A dentist’s main goal is to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. We fill cavities and restore teeth back to their natural state. We straighten teeth with things like short-term orthodontics. We offer cosmetic dentistry to give you a more beautiful smile. These are the things you associate with any dentist.

But a dentist can actually help improve your overall health and fight off potentially life-threatening issues. It’s true, and it’s the reason you should maintain your regular cleanings and exams. Preventive dentistry can be a lifesaver. I was thinking about this because April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

So today, I want to share a few facts about major dental problems that our office can help you avoid.

Find Oral Cancer in Its Early Stages

As part of your dental visit, we often do that extra exam. We’re not just looking inside your mouth and at your soft tissue for no reason. We’re checking for tissue abnormalities. We’re even using a tool called the VELscope that illuminates any abnormalities that may not be visible to the naked eye. When caught early, oral cancer is very treatable. The five-year survival rate of all oral cancers is more than 83 percent, but of course, as time drags on, the survival rate just lower and lower.

It’s important to know that oral cancer is NOT just related to alcohol and tobacco use. Though an overwhelming number of people with oral cancer who are heavy users of tobacco or alcohol, but about 25 percent of all report oral cancers stem from other issues. Researchers have recently learned that the sexually transmitted disease HPV accounts for some cases of oral cancers.   

Oral Cancer Facts:

  • There are more than 50,000 new cases of oral cancer every year.
  • About 10,000 people will die from oral cancer this year.
  • Some studies suggest that you’re 100 times more likely to get oral cancer if you are a heavy drinker or smoker.
  • Patients who survival oral cancer are 20 times more likely to get other cancers.

Healthy Gums Means a Healthier Life

Many patients are surprised to learn that it’s gum disease, not tooth decay, that is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. The reason is that gum disease can quickly spread around the mouth and cause multiple to fail at a time. The disease erodes the gums, then the bones, causing the tooth to become loose in its socket.

And the disease’s reach doesn’t end there. Studies have shown that there is a connection between gum disease and serious illness like diabetes and even heart disease. The connection is related to the inflammation and bacteria found in all of these disease. No study has found that gum disease can cause these problems, but there is no question that gum disease and infection can weaken the body.

At First Dental Associates, we aggressively treat gum issues so you won’t have to suffer the distress or trauma of losing teeth. We have a periodontist — a dentist trained to treat gum disease — who will treat the infection area and provide antibiotics so the infection is less likely to again appear. Our periodontist is also trained to place dental implants, if you find yourself needed a tooth replacement. Dental implants are the strongest tooth replacement option available in dentistry.

Don’t Risk Your Health

A great general dentist should be part of your healthcare plan. It’s always easier to keep the teeth you have then deal with major reconstruction projects down the road.

And, as you learned today, dental problems can become major health problems. I can spot major problems in the early, treatable stages. I hate to see patients who have suffered through pain for years and have substantial dental and health problems.

I don’t want you to be in pain. So give us a call today at 781-438-1312 to schedule your first visit. My staff is skilled in treating patients of all ages and dental problems. We never lecture our patients and always aim to have you leave smiling.