After months or even years of radiation or chemotherapy, the words "cancer-free" is music to your ears. Your joy and relief, though, may be tempered by the toll these treatments can take on the rest of your body—including your mouth.
Both of these treatments can destroy healthy tissue along with targeted cancer cells. If the focus has been on the head and neck regions, they could damage the salivary glands to the point that they won't produce adequate saliva flow.
A lack of saliva can have a detrimental effect on your oral health. Saliva buffers and helps lower oral acid levels that soften and erode enamel and increase the likelihood of tooth decay. Saliva also supplies antibodies that fight disease-causing bacteria. Otherwise, bacteria—and the risk for disease—can rapidly grow.
If these or other scenarios occur, you may experience dental damage, even tooth loss. Fortunately, we can restore an injured smile in various ways, including dentures, bridges or dental implants. But we should also attempt to limit the potential damage by taking steps to prevent dental disease during cancer treatment.
The most important of these is to brush and floss daily. Everyone should practice these hygiene tasks to remove disease-causing dental plaque, regardless of their health status. But because some natural disease-fighting mechanisms in the mouth may be disrupted during either radiation or chemotherapy, it's even more important if you're a cancer patient.
It's equally important to maintain as much as possible regular dental visits during cancer treatment. Dental cleanings provided during these visits remove any residual plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which further lowers your disease risk.
Your dentist can better monitor your overall dental condition during frequent visits and provide as much treatment as you can tolerate. They can also enhance your protection against disease by prescribing antibacterial mouthrinses, fluoride applications or products to boost saliva production.
Some teeth and gum problems may be unavoidable; in that case, you may need post-treatment dental care to restore your oral health as needed. But caring as much for your dental health as you're able during cancer treatment could help you realize a better outcome.
A dental crown from your dentists in the Upper East Side, NY, can restore your smile.
Did you know that dental crowns provide strength and protection for damaged teeth? Dental crowns can also improve the beauty of your teeth and your smile and can treat a variety of dental issues. The dentists at Upper East Smiles in the Upper East Side, NY, offer comprehensive general and specialty dental services, including dental crowns to keep your smile healthy.
There are several reasons you might need a dental crown. For example:
- If you have a tooth that is badly decayed, a dental crown can restore the strength of the tooth
- If you have a tooth that is badly broken, a dental crown can repair the tooth
- If you have a tooth that is badly worn down, a dental crown can restore function to the tooth
- If you have a tooth that has a damaged metal filling, a dental crown gives you a more natural-looking alternative
- If you have a tooth that has a damaged older crown, a new dental crown can match seamlessly with your smile
Modern dental crowns are typically made of porcelain, which looks just like natural tooth enamel because it is light reflective. It’s also stain-resistant, so your new dental crown will stay bright. A full porcelain crown is a perfect choice for front teeth and teeth that are visible when you smile.
For back teeth, you may need a bit more strength, because back teeth do most of the chewing. A porcelain-fused-to-metal crown is a great option for these teeth. These are known as PFM crowns, and they combine the beauty of porcelain with the strength of a metal foundation. If you want superb protection, combined with a beautiful, natural look, dental crowns are a great choice to make.
To learn more about when you might need a dental crown and how a dental crown can help your smile, call the dentists at Upper East Smiles in the Upper East Side, NY. You can reach them at (646) 864-1808 so call today!
At Upper East Smiles on the Upper East Side, NY, our dental professionals provide comprehensive dental care to keep your mouth healthy and your smile beautiful! Fillings are just one service we offer. Dental fillings can salvage teeth that have been damaged by decay and keep your smile looking great.
Getting a cavity
When plaque builds upon the surface of the teeth and isn't removed by regular brushing, the bacteria eat away at the enamel, causing a cavity. When you have a cavity, a filling can replace the decayed tooth structure with strong material and save your tooth! Left untreated, a cavity will only get bigger and deeper into the tooth. By the time you have a toothache, it's likely that you have a significant amount of decay so don't delay calling your Upper East Side dentist! We can repair the tooth with a small filling before you need a root canal or a complete tooth replacement.
Getting a filling
When you get a filling at your dentist in the Upper East Side, NY, you will be numbed first. Once you are numb, all the decay is drilled away so only healthy tooth structure remains. Then dental bonding is used to fill the cavity. The composite resin material used for dental bonding is strong and designed to match your natural teeth. Your dentist sculpts the material directly onto the tooth to fill the cavity. Then the material is trimmed and polished so it blends in perfectly with your smile.
