November is Mouth Cancer Action Month organised by the Oral Health Foundation with the aim of getting more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by increasing education of the risk factors, signs and symptoms. In the coming weeks I will be placing a few videos regarding the risks for mouth cancer, and how to minimise them, on our Facebook page.
Mouth Cancer in the UK
In the UK, more than 7,000 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year. The disease has grown by a third in the last decade and remains one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years.
Mouth Cancer takes the lives of more than 2,000 people each year in the UK, which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined. It also takes more lives a year than road traffic accidents. By knowing more about the risk factors, living healthier lifestyles and by learning what to look out for you can help reduce your risk of contracting Mouth Cancer.
Early Detection Saves Lives
Early detection is crucial to increase your chances of survival and Mouth Cancer can often be spotted during a thorough mouth examination. If recognised early, then the chances of a cure are good.
Although there are risk factors heavily linked to the disease (most cases are linked to tobacco and alcohol) Mouth Cancer can affect anybody – that’s why it’s so important to know what to look out for.
Don’t leave a mouth ulcer unattended for more than three weeks. Don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swellings or red and white patches in your mouth.
Early detection could save your life.
Get A Full Dental Health Check
If you notice any changes in your mouth please call us immediately and book an appointment to see Farrell, Leigh-Ann or me for a full dental health check.
More Information on Mouth Cancer
For more information on mouth cancer and on mouth cancer action month from 1-30 November 2017 please visit: http://www.mouthcancer.org/
As part of our regular focus on health topics which have been in the headlines, we are looking at a new potential wonder drug for people who have suffered a heart attack. For a long time statins have been a great way to lower cholesterol by slowing production in the liver. One of the main problems, however, is the risk of muscle pains when interacted with other medicines.
Statins have been used to treat disease for years but people who were taking them were likely to have another heart attack within 5 years. This is believed to be because of unchecked inflammation in the heart. Excitingly, a new breakthrough treatment has been discovered. Patients were injected with a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called Canakinumab. Doctors have found that people who took the drugs had fewer episodes later in life and were less likely to develop cancer.
During the trial, 10,000 patients were kept on statins as well as being given either the real or placebo injections. For patients who received the Canakinumab injections rather than the placebo, the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular attack. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on Canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.
Dr Paul Ridker, who led the research said of it “This has far-reaching implications. It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to significantly improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations.”
This new research is breaking open a door into the third era of cardiovascular research, this first being healthy eating and stopping smoking, the second being statins and now this which has still got many avenues to discover.
Within the trial doctors found that the risk of lung cancer was reduced by 75%, and while the reasoning is not clear as of yet they are happy that his outcome has happened and plan to research more in the future.
Professor Jeremy Pearson had some closing words “These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”
At JL Dental Care we frequently speak about gum disease and inflammation and the risks associated with a higher incidence of having a heart attack.
In our regular features on general health, we are looking at a new government initiative to cut childhood obesity, where they have introduced new regulations on calorie counts. While the official guidelines will be voluntary the government is prepared to legislate if necessary.
What does this actually mean?
Well, the proposed legislation means that either the portion size will have to be reduced or that some ingredients will have to be swapped out for healthier options.
Why is this happening?
According to government research, 1 in 3 children leaves primary school either overweight or obese. The government also knows that the general population is eating 200 to 300 more calories than they should be a day. Due to the success of the sugar cutting campaign health professionals have put pressure on the government to reduce calories across all food.
How many calories are in our food?
• 260 in a typical burger with cheese in a bun
• 880 in a 10-inch takeaway pizza
• 237 in a Krispy Kreme chocolate iced ring doughnut
• 338 in a Greggs tuna mayonnaise white sub roll
• 244 in a 400g tin of Heinz spaghetti
While these statistics may not seem shocking an average child should be eating around 1600-2500 calories a day. Many children are eating snacks before their healthy lunch and dinner, and this will tip their calorie count over the limit.
Some key statistics
• As a guide, an average man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain a healthy body weight
• For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000
• These values can vary depending on age, size and levels of physical activity, among other factors
• School-age children are advised to consume anywhere between 1,600 and 2,500
• People on average consume between 200 and 300 calories more than they should
At JL Dental Care we recommend a healthy balanced diet for your child and supervised brushing twice daily. This is the best start they can be given to help them have a healthy smile for life.
Most health experts agree that the UK is facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes. Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.9 million. By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes.
So, many of you will be wondering why a dentist is quoting these staggering figures to you and why I am positioned to comment on them? What you perhaps don’t realise is that a majority of gum disease sufferers were found to be at high risk of developing diabetes in a recent report.
However, like the old adage ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’, it’s not entirely clear which way around the diabetes and gum disease link works. Researchers studied a representative sample of 9,000 people who didn’t have diabetes, although 817 of them went on to develop the disease. The researchers found that individuals with elevated levels of periodontal disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within 20 years, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity and diet.
Diabetic patients with poor blood sugar level control are likely to have gum disease more frequently and also in a much more severe manner.
The importance of good oral hygiene cannot be overemphasised for patients with diabetes as gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) can be treated and reversed. However if left untreated, periodontitis (the advanced stage) can occur which in turn may lead to bone loss.
Risks like impaired vision and limb loss are well known to diabetics, however gum disease is rapidly being referred to as the sixth major risk.
What can you do?
Diabetic patients need to pay much more attention to their oral health and ensure a visit to us every six months for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth with one of our hygienists. You should also inform us if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and ask for advice on keeping your mouth healthy.
This Sunday (6th) is Fresh Breath Day, which was launched a few years ago to appreciate the importance of oral hygiene.
