Oral Cancer Risk Factors

Top 5 Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time when dental and other medical professionals unite to create a larger awareness of oral cancer.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer refers to cancer of the mouth, while oropharyngeal cancer refers to cancer of the pharynx or back of the throat. And guess who is your first line of defense against early detection…your dental provider!

How Many People Does It Affect?

Here are the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2020:

  • About 53,260 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • An estimated 10,750 people will die of these cancers.

5 Risk Factors

Doctors are constantly striving to understand oral cancer’s origins, but the issue is complex. However, the five factors described below may place you at greater risk of contracting oral and oropharyngeal cancers.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)
This sexually transmitted disease is now associated with about 9,000 cases of head and neck cancer (specifically those occurring at the back of the tongue, in or around the tonsils) diagnosed each year in the United States.

According to the American Cancer Society, men are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed and die from oral cancer than women. They attribute this to higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use, but also say that within younger men, it is due to contracting HPV.

Oral Cancer by Gender

Whether you smoke it or chew it, tobacco use dramatically increases your risk of getting oral cancer. Pipe smokers also have a higher risk of developing cancer in their lips. It is interesting to note that even smokeless tobacco can lead to cancer of the cheeks, gums, and lips.

According to the American Cancer Society, 7 of 10 oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an average of two drinks a day or more for men and an average of more than one drink a day for women.

Not Getting Regular Check-Ups

Did you know that your dentist is the first line of defense against the early detection of oral cancer? Every time you visit the dentist, the provider examines your tongue, teeth, gums, and every other surface in the mouth. Your dentist is not only checking for plaque buildup and cavities in your teeth, but they are also looking for any signs of oral cancer and early detection is key! If left untreated, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become very difficult to contain.

Now you have a better idea of the 5 most significant risk factors for developing oral cancer. As you can see, nearly all of these factors are related to lifestyle choices. Those who choose to over-consume alcohol or smoke should seriously evaluate the necessity of these behaviors in their life. If you are not scheduling regular dental check-ups, we encourage you to make an appointment with our experienced dental team today.

What to Do if Your Child’s Filling Falls Out

What to Do if Your Child’s Filling Falls Out

Whether it happens when your child is eating, flossing or brushing their teeth, suddenly losing a filling can be somewhat traumatic, to say the least. Not only is it a strange feeling to be missing part of your tooth, but you can also experience tooth sensitivity and/or a good deal of pain after the tooth is exposed.

As a future note, regular dental visits every six months allows your dentist to keep an eye on your child’s fillings and make sure they are in good condition. However, if a filling does come out between dental visits, you need to know the steps to protect your child’s teeth and alleviate the pain.

Here are some important steps you can follow until your child gets in to see their dentist:

Manage the Pain

After taking a few deep breaths and making sure you and your child are calm, your next priority is to handle any pain they may be experiencing. Your child may feel a sharp pain on the affected tooth from inhaling cool air, as well as from sipping hot or cold beverages. After all, the tooth tissue is now exposed and is very sensitive.

Depending on your child’s age, various over-the-counter treatments are available and should suffice until you can get in to see your dentist.

  • Ibuprofen and aspirin (or children’s aspirin depending on your child’s age).
  • Over-the-counter topical analgesics, such as Orajel, that can provide temporary numbness around the tooth.
  • Applying clove oil to the affected tooth is a natural remedy to consider. This is done by simply dampening the end of a cotton swab in the oil and applying it gently to your child’s tooth.
  • Fill the hole temporarily with dental cement. This can prevent the tooth from becoming further damaged while covering up the exposed nerves to ease the pain. However, it is important to understand that this is NOT a long-term solution; the dental cement is not a substitute for a proper filling.

Note: Unlike a lost crown that may be kept and reapplied by your dentist, you will have NO such luck with a lost filling. Once the composite filling escapes from the tooth, there’s no way to save that particular filling. So, you can dispose of it.

Call your Child’s Dentist

The loss of a filling isn’t an emergency, but your dentist should take it seriously. Dental providers know that losing a filling can be scary and is often painful. This is why it’s a priority to contact your child’s dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

Careful Cleaning

In the interim, it is essential for your child to keep the affected tooth and the surrounding area clean. It is important to advise your child to brush as gently as possible and skip the mouthwash, which can burn and irritate the affected area.

Avoid Certain Foods

Until your child’s dentist appointment, there are certain foods you should try to avoid. You should tell your child to avoid foods with small seeds or kernels, such as strawberries and popcorn, which have a tendency to get lodged in the exposed area. It is also important to stick to drinking just water.

