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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Here's What you need to know.

April 18th, 2018

Oral Cancer is not a rare disease.  Approximately 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed this year alone and 130 individuals will be diagnosed each day with oral cancer. Oral cancer kills ONE person every hour of every day in the United States – more people than other more widely-known forms of cancer such as: cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid.  The death rate for this cancer is particularly high because it is usually discovered late in its development.

Many times oral cancer goes unnoticed because in the early stages patients may not be experiencing pain or symptoms.  How many times have you had a sore in your mouth that you have ignored?  Ignoring bumps, discoloration, sores, or pain is very dangerous. If it is cancerous and you do ignore them, you are now at a high risk of developing cancer in a second location.  There are several different types of oral cancers and they can spread into other areas like the lymph nodes of the neck.  Oral cancer is usually easy to discover if you get annual screenings.  Oral cancer screenings are affordable, painless, and quick. The good news is oral cancer can be found early in its development with an extensive oral cancer screening. If oral cancer is found early, the 5-year survival rate is good: approximately 83%.  If found late, the 5-year survival rate is poor:  approximately 32%.  Clearly, finding oral cancer in its early stages is key to success and survival.  Get screened!

Who should get screened?

Everyone over the age of 18. Early detection saves lives.  Finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages is possible by getting annual screenings.

What are the risk factors?
Tobacco, Alcohol & HPV 16 Virus

Oral cancer signs and symptoms:

  • Sores that don’t heal within 14 days
  • Numbness in your mouth or lips
  • Difficulty moving jaw or tongue and/or pain in the jaw or tongue
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Persistent sore throat or hoarse voice
  • A painless lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks
  • Constant coughing
  • An ear ache on one side (unilateral) which persists for more than a few days
  • Sensation something is stuck in your throat

 

HPV and Oral Cancer

There are two distinct risk factors that greatly increase your odds of developing oral cancer – tobacco and alcohol.  The other is through exposure to HPV (human papilloma virus), which is the most commonly sexually transmitted virus in the US. Recent studies suggest that over 1 in 3 young people carry this virus and show no symptoms. HPV oral cancers and tobacco/alcohol oral cancer produce very DIFFERENT signs and symptoms and the treatments are different as well.

What you need to know about HPV related oral cancers

  • HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers (the very back of the mouth and part of what in lay terms might be called part of the throat), and a very small number of the front of the mouth, oral cavity cancers.
  • In the oral/oropharyngeal environment, HPV16 manifests itself primarily in the posterior regions such as the base of the tongue, back of the throat and tonsils.
  • There are nearly 200 strains of HPV.  HPV number 16 is the version most responsible for oropharyngeal cancers and affects both males and females.  HPV 16 is also what causes cervical cancer in women.
  • White, non-smoking males in their 30’s and 40’s are most at risk, 4 to 1 over females.

Oral cancer screenings should be conducted once a year.  They are quick, affordable, pain free and it can save your life!

To schedule your free oral cancer screening today, click here to make an online appointment. It will also be a good time get a cleaning.

Restorative Dentistry. What exactly is it?

April 11th, 2018

Whether caused by routine wear or damaged by accidental trauma, teeth can become worn and damaged. Even with routine professional cleanings and preventive home care, patients with damaged smiles are left vulnerable to tooth infection, gum disease, and a number of other dental issues. Without proper restorative care, many may find themselves in need of extensive treatments to restore function, health, and aesthetics to the smile.

Often called restorative dentistry, restorative dental treatments are those designed to reinforce or replace damaged teeth in order to restore health and function to the entire smile. This form of dentistry includes a wealth of procedures, many of which are cosmetically driven. As a result, many patients who pursue restorative dental care enjoy renewed, natural looking smiles.

