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Watch Your Mouth: Oral Cancer Awareness

April 20, 2020

Filed under: Your Health — @ 9:38 pm

By Dr. Jamie Austin

Ever think it’s strange when your dentist asks you to stick your tongue out during your dental exam? While it might sound like an odd request, this is one technique dentists use to screen for oral cancer. April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, and there is no better time to discuss the significance of this disease and learn how you can minimize your risk.

Oral Cancer on the Rise

It is estimated that 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and 450,000 new cases are diagnosed each year worldwide. Once diagnosed, the five-year survival rate is 57%, which means 43% of those diagnosed will not survive beyond five years. Survivors typically undergo extensive surgery and reconstruction.

Oral cancer can affect the tissues inside the mouth including the tongue, floor of mouth beneath the tongue, lips, inner lining of the lips, the lining of the cheeks, and roof of the mouth. Oropharyngeal cancer typically occurs in the tissues of the throat just behind the mouth, including the tonsils, the base of the tongue, and the soft palate. The most common locations for oral cancer to develop are on the sides of the tongue and the floor of the mouth.

Risk Factors

When it comes to risk factors, tobacco and alcohol use top the list. No amount of tobacco or vaping is safe — that includes smokeless (chewing) tobacco, pipe smoking, cigars, cigarettes, and vaping products. The use of chewing tobacco, in particular, can modify the cells lining your mouth into cancerous cells. In fact, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, smokeless tobacco users are 400% more likely to develop oral cancer. When you add alcohol to this equation, the risk only rises. Eighty percent of throat and mouth cancer in men and 65% of throat and mouth cancer in women are linked to the combination of smoking and drinking.

In recent years, there has been an increase in oral cancer rates caused by HPV16, a sexually transmitted disease that also causes cervical cancer in women. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV16 causes 70% of oropharyngeal cancers. Other oral cancer risk factors are gender and age. Men over the age of 40 are twice as likely as women to be affected with oral cancer. It is worth noting, however, that we are seeing a rise in the number of people under 40 years old now being affected.

The symptoms of oral cancer can vary, but anyone experiencing any of the following for more than two weeks should see a dentist:

  • Red and/or white patches inside the mouth
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Lumps, rough patches, thickening of tissues or erosions inside the mouth
  • A mass or lump in the neck
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, chewing, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness

While you cannot prevent all oral and oropharyngeal cancers, there are things you can do to decrease your risk. Above all else, quit smoking, vaping and dipping. Limit alcohol intake (or avoid it altogether). Avoid infection with HPV16. When you are out in the sun or on the lake, wear lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your lips. Complete a self-exam and note any changes to your soft tissues or new growths.

Oral cancer can be treated if detected early. For this reason, be sure you receive an oral cancer screening at your regular six-month dental appointments, even if you wear complete dentures or partial dentures.

Keep Your Child’s Smile Healthy

February 27, 2020

Filed under: Dental Posts,Your Health — @ 8:45 pm

By Dr. Shelly Pound, Lake Oconee Dentistry

When it comes to dental health, it pays to build good habits early. In honor of Children’s Dental Health Month, here are five simple things you can do now to help ensure your child has a healthy smile for years to come.

Brush Up on Hygiene
Children should brush and floss twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush. Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit, and not swallow, toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.

When teaching a child to brush, place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, start along the gumline, and brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat on all inside surfaces and chewing surfaces. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria. And don’t forget to floss — especially in areas where teeth are touching.

Reach for the Right Snacks
Candy, fruit snacks, soda and cookies won’t do your child any favors when it comes to preventing cavities. But there are also plenty of “healthy” snacks that can be just as problematic.  Dried fruit (like raisins), chips, crackers (like Goldfish), pretzels and dried cereals are all high in starches and sugars, which stick to teeth and can cause decay. Opt for cheese, fruits and vegetables instead.

Skip the Sugary Drinks
Sugars in drinks such as juice, sports drinks and milk, mix with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack tooth enamel for up to 20 minutes after the drink is consumed. Unlike aluminum cans, re-sealable bottles allow your child to sip on these drinks throughout the day, resulting in a high acid level in the mouth and a steady stream of sugar for bacteria to feast on.  It’s a recipe for long-term decay along the gum line and between teeth – areas frequently missed when brushing.

Limit these drinks to mealtimes, rather than allowing your child to sip on them for hours. When finished, have your child chew sugarless gum with xylitol, or rinse with plain water, to help neutralize acid levels and keep bacteria in check.

