Risk Factors Associated with Oral Cancer

oral cancerAnything that increases your risk of developing a disease is known as a risk factor. Everyone is at risk of getting oral cancer but certain factors place you at a higher risk of developing it. Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth or throat with most of the cancers starting in the tongue and in the floor of the mouth.

The following are the general, genetic, and lifestyle risk factors associated with oral cancer:

The gender factor – Oral and oropharyngeal cancer are two times as widespread in men as in women. Alcohol and tobacco use constitute a significant oral cancer risk factor which is more prevalent in men than women, hence the difference may be linked to their use. However, since more women are using tobacco and alcohol, the gender difference among oral cancer patients is lessening.

The age factor – The oral cancer diagnosis age averages at about 60 to 62 with two thirds of the people with the ailment being over 55 years old.

The UV light factor – Individuals who are either exposed to sunlight for longer periods or work in the open commonly tend to develop cancers of the lip. Unhealthy diet deficient in vegetables and fruits has also been linked to a heightened risk of oral and oropharynx cancer.

The family history factor – Individuals who have a family history of oral cancer have a higher risk of the disease.

Using tobacco products – Tobacco in whatever form, be it cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing and sniffing tobacco, can lead to oral cavity and oropharynx cancer. It is estimated that 80 percent of individuals with this condition use these products.

Using alcohol – The more the number of drinks consumed per day the higher the risk of developing oral cancer. This risk doubles or triples in people who drink alcohol and smoke tobacco than in those who only drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. It is estimated that 70 percent of individuals found with oral cancer drink heavily.

Blending and chewing betel quid and tobacco – A lot of people from various locations of the world chew these two which have been linked to a greater risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

Graft-versus-host disease abbreviated as GVH, HPV infection, immune system suppression, lichen planus are additional risk factors of oral cancer. There also have been some concerns which however are still debatable about the possibility of some products such as mouthwash increasing the risk of oral cancer owing to their high alcohol content. Even though so far there has been no proof, there are unconfirmed risk factors linked to irritation arising from dentures.

It is clear that some oral cancer risk factors can be lowered particularly those linked to lifestyle. Avoiding these factors can help prevent oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancer.

3 Things You Need To Watch For In Your Wisdom Teeth

wisdom teethWisdom teeth are the molars that arrive at quite a later age of 17 to 25 years generally. These are the third set of molars each human has. They are called wisdom teeth because in olden times it was considered that a person grows wise by the age he turns 18 and that is the time in which these third molars start erupting in the mouth.

Wisdom teeth erupt with quite a number of dental problems along the way. If you are a person who is in the habit of visiting your dentist on a regular basis, you may be informed about the associated signs and symptoms that one can experience during the eruption of third molars. Your dentist may take X-rays that show if the molars are erupting in the right angle or if they are tilted. You need to see your dentist right away if you come across these three things –

  1. Unbearable pain

During the eruption of wisdom teeth, some amount of pain and discomfort can be considered normal. If the pain is consistent and is not showing any sign of resolving you may need to think of getting the tooth pulled. The pain can be because of the greater size of the tooth. At times, some wisdom teeth grow just below the neighbouring teeth and cause pain. In such circumstances, try remedies like over-the-counter painkillers or ice packs. If the pain is relieved you can wait and watch but if you fail to receive any relief you may have to meet your dentist at the earliest.

  1. Infected wisdom teeth

The areas where the wisdom teeth erupt have a flap of gum tissue covering them. The chance of food particles accumulating in this flap is quite high. The region is difficult to clean as it is in the back most part of the mouth. The bacteria feed on these food particles and infect the gum tissue around the wisdom teeth. Some amount of infection should not be a problem as with proper care the problem resolves. If the duration and the frequency of infection is on the higher side, extraction of the tooth may be the only option left.

  1. Affecting neighbouring teeth
    Wisdom teeth create pressure on the neighbouring teeth in cases where the jaw area is small and there is no space to accommodate the wisdom teeth. Hence, wisdom teeth can cause crowding of the rest of the teeth. There are cases when wisdom teeth pose more harm than benefits. That is why you need to inform your dentist when you experience or see crowding of your teeth. Your dentist will investigate the matter through X-rays and examination and may advise you to have the teeth extracted to save the rest of the teeth.

Removal of wisdom teeth does not cause any problems as they are not at all mandatory for the normal functioning of our mouth. Be vigilant and watch for these signs before it gets too late.

Can the Loss of A Molar Be A Big Loss?

molarA recent survey has revealed an astonishing figure of at least 70% of the total population in America have one of their molars missing. Is there something alarming about this? Or do you feel that the loss of just one molar might not make a big difference?

As a matter of fact, a single missing molar can have a number of repercussions if it is not replaced in time. For most of us, aesthetics is the most important aspect to be considered. If it doesn’t look bad, it isn’t considered a priority. But, we must understand that restoration of function is equally important as the aesthetic enhancement. A missing tooth can generate a series of changes within our mouth that can lead to various oral problems. Let us take a quick look at the changes that occur within our mouth when a tooth is lost.

