Benefits of Dental Implants

  • By John Adams
  • 07 Nov, 2016
Dental implant
Dental implant

For those who are missing teeth, it is important to get the issue taken care of as soon as possible. There are a number of disadvantages to missing teeth including trouble speaking, trouble eating properly, an increased risk for gum disease and, of course, feeling self-conscious. When individuals decide it is time to take care of their missing teeth, it is important to work with a qualified dental care professional.

What Are My Treatment Options?

There are three common treatments that are used by dental professionals to correct an issue with missing teeth – implants, dentures, and bridges. Dental implants are placed into the bone socket of the tooth that is missing and over a period of time the jawbone will grow around the implant. Dentures can be done either as a partial  or full denture, which is attached to a plastic base and are removable. Finally, bridges are an artificial tooth that is positioned between two crowns.

What Are the Advantages of Using Dental Implants?

While all three of the above mentioned treatments are common, dental implants have a number of advantages dentures and bridges cannot offer. First, dental implants provide individuals with more natural function – after the implant bonds with the jaw bone, they fake tooth feels no different than the individual’s natural teeth. Additionally, dental implants require little to no maintenance, which means the individual will spend less time worry about their implant and less time in the dentist’s chair.

Some other benefits offered by dental implants include stability and longevity of the tooth as well as helping to keep the other teeth in place. Those individuals who opt for a dental implant often find that the implant helps to support and protect the surrounding teeth and also keeps the other teeth from sifting. Bridges, for example, although supported by the natural teeth on either side, often require the individual to have the teeth on the sides of the bridge filed down in order to fit correctly.

Missing teeth is a serious dental health issue that should not be ignored or taken lightly. If you experience tooth loss, it is important to visit a dental care professional as soon as possible to discuss possible treatment options and which treatment is right for the patient and their lifestyle. Dental implants are often the right choice, given the stability, longevity, and low maintenance of the implant.

If you are avoiding a needed procedure because of cost, you need to consider the Wellness Dental Plan. Our plan is a New Hampshire discount dental plan offering as much as 20 percent off all emergency and routine dental care. For more information, please click here .

*Photo Courtesy of Mike Stanley via Creative Commons License

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By Gerald M 23 Jan, 2018

The purpose of a filling is correcting cavities and tooth decay while also easing any discomfort it might cause. With that in mind, why is it that some patients experience pain in their tooth after getting a filling done? There are many reasons why patients feel sensitivity or pain after their tooth was filled. For some, the pain is just a reaction to the repair process. Other cases may simply be that the filling needs adjusting, or another part of the tooth needs to be repaired. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to patients coping with post-filling tooth pain.

Reasons for Post-Filling Pain

It’s normal to experience sensitivity or pain in a filled tooth, given a dentist just drilled into it, and most discomfort fades within one or two days. However, if several days have gone by, and you’re still experiencing pain or sensitivity, this could have been caused by issues with the tooth or with the actual filling.

A common reason for tooth pain after a filling is the filling not being positioned right and is therefore interfering with the patient’s bite. Fillings that are too high could result in malocclusion, which keeps the teeth from properly fitting together whenever the patient bites down.

The reason for tooth pain could also be the kind of filling the dentist uses. For instance, sensitivity is common when a filling comprises of composite resin material. One study in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry noted that sensitivity can result from the filling contracting a bit and thereby creating a gap underneath it. There are a lot of ways to eliminate or cope with sensitivity caused by a composite filling, including using another material or changing the placement method for the filling.

How to Approach the Pain

If a week has passed since the filling, and you still feel pain whenever you eat, bite down, or open your mouth, it’s time to schedule a dental appointment immediately to find and fix the problem. If the filling is too high, and malocclusion has formed, the dentist can adjust filling’s height to allow you to bite down with ease and comfort.

If you have sensitivity caused by a composite filling, then your dentist may suggest replacing the original filling with another material. If it’s exposed pulp or an inflamed nerve that’s behind the discomfort, you may need a root canal, or the dentist may have to extract the damaged tooth entirely and replace it with a bridge or implant.

