Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is considered one of the most common forms of cancer in the world with a survival rate of 50 percent. Early diagnosis is crucial to the person’s health, especially if other medical conditions are present. Oral cancer is typically manifested as an ulcer, a white lesion or a red patch. During the oral exam, a dentist may detect such manifestations in their initial stages and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
Most Common Risk Factors Various factors, such as viral and bacterial infections, have been contributed to the development of the cancer of the mouth. However, the single most common reason remains to be smoking. When combined with excessive drinking of alcohol, the cancer can develop rapidly. The epidemiological research has shown that the use of tobacco may be responsible for most cancerous lesions of the oral region.
The Causes Numerous events can lead to the formation of cancer. The evidence links the exposure to external factors directly to the development of cancer within the oral area. These factors include the following:
- Chemical Carcinogens – A continuous exposure to chemical agents, such DMBA found in various nutritional supplements, may induce the formation of carcinoma.
- Sunlight – Prolonged and frequently repeated exposure to sunlight has been associated with the cancer of the lower lip. Ultraviolet light acts as a DNA damaging agent resulting in the epithelial cells’ destruction.
- Tobacco – It contains large amounts of carcinogenic components that induce genetic changes.
- Alcohol – It has been well established that alcohol promotes the carcinogenic effects of tobacco. Through its dehydrating properties, it affects the oral mucosa.
The Diagnosis The most common areas of the mouth affected by the cancer are the tongue, the floor of the mouth and the gingiva (gums.) A dentist evaluates the entire oral region and the location and appearance of any lesions. If any tumors are suspected, a series of radiographs may be taken along with a tissue sample for biopsy testing.
The Treatment If the pathology report shows the presence of cancer, the patient is promptly contacted and referred to the nearest cancer treatment center. It is imperative to establish how advanced the cancer may be. In general, the smaller the lesion, the less complicated the case will be. It will also require less treatment and medications. Oral cavity cancers are typically treated by surgery or radiation therapy.
If the affected tissue is small, a simple surgery may be performed in efforts to remove the entire cancerous site. If the tumors are present, the preferred method of treatment may require radiation exposure.
For cancers detected early, the treatment prognosis is good. The lesions close to the anterior of the mouth are typically curable. The carcinomas found on the tongue or deep within the posterior areas, may be more difficult to embrace and treat.
As with any cancer, timely detection can save lives. The patients are routinely screened for oral cancer during their semi-annual visits with the dentist and dental hygienist. At that time, the exam is combined with educating the patients about the importance of oral health and changing their detrimental habits.
TMD – Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
You may suffer from headaches, a popping jaw when you open or close your mouth with pain, the possibility of locking of the jaw, limited opening, or associated pain in your jaw joints from capsulitis or arthritis. The pain can also be from the muscles. This is called myalgia. This could signify problems with your Temporomandibular Joint-the joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your head. Clicking or popping in the joint may be an indication of previous injury to the TMJ joint problem may be a result of trauma, complications with your bite, grinding or clenching your teeth, or a combination of these factors causing the disc to slip out of position.. TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a condition that affects many people, but the good news is it can often be helped. Based on the severity of your condition, we can recommend a course of treatment that will help your pain and make your day-to-day activities more pleasant. If you are experiencing or have experienced locking or pain in your jaw joint or surrounding area, ask a team member today if you might benefit from an appointment with Dr. Mary Charles.
An Overview Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea, which is also known as OSA, is a condition that occurs when the upper airway gets blocked. It causes a person to stop breathing several times at night. OSA is a dangerous condition because it can reduce blood flow to vital organs. It can also lead to an irregular heart rhythm.
Symptoms of OSA
Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of OSA. In fact, it is estimated that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of people with OSA snore on a regular basis. Snoring can make it difficult for people to get a good night’s rest.
Depression, night sweats, waking up choking or gasping and problems getting up in the morning are some of the other symptoms of OSA. It can be more difficult to recognize the symptoms of OSA in children. Some of the symptoms of OSA in children include sweating, bedwetting, learning disorders and problems at school.
Anyone can develop OSA. However, there are some people who are at a greater risk for developing it than others. This condition is more common in people who are overweight. It is estimated that 50 percent of people who have sleep apnea are overweight. Fat deposits can obstruct the upper airway.
Some people have a narrowed airway, and this can increase the risk of this condition. High blood pressure is another health condition that can increase the risk of OSA. Diabetes, smoking, asthma and chronic nasal congestion are some of the other risk factors for this condition. Additionally, if you have a family history of this condition, then you are more likely to develop it.
Mild cases of OSA can typically be resolved with lifestyle changes. Losing weight, exercising and eating right are some of the ways that OSA can be naturally treated. A continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine can also be used. It works by delivering constant air pressure, which keeps the airway open. Additionally, an oral appliance can be used. It works by positioning the tongue and jaw in a forward posture opening the airway.
