Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oral Cancer Screening: 5 Signs to Watch

Regular check-ups are a proactive approach to fight oral health problems. Most people associate cavities or gum disease as part of the screening process within routine dental visits. Oral cancer screenings are another important piece of a routine exam that is often less talked about. Like any other type of cancer, the earlier you catch it, the better.

Preventative measures taken with oral cancer screening
A routine oral exam should consist of the dentist screening for cancer inside the mouth. There are several visual signs that a dentist is looking for during the exam. The signs and symptoms are not a sure sign that cancer is there, but like any other abnormality, it is better to question the symptom than ignore a potential problem. Identifying cancerous or pre-cancerous conditions does not involve any major procedure, but a dentist who makes them a part of regular check-up is a great place to start.

Dentists screen patients looking for 5 common symptoms of oral cancer. These symptoms are not absolute signs that cancer is present as many less severe problems can create the same condition. Oral cancer screening is a preventative measure to detect dangerous cells before they have a chance to spread.

5 common symptoms that may signify oral cancer:

1. Red, white or sores located anywhere inside the mouth.
2. A sore that bleeds easily and never seems to heal.
3. A lump, rough or thickened skin located within the oral cavity.

Some symptoms may not be caught visually but rather found as part of a discussion with the patient. Dentists who perform oral cancer screenings may notice sensitivities during their exam and then follow up their findings with a series of questions. Patient answers will help a dentist evaluate a concern level for the last two common symptoms.

4. When a patient mentions an occurrence of pain, tenderness or any kind of numbness found anywhere inside the mouth (including lips) a dentist must consider the possibility of oral cancer.
5. If a patient shares concerns with; chewing or swallowing difficulties, trouble speaking, or moving their jaw or tongue a dentist will take measures to rule out oral cancer.

Diablo Pacific Dental Group performs oral cancer screenings at every exam. A quick screening could save a life! If abnormalities are found, a simple brush test (collects cells from the area) would be the next screening step.  It is important for patients to understand the importance of discussing their oral health with the dentist at every check-up. It is much better to rule out the potential risk of cancer or pre-cancer and go about a healthy life than keeping it to yourself and allow cancerous cells to mature and spread.

Oral cancer screening is one more benefit to regular dental check-ups. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or simply need to get your teeth cleaned, take a moment and call our office today. We will schedule an appointment for a regular check-up. Dental exams not only target oral health concerns, but can also identify other medical conditions. Call your dentist today!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Top 7 Symptoms of Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Besides tooth decay, periodontal disease (gum disease) is a prominent problem with oral health. They both create dental problems if left untreated. Gum disease often strikes silently. In other words, the disease has already set into the gums before ever being detected. Good brushing habits do well to prevent the disease in the first place and regular dental check-ups are the best way to catch oral health problems in the earliest stages. Catching tooth decay and periodontal disease in the beginning makes it much easier to treat. You could put a stop to gum disease if you catch it early enough.
Healthy gums strengthen healthy teeth

7 Gum Disease symptoms to watch out for:

1. Gums are red, puffy and tender to touch. This isn't normal. Healthy gums don’t swell, change in color or become tender without cause. If it happens and goes away on its own without re-occurrence, you may not have to worry about it. If you find that it is happening more often or is a continuous problem, don’t waste any more time hoping it will go away on its own.

2. Do your gums bleed when you are brushing or flossing? Reoccurring bleeding gums are a sure sign that something is not right. Occasionally if there is something really stuck in between your teeth, the floss or a tooth pick could break the skin while trying to get the particle out. It isn't this rare instance that should alarm you but rather the repeated occurrence of bleeding gums.

3. Do your teeth look like they have grown longer? Receding gums is a normal part of growing older, but it doesn't happen that fast unless there is something wrong. If you notice a difference in the size of your teeth, it’s time to call the dentist.

4. Finding food stuck in your gums more often? It is not uncommon to find things such as popcorn kernels stuck in gums after a trip to the movies.  When gums begin to separate from your teeth, it creates a pocket for food to get stuck in. If you find that food is becoming trapped in your gums on a more consistent basis, it is time to visit your dentist.

5. People don’t often pay attention to the way food is chewed. If you begin to notice something different in the way your teeth fit together when you bite, it is a sign that something is changing in your mouth. Gum disease can weaken teeth and make them move or shift. When you notice a change in the way your teeth fit together during biting, make an appointment to see your dentist.

6. Any sign of pus coming out of your gum line, in between or around your teeth is an apparent sign of some sort of infection. Just because you have no other signs or symptoms of periodontal disease, pus should never be ignored. The problem may lie well below the surface and will require immediate medical attention. Let your dentist know, the office staff will quickly schedule an appointment to check it out.

7. We all get bad breath now and then from the food and drink choices we make. Constant bad breath (Halitosis) is a definite sign that something is wrong somewhere. A good brushing and flossing routine takes away food particles that could cause bad breath. When the odor does not go away, it is a good sign that something is going on under the surface. You guessed it, call your dentist.

Early stages of gum disease can be reversed, but once periodontal disease has set in, your dentist can only treat it. It is important to pay attention to your oral health as you would the rest of your body. Some oral problems are signs or symptoms of additional medical problems. Regular check-ups are proactive prevention methods to stop gum disease before it has a chance to start. Tartar that is given the opportunity to sit on the teeth and along the gum line will definitely create future troubles.

Call Diablo Pacific Dental Group as soon as you notice one of the above symptoms of gum disease. Take the proactive approach one step further and schedule an appointment for a regular check-up. An apple a day may keep a doctor away, while routine cleanings do the same for periodontal disease.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Limit Tooth Wear for a Strong Healthy Bite

Teeth are naturally strong. A routine cleaning regimen will help to maintain a healthy set of teeth. There are several threats against teeth that brushing will not protect teeth from. The good news is that there are several other strategies which can be used to guard teeth from accidental and normal wear and tear.

