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Recognizing the Signs of Oral Cancer

oral cancer awareness

Oral cancer is a scary disease that takes the lives of over 8,500 Americans every year. It’s a widespread problem that can be treated, often very successfully, if caught early. The problem is, many people don’t know the signs of oral cancer and may never realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. So in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, our dental office in Buckhead is here to help spread awareness of not only the common signs of oral cancer, but also several risk factors.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can be crucial in catching and diagnosing the disease early when treatment is most successful. Some of the more common signs of oral cancer include:

  • A chronic sore that doesn’t go away
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • A lump on the cheek or tongue
  • Change in voice

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist in Buckhead as soon as possible.

Risk Factors

It’s important to note that anyone can get oral cancer. However, there are some things that can put us at more risk of the disease including:

Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.

Age: People over 50 are the most affected by oral cancer.

Tobacco Use: Nearly 80% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking often leads to throat or mouth cancer, and smokeless tobacco usually results in gum, cheek, or lip cancer.

Alcohol: Approximately 70% of all those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.

Limiting your alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products are great ways to reduce your risk of getting oral cancer.  Also one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from the dangers of oral cancer is to see your dentist every six months. These visits can help catch any problems early while the chance for successful treatment is greatest.

Every year, over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. Of those, 40% won’t survive more than five years. Early detection greatly increases the chance of successful treatment and survival. Schedule a visit with your dentist in Buckhead today.

Is Snoring Bad for My Smile?

snoring couple

At our Buckhead dental office, we always go out of our way to make sure your mouth and your body are as healthy as possible – even if it goes beyond simply treating or cleaning your teeth. Sometimes patients are concerned about how snoring might be affecting their smile, so we thought we’d dedicate this blog to looking at how snoring can be damaging to both your oral and overall health.

What Should I Know About Snoring?

If snoring is causing problems in your life (both for you and your bed partner), maybe it’s time to consider learning more about sleep apnea. Snoring is not only annoying but it also poses dangers to both your teeth and the rest of your body.

Here are signs and symptoms that your loud snoring could be related to sleep apnea:

  • Sudden awakenings causing you to restart breathing
  • Waking up in a sweat
  • Frequent silences throughout the night when you stop breathing
  • Choking or gasping for air
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Falling asleep at unwanted times

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your Buckhead dentist. The side effects of snoring can cause issues for your oral health and we’ll want to monitor you so we can best protect your teeth.

Are My Teeth Suffering Because of My Snoring?

Snoring or breathing with your mouth open during sleep can cause you to develop something called dry mouth. This can cause problems for your smile that include:

  • The decreased ability to wash away particles left over after meals
  • Having enough saliva to keep teeth free from harmful acids and plaque build-up
  • An increased risk for sores, infections, and halitosis (bad breath)
  • An increased risk for breakdown of your tooth enamel

Does Snoring Mean I Have Sleep Apnea?

The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates nearly 90 million Americans are snoring away every night while thinking they’re enjoying a deep, healthy rest. Sometimes snoring has nothing to do with sleep apnea. This is generally true for about 45 million of the 90 million people who saw logs in their sleep each night. But the others can be suffering from sleep apnea.

Who’s at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that knows no limits when it comes to age, race, or ethnic background  – everyone is at risk. That’s why it’s so important to determine if your snoring issues are sleep apnea related or not. The American Dental Association says your sleep apnea risk is increased if you’re:

  • Overweight
  • Older than 40
  • Predisposed to snoring in your family medical history
  • Struggling with a deviated septum, sinus conditions, or allergies

If snoring has been causing issues with you, your bed partner, or even your family, please don’t hesitate to call our dental office in Buckhead. We can take a look at your teeth to make sure there are no immediate issues with your smile that need to be addressed and discuss what steps you can take to treat your sleep apnea so you can avoid future health problems such as deteriorating teeth, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Can Poor Oral Health Increase the Risk for Heart Problems?

heart health month

When it comes to dentistry and oral health, many people think of only the mouth itself. While dentistry is certainly about keeping teeth healthy and cavity-free, it’s also about caring for your gums and protecting your whole body. At our dental office in Buckhead, we not only focus on treating the mouth, but also understand that what happens in the mouth can affect the rest of the body. This February, in honor of American Heart Month, we want to talk about how poor oral health can increase your risk for heart disease.

