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Posts for: June, 2013

By Edward C. Smith, DMD, MPH, LLC
June 27, 2013
Category: Oral Health
MichaelDouglasPleaGetScreenedforOralCancer

Actor Michael Douglas shocked TV audiences across the country when he announced on the David Letterman Show in 2010 that he has stage IV oral cancer. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread and his radiation and chemotherapy treatments were successful. This year, Douglas teamed up with the Oral Cancer Foundation to warn others about the dangers of the disease and the importance of early detection. In particular, he wants younger people to know that even if they don't smoke and drink a lot, as he admitted to Letterman that he did, they are still at risk.

As Douglas states in a PSA he made with the foundation, “the fastest growing segment of the people developing oral cancers are young, non smokers.” That's due to a strain of the Human Papilloma Virus known as HPV16 that can be transmitted through oral sex. So it's important to avoid risky sexual behaviors and to be screened regularly for this devastating disease that claims one life every hour in the U.S., according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

An oral cancer screening is a simple visual and tactile exam done right here at the dental office. We will feel your neck for lumps and inspect your lips and all inside surfaces of the mouth, including the back of your throat, for any suspicious signs. If any are found, a biopsy (laboratory analysis of a tissue sample) can be ordered.

Most oral cancers are “squamous” (small scale-shaped) cell carcinomas that occur in the lining of the mouth and are often preceded by recognizable changes (lesions) of the oral membranes. White or red patches begin to form in the pre-cancerous stage, and as the cancer develops, a non-healing ulcer may appear. If you notice any such changes in your mouth, please let us know.

Michael Douglas ends his PSA with the following plea: “So please, the next time you visit your dentist or your medical doctor, ask for this simple screening. Finding oral cancer in its earliest stages may save your life.” We agree, which is why we always perform this screening during your regular dental check-up. If it's been a while since your last appointment, please come in and see us.

If you would like more information about oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about the disease in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”


By Edward C. Smith, DMD, MPH, LLC
June 14, 2013
Category: Oral Health
GumRecessionandPlasticSurgery

Did you know that millions of Americans have some degree of gum recession? Are you one of them?

Gum recession is the loss of the pink gum tissue that surrounds your teeth and can lead to exposure of the root surface of your teeth. In addition to the obvious aesthetic issues, recession can also result in tooth loss in very severe cases.

So, what causes gum recession? Well, first of all, if you are genetically predisposed to having thin gum tissues, your gums will be more prone to receding than those with thick tissues. However, other factors include ineffective oral hygiene, excessive brushing and mal-positioned teeth. In addition, poor fitting appliances, such as partial dentures can also cause gum recession.

If you think you are suffering from gum recession, you should make an appointment with us immediately, so that we can perform a thorough examination to accurately diagnose your condition. We'll look at your teeth and their position within the supporting bone and surrounding gum tissue. Depending upon our diagnosis, we may recommend a technique known as gum or soft tissue grafting, which allows us to regenerate lost or damaged gum tissue. Grafting is the surgical manipulation of tissue, taking it from one site and moving it to another, so that it can attach and grow.

There are two basic gum tissue grafting techniques, the free gingival graft and the connective tissue graft. Here is a description of each:

  • Free Gingival Grafting. With this technique, we remove a thin layer of tissue from the roof of your mouth or any other site where the tissues are identical to gum tissue (the donor). We then shape and transplant it to the recipient site to create new gum tissue. Both donor and recipient sites heal within two to three weeks.
  • Connective Tissue Grafting. This technique is used to cover exposed roots in the treatment of gum recession. It involves more microsurgical maneuvers to prepare both the donor and recipient sites. We take donor tissue from beneath the surface of the roof of your mouth and then cover it with the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. Another alternative is to use processed tissue rather than your own tissue as a donor material.

When you visit us for an appointment, we will assess which procedure is best-suited to your needs.

If you would like more information about gum recession and plastic surgery, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”