Tag Archive - cancer

Is mouthwash safe to use?

When it comes to good oral hygiene, the rule is to brush twice and floss daily (and to visit your dentist regularly). But have you ever heard any dentist say “Use mouthwash daily to maintain good oral hygiene”. Yet it’s funny how most people still manage to make this a part of their daily oral hygiene regimen.

It’s Valentine’s day and I’m sure everyone is relying heavily on their mouthwashes and breath fresheners today. But bad breath is an indicator that something is not right in your body. You may be having an overload of bacteria in the calculus on your teeth, causing inflammation of your gums. Or you may be having a dry mouth due to an underlying medical condition like Sjogren’s syndrome. Or it may just be the colds, making you breathe through your mouth (since your nose is blocked), drying it up and causing the bad breath. Whatever it may be, treat the root cause, don’t cover up the symptoms.

Visit your dentist and see if your oral hygiene is good. If not, you can definitely have bad breath, which should be relieved after you get a scaling, followed by good oral hygiene. If the bad breath doesn’t go away, you need to check with your physician for any underlying medical conditions. If you are having dry mouth due to a medical problem, salivary replacements are available to help keep your mouth moist.

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How to recognize cancer in the mouth?

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. 13% of all deaths in 2008 was attributed to cancer. Oral cancer takes a considerable amount of lives every year. In  the United States alone, around 37,000 people are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer every year. This year, it would have taken the lives of at least 8,000 people. That means, there is someone dying of oral cancer every hour. (Source: WHO)

The problem only grows bigger across the world, with at least 640,000 new cases found every year. In India, the number of oral cancer cases are on the rise. According to a study done in February 2011, India has 86% of the world’s oral cancer cases. Most of the credit goes to our ‘chewing tobacco’ habits.

Oral cancer is also, generally, discovered late in its development, which is quite ironic because you think you would discover the cancer early. Late discoveries are to blame for the high death rates due to oral cancer. (Source: Link)

With the rising number of people being diagnosed with cancers, the fear associated with it also increases. So how do you recognize cancerous tissues?

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Can smoking cause stains on my teeth?

If you are someone who just started smoking, yes those stains on your teeth could be a result of smoking. They appear as dark brown stains found initially at the back of your teeth (the side facing your tongue). And quite often they cannot be removed by regular brushing. If you brush extra hard using a toothpaste that has very high abrasive content, you may stand a chance at removing the stains. But overdoing it can result in abrasion of the enamel which could result in sensitivity. Another culprit would be betel quid, commonly known as ‘paan’ or smokeless tobacco. Chewing them can definitely stain your teeth.

But more important than the staining aspect, is the fact that they are well known carcinogens. Now for those who do not know what a carcinogen is, it is any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer. Tobacco in all forms is an age old cause of oral cancer, the rate of which is alarmingly on the rise. I have come across patients who have got oral cancer at the usual location where the betel quid is placed. So the best approach would be to quit the use of tobacco altogether.

Other causes of stains on teeth are coffee, tea, wine and other dark colored beverages. Very high fluoride levels in drinking water and tooth paste can also cause stains on the developing teeth of children. It begins as hypoplasia of the enamel (seen as a white pigmentation on teeth). That is why children’s toothpaste is preferred for kids over the regular toothpaste, especially since smaller children have a tendency to swallow them.  Medicines like tetracyclines, if taken during pregnancy by the mother, can cause discoloration in the teeth of the child.

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