Caring for your teeth and gums contributes to your overall health and wellness.
We help our patients live their best and healthiest lives. This goes far beyond a pretty smile. Caring for your teeth and mouth is important for functional reasons, too:
- Ability to chew and enjoy nourishing food
- Ability to talk and communicate
- Support systemic health
At your dental visits, we take time to do an oral cancer screening exam and refer you to your physician for follow-up if anything looks suspicious.
Infections in your mouth can cause problems elsewhere in your body. Bacteria in the gums can enter your bloodstream, travel to major organs and begin new inflammation and infections.
Research suggests this may:
- Contribute to the development of heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death
- Increase the risk of stroke
- Pose a serious threat to people with diabetes, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis
- Increase a woman’s risk of having a pre-term or low-weight baby.
When you control gum disease, you lower your risk for heart disease and other health problems. Be sure to brush and floss daily and have a dental checkup at least every 6 months. If you have weakened gum tissue or gum disease, Dr. Michael Spektor will help your dentist evaluate your periodontal health and recommend treatment as needed. Don’t leave gum disease untreated. It’s more important than you think.
If you have concerns about your gum health, ask your general dentist about a referral to periodontist Dr. Michael Spektor.
Tobacco use and periodontal disease
Tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of gum disease and bone loss. Chemicals in tobacco can slow the healing process and make results less predictable following gum treatment or other oral surgery.
As a smoker, you are more likely to have:
- increased calculus – the hardened plaque that forms on your teeth and can only be removed professionally
- deep pockets between your teeth
- loss of jaw bone and supporting tissue
You are also twice more likely to lose teeth as a non-smoker.
Research shows that current smokers do not heal as well after periodontal treatment as former smokers or non-smokers. These effects are reversible if the smoker can kick the habit before beginning treatment. However, it is important to be aware that smokeless tobacco, cigar and pipe smoking are just as harmful to your gum health.
Looking to switch to a tobacco-free lifestyle?
If you have concerns about your gum health, learn the warning signs and ask your dentist about a Bellevue periodontic dentistry referral to Dr. Michael Spektor.
HPV and mouth cancer
Recent studies show a rapid rise in oral cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV).
Human papillomavirus (HPV), known to cause cervical cancer, can also infect the mouth and throat. These infections can go undetected and our immune systems often clear them before they cause health problems. However, the most prevalent types of oral HPV (HPV-16 and HPV-18) can cause cancer of the mouth and throat.
Symptoms of mouth or throat cancer may include any of the following:
- Changes in your voice (hoarseness) or persistent sore throat
- Sores, red patches or white patches on the lips or anywhere in the mouth
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing
- Numbness of the tongue, mouth or back teeth
- Enlarged lymph nodes (neck swelling)
Preventing mouth cancer
More than half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices:
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid or limit alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise
- Limit sexual partners and practice safe sex
There is no FDA-approved test to screen for or to diagnose oral HPV. Current HPV vaccines were developed to prevent cervical cancers. It is not known if they might also help prevent mouth and throat cancer. Be sure to talk to your dentist or physician if you have any symptoms that could signal possible cancer of the mouth or throat. To learn more about oral HPV and mouth cancers, visit the Mouth Cancer Foundation or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For Bellevue dental care that includes an oral cancer screening, call our Spektor Dental team at (425) 454-1322.