April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Did you know that Dr. Bob and Dr. Jerry, along with your hygienist, screen you for cancer at every dental visit? Oral cancers can be deadly diseases. Roughly 45,000 new cases of mouth and throat cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States. Treatment may be more successful when diagnosis is early, so this is one more reason to see your dentist regularly.

Below is a list of mouth and throat cancer signs and symptoms. Check your mouth in the mirror each day when you brush and floss. If there are any changes in your mouth or neck, or if you notice any of these signs or symptoms, please be sure to contact us as soon as you can.

  • A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
  • Lump or growth in the throat or neck area
  • Cough or sore throat that doesn’t go away
  • Earache
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Hoarseness or other changes in your voice
  • Anyone can get cancer. There are some factors that if controlled, can decrease your risk of developing oral cancer: smoking cigarettes/chewing tobacco, heavy or frequent consumption of alcohol, and exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV).

    Amazingly, when you quit using tobacco, your risk of developing oral cancer immediately decreases. After staying tobacco free for ten years, your risk of developing oral cancer is approximately the same as someone who NEVER smoked or chewed.

    Remember: as the summer months approach, and we begin spending more time in the sun, wear sunscreen and lip balm with adequate SPF daily to decrease your risk of skin and lip cancers, and schedule your checkup with the team at Hannon & Sandler today!

    Diabetes and Your Oral Health

    Oral health and overall health are connected in many ways. Several health issues have oral health complications, and on the flip side, poor oral health can indicate overall health problems.

    Though diabetes doesn’t cause gum disease, and gum disease doesn’t cause diabetes, people who have one of them are more likely to have the other when compared to people who are not affected by either condition.

    Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. Because gum disease is a type of infection in the gums and the bone surrounding gums, people with diabetes can have a harder time getting rid of gum disease than people without diabetes. People who have their diabetes in control tend to have less gum disease than those who aren’t managing the disease well.

    If you have diabetes, it’s important to make us at Hannon & Sandler aware of your condition so we know you have an increased risk for gum disease. You should also pay close attention to your oral health, making sure to brush twice a day, floss daily and visit us regularly for check-ups. People with diabetes or gum disease may also be eligible for enhanced benefits through your dental plan, which may cover extra cleanings and exams. Some studies have shown that people with diabetes who receive regular oral health care may even lower their overall medical costs from diabetes. So, please, check with dental insurance carrier to see if they have this added benefit for you!

    How Much is Too Much Radiation?

    It’s a concern that many people have. And a valid concern while being at the dentist as many people come to expect some sort of dental radiographs to evaluate their teeth. The benefit of radiographs are that they help us diagnose common problems such as cavities, gum disease and some types of oral infections. Dental radiographs allow the dentist to see inside a tooth and beneath the gums. Without necessary radiographs, more disease would go unnoticed, treatment would begin later and as a result, people would have more pain and lose more teeth. But how much is too much?

    Digital dental radiographs have very low doses of radiation, producing just a fraction of what you are exposed to in other imaging procedures. The use of digital radiography has reduced the amount of radiation by 75-80%! The human body is used to getting bombarded with x-ray radiation from the general environment we live in (*click on chart below*), so our bodies are used to repairing the damage caused by low amounts of radiation. Dental radiographs have always been considered safer than other forms of medical radiation because they are directed to areas of the body that are not so radiosensitive. The x-ray machine at a dental office is quite large, but the actual x-rays come out of a very small cone. This limits the x-rays the exposure area of the actual x-ray. Very little radiation exposure occurs beyond the diameter of the beam. Also, our x-ray equipment goes under regular inspections by the state to ensure they are accurate and safe.

    Radiation from dental radiographs is quite minimal and very safe for healthy patients to be exposed to. We understand you may have concerns regarding dental radiographs and we would be glad to answer them during your next appointment with us. Your need for dental radiographs depends on your age, your medical and dental history and the current condition of your mouth. The chart below shows the amount of radiations a person receives from various activities (select image to enlarge).

    Wisdom Teeth: Do I Need Them?

    Do I have to have my wisdom teeth taken out?

