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All Posts in Category: Dental Health

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Oral Cancer Screenings From Your Dentist

Your oral health is about more than just your teeth. Your dental professional takes care of your teeth, the bones of your jaw, your gums, and other oral tissues. One important issue that dentists look for during your checkups is signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer screening should be completed regularly to ensure that any symptoms are noticed immediately.

What is Oral Cancer?

There are many types of oral cancers that can affect various areas of your mouth. Some develop on the tissue inside your mouth, others may develop on the lips, and some appear on salivary glands. These types of oral cancer can range from benign tumors to various carcinomas. Some types of these oral afflictions can be removed with surgery, while others will need some form of chemical or drug therapy to treat. Regardless of the type of cancer, it’s best if the symptoms are caught as early as possible so that treatment can be provided early on.

How Does My Dentist Perform an Oral Cancer Screening?

Many dentists perform a basic oral cancer screening at dental checkups, so you’ve probably had one before even if you didn’t realize it at the time. To perform an oral cancer screening, a dental professional will thoroughly examine your lips, tongue, gums, the roof of your mouth, and other tissue inside your mouth visually and sometimes by gently probing the areas.

There are different levels of screening for oral cancer. At a regular dental checkup your dentist will likely perform a basic exam such as that described above by visually inspected the areas of your mouth and throat. If anything seems unusual to your dentist, he or she may perform additional examinations. This might include simply rinsing your mouth with a dye that will make it easier to notice unusual cells, or in some cases your dentist may suggest a biopsy.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can be preceded by some symptoms that are noticeable to you but which you may not think to mention to your dentist. These can include jaw pain or difficulty moving your jaw, pain in your tongue or difficulty moving it, white or red patches on the tissue inside your mouth or on your tongue, difficulty or pain swallowing, a lump in your mouth, or other discomfort in or around your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms or something that doesn’t seem right, it’s important to point them out to your dentist during your checkup or to a doctor.

What Can I Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?

While oral cancer can occur in anyone, there are some steps people can take to reduce their risk of developing it. Many of these are habits already promoted for healthy lifestyles, such as avoiding the use of tobacco products, protecting the skin on your lips from getting too much sun exposure by wearing lip products with sun protection, and limiting your alcohol intake. Additionally, if you’ve ever developed oral cancer and had it removed or treated, you should schedule regular checkups to ensure it doesn’t return.

Oral cancer can affect anyone, and the best way to avoid it is prevention and regular checkups with your local dentist. For information about oral cancer, or to schedule an appointment, contact the San Marcos dental office of Carothers Family Dental.

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green graphic image dental laser

The Use of Lasers in Dental Treatments

As technology advances, the tools and equipment used in dental procedures do as well. Many patients are familiar with examinations including x-rays and other dental tools. However, one piece of technology now used in dentistry isn’t nearly as well known: dental lasers. The use of lasers in dentistry is increasing for many reasons, including operational accuracy, protection from infection, quicker healing times, and more.

What are Dental Lasers?

“Laser” is actually an acronym meaning “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” There are many different types of lasers available, and those used in dentistry are chosen carefully to ensure they are most effective for the procedures they’ll be used in. Additionally, dentists always chose the safest lasers for dental procedures.

How Safe are Dental Lasers?

Having dental lasers used in an oral procedure may be new for some patients and may cause concern. However, the type of lasers used in dental work are not only safe when handled by a trained dental professional, but can also be safer than traditional dental tools in some ways. To name only one example, the light beam created by a laser can sterilize the affected area and reduce the presence of bacteria, minimizing the risk of infection.

What are the Benefits of Dental Laser Treatments?

Treatments that utilize dental lasers have a variety of benefits. As mentioned above, using lasers in dental procedures can reduce bacteria at the surgical site. In addition to this, dental lasers can often minimize discomfort for patients during and after the procedure as well. Lasers cause minimal tissue damage compared to some other methods. This can lead to faster healing time and even decreased need for anesthesia and sutures.

What are Some Uses of Dental Lasers?

Lasers can be used in many types of dental procedures, from whitening treatments to oral surgeries. They can also be used for in treatments like these:

In Gum Treatments

Dental lasers can be used in a variety of gum treatments, such as reshaping gum tissue during certain procedures. In the case of some oral infections, dental lasers may also be used by your dentist to remove inflamed gum tissue.

On Teeth

Lasers are used less often directly on teeth, but can still be helpful in that area. Dentists can use lasers to remove tiny amounts of enamel from teeth when necessary. Some whitening treatments can also be accelerated when using lasers.

