Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer

Learn More About How Mouth Cancer Can Affect Your Dental Health

Are your dental habits leading you down the path towards mouth cancer? Discover the signs, symptoms, and risks associated with oral disease.

Did you know that your dentist can screen for cancer? Cancer of the mouth is one of the most common forms of the disease, and adults over 20 should get tested regularly! The Oral Cancer Foundation reported approximately 49,750 cases of mouth cancer in the United States last year. Oral cancer can wreak havoc on both your dental and general health?especially if you are a smoker! Take the time to learn the warning signs of oral diseases, get tested regularly, and avoid harmful cigarettes.

What is Oral Cancer?

Cancer, simply put, is an abnormal growth of malignant cells. Throughout our lives, our cells are always splitting and regrowing, though typically in a controlled fashion. However, whenever that process is altered, it causes the cells to grow in a rapid manner, clustering to form what is known as a tumor. Oral cancer can happen anywhere on or around the mouth, including on your lips, gums, cheeks, and soft palate tissues. It often appears in the form of a lesion or sore, and if left untreated, the malignant cells can reach to other parts of your body, and the result can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

The good news is that, when detected early, oral cancer has an 80-90% survival rate.

So, how can you tell if you are developing signs of cancer and not another oral disease, such as gingivitis? While some symptoms, such as pain, bleeding, or swelling can be present in both, other indications that you may have oral cancer include:

  • Sores that develop near or in the mouth that bleed persistently and do not heal
  • Swollen areas, such as lumps, bumps, or thickenings
  • Developing abnormal white or red patches on the skin or inside the mouth
  • Loose teeth or dentures
  • Pain in the tongue, jaw, or throat
  • Stiffness, numbness, loss of feeling, or significant tenderness in the face, jaw, or inside the mouth (which may cause difficulty breathing, eating, or talking)
  • Ear pain
  • Soreness or swelling in the back of the throat
  • Significant, unexplained weight loss

Who is at Risk?

Studies have shown that oral cancer is typically found more often in men than women. Men over the age of 50, specifically, should take extra care to take preventative measures against the disease. However, the most significant correlation found is with oral cancer patients and tobacco. The use of tobacco?whether smoked or chewed?can significantly increase your chances of getting oral cancer. Around 90% of mouth cancer patients have also reported tobacco use.

Tobacco Use and Oral Cancer

All types of tobacco, including those found in cigars, cigarettes, or pipes, come from tobacco leaves; and, cigarette companies use a myriad of additives to help make the experience even more “enjoyable” for users. The truth is, tobacco smoke is made up of over 7,000 chemicals…and at least 70 of them are known carcinogens (aka, cancer-causing). Not only can they cause diseases in your mouth, lungs, or heart, but also cigarettes can ultimately be fatal. At least 30% of all deaths in the United States are attributed to complications from smoking, and there is no safe way to consume tobacco.

However, even non-smokers can develop cancerous tissue in their mouth, so it helps to know what else can increase your risk of oral cancer. Other causes of oral cavity cancer include:

  • Excessive alcohol use. In addition to being detrimental to your health, drinking lots of alcohol can also erode the natural coating on your teeth, making you more susceptible to other infections.
  • Exposure to the sun. As with other areas of your body, applying sunscreen to your lips and around your mouth can reduce your risk of melanoma or of other cancers.
  • Certain diseases, like HPV. Known as the human papillomavirus, HPV is a sexually-transmitted disease. So, practicing safe sex and getting regularly tested can help to significantly reduce this hazard.

Other factors, such as a family history of cancer or a weakened immune system may also put you at higher risk. Patients with these factors should be especially vigilant about taking preventative measures.

Protect Yourself, and Reduce Your Chances

The most proactive way to reduce your chance of infections, diseases, or cancer is by taking preventative measures. The best place to start is by quitting smoking! If you have never smoked or chewed tobacco?don’t start! Even using tobacco once can negatively impact your health, including the integrity of your teeth and gums. Other ways you can lessen your risk of developing cancer is by eating healthy, by properly brushing and flossing your teeth, and by visiting your dentist on a regular basis! At Williams Dental & Orthodontics, we offer general services, including cleanings and oral cancer screenings. If you or a family member needs to schedule a dental consultation in Skiatook, OK, call us today at (918) 396-3711!