To prevent cavities from developing at all, you need a solid home oral healthcare routine, which should include brushing twice per day to strengthen your teeth’s enamel and flossing daily as well. Regular visits to the dentist are also important for spotting potential problems before major treatments are required.

Are you experiencing pain after having had a filling? Then it is time to see your dentist ASAP! If you want to find out how you can save as much as 20 percent off your dental bills, consider signing up for our New Hampshire discount dental plans for families, individuals, and business owners. For more information, please click here .

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By Gerald M 20 Jan, 2018

When it comes to treating breast cancer with radiation, it is a serious issue for most patients. The initial diagnosis is overwhelming enough, and the actual treatment can be exhausting—and that doesn’t even address the long-term effects chemotherapy has on patients. While most patients are ready for sensitivity to bruising and hair loss, oral conditions, such as oral mucositis, can develop as well, impacting a patient’s quality of life almost as much as the chemotherapy treatments themselves.

Inflammatory Processes

Beginning with the raw areas of the oral cavity, oral mucositis typically progresses to frank ulcers that doctors once believed originated from cytotoxic agents that were killing off the mouth’s healthy epithelial cells. However, according to the Dental Clinics of North America, these sores can also develop after patients increase the number of biochemical agents they produce as a result of chemotherapy. It’s a fairly normal side effect of chemotherapy to produce inflammation within the oral cavity, kill epithelial cells off, and develop ulcerative lesions.

How This Occurs

After starting chemotherapy, side effects, such as oral mucositis, can develop within just a few weeks. Lesions first appear as red sores before the epithelial cells begin eroding, and then frank ulcers start developing. Remember that these ulcers could progress until it will take weeks for them to heal once chemotherapy has completed. At this point, the ulcers would be susceptible to several kinds of secondary infections, such as candida and herpes.

Normal Complications

Regarding oral mucositis, pain is the worst side effect it can produce, and it’s often serious enough to warrant narcotics just to manage it—in turn leading to other complications. For example, if patients can’t eat, they can struggle to acquire adequate nutrition, thus making them more susceptible to secondary infections like cavities and gum disease. Additionally, these complications could require interrupting the patient’s chemotherapy until their nutrition intake is stabilized. In serious cases, it’s possible a feeding tube might be required to ensure the patient receives the minerals and vitamins their immune system desperately needs.

Treating Oral Mucositis

Treatment for oral mucositis is focused mainly on soothing discomfort, which there are many approaches for. In particularly difficult situations, morphine might be prescribed to ensure quick relief, but topical anesthetics are typically used for supplementing oral pain medication. Due to the mouth producing its own saliva, many rinses and coatings will likely not be effective, as they dilute too fast. You might also try sucking on ice chips during chemotherapy to help reduce the effects chemo has on oral soft tissues. As well, a soft or liquid diet may be essential while the mouth remains in its delicate state as well as a soft-bristled toothbrush.

If you are undergoing treatment, it may be time to see your dentist to ensure your oral health is not at risk. To find out how you can save as much as 20 percent on those visits, check out our New Hampshire discount dental plans for individuals, families, and small business owners. For more information, click here .

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By Gerald M 18 Jan, 2018

For most dental patients who’ve just started wearing dentures, oral discomfort quickly becomes par for the course. However, while denture-related discomfort can become an issue for many, the act of adjusting to the new dentures and wearing them is of the utmost importance for one’s health. Luckily, it’s not necessary for you to sacrifice comfort just to have a great smile. To help you get adjusted to the new feelings and sensations brought on by your new dentures, here are a few tips to hopefully make the task a little easier.

Have Realistic Expectations

As with teenagers and braces, dentures can feel like foreign objects at first and even make you feel embarrassed while you learn how to eat and speak naturally while you’re wearing them. It’s also normal to feel some discomfort and shock while adjusting to everything, but it’s important to remember that this won't always be the case. 

While growing accustomed to both eating and speaking, patience is the key. According to the ADA, it’s normal to experience slight soreness after you get new dentures. In the meantime, visiting with your dentist for readjustments can help with relieving some of the discomfort.