In Closing

If your child loses a filling, it certainly can be stressful. You should do what you can to remain calm and reassure your child that this is a very common situation. It is important to soothe any pain and make sure to give your dentist a call as soon as possible. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact our office. We’d be happy to help!

How to Avoid Common Dental Implants Problems

How to Avoid Common Dental Implants Problems

Dental implants have gained a lot of attention in recent years because of their high success rates. Compared to dentures, bridges, and crowns, dental implants are an effective long-term solution for people who suffer from missing teeth, failing teeth or chronic dental problems. Once in place, you’ll be able to go back to enjoying your teeth and smile once again.

If you do not already have dental implants, here are the main three components:

  1. The implant: A metal post or frame that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gums and serves as a root for your new teeth.
  2. The abutment: A permanent, but removable (by your doctor), connector that supports and holds a tooth or set of teeth.
  3. The crown (or prosthetic tooth): This is the part of the tooth that you can see. It’s usually made of zirconium or porcelain for durability and to look natural.

While dental implants are a fantastic option for many, no dental procedure works 100 percent of the time. However, many of the most common dental implant-related problems are avoidable.

If you’re considering dental implants, or already have them, here’s how to help avoid common dental implant issues.

Choose a Qualified Dentist

Make sure you work with a qualified dentist or specialist for your dental implant procedure. An inexperienced or careless dentist can cause any number of problems. For one, dental implants inserted into the wrong position make it likely that the metal post won’t bond to your jawbone, leading to failure. Be sure to ask about your dental provider’s experience with dental implants before you schedule a procedure.

Disclose Your Full Medical History

Even though most people are good candidates for dental implants, not telling your dentist about your full medical history and health could lead to potentially bad outcomes with your dental implants. It is important to disclose everything, even if you think it might not matter.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Be sure to follow your dentist’s post-treatment care instructions for your implants, both immediately after the procedure and over the long-term. If you don’t, it could lead to an infection.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is said to be dangerous for your oral health and is the prime cause of dental implant failure. Dental experts say that smoking has several negative impacts such as infection, inflammation around the gums, and inappropriate bonding between the implant and jawbones. With this in mind, we strongly advise dental implant patients to quit smoking.

Report Problems Immediately

Some problems with dental implants happen after your procedure. For example, a newly formed sinus infection can cause pain. If the surrounding tissue doesn’t heal properly, you may experience excessive bleeding and discomfort. It is important to notify your dentist as soon as you experience a problem, so they can help you get back on the road to recovery. The longer an issue occurs without resolution, the longer it could take for your implants to heal.

Here are some common signs of dental implant failure or complications:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Gum inflammation
  • Gum recession
  • Increased swelling
  • Loosening of an implant or a replaced tooth
  • Severe pain or discomfort

Routine Check-Ups

Routine check-ups should go without saying, but we all get busy. The easiest way to maintain a regular dental check-up schedule is to make your next routine appointment before you leave the dental office each time you visit.

In Conclusion

Dental implants have a high success rate, but there can be complications from time to time. It is important to know what steps you can take before and after implant treatment to avoid any issues. For more information about dental implants, contact us today.

Differences Between Dental Bonding and Veneers

What are the Differences Between Dental Bonding and Veneers?

If you have a smile you don’t like due to teeth that are discolored, chipped, misaligned, uneven, or gapping, you probably find yourself refraining from showing your teeth. Perhaps you smile with closed lips or you cover your mouth when laughing. It is likely that you unintentionally walk around with an unfriendly, straight face. Do you realize that not being able to smile at your full potential can hurt your social life, as well as deprive you of some of the amazing benefits? Below are just a few of these benefits you may be missing out on.

5 Benefits of Smiling

  1. Your entire body relaxes when you smile.
  2. Smiling, even if forced, has been proven to immediately improve your mood.
  3. Smiling releases those feel-good endorphins.
  4. Smiling people are viewed as more attractive, sociable, and approachable.
  5. Smiling gives the illusion that you look younger than you actually are.
  6. And a whole lot more!

Two Ways to Easily Improve Your Smile

While there are many ways to improve your smile, two of the most popular methods are dental bonding and veneers. These are very similar dental cosmetic procedures, but they do have some important differences. Let’s take a look at each option.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a low cost and simple dental cosmetic procedure that is used to improve the appearance of heavily discolored or chipped teeth, lengthen teeth that are too short, and even close-in unwanted gaps.