    It’s a question we get almost every day. The roots of wisdom teeth are usually not fully developed until age 21 or later, so it is common to have the teeth removed as a teenager or young adult while the roots are still forming. Once fully formed, wisdom teeth roots continue to grow and are more likely to become tangled with sensory nerves in the lower jaw and/or sinuses. Regular dental visits are important during your teens and early 20s. If you visit your dentist regularly, they can use x-rays to follow the progress of your wisdom teeth and any problems will be seen early.

    What kind of problems could there be?

    Impaction. One of the most common justifications for wisdom tooth removal is impaction. Impaction is when the teeth do not have enough room to erupt fully and are therefore impacted in the gums and/or bone.

    Infection. When our wisdom teeth can’t come in all the way, part of the tooth may be covered by a flap of gum. Bits of food and bacteria can get trapped under the flap. This can cause swelling and a low-grade infection called pericoronitis. This usually happens with lower wisdom teeth.

    Altered Bite. This is due to wisdom teeth pushing adjacent teeth out of alignment. When wisdom teeth are not coming in straight, they will put pressure on the teeth directly in front of them.

    Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. But if there’s a chance your wisdom teeth will cause problems, it’s easier to take them out when you’re young. As always, schedule an appointment and talk with us about any dental concerns you have, including whether removing your wisdom teeth makes sense for you.

    The Oral Health Benefits of Pumpkin

    Tis the season for pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes and pumpkin everything! Chances are that your favorite fall dishes include pumpkin as an ingredient ­– or feature it as the star of the plate. In addition to being delicious, pumpkin also provides a variety of oral health benefits that may help balance the sugary excess of Halloween candy.

    Pumpkin contains vitamins and minerals that help keep your mouth in shape for fall dinners and desserts, including:

    Iron: Found in pumpkin seeds, iron keeps your tongue and gums healthy and helps prevent anemia, which can also affect the tissues in the mouth.

    Magnesium: Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to help strengthen bones and teeth. Just 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds fulfills 35 percent of your daily magnesium needs.

    Vitamin A: This vitamin helps with maintaining gums. A single cup of pumpkin will satisfy over 200 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A.

    Zinc: Zinc helps replenish the lining of the gums, especially in areas right next to teeth. 

    Vitamin C: Vitamin C fights off infection and inflammation of your gums. You can find 20 percent of your daily vitamin C needs in 1 cup of pumpkin.

    It’s especially easy to get all of these essential vitamins and minerals into your diet during the autumn months. You’re probably familiar with classic pumpkin munchies like pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and roasted pumpkin seeds. This season try to include some pumpkin in your fall recipes!

    Blog Credit: Delta Dental of Minnesota

    What’s With the Sticky Fluoride?

    We have recently made the switch in the way we administer our fluoride treatment at the end of every cleaning appointment! We have shifted away from the standard fluoride foam and gel in the trays to a new paint-on, or fluoride varnish, type of application. Fluoride varnish is a gel that is applied with a small soft brush to the sides and chewing surfaces of your teeth.

    Fluoride varnish is becoming the preferred method for delivery of professional fluoride treatments. Research has shown that fluoride applied directly to teeth is important for fighting decay. It is proven safe and effective, and is easy to use. It sets quickly on the teeth, and gagging and swallowing is unusual. We are finding that patients are more comfortable and accepting of fluoride varnish than with standard trays, making it perfect for patients of any age.

    Advantages of fluoride varnish:
    • Quickly applied, takes less than a minute
    • You can eat and drink immediately after (with a few minor exceptions)
    • Your own saliva sets up the fluoride and sets it on the teeth
    • Ingestion is very minimal
    • Helps to decrease tooth sensitivity
    • No large trays needed
    • Can be applied to ALL ages

    Disadvantages of fluoride varnish:
    • No brushing or flossing for 4-6 hours after application
    • May make the teeth feel a somewhat fuzzy initially, but most people find it tolerable

    Fluoride varnish offers many advantages over tray applications. All in all, fluoride has been dentistry’s greatest success in preventing dental caries. So what are you waiting for? Try the fluoride varnish at your next cleaning appointment and join the others who won’t use anything else!