Start Them Young: Flossing Edition | Skiatook Dentist

Getting our children on a good dental routine can be tricky. It takes some time to teach them to brush properly – but when does flossing work itself into the process?

Flossing should be introduced when your little human’s teeth start to fit closer together, generally between two and six. Start off by using floss that is soft so that it is gentle on their teeth and gums.

As we all know, the process itself is relatively simple. Cut a piece of floss about 18 inches long. Wrap both sides around your fingers until you have a good two inches separating either side. Pull it taut between your thumb and index finger and guide the floss in between each tooth. With a downward zigzag motion, slide the floss around each tooth to gently scrub down the spaces your toothbrush can’t reach.

Use a new area of floss for every tooth, don’t snap or flick the floss between your teeth, and always use a new piece. No particular order necessary to do it right. Work from top to bottom or vice versa. We have been taught to floss after we brush, but in fact, it is better to do it before to loosen any debris your toothbrush won’t be able to get to.

If their gums begin to bleed as you begin to teach them, don’t worry – it’s natural. Their baby gums will become stronger as they get older. If it doesn’t seem to go away, bring it up at their next dental appointment.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding pediatric dentistry, contact Williams Dental and Orthodontics at (918)396-3711 or williamsdentalok.com.

Williams Dental and Orthodontics proudly serves Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville, Hominy, Owasso and all surrounding areas.

Holiday Foods You Should Avoid | Skiatook Dentist

The holidays are a delicious time of year and the last thing we want to do is avoid any of the amazing treats coming our way during the celebrations. Unfortunately, not all holiday food is good for our smiles. Not only can they harm our teeth, but they can also cause them to decay. So, before you get ready to attend your first holiday parties of the season, take a look at this quick list of foods you may want to rethink:

Candy canes. When we think of Christmas sweets, one of the first things that comes to mind is the candy cane. Those delicious cane-shaped confections are not only made of 100% sugar, but they take a while to eat. Sucking on a candy cane will leave sugar in your mouth longer than necessary, making it easier for cavity-causing bacteria to dig in and cause harm.

Popcorn. Do you have popcorn garlands or make popcorn balls as gifts for your guests? While popcorn is quite festive, eating popcorn can cause harm by getting stuck between teeth and gums. If you aren’t much of a flosser, this can lead to a buildup of cavity-causing bacteria. If you love popcorn, learn to love flossing.

Eggnog. Are you one that loves to indulge in a cup or two of eggnog? Sure, it is a fantastic adult beverage, but it is also loaded with sugar and fat. Because it is a drink, eggnog coats your mouth with sugary sweetness, turning your mouth into a bacterial playground. If you drink eggnog, make sure you rinse with water to limit the sugars remaining until you can brush.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding holiday dental tips, contact Williams Dental and Orthodontics at (918)396-3711 or williamsdentalok.com.

Williams Dental and Orthodontics proudly serves Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville, Hominy, Tulsa and Owasso.

Smile for Santa: Pediatric Dental Tips | Skiatook Dentist

Ask any tiny human their favorite time of year and chances are you will likely hear it’s Christmas. Not only do they get lots of presents from Santa and no school in sight, but everywhere they go there is another delicious treat waiting for them to eat. Between the cakes, cookies and candy canes, the holiday season is a tiny human’s dream. What isn’t dreamlike is a parent trying to keep their little one from ruining their smile during all of the holiday festivities. In fact, it can be downright tough to keep a smile on their child’s face while keeping that smile healthy. But a healthy smile starts with a good foundation. Here are some tips to start your little one off on the right foot:

Daily routines. Repetition is the best way to start a good habit, so make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Supervisor their work until they can thoroughly do it themselves. Once teeth coming in begin to touch, introduce flossing.

First dental visit. The AAPD suggests baby’s first dental visit occur when their first tooth comes in, or around the age of one. Keeping them on a six-month dental schedule will not only ensure they keep a healthy smile, but will also help prevent dental anxiety as they grow.

You are what you eat. We can instill all the dental knowledge we can, but if you have a bad diet, it won’t help. Same goes for your little one. Keep things in moderation. Limit the sugary snacks, cooked starches and sweetened drinks.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding pediatric dental health, contact Williams Dental and Orthodontics at (918)396-3711 or williamsdentalok.com.

