Maintaining Normal Oral Hygiene During COVID-19

How can you maintain your regular oral hygiene routine during the COVID-19 outbreak? Infection control experts Eve Cuny, MS, of the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, and Kathy Eklund, RDH, MHP, of The Forsyth Institute, discuss how to keep your mouth – and the rest of you – healthy in this webinar clip from the American Dental Association and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention. Visit to view the full webinar.


February Is Kids Dental Care Month

February is an important month to kids’ dental care because it marks the observance of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). What started in 1941 as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, this month has progressed remarkably over the years. The ADA held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. After the observance became a weeklong event in 1955, the program was extended to a month-long celebration in 1981 – known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Why We Have National Children’s Dental Health Month

NCDHM raises awareness of how important it is for children to develop good oral habits at an early age to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) regularly recommends that children receive their first dental exam no later than one year of age to head off potential early dental problems.

Kids’ dental care also depends on parents to review certain areas of prevention with their dental professional. This includes tooth decay, what thumb-sucking can do to baby teeth and how to get your child to become familiar with his or her dental office’s surroundings. In later years, your attention should focus on the prevention of crowded teeth and healthy gums, both achievable by seeing a dentist at least twice a year for an oral examination and professional cleaning.

Protect Tiny Teeth

Get Out and Play

People today spend more hours on electronic devices than ever before. Adults and children both need to learn the value of unplugging every once in a while, and playing together. Going for a walk, bicycle ride or even a skiing trip are great ways to spend time together, hear about each other’s day and get moving without interruptions from TV and social media. Exercise is a vital component of a child’s long-term well-being, according to the American Psychological Association, and every minute counts. Walk to and from the bus stop instead of driving or park further away from the grocery store so you and your child can walk together. These small changes can have a cumulative benefit if done on a regular basis because it decreases his or her chances of future heart disease and diabetes – both of which can raise one’s risk for oral disease, explains the American Academy of Periodontology.

Eat Right

Kids and teenagers often consume processed foods when rushing to and from sporting events and school activities. To encourage healthy eating, nutritious snack options should be made available to them even when on the go. Foods that are natural and low in sodium and fat – like lean proteins, fruits and vegetables – provide kids with necessary nutrients to keep their minds focused and their bodies healthy. So cut down on the processed or deep-fried foods that are typical to school cafeterias, and opt for those that keep the teeth and body healthy and strong. Dr. Friscia advises against processed foods because they contain more added sugars that can contribute to the growth of germs in the mouth if children do not brush right away.

Manage Stress and Stay Positive

Stress is not always a bad thing; it can often motivate people to accomplish goals and succeed under pressure. However, problems can arise when stress lingers, because it can lead to unhealthy changes in caloric intake in an effort to cope with these issues. Stress rarely causes disease, but it creates conditions that make the body more vulnerable to them. From nighttime teeth grinding, to dry mouth to the occasional canker sore, feelings of anxiety can actually cause oral health issues in the mouth according to studies. Kids also find it easy to deal with social and academic stress by turning to comfort foods that are high in calories, or by drinking caffeinated beverages to stay alert. But these things can cause dental decay that ultimately deters a healthy lifestyle.

An alternative way to deal with stress is to exercise. Working out can release chemicals called endorphins into the body, decreasing stress and making the body relax and feel better for longer. Maintaining a positive attitude can also keep an individual healthy.

Drink More Water

Water has many jobs, and ideally, the body should receive seven to 10 glasses of it a day to stay healthy. It reinforces cells that build the body tissue associated with bone and skin. Water also flushes away toxins that enter the body, and those that the body produces as it turns food into energy. It is a building block for many of the chemical reactions that keep your system healthy, and is preferable over soda, sugary juices and sports drinks due to its ability to hydrate your cells.

Drinking water also helps to cleanse the teeth of bacteria, helping to prevent tooth decay. By rinsing away germs and small food particles that can build on and between the teeth, you prevent future issues such as dry mouth and bad breath.

