April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so learn more about it. If you or a loved one have any of the following symptoms please take the time to see your dentist. These common signs and symptoms could indicate you have oral cancer, particularly if you have seen these symptoms persist for two weeks or longer:
1. a sore in the mouth that bleeds easily or doesn’t heal
2. a color change in any of the oral tissues, including gums, lips or tongue
3. a lump, thickening or a small eroded area
4. any pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth, throat or lips
5. possible trouble chewing, swallowing or moving your jaw or tongue
In the U.S. in 2010, 37,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer. .But remember, oral cancer doesn’t always present symptoms in the early stages. That’s why it’s important to get screened annually. When detected and treated early, oral cancer patients have a nearly 90% survival rate.
I have written about this twice this month, but I want to make sure I get the point across. They say 3 times the charm. Please make an appointment to see your dentist if you have any of the symptoms described above. It really could save your life. We offer free screening to anyone during the month of April. We think every little bit counts and would like to give back to the community where we can. So if we can be of assistance please feel free to contact us and make an appointment.
You can be assured that as a prosthodontist, I understand the functional mechanics as well as the cosmetic artistry needed to evaluate and create the right smile for you. Your goals for achieving the smile you want and the dental health you need are my first priority. But April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and I urge you to move beyond your smile and exam your overall health. Please make sure you see your dentist or physician and check for any signs of oral cancer. It’s a matter of life and death. We offer free screenings whether you are a patient or just in the neighborhood. Have a great month.
According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, there are two distinct causes of oral cancer. One, which I have mentioned in an earlier article is through the use of tobacco (and alcohol), a long time historic environmental cause, and the other is through the exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which is a newly identified etiology, and apparently the same one which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. And a small number (under 5 %) of people acquire oral cancers from no currently identifiable cause, presumably caused by some genetic predisposition similar to other cancer causing agents.
While most think this is a rare form of cancer, mouth cancer (popularly thought to be the result of chewing tobacco) is diagnosed in about 100 individuals each day here in the US alone, and one person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. If you add the sub category of laryngeal throat cancers like Michael Douglas was recently treated for (and most likely a result of his smoking and consumption of alcohol), the rates of occurrence accounting for about 10,000 additional new cases per year, then the death rate is significantly higher. But these statistics can be drastically reduced when found at the early stages of development. With early diagnosis, oral cancer patients have an 80 to 90 % survival rate.
Unfortunately at this time, the majority of cases are found as late stage cancers, and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis. The reason for these late stage diagnoses is not because these cancers are hard to discover, rather it is because of a lack of public awareness. The American Dental Association states that only 60% of the US population sees a dentist every year, which leaves 40% to happenstance. If heightened public awareness were coupled with a national program for screenings, diagnosis of oral cancers would yield early discovery by both medical and dental professionals.
Ironically, it is potentially easier to obtain public compliance to oral cancer screenings, because unlike many other cancer screening procedures, there is no invasive technique required to look for it, no discomfort or pain involved, and it is very inexpensive to have your mouth examined for the early signs of disease. Realistically, it only costs about $35.00, usually 10 times less than a blood test at your annual physical.
It is important that patients realize that a visit to the dentist is no longer about a filling, a crown, or a postponable cleaning, but actually an exam that is a matter of life and death. It’s important for patients and dentists to start a dialog today. Even if talking about cancer is difficult, there are mechanisms around this. Creating awareness, discovery and diagnosis is the purpose of April being Oral Cancer Awareness Month. So when it comes to oral cancer and saving lives, these are primary responsibilities of the dental community. The most important step in reducing the death rate from oral cancer is early discovery. And no group has a better opportunity to have an impact than members of the dental community. If our practice can be of help we are offering free cancer screening during the month of April.