Also, you might consider taking your dentures out in four-hour intervals while your jaw and gums are still adjusting. However, don’t stop eating nutritious foods in favor of processed, more forgiving items in these early days. Chewing in smaller portions can help to make harder foods easier to bite into, but try starting with softer ones at first, working up toward harder items like apples or red meat.

Exercise Your Cheek Muscles

The buccinator muscles within the mouth can be found in the cheeks, which help to direct food as you’re preparing to swallow. As you do with any other part of your body, building up these muscles in the first couple of weeks or before getting dentures can provide more control of the foods you eat. If you keep experiencing cheek pain, this could also indicate you have ill-fitting dentures. If you suspect this to be the case, schedule an appointment with your dentist visit as soon as you can.

Experiment with Adhesives

If this interests you, consult your dentist or your prosthodontist in regard to the best dental adhesives and creams available currently, so you can experiment with the kind that works best for you. Small amounts can go a long way toward reducing early discomfort, but don’t pursue adhesives for ill-fitting dentures. Schedule a dental appointment if you suspect you need an adjustment of your dentures.

Follow the Post-Extraction Plan

An essential step to take while adjusting to dentures is sticking closely to your prescribed treatment plan. Every person heals at different rates, and your mouth is going to feel sore after an extraction. While it depends on whether you have partial or full dentures, you may take longer to feel at ease wearing dentures since they will grow to fit differently while your gum line shifts over time. With that in mind, taking prescribed medication while also attending appointments for necessary changes can greatly cut down on discomfort.

Are dentures something you are considering? Would you like to possibly save as much as 20 percent off your dental bills? Then you are going to want to check out our New Hampshire discount dental plan ! We have plans for individuals, families, and even small business owners. For more information, click here

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By Gerald M 16 Jan, 2018

Piercing body tissue has been a fairly common type of self-expression throughout the centuries and in many different cultures. Regardless of how the detractors see the practice or how much the enthusiasts stick to their guns, it cannot be denied that orofacial and other types of piercings do present several potential health risks for piercers that they must at least consider before going forward and also work to prevent after they’ve pierced parts of their bodies. For those interested in orofacial piercings, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Different Types of Orofacial Piercings

Many types of piercings are considered to be orofacial, with one of the more common areas being the tongue. Other potential piercing sites around the face include around the chin, cheek, lip, as well as the uvula. Locations can have single-hole piercings or multiple ones, though this depends on an individual's desired appearance. Because an average piercing requires between six and eight weeks to form a healing layer, it's crucial that piercers choose reputable parlors.

Piercings are made with different types of metal, with surgical-grade stainless steel said to be among the most compatible with body tissue. However, acrylic resin, plastic, palladium, or solid gold can be used to fabricate the studs, rings, and barbells that seal the holes created by a sterile needle. As well, the jewelry a piercer chooses should be selected with equal care, avoiding pieces that are worn, scratched, dull in appearance, or rough.

Effects on Tissue, Teeth, and Restorations

As might be expected, orofacial piercings could considerably affect existing teeth, restorations, and oral tissues. The hard plastics or metal in piercing jewelry can wear down restorations and teeth unnecessarily, leading to chips, abrasions, or fractures. Additionally, oral tissues can be affected if piercings are near or go through glands, blood vessels, and nerves that support the neck and head. According to the ADA, mouth piercings can result in infections, allergic reactions, nerve damage, and damage to fillings, the teeth, and gums if done poorly. You should also remember that nerve damage can affect how your mouth moves as well as your sense of taste.

Piercings also pose a greater risk for scarring and infection whenever proper care isn't followed. Because of this, piercing isn’t encouraged until individuals are in their late teens at least due to the cellular healing that occurs while the body is maturing. Scars that result from piercing can vary considerably, but it should be noted that any kind of scarring shouldn’t result from healthy piercings.