Bad breath (or halitosis) is believed to be suffered by 1 in 4 people and yet it is highly preventable. One of the main reasons it goes untreated is because many people don’t realise they have it in the first place. Think about the number of times you’ve spoken to a friend or colleague and been overwhelmed by their breath yet said nothing. The scarier thought is that perhaps people have done the same thing to you at some stage in your life.
The easiest way to tell if you have bad breath is to lick the inside of your wrist and then let it dry for a few seconds, then take a sniff. Alternatively, you could smell your floss or tongue scraper after you use it.
So, what causes bad breath?
There are many contributory factors and some of the most obvious are food, tobacco, coffee and alcohol. It goes without saying that pungent meals like curries, or anything with a lot of onions or garlic will have an effect.
What may be less obvious or visible is the effects of poor oral health, which leads to bacteria in your mouth and namely between the teeth or on the gums and tongue. My colleague Rosemary spoke a few months back about some of the tools which hygienists recommend and one of those was a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers, which are available in the practice, will remove food debris from the rough surface of the tongue and help lower bacteria and therefore the chances of bad breath.
Can it be treated in the practice?
In the vast majority of cases the simple answer is yes. There are a few exceptions of underlying medical issues like diabetes, tonsillitis or sinusitis which will require medical attention with your GP. For everyone else we will monitor your oral health closely and recommend a suitable number of hygiene appointments for a deep clean of your teeth and mouth whilst also recommending which products you should be frequently using. This will help to lower the bacteria in your mouth and in turn improve your breath.
What do I do next?
If you have concerns regarding bad breath then please make an appointment to see me as soon as possible where I will outline a treatment plan to help freshen your breath and restore your confidence.
Research carried out in the early 2000’s has suggested that people who have periodontal disease are twice as likely to also have coronary artery disease. Some of the research has suggested that the link between gum disease and heart disease is due to bacteria in the mouth which can cause bleeding gums, leaving a way for the bacteria to get into the blood stream.
The bacteria then produce protein which can cause platelets in the blood to stick together in the heart blood vessels, making clots more likely to form. These clots can reduce blood flow so the heart doesn’t get all the oxygen and nutrients which it needs. A heart attack could be caused if this blood flow is badly affected.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
What can you do?
If preventing gum disease may lower your risk of developing heart disease, isn’t it worth flossing and brushing regularly? You should also visit us every six months for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth. If you have any concerns about your dental health please speak to any member of the team at JL Dental Care.
The purpose of these articles which my colleagues and I write (there are three hygienists at JL Dental Care) is not to preach about what you may be doing right or wrong. They are to help you make informed decisions with the goal of keeping your mouth and teeth healthy.
I appreciate that we speak often about the terrible effects of sugar on your teeth, and if you’re consciously taking steps to reduce your sugar intake it may feel like we are preaching to the converted. What may come as a surprise to many people is the amount of sugar you may be consuming without realising.
A great example is the recent ‘sugar tax’ announcement which will be introduced next year. Fizzy high sugar drinks are obviously going to have the levy, which is up to 24 pence per can or bottle. What we, as Hygienists, cannot understand is why drinks like fruit juices and smoothies are exempt.
You can find research carried out by The British Medical Journal by clicking here which states some of these drinks are even higher in sugar than the cola type ones included in the new tax.
The next time you decide to have a bottle of fruit juice, or give your children one, please look at the sugar content first. The recommended daily amount for children is less than 19g which equates to less than four spoonfuls.
It goes without saying that bottled water is always going to be the healthiest drink for any of us, however there is a range of ‘no sugar’ or ‘no added sugar’ drinks on the market if you prefer flavoured beverages.
Before you drink any ‘healthy’ fruit juice or smoothie please check the sugar content which is normally easily found on the traffic light system of food nutrition panels.
I couldn’t finish this article without pointing out that the best way to keep teeth protected is to brush well twice a day, and use floss or interdental brushes as needed. Also remember to regularly visit whichever of the hygienists you see at JL Dental Care.
Your commitment to your dental health
At JL dental care we often say that having a healthy mouth and gums isn’t something we help you achieve alone. We must have a partnership with each of our patients where we work together to protect your smile. Our part of the commitment is advising and educating you on the techniques and tools which will help deliver this result. Your part of the commitment is actually carrying out our advice.
So what is the advice and what are the tools?
Gum disease (periodontitis) is the most common cause of tooth loss in the U.K. and happens when bacteria in the mouth forms plaque, the soft white sticky deposits on your teeth. When the gums become irritated and inflamed by this plaque they swell and cover the bacteria. This makes it difficult for you to remove the bacteria without visiting me or one of the other hygienists here at JL dental care.
The advice we give is to help prevent this plaque in the first instance. We advise you to brush, floss and rinse twice a day. Depending on the advice given by your hygienist there is also a range of tools we advise using which include:
In the practice, you have probably seen the small brushes which come in a variety of colours (the most popular brand being TePe). This reason these interdental brushes come in such a range of colours is that they are colour coded by size. The larger the spaces between your teeth, the larger the brush. The size will then help you to effectively clean between your teeth and remove harmful bacteria and food debris. Cleaning with an interdental brush prevents gum inflammation, cavities and bad breath.
This device will help to remove bacteria and food debris from your tongue and is particularly helpful in patients with halitosis (bad breath). Almost half of our oral bacteria live on and in the deep crevices of our tongue. The scraping action of a tongue scraper collects these toxic tongue coatings (which can range in colour from clear, white, yellow, or green) and removes them from the body.
An electric toothbrush
When someone asks us whether electric or manual toothbrush, we always say “whichever works best!” The choice is highly personal and whichever hygienist you see here at the practice will be able to work out the dental routine to best protect your dental health.