The hectic pace of today’s adult lifestyle often leaves little time for the daily oral health care routine needed to prevent cavities and periodontal disease. This is unfortunate since periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. An estimated 75% of Americans reportedly have some form of periodontal disease.
Early detection of periodontal disease reduces the risk of permanent damage to teeth and gums and can prevent more extensive and costly treatment in later years. Regular professional visits, every six months or as scheduled by our dental hygienist, will help you learn more about proper care for your teeth and gums. Regular professional visits are important because gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease, is usually painless; you may not be able to detect it on your own. Most dental insurance will cover 2 prophy cleanings (basic cleaning) per year so take full advantage of it! In some cases, a patient will need a deeper cleaning that your insurance may not cover 100% Talk with one of our friendly staff members here at Legends Family Dental to discuss what the proper cleaning would be for you & what’s your estimated dental insurance coverage.
Dental cleaning is the removal of dental plaque (a soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (‘calculus’) from the teeth. Dental cleanings are necessary to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. If left untreated, severe gum disease can result in tooth loss. Cleaning and polishing of the teeth leave the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them.
The dental hygienist or dentist will use specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. First, the dental hygienist will use an ultrasonic device that emits vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. The ultrasonic device sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a comfortable temperature. Next, hand tools called scalers and curettes are used to manually remove smaller deposits and smooth the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth.
Once all the tooth surfaces have been cleaned of tartar and plaque, the teeth are polished using a slow speed handpiece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis paste which is a special gritty toothpaste-like material – is applied to the teeth to make them shiny and smooth. Your dental hygienist or dentist may also apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen the tooth enamel.
Oral Cancer Screening
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer typically appears as a sore or unexpected growth that doesn’t go away. This includes cancers of the floor of the mouth, cheeks, tongue, lips, sinuses, throat, and hard and soft palate.
Which oral cancer symptoms should I watch out for?
The most common sign of oral cancer is a mouth sore that doesn’t subside on its own. Other oral cancer warning signs include:
Sudden mouth bleeding
Problems moving the jaw or tongue
Feeling like something is caught in the back of the throat
Chronic sore throat
Sudden weight loss
White, red, or speckled patches in the mouth
Thickening of the gums or lips
Many people experience no symptoms at all in the beginning stages of oral cancer, so it’s important to schedule routine visits with the Legends Dental team at least twice a year.
What happens during an oral cancer screening?
An oral cancer screening is a physical exam in which the Fuller Smiles team analyzes your entire oral cavity, including the:
The roof of the mouth
Under the chin
Underneath the tongue
Your dentist performs this test in two parts. The visual exam portion of your screening requires them to remove any dental appliances from your mouth. Your dentist then uses a small light, mirror, and tongue depressor to look through your entire mouth for abnormalities.
Next, during the physical exam, they feel around your chin, jaw, and neck for swollen nodules or abnormal bumps. Depending on your symptoms or risk factors, such as whether you smoke, your dentist may also ask you to swallow while examining the back of the throat.
If any unhealthy cells are found, the team will refer you to a specialist to have them removed & tested.
What happens after my oral cancer screening?
An oral cancer screening is not a diagnostic exam, so if your dentist finds any abnormalities, they may ask you to return for a second visit. If you did receive any treatment by the specialist, your doctor/specialist will call you with the results soon after. In its early stages, oral cancer is treatable and the outcome positive.
Unfortunately, most oral cancer cases are not discovered until the disease has metastasized, or spread to other areas around the body. That’s why it’s crucial to talk to your dentist and prepare a list of questions prior to your oral cancer screening, especially if you have a family history of the disease or other risk factors.
Call Legends Family Dental to book an appointment today to learn more about oral cancer screening.
Due to recent advances in medicine and computer science, our dentists can now painlessly prevent a disease that kills many Americans. Well over 25% of those found to have oral cancer do not use tobacco or abuse alcohol. Recent studies have also shown a link between HPV and an increase in oral cancer.
During a careful professional examination, most people will be found to have one or more tiny white or red spots in their mouth at one time or another. These spots usually do not contain any unhealthy cells, but one laboratory testing, like the BrushTest, can tell.
The OralCDx BrushTest is a painless method of testing everyday tiny oral spots. A small brush is used to quickly collect a sample for computer-assisted laboratory analysis.
If a spot is found by OralCDx to contain unhealthy cells (known as dysplasia), it typically takes years before those cells can penetrate the basement membrane and cause any harm. During this time, the spot can be removed, long before oral cancer can start.
Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal literally means “around the tooth.”
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth.
It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. It is usually little or no discomfort at this stage.
Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body, in essence, turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed.
Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.