Accidental Tooth Wear

No one plans to ship, break or fracture a tooth. Significant injuries require immediate dental work. It is important to contact a dentist right away when emergency trauma has left a tooth damaged. It is important to think about proactive action to help prevent or limit potential damage.

·         - Limit biting on hard items (popcorn kernels, ice) especially on teeth with fillings or crowns.
·         - Wear mouth guards when playing sports.
             -  Get damaged teeth restored. The tooth will never be as strong as the original, but a restored tooth is much stronger than the weakened tooth without restorations.

Teeth grinding will wear down teeth

Teeth are designed to bite, chew and grind food.  Tooth wear concerns are for those people who do it unconsciously (during sleep). Bruxism (tooth grinding) can wear down the points of molars and cause micro-cracks in enamel. This action leaves the tooth more susceptible to dental caries (tooth decay) and breakage. In additions to tooth wear, grinding will also bring on headaches, muscle pain and injury. If the person is unaware of their grinding, the dentist will see signs of the damage during regular check-ups.

Preventative measures for teeth grinding:

·         - Regular dental check-ups to catch a problem in early stages
·         - Wear a mouth guard or splint when sleeping to minimize tooth wear
·         - Manage the stress and anger that may create tooth grinding and clenching problems

Tooth Wear from Acid and Erosion

Acid levels found inside the mouth are linked to enamel erosion. When the pH is out of balance, teeth are more susceptible to dental carries. The balance will shift when acidic foods and drinks are consumed and/or acidic-bacteria levels rise. Some diseases will also influence the erosion levels of teeth. People who are bulimic, pregnant women with long-term morning sickness, chronic gastritis (linked to alcoholism) or gastro esophageal re-flux disease (GERD).

Medical attention to help treat these diseases is the best course of action to limit the erosion side-affects. Doctors may prescribe medication or provide information regarding dietary changes in order to limit further damage to tooth enamel. It is also important to keep up with dental check-ups so the dentist can keep abreast of the effects the acid problems have on tooth enamel.

Dentists have been known to observe the signs of diseases by the dental side-affects. Dr. Patel will advise patients to make an appointment with their primary physician if oral health problems signal other health concerns.

Call Diablo Pacific Dental Group for more information or to schedule an appointment to stop excess tooth wear in its tracks.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) Tops the Oral Health Problems List

Call your dentist for help with tooth decay.
Dentists around the world see the destruction of dental caries inpatients mouths every day. Tooth decay is a leading cause of tooth restoration in children and a vast amount of adults. Preventative care against tooth decay is supported by routine cleaning visits. Unfortunately, many patients avoid preventative check-ups and schedule an appointment once the pain becomes intolerable.

The early stages of tooth decay begin as a small patch of softened tooth enamel.  The areas largely affected are most often the ones hidden out of sight within the grooves or between teeth.  Without proper dental care (a filling at this point) the dental caries works its way down to the softer inner portion of the tooth. This area (the pulp of the tooth) is where the nerves of the tooth are located. Dental caries will also attack the roots of a tooth via gum line. Gum recession often results from a part of the aging process or from poor daily brushing regimens.

RestorationProcedures to Treat Dental Caries

Fillings - When cavities are small and haven’t had the time to create excess damage or travel to the pulp of the tooth. The dentist will drill out the decay and restore the area with a filling.

Crowns -When tooth decay has had time to spread to a large portion of the tooth, or older fillings are present weakening the overall condition of the tooth, the dentist will crown or cap the tooth. The dentist will prepare the tooth and place a temporary crown over the tooth until the permanent restoration is complete. During a second dental visit, the dentist will permanently cement the crown onto the affected tooth.

Root Canal Therapy - When dental caries has traveled into the pulp are of the tooth or below the gum line to affect the roots, root canal therapy will treat the affected area.  A crown is used to seal the tooth and protect the remaining tooth area from further damage.

Extraction - A dentist uses extraction as a last course of action to treat dental caries. It is always best practice to keep as much of the original tooth intact. A missing tooth can and will evolve into a new set of dental problems if the space is left empty. If extraction is a necessary course of action, a dentist will discuss replacement options to fill the gap.

Prevent Tooth Decay

Prevention is the best action to attack dental caries. There are several ways to attack tooth decay before it begins:

·         Use fluorides or drink water treated with fluoride to strengthen teeth against tooth decay
·         Limit sugar consumption and rinse or brush soon after consumption
·         Talk to the dentist about pit and fissure sealants to protect hard to reach areas
·         Don’t avoid routine cleaning appointments. The hygienists can help you become more familiar with areas  you may not brush as well as others.  Tartar is removed to help keep dental caries from traveling under the  gum line.
·    Maintain a healthy brushing regimen that includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day

Don’t avoid the dentist. Work with the entire team of professionals at Diablo Pacific Dental Group to learn how to fight back and limit or prevent the spread of dental caries. Call our office today!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Welcome to our Diablo Pacific Dental Group blog!

We're excited to announce the official launch of our Diablo Pacific Dental Group blog.

We'll be posting helpful dental tips, news from the dental industry, news from our practice, and more about the latest in dentistry.

We built our practice on the notion that we're there for our patients when they need us and we want our online presence to be a reflection of that principle. We hope this blog provides an extra level of service to our current and future patients.

If you would like to stay up to date on the latest from Diablo Pacific Dental Group, simply click the RSS “Subscribe to feed” link located on our website and subscribe. Our subscribers will be updated when we make a new blog post.

Here's to your best oral health ever!