Heart Disease Risks You May Not Know About

Everyone knows about the typical things that can increase our risk for heart disease such as a poor diet, smoking, obesity, and even genetics. While those risk factors are absolutely factors that can lead to heart problems, there’s another little-known culprit that many may never even consider — gum disease.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Many studies conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) have shown a positive link between gum disease and an increased risk for heart disease. In fact, researchers concluded that those with gum disease are more likely to have a heart attack than those without it. But how does something in the mouth affect the heart?

Bacteria that live up under the gum line and cause gum disease have a direct pathway into the bloodstream. When these bacteria enter our blood supply, they can cause our bodies to increase the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP). When CRP levels are elevated it can cause:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Inflamed arteries
  • Heart attack

How to Know if You Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease needs to be diagnosed by your dentist in Buckhead. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye out for some early warning signs at home. Some signs of gum disease include:

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Consistently bad breath
  • Chronic bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, we recommend scheduling an appointment at our Buckhead dental office as soon as possible so we can check out what’s going on and treat anything that we find quickly.

The best way to protect yourself from gum disease and the heart problems that can come with it is to see your Buckhead dentist regularly. Your dental team will not only remove any bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup that can increase your chances of developing gum disease if left alone, they’ll also be able to catch any potential problems early when treatment is often easier and more successful.

Protect your heart and schedule an appointment with your dentist today.

What Vitamins Are Good for Oral Health?

vitamins in palm

Our bodies rely on the vitamins and minerals obtained through what we eat in order to function properly. Our mouth and teeth are no different. The truth is, in order to keep our oral health in good shape we need to make sure we’re getting enough of the right vitamins. In this blog, the team at our dental office in Buckhead cover the most important vitamins you need to maintain good oral health and protect your smile.

Calcium

We all know that bones need calcium in order to grow and remain strong. But getting enough calcium is also crucial for building strong teeth. Calcium helps strengthen enamel which protects teeth from bacteria and lowers the risk of decay. Some foods that are packed with calcium include:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important to oral health for several reasons, such as lowering the risk of infection and keeping enamel strong. Your body also needs vitamin D in order to properly absorb calcium. Find vitamin D in:

  • Canned tuna
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Egg yolks

Phosphorus

Similarly to vitamin D, phosphorus is also needed in order to give your body the biggest benefit from calcium. Calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus are a strong triangle of needed vitamins that all work together. You can get phosphorus from:

  • Salmon
  • Lentil beans
  • Beef

Vitamin C

Besides boosting your immune system so you can more effectively fight off germs, vitamin C also protects your gums and reduces the risk of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection in the gum tissues that can lead to tooth loss. Protect your gums by eating:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower

The best way to make sure you’re getting enough of the vitamins that keep you healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet and include all food groups. However, if it’s tough to get vitamins through your diet, you can consider a supplement or multivitamin if appropriate.

Fueling your body with the proper mix of vitamins is a great way to protect your oral health. Of course, you still need to brush and floss daily and maintain regular dental cleanings at our Buckhead dental office.  

Acid Reflux & Dental Health

man wondering

Even though acid reflux is a condition that originates in the stomach, it can affect other areas of the body, including the mouth. The truth is, people who suffer from acid reflux can be at greater risk for oral health concerns than those who don’t. Our dental office in Buckhead is here to help anyone dealing with acid reflux understand how it can negatively affect dental health and what you can do to reduce your risk.  