After you and your dental provider select a shade of white that is right for you, your dentist will then etch and roughen each tooth with a special tool. This process is painless and does not require anesthesia. One at a time, the teeth are coated with a special bonding liquid and then with a resin. Before hardening the bonding liquid, the resin is molded to the ideal shape. Then, using a high-intensity light, the resin is hardened into place. If needed, further trimming and shaping are completed to perfect the appearance. Last, but not least, you’ll receive one last polish. You are finally ready to fully smile and enjoy all the benefits that come along with it.


Dental veneers, like dental bonding, are also used to improve the appearance of your smile. However, veneers are custom-made, thin coatings that are typically comprised of porcelain. The material for veneers is hard from the very start, unlike with dental bonding, and may not be shaped after they are made.

At your first visit, a dental impression will be made of your teeth and then sent to a dental laboratory, where your new veneers will be made to fit your teeth. This process only takes 1-2 weeks. When your dentist is ready to apply your veneers, they will sculpt your existing tooth to make room for the veneer. This is a painless process and allows the final tooth thickness to look even and natural. With this final step completed, you permanently trade-in your natural teeth for porcelain veneers.

Choosing Between Bonding and Veneers

The decision to choose between dental bonding and veneers usually can be decided after reviewing these five significant factors…

  1. Cost: Bonding is more affordable than veneers.
  2. Durability: Veneers are far more durable than bonding; they won’t stain, chip, or break easily.
  3. Time: Bonding is a faster process.
  4. Permanency: Once you apply veneers, you cannot go back to your natural teeth.
  5. Appearance: Veneers have a nicer, subtle sheen to them; both options look natural.

If you are looking to smile with confidence, dental bonding and custom porcelain veneers are two great options to consider. To learn more about which option might be best for you, our dental team encourages you to give us a call and we’d be happy to address all of your questions.

Holiday Dental Tips Colorado Springs

6 Holiday Healthy Teeth Tips

It’s that time of year where sleigh-bells are ringing, children are singing, and the last thing we tend to think about is our oral health. I mean, we’re pretty sure no one is sitting on Santa’s lap and asking for peppermint floss for Christmas. So why worry about our oral health? It is only a few months out of the year, right?

Well, that is where we can get ourselves into a bit of trouble. Many people think of the mouth as an isolated part of the body, but it is anything but that! Oral health affects the entire body, since the mouth is actually a part of the immune system.

So, while we want to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season, we also wanted to put together some tips you can incorporate to keep your teeth, gums, and body healthy over the next few months and even into the new year.

1.      Keep Your Twice a Day Routine

The Holidays can make your schedule crazy, but brushing and flossing your teeth at least two times a day is a must.  This is even more crucial if you plan on indulging in some of the wonderful Holiday treats. A simple brushing to remove sugar from your teeth (with or without toothpaste) will go a long way.

Extra Tip: Always keep a toothbrush and floss in your car or purse. That way you can clean your pearly whites while you are out and about enjoying the Holiday season.

2.      Have Fruit on Hand

It is inevitable that sugary desserts will be around every corner you turn; there is no avoiding them. While you can certainly partake here and there, we recommend always having a piece of organic fruit on hand. That way, when Grandma’s fresh out of the oven snickerdoodles are calling your name ONCE AGAIN, you’ll be ready to satisfy your sweet tooth with a healthier option.

3.      Drink Plenty of Water Daily

Water has so many benefits, especially during the holidays when you are out and about more than ever. One of water’s best perks is that it can clean away freshly formed bacteria with every sip. Plus, water can freshen your breath, aid in digestion, and help with elimination. As a bonus, water can fill you up so you don’t over indulge in the endless goodies.

Extra Tip: Always bring a refillable water bottle with you in the car and take advantage of refilling it whenever possible.

4.      Eat More Healthy Fats

What?! Eat more fat??? It is finally time to put aside your fat-phobia because healthy fats are essential to healthy teeth and even overall health. We recommend choosing healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon. It is a good idea to work with your dentist or a dietitian if you aren’t sure how to incorporate healthy fats into your diet.

5.      Don’t Crack Nuts with Your Teeth

Although it can be a cool party trick, testing the strength of your teeth by shelling nuts is always a bad idea. The hard surface of most nutshells can cause serious tooth and gum damage. Believe us, as we see it every year!

6.      Schedule Your Post-Holiday Checkup & Cleaning Now

This isn’t your first Holiday Season, so you already know you’re going to be busy. You probably also realize that, despite all your best intentions and chalkboard notes, there will be times you’ll forget all 6 of these tips. That’s just life. The good news is that you can schedule your post-holiday cleaning and check-up nowSo, the moment the Holidays are over, you can make sure your teeth and gums get back on track for the start of the new year.