Oral Cancer Screening
More than 30,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal (throat) cancer this year. Fortunately, early detection of cancer and pre-cancerous conditions provides a higher probability of cure. Regular dental examinations are an invaluable part of early cancer detection and treatment.
Normally, the inside of the mouth appears pink and smooth. Certain changes within the mouth may indicate an abnormality that should be treated immediately. Some of these changes may include:
- Red or white patches in the mouth
- Sores that do not heal and/or bleed easily
- Thickening of the skin inside the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
When patients come in with a suspicious growth or condition of the mouth, it's vitally essential to determine the cause. For instance, symptoms like lesions can be indicative of more serious problems down the road. Our doctors evaluate the teeth and mouth for any indications oral cancer.
Even the most thorough brushing does not always reach the deepest indentations in the back teeth (molars). Dental sealants fill in these depressions and grooves, creating a smooth surface and successfully preventing the bacterial formation that causes tooth decay and other damage on the biting surfaces of the teeth used for chewing.
In a procedure that takes only a few minutes per tooth, our trained staff cleans the tooth and paints the plastic sealant on to the tooth enamel. This coating works like a barrier to prevent plaque from attacking the enamel. A special light may be used to speed the hardening and bonding process. Sealants can help both adults and children, and may be re-applied every few years.
Dental appointments for children are important to evaluate the teeth and gums as well as to educate the young patient for a lifetime of dental hygiene. We will talk with you about your child's oral health and hygiene, including teething, fluoride, brushing and flossing, cavities, sealants and orthodontics.
The prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal, or gum, disease is very important to health. Gingivitis represents the first, non-destructive stage of gum disease. However, gingivitis can develop into a more serious condition called periodontitis. This is why it is especially important to catch periodontal disease in its early stages. Certain people are at higher risk for developing gum disease, such as smokers, people with diabetes and women in menopause.
In addition, evidence is continually being shown to support the belief that your oral health is closely associated with many health issues throughout your body. Specifically, the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and lead to heart disease, pregnancy complications and diabetes. Prompt and thorough treatment of periodontal disease can help prevent it from impacting your overall health.
Endodontics is the diagnosis and treatment of problems with the inside of the teeth, including the soft tissue known as dental pulp. The most common endodontic procedure is the root canal.
Root canals are performed to save a tooth when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected due to decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, cracks, chips or other injuries. Endodontic surgery is helpful in a number of situations, including the diagnosis of fractures that are too small to appear on x-rays, the cleaning and sealing of calcified teeth, the extraction and replacement of damaged teeth ("intentional replantation"), and the removal or repair of bone or dental root. The most common of these last procedures is the apicoectomy or removal of the tip of the root.
Orthodontics refers to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dental and facial irregularities such as crooked teeth, crowding, spacing, protruding upper teeth, overbite, underbite, open bite and crossbite. Braces and other orthodontic appliances are used to correct these "bad bites" or malocclusions by moving the teeth and jaw into proper alignment. Treatment is designed to help the patient both aesthetically (by improving the smile) and functionally (by improving the bite). Patients who undergo orthodontic treatment often enjoy greater self-confidence with their new smile.
Orthodontic treatment can help patients of all ages, although treatment is most effective as soon as a problem is detected. Children should have an orthodontic exam before they turn 7 to detect and treat any problems early and to ensure optimal results. It is important to treat malocclusions before problems worsen or cause tooth decay, gum disease, surface wearing, stress on the gum and bone, jaw misalignment, headaches or face and neck pain.
Lasers can be an invaluable tool in the detection of cavities (caries), especially when the tooth looks whole and healthy on the surface, or when only a small portion of the cavity is visible.
The laser light can penetrate into tiny fissures to allow dentists to see further inside the tooth with more detail than has ever been possible with traditional dental instruments, including X-rays and probes. Therefore, any problems discovered can be treated quickly and early, before they require extensive dental work. Based on the findings determined by the laser, your dentist will recommend the best course of treatment, from simple preventive measures to minimally invasive restoration.
Oral surgery may be required to diagnose or treat injuries and diseases in the mouth. Biopsies can determine the presence of oral cancer or tumors, which may then be surgically removed (excised). Tooth extractions prevent or treat damage caused by impacted wisdom teeth or crowding. Surgical contouring of the jaw or gum line can correct jaw alignment problems, TMJ, malocclusion ("bad bite") or other problems.