Dr. Bob and Staff

Dr. Bob and Staff

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Protecting Yourself Against Oral Cancer

If there were a quick and painless way to identify pre-cancerous cells in the mouth of someone you loved, would you want them to try it? What if that person were you? The truth is, as uncomfortable as it may be to even think of the word “cancer,” thinking about it, and thus detecting it early, is key. That’s why, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit, because while the oral exam that accompanies your cleaning may not be noticeable to you, it’s often your earliest line of defense in the detection of oral cancer. Lets take a quick look at a few of the risk factors and symptoms, and consider a few options you may have to help reduce risk. Keep in mind that no list is exhaustive, and to always share with each of your health care providers your concerns and strategies regarding your oral health.

Those at Risk for Oral Cancer
Passing certain age thresholds and engaging in certain lifestyle habits can place you at increased risk for oral cancer. For example, men tend to have higher rates of oral cancers than women. Here is the short list:

  • Patients age 40 and older (95% of all oral cancer cases)
  • Patients age 18-39 who use tobacco, are heavy drinkers, or may have a previously diagnosed oral HPV infection.

Warning Signs
If you experience any of the below symptoms lasting more than 7-10 days, please seek the advice of your doctor. Also, keep in mind that aside from an obviously sore throat, the below symptoms can present themselves in the absence of pain. Look out for changes that can be detected on the lips, inside the cheeks, palate, and gum tissue surrounding your teeth and tongue.

  • Reddish or whitish patches in the mouth
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
  • Chronic sore throator hoarseness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Reducing risk
If you do not visit the dentist regularly, you could be missing out on the benefits of early cancer detection. Currently, just over half of all those diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years – a statistic driven by late diagnosis – so please visit your dentist and get an oral exam at least once a year. If you are considered “high risk,” (see list above) you should be receiving an oral exam at least every six months, if not more frequently.

  • Below is a short list of healthy habits you can start doing now, which may reduce your risk
  • Avoid all tobacco products
  • Avoid or reduce your consumption of alcohol
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables (good for everything, of course)
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure that can result in cancer of the lip (using lip balm with an SPF of at least 30 can be helpful)
  • Avoid exposure to environmental hazards (wood dust, formaldehyde, printing chemicals)
  • Conduct a self-exam monthly so you can catch any of the symptoms listed above. Use a small hand-held mirror so you can see the back of your mouth and tongue
  • Consider coffee. While the jury is still out, some research suggests coffee may help protect the mouth from oral cancer. 

Oral cancer is serious business. Yet, it can be managed when caught early. So, do the right thing and visit your dentist regularly. Dr. Stephenson will complete an oral cancer screening with each exam. Call us today at 541-343-8527 to schedule.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Understanding the Five Stages of Tooth Decay

Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay? And, that in the first stage of decay, you can actually take steps to reverse the progression of the disease? Indeed, it’s true. In the first stage of decay, whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your toothpaste and even the local water supply can stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel and reaching its second stage. Even the saliva in your mouth and the foods you eat help to re-mineralize a tooth in jeopardy. But that’s just the first stage! What about the rest? Understanding how a cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring.

Stage One: White Spots 
In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These white spots are representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss because they’re likely to occur on your child’s molars. A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities! Can you see why regular visits to the dentist are recommended? As mentioned previously, at this stage, the cavity can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth. When you come in for an exam, Dr. Stephenson will be able to pick these spots up in areas of the mouth a patient can’t see on their own.

Stage Two: Enamel Decay
Stage two marks the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked. Initially, the tooth erodes from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact for the first half of this second stage. Once the cavity breaks through the surface of the enamel, there is no turning back, and the patient will need to have the cavity corrected with a filling.

Stage Three: Dentin Decay
If a cavity were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing, you’d tend become aware of it when it started to hit stage three because it would probably start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth in order to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.

Stage Four: Involvement of The Pulp
Once the cavity reaches the pulp, it’s going to hurt. A lot. So if you’ve unfortunately missed all the signs to this point, your tooth will certainly let you know there is a big problem now. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the only option of treatment at this stage, save for a complete extraction. Fortunately, root canals are easier than most people think and usually the preferred treatment in order to save the tooth.

Stage Five: Abscess Formation
In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. This in turn infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. Swelling would be commonplace and pain severe. In children (as well as adults) an abscess can be very serious (and sometimes life threatening) if not dealt with immediately. Root canal or extraction would be the order of the day should decay reach this stage.

