What is Your Risk of Oral Cancer? | Dentist in 22302


Dentist in 22302

Oral cancer screenings at the dentist’s office are a safe and effective way to catch this disease early, when treatment is easiest. Nearly everyone is susceptible to oral cancers, but some are at higher risk than others.

Tobacco Use and Oral Cancer

Any form of tobacco, whether smoked or “dipped,” escalates the risk of cancer of the gums, throat, soft tissue, tongue, and inner surface of the lips. Risk depends on many factors, including how long or frequently tobacco is used. Former users and even non-smokers are not risk-free, however. Screenings, which are built into routine dental exams, are designed to catch oral cancers early. 

Alexandria, VA 22302 Dentist

Drinking and Oral Cancers

About 70 percent of cases are among heavy drinkers, according to the CDC. That equals two or more drinks per day for men and one or more drinks per day for women. People who imbibe heavily are more than twice as likely to develop oral cancers than people who abstain. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) calls this sexually transmitted disease the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers, which affect the back of the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsil area. HPV is most common in sexually active young people. The OCF reports some positive news, however: People diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancers are at a lower risk of related death or reoccurrence. 

Age-Related Oral Cancer Risk 

Your risk of developing oral cancer increases as you age. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the average age of diagnosis is 62, but that is statistically declining because of HPV. As the age for new cases decreases, it is important for everyone to get regular screenings.

Gender and Oral Cancer

Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, heavier tobacco and alcohol use among men accounts for some of the difference but the gap is narrowing as more women drink and smoke. Regular oral health examinations can detect oral cancer early in both genders. 

Sun Exposure and Oral Cancers

People who work outside or with prolonged exposure to sunlight have a higher risk of developing lip cancer. It’s vital to use UV protection such as high-SPF lip balm. We suggest another proactive approach: Regular dentist visits, where screenings are a routine part of an examination.

Nutrition and Oral Cancer Risk

American Dental Association research indicates a link between diets low in fruit and vegetables and a higher risk for oral cancers. However, this type of cancer can also develop in people with healthy diets. No matter how you eat, a comprehensive oral examination is critical to early detection.

Regular exams make it possible for your dentist or our periodontal doctor to detect oral cancer early, vastly improving the outcome. Call our office for more information.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

Top Gum Disease Myths, Busted | 22302 Dentist

Dentist in 22302



Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth. It is caused by an infection from dental plaque that hardens and turns into calculus (tartar) and can’t be removed at home. This condition is preventable through proper oral care, and treatable by our periodontist. 

How much do you know about periodontal disease? Here are some of the top gum disease myths and facts. 

MYTH: If you don’t have tooth decay, you won’t get gum disease. 

FACT: Many people with no decay may indeed have gum disease and not realize it immediately. Gums that bleed or swell, or are red or tender, may be facing the earliest stage: gingivitis. Make sure to see your dentist for a professional cleaning, and brush and floss daily to prevent infection. 

MYTH: Bad breath is a sure sign of gum disease.

FACT: While halitosis can be an indicator of gum disease, it can also be linked to poor brushing habits, diet, an ulcer, or another medical condition. If professional dental intervention and good at-home oral care don’t clear up your sour breath, see your primary care physician to investigate medical causes.  

MYTH: Gum disease will cause you to lose your teeth.

FACT: You do not have to lose any of your teeth to neglect if you see your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene at home: Brush, floss, and clean between your teeth every day. Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of plain water. If your gums show signs of disease, our periodontist can create a treatment plan for you.

MYTH: Gum disease is not common.

FACT: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of adults 30 and older have some degree of periodontal disease. It can form at nearly any age and intensifies over time. Never put off a visit if you suspect a gum problem. 

MYTH: Pregnancy and bleeding gums go hand in hand.

FACT: “Pregnancy gingivitis” develops in some women, but it is not a universal condition. It is caused by the bacterial film that grows on the teeth and results in a buildup of plaque. Those who suffer from this problem usually experience it in their first trimester. If you are pregnant or considering parenthood in the near future, you can help prevent gum disease by taking good care of your oral health. Your dentist may also recommend more frequent examinations and cleanings.

For more information on periodontal disease and how to prevent it, call our Alexandria, VA dental office or ask your general dentist for a referral. 

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302