Upper East Smiles is here for you when you have a cavity and need a filling. Getting a filling at your dentist on the Upper East Side, NY, is a routine and relatively painless procedure. You need to keep up a great oral hygiene routine at home and even if you don't have a history of cavities, scheduling teeth cleaning appointments twice a year is recommended, Contact us for an appointment at (646) 864-1808.
Fans everywhere were recently saddened by the news of musical legend Eddie Van Halen's death. Co-founder and lead guitarist for the iconic rock group Van Halen, the 65-year-old superstar passed away from oral cancer.
Van Halen's rise to worldwide fame began in the 1970s with his unique guitar style and energetic performances, but behind the scenes, he struggled with his health. In 2000, he was successfully treated for tongue cancer. He remained cancer-free until 2018 when he was diagnosed with throat cancer to which he succumbed this past October.
Van Halen claimed the metal guitar picks he habitually held in his mouth caused his tongue cancer. It's more likely, though, that his heavy cigarette smoking and alcohol use had more to do with his cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, most oral cancer patients are smokers and, as in Van Halen's case, are more likely to beat one form of oral cancer only to have another form arise in another part of the mouth. Add in heavy alcohol consumption, and the combined habits can increase the risk of oral cancer a hundredfold.
But there are ways to reduce that risk by making some important lifestyle changes. Here's how:
Quit tobacco. Giving up tobacco, whether smoked or smokeless, vastly lowers your oral cancer risk. It's not easy to kick the habit solo, but a medically supervised cessation program or support group can help.
Limit alcohol. If you drink heavily, consider giving up alcohol or limiting yourself to just one or two drinks a day. As with tobacco, it can be difficult doing it alone, so speak with a health professional for assistance.
Eat healthy. You can reduce your cancer risk by avoiding processed foods with nitrites or other known carcinogens. Instead, eat fresh fruits and vegetables with antioxidants that fight cancer. A healthy diet also boosts your overall dental and bodily health.
Practice hygiene. Keeping teeth and gums healthy also lowers oral cancer risk. Brush and floss daily to remove dental plaque, the bacterial film on teeth most responsible for dental disease. You should also visit us every six months for more thorough dental cleanings and checkups.
One last thing: Because oral cancer is often diagnosed in its advanced stages, be sure you see us if you notice any persistent sores or other abnormalities on your tongue or the inside of your mouth. An earlier diagnosis of oral cancer can vastly improve the long-term prognosis.
Although not as prevalent as other forms of cancer, oral cancer is among the deadliest with only a 60% five-year survival rate. Making these changes toward a healthier lifestyle can help you avoid this serious disease.
If you would like more information about preventing oral cancer, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How a Routine Dental Visit Saved My Life” and “Strategies to Stop Smoking.”
Losing teeth can make it more difficult to eat, not to mention the effect it can have on your smile. But that could be just the beginning of your problems. Missing teeth can contribute to extensive bone loss within your jaws and face. Here's why.
Bone is like any other living tissue—cells develop, function and eventually die, and new cells take their place. Forces generated during chewing stimulate this new growth, helping the jawbone maintain its normal volume and density.
But you lose this stimulus when you lose teeth. This can cause a slowdown in bone cell regrowth that can eventually diminish bone volume. And it can happen relatively quickly: you could lose a quarter or more of jawbone width around a missing tooth within a year.
As this loss continues, especially in cases of multiple missing teeth, the bone can eventually erode to its base level. This loss of dental function can make chewing more difficult, place more pressure on the remaining teeth and adversely affect facial appearance. It could also prevent an implant restoration to replace missing teeth.
Dentures and other forms of dental restoration can replace missing teeth, but not the chewing stimulus. Dentures in particular will accelerate bone loss, because they can irritate the bony gum ridges they rest upon.
Dental implants, on the other hand, can slow or even stop bone loss. Implants consist of a metal post, typically made of titanium, imbedded into the jawbone at the site of the missing tooth with a life-like crown attached. Titanium also has a strong affinity with bone so that bone cells naturally grow and adhere to the implant's surface. This can produce enough growth to slow, stop or even reverse bone loss.
This effect may also work when implants are combined with other restorations, including dentures. These enhanced dentures no longer rest on the gums, but connect to implants. This adds support and takes the pressure off of the bony ridge, as well as contributes to better bone health.
If you've lost a tooth, it's important to either replace it promptly or have a bone graft installed to help forestall any bone loss in the interim. And when it's time to replace those missing teeth, dental implants could provide you not only a life-like solution, but a way to protect your bone health.
If you would like more information on dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
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