Sleep Apnea Appliance (mild to moderate OSA or severe is CPAP intolerant)
Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea. In a patient with sleep apnea, the position of the lower jaw can allow soft tissue to obstruct air flow during sleep, causing the patient to snore, and at times, to stop breathing for a time. The quality of sleep for both the patient and their partner suffers tremendously. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be very dangerous – leading to systemic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or even a stroke. Dr. Mary Charles can help patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea overcome their condition. After a sleep study is completed at a sleep lab, treatment may include the use of a customized mouthpiece, which comfortably repositions the lower jaw, allowing for clearer breathing and uninterrupted sleep. If you suffer from daytime sleepiness, or snoring, ask your Haigler Dental Care team member about sleep apnea screening today!
If you or a loved one snores, you are likely aware that snoring often accompanies fitful sleep. Severe snoring may also be a sign of a more serious problem like sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when an individual stops breathing for an extended period of time during sleep. Snoring happens when the mouth relaxes and the soft tissue vibrates with air flow. After a sleep study to find out if there is sleep apnea, snore appliances are designed to comfortably hold the airway open during sleep. There are a wide variety of snore appliances available to you. Let Dr. Mary Charles select the right one that fits your needs.
In addition to preventing damage to the teeth like an occlusal guard/ night guard, an orthotic splint offers the additional benefit of allowing your muscles to relax for a time. The splint distributes forces in a way that allows less stress on the TMJ and teeth, while reducing the work load on the muscles. This reduces muscle soreness and fatigue.
If you are suffering from frequent headaches, recurring muscle pain, as well as from damaged teeth, a bite splint may be the answer. Ask Dr. Mary today about having a bite splint custom created just for you.
Injection for Pain Management
Though usually not the first line of treatment, there are times that
- Trigger point injections of lidocaine
- Intramuscular injections of BOTOX® Cosmetic
- Intracapsular (TMJ) injection of steroid may be the best treatment.
Dr. Mary Charles will evaluate your case specifically and determine what the best recommendation is. As always, she is happy to discuss any questions or concerns.
Atypical Odontalgia/Phantom Tooth Pain
A tooth hurts, but a) your dentist sees no problem with the tooth or b)the tooth is not even there. Let Dr. Mary help you find the source of your pain. With correct diagnosis, the pain can begin to be managed.
Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Mucositis, xerostomia, dry mouth, BRONJ/MRONJ/ONJ (osteonecrosis of the jaw), contracture (shortening of the muscles) are all possible side effects that can be helped. Let us help you manage these conditions.
Do you have a bump, sore, or other unexplained problem in your mouth? Let Dr. Mary Charles evaluate the lesion. That is the first step to Diagnosis and Treatment.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Does your mouth burn, but there are no physical signs of a problem? It could be a condition known as Burning Mouth Syndrome. Call Haigler Dental Care for an appointment with Dr. Mary Charles.
Neuropathic Pain or Trigeminal Neuralgia
You may be someone who suffers from sharp or burning pain with little or no trigger. Let Dr. Mary Charles evaluate you so that, together, we can work to diagnose and manage the condition.
After a thorough evaluation, we can biopsy suspicious lesions. These maybe area that you are aware of, or areas found to be suspicious during an oral cancer screening.
Advanced Tools and Techniques for Your Care
Your enjoyable dental experience depends on your comfort and safety. The Mary Charles Haigler, DMD, MS team utilizes technological advances in dental equipment and techniques to ensure your satisfaction with your appointment and your continued excellent health.
Digital Radiographs (X-rays)
Digital radiographs are a technological advancement that results in an almost instantaneous picture for Dr. Mary Charles. With digital radiographs, you will appreciate a more precise image, which leads to better care.
Digital CBCT (Cone Beam CT)
A CBCT allows Dr. Mary Charles to see the bone in 3 dimensions. This helps her visualize changes to the Temporomandibular Joints (TMJs), jaw bones (maxilla and mandible) and the air spaces.
Soft Tissue Laser
A soft tissue laser allows your dentist at Haigler Dental Care to provide gentle treatment when the soft tissues of your mouth are involved. Lasers can be helpful in pain reduction with ulcers, letting you get back to your normal life very quickly.
An intraoral camera allows us to document findings in your mouth. We can then compare the images with those from other appointments.
Digital photography gives your dentist instant images to use for cosmetic imaging or to keep on file to track your progress. Digital images can be saved electronically and are more efficient than traditional photographs, which must be taken off-site for development.
In a patient with obstructive sleep apnea, the position of the lower jaw and its associated soft tissues obstruct air flow during sleep, causing the patient to snore and, at times, to stop breathing for up to a minute or more. The quality of sleep for both the patient and his/her partner suffers tremendously. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be very dangerous, leading to systemic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even a stroke. Dr. Mary Charles may be able to help, and the first step is a sleep study. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and are a candidate for care in our office, Embletta™ PDS is a small, pocket-sized, portable monitoring system that we will use to help you achieve maximum effectiveness. Embletta™ PDS works by measuring your breathing patterns, oxygen intake, and various other factors. If you are having daytime sleepiness or other trouble sleeping, ask Dr. Mary Charles about sleep apnea and your risk.
