I have been fortunate enough in my 22 years as a general dentist to not have personally been affected by oral cancer in my practice, until this year. A patient was in the office for a routine hygiene visit. He presented with an ulcerated area that he felt was due to aggressive brushing. It did not present as a normal toothbrush abrasion, so I referred him to a periodontist for a biopsy. The results came in as squamous cell carcinoma: ORAL CANCER. Fortunately, this was diagnosed at an early stage and his prognosis is positive. When the patient returned for another visit, we discussed the treating ENT surgeon’s thoughts on the possible etiology (reason) he may have developed oral cancer. This patient does not smoke or drink alcohol. The conclusion, after an extensive history, was alcohol based mouthwash. For example, Listerine or Scope with alcohol. This patient has an extensive history of mouthwash use 2x/day or more for many years. While the research is limiting as a direct cause for oral cancer, alcohol based mouthwash has a very drying effect on the tissue in the mouth. Therefore, if you are a “rinser” on a daily basis, make the switch to Listerine ZERO or Crest ProHealth, both containing no alcohol in the rinse.
If you are at all concerned with any sores in your mouth that have not healed beyond 2 weeks time, please contact your dentist for an oral examination.
How often should I change by toothbrush? I find that this question is being asked more often in our office. Most people assume that they should only change their brush every 6 months when they receive a new one from the dentist at their routine cleaning. However, you should change your toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months and sometimes sooner, especially if you have been sick. These recommendations are for both manual and power brushes.
Toothbrush bristles are what remove the plaque, build-up and bacteria from your teeth when you brush. Over time, these bristles become frayed and weak, thus lessening the strength of the brush. As the bristles become frayed, they no longer remove the build up as effectively as before and are not efficiently getting in between your teeth. If you notice your bristles fraying, you will want to replace your brush sooner. This is not uncommon as some people brush more vigorously than others and will require replacement of brushes sooner than 3 to 4 months.
If you have been sick, it is important that you change your toothbrush afterward as the brush will carry the bacteria from your mouth. If you do not change the brush, you can risk passing along the germs to your family if you share a common place to store your toothbrushes. You can also reintroduce the bacterias into your body by using the same brush.
Children’s brushes may need to be replaced more often than an adult as they tend to chew on their brushes or “scrub” a little harder than adults as they are learning to the proper techniques of brushing.
I would recommend always having extra brushes available for the family as you never know when you will need to replace one due to the wear and tear on the brush and/or sickness.
A blog by Meagan, our dental assistant:
February was dental health awareness month and what better way to celebrate than to reach out to our community and talk teeth! Earlier in February, I was was asked to volunteer at a daycare center in Cleves, OH where I was given the opportunity to discuss oral health care with children ranging from 18 months- 5 years.
It was a wonderful experience! The children were full of questions and enthusiasm about their teeth! I enjoyed hearing their stories and learning about what dentistry means to them. We covered everything from “wacky plaquey” to “cavity bugs”and how to prevent them.
Dentistry has always been a passion of mine. As a child, I was never afraid to go to the dentist. In fact, I looked forward to it! Some of my earliest memories include staring at the dentist’s shiny tools with “googly” eyes, picking bubble gum flavored toothpaste, and trying hard not to laugh when the hygienist polished by teeth because it tickled so much!
It was a great feeling to express my passion for dentistry beyond chairside. Volunteering in general is quite rewarding, but to impress upon young minds, teaching them healthy habits that they will carry throughout their lifetime, was a reward beyond measure!
A blog by Brittney, our hygienist:
It’s the start of a new year and we all have our resolutions set. For some, it may be to eat healthier and exercise more. For others, it may be to spend less and save more. Whatever your resolution may be, it is important to stick with it. According to Forbes, only 8% of Americans actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions!
This year, I would like to challenge you to a New Year’s resolution. I am asking that you work on your overall health by starting with your oral health. Don’t you want a healthier mouth? Here is my why flossing is essential to your overall health.
Alright, let’s start with a little dental anatomy. Your teeth have five surfaces, three of which are able to be reached with your toothbrush: top, outside, and inside. This leaves the remaining two surfaces: the in between the front and back. Flossing is meant to clean in between the teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach. If you are not brushing and flossing daily, then you may be leaving plaque (a bacterial biofilm that constantly forms on your teeth) behind. When plaque is missed or left behind, it can produce acids that cause cavities and gum disease.
So you see, brushing and flossing together are needed to keep all five surfaces of your teeth clean. My goal is to help keep your mouth healthy. So I ask in 2017 that you floss one more day a week than you are now, with the ultimate goal being everyday!
Greater Cincinnati Dental Professional’s Response to NY Times Article that “Flossing May Be Overrated”
Local dentists urge: Don’t toss the floss
by: Anne Saker
All of you who wait until the day before your dental appointment to floss your teeth – which is most of you – a report last week might ease your fleeting guilt: Little clinical research exists that the practice delivers the promised benefits.
But dental professionals in Greater Cincinnati say mounds of anecdotal evidence collected by dentists over decades shows daily flossing is better than not flossing to ward off gum disease, which can lead to chronic infection that affects the whole body.
Plus, said Dr. Rachel Gold, a Cold Spring general dentist and president of the Northern Kentucky Dental Society, pulling off a rigorous controlled study of daily flossing would be virtually impossible.
“The scientific studies on something like this usually require very large populations for a long-term study. You’d have to find a really large population of people with similar levels of little or no dental or oral health concerns, or similar concerns, and get them to do the same thing every day over a long period of time to see the evidence,” Gold said.
In addition, such a study would have a troublesome issue at its heart: “You’d have to get a control group of the population not to floss, which raises some ethical problems. How do I tell people not to do something that I know is a good thing? And there’s no institutional review board that I know of that would allow studies like that to take place. There’s no grant money for a study that would be potentially detrimental to a large group of people.”
Already, dental professionals say, patients have mentioned The Finding. Periodontist Matthew Parker of Milford, president of the Cincinnati Dental Society, said that despite that information, he knows from his practice that flossing wards off gum disease, which can cause a cascade of problems.
“Periodontal disease is a chronic, multifactorial bacterial infection that leads to bone loss around the teeth and, eventually, the loss of affected teeth,” Parker said. “It affects nearly one in two American adults. Patients who consistently clean between their teeth stand a better chance of maintaining fresh breath and a healthy mouth.”
Brushing alone is not effective, Parker said, because “you can’t clean only two sides of a four-sided tooth and expect to have healthy gums and teeth. Food traps between everyone’s teeth, and tooth brushing alone can’t remove all the plaque that leads to tooth decay and gum disease.”
Karen Riley has been cleaning teeth for 41 years. The dental hygienist at the West Chester Township practice of Cox and Manegold knows how hard it is to get people to pay attention to the health of their teeth and gums. The Finding complicates matters, she said.
“It just doesn’t make any sense to me,” she said. “We have seen it firsthand in our practice the improvement when people floss with the proper technique.”
The dental professionals said that, yes, every day patients fib that they’ve been flossing. But their mouths always give them away.