Don’t Discount Baby Teeth
A child’s primary teeth (often called “baby teeth”) are vital to proper jaw development. If your child prematurely loses a baby tooth, it’s important to see a dentist right away. Your child may require a space maintainer to hold the natural tooth space open. Without a space maintainer, existing teeth can tilt toward the empty space, and permanent teeth can come in crooked or become impacted.



A String Theory You Don’t Have to Debate

September 21, 2016

flossingEating vegetables keeps you healthy. Water keeps you hydrated. Sun protection keeps you from getting burned. There are some things in life we just don’t have to debate. You don’t need a study, or the results of a survey, to know it’s in your benefit to be healthy, hydrated, and comfortable.

We accept certain truths about our teeth, as well. For years, dentists have known flossing daily is good for oral health. But a few months ago, that time-honored advice was brought into question. (more…)

Simple Tricks to Improve Your Smile

June 18, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Your Appearance,Your Health — @ 12:53 pm

When it comes to meeting new people, the old adage holds true, you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression.And the fact of the matter is, that first impression is formed, quite literally, in the blink of an eye.

Studies show it takes just one-tenth of a second for a person to form an opinion about someone and — what’s perhaps even more shocking – almost half of the people you meet (4 out of 10) — notice a person’s smile before any other physical attribute.

Research has proven people with beautiful smiles are judged as happier, healthier, more confident, more successful, more educated, and even kinder. Not having the smile you want robs you of opportunities to radiate youth and vitality, approachability, power and a positive outlook on life.

A stunning smile can truly be your best accessory.

When it comes to improving their smiles, most people dismiss the idea because they’re concerned it will hurt, take too long or cost too much.Truth is, there are several simple fixes that can make an almost immediate improvement to anyone’s smile.Here are five of them:

1. Whiten and Brighten

White teeth not only make you look younger (teeth tend to yellow as we age), but a bright smile can have a positive effect on social and professional interactions.One study found perspective employers more likely to hire candidates with white smiles – and offer those candidates higher salaries.If you’re not happy with your smile, whitening can be an easy first step.

While over-the-counter products can help whiten teeth, the included gel is not very concentrated, so they don’t work for everyone.Additionally, the included trays can be difficult to adapt to the teeth, causing uneven results.

Custom whitening trays made by a dentist are an affordable option that fit over teeth in much the same way a slipcover fits a sofa.These trays create a seal, allowing a higher concentrated whitening gel to be held against the tooth surface, thus yielding a more even, whiter result.And, unlike over-the-counter products, custom trays whiten better between teeth, while also keeping the gel away from sensitive gum tissue.

If you’re in a hurry, in-office whitening treatments can achieve great results in a fraction of the time, making them a great choice for those attending special events like weddings and reunions. There are also in-office treatments that can whiten extra-dark or tetracycline-stained teeth.

2. Re-Think Your Drink

You might only indulge in one or two soft drinks a day, but the real question is, “How quickly are you drinking them?”Unlike aluminum cans, re-sealable bottles allow us to sip on soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and other beverages throughout the day, resulting in a chronically high acid level in the mouth and a steady stream of sugar for bacteria to feast on.It’s a recipe for long-term decay along the gum line and between teeth, areas frequently missed when brushing.

The solution? If you’re going to indulge in something other than plain water, drink it in one sitting, rather than nursing it for hours.When finished, chew some sugarless gum or rinse with plain water to help neutralize acid levels and keep bacteria in check.

3. Stop Clenching & Grinding

According to the American Dental Association, 95 percent of Americans grind or clench their teeth at some point in their lives, and over 20 percent of Americans are grinding their teeth without even realizing it.

That’s a problem because, if left unaddressed, bruxism can result in split or cracked teeth, gum and bone degeneration, and problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).Bruxism can also exacerbate crowding issues and quickly break down expensive dental work.

You may not be aware your mouth is slowly being destroyed.How do you know if you’re guilty of this common habit? Your dentist can tell from looking at the wear and cracks on your teeth (teeth don’t noticeably wear from just chewing food).In advanced cases, symptoms can include headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, a clicking or popping in the TMJ, and shoulder pain.

Another way to determine if you grind or clench is to take notice throughout the day.When at rest, lower teeth should not touch the upper teeth.If you catch yourself with your teeth touching, you’re clenching or grinding.And if you find yourself doing it during the day, there’s a good chance you’re also doing it while sleeping.If that’s the case, the best solution is a biteguard.

