Posts for: April, 2013
Chewing tobacco is a known cause of oral cancer, yet many a Major League Baseball player has been seen walking onto the field with a round tin visibly poking out of his back pocket. That was before this year. Recognizing the influence big-leaguers have on their young fans, MLB players agreed to a new contract that limits their use of chewing tobacco and their ability to carry it around their fans. The 2012 season is the first to be played under the new rules, which were championed by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
One player who used smokeless tobacco heavily is Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. The former Padres slugger earlier this year endured 14 hours of surgery to remove a cancerous growth from the inside of his right cheek and graft a nerve from his shoulder to replace a facial nerve damaged by the tumor. This was Gwynn's second cancer surgery in less than two years.
When it comes to oral cancer, the importance of early detection can't be stressed enough. Unfortunately, this form of cancer is not usually detected until a late stage so the overall survival rate is poor, with only 58% surviving five years after treatment. Yet when oral cancer is detected while a lesion is small, survival rate exceeds 80%. That's why an oral cancer screening is always part of your dental check-up or regular cleaning appointment at this office.
During this screening we will examine your face, neck, lips, mouth, tongue and the back of your throat for any suspicious lesions (sores or ulcers) or lumps. Of course, if you notice any unusual lesions, or color changes (white or red patches), anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two-three weeks, please come in to see us as soon as possible. And if you need help kicking a tobacco habit, we can advise you on how to get it.
If you would like more information about oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
If your teeth are not as bright as they used to be, or as white as you'd like them to be, then whitening or bleaching them may be the solution. Surface stains from coffee, tea, red wine or tobacco may be the most likely culprits. Internal staining can also be the result of root canal treatments, large fillings, too much of a good thing, like fluoride — or just plain aging. In some cases taking an antibiotic (tetracycline) during tooth development can cause permanent staining. In most cases bleaching stained or yellow teeth can really make a difference, helping to make them brighter and whiter.
The active ingredient in whitening products is hydrogen peroxide, which is also the breakdown product in carbamide peroxide. If a good regular dental cleaning doesn't remove your stains, then these products can bleach stains that are either superficial (on the surface) or deeper within the tooth structure. “In office” professional tooth whitening speeds the process along with the use of specialized lights or lasers, so that your teeth will whiten after only one or two office visits. Professional whitening or bleaching, which uses up to 35% peroxide solutions, may cause transient tooth sensitivity, but this will fade away quickly within a few days. Gum protection is also necessary to prevent irritation.
The effects of bleaching usually last six months to a year, at which time all that may be necessary is a minor touch up or refresher. And your whiter, brighter teeth will last longer if you avoid the habits that caused them — like avoiding smoking and foods that cause staining.
Whitening products for home use are an alternative to professional whitening systems that we apply in the office. Products for home use have a lower concentration of the active bleaching ingredients. We can make you custom fitted “trays” that exactly fit your teeth, and provide you with home strength whiteners, so that you can whiten at your own pace and stop at the brightening level of your choice.
And finally there are over-the-counter (OTC), whitening products, at even lower strengths for safety, but they are slower to work.
If whitening doesn't give you the smile you want, and deserve, then you may need to consider veneers or crowns to improve your smile.
Make an appointment to have a consultation with us about your personal cosmetic needs. We will review all the risks, benefits and alternatives to bleaching. You can learn more about teeth whitening by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Bleaching is an effective method with minimal side effects.”