Comprehensive Restoration Options

Thanks to advanced technology, there are a number of treatment options for people who need or want restorative dentistry, each of which are personalized to the patient’s unique smile. Depending on dental needs, a customized treatment plan may include one or more of the following treatments:

Conservative Dental Restorations

Fillings: Made of tooth-colored resin, dental fillings are ideal for filling chips and cracks in teeth. For patients with small cavities, a dentist will use composite fillings to restore damaged teeth, leading to a natural looking yet fully restored tooth.

Crowns: In cases where teeth have been severely cracked, compromised by cavity, or have undergone root canal therapy, patients may need more comprehensive coverage. Many dentist offers porcelain crowns, which are customized to fit over damaged teeth, thus reinforcing the strength of the tooth. Porcelain dental crowns are made to precisely match the shade of neighboring teeth, leaving patients with a uniform smile.

Restorations for Missing Teeth

For patients missing one or more teeth, restorative dentist offer a number of tooth replacement options, each of which are created to your specific tooth loss needs. Some of options include:

Bridges: With this treatment, false teeth are supported by two crowns, which are attached to healthy neighboring teeth. As bridges are made of porcelain, they provide patients with a resilient teeth replacement option.

Dentures: For individuals missing multiple teeth, full dentures and partial dentures are often more effective treatment options. Dentures are often recommended in cases where all teeth are missing from an arch, whereas partial dentures are recommended for patients who still have a number of healthy teeth, and need to fill the gaps.

Dental Implants: Considered the golden standard of restorative care, dental implants provide patients with a permanent option when replacing missing teeth. Rather than sitting above the gums, dental implants are placed into the jaw, creating a sturdy foundation for future restorations.

What’s Right for You?

Whether you’re looking for a minor filling or searching for more comprehensive restorative care, Brewer Dental Center is here to help. Our West-end and Heights location offers a wealth of treatment options designed to help your smile regain function and beauty.

Click here to schedule your free consultation today.

 

How to Afford Dental Care on a Budget

April 4th, 2018

Routine dental care can be expensive. Even preventative care carries a hefty price tag, and more involved treatment of conditions that aren’t caught early enough can empty an emergency fund in one or two visits. In addition, only one third of all working American adults have dental insurance, so many are forced to pay out-of-pocket for any dental care they do have.

On the long list of issues people need to be concerned about, oral health is pretty far down on the list.

Why dental care?
A common misconception for most Americans is that if your teeth are healthy and pain-free, you don’t need to go to the dentist.

Contrary to popular belief, visiting the dentist regularly when your teeth look great and feel healthy is the very best way to catch problems before they become serious enough to cause pain and require expensive treatment.

Additionally, the medical community has long understood that oral health has a direct impact on other serious medical issues. For instance, untreated gum disease has been linked to increased chances of heart disease, diabetes and respiratory problems.

Finally, it’s typically the dentist who discovers and diagnoses cancers of the mouth, tongue and tonsils, which are highly treatable conditions when caught early enough to effectively treat.

So, it’s not just about brushing, flossing, and keeping your smile looking good. It’s ultimately about maintaining the total health of your body and protecting yourself from pain and suffering down the road.

How to fit dental care into an already tight budget?
Because quality dental care is truly important for everyone, the driving force of affording it generally comes down to planning and determination.

Do your homework
In today’s world, most people will take the time to comparison shop for the best prices on everything from shoes and cell phones, to clothing and supplements. You should shop the same for dental services as well.

While dental care is not as much fun to research as the newest techy gadget, it’s probably more important in the long run. Take the time to learn what options may be available to you and how to obtain affordable care. Do the same in comparing dentists and clinics in your area to determine their costs without insurance.

And don’t forget the option of discount dental plans. These can easily make a huge difference in out-of-pocket cost for care while costing far less than most insurance premiums.

Make a budget
To prioritize dental care, it’s important to budget a portion of your disposable income to go toward out-of-pocket expenses related to routine care.

