, the mouth has no time to recover from the attack. If this takes place after the child has already started getting his permanent teeth, this can cause long term damage which could lead to serious dental issues later in life, including dental implants. NYC dentists recommend allowing your child to consume several pieces of candy in one setting versus spread throughout the day.

Another idea is to limit candy intake to around meal time. More saliva is flowing during a meal, allowing the mouth to neutralize acids more quickly. Make candy or dessert eating a special thing, reserved for a certain time of day following a meal. This will allow the mouth to recover quickly. It may also give mom a break from sugar-hyped kids all the time!Of course one of the biggest tooth decay fighters is proper brushing and flossing of teeth. Make sure that the busyness of the holidays does not cause a break in your child’s usual teeth brushing routine. This is a big factor in fighting tooth decay.

Finally, consider bringing your child in to see your dentist after the holidays. A quick check up will catch any tooth decay early, preventing major work later on. Follow these tips and keep the sugar goblins at bay this holiday season!


The Low Down On Natural Toothpaste

Flower Child SmileNatural products have been become a bit of a sensation over the last few years. Walmart, for example, has introduced organic vegetables and dairy alongside many other natural products in response to consumer demand. Natural toothpastes have been available for years, but have recently gained prominence as their conventional counterparts have come under new scrutiny. Previously, we have discussed conventional toothpaste, but the landscape has changed since then. Triclosan, for example, a powerful antibacterial agent found in conventional soap and toothpaste, has since been found to alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals and promote antibiotic resistance.

Chitosan comes from shellfish and insect cuticles. The mouth contains bacteria that organize in colonies called oral biofilm. Antibacterial ingredients in toothpaste are important for removing and destroying oral biofilm. It is important to have an antimicrobial agent in toothpaste. One such natural agent is chitosan, which recent studies have proved to be nontoxic and quite effective. Brushing with chitosan may sound off putting when you discover it is harvested from the shells of crustaceans like shrimp and the cuticles of insects. One of the only toothpastes that contains chitosan is a German brand called Chitodent, which is difficult to obtain in the US.

Herbal ingredients make up these toothpastes

A toothpaste with plant based, herbal ingredients called Parodontax, uses natural mineral salts as a detergent agent. It also contains healing herbs such as: Echinacea, chamomile, sage and myrhh. Many conventional toothpastes use sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as the detergent. However, SLS causes mouth ulcers and tissue sloughing. Parodontax is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and is available on the internet.

Editor Jenna Bergen of Prevention magazine recently spoke about all natural toothpaste. “It’s a really big marketing term right now because companies are realizing consumers are becoming savvier in trying to limit their exposure to unnecessary chemicals.” Said Bergen. “So if that matters to you, you can feel confident that when you pick up a natural toothpaste it won’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, and fragrances,” she explains.

There is emerging evidence to suggest that some natural ingredients such as cranberry extract and xylitol can fight cavities. However, natural toothpaste with fluoride is highly recommended. Any well-designed fluoride toothpaste will make enamel more acid resistant. The enamel-strengthening claims on the label are “a marketing gimmick,” says Dr. Featherstone, was a consultant for several toothpaste makers. It is important to choose toothpaste with a taste you like, as you will use it more.

Drink water after eating or drinking acidic foods or drinksRegardless of the toothpaste you use, it is important not to brush your teeth immediately after drinking acids as that is when enamel is most vulnerable to wear from brushing. It’s a good idea to take a few sips of water after drinking or eating acids, scientists add, and sugar-free gum can help by stimulating saliva production.


The Truth about Dental X-ray Safety

Do you hate to have dental X-rays taken? Be honest… of course you do. Everyone does. But, if you are one of the many people who has refused checkup x-rays or told the hygienist that you “don’t need x-rays because nothing is bothering me”, then you should know that you are not doing yourself any favors. In fact, you could be potentially trading a short term inconvenience for a long term, costly problem.

It is certainly true that dental x-rays are a valuable tool when diagnosing the source of pain… but one of the most important reasons for taking periodic x-rays is to identify the many oral conditions have no symptoms at all in the early stages. Patients who refuse x-rays on a regular basis are doing themselves a significant disservice – and worse, they are not getting their money’s worth! Even though they pay for a complete exam, problems may be lurking which cannot be identified except with x-rays.

The concept is similar to that of a mammography, colonoscopy, tuberculosis screening or your annual physical: if a problem can be detected early enough, it is usually less expensive to treat and will likely have a better outcome.

What kinds of problems might be going undetected?

About 20% of the tooth enamel is not visible to the eye during a dental examination and cavities very often begin in these invisible areas: between the teeth where they touch, and where the toothbrush cannot reach. Do you floss thoroughly and regularly? If your answer is anything other than “yes”, then your risk of developing cavities between the teeth is even greater. Gum disease may be completely painless and bleeding unnoticeable even while bone is slowly dissolving away around the tooth. Finally, visually detecting abnormalities around extensive cosmetic or prosthetic restorations like crowns, bridges and implants can be quite challenging; yet the risk of developing a problem is greater around one of these “foreign objects” than for a natural tooth.

So, if oral disease is painless and can’t be seen, how can you be sure that there are no problems? Using x-ray images along with a thorough visual inspection, your dentist can see the entire tooth, the underlying bone, and the roots. Insidious problems like periodontal disease or a dying tooth nerve can be identified even before any discomfort is ever felt. It is important to realize that there are many different types of dental x-rays and they don’t all reveal the same information; your dentist may order one or more of these depending upon your specific needs. For example the x-ray that is taken to check for the presence of wisdom teeth may not reveal cavities very well- and an abscess will not appear on the type of x-ray typically taken to check for bone loss and cavities. You should feel free to ask questions about your dentist’s recommendations!