  • Bone loss– The alveolar bone (bone that surrounds the tooth root) follows the tooth. This means if the tooth is pulled out, the surrounding bone wears off. This is because alveolar bone can stay only if it is stimulated. When teeth are involved in chewing food the alveolar bone gets stimulated. An implant placed in the area of missing tooth can stimulate the bone similar to the natural tooth.
  • Chewing difficulty– One of the most important functions of back teeth are proper grinding of food so that the food can be swallowed with ease and initial digestive reaction is carried out successfully.
  • Migration of adjacent tooth- The neighbouring tooth shifts into the location of the missing tooth.
  • Change in the bite pattern- The shift of the adjacent tooth leads to a change in the bite pattern.
  • Food impaction- A change in the biting pattern can cause the thrusting of food particles in between teeth. This can lead to dental decay as the food particles stuck between teeth become an enriching source of energy for the decay causing bacteria.
  • Temporomandibular joint problems- irregular biting pattern imposes undue stresses on the temporomandibular joint. Gradually, this might lead to joint problems like pain or difficulty in opening the mouth.

Fortunately, we can avoid these problems from developing by replacing a missing tooth through fixed crowns and bridges or dental implants.

Keep A Check On Toothbrush Abrasion

toothbrush 2Too much of anything can have devastating results. This rule of thumb holds true for brushing your teeth as well. Overzealous brushing of teeth can damage the bristles of the toothbrush and result in a condition called toothbrush abrasion.

Those who have had a previous traumatic experience due to dental pain or dental treatments tend to brush their teeth vigorously thinking that this will keep dental problems at bay. This is the wrong idea as one needs to understand the simple concept of dental problems. Plaque is the source of almost every dental or gum problem. It is a soft film that covers the oral surfaces and is composed of oral bacteria, sugars and proteins. This soft layer takes about 12 hours to form. Hence, dentists recommend to brush twice daily. Plaque can be removed easily with optimum force application and excessive forces are absolutely unnecessary and harmful.

Effects of toothbrush abrasion

  1. First of all, hard or vigorous brushing causes hardening and uneven breaking of the bristles of your toothbrush. Hence, the life of a toothbrush is shortened. When this happens, your toothbrush should go to the trash can. Unfortunately, people fail to get rid of it and over time it causes further harm to the oral tissues.
  2. Toothbrush abrasion starts with a small ledge formation on the tooth surface at the edge of the gums. You can feel it with your fingernail. In some cases, the person experiences sensitivity when the ledge is touched. This ledge marks the area where the enamel layer has been worn out from aggressive tooth-brushing.
  3. Slowly the small ledge deepens and widens and assumes a V shape wedge.
  4. The gums start receding as they are being rubbed hard on a daily basis. This process leads to an increase in tooth sensitivity as the roots of the teeth get exposed.

The best way to deal with this problem is by changing the method of brushing your teeth.

  • Use a toothbrush with soft or ultra-soft bristles.
  • Use electric toothbrushes that have built in sensor that assesses the pressure applied while brushing. Excess pressure is indicated by a light or sound. Some modern electric toothbrushes do not work when excessive force is applied.
  • Use any normal toothpaste instead of whitening toothpastes as the latter are loaded with abrasive particles. A toothbrush dipped in fluoride mouthwashes are also an excellent alternative to the conventional brushing technique.
  • Modify the strokes you use for brushing your teeth. Move your toothbrush in an up and down motion. Strictly avoid horizontal left-right strokes.

These simple techniques can protect your teeth from toothbrush abrasion and help you maintain your teeth and gums in a healthy state.

Can Root Canal Treatment Cause Pain?

root canal treatmentRoot canal treatment is one of the most dreaded dental procedures. The purpose of root canal treatment is to save a decayed tooth so that it is not lost to extraction. People delay their treatments and deliberately miss their dental appointments fearing the pain that root canal treatment can cause.

Is Root Canal Treatment Always Painful?

No. Not in all cases. One must understand that root canal treatment is an excellent solution for eliminating excruciating tooth pain. This means that this treatment actually plays an important role in reducing pain rather than being the cause of it.

The legend of root canal treatment being a painful one dates back to those years when dental technology was at its infancy. Today, thanks to the recent advances in technology, undergoing root canal treatment has becomes as comfortable as undergoing any other regular filling. Recent studies have shown the astonishing fact that root canal treatment has become an incredibly painless experience for patients as years have passed. As a matter of fact, those who have not undergone the treatment are the ones who spread the rumors of the treatment being painful.

During root canal treatment, your dentist makes sure to remove all those tissues that can cause future pain after undergoing the process of decay. So, root canal treatment is a boon for patients as it saves them from severe toothache.

Before starting the root canal procedure you will be administered with a shot of local anesthesia in most of the cases. After that, the process of cavity preparation is started by which the canals within the roots of your tooth are located. Then they are thoroughly cleaned and widened so that an inert material like gutta-percha can be stacked within the canal.

Properly cleaned and filled root canals will never pose a problem in future and you will be able to retain your tooth for a lifetime provided you cap it after the completion of root canal treatment.

Those who have a phobia for root canal treatment should never wait for something serious to happen. All the dental problems can be addressed to at a very early stage if they are diagnosed at the right time.

Personal oral hygiene does play an important role in keeping dental cavities at bay. Maintenance of oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist can prove extremely beneficial in prevention of dental decay. Actually, dental pain due to accidents is unpredictable and requires root canal treatment mostly for getting it fixed.

So next time your dentist asks you to for root canal treatment, do not fret. Consider it as a precautionary method of getting rid of intense dental pain!