Get Some Rest

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep is a valuable tool in maintaining your health. Your state during the day hinges on how you spend your night, and getting enough sleep can do wonders for your mental health, physical health and overall quality of life for all ages. Both the body and brain need sleep to repair cells and retain memory. Without enough sleep, children can struggle in school and become prone to things like high blood pressure, which is often linked to gum disease.

Take Care of Your Body

Proper hygiene also plays an integral role in bodily health. Making sure you and your kids are clean before and after daily activities involves not only showering or bathing, but good oral care as well. Flossing after big meals and brushing can prevent cavities, and seeing a dental professional twice a year will help keep the entire body healthy in the process.

Educating children about healthy lifestyle choices is imperative if they’re serious about maintaining their mental and physical well-being. Simple changes can be made to daily choices that can improve their lifelong health. The earlier you instill the idea that healthy kids make healthy choices, the better off your own children will be when they reach adulthood.

How To Have A Tooth-Friendly Halloween

Is thinking about Halloween candy and its effect on your children’s teeth enough to give you the chills?

Don’t despair — you can be mindful of your child’s health and still let them enjoy the special occasion, dentists say.

The decay process in teeth works like this: The majority — about 90 percent — of all foods contain sugars or starches that enable bacteria in dental plaque to produce acids. This attack by bacterial acid, lasting 20 minutes or more, can lead to a loss of tooth mineral and, eventually, to cavities.

A child who licks a piece of hard candy every few minutes or sips a sugary drink is more susceptible to tooth decay because long-lasting snacks create an acid attack on teeth the entire time they are in the mouth. Thus, one approach would be to allow your ghosts and goblins to indulge in Halloween candy at mealtime instead of as a snack.

Or choose the right kind of snack. Research from the Forsyth Dental Center shows that some sticky foods clear from the mouth faster than less sticky foods — posing a shorter acid attack on the teeth. Caramels, for example, dissolve more quickly than crackers, breakfast cereals, potato chips, dried fruit and bread.

Another option with Halloween candy is to allow snacking immediately after trick-or-treating, then throw out the remainder. But remember that depriving your child of Halloween treats will only make him or her want them more. Good dental health depends on more than just diet.

Snacks should not be served more than three or four times a day and should contribute to the overall nutrition and health of the child. Healthy snack choices include cheese, yogurt, vegetables, peanut butter and chocolate milk.

Most of all, practice good oral hygiene by making sure your child brushes and flosses every day, uses fluoride toothpaste and visits the dentist regularly.

have questions?

Are Dental Implants For You? Learn More

A dental implant is a titanium post (like a tooth root) that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line that allows your dentist to mount replacement teeth or bridge into that area. An implant doesn’t come loose like a denture can. Dental implants also benefit general oral health because they do not have to be anchored to other teeth, like bridges.

One of the most notable technological advances in dentistry has to be the development of dental implants. Prior to their launch, the only options available to people who had lost a tooth were bridges or dentures. Dental implants offer an attractive and comfortable solution for those who have lost a tooth to decay or injury, providing a permanent replacement option that looks and feels like a real tooth.

Advantages of Dental Implants

Because a dental implant feels and looks like a normal tooth, it can do wonders for a patient’s self-esteem. Many people who were shy about smiling due to a space from a lost tooth feel perfectly comfortable after a dental implant. Beyond the aesthetics, a dental implant also makes it easier to eat and speak, since a titanium post secured directly in the jaw holds the implant in place. Thus, an implant doesn’t come loose like a denture. Dental implants also benefit general oral health since they do not have to be anchored to other teeth, like bridges.

Dental Implant Success Rates

Dental implant success can depend on where the missing teeth are located, but the average success rate is more than 95 percent, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). Because the implant penetrates the jaw bone and gum, certain people may not be a good fit for the procedure, such as those who smoke or suffer from diabetes. Your dentist will be able to evaluate whether dental implants are right for you.

Dental implants are a popular and permanent way to improve the stability of your mouth. If you have missing teeth, or wear removable dentures, they can offer a way for you to maintain a stable, strong and long-lasting smile.

These alternatives to your natural tooth root are made of titanium, a metal that fuses with your jaw bone. When natural teeth are lost, your natural jaw bone can weaken, diminishing your ability to chew and change the form of you face and smile. If you are struggling to chew your favorite foods, or just plain embarrassed by your mouth’s appearance, implants may be your smile-saver.