That said, the reason why some people refuse x-rays is because they have concerns about safety. The American Dental Association has established guidelines for x-ray frequency based on individual patient needs and the safe dosage criteria established by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements which take into consideration the many sources of radiation most people are regularly exposed to, You might be surprised to learn that people are exposed to more radiation in the environment (for instance, while in an airplane or during an afternoon in the sun) than during exposure of dental x-rays; and most dental offices take far fewer x-rays that would be considered safe.

Public safety is not just controlled at federal level. All personnel who take X-rays in any New York dental office must be trained regarding safety and precautions, and the equipment used must be regularly certified by the State as safe for use. Improvements in the quality and speed of dental x-ray film have made it possible to create images with less exposure to radiation than ever before; and digital x-rays further reduce exposure – by up to 90%!

Special circumstances

Although the dentist will nearly always postpone x-rays on pregnant women, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians have stated that they are in fact, safe during pregnancy when necessary.

Some recent television reports and news stories have raised questions about whether dental x-rays can increase the risk for thyroid cancer. The lead shield that is placed over your chest and abdomen during dental x-ray exposure usually has a thyroid collar to protect the gland from any stray radiation; you should know that that according to the American Thyroid Association , routine exposure of dental x-rays has not been proven to cause cancer.

All medical procedures carry some risk and the fact is that Physicians and Dentists use them anyway… provided that the benefits outweigh the risks. Dental x-rays are no exception to this rule, however your health and safety and are our primary concern. Rest assured that no patient care is ever “routine”. We never take more x-rays than are safe, or more than are necessary based on your needs and individual circumstances.

What are your concerns? Please feel comfortable asking your dental provider about the x-ray safety precautions that are used in our office, or about the specific recommendations we have for you.


Xylitol: The Magic Bullet

Have you ever wished for a miracle product that cures everything? Xylitol just might be as close as we have come to that “magic bullet”… It doesn’t really cure everything, but this natural sugar alcohol is a truly amazing health discovery with a multitude of benefits!

Where does Xylitol come from?

Xylitol isn’t new. The product was first discovered by a German chemist in the late 19th century, and was popularized in Europe as a safe sweetener for people with diabetes that would not impact insulin levels. During World War II, when Europe was experiencing an acute sugar shortage, Finnish scientists searched for an alternative – and re-discovered Xylitol, the low-calorie sugar alcohol found in fibrous vegetables, fruit, berries, corn cobs and various hardwood trees like birch. The name, in fact is derived from a Latin word meaning “wood sugar”. This natural substance is produced by certain microorganisms; and it even forms in the human body as a result of normal glucose metabolism. We actually make up to 15 grams daily!

Sugar alcohols like Xylitol are commonly used in sugarless products; you will recognize them by names such as such as mannitol and sorbitol. Equal in sweetness and volume to sugar, Xylitol has 40 per cent fewer calories and 75 per cent fewer carbohydrates and the granular form of can be used in many of the ways that sugar is used, including to sweeten cereals and hot beverages and for baking.

The Many Health Benefits of Xylitol

Among the greatest benefits of Xylitol is that it prevents tooth decay by inhibiting the growth of the bacteria that cause cavities. These bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) use sugar to grow and reproduce generating acid as a by-product, which causes the tooth enamel to break down and a cavity to form. Streptococcus mutans cannot use Xylitol the same way so over time, the type of bacteria in the mouth changes- fewer and fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces, so less plaque forms and the amount tooth-dissolving acid is decreased.

Studies show that Streptococcus mutans is passed from parents (usually mothers) to their newborn children. Regular use of Xylitol by expectant and new mothers has been demonstrated to reduce this bacterial transmission by up to 80% during the first two years of life, resulting in fewer cavities for the child.

Xylitol has been evaluated and recommended by the American Dental Association for the prevention of tooth decay, but studies have demonstrated that it has some other potentially promising medical benefits which deserve further exploration. Xylitol can:

  • Prevent ear infections (Xylitol chewing gum)
  • Prevent upper respiratory infections or “colds” (Xylitol nasal spray)
  • Helps with glycemic (blood sugar) control in diabetics
  • Increase the activity the white blood cells involved in fighting bacteria (neutrophils).
  • Help control oral infections of Candida yeast
  • Help prevent periodontal disease, gastric and duodenal ulcers.
  • Improve bone density and show potential as a treatment for osteoporosis.

The effectiveness of Xylitol is depends on using an optimal dose each day – about 5 grams, or the amount found in gum or mints used 3-5 times daily, is usually adequate. The frequency and duration of exposure is important, so chew Xylitol gum for approximately 5 minutes and mints should be allowed to dissolve. Xylitol was approved for safety the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1963 and has no known toxic levels for humans, although it can be rapidly fatal if accidently ingested by dogs (who frequently have a bit of a sweet tooth!). Large amounts of Xylitol can have a laxative effect, however the dose suggested for cavity prevention is much lower than what typically produces this unwelcome side effect. Most people build a tolerance to the product when used over time in recommended doses, and eventually the laxative effect decreases or disappears entirely.

Xylitol is found most often in chewing gum and mints, but toothpaste and mouth rinses are also available. Health food stores and several internet companies offer are often a good resource for Xylitol products, including bulk packaged. Generally, for the amount of Xylitol to be at decay-preventing levels it must be listed as one of the first three ingredients on the product label.

People at moderate to high risk for tooth decay are most likely to benefit from using Xylitol, especially if it is used as part of an overall strategy that includes a healthy diet and good oral care at home. Ask your doctor, dentist or dental hygienist how using Xylitol may be of benefit to you or your family- you may find that it is the “magic bullet” you have been searching for!