Posts for: January, 2014

By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
January 28, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
AreYouatRiskforOralCancer

Oral cancer accounts for approximately 3% of cancers in men and 2% in women. That may not sound like a lot, but the disease often isn't detected until it has progressed to its later stages when it's harder to treat and the outlook for survival is significantly diminished.

The main areas where oral carcinomas (cancers) occur are:

  • the tongue (most common location, particularly the sides and underneath)
  • the lip (especially the lower one),
  • the oral cavity (the mouth), and
  • the pharynx (back of mouth and throat).

Risk Factors You Can't Control

Even if you can't change these risks, awareness helps raise your vigilance in order to catch potential problems early when treatment options and positive outcomes are greatest.

  • Heredity
  • Aging — More than 90% of all oral cancers occur in individuals over 40. However, the incidence among younger people has been on the uptick recently, perhaps related to lifestyle behaviors.
  • Race — African Americans have a higher incidence of oral cancer than Caucasians.

Risk Factors You Can Address

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco — Smokers are at five to nine times greater risk and snuff and tobacco chewers at about four times greater risk
  • Alcohol — Moderate to heavy drinkers are at three to nine times greater risk; the higher the alcohol content, the greater the risk
  • Chronic sun exposure — Often connected with lip cancers.
  • Viral infections — Namely the human papilloma virus “HPV 16,” which has been linked to sexual transmission (oral sex) and cervical cancer in women.

One way you can address these risk factors is to have a diet rich in fruits/vegetables, which are high in antioxidants because they been found to have a protective effect against a variety of cancers, including oral.

As part of your routine oral hygiene, you should be closely monitoring any non-healing changes in your mouth (e.g., ulcers or sores, white or red patches on the tongue). And rest assured that as part of your regular check-ups, our office performs a comprehensive visual screening for signs of oral cancer.

If you would like more information about oral cancer prevention and detection, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Oral Cancer” and “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”


By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
January 24, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
HoldBacktheClockwithOrthodonticsandCosmeticDentistry

As the Baby Boomer generation moves into its 60s, more and more of us are concerned with looking younger. We do it with vitamins, diet, exercise, makeup, cosmetic surgery, and yes, even with cosmetic dentistry.

In recent years we have learned a lot about how aging affects the soft tissues and bones of your face. This has led to an approach to orthodontics that considers not only the teeth and jaws, but also the continuing growth of the bones and soft tissues of the face.

We used to think that growth stopped when people reached their late teens or early 20s. However, recent studies have shown that some kinds of growth continue throughout a person's lifetime. Your bones and facial structures change as much between the ages of 25 and 42 as they do between 18 and 25.

As you age your facial profile flattens, your nose becomes more prominent, the lower part of your face becomes shorter, and your lips become thinner. By studying these changes we have learned to consider them when planning orthodontic treatment. Modern orthodontics treats the entire face, not just the teeth.

The science of orthodontics is dedicated to slowly moving the teeth within the jaws to better functional and aesthetic positions, using standard braces or clear aligners. Sometimes the upper and lower jaws are so far out of alignment that more extreme treatment is needed. In such cases orthognathic (from ortho, meaning straight and gnathos, meaning jaw) surgery may be required to achieve the best results. Orthognathic surgery was once considered a drastic procedure, but it has become easier to manage during and following surgery and is now considered a more normal treatment option, like a facelift. Since the nose becomes more prominent as part of the aging process, the surgery is sometimes combined with rhinoplasty, or reshaping of the nose.

This new approach to orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry — taking into consideration the normal changes that occur as a person's face ages throughout life — requires teamwork among a general dentist, an orthodontist, and an oral surgeon. The results are a long-lasting change that holds back the clock on aging.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Aging Makes Beauty Timeless.”


By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
January 16, 2014
Category: Oral Health
ThickorThinYourGumsNeedtobeProtected

While hygiene and regular dental care go a long way to reduce your risk of oral disease and disorders, you’re still subject to your heredity. Everything from tooth alignment to the shape of your jaws is determined by your genes.

So is the biological structure of your gum tissue. Aside from minute variations, gum tissue structure falls into two broad categories — “thin” or “thick,” which refer to the actual thickness of the tissue and the underlying bone. The tooth’s appearance is the best indicator of which type you may have: those with more triangular-shaped tooth (often called scalloped) have thin gum tissue; a person with a squarer appearance (flat) has thick gum tissue. People of Asian descent tend to have thin/scalloped tissue while those with European or African heritage tend to have thick/flat tissues.

Thick gum tissue isn’t superior to thin, or vice-versa. In fact, each type is susceptible to certain types of diseases or adverse conditions.

Thin tissues are more susceptible to the occurrence of receding gums. Caused mainly by periodontal disease and toothbrush abrasion, the gum tissue recedes and exposes more of the unprotected tooth surface that should be below the gum line. This increases the risk of decay and tooth loss. Patients with thick tissue, on the other hand, have a higher risk of developing a condition known as “pocketing.” As the thicker gum tissue becomes inflamed from dental plaque, it loses its attachment to the teeth and forms a small pocket. The end result is possible bone and tooth loss.

There’s not much you can do about which type of gum tissue you have, for which you can thank (or blame!) your ancestors. But there’s something you can do to reduce your risk of periodontal disease. First and foremost, you should practice good daily hygiene, brushing with a soft-bristled tooth brush and gentle flossing. It’s also important to maintain regular cleanings and checkups in our office; not only will this ensure complete plaque and tartar removal, but gives us a better chance to detect either receding gums or pocketing early. Earlier detection can mean better treatment outcomes — and a saved smile.

If you would like more information on genetic types of periodontal tissues, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Genetics & Gum Tissue Types.”


By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
January 08, 2014
Category: Oral Health
FromModeltoMogulKathyIrelandMaintainsaSparklingSmile

You may have seen Kathy Ireland on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but did you know that she is now a business mogul?

Through it all, Ireland has kept her model good looks, and that includes a bright, glowing smile. In a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine she said that keeping her smile has required ongoing maintenance and more.

It seems that Ireland is a bit of a daredevil. She described a moment of fun with her children when she tried to stand in their wagon and “wagon surf” across her driveway. It ended badly when she crashed into her parked car and suffered a broken nose, split forehead and several broken teeth. “I learned that my love of adventure exceeds my coordination,” she commented.

Ireland was born in Glendale, California in 1963. She demonstrated her drive to succeed early in life, starting at age 4 when she and her sister sold painted rocks from their wagon. Later she had a paper route. She began modeling at 17, with the goal of earning enough to pay for college or to start a business. In her successful modeling career she graced the covers of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar and Sports Illustrated. Her first cover for Sports Illustrated, the publication's 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Edition, was the magazine's best-selling swimsuit issue to date.

In 1993 she founded her marketing and design firm, kathy ireland Worldwide. Now a billion-dollar industry, the firm sells fashions such as wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, as well as a wide range of items for home and family.

She has also written a number of books teaching others how to be successful — based on her own experience — as well as three children's books.

Discussing her oral health, Ireland says that she required serious professional assistance on more than one occasion. When she was a child she knocked out a tooth and later knocked it loose again. As an adolescent she wore braces for about three years. After the driveway incident she needed numerous veneers and dental implants to replace a lost tooth and restore her smile.

Her maintenance routine includes regular flossing and brushing, and she has her teeth cleaned every six months. She keeps up on her reading about the latest in research on dental health, and encourages her three children to floss and brush their teeth, to limit eating sweets and to do what they can to avoid injuries to their mouths and teeth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about how to maintain your own smile. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Kathy Ireland.”