As you can see, cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of decay, so it really does pay to visit the dentist at regular intervals. You can keep yourself and your children far from stage five by scheduling regular exams in our office. Call us today at 541-343-8527 if you are due for a dental exam!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tongue Scraping- Why, When, How and Where

Imagine it’s still winter … you’re standing at the door, ready to brave the cold. You’re layered-up with three shirts and a sweatshirt, your heavy winter coat, and two layers of socks underneath your waterproof winter boots. Then you’ve got those awesome jeans with the flannel on the inside, your comfy hat, scarf, and gloves. You’re set! But wait. As you step toward the door, you suddenly realize you have an itch … and it’s deep down … buried beneath all those layers. And, try as you may, every attempt to reach that bugger-of-an-itch fails. Defeated, you realize the only relief you’re ever gonna’ get is to remove each one of those layers. Where are we going with this?!

The Tongue

We’re going inside your mouth, of course, to your tongue – this is a dental article, after all! Because whether you know it or not, like you in the wintertime, your tongue is also “all covered up” – buried beneath layers of bacteria, fungi, and food residue that can inhibit your ability to taste, let alone cause your tongue to appear various shades of yellow, white, or green! Remove the bacteria, though, and your food will once again directly interact with those taste buds, and return to its natural hue. So how does one do that? With a tongue scraper, of course!

WHAT is a tongue scraper?

A tongue scraper is a U-shaped device designed to “scrape” the top layer of scum from your tongue. They have been in use since ancient times, and have been made of everything from wood to whalebone. Nowadays, they are made of more hygienic material, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and colors.

WHY use a tongue scraper?

The residue on your tongue includes things like the cavity-inducing Streptococcus mutans bacterium, fungi, rotting food (that’s not good), and what’s referred to as “volatile sulfur compounds.” In other words, sulfur – that “rotting egg smell.” Talk about ew! So, as you can see, there are several reasons why you’d want to get rid of this gunk in your mouth. Let’s tackle them one by one:
  • Reduce bad breath: Enough said!
  • Reduce your risk of periodontal disease and cavities: Bad bacteria contribute to plaque and tartar on teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities. Bacteria build-up can also lead to inflammation of gum tissue (gingivitis). If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which means a more expensive dental visit (plus other unwanted consequences!). Speaking of avoiding an expensive dental visit, when was the last time you came in to see us? Come see us now if it’s been awhile, by calling in at 541-343-8527
  • Make room for good bacteria: see our article here on probiotics for your mouth.
  • Prevent heart disease? While the debate is still up in the air, some studies suggest there could be a correlation between gum disease and heart disease.

HOW does one use a tongue scraper?

In general, make sure to rinse your tongue scraper before and after use. Apply the tongue scraper to the back of your tongue and drag it forward. Then, rinse and repeat. Make sure to get the sides of your tongue as well, not just the center!
Make sure not to press too hard or you can cause yourself to bleed. And, if you’re wondering if you should scrape your tongue while recovering from a dental procedure, that’s a good question … ask your dentist for the best advice particular to your situation. Still not sure how this thing really works? The next time you’re in ask Tricha or Kristen for a quick tutorial!

WHERE do I buy one?

Tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive, and can also be found at any local drugstore. It doesn’t matter the material, color, or brand – just find the one you like and get scraping!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