How Acid Reflux Affects the Mouth

A natural and important part of proper digestion includes the production of stomach acids. These acids help break down food so the body can digest what we eat. But these acids don’t always stay in the stomach. They can creep up the throat and into the mouth. Normally saliva in the mouth helps neutralize the acid and wash it away before it has a chance to cause damage. But when someone has acid reflux, which may also be referred to as GERD, stomach acids make their way up into mouth repeatedly. This leaves the mouth and teeth exposed to the acid. It’s this consistent exposure to the acid that causes damage to teeth.

Acid Leads to Tooth Damage

Acid is one of the worst things for teeth as it eats away at the protective enamel and leaves teeth at increased risk for decay, cavities, and other problems. As this erosion occurs and teeth are damaged, the need for dental treatment such as fillings, a root canal, or a dental crown may be required to help restore the tooth’s structure. Some signs that your teeth may have some level of acid erosion include:

Reduce Your Risk

Many times acid reflux can be treated or the symptoms can be minimized through the use of a doctor-recommended medication. Additionally, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of damage caused by acid reflux including:

  • Getting tested for sleep apnea as people with sleep apnea are more likely to have GERD
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste designed to strengthen enamel
  • Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol to reduce acid reflux episodes
  • Seeing your dentist in Buckhead every six months to catch any problems early.

If you suffer from acid reflux and are worried about your dental health, we welcome you to call our Buckhead dental office to schedule an appointment today. We will take a close look at your overall oral health and talk with you about the best way to protect your teeth against the dangers of acid reflux.

Diabetic Oral Health Care

Nearly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. That’s 30 million people who have the added responsibility of working to maintain their blood glucose levels day in and day out. While it’s fairly well known that diabetes can lead to other health problems such as heart disease and kidney disease, it may be surprising to learn that diabetes can also affect oral health. In fact, the team at our dental office in Buckhead wants our patients to know that oral health can also, in turn, affect diabetes.

The Diabetes & Oral Health Connection

Research has suggested a connection between diabetes and gum disease, and vice versa. Studies have consistently shown that people who are diabetic are more likely to develop gum disease than those without diabetes. But that’s not all. If we look at the connection from the other direction, research supports that gum disease can also make it more difficult to manage blood sugar levels, leading to diabetic complications and perhaps a progression of the disease. To reduce the risk of gum disease and maintain proper blood glucose levels, consider trying the tips below…

Control Your Blood Sugar

This one is obvious for anyone with diabetes or for anyone whose loved one is diabetic. After all, keeping blood glucose levels within a healthy range is what diabetic maintenance is all about. Besides keeping your body healthy, controlled blood sugar levels reduce the risk of developing gum disease, which can lead to even more health problems such as heart disease.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Besides seeing your dentist in Buckhead regularly for a preventative exam and thorough dental cleaning, it’s also important to practice good oral hygiene at home. Regular, routine at-home care is a great way to ensure your teeth, gums, and even tongue stay healthy. To follow a proper oral hygiene routine, we recommend:

  • Using a fluoride toothpaste to protect against tooth decay
  • Brushing at least when you wake up and before you go to bed
  • Flossing at least once a day to clean all the areas that brushing can’t reach

Good Food is Good For You

Limiting how many sugar-packed foods you eat or drink is good practice for anyone, but especially for those living with diabetes. To help keep blood sugar regulated and support overall health, make sure to eat a well-balanced diet packed with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

The patients at our Buckhead dental office are our top priority and we’re committed to doing everything we can to keep not only their mouths healthy, but their bodies healthy, too. If you’re looking for a new dentist or have questions about your oral health, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our dedicated team today.

The Importance of Sharing Your Medical History with Your Dentist

man fills out paperwork

We know that the paperwork you’re required to fill out when you visit a new healthcare provider can be a hassle. We also understand that it may be tempting to rush through these forms. However, there’s a reason all of your doctors, including your dentist in Buckhead, ask for all of that information. Because when it comes to your health, the more information we have, the better your care will be.