Williams Dental and Orthodontics proudly serves Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville, Hominy, Tulsa and Owasso.

Moustaches and Mouths: Protect Your Face | Skiatook Dentist

It’s November, the time of year the weather gets chillier and men’s faces get hairy for a good cause. Movember is a month-long journey where men stop shaving to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Why not celebrate the month by focusing on their oral health? After all, it is a known fact that men are less inclined to watch their health in general, much less their teeth. Here are a few ways for men to embrace the attention from their moustaches and look after their dental health:

Regular dental checkups. According to research published in the Journal of Periodontology, women are almost twice as likely as men to have had a regular dental checkup in the past year. Make an appointment today. In fact, if you are athletic, ask your dentist about a mouth guard to prevent any dental accidents on the field.

Daily dental care. According to the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Association, the average man is less likely to brush his teeth twice a day (49% compared with 56.8% of women), and more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease can put you at risk for other health issues not dental-based. Brush twice daily for two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Reach every surface of the tooth and gently clean between the teeth and the gums.

Monitor your heart health. There are plenty of medications that can give you dry mouth. Saliva cleans bacteria and food particles from your teeth, so developing a dry mouth increases your risk for cavities and gum disease.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding men’s dental health, contact Williams Dental and Orthodontics at (918)396-3711 or williamsdentalok.com.

Williams Dental and Orthodontics proudly serves Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville, Hominy, Tulsa and Owasso.

Diabetes: What Your Teeth Need to Know | Skiatook Dentist

Having diabetes is definitely going to affect more a lot of your overall health, but one affected area you may not realize is your teeth. It’s true – not taking care of your diabetes and blood levels will likely cause more dental issues down the road beyond cavities. Because it is a blood-related disease, poorly watched diabetes can lead to oral infections.

Dry mouth is common among people with diabetes. And because saliva is important to oral health, when not producing enough, bacteria thrive, tissues can get irritated and inflamed, and your teeth can be more prone to decay. But worry not – there are lots of simple things you can do to keep things under control. After all, you have a new lifestyle now, and this is going to be an allover lifestyle change:

  • Make sure you brush at least twice a day and floss once a day
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day to help curb bacteria that can cause plaque buildup on teeth and gums
  • Check your mouth for inflammation or signs of bleeding gums and report any findings to your dentist
  • Visit a dentist for a cleaning at least every 6 months to clear up any plaque that has begun to build up

The most important thing you need to do when diagnosed with diabetes is to make sure your dentist knows that you have diabetes and any meds you take. You may even need to see a periodontist who specializes in gum disease.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding diabetic dental tips, contact Williams Dental and Orthodontics at (918)396-3711 or williamsdentalok.com.

Williams Dental and Orthodontics proudly serves Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville, Hominy, Tulsa and Owasso.

Eat Your Way to a Healthy Grin | Skiatook Dentist

Everyone wants a bright white smile, but for most it isn’t as easy as it seems. We can splurge on a professional whitening treatment, but it is a luxury we give to ourselves when our teeth are getting really dingy looking. Over-the-counter treatments are all fine and dandy, but the chemicals can be pretty rough on our teeth. So, what do we do to keep up with our sparkly white teeth? In honor of National Smile Week, let’s take a look at some things we can do at home:

Jelly or jam? Believe it or not, but there are plenty of foods you can eat that will improve your pretty smile. One of those fruits are strawberries. Yes, those sweet berries with the seeds that love to hide in between our teeth are actually great for scrubbing your tinged teeth because of its malic acid. The acid is what will remove tooth stains, so go ahead and eat them up.

Don’t say no to green. There are plenty of reasons why we eat veggies. I mean, the vitamins alone are plenty reason to indulge any time possible. Doesn’t celery look like floss? Could broccoli look any more like a toothbrush? These veggies, along with carrots and cauliflower, have teeth-friendly benefits we can’t deny. Sorry, kids…gotta eat your veggies.

Finish your milk. This one should be a given. Calcium-rich foods not only strengthen our tooth enamel, but the lactic acid contained in low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese will also help whiten your grin.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding healthy foods for your dental health, contact Williams Dental and Orthodontics at (918)396-3711 or williamsdentalok.com.

Williams Dental and Orthodontics proudly serves Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville, Hominy, Owasso and all surrounding areas.