A custom biteguard made by a dentist is a comfortable piece of acrylic that not only protects teeth from wearing down, but also sets the muscles and TMJ in the correct position.This ensures the TMJ stays protected and functions properly (something an over-the-counter biteguard cannot do).A biteguard is a small investment that can save a lot of pain and money down the road.

4. Don’t Skip the Floss

A 2008 survey found only 49 percent of Americans floss daily, and 10 percent don’t floss at all. Your dentist probably harps on it all the time, but in this case the doctor really does know best.Flossing is one of the best things you can do to prevent disease and reduce your chances of needing expensive dental work down the road.

Flossing isn’t as much about removing food caught between teeth, as it is about removing plaque – the thin film of bacteria that can cause decay, inflamed gums, cavities, tooth loss and bad breath.The only way to remove that film is by scraping it off the tooth, either with a bristle or floss.

Floss is designed to clean between where the teeth touch – areas that are nearly impossible to reach when brushing.Those areas equate to about one-third of your mouth.Skip the floss, and you’re really only getting about 66 percent of your teeth clean.Unwaxed floss can be especially helpful when trying to perfect your technique because it “squeaks” against the tooth when the film is removed.While waterpicking and mouthwash are good things to add to your home care routine, they should be used in addition to, not in place of, flossing.

5. Straighten Up

Remember the time it takes to form that first impression?It takes only slightly longer —one-half second — for the human eye to judge a crooked smile.Studies have shown straightness is the first thing people assess about someone’s teeth.

Aside from poor aesthetics, crooked teeth can also cause long–term complications including tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, speech problems, chewing problems, worn uneven enamel, and jaw problems.Even so, most adults are in no rush to embrace the traditional “metal mouth.” The good news is that other options now exist to fix those imperfections without spending a lot of money or time in the chair.

Removable appliances can move teeth quickly, painlessly and almost imperceptibly as you’re going through treatment.Options such as Invisalign, or the more affordable Smart Moves, are ideal for people who qualify and don’t want to see brackets and wires.And the best part?Results are achieved in a matter of months.

Aside from poor aesthetics, crooked teeth can also cause long–term complications including tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, speech problems, chewing problems, worn uneven enamel, and jaw problems.Even so, most adults are in no rush to embrace the traditional “metal mouth.” The good news is that other options now exist to fix those imperfections without spending a lot of money or time in the chair.

Removable appliances can move teeth quickly, painlessly and almost imperceptibly as you’re going through treatment.Options such as Invisalign, or the more affordable Smart Moves, are ideal for people who qualify and don’t want to see brackets and wires.And the best part?Results are achieved in a matter of months.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to add sparkle to your smile. These simple steps can help enhance and ensure healthy teeth for years to come. What’s more, with the newfound confidence that is the natural byproduct of a stunning smile, you can help ensure that your first impression is the one that lasts.

Confused About Which Toothpaste To Buy?

April 27, 2012

DO YOU EVER FEEL OVERWHELMED by the wide variety of toothpaste choices available at your grocery store or pharmacy? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!

A recent American Dental Association survey found more than half the adults surveyed are concerned about caring for their teeth and gums and are confused about which dental products to buy!

Toothpastes come in a dizzying array of flavors, colors, and formulations, and it’s normal to feel a little swamped by the choices. Fortunately, choosing the right toothpaste for you really doesn’t need to be stressful!

If you brush and floss daily, get regular dental checkups, and use a “standard” toothpaste that contains fluoride, you don’t have much to worry about. However, to help you on your quest for the perfect tube of toothpaste, here are some suggestions…As you’ve probably noticed, some specialty toothpastes include:Tartar Control: these toothpastes usually contain sodium pyrophosphate or sodium hexametaphosphate, which help keep the tartar at bay and prevent stain above the gum line. However, these toothpastes are only useful in preventing new tartar, not getting rid of the stuff that’s already there! You’ll need a professional cleaning for that.

Antimicrobial: these toothpastes often contain stannous fluoride, which is an antibacterial agent that helps prevent cavities and treat sensitivity.

Whitening: Whitening toothpastes help remove and/or prevent stains from settling on your teeth. If used regularly, these toothpastes can make your smile brighter.

Choosing your toothpaste is a very personal decision; everyone has different preferences and dental concerns…Always remember, the best choice is one that you like enough to use twice a day!

Fortunately, toothpastes today are so versatile that you can choose one that you love that also meets your specific needs. If your teeth are yellowing, choose a whitening toothpaste in your favorite flavor. If you’re worried about tartar control, choose a toothpaste that serves that purpose. If you’re struggling with bad breath, try a brand that contains baking soda. If you have sensitive teeth, choose something that is indicated it’s for sensitive mouths. You get the general idea.