Caring for Orofacial Piercings

Once you get your piercings, you become responsible for cleaning and caring for the area, which is why piercing isn’t recommended for individuals 15 and younger. A piercing’s effectiveness and safety depend on regular handwashing and diligent aftercare, so use soapy, warm water to remove residue and germs from fingers before you remove piercing jewelry. In the first two weeks, jewelry needs to be cleaned twice per day at the very least.

If a piercing is around or in the mouth, you should use a bactericidal rinse and germ-reducing toothpaste to clean the area following every meal or twice daily. Using fresh soft-bristled toothbrushes as well as an antiseptic mouthwash after each meal can help you avoid allowing bacteria to accrue and infection to spread. Soft bristles, when coupled with antibacterial toothpaste, can provide a gentle yet effective removal of food debris and germs that could cause infection in fresh piercings if left unattended.

If you have a piercing and are concerned about your oral health, it may be time to go to a dentist. But, before you go, check out our New Hampshire discount dental plan that can save individuals, families, and small business owners as much as 20 percent off their dental bills. For more information, click here .

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By Gerald M 14 Jan, 2018

Usually, "mouth-watering" is a term of endearment for those who know how to cook a good dish. However, once the term “mouth-watering” refers to your excessive saliva, the idea becomes far less endearing and much more embarrassing. Also called hypersalivation, excessive saliva production can provide individuals with key hints into the state of their overall health, as it’s often a byproduct of some other condition.

If you start to suspect that you have excessive saliva, it would be wise to seek a consultation with your doctor or dentist as soon as possible. To gain a better understanding of hypersalivation, here is a quick look at saliva itself and how to deal with it when hypersalivation becomes an issue.

Role of Saliva

According to the American Dental Association, saliva serves various important functions for oral health, such as washing away food debris from the teeth, breaking food down to prepare for digestion, and contributing high amounts of calcium for keeping teeth strong. For those who suffer from dry mouth, this is usually a precursor for cavities and tooth decay.

In its ideal state, the body should produce enough saliva for performing these indispensable processes and no more. Constantly needing to swallow or drooling could be an indication of the body producing too much saliva, which can make for embarrassing situations if left untreated.

Causes of Excessive Saliva

In most cases of hypersalivation, excess amounts of saliva are side effects of other issues. Some noted causes of hypersalivation include the following:

·        In babies, oral inflammation caused by teething

·        Oral infections like tonsillitis

·        Pregnancy

·        Acid reflux

·        Some medications, such as anticonvulsants or tranquilizers

·        Neuromuscular diseases, including stroke, paralysis, or Parkinson's

Because excessive saliva is usually due to another more serious condition, it's crucial that you seek out medical attention, especially if your daily life is being affected or if it’s causing other issues, such as dehydration, speech difficulties, bad breath, or chapped lips.

Managing Hypersalivation

The best method for stopping the overproduction of saliva is addressing the underlying condition. For many cases, treating medical issues or changing medications can help to resolve hypersalivation, but there are also a few other things you can try for reducing your saliva production. For example, you can avoid drinks and foods that trigger saliva production, which can vary between individuals, whereas citrus fruits are known to lower saliva production.

You might also try swapping out your regular mouthwash for one without alcohol, which naturally dries out the mouth and may signal it to produce more saliva. Staying hydrated can also provide relief by thinning out excess saliva and allowing it to be swallowed more easily.

This may be something you want to see your dentist about and if you sign up for our New Hampshire discount dental plan , you might be able to save as much as 20 percent off your dental bills. For more information, please click here


By Gerald M 12 Jan, 2018

Whether you’re going into a job interview or meeting your future in-laws, you might be concerned about making the best possible first impression. One thing that can always help in this regard is having a brightened, whitened smile to give you the confidence boost you need going into that interview—or into your partner’s parents’ living room!

However, most people have to plan weeks in advance just to get to the dentist for such treatments, and there may not be time to schedule an appointment around your work schedule. Luckily, all you need are a few changes in your daily oral healthcare routine to get that perfect makeover for your smile.

