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Marcia Martinez, D.M.D.
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Posts for tag: oral cancer

By Marcia Martinez, D.M.D.
May 30, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene   oral cancer  
TheImportanceofOralHygieneDuringCancerTreatment

You're probably aware of some of the adverse side effects of treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, one of these side effects is the health of your mouth. In fact, more than one third of people treated for cancer develop oral side effects.

Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, attack cancer cells, but normal cells are also affected. Chemotherapy can affect the lining tissues of the mouth and the salivary glands, and radiation treatment can affect all tissues in its path, which will put you at higher risk for dental diseases, such as tooth decay and gum disease. You may also develop painful mouth sores as well as dry mouth.

The best approach to take when it comes to protecting yourself from these potential side effects is prevention. Here are a few steps you can take to defend yourself:

  • Get a Comprehensive Dental Examination. While in the planning stages for your cancer treatment, you should schedule an appointment with our office for a complete dental exam. We will ensure that you oral health is optimal before you undergo treatment. We will also provide detailed instructions on how to care for your teeth during treatment and how to recognize the problem signs. Some solutions we may recommend are a fluoride treatment or antibacterial rinse.
  • Keep up with your Oral Hygiene Routine. While cancer treatment may cause you to feel fatigued, it will be more important than ever for you to take good care of your teeth. Remember to brush twice daily with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste. You should also floss once a day to clean between your teeth.
  • Keep your Mouth Moist. Dry mouth is a common side effect of radiation and chemotherapy, and along with dry mouth comes a higher risk for tooth decay. We may recommend salivary stimulating medications to fight against this condition. You should also avoid mouth rinses with alcohol, which tend to further dry out your mouth. Make sure to drink plenty of water and consider chewing gum with xylitol, which promotes salivation and actively prevents tooth decay.
  • Remain Alert. Throughout treatment, you should continue to look for signs of oral discomfort in the teeth, jaws and lining of your mouth. Notify both your oncologist and our office if you experience any side effects involving your mouth.

If you would like more information about oral health and cancer treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”

By Marcia Martinez, D.M.D.
August 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
SevenThingsYouShouldKnowAboutOralCancer

Let's talk about oral cancer. Yes, it's a scary subject — but the truth is, the more you know about it, the better able you are to protect yourself.

  1. Who is more likely to get oral cancer? Because of your genetic disposition — heredity — men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. African-Americans have a higher incidence than Caucasians. The disease is also related to aging, although in recent years many young people have been diagnosed with this disease.
  2. Are some habits related to development of oral cancer? Risk factors include use of tobacco in any form, both smoking and chewing, chronic exposure to sun, and consumption of alcohol. Moderate to heavy drinkers have a three to nine times greater risk than non-drinkers. Tobacco smokers are at five to nine times greater risk than non-users, and users of snuff or chewing tobacco are at four times greater risk than non-users.
  3. Where do most oral cancers occur? The most common areas are in the mouth itself, the lips, the tongue, and the pharynx (back of the mouth and throat).
  4. What are the statistics for survival after treatment for oral cancer? Conquering cancer depends most on early detection. Since most cases of oral cancer are discovered at a late stage, survival is poor, with less than 60% surviving five years after treatment. When oral cancers are detected early, the survival rate is more than 80%.
  5. What are some of the symptoms of oral cancer? Most oral cancers are “squamous” (small scale-shaped) cell carcinomas in the lining of the mouth. Signs of these cancers can be seen as white or red patches in the early pre-cancerous stage. These develop into an ulcer that does not heal.
  6. When should you seek medical help? If you notice color changes (white or red patches) or sores or ulcers anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two or three weeks, go to your dentist for a checkup right away. Sometimes the sores resemble cold sores. A definitive diagnosis requires a tissue biopsy, in which a small piece of tissue is removed under anesthesia and taken to a lab for microscopic examination.
  7. What about regular routine examinations? An oral cancer examination should be part of your visit to our office. We will inspect your face, neck, lips and mouth for signs of cancer, feel the floor of the mouth and sides of the neck for any lumps, examine your tongue and the back of your throat. The American Cancer Society recommends a cancer related check-up annually for all individuals aged 40 and older and every three years for those between 20 and 29.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral cancer. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”