Have a specific brand/flavor of toothpaste that you love? Feel free to leave a comment below, or on our Facebook Timeline. We’d love to hear your opinions!

Request An Appointment.

Cavities Are On The Rise In Preschoolers

April 19, 2012

A RECENT STORY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES has left parents worrying about their young children’s oral health. Why, you ask? Tooth decay is on the rise, especially in toddlers and preschoolers. However, even if you don’t have kids this age, or kids at all, you may have grandkids, neighbors, and/or friends with kids that might find this information useful. Spread the word!!

More and more, dentists like Drs. Bradley and Dr. Boswell are seeing preschoolers with an average of 10 cavities at a time. In fact, the article points out that the problem has become so serious that many kids now require general anesthesia during their cavity fillings because they are unable to sit through such extensive procedures when they are awake.

In the news report, one poor 2-year-old boy had 11 cavities, forcing him to endure two extractions, a root canal, and 7 other fillings and crowns for the rest of his decayed teeth. And this toddler is not alone! Research shows that oral infection is the number one chronic disease in children, and over 50% of today’s toddlers will have some sort of tooth decay before they are 5.So, what is causing all this decay, and how do we prevent it!?

Severe tooth decay can be caused by a variety of young children’s habits such as endless snacking, sugar-rich foods, refined foods such as white bread, sweet drinks before bedtime, un-fluoridated bottled water, lack of flossing, and a general abhorrence of oral care. Many parents have to fight with their children to brush their teeth once a day, let alone the recommended “two-minutes, twice-a-day!” However, this is one battle that is definitely worth fighting.

A lot of parents are also unaware that they should bring their babies to the dentist by age 1 to be checked for future cavity risk.

So, here’s what you can do: cut the overload of sugary snacks out of your children’s diets like raisins and fruit roll-ups, make sure you are giving them tap water instead of bottled, help them brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss once until they are 8 or able to write in cursive, and bring them to our practice for regular checkups!

We look forward to helping you improve your child’s oral health!!Request an appointment.

String Floss Or A Waterpik?

April 12, 2012

AN OFTEN-ASKED QUESTION here at our practice is whether or not to use regular string floss or a waterpik during daily oral care. Let’s talk a little bit about the pros and cons of each…

The pros/cons of regular floss:

Dental floss is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It is great at reaching those tight spaces in between your teeth, and it has the ability to scrape plaque off the sides of each individual tooth. This is important because it is able to remove the plaque before it can turn into tartar, helping prevent tooth decay and gingivitis.

However, for those of us with sensitive gums, flossing can be quite irritating and even cause bleeding. It is also less effective for patients with braces, as it is unable to penetrate the wires and reach the gums beneath.

The pros/cons of waterpiks:

Waterpiks are gentle on the gums and less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive teeth/gums. They are also ideal for patients with braces, as the water can reach behind the metal wires and flush away food particles where your floss can’t reach. People dealing with gum disease also find waterpiks quite effective because of their ability to flush out bacteria from inside the deep pockets that form when the gums pull away from the teeth.

On the other hand, waterpiks can’t remove plaque from teeth as well as floss can. Floss can scrape the sticky bacteria right off your teeth, but waterpiks just rinse it.


What’s the consensus? Waterpiks should not be used as a substitute for flossing. Though they are great tools for helping improve oral health, they are not a good enough tool on their own to keep your mouth gingivitis-free.

So, make sure you are brushing twice daily, flossing at night, and using your waterpik to reach the places that your floss can’t (like under the wires of your braces)!

Oh, and since plaque and tartar are nearly impossible to avoid completely, don’t forget to come in for your bi-yearly checkups with Drs. Bradley and Dr. Boswell! Your oral health will thank you.Request an Appointment.

Chewing Tobacco Can Harm Your Smile

April 4, 2012

LET’S FACE THE FACTS…chewing tobacco may be smokeless, but it’s definitely not harmless! In fact, the effects of chewing tobacco on your teeth and overall health are very serious, so don’t stay in the dark.

