Category Archives: Oral Cancer

Senior Oral Health Care

Seniors smilingProper oral care can keep you smiling well into retirement.  Brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush are important. Flossing helps save your teeth by removing plaque between teeth and below the gum line that your toothbrush can’t reach.

What problems should I watch for?Image gum disease

Most people don’t realize how important it is to take care of their gums.  Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attacks the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and possible bleeding when you brush.  If you have any of these symptoms, see Dr. Marinic at once. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease if problems persist.

Why should I be concerned about gum disease?

Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal) disease.  In gum disease, the infection may become severe. Your gums begin to recede, pulling back from the teeth.  In the worst caseswollen gums from gum diseases, bacteria form pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone.  This can lead to tooth loss if untreated, especially in patients with osteoporosis.  If regular oral care is too difficult, Dr. Marinic can provide alternatives to aid in flossing and prescribe medication to keep the infection from getting worse.

Should I be concerned about dry mouth?Water and faucet

Dry mouth happens when salivary glands fail to work due to disease, changes in medication, certain medications or cancer treatment.  This makes it hard to eat, swallow, taste and speak.  Drinking lots of water and avoiding sweets, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are some ways to fight dry mouth.

Dr. Marinic talking to patientHow can I maintain my overall health?

Studies have shown maintaining