7 Oral Health Concerns for Those Over 50

When they say “age is all in your head,” they’re probably right. But then, your teeth ARE in your head -- so you likely can’t escape having to pay a little more attention to them after the age of 50. Although some oral health concerns are seen as common as we age, if you adopt a proactive mindset and educate yourself, these concerns do not have to be common for you. Anticipating and recognizing changes in your mouth can help you be on top of your health in this area -- so let’s take a look at the main ones you have to watch out for.
  1. Dry Mouth: The most common oral health concern you’re likely to experience as you age is dry mouth. In the medical world, dry mouth goes by the name xerostomia, and can be brought on by a number of contributing factors, including the over-consumption of drying beverages like coffee and alcohol, as well as the frequent consumption of salty foods. Another big offender is the medication we take over a lifetime to treat various illness. And the list isn’t a short one – there are at least 400 medications that can contribute to xerostomia, including medications for high blood pressure and depression. 
  2. Ill-fitting Dentures: First off, it’s important to note that the need for dentures is not a must as we age. Today, healthier living and better access to dental care has reduced the percentage of seniors wearing dentures to 27% from nearly 50% just a few decades ago. That said, should dentures be a part of your life, or that of a loved one, wearing properly-fitting dentures is critical. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a denture reline.Give us a call at 541-343-8527 to see if we can help. Dentures that cause pain or shift in the mouth tend to alter a person’s eating habits, which can lead to nutrition deficits if healthy, but hard-to-chew, foods are avoided. Ill-fitting dentures can also cause thrush.
  3. Physical Obstacles to Good Oral Care: As we age, we sometimes find ourselves having to contend with physical ailments that limit our desire to maintain good oral care. Arthritis, vision loss, or injuries are a few of the most common. To combat these concerns, using a floss pick to get between teeth can be helpful, and the regular use of oral rinses can assist in dislodging difficult-to-remove food debris, while adding to the overall health of one’s mouth and gum tissue. Here’s how to choose the best mouth rinse for your needs!
  4. Naturally Receding Gums: The old expression “long in the tooth” isn’t just a quaint idiom about how one accumulates wisdom with age – it also refers to how our teeth appear to “lengthen” as we age. In other words, it’s a fancy way of saying our gums are receding. While some degree of gum recession is indeed natural as we get up in years, this predisposes us to cavities along the root structure of the tooth where enamel doesn’t exist. So, as one ages, flossing, brushing and rinses are more important than ever.
  5. Gum Disease: Natural gum recession is one thing, and a part of “growing up,” if you will. Gum disease, however, is preventable. So, if it's been longer than six months since you've seen us, please give us a call at 541-343-8527. Each of the above items in this list can contribute to gum disease, and good oral care can prevent it. Failing to do so can lead to a need for dentures at its most extreme, and pain and swollen gums at its least. We’d prefer you experience neither concern!
  6. Tooth Loss: If a tooth is lost due to trauma or decay, and not replaced with an implant or other prosthetic, it can have serious complications for the health of the jawbone. Teeth can shift out of place and fall out, and bone tissue can be resorbed back into the body. Not a good thing.
  7. Loss of Insurance Coverage: Retirees without dental coverage can sometimes cover the expense of dental care on their own; sometimes they cannot. But a lack of funds to take care of one’s teeth can be devastating to the health of our mouths, and our overall health. So we need to plan for two things: a care routine that allows us to take care of our teeth as much as humanly possible and some sort of financial backup plan for when problems do arise. If you are interested in financing, our office offers Care Credit for payment plans. Please contact us at 541-343-8527 if you would like further information.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer

New study links pancreatic cancer to 2 types of bacteria found in gum disease
 Published June 07, 2016 