Preparation for Other Oral Procedures

In addition to those mentioned above, there are several oral procedures for which dental lasers can help prepare teeth and tissue. For crown lengthening, lasers can be used to reshape gum tissue and even bone if necessary. They can also be used in preparation for composite bonding by preparing the tooth enamel. Dental lasers can even be used to help repair some worn down fillings.

The Importance of Prevention

While dental laser technology is an exciting advancement in oral treatments, the best way to keep your teeth and mouth healthy is prevention. Take good care of your teeth daily by brushing and flossing regularly. Remember to visit your dentist for regular dental checkups and whenever you experience pain or another dental problem.

Curious about the use of dental lasers in today’s oral treatments? Contact Carothers Family Dental, a San Marcos dental office, for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Whole Body Health And Your Oral Hygiene

The information available on the link between your oral health and your body’s health has increased in recent years. Not everyone is familiar with the many ways what’s happening in your mouth can affect the rest of your body, but the link is actually a fairly important one. Not only can your oral health be connected to the rest of your body, but it can also be a symptom of other potential health risks.

The Connection Between Mouth and Body

Your mouth is an important indicator of what’s going on in your body. Problems that start in the mouth can affect other parts of your body. The opposite is also true: issues in your body can cause symptoms that appear in the mouth. This is one of the reasons that maintaining oral hygiene is so important.

Signs to Watch For

Since the health of your mouth is so important to your body, it’s imperative that you pay attention to it. Even if your oral hygiene is stellar, take notice of irritating or recurring issues, even if they’re small. Symptoms you may be tempted to ignore, such as a toothache or tender gums, could be a sign of conditions that need treatment, and you should see your dentist. Inflammation or swelling in your mouth is a sign you should pay special attention to. Even if the problem turns out to really just be a cavity, it’s important to get it treated all the same.

Common Correlations

Periodontitis and Diabetes

A significant connection has been established between periodontal disease and diabetes. These two conditions affect each other, which can be both a detriment or benefit. Periodontitis is an infection that affects your gums, and if left untreated can quickly become a serious problem that can damage the bone beneath your teeth. The inflammation caused by periodontitis can make it difficult to utilize insulin in the body. This can cause serious complications for those with diabetes if not treated.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

The correlation between gum disease and heart disease is also significant. Those with heart disease are more likely to develop gum disease than those without. The inflammation of the mouth and gums that comes with gum disease is thought to be an additional risk factor for heart attacks. This is due to the resulting inflammation that can occur elsewhere in the body.

Oral Bacteria and Alzheimer’s

A connection between oral bacteria present in periodontitis and Alzeheimer’s is also suspected. In a research article by Stephen S. Dominy and additional researchers published in Science Advances, it was noted that bacteria associated with periodontitis was detected in patients with Alzeheimer’s. Research is ongoing, however the significant link between periodontitis and Alzeheimer’s has encouraged many to pay special attention to their oral healthcare.

Preventative Care

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is an important part of keeping your body healthy and preventing oral health problems. Luckily, keeping your mouth healthy can be easily accomplished with some diligence and helpful habits. Brush your teeth after you eat as often as possible, and floss regularly. Keep an eye on your diet as well, as some foods can harm your teeth if eaten in excess. In addition, visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and x-rays that will help catch problems early.

Have more questions about how your oral hygiene affects your whole body health? Contact Carothers Family Dental, a San Marcos dentist, to get more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Family Dentist San Marcos"> Appropriate toothbrushes for San Marcos dental care

Brushing Your Teeth – Tips and Techniques for Healthy Hygiene
Family Dentist San Marcos

You may have heard many different suggestions for the best ways to brush your teeth. From how long you should spend brushing to whether you should use a regular toothbrush versus an electric one, there are many opinions out there. Here we’ll look at some popular brushing techniques, and which ones will really help keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Moving Your Jaw as You Brush

Moving your face or jaw while you’re brushing your teeth can be helpful as it allows you to reach parts of your teeth that otherwise might be difficult to access. However, if done incorrectly it can turn into a hindrance. For instance, one common problem when moving your face as your brush is doing so constantly, which can lead to uneven brushing. However, if you practice focusing on brushing each area of your mouth carefully, moving your mouth can ensure that you brush every tooth properly.