Use Whitening Toothpaste

The best whitening toothpastes have abrasive ingredients that allow them to remove roughly 80 percent of the surface stains on your teeth, thereby whitening them, making this a simple method for improving your smile. To start, just switch from your regular toothpaste over to a whitening toothpaste. It may take a few weeks to see results, so be sure to start using a whitening toothpaste as soon as possible before your next big get-together or event. If you need quicker results, you may want to try out different whitening options, such as a whitening gel.

Floss Every Day

As you’ve likely heard many times over the course of your life, flossing is a crucial aspect of your oral healthcare routine, and most people, despite their dentist’s urging, could improve this part of their routine. According to the American Dental Association, as much as one fifth of Americans don't ever floss while only two fifths actually floss every day as they should.

If you’re among those who don’t floss at least once per day, it’s never too late to get back in the habit. Flossing not only freshens one’s breath, but it also cuts down on gingivitis, removing plaque from along your gumline as well as embarrassing bits of food debris.

Avoid Foods and Drinks That Stain

An easy way to keep teeth at their best is simply avoiding certain foods and drinks that could stain teeth and undo other whitening efforts. Greatly pigmented foods, such as curry dishes and pasta sauces, can contribute to staining, as can several kinds of fruits, such as raspberries and blueberries. Many drinks, such as red or white wine, soda, coffee, and tea, can contribute to staining as well.

Use Mouthwash

Nothing ruins a first impression faster than bad breath, so it’s in an individual’s best interests to use mouthwash after brushing and flossing. Be careful of the mouthwash you choose—some just use minty freshness to hide bad breath while others have ingredients that specifically kill bacteria that cause bad breath. To have fresh breath for a longer period of time, try mouthwashes with antibacterial agents or germicidal ingredients, such as cetylpyridinium chloride.

If you have not been to the dentist in some time, get over to that office before you start a new oral hygiene regime. And, if you want to find out how you can save as much as 20 percent off your bill with a New Hampshire discount dental plan , just click here for more information!

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By Gerald M 10 Jan, 2018

As many have discovered, straightening one’s teeth not only helps to improve oral health, but it also greatly improves one’s smile, possibly providing confidence in their smile they never thought they could have. Braces can be worn during any time of your life, with roughly one quarter of orthodontic patients being adults, as per the Seton Hill University Center for Orthodontics.

With that being said, bettering one’s smile doesn’t have to end with braces. When braces officially come off, patients have more options for further improving their smile, such as wearing retainers, teeth whitening, as well as teeth reshaping. If you would like to look into more ways to improve your smile, you should consider whether any of the following treatments would work for you.

Wearing Retainers

When your braces come off, the aftercare is just as important as the braces themselves, as the now straightened teeth need to be stabilized via custom-made retainers. Made with metal wire and plastic, these appliances are often removeable, but they may also be fixed in place. In the first six months following the removal of your braces, you may need to wear them all the time. After the first six months, however, you may only have to wear the retainers at night. Remember to follow your orthodontist's or dentist's instructions for wearing retainers to get their full benefit as well as that of your former braces.

Teeth Whitening

Throughout the course of one’s life, the teeth can receive considerable stains after being exposed to certain drinks and foods, such as tomato sauce, tea, and coffee. A fairly common solution for this is getting your teeth whitened, preferably in your dentist’s office to ensure it’s done properly and professionally.

Teeth whitening typically involves applying peroxide-based gel onto the teeth, removing deep surface staining and making them between five and seven times brighter. While whitening will work well for yellow teeth, it may not work for grayed or brown teeth, fillings, caps, crowns, or veneers. Additionally, you can help yourself avoid stains in the future by brushing your teeth twice per day using a teeth-whitening toothpaste, flossing once daily, and avoiding foods known for staining teeth.

Contouring and Reshaping

Another option to pursue after braces is teeth reshaping, especially if you want to make slight alterations to other parts of your smile. Dental contouring and teeth reshaping are cosmetic procedures that can alter the teeth’s length, position, and shape in order to fix slight imperfections, including overlapping, slightly crooked, chipped, misshapen, or especially-pointed teeth. Your dental professional will inform you which procedure can most improve your smile, even sometimes combining them, and perform X-rays to see if you have enough bone support for either or both procedures.

