Great strides have been made in treating cancer, but the fact remains that early detection by screenings are crucial to improving cancer survivability. An excellent example is Dr. Papanicolaou and his Pap smear test which has decreased cervical cancer by 80%! Unfortunately, oral cancer rates have not improved in decades.

It has been known for a long time that tobacco and alcohol increase risk of getting mouth cancer, but what about infection from a virus that gives no symptoms? 70% of oral cancers are linked to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is the same virus associated with so many cervical cancers. The same cancer which has decreased 80% as a result of the Pap smear.

An oral cancer screening is much quicker and easier than a Pap smear. In fact, you have already had an oral cancer screening if you have been to Eldon Family Dentistry! Every exam starts this way, so get scheduled today.

The jaw bone is connected to the...

Did you know that your dental health impacts your overall health and vice versa? Taking care of your teeth and your gums can positively affect the rest of your body. While dentists take care of your mouth and medical doctors take care of the rest of your body, your head is still connected to your body. There is no invisible wall dividing the two parts. Instead, there is plenty of overlap. In fact, your mouth is the place where the first signs of certain diseases show up. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to see your dentist regularly so they can identify them. For example, gum disease has been linked with heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.

                Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that causes bone loss, destroyed ligaments, tooth loss, and inflamed gums. It has also been linked to inflammation in other parts of the body. In people with heart disease, bacteria found in plaque build-up on blood vessel walls has been identified as the same bacteria found in the mouth. This plaque build-up, in addition to the inflammation of the blood vessels, decreases the space where blood can flow, leading to high blood pressure. This decreased area for blood to flow can lead to blood clot formation. If this clot breaks away, it can lead to a stroke.

                Since gum disease is a type of infection, it can negatively affect people with diabetes. Any type of infection stresses the body's immune system and impairs its ability to heal. The inflammation from gum disease also has an effect on the body's insulin resistance and can cause a person's blood glucose to be out of control. Therefore, control in one area can help with control in the other. In other words, people who can control their diabetes through diet, exercise, and insulin injections will be better able to control their gum disease. People who control their gum disease by having good oral hygiene and visiting their dentist regularly will be able to better control their diabetes. These two diseases go hand in hand.

                There are other conditions that have been linked to gum disease, such as pregnancy complications, arthritis, and certain cancers (such as pancreatic cancer). However, these links are not as strong. It should be noted that while these diseases have been linked, it doesn't necessarily mean that one causes the other. In summary, it is important to know that you cannot be healthy without health gums. Do you know that state of your gum health?

Brushing and Flossing

Did you know that people have been cleaning their teeth since 3500 BC? That’s over 5,000 years ago! However, the toothbrushes back then would look very different from what we use today. The original toothbrush was called a chewstick and it was made from tree branches – the ends of the branch were smashed and the frayed ends acted like bristles. Can you imagine brushing your teeth with a stick? Over the years other styles developed. Some toothbrushes had handles made from gold and ivory, while others had bristles made from pig and horse hair. The toothbrush has evolved a lot since then.

Before we discuss brushing, there are some things you need to know to pick out the perfect brush for you. Make sure your toothbrush has soft-bristles and is small enough for your mouth. Hard bristles can damage your gums and a toothbrush that is too big is hard to manage so you miss spots. In addition, make sure to get a new toothbrush every three months or sooner if it starts wearing out. Always get a new toothbrush after you get sick!

Now that you know how to pick out the best toothbrush for you, you’re ready to brush your teeth. Add a small amount of toothpaste to the end of your brush. Some brushes even have colored bristles to show how much toothpaste to use. Brush in small circles for two minutes morning and night. Make sure to brush the inside, outside, and chewing portions of every tooth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue too!

You’re not quite finished yet because you still have to floss! Flossing is important because it removes the food and plaque that get trapped between your teeth in areas that your toothbrush cannot reach. This can lead to cavities, bleeding gums, and stinky breath. Yuck!

Any type of floss is good to use. Waxed or unwaxed, string floss, floss picks, or dental tape. It even comes in different colors and flavors. The best kind of floss is the kind you will use every day!

To floss properly, tear off a little over a foot of floss. Then wrap each end around your middle fingers. Leave enough floss in-between your fingers so that you can work it between your teeth. Work the floss gently between your teeth and curve the floss around one side of the tooth so that it makes a C-shape. Then move the C-shaped floss up and down on each side of the tooth. Be careful near your gums and don’t snap the floss between your teeth if it gets stuck. This can cut your gums! Repeat this so that each tooth is cleaned. Even floss behind your very back teeth – this is an area most people miss. Do this every night. It might take some getting used to but if you keep with it, you’ll be breezing through it in no time!