Focus on All of Your Teeth

You’ve likely heard it before, and it’s true: you need to brush each of your teeth. This means not just the top of the crown, but the sides of each tooth as well. Brushing your front teeth is equally important. Neglecting to do so can lead to a yellowish appearance and red gums. Always remember to pay attention to the area behind your front teeth as well, as this area builds up plaque easily.

Don’t Destroy Your Brush

Many people assume that when you brush your teeth, you have to brush hard in order to really clean them. However, brushing too hard or too roughly can end up doing more harm than good. Being too rough can cause damage to your gums, and destroy your toothbrush. Brush firmly, but don’t risk damaging your mouth. A soft or extra soft bristle brush is recommended.

Rinsing After Brushing

If you are prescribed a prescription strength mouthwash it is not recommended to rinse after brushing. This allows the extra fluoride time to sit on your teeth and restore lightly damaged areas. If you have a desire to use mouthwash, it needs to be alcohol free. This prevents your mouth from drying out and causing damage to your teeth. There are many varieties of mouthwash available that contain fluoride. This is a great preventative measure to take for decreasing the risk of cavities forming.

Visit Your Dentist In San Marcos Tx

The best way to maintain healthy dental hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly in addition to brushing often at home. Your local dentist can answer any questions about your oral hygiene, as well as catch cavities and other potential problems before they become serious issues. Not sure if your current brushing regimen is working? Just ask your dentist!

Your local family dentist in San Marcos Tx can teach you the best brushing habits as well as provide professional teeth cleaning in San Marcos that will keep your smile healthy. Contact Carothers Family Dental today for more information.

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How Do I Know I Need To Go To The Dentist?

How Do I Know I Need To Go To The Dentist?

While it is recommended to pay a visit to the dentist every 6 months in order to prevent serious dental issues, not everyone can swing a twice a year visit consistently. In fact, a recent study shows that while most Americans value dental health care, almost 50% of adults do not go to the dentist as much as they would like to. Reasons for not regularly going to the dentist might be due to cost, busy schedules, or even it just simply being low on the priority list. However, there are a few physical signs that are early indicators of serious dental problems. Experiencing these symptoms should be followed with a visit to a dentist.

Bad Breath

Everyone experiences having bad breath on occasion (i.e. – morning breath or after eating certain foods), but if you feel like you are constantly needing to mask bad breath with mints, mouth wash, and chewing gum, you might have a more serious problem to deal with. Halitosis, the medical term for bad breath, might be a sign of gum disease which is caused by a buildup of toxins in your mouth. These toxins weaken the gums and could potentially cause serious damage to them and even your jaw bone. Without healthy gums, you cannot have healthy teeth, so if you are experiencing chronic bad breath, visit a dentist for help.

Tooth Sensitivity 

There are many reasons you might be experiencing tooth sensitivity, and many of them are reasons to make time for a dental visit. If you feel a sharp pain in your mouth when eating or drinking something excessively hot, cold, acidic, or sweet, you are suffering from tooth sensitivity. For some, a simple shift in toothpaste can do the trick! There are many brands of toothpaste that are dedicated to people with sensitive teeth, such as Sensodyne™ or Colgate Prevident ™. If you do not have cavities or gum problems, then switching to one of these toothpastes might solve the problem!

Out of the many other potential causes, tooth sensitivity is most likely due to either a cavity forming or worn tooth enamel. If you experience high levels of stress, you might even be grinding your teeth which will begin to cause permanent damage to your enamel. If you are developing cavities, you must have a dentist fill them as quickly as possible, or else they can result in dangerous, more painful, and more expensive problems. An unchecked cavity could result in oral abscesses and in extreme cases could cause a patient to be septic. It is a very inexpensive fix that could potentially become fatal if not treated properly.

Dry Mouth

The causes of a dry mouth could be due to dehydration, prescription drug use, non-prescription drug use, or infection, but the result of having a chronically dry mouth is very damaging to your teeth. Saliva is our natural teeth cleanser and actively prevents bacteria and oral infections. Unfortunately, one of the biggest causes of tooth decay for adults is dry mouth. Without saliva, our teeth are left wide open for bad fungi that could cause serious problems. If you are experiencing chronic dry mouth, a dentist or doctor should be able to diagnose the cause and set you up with a treatment plan.

These are just a few of the very early physical signs of potential dental problems. If you are experiencing any of these, or if you would like more information about healthy dental practices, visit Carothers Family Dental, a San Marcos dental office, or call us to make an appointment. Remember, the best prevention for oral diseases and infections is regular professional teeth cleanings and checkups, so make time for a visit today.

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