Want to make sure you have the perfect smile but not pay full price for it? Consider signing up for the Wellness Dental Plan. Our New Hampshire discount dental plan can help individuals, families, or business owners save as much as 20 percent off their dental bills. For more information, click here .

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By Gerald M 05 Jan, 2018

For those who are curious about teeth whitening, there are many kinds out there as well as different opinions over the ones that work best. While solid oral health routines and healthy diets are your best bet regarding teeth whitening, this process may require a bit more than a simple whitening toothpaste, especially for those over 50 years of age.

When people age, the teeth enamel’s outermost layers can wear to the point of exposing the dentin, an underlying layer, which has a yellower tint to it. Making matters all the more complicated are stains from various drinks and foods as well as smoking or other tobacco use, thinning the enamel at an accelerated rate.

To whiten “older” teeth, many at-home and in-office methods are available. You can expect the best of the bunch to last between one and three years, though this depends on your dental habits, eating and drinking habits, and if you use tobacco. If you want to learn more, read our quick guide below.

Laser Teeth Whitening

As can be expected from the name, laser whitening is only performed by dental professionals. First, the teeth are cleaned in order to remove plaque, and then a peroxide solution is spread over the teeth before a laser light activates it. This process has more dramatic, faster results compared to other whitening techniques, but it costs more as a result. Laser whitening often involves just one visit, but another visit is occasionally required to remove especially deep stains. It also should be noted the gums and teeth can become more sensitive after this procedure, and it can even cause teeth to turn gray if repeated too much.

Chemical Whitening (with Dentist Supervision)

For chemical whitening, patients are custom-fit for teeth whitening trays, which are then filled with a peroxide-based whitening gel. Dental professionals then provide instructions for applying gel in the trays, the number of days, and how long the gel can be on the teeth. According to some, this whitening method may be the safest for two crucial reasons. For one, it’s supervised by a professional, but the custom-fit trays are also less likely to let the gel make contact with the gums.

OTC Whitening Kits

Most DIY whitening kits have low amounts of hydrogen peroxide for bleaching the teeth, which means they often call for repeat applications. These kits come in various forms, such as trays, strips, and paint-on whiteners. Regarding strips, they wrap around teeth easily, but they sometimes slip and end up touching the gums, causing irritation. DIY trays are filled with peroxide gel before being placed on teeth, but, because these trays aren't custom-fit, the gel may leak and touch the gums, leading to irritation.

As for paint-on whiteners, they allow users to choose precisely which areas they would like to whiten. The issue, however, is most of these whiteners don’t have guards for protecting the peroxide solution, meaning saliva can easily wash it away. Some paint-on whiteners do come with built-in films that slow down dissolution of the peroxide.

It’s generally agreed the process of whitening teeth is fairly safe when performed by a dental professional. Many DIY kits are safe as well if users follow the instructions closely, but caution should be taken, as the chemicals can cause damage if used incorrectly.

Before starting any whitening treatment, you should consult your dentist. If you would like to save as much as 20 percent on your dental visits, consider signing up for one of our New Hampshire discount dental plans . For more information on these plans for individuals, business owners, and families, please click here .

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By Gerald M 03 Jan, 2018

Breakthroughs in science and medicine often happen unexpectedly or whilst in the pursuit of something else entirely, such as when Wilson Greatbatch came up with the idea for the pacemaker and Percy Spencer for the microwave while investigating relatively unrelated areas or different concepts. While on a smaller level, a recent discovery took place thanks to several Canadian researchers, and it could help a great deal in preventing the development of malignant oral cancers in millions of people.

The discovery in question involved a dye that is commonly used for identifying oral cancer, but this dye could be used for predicting whether precancerous oral abnormalities have a strong chance of becoming malignant as well. As to how the dye works in this regard, the oral lesions that can absorb this particular dye—toluidine blue—were a reported six times as likely to become malignant. These lesions also comprised of molecular alterations linked to greater risks for oral cancers, even in early stages, according to the multidisciplinary researching team from British Columbia that discovered it.

