Since you could remember, I’m sure you’ve heard dentists talk about how everyone needs to have a dental cleaning and examination once every six months. Most of you probably only consider a dental cleaning and examine as something that focuses on the health of your teeth. While the health of your teeth is our main concern, we also look for issues with the gums and abnormalities in the mouth.
Patients at Newingham Dental Care have grown to expect thorough exams that includes cavity detection, gum disease exam and an oral cancer screening. All of these exams are part of our preventative care program that is aimed at helping patients resolve dental and oral cavity issues before they balloon into large, expensive – or potentially even deadly – issues.
What to Expect With Our Preventative Care
Preventative care is one of my favorite parts of handling patients’ dental care. It gives me a great opportunity to speak with patients about their oral health situation and give advice for how to keep your mouth healthy forever. It all starts with a thorough dental exam and cleaning. The cleanings allow us to remove any plaque and tartar buildup. While plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing, tartar is hardened plaque and can only be removed by an only health professional. Plaque, tartar and bacteria are what causes cavities and even gum issues.
The Far Reach of Gum Disease
Just as it’s vitally important to maintain the health of your teeth, it’s also important to care for your gums by brushing and flossing regularly. Floss removes bacteria and food partials between the teeth and beneath the gums. When bacteria infects the gums, it creates a periodontal pocket between the gum and the tooth. Gum disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world and will affect about 75 of the population.
In its serious stages, gum disease can deteriorate bone and lead to total tooth loss. We clean periodontal pockets through a process known as scaling and planing. This allows us to clean the infected area under the gums and keep from reaching the jawbone. Because bacteria in the periodontal pocket can multiply quickly, we recommend that patients with gum disease visit our office for cleanings every three months instead of every six months.
Oral Cancer Screening – Who’s At Risk?
Most people here about oral cancer and imagine someone who has spent years smoking cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. While tobacco users are at a higher risk of oral cancer, no patients are immune to the problem. That’s why we screen patients using a technology known as VELscope. This handheld device uses a special light to detect possible abnormalities in the mouth. While I’m trained to identify abnormalities in the mouth, VELscope detects abnormalities that are not apparent to the naked eye.
About 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. If caught early, the survival rate for oral cancer is very high, but the five-year survival is only about 50 percent. There are known and unknown risk factors associated with oral cancer. Most people diagnosed with oral cancer are 50 or older, and 75 percent of those diagnosed are tobacco users. You’re also more likely to get oral cancer if you regularly use tobacco and alcohol. But it’s possible to be at a higher threat of oral cancer even you do not use alcohol or tobacco.
HPV16, which is a virus that causes cervical cancers, can also cause oralpharyngeal cancers. HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease, but there are many different variations of the virus. Only the HPV 16 virus has been linked to oral cancer. What is unique about this virus is that it’s common in the younger population, so it’s important for people of all ages to be getting screening for oral cancer.
Before dentists and health professionals would only look at risk factors like tobacco and alcohol, but we now know that the HPV16 does increase your risk of oral cancer. With this new information, we feel it’s important to offer our oral screenings to patients following regular their cleanings and exams. It’s our way of giving you the most thorough preventative care possible.
If you’re looking for a new dentist who uses the latest tools and training, come visit our office. We’d love to handle your oral care and give you a healthy smile that will last for the rest of your life! Call us at 248-972-8720 for an appointment.