In 2011 more than 30,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer and approximately 8,000 will die of the disease. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) oral cancer, which is more common than leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and cancers of the brain, liver, bone, thyroid gland, stomach, ovaries, and cervix, is a major cause of death and disfigurement in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) located here in Atlanta, GA., approximately 75% of all oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers—mouth, tongue, lips, throat, nose, and larynx— can be attributed to the use of tobacco related products. Those who choose to use cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, or snuff, place themselves at a much higher risk of developing oral cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
With the level of prevalence described above, the oral cancer screening routinely performed during one’s hygiene and dental examination is one of the most critical preventative components of your bi-annual visits to the dentist .
If you find anything out of the ordinary during a self-examination—particularly anything that does not heal or go away in two weeks, or that has recently changed— make sure you discuss it with your dentist or physician. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and we offer free cancer screening, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s (NIDCR) National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse in partnership with the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Friends of the NIDCR.
Brushing your teeth, buttoning your shirt, or opening a child proof bottle are all routine daily activities that most people take for granted. But if you have arthritis and it affects your hands, performing these and other basic tasks can be challenging, if not impossible. Theoretically, “exercising” your hands should reduce the pain, improve your range of motion, and, ultimately, enable you to perform more easily the various tasks of daily living. However, early in the morning use of your hands may aggravate your situation.
Arthritis of the hands manifests differently depending on what kind of arthritis you have. Osteoarthritis, which is the most common cause of hand arthritis, involves the protective cartilage that covers the ends of your bones and its gradual deteriorates is due to wear and tear or, in some cases, to injury. If your hand pain is caused by osteoarthritis there’s a high probability that flossing and brushing your teeth may be affected.
By contrast, rheumatoid arthritis, sometimes referred to as RA, is an immune system disorder that damages the cells in the tissue that lines and lubricates the joints in your hand. If rheumatoid arthritis is the cause of your hand pain, the distinction between osteoarthritis – and rheumatoid arthritis -induced hand pain is important for several reasons*:
First, if your pain is caused by rheumatoid, you should not attempt to alleviate it with exercise alone. So the exercise associated with brushing your teeth could exacerbate your joint problems. Second, strengthening exercises can be harmful if performed aggressively and should be done in moderation by people with rheumatoid arthritis. Third, you should perform any type of exercise with caution while you’re having a flare up of the joints.
So that your oral health does not suffer due to the deterioration and pain associated with either arthritis I would suggest the purchase an electric toothbrush. My preference is the Oral-B, but it really doesn’t matter which one you use, you just need to use one. Regardless of your condition, my experience with patients who use the Oral-B regularly has shown results in the positive care of their oral health. With respect to flossing, which is just as important in maintaining your oral hygiene, you may need to increase the number of visits to the dentist to clean your teeth where you can’t otherwise preform the task. If you discuss this with your dentist, you should be able to make arrangements just to have your teeth cleaned on alternating appointments and forego unnecessary exam fees. Interestingly enough, there is a possibility that the prescription by your physician may afford you insurance coverage for the extra visits. As a side note, if you utilize a health savings account, you certainly should be about to cover the costs of all your visits with pre-tax health dollars. If there is anything we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact us.
*This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Some of this information was provided by Johns Hopkins website on arthritis. (http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com).
I read this article the other day by the Mayo Clinic staff and it appears very much worth republishing. Please read this and adjust your life accordingly. Its really not that difficult to lead a healthy life style and live longer lives through good oral health.
Oral health: A window to your overall health
Your oral health is more important than you may realize. Get the facts about how the health of your mouth, teeth and gums may affect your general health.
Did you know that your oral health can offer clues about your overall health? Or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Understand the intimate connection between oral health and overall health and what you can do to protect yourself.
What’s the connection between oral health and overall health?
Your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, harmful bacteria can sometimes grow out of control and cause oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. In addition, dental procedures, medications, or treatments that reduce saliva flow, disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth or breach the mouth’s normal protective barriers may make it easier for bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
What conditions may be linked to oral health?
Your oral health may affect, be affected by or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:
Endocarditis. Gum disease and dental procedures that cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. If you have a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, this can cause infection in other parts of the body — such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis).
Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to oral bacteria, possibly due to chronic inflammation from periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease.
Pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control.
HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
Alzheimer’s disease. Tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Other conditions. Other conditions that may be linked to oral health include Sjogren’s syndrome — an immune system disorder — and eating disorders.
Be sure to tell your dentist if you’re taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health — especially if you’ve had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition.
How can I protect my oral health?
To protect your oral health, resolve to practice good oral hygiene every day. For example:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
Haven’t you noticed your dental care really hasn’t increased that much? In fact it has either tracked or lagged behind the consumer price index and this is despite all the advances in dental technology. Compare that observation to your medical care costs. If you go in to see your dentist and ask for an estimated cost of treatment, 9 times out of 10 you will get a quote. Try doing that in your physician’s office. Why? Because your dental care has been a product of the free market system. The insurance companies have never yet to invade the purview of your oral health the way they have dominated, if not destroyed your overall health care.
You get your teeth examined, cancer screening, teeth cleaning and x-rays twice a year for less than $300.00. And that’s about two hours of actual treatment from your dentist and his team. At the physician’s office you go in once a year, see your physician or his PA for about 10 to 16[i] minutes on average and it costs $300 to $900.00, depending on possible immunizations and your blood work (which costs more than twice what an independent lab charges if you have it done outside of your physician’s office). Physicians are paid by insurance and Medicare submittals based on the procedures they perform and not by the amount of time they spend with you. So the quicker the visit the more procedures they can bill your insurance for. If they take too long it cost them money, not you. And all their revenues are based on negotiated fees with your insurance company, not the free market system. Ah, the key phrase – free market system. Dentistry never bought into insurance coverage for your treatment and care and as a result of the free market system there has been a reasonable or to put it better a withstandable increase to the cost of your oral health care based on the supply and demand curves.
So how much does insurance influence the cost of your health care? Anecdotally, let me tell you about my daughter’s, but really my experience with health care and why we are the losers in this battle to secure adequate health care treatment at an affordable price. My daughter had a cyst under her eyelid. It was not visible to you or me, but it irritated the dickens to her cornea. I found a specialist and accompanied my daughter to the physician. It was determined that the treatment required general anesthesia to safely perform the surgery. When I asked ‘how much’, I received no answer. I was passed on to the patient coordinator for that physician. So I asked ‘how much’, and again I received no answer. They didn’t have a clue what this was going to cost me. So I immediately said ‘sign me up, I’ll take two’. Seriously though, they needed my insurance carrier and they would let me know, great.
I get a call from the physician’s office. It’s going to cost you $800 and change. Ok, great, and is that my drive out price? ‘Oh no, that’s just the doctor’s fee.’ Ok, so what else? I have to call the surgical center. Ok, how much does that cost? We [the doctor] don’t know, you just have to call and find out. So I called. The gentleman quoted me $1540.00 including 2 hours of facility and the anesthesiologist. ‘Oh, and you won’t be needing a biopsy, since this is cosmetic.’ No wait, this is not cosmetic, it’s required surgery. So the gentleman backs up and re-quotes the price. It will be $4 to 7 thousand for the surgical suite, $1800 & change for the anesthesiologist and X amount of dollars for the biopsy.
Wait, hold on, back up a minute, you just quoted me a price that is almost 7 times what the same procedure would cost if it was elective surgery. Ah, that key phrase creeps back in to the conversation. Under a free market system, elective surgery only garners what the market will bear. But under an insurance based system, physicians don’t know what it costs, so they inflate the costs and hope for some remuneration equal to or in excess of what it really costs under a free market system to treat you. In other words, it’s a crap-shoot your physician is playing with your health insurance company. And the loser is you. So the next time you go to the physician or the dentist, remember why you’re paying what to whom, the physician or your insurance company. And the next time you discuss health care reform; you’re probably talking about insurance reform. If we can answer your questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.