How to Perform an Oral Cancer Self-Examination

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.  With close to 53,000 Americans being diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year, early detection is extremely important.  While we offer a complimentary  oral screening at every appointment, performing an occasion self-examination is crucial.  Below you will see the steps to take in order to perform an oral cancer self-examination.  For this, you will need a piece of gauze and a wall mirror.

It’s important to recognize the normal healthy condition of your own mouth so that you can detect abnormal conditions and report anything unusual to a dental or a medical specialist.

  • Look at yourself in the mirror – both sides of your face and neck should look the same.
  • Look at the skin on your neck and face for any changes in color, moles that have changed, lumps or sores.
  • Feel both sides of your neck gently with your fingertips to help detect lumps, bumps and sore spots.
  • Gently place your finger over your “Adam’s Apple” and swallow. It should move up and down, not to the side. Report any hoarseness that doesn’t clear up within two weeks.
  • Remove any dentures or appliances from your mouth.
  • Check the inside of your mouth first by using a flashlight, then by putting the small mirror in your mouth, if you are able to do this.
  • Check the roof of your mouth for changes in color or lumps. With your index finger, gently press the roof of your mouth to feel for changes.
  • Examine the floor of your mouth and feel it with your index finger. Remember, you are looking for color changes, swelling and changes in shape.
  • With a piece of gauze between your finger and thumb, pull out your tongue and examine all sides – feel your tongue with your fingers.
  • Look at your gums for color change, lumps, bumps or tenderness. Report any sores that have not healed after 14 days.
  • Pull your upper lip up and then your lower lip down and check. Gently squeeze your lips as well as your cheeks with your index finger and thumb to feel for lumps, bumps or tenderness. Report any pain, loss of feeling or any areas that bleed without cause.
  • Gently run your index finger over your upper and lower gums. If you find anything unusual or suspicious, report your findings to us!

Fun Facts for National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is one of our favorite months of the. year, because it is National Children’s Dental Health Month! It is especially important to us as we discuss the relevance of dental health with the children in our community.We visit over 4000 elementary students in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan’s public and parochial schools. Last November our entire team toured Lott Industries and commissioned their team to put together the toothbrush packets we give to the children in the schools. Chris (in the photo above) was excited to be the “Head Man in Charge” of this special project!

Here are some dental facts about kids that may surprise you:

  • You would assume children’s teeth thousands of years ago were full of decay because of the lack to proper dental care. However, the American Dental Association thinks otherwise! They say tooth decay was likely not that common, because sugar was not a part of their diet.
  • Nearly half of 8 year olds have visible signs of decay on their teeth.
  • The good news is, cavities are preventable! Dental sealants added to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth prevent 80% of cavities!
  • Although bones or other parts of the body can heal and self-repair, teeth cannot. This is why preventative dental care and receiving proper dental work is crucial to protect your teeth from further damage.
E-Cigarette Effects

Why Vaping is Harmful for Your Oral Health

Vaping has been a huge trend for many that want to quit smoking.  In the last four years, the e-cigarette industry has more than doubled in sales, from $1.5 billion in 2014 to $3.5 billion in 2018.  Many see it as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes, when in fact it poses many risks most people are not aware of.  They think because it is vaper the risks are very limited.  In fact, in the limited research that has been done in this new industry, many risks, especially to your oral health, have been found.  Here are 5 reasons why vaping is bad for your oral health.

 

Propylene Glycol Increases Tooth Decay

Propylene Glycol (PG) is the major ingredient used in most e-liquids. It includes acetic acid, lactic acid, glycerin & propionaldehyde; all are toxic to enamel & the soft tissue in the mouth.  PG can also lead to dry mouth which increases tooth decay and gum disease & decreases enamel hardness by 27%!

 

More Nicotine than You May Think

While you may think you are consuming less Nicotine vaping vs. smoking, one vaping session is the equivalent of 200 to 400 puffs – equal to 2 to 3 packs of cigarettes!

 

E-Cigarette Use Can Inflame Gums

One 2016 study found using e-cigarettes triggers an inflammatory response in gum tissues.  This affects blood flow to gums which may increase gum disease and tooth loss.

 

Increased Exposure to Bacteria

2018 study found that teeth that exposed to e-cigarettes had more bacteria than those that hadn’t.    This difference could be seen in the pits and crevices of teeth.  Excess bacteria can cause tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases.

 

Damage to Cell Growth and Restoration

According to a 2018 review, studies of live cells from human gums suggest vaping aerosols can increase DNA damage. This can cause cells to lose their ability to divide and grow, speeding up cell aging and resulting in cell death.

As you can see vaping can gravely affect your overall oral health. With that said, vaping does appear to pose fewer oral health risks than smoking cigarettes.  Although research studies are ongoing, there’s still a lot about its long-term effects we don’t know, and the best thing to do for your health is to quit altogether.

However, we know quitting is much easier said than done! Have you had success quitting smoking?  We’d love to hear your story in the comments below!