Gum disease may cause more than just bad breath, according to a new study presented at the 2016 American Association for Cancer Research meeting, which points to a connection between periodontal disease as a potential early marker for pancreatic cancer. This could pave the way for early detection of pancreatic cancer – one of the most deadly forms of the disease –because of the advanced stage at which it is often diagnosed.
It is estimated that in 2016, 53,070 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed with only 7.7 percent of victims surviving 5 years.
Researchers from New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center with a grant from the National Cancer Institute, found people with two types of periodontal disease-causing oral bacteria have a higher prevalence of pancreatic cancer than those who did not have the gum disease.
The two types of periodontal disease bacteria the research team found werePorphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. Saliva samples came from 361 individuals who developed pancreatic cancer and samples from 371 matched healthy individuals in large-scale, long-term prospective cohort studies. The DNA extracted from the saliva was sequenced, and variances in age, race, sex, smoking status, alcohol use, body mass index and diabetes were controlled.
Participants with Porphyromonas gingivalis in the microbiome of their oral cavity had a 59 percent greater risk of pancreatic cancer than participants who did not have it. The association of participants with Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans was not as statistically significant even though they had at least a 50 percent increased relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
These findings support the current study’s hypothesis and previous research showing that people who have developed pancreatic cancer tended to have poor oral health. The researchers reasoned that periodontitis, which is inflammation of the tissue around the teeth often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth, is due to oral bacteria dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is a term for an unhealthy change in the normal bacterial ecology of a part of the body, such as the mouth.
Many previous studies have shown a strong relationship between associated periodontal disease with pancreatic cancer..
Findings from a 2013 European prospective cohort study showed having high levels of P gingivalis antibodies in blood caused a 2-fold increase of developing pancreatic cancer. Another 2007 prospective cohort study looked at over 50,000 male health professionals with a history of periodontitis and found a 64 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Both of these previous studies however, were unable to determine which came first, poor oral health or pancreatic cancer.
This new study from NYU is the first study to determine that periodontal dysbiosis does in fact precede the development of pancreatic cancer and does not develop after the diagnosis. This was determined by looking at the oral samples of saliva collected prior to the onset of pancreatic cancer confirming the positive association with P gingivalis.
Researchers pointed out that this finding does not confirm that the two periodontal disease-causing bacteria cause pancreatic cancer. Rather, they most likely correlate it with systemic inflammation occurring within the body, known to be a precursor for developing cancer. Having periodontal disease-causing bacteria in the mouth may increase the likelihood of inflammation.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
The pancreas is located deep within the abdomen sandwiched between the stomach and the spine, with a small portion of it nestled in the curve of the upper portion of the small intestine. It functions as a glandular organ having an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells. It has an exocrine function of secreting digestive enzymes into the small intestine helping with digestion, and an endocrine function of releasing the hormone insulin into the bloodstream, a critical controller of blood sugar levels.
Tumors of the pancreas are rarely palpable, which is why most symptoms of pancreatic cancer do not appear until the tumor has grown large enough to interfere with the functioning of the pancreas, or has spread to other nearby organs such as the stomach, liver, or gallbladder. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include:
·         Upper abdominal pain spreading to the back
·         Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
·         Diminished appetite and unexplained weight loss
·         Fatigue
·         Digestive difficulties
·         Nausea
·         New onset of Type 2 diabetes in people over 50
Risk factors which may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer include:
·         Cigarette smoking
·         Age – over 80 percent of pancreatic cancers develop between the ages of 60 and 80
·         Race – more common in African Americans
·         Gender – more common in men
·         Religious background – more common in Ashkenazi Jews 
·         Chronic pancreatitis
·         Diabetes
·         Obesity
·         Diet – diets high in meats, cholesterol, fried foods and nitrosamines 
·         Family history
Future additional studies are planned to determine if periodontal disease is a cause of pancreatic cancer. Until then, good oral hygiene including regular brushing and flossing of the teeth and visits to a dentist are recommended. If a person does have periodontal disease, they should be seen regularly by a periodontist for regular cleanings and checkups to get the condition under control.
Anyone who has any of the potential symptoms of pancreatic cancer should make an appointment with their physician for an evaluation and testing as soon as possible.

Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team and the chief medical correspondent for am970 in New York City. Learn more atroboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Teeth Whitening

Would you like a whiter, brighter smile? Visit our office for a professional whitening treatment! Most patients will see results in just two hours with our in-office treatment.

Professional whitening can take years off your smile, giving you a more youthful appearance. Dr. Stephenson will review your dental history to determine if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening and which product works best for your needs. Only a dental professional can use the strongest whitening gel available in the safest environment possible.

The fee for professional in-office whitening treatment in our office is $300, which includes custom trays to take home to use with whitening gel to boost the results and keep your teeth looking great. Call us today to schedule your appointment and look forward to a beautiful smile for all of your special occasions!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Replace Missing Teeth With Dental Implants

Dental Implants

If you would like to replace missing teeth, dental implants may be a good option for you. Many people have teeth that are lost due to injury or disease. Missing teeth can affect your ability to chew properly or speak properly and can cause the teeth surrounding the space to shift. Bone loss can also occur around the missing tooth and may cause remaining teeth to become loose over time. Loss of teeth and bone can cause your face to sag and give the appearance of looking older. Dental implants are an effective way to replace missing teeth, improve your health and help you start smiling again!

The benefits of dental implants include:                                   
  • Blending in with your other teeth for a natural look
  • Implants are a secure and stable replacement for one or more missing teeth
  • Replaces missing teeth without damaging the healthy surrounding teeth
  • Can be used to help stabilize a loose, uncomfortable denture
  • Excellent long-term option for restoring your smile
  • Implants can last a lifetime with proper home care and regular dental visits
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with your body. The implant is surgically placed into your jaw, and after a period of time for healing, the replacement tooth (implant crown) is placed on top of the implant.
The dental implant process generally takes three steps:
  • Placement of the dental implant
  • Healing
  • Placement of the restorative tooth or teeth
Dental implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth or multiple teeth. Dental implants are used to support a bridge or denture when multiple teeth are missing. An implant supported denture helps to stabilize the denture and allow you to bite and chew naturally.
The best way to find out if you are a good candidate for a dental implant is by calling our office at 541-343-8527 for a complimentary implant consultation. Generally, if you are in good health and your jaw can support an implant, this treatment is a good option to replace your missing teeth.