How It Works

Dental implants are anchors that are surgically placed in your jaw. Titanium accompanies a few other materials to make up this anchor, and are safe to the body; your own bone will grow and join together to support the implant. After the proper waiting time – usually three to six months – the implant is ready for the permanent tooth replacement or prosthetic to be placed on the anchor.

Single tooth loss is one reason to consider an implant, but even total tooth loss can be successfully restored with implants. As explained by the American Dental Association (ADA), there are three basic steps for implant placement:

  • Surgical placement of the implant by a qualified dental professional.
  • Healing time for “osseointegration,” allowing the bone to grow around the implant.
  • Placing of the artificial tooth or teeth.

In most cases, the total integration of bone is necessary before a permanent restoration can be installed. In rare cases, an implant can be “loaded” with a restoration immediately after surgery. If more healing time is needed, your dentist will fabricate a temporary replacement until the final restoration can be placed.

Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Dental implants have been used in the U.S. for decades and have been improved and perfected over the years. Currently, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), 500,000 American adults undergo implant therapy of some form every year. The procedure has proved to have a 98-percent success rate if proper placement procedures and oral hygiene regimens are followed. Are you a candidate for an implant? The answer in most cases is yes, with some caveats.

There are many things to consider before seeking treatment, but the two at the forefront are your medical history and the costs involved. Patients who suffer from chronic illnesses like leukemia and diabetes are not good candidates, as these conditions inhibit the body’s ability to heal. Patients who have been treated with bisphosphonates (usually found in chemotherapy drugs), as well as popular bone-building drugs like Fosamax and Boniva are carefully scrutinized as well. Additionally, people who smoke have diminished mouth health and may need to be counseled in a smoking cessation program prior to an implant.

Your dental history focuses on the health and thickness of the jawbone, and the number of implants a practice would need to restore your smile. Another important factor is your oral hygiene habits. In order for the implant to be a success, proper brushing and flossing is vital for the implant to last a lifetime. Without proper care, the implant can become infected and fail. Your dentist or dental hygienist will instruct you on proper care and the specific dental aides appropriate for use around the implant.

5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit

School will be back in session before you know it. Send your child off to class with a new bookbag, fresh pencils and a healthy smile.

Some schools require a back-to-school dental exam. Still, it’s always a good time of year to schedule one of your child’s regular visits. It’s also a great time to help get back on track if some of your child’s dental habits fell away during summer, when normal routines can go out the window and there are a lot more treats around.

Here are a few questions to ask at your child’s appointment:

How Is My Child’s Overall Dental Health?


The dentist will be looking at the big picture of your child’s mouth, including teeth and gums. Dr. Friscia will check to make sure teeth are lining up correctly, your child’s bite is in good shape and to keep an eye out for any [orthodontic] issues that may show up later.

Will My Child Get a Cleaning Today?


This is a must, no matter how well your child brushes. “Even if your child—or you, for that matter—brushes twice a day, it’s not possible to get rid of all the bacteria that can lead to cavities,” Dr. Friscia says. “And on the other hand, you may have a child who goes off to camp and never opens their toothbrush.”

That’s why a professional cleaning goes a long way. “It removes more of the cavity-causing bacteria and helps to keep gum tissue healthy,” she says. “It can also remove most or many stains from teeth.”

Does My Child Need an X-Ray?


X-rays help your dentist see how your child’s teeth are developing and make sure the tooth roots are healthy. They also are used to see if there is any tooth decay between your child’s teeth. The decay process can move very, very fast, so the earlier we can catch it, the better. Your child won’t need an x-ray at every visit. “We do them only when necessary,” she says.

Can You Check My Child’s Mouthguard?


If your child plays sports year-round, make sure you bring his or her mouthguard along so your dentist can check for wear, tear and fit. “If your child is having a growth spurt, losing teeth and getting new ones, the mouthguard might need to be redone.

What Are Sealants?