Important Information to Share

Having access to your current and previous health conditions can only help our dental office in Buckhead provide you with the best care that we can. Since there is such a strong connection between overall health and oral health, it’s important to provide us with as much information as possible, even it doesn’t appear to affect your mouth. Some things we should definitely be aware of include:

  • Heart problems
  • Asthma
  • Pacemaker
  • Epilepsy
  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Joint replacements
  • Autoimmune conditions

About Medications

We will also ask about what medications you take regularly, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as herbal supplements. Why is this important? One reason is having a record of medications available will help us in the event that we need to prescribe you something so that nothing interacts. Also, many medications list dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth not only increases the risk for cavities, it can also lead to gum disease. Even though both conditions are treated easily in the early stages, they can lead to bigger problems in the future such as a root canal or even tooth loss if left untreated.  There are also certain medications that have increased clenching and grinding of your teeth as a side effect. This will be important for us to know as we access your oral health and function.

Health Changes, So Should Your Medical History Forms

Your health isn’t the same now as is it was five years ago, and it won’t be the same five years from now. But if you don’t update your medical history with your healthcare providers there’s no way of them knowing about these important changes. If you have any changes to your health including surgery, pregnancy, new medication, or any new health condition, share them with your entire medical team.

Our Buckhead dental office collects health history of each and every patient so that we can provide individualized care. We also make sure that all medical information is kept secure and private. If you have questions about our privacy policy or why we ask for certain information, don’t hesitate to ask one of our team members. We’re happy to help.  

Looking for Migraine Relief? Consider Seeing Your Dentist

woman with headache

Over 39 million Americans, including both adults and children, are affected by chronic migraines, and currently there is no cure. In order to help educate the public on the reality of this painful condition, our Buckhead dental office observes National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month every June. But why is a dentist talking about migraines? What do they have to do with dentistry? Let’s find out…

Identifying a Migraine

Even though migraines are often be referred to as headaches, or headaches referred to as migraines, there is a difference between the two. Commonly headaches that are referred to as migraines are often muscle tension headaches that are not true migraines.  Although both share the common symptom of an uncomfortable, painful sensation in the head, there are several things to look for that can help differentiate the two.

Headaches Migraines
  • Pain isn’t usually on only one side of the head, but can be
  • Pain tends to affect one side of the head, although not always
  • Pain doesn’t get worse with activity
  • Pain gets more intense when doing anything physical
  • Pain is typically a constant pressure sensation
  • Pain appears more throbbing than a consistent pressure
  • Has no other symptoms in other areas
  • Common to experience nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, blurry vision

The Connection Between Migraines & Dentistry

Although there is no one, absolute cause of migraines, studies have shown a connection between a poor bite and chronic headaches. How is this possible? When we look at the anatomy of the head as a whole, we can see that there is a complex weave of muscles between the head and the jaw. So when the top jaw doesn’t align well with the bottom jaw, too much pressure is put on the muscles in that area and they can become strained. When this happens, the pain may not necessarily be felt in the jaw itself (although it can be), but rather in the head as muscle pain. If you clench or grind your teeth often your jaw muscles will again be put under abnormal pressure and, you guessed, you can get a headache.

Many headache sufferers have found relief through dental intervention. To see if that may be an option for you, start by scheduling an appointment at our dental office in Buckhead. This appointment will allow us to check for any signs or a poor bite or bruxism to determine if this may be the cause of your headaches. From there, we will discuss your treatment options and recommend the best solution for you. Don’t keep suffering from headache pain, give us a call today.

Does Asthma Affect Dental Health?

woman reaches for asthma inhaler

It’s well known that asthma causes a narrowing of the airways, reduces oxygen flow, and makes it difficult to breathe. It’s a chronic, scary disease that affects the lungs and entire respiratory system. But can it be true that asthma may also affect dental health? The team at our dental office in Buckhead has the surprising answer in this week’s blog.