As per the American Cancer Society, over 30,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with a type of oral cancer every year. For the last several decades, oral cancer’s five-year rate of survival has remained consistent between 40 and 50 percent. Oftentimes, toluidine blue is used when diagnosing oral cancer, but this recent study out of British Columbia, Canada was the first of its kind to link precancerous lesions—identified often as red or white patches within patients’ mouths—that absorb this dye to a greater risk of developing into squamous cell carcinomas.

"The disease is usually identified fairly late in progression," says Dr. Miriam Rosin, the study’s senior author and the director of the BC Cancer Agency's Oral Cancer Prevention Program. "At that stage, it is frequently not amenable to the successful intervention we'd like. The whole deal of changing survival outcome is that you have to get at the disease earlier." Dr. Rosin continued, "With enough training of those who are doing the screening, the dye should help the clinicians find those patients with lesions that should really be moved forward for assessment.”

For those who are concerned about whether they have oral cancer, some common symptoms include the following:

·        Persistent mouth sores that don’t heal

·        Persistent mouth pain or bad breath

·        Thickened cheeks or cheek lumps

·        Red or white patches on the tongue, tonsil, gums, or mouth lining

·        Sore throat or sense of something caught that won’t disappear

·        Difficulty chewing or swallowing

·        Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw

·        Numbness on the tongue or somewhere else in the mouth

·        Swelling in the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or hurt

·        Teeth loosening

·        Pain in jaw or teeth

·        Voice changes

·        Weight loss

·        One or more lumps in the neck

If any of these symptoms remain for days or even weeks, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.

To find out how you can save as much as 20 percent of your dental bills, consider signing up for our New Hampshire discount dental plan for business owners, individuals, and families. For more information, please click here .

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By Gerald M 01 Jan, 2018

Just as standard physicians and oncologists have the means of identifying various types of cancers, dentists also have their methods for identifying oral cancer and getting their patients to the treatment they need. One such method, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Biomedical Optics , involves customized optical devices, which allow dental professionals to visualize whether or not their patients possibly have a growing oral cancer to be dealt with.

The simple, handheld device in question—the Visually Enhanced Lesion Scope (VELScope)—releases a stream of blue light down into the patient’s mouth where it excites numerous molecules within the cells, leading to them absorbing the light’s energy and re-emitting it as a visible fluorescence. Once the blue light is turned off, the tissue’s fluorescence disappears.

According to the study, changes in healthy tissue’s natural fluorescence typically reflects changes that are indicative of growing tumor cells. The VELScope gives dentists the chance to place the light on a suspect mouth sore, look through a connected eyepiece, and directly watch for color changes. Healthy mouth tissue produces pale green colors whereas possible early dysplastic (tumor) cells will appear black or dark green.

In Vancouver, Canada, scientists with the British Columbia Cancer Research Center used this device on 50 tissue spots in 44 patients. In almost every instance save one, the scientists found they could differentiate between abnormal and healthy tissue correctly. The diagnoses were corroborated via standard pathological tests and biopsies.

"The natural fluorescence of the mouth is invisible to the naked eye," says Dr. Miriam Rosin, the study’s main author and a cancer biologist with the research center in Vancouver. "The VELScope literally brings this natural fluorescence to light, helping dentists to answer in a more informed way a common question in daily practices: to biopsy or not to biopsy."

Trying to determine if suspicious sores are benign or possibly cancerous has been scientifically problematic in the past. "A major reason is looks alone can be deceiving," Dr. Rosin said. "What’s been badly needed in screening for oral cancer is a way to visualize the biological information within and let it tell you whether or not a lesion is likely to become cancerous." If you suspect you have oral cancer or if you haven’t been to the doctor or dentist in a considerable amount of time, make sure you lean on the side of caution and get yourself checked out.

If you think you may have oral cancer, you need to see your dentist immediately. To save as much as 20 percent on your dental visits, sign up for our New Hampshire discount dental plan . For more information, please click here .

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