Q: Financial Policy
We are concerned about your health and look forward to helping with your care. Please remember that, as a courtesy to you, we are happy to file your medical insurance, but we must stress to you, the patient, are responsible for the total treatment fee. We are happy to help you inquire about eligibility for Care Credit (health care financing). After 60 days, the remaining balance, after insurance, and all follow up inquiries to insurance become your responsiblity.
Q: What is Orofacial Pain?
A: Orofacial pain is a general term covering any pain which is felt in the mouth, jaws and the face. Orofacial pain is a common symptom, and there are many causes. In the majority of cases orofacial pain results from dental causes (i.e. toothache caused by pulpitis or a dental abscess), but Dr. Mary Charles is here to help you find the cause of your pain that is not explained by a tooth pathology.
Q: What is Oral Medicine?
A: Oral Medicine is the discipline of dentistry concerned with the oral health care of medically complex patients – including the diagnosis and management of medical conditions that affect the oral and maxillofacial region.
Q: Why is Oral Cancer Screening Important?
A: As an Orofacial Pain, Oral Medicine, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea trained dentist, Dr. Mary Charles offers routine oral cancer screenings to you as a patient. Early detection is important. There will be 41,000 Americans diagnosed with oral cancer this year and 12,500 deaths. The death rate from oral cancer is especially high due to late discovery of the disease. The prognosis is more positive with early detection. A patient who does not seek regular continuous care from a dental professional is putting their health at risk by delaying a possible diagnosis in the early stages of oral cancer. We are dedicated to providing this potentially life-saving procedure for you.
Oral Cancer Statistics:
Deaths due to oral cancer equal one person every hour Death rates are high not due to the difficulty of the diagnosis but due to a late diagnosis 90% success rate if detected early Three times more common than cervical cancer
Q: What can I expect at my first appointment?
A: Your first appointment will likely be at least an hour as we check your history of symptoms, health history, and complete your evaluation.
Q: Do you accept new patient referrals?
A. Absolutely! Patients and other healthcare providers have given us the compliment of referring their family, freinds and patients to our practice. Thank you for your referrals! Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. If you wish to be a new patient, we do not require referrals: we welcome your call for an appointment.
Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this and what can I do about it?
A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and break, even if they don’t have decay.. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called an occlusal guard. A custom-fitted occlusal guard protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Dr. Mary Charles will take great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint.
Q: Can you help with headaches?
We would be happy to help. There are several reasons for headaches. We can try to help you decipher if we can help, or if you need a referral. TMJ Disorders and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are among triggers for headaches.
Q: What type of payment options do you offer to Orofacial Pain/Oral Medicine/and Sleep patients?
A: We accept Care Credit, Credit Cards, personal checks, cash, and are happy to file Medical Insurance. We can only accept Medicare as a DME (Durable Medical Equipment) Provider. This means if you have a Medicare, we do not file it or your secondary insurance, unless you are seeking reimbursement for an Obstructive Sleep Apnea Appliance.
Q: Sometimes when I chew I get a sharp pain. What can I do to correct this?
A: Most dental pain brought on by chewing is caused by a fracture (or crack) in the tooth. The pain can be corrected by placing a porcelain crown or with more advanced treatment. You want to correct the pain as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage to the tooth. Pain during chewing can also be related to TMJ Disorder,Salivary Gland blockage,or neuropathic pain. Contact Dr. Mary Charles Haigler is regular dental procedures don't seem to be helping so we can help you get out of pain.
Q: Sometimes I wake up with my jaw/teeth/head hurting? Can you help?
A: If you suffer from headaches, a popping jaw with pain when you open or close your mouth, inability to fully open your mouth, or pain in your jaw joints and muscles, this could signify problems with your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). The joint problem may be a result of trauma, complications with your bite, or grinding or clenching your teeth or a combination of these factors. TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a condition that affects many people, but the good news is it can often be treated. Based on the severity of your condition, we can recommend a course of treatment that will help alleviate your pain and make your day-to-day activities more pleasant. If you are experiencing or have experienced clicking, popping associated with pain, or pain alone in your jaw joint, ask a team member today to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Mary Charles.
Q: What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and how can you help?
A: Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea. In a patient with sleep apnea, the position of the structures of the mouth or neck obstructs air flow during sleep, causing the patient to snore and to stop breathing for a period of time. The quality of sleep for both the patient and their partner suffers tremendously, and if left untreated, sleep apnea can be very dangerous, leading to systemic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or even a stroke. Dr. Mary Charles can help patients with sleep apnea overcome their condition. After a sleep study is completed, treatment may include the use of a customized mouthpiece, which comfortably repositions the lower jaw, allowing for clearer breathing and uninterrupted sleep. If you suffer from snoring, ask your team member about sleep apnea treatment today!
Q: What are your privacy practices regarding my health information?
A: That is an important question and issue we take very seriously. Please see our Notice of Privacy Practices to learn more about your rights.