    Summertime Treats for Healthy Teeth

    Need some ideas for end of summer treats that aren’t tough on teeth? Instead of keeping cool with ice cream and popsicles – which can leave teeth vulnerable to sugar attacks that increase the risk of tooth decay – consider satisfying your sweet tooth with fruit!
    Give these fruits a try this summer:
    • Strawberries are full of vitamin C. Vitamin C is required for the production of collagen, a protein that maintains gums strength and integrity. Vitamin C also helps reduce plaque and remove surface stains on teeth.

    • Apples are a low-acid and fibrous fruit. This high-fiber fruit has a scrubbing effect, literally cleansing the surface of your teeth as you eat, working to brush the bacteria away. Apples are also a water-rich fruit that stimulate saliva production, which keeps oral bacteria in check.

    • Watermelons have high water content and are packed with vitamin C. The water helps remove excess food particles stuck in and around your teeth. And it will keep you hydrated during the hot summer months! Vitamin C helps kill bacteria in the mouth and strengthen gum tissues, which may help prevent gum disease.

    Stock your fridge with smile-friendly fruits. And try to consume fresh fruit instead of fruit juices. Whole fruit has less sugar and more fiber and nutrients than fruit juices.
    Don’t forget to keep up your good oral health routine this summer and we recommend drinking a glass of water after meals and snacks to help wash away foods and drinks with sugar!

    Opalescence Go Trays

    Have you been looking for a fast and simple way to whiten your teeth? Opalescence Go is the professional alternative to over-the-counter whitening options. It’s the new, easy and an inexpensive bleaching option that doesn’t require any impressions! Opalescence Go trays are ready to use right out of the package. Each Opalescence Go tray is prefilled with a safe, effective gel that won’t leak out onto your gums. The Opalescence whitening gel includes potassium nitrate and fluoride. Findings have confirmed that the potassium nitrate and fluoride actually help to minimize sensitivity, which can be a side effect of many whitening treatments. And it’s so easy to use!

    Each box of Opalescence Go contains 10 days of trays. Each tray system has an inner (clear) tray and an outer (green) tray. The trays center directly over each arch. Once in position, you suck down or swallow so the inner tray suctions to your teeth. Once positioned correctly, you remove the outer tray and wear just the inner tray for 30-60 minutes once a day. The trays are discreet and disposable, making it easy to take your whitening treatment to go! Opalescence Go can provide noticeable results after just a few days of treatment and it’s so easy to adapt to your budget and lifestyle.

    Interested in trying it out? Schedule an appointment for an exam and cleaning and ask if Opalescence Go would be the right fit for you!

    The Mouth-Body Connection

    Regularly scheduled dental appointments with the team at Hannon & Sandler are not just good for your teeth and gums, but also for your entire body. Recent studies have indicated that there is a direct connection between your oral and general health. Taking care of your teeth and gums is about much more than pleasant breath and a sparkling smile.

    Diabetes and Oral Health
    Research suggests that although people with diabetes are more prone to developing gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis), treating gum disease can actually help improve blood sugar control in patients living with diabetes, decreasing HgA1C levels and the progression of the disease as a whole.

    • If diabetes is left untreated:
    • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry. (Xerostomia is also caused by certain medications.)
    • Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities and tooth loss.
    • 1 in 5 cases of total tooth loss are linked to uncontrolled diabetes.
    • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis).
    • You may have problems tasting food.
    • You may experience delayed wound healing.
    • You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
    • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

    Heart Disease and Oral Health
    While a cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been proven between heart disease and poor oral health, research show that periodontal disease is highly correlated with the incidence of heart disease. Patients with severe periodontal disease have a 17% higher risk of stroke than periodontally healthy patients. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions, Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures – consult your cardiologist or any of the doctors in the office to determine your need.

    Research today is also being conducted on linkages between oral health/Alzheimer’s disease, and oral health/pneumonia. If you believe you may be suffering from gum disease, it is imperative that you and your loved ones receive regular dental cleanings and checkups. Schedule an appointment with the team at Hannon & Sandler today.

    Floss is Boss!

    With all the recent news coverage on the benefits of flossing, we want to encourage our patients to be critical consumers when it comes to what they hear! Please check out the article put forth by the American Dental Association in response to this recent “string theory”!


    Correct flossing technique is an important part of any good dental homecare regimen. Schedule your dental cleaning and exam today!