Asthma By The Numbers

More than 20 million adults and over 6 million children in the United States alone suffer from asthma. There is no cure for this disease that takes the lives of an estimated 3,600 people every year. Even more suffer asthma attacks, become sick, or are even hospitalized. Asthma is not a disease to take lightly and patients should take their medication as prescribed. However, there are some lesser known side effects of asthma that should be talked about.

Asthma & Cavities

It’s incredibly common for asthma sufferers to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses – simply because it’s easier and they can get more oxygen that way. But mouth breathing is a known contributor to dry mouth and cavities. Constantly exposing the inside of the mouth to air really reduces saliva production. Typically, saliva would rinse away damaging bacteria and acid, but without it, they’re left behind to do some serious damage. Both bacteria and acid will attack enamel, removing the teeth’s protective barrier and increasing the likelihood for cavities. What’s more is that common asthma treatments may also cause dry mouth, which doubles the risk of inadequate saliva production and decay.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Asthma patients are more likely to develop cavities, but following the steps below can help minimize the risk of dental problems.

  • Stay Hydrated. Water is a dry mouth sufferer’s best weapon of defense. Water can help pick up the slack of reduced saliva flow and rinse away bad bacteria and acid. Drinking water throughout the day may even help saliva production increase and further protect your teeth. Choose water as often as possible and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Tell Your Dentist. Your dentist in Buckhead will ask about your health history and any medications you’re taking. It’s important to tell them the truth. Many diseases and medicines can affect oral health, not just asthma, and the more your dentist knows the better care they’ll be able to give.

Besides following the tips above, you should always brush and floss your teeth regularly.  If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to the dentist, we welcome you to call our Buckhead dental office to schedule your appointment today.

National Women’s Health Week

women cycling

In just a few days we’ll celebrate National Women’s Health Week which kicks off appropriately on Mother’s Day, May 13th. This seven day celebration serves to raise awareness of the importance of following healthy habits for women of all ages. At our dental office in Buckhead, we know that dental health is an important part of overall health, and there are certain areas of oral health that specifically affect women throughout different phases of life.

Women’s Oral Health Priorities Change Over Time

As bodies change, chemistry throughout the body tends to change too. This includes the mouth. Since women experience hormonal changes at various times in their life, they actually have more oral health concerns to worry about, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.

Puberty

Typically puberty in girls begins between 8 and 14 years old. Girls will experience quite a transformation during this time since a lot is happening inside their bodies. Hormone levels fluctuate and these hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, can affect oral health. Both estrogen and progesterone increase blood flow to the gums which may cause them to become inflamed, red, and sore. Bacteria in the mouth can also build up easier, increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease.

Menstruation

Just as during puberty, hormone levels continue to ebb and flow throughout a women’s childbearing years. Gums may still become sore or perhaps bleed when brushing or flossing close to when a period is about to begin. Some women may even experience a canker sore during this time. During menstruation, it’s also common to experience a decrease in saliva production, which will make a mouth feel dry, increase the chance for decay, and can potentially cause bad breath.

Pregnancy

Another time in a woman’s life when hormones and dental health changes is during pregnancy. Since about half of all pregnant women will get pregnancy gingivitis, dental care is especially important. What’s more is that poor dental health during pregnancy has been associated with premature babies, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. It’s recommended that pregnant women visit their dentist in Buckhead during the second trimester.

Menopause

During menopause women’s estrogen levels drop… which is directly related to bone loss. Women who have gone through menopause are aware of the risks associated with bone loss and are most commonly concerned with osteoporosis. While osteoporosis leads to brittle bones, it can also decrease bone density in the jaw increasing the risk of tooth loss. There are several ways dentists can replace these lost or damaged teeth, including dental implants and dentures.

Our Buckhead dental office is here to care for all of our patients during every stage of life. If you’re experiencing changes in your oral health, or if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist, there’s no better time than now to schedule an appointment. Give us a call today!

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