Oral Cancer: Are You at Risk?

Shenandoah Community Health Clinic is now offering oral cancer examinations for free with your dental exam visit. These examinations are carried out by our new VELscope system.

VELscope is a safe and easy dental tool that uses fluorescent light to detect early signs of oral cancer and infection that go unnoticed to the naked eye. Oral cancer has a 40% mortality rate and may reoccur in 40 to 50% of patients after treatment. VELscope’s early detection rates can reduce this recurrence to only 10-20%. VELscope is painless, and non-invasive. If you are at heightened risk for oral cancer, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment. Risk factors include:

● Smoking and tobacco use. 85% of head and neck cancer is associated with tobacco use.

● Excessive alcohol consumption, especially in combination with tobacco use.

● HPV and/or syphilis infection.

● Adults over the age of 40.

● Vitamin A deficiency. Poor nutrition and lack of fruits and vegetables can lead to Vitamin A deficiency and increase your risk.

● Long amounts of time in direct sunlight.

● Mouth ulcers.

● Weakened immune system. If you have pre-existing conditions that lower your immunity, you are at heightened risk for oral cancer.

Oral cancer can cause mouth and ear pain, difficulty swallowing or speaking, cardiovascular conditions and loose teeth. Oral cancer may also lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Like other types of cancer, finding it early is the best way to assure the most successful treatment. If you’re interested in this quick and painless screening to detect oral cancer, please schedule your dental exam with our office at (540) 459-9333.

Problem Foods for Healthy Teeth

Most people know that some foods, like sweets, can be a problem for maintaining healthy teeth. What you eat can play a big role in your overall health. However some types of food and drink can cause more problems for your oral health than others.

Be aware of these eight foods that can cause problems for your teeth when consumed often.

Sticky candies: Sticky candies, like taffy or gummies, can be particularly harmful to your mouth. Tiny pieces of these sweets can get stuck in between your teeth enhancing the chances of getting cavities there.

Soda and sports drinks: Bacteria thrive and feed on sugars of all kinds, especially those found in soda and sports drinks; even “sugar free” beverages that have chemical sweeteners.

Ice: When we enjoy our ice-cold beverages, many of us like to crunch on the ice left in the bottom of the glass, especially on a hot summer day. However, ice tends to be tough on tooth enamel. After a prolonged period of time, it will eventually wear on the surface of your healthy teeth and weaken the teeth’s protective layer.

Popcorn: While popcorn can be a go-to healthy snack, popcorn can cause problems because it tends to leave pieces stuck in-between your gums or teeth. Be sure to brush and floss afterwards!

Citrus fruits: Highly acidic fruits, like grapefruits or lemons, while good for your overall health can erode the enamel on your teeth away and put you at risk for cavities and even tooth loss. While some citrus is good in your diet, keep it in moderation.

Alcohol: Too much alcohol is also bad for your teeth. Alcohol can affect your body’s ability to create saliva which can cause chronic dry mouth and gum disease; especially if you consume it on a regular basis.

Excessive coffee and tea: These popular beverages are part of most adults’ routines, but coffee and tea can also be bad for your teeth. Both highly acidic, coffee and tea can stain when consumed on a regular basis. However the real culprit is the sugar many of us add to our daily intake. This extra sugar is especially harmful for those individuals who sip their favorite beverages slowly throughout the day.

Food and drink with stain potential: Many of our favorite foods can potentially change the color of otherwise healthy teeth. Red sauces, bright color juices or foods with heavy dyes can stain your teeth.

Keep your pearly whites healthy and strong by brushing and flossing and getting in to see your dentist for regular check ups and cleanings.

Staying aware of how your food affects your oral health is important for maintaining healthy teeth. For more information, ask your dentist or call the Clinic today to schedule an appointment.

Help Prevent Cavities Throughout a Child’s Life

What is a low-cost, easy way to prevent cavities and help ensure a healthy smile for your child for years to come? Dental sealants! They are safe and painless. Made from medical grade resin, sealant thinly coats the teeth without penetrating the enamel. This coating prevents food and bacterial residue from creating decay in the teeth, particularly molars. The American Dental Association reports that sealants can reduce the risk of cavities by 80%. Less than half of children in the United States have sealants, although they are a great prevention tool.

Applying sealant as soon as your child’s molars come in can protect them for up to ten years. If the sealant is properly maintained and redone throughout adulthood, cavities can in fact be prevented for a lifetime. In the case of existing cavities, sealants can help prevent further damage and decay. To maintain sealants, regular dental hygiene should be practiced. Brushing twice a day and consistent flossing will increase the longevity and efficacy of sealants.

Is It Necessary? 

It is important to prevent cavities, and to treat cavities in children quickly, even if they’re not causing pain. On average, children with neglected oral health receive lower grades and miss more school. If left untreated, cavities can interfere with everyday activities such as eating, drinking, playing and talking. Untreated cavities can lead to other oral illnesses, like gum disease or tooth infection. Dental health affects the rest of the body. Poor dental health can increase risk for respiratory disease, and lead to pneumonia. Multiple chronic illnesses have been linked to oral health.

February is Children’s Dental Health Month

What better time to instill the importance of good oral hygiene in your little ones than Children’s Dental Month? Regular checkups should be scheduled, especially for children. Establishing good hygiene habits and monitoring dental health can prevent a lifetime of pain, procedures, and health issues. Daily use of fluoride mouthwash, flossing, and brushing teeth are important to maintaining oral health. Healthy teeth are associated with increased self-esteem, especially in adolescents.  It can be difficult to guide and encourage children to take care of their teeth, but the benefits are hefty.

Ready to make an appointment?

Get in touch! We can work out an affordable plan for preventing and treating cavities for your child.