From there, divide the annual cost of routine preventive dental care based on your research by 12 months to determine what portion of your funds to set aside each week or month to cover your dental care. Consider tracking your savings in an app on your phone or somewhere you can access it when you need to for reference.

Routine dental care can be expensive. Even preventative care carries a hefty price tag, and more involved treatment of conditions that aren’t caught early enough can empty an emergency fund in one or two visits. In addition, only one third of all working American adults have dental insurance, so many are forced to pay out-of-pocket for any dental care they do have.

Make your appointments early
Most dentist recommend you visit for routine check-up, cleaning and exams every six months, and will usually want to update your x-rays once a year.

Once your budget is dedicated to routine dental care, it’s helpful to schedule an appointment in advance. That way, the visit is reserved in your calendar, and you have a concrete visit to save for.

By following these simple steps, if you are on a tight budget, you can put the necessary priority on quality dental care and maintain your oral health from this point on.

Looking for ways to save on dental care? Find out how to save from 10%-50% on dental care when you join our dental advantage plan.

Need to make an appointment? Click here to schedule.

 

3 Reasons to Worry About a Missing Tooth (or Teeth)!

March 5th, 2018

According to the American College of Prosthodontics, 120 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth and more than 36 million people don’t have any teeth at all. These numbers are expected to grow over the next two decades. Tooth loss can happen due to a number of reasons – gum disease, injury, cancer and wear. However, regardless of the reason you may have a missing tooth, the impact on your life is often significant.

In addition to appearance, there are other issues and dangers that can occur if you don’t replace missing teeth. Learning about the long-term costs and risks of not replacing a missing tooth can help you understand why tooth replacement options are so important.

Bone Loss
One of the most significant dangers related to not replacing a missing tooth is bone loss – also known as bone resorption. Bone loss occurs after a tooth is gone because the natural roots of the tooth are no longer embedded in the jawbone, leaving a void. Over time, the jawbone will begin to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, bone resorption doesn’t only impact the tooth that is missing, it actually puts you at risk of losing neighboring teeth and will eventually impact your facial appearance. As time passes without replacing missing teeth, you may notice that your face shape will change gradually and your lips may appear asymmetrical and sunken.

Additionally, a missing tooth – or teeth – can also increase the chance you will develop gum disease in the area where the tooth existed or even suffer from tooth decay on a neighboring tooth.

Speaking and Eating
Another serious risk of not replacing a missing tooth is the reduced ability to eat certain types of foods. Depending on which tooth or teeth are missing, it may become difficult to bite into and chew certain foods. In an attempt to avoid biting and chewing near the missing tooth, you’ll most likely begin overusing other teeth to compensate for the missing tooth or teeth.

Overall, this can eventually lead to diminished health and poor nutrition. For example, a common side effect of missing teeth can be digestive issues as you begin to eat softer foods or don’t fully chew foods before swallowing.

If certain teeth are missing, such as the ones in the front, it can also impact the way you speak and your ability to clearly pronounce certain words. You may develop a lisp or a change in how you pronounce certain words and sounds.

Reduced Self-Esteem
If a space from the missing tooth can be seen when you smile, eat, or speak, you may start to avoid smiling, eating, and speaking to people in public. This can have a significant impact on your social life, your job, and as a result, the amount of money you are able to earn at your job. If gum disease develops due to the missing tooth, you may begin to experience bad breath, as well.

Depending on your age, career path, and relationship status, the lifetime costs of a missing tooth can really add up if you’re not confident to smile, eat, or speak in front of other people.

Options
There is no question that dealing with a missing tooth can be a stressful situation. However, if you speak with your dentist, you will quickly discover there are many replacement options available to help fit your lifestyle and budget. Also, getting to know the risks of not replacing a missing tooth can help you see why you shouldn’t wait to have a new tooth placed. There is no reason to allow your oral health to suffer when you can easily restore your oral health, and your beautiful smile.

Click the Schedule an Appointment button above to schedule today!
Or call us at 406-656-6100.

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