Smokeless tobacco just isn’t worth it. In fact, the effects it has on your teeth alone should be enough to scare anyone away! Here’s why…

  • Increased Tooth Decay: The sugar that is added to smokeless tobacco may improve its taste, but it can also damage your tooth enamel and contribute to cavities.
  • Tooth Abrasion: The sand and grit in chewing tobacco products can wear away tooth enamel, resulting in added sensitivity and potential corrective treatment.
  • Tooth Discoloration & Bad Breath: Prolonged use of chewing tobacco can stain your teeth and give you hard-to-mask foul breath…two unattractive traits.
  • Gum Recession: Keeping a small wad of chewing tobacco in your mouth causes constant irritation to your gums. This can result in permanent damage to your gums and the bones supporting them. Injured gums pull away from the teeth, exposing the roots underneath them which can cause extreme sensitivity and additional decay. If the bone is eroded too much, it can even result in permanent tooth loss.
  • Oral Cancer: Chewing tobacco leaves your gums, cheeks and lips in constant exposure to irritating juices that can lead to a pre-cancerous condition called leukoplakia. Most brands of smokeless tobacco are packed with high concentrations of potentially cancerous agents. This can result in cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus.

If you regularly chew smokeless tobacco, ever have in the past, or know someone who does, be on the lookout for some of these early signs of oral cancer:

A lump or white patch
A sore that won’t heal
Difficulty chewing
The constant feeling that something’s in your throat
A prolonged sore throat
Restricted movement of your tongue or jaw

Unfortunately, pain isn’t typically one of the early symptoms, which is why it’s extra important to visitour practice regularly and inform us of any concerns or symptoms you may have. Early detection goes a long way in preventing problems in the future. Your oral and overall health are our number one concern.

If you have any additional questions about chewing tobacco or oral cancer, feel free to contact us, write on our Facebook Timeline, or leave a comment below!

Have You Heard About “Teeth Tattoos” Yet!?

March 26, 2012

Filed under: Blog,Your Appearance,Your Comfort,Your Health — @ 5:04 pm

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD ABOUT THE ODD temporary “teeth tattoos” fad that erupted in the East. Did you know that there are “dental artists” in the United States who design permanent tattoos for your teeth now too? Crazy, but true!

Here’s how it works…

First, you choose your artwork. Then, you decide where in your mouth you want the tattoo to appear. It’s up to you whether or not the artwork will be visible to the public without you intentionally showing them. Most people choose to put their tattoos on the cheek side of the tooth, but they can also be placed on the tongue-side. You can have it be on your front teeth, on either the back or the front…or in the back of your mouth somewhere. It’s completely up to you!

The next step really surprising! After you’ve decided on your design, the dental artist will take an impression of the tooth you wish to tattoo and send it to the tattooing company. They then print the image on a crown designed specifically for your mouth, send it back to your dental practice, and the dentist cements it on for you like a regular crown.

Apparently, these tattoos are easy to remove if you so desire—you just need your dentists to grind it down with a rubber wheel, and presto, tattoo removed.

Sounds like in some cases dental crowns are now being used for reasons other than those for which they were originally intended!To be clear, we don’t recommend this. But what are your thoughts on “teeth tattoos?” Would you ever consider getting one?

Leave your thoughts below, or write a comment on our Facebook wall! We’d love to hear from you.

Understanding Dental Implants

March 19, 2012

THOUGH THE TERM MAY SOUND VERY FAMILIAR, you might still be a little unsure about what dental implants actually are—and why they are such a great solution for tooth loss. Don’t let that embarrass you! Drs. Bradley and Dr. Boswellunderstand that most people are actually in the dark about this. Talking about dental implants isn’t exactly common social conversation! We can help.

The process of applying dental implants begins with inserting small titanium posts into the jaw as the “root structure” for a denture, bridge, or crown. The next step involves several weeks of healing so that these small implants can fuse with your bone and produce a strong anchor. A temporary crown is worn above the implant during the healing time until you are ready for your custom-made crown, bridge, or denture to be securely attached to the small metal post. In the end you’ll be left with a natural-looking, long-lasting, AND beautiful smile!

Here is a short list of benefits:

Eating Will Be Enjoyable Again! — Because dental implants are anchored in the bone, they can provide biting force similar to natural teeth.

You’ll Save Your Healthy Neighboring Teeth! — In most cases, adjacent teeth are not altered or harmed in any way.

Easily Maintenance! — Dental implants are just as easy to brush and floss as natural teeth.

A Permanent Solution! — Your implants can last a lifetime!

Very High Success Rate! — With a 95% success rate, dental implants are one of the most successful options available for replacing missing teeth.

Thank you for the trust you place in our practice. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment to visit with us! We look forward to helping you smile with confidence.

Also, be sure to take a moment to join us on Facebook by clicking on the image below. It’s the best place to stay connected with our practice. and, it gives us a chance to better get to know you.

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