Sealants can be another way to keep your child from getting cavities, but they’re no substitute for brushing and flossing. A sealant is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that your dentist can place on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth (called molars). Once they’re on, sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria and bits of food from settling into the nooks and crannies your child’s toothbrush can’t reach. This helps keep cavities from forming and tiny existing spots of decay from getting worse.

In fact, having sealants on your permanent molars reduces the risk of cavities by 80%. It’s best to get sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molars come through their gums (usually at age 6, then again at age 12). It doesn’t hurt to put on or apply a sealant. When permanent molars start coming in, parents should ask if sealants are recommended.” Most last for years, and your child’s dentist will make sure they’re holding strong at every regular visit.

Zoom Whitening: Is it Right For You?

Zoom is a bleaching process widely used throughout the country and around the world to lighten discoloration of enamel and dentin. Tooth discoloration may result from drinking coffee, tea, cola and red wine; or from smoking. The aging process also can stain and darken your teeth. The Zoom in-office tooth whitening procedure uses the Zoom Advanced Power Chairside Lamp – said to accelerate the bleaching process – to activate the 25 percent hydrogen peroxide whitening. As the hydrogen peroxide is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin to bleach the stained substances, leaving the structure of the tooth unchanged.

Consultation and Treatment Planning

Before deciding whether Zoom in-office teeth whitening is right for you, Dr. Friscia will conduct a comprehensive examination of your teeth and gums to ensure proper health, as well as talk with you about your oral hygiene and lifestyle habits to determine if you will benefit from whitening.

Dr. Friscia may also require you to undergo whitening if you are planning other cosmetic dental procedures, such as veneers or composite bonding, in order to ensure a better match between the restoration and your natural dentition, or after the removal of braces. During your consultation and evaluation, Dr. Friscia will also note existing dental work, such as crowns and veneers, which will not respond to conventional whitening agents.

The Zoom Procedure

The complete procedure takes less than an hour, but a regular teeth cleaning is recommended prior to the actual Zoom teeth whitening session. The procedure begins with a short preparation to cover the lips and gums, leaving the teeth exposed.  Dr. Friscia, or his dental assistant then applies the Zoom hydrogen peroxide whitening gel, which works together with the Zoom light to penetrate the teeth and break up the stains and discoloration. The gel remains in place for 15 minutes while the light is activated. During this time, you can relax.

The gel is applied for three 15-minute sessions of light activation, for a total treatment time of 45 minutes. Individuals with a strong gag reflex or anxiety may have difficulty undergoing the entire procedure. Immediately afterwards, a sensitivity-reducing fluoride paste-gel is applied to the teeth.

Aftercare: Maintaining Whitening Effects

You will be given a Zoom home-use touch-up kit that includes custom-fitted whitening trays. Follow your dentist’s instructions for when and how to use this touch-up kit.

To help maintain the whitening effects of your treatment, Dr. Friscia  may advise you to avoid certain foods and beverages, or consume them in moderation to avoid staining your teeth. This includes tea, coffee, red wine, cola, etc.

Additionally, tobacco products will stain teeth, even after whitening treatments. As such, we suggest you quit using them. Maintain an appropriate oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) regimen to prevent stains from reforming, and see your dentist and hygienist regularly for scheduled teeth cleanings.

Toothpastes containing whitening agents also may be suggested, to maintain the results of the procedure.


Sensitivity during treatment may occur in some people. The Zoom light produces minimal heat, which is usually the source of discomfort. Rarely, minor tingling is experienced immediately after the procedure, but always dissipates. Ask for an anti-sensitivity toothpaste prior to treatment to lessen sensitivity.

As with other whitening products, Zoom is not recommended for children under 13 years of age, or for pregnant or lactating women. Also, it is important to remember that whitening treatment may not be as effective for some people as it is for others. Only your dentist can determine if teeth whitening is right for you after performing a thorough oral examination that includes a shade assessment.

Have Missing Teeth? Get Dental Implants!

Smiling is one of those things you do without really thinking about. Whether you’re laughing at a joke or are just in a good mood, smiling is bound to happen. It’s healthy to smile and nothing should take that away from you.

However, a missing tooth can change all of that. Not only will you be aware of when you’re trying to smile, you’ll go to incredible lengths to cover your mouth out of sheer embarrassment! At times, missing one or several teeth can feel like the end of the world. This doesn’t have to be you. If you’re relating to this situation all too well, there’s a solution for you we want you to take advantage of today – dental implants.

Look Here If You’re Missing a Tooth

No option other than dental implants even makes the discussion for being the best solution for restoring missing teeth. Dental implants are widely known for being a permanent, fixed solution that feels natural and blends in with your smile. They’re a perfect fix for anyone with one or multiple missing teeth, whether you’re straight out of school or well into your senior years.

Unlike other solutions (including dentures and bridges), dental implants aren’t known for causing problems Dentures are notorious for accidental slippages, annoying maintenance and annual refittings. Bridges rely on neighboring teeth to support it, wearing them out and can cause further tooth loss. Both of these alternative solutions are outdated, they’re what your parents relied on before dental implants gained popularity. Let’s forego these not-so-reliable solutions and refocus on dental implants.

Here’s a breakdown of all the perks you get out of dental implants:

  • Dental Implants Prevent Bone LossAn awesome perk of having dental implants is its ability to stabilize your jawbone. When you lose a tooth, the portion of your jaw once held in place by your tooth begins to recede, which can cause a ‘sunken’ facial appearance. Dental implants fix all that. Thanks to their ability to osseointegrate, dental implants prevent this process from happening, strengthening your jawbone through stimulation from speaking and eating. You won’t have to worry about getting a dental implant refitted every year or so to combat jawbone recession.


  • Dental Implants Make Eating Easier If you haven’t been able to eat your favorite foods in a long while thanks to the pain caused by a missing tooth or the limitations of dentures and bridges, you need no longer wait! Dental implants fully restore your chewing power. This is awesome, especially when compared to the lowly 40% chewing power dentures provide. Chewing power is everything, it’ll help alleviate any digestion problems you’ve been experiencing. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about trapped food beneath your teeth or having your teeth embarrassingly slip out while eating.


  • Dental Implants Don’t Require Special Care One perk of switching to dental implants from dentures or a bridge is how easy it is to clean them. Dental implants only ask you to take care of them the same way you’d take care of the rest of your teeth. That’s easy! Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, floss your teeth daily and visit your dentist every 6 months for a deep cleaning.


  • Dental Implants Restore Your Confidence When you get a dental implant, you no longer have to feel down about your smile. You’ll be brimming with confidence, smiling without worry and you’ll no longer feel like you have to shield your face around family and friends! Every time you look in the mirror, you won’t even be able to tell which of your teeth are actually dental implants!

Dental Implants are Affordable!

This year, over 2 million patients in the United States will choose dental implants as the solution for their missing tooth woes. What about you? There are zero excuses for you not to consider getting a dental implant if you’re embarrassed of your smile due to a missing tooth; not even pricing can stop you. Nowadays, dental implants are affordable!

Here at Thomas F. Friscia D.D.S. F.A.G.D., we understand not everyone has huge spending power. That’s why we strive to provide the most affordable, transparent dental implant pricing in Morganville, New Jersey.

Get A Dental Implant Today!

Food Choices Can Affect Your Oral Health

Proper nutrition means eating a well-balanced diet so that your body can get the nutrients needed for good health and wellness. If your diet is low in the nutrients your body needs, your mouth may have a more difficult time resisting infection. This may contribute to periodontal disease, a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Although poor nutrition does not cause periodontal disease directly, many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and can be more severe in people with nutrient-poor diets.

If you’re caring for children, a balanced diet along with good oral hygiene habits will help them develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. Pay particular attention to calcium, phosphorous and proper levels of fluoride.

Eating patterns and food choices among children and teens are important factors that affect how quickly youngsters may develop tooth decay. When bacteria come into contact with food in the mouth, acid is produced that attacks the teeth. This can eventually lead to tooth decay, if flossing and tooth brushing are not completed on a regular basis.

Many dentists are concerned that their patients are consuming record numbers of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and non-nutritious snacks that affect their teeth. These foods generally have little if any nutritional value and over time they can take a toll on teeth.

Eating patterns and food choices among children and teens are important factors that affect how quickly youngsters may develop tooth decay. When bacteria come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced that attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more. This can eventually result in tooth decay.

Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. Almost all foods, including milk and vegetables, contain some type of sugar; however; they are a necessary part of a healthy diet because many of them also contain important nutrients. To help control the amount of sugar you consume, read food labels and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars. Added sugars often are present in soft drinks, candy, cookies and pastries.

If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection. This may contribute to periodontal disease, a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Although poor nutrition does not cause periodontal disease directly, many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and can be more severe in people with nutrient-poor diets.

To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups and limit the number of snacks you eat. If you do snack, choose nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a piece of fruit. And remember that foods eaten as part of a meal cause less harm because the saliva released helps wash foods from the mouth and lessen the effects of acids.

For more information about the nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed by your body (and your teeth and gums), visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Web site at The USDA’s dietary recommendations are designed to promote optimal health and to prevent obesity-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancers.

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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and oral cancer screenings are a routine part of dental examinations. During an exam, your dentist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue.

What starts out as a tiny, white or red spot or sore could be the sign of something more serious. Although most spots or sores are harmless, harmful ones often look identical.

Oral cancers that are found early offer a better chance for successful treatment—making oral cancer screenings one more reason to see your dentist regularly.

In 2010, the National Cancer Institute estimated that 36,540 people were diagnosed with oral cancer. NCI figures also projected that 7,880 people would die from oral cancer (though not necessarily the ones diagnosed in the same year). The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed early is 75 percent compared to a 20 percent survival rate in those whose cancer has spread, reports the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. How can you lower your risk for oral cancer?

As part of your daily oral hygiene routine, watch for changes in the soft tissues of your mouth especially sores that don’t heal within two weeks.

  • Avoid all tobacco products.
  • Avoid heavy alcohol use. (The combination of tobacco use and heavy alcohol use is estimated to cause the majority of oral cancers diagnosed in the United States.) Avoid exposure to the sun which can increase the risk of lip cancer.
  • Visit your dentist for regular oral cancer screenings that may save your life.


According to the National Institute of Dental Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), over half of those in the U.S. survive from oral cancer after five years. If this condition is caught early enough, the chances of successful treatment are high.

Dentists look for early signs of mouth cancer during regular checkup appointments, but it’s also important for you to recognize these warning signals so you can bring them to the attention of your dentist right away.

Signs and Symptoms

Mouth cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, tongue and throat, as well as the salivary glands, pharynx, larynx and sinuses. And because early detection is crucial in overcoming this disease, you’ll want to visit your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks:

  • Sores, swellings, lumps or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
  • Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
  • The feeling of a lump or object stuck in your throat
  • Swellings that make wearing dentures uncomfortable
  • Numbness, pain or tenderness anywhere in your mouth, including your tongue
  • Pain in one of your ears but without any loss of hearing
  • Trouble moving your jaw or tongue, or problems with chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
  • Lingering sore throat or hoarseness

How It Occurs

Although the exact cause of oral cancer is unclear, there are certain lifestyle factors that can put someone at risk for this disease. Tobacco of any kind – cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco – increase your risk for oral cancer. In fact, the Mouth Cancer Foundation reports 90 percent of those with oral cancer consume tobacco. Heavy use of alcohol also increases a person’s chances of developing oral cancer, and the NIDCR says your risk is even higher when using both tobacco and alcohol.

In addition to tobacco and alcohol, age and eating habits can influence your risk as well. Most oral cancers occur in people over the age of 40, and a diet that is deficient in fruits and vegetables can make it easier to contract. Keep in mind sun exposure can cause cancer on the lips. More recently, there has been a rise in a subset of oral cancers associated with the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV 16).

Oral Cancer Screening and Treatment

Oral cancer examinations by your dentist are quick, painless and crucial to detecting it in its early stages. The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that during a routine checkup of your teeth and gums, your dentist also visually checks your lips and face for signs of spreading beyond your mouth. He or she may also palpate the neck and jaw area, and examine both the top and underside of your tongue. These oral cancer screenings should be done every six months.

A dentist who suspects cancer will recommend a biopsy of the area, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). With a positive diagnosis, surgery may be needed to treat the affected area, and often this surgery is followed by radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Your Best Option

When in doubt, seek prevention! You should already practice daily oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay and gum disease: brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and limiting sweets. But by regulating certain lifestyle choices – smoking, alcohol use and sun exposure, for example – you can significantly lower your risk of developing oral cancer.

Ultimately, if you know what to look for and see your dentist for regular screenings, early signs of mouth cancer can be identified and taken care of before they become a serious problem.


WORN-DOWN TEETH Wear have the years gone? Regaining your smile!

As we age, there is a natural and progressive breakdown that affects every part of our body, including our skin, bones, muscles, joints, internal organs and even our brains. Unfortunately, teeth are not immune to the effects of aging.

What is the normal amount of wear?

As we age, it is perfectly normal to have a certain amount of wear occur on our teeth. After the age of thirty, it is considered normal to lose about one millimeter of length of the upper front teeth, due to normal wear, for each decade of life. The average forty-year-old should not have more than one millimeter of wear on the edge of their front teeth, two millimeters for a fifty-year-old and so on.

A common problem today is excessive wear that occurs above and beyond expected age related wear. The result is an unattractive smile with short teeth and spaces between the teeth. Excessive wear can also result in temperature sensitive teeth, difficulty in chewing, chipping and fracturing of teeth, bite related problems such as headaches and TMJ (jaw joint) problems, and nerve exposure resulting in full blown toothaches.  Unfortunately, many people are completely unaware that they have a serious tooth wear problem. Tooth wear can occur rapidly over a short period of time, or it can occur gradually over long periods of time. For many people, the wear goes unnoticed, especially if it has taken place more gradually.

Enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies. Once that is worn through, the inner soft core of the tooth, the dentin, is exposed. Dentin is where the nerve endings are located. Once the dentin is exposed, wear proceeds approximately eight times more rapidly because the dentin is much softer than enamel.

Often the front teeth that are worn have thin, sharp and jagged edges. The back teeth can have flattened surfaces and worn down fillings. If there are crowns or caps present on the back teeth they often can have holes present on the biting surface from being worn thin. The wear in these cases can be on front teeth only, the back teeth only, or both. Treatment can include fabrication of a night guard if the wear is minimal. If the wear is extensive, treatment often requires restoring the teeth back to the original height and establishing a balanced bite, which helps to eliminate the grinding problem.


Abrasion refers to wear that is caused by external forces. The most common are the type that is caused by hard brushing and the use of abrasive toothpaste. Also, depending upon cultural differences, certain diets can be highly abrasive. Typically, the type of abrasive wear that we see most is caused by toothbrush abrasion and it often results in notched out areas at the gum line. Treatment usually involves helping the patient to recognize the cause of the problem so that they can alter what they are doing and then restoring the worn away tooth structure. This treatment may only require a simple filling or two with composite bonding.


Erosion is the wearing away of tooth structure that is caused by acid. This is the least recognized form of tooth wear even though it has its own unique appearance that is quite different from attrition or abrasion. There are only two possible sources of acid in our mouths. There is the kind that we ingest, or bring in, and the kind that we regurgitate, or bring up.

The number one culprit of ingested acid is carbonated beverages or soda. Soda is highly acidic and the daily ingestion of soda can destroy enamel in a short period of time. Even acidic juice drinks like orange juice can have a deleterious effect on enamel. Ingested acid can damage the enamel on the surface of the front teeth, especially at the gum line, and at the biting surface of the back teeth.

Teeth that are worn due to acid erosion exhibit a satin-like surface texture and have rolled margins as opposed to sharp jagged edges seen in attrition from grinding. Treatment for all erosion cases involves identifying the cause of the acid and eliminating it. If soda drinking is causing the problem we will discuss and try to educate people about the harmful effects. Treatment in any case of acid erosion involves covering the exposed dentin and restoring the teeth back to their normal size and shape before any further damage can occur. In many cases the treatment will protect the remaining tooth structure, and prevent any further damage from occurring.

Excessive tooth wear is a serious problem that should not be ignored. In any case of excessive tooth wear, the key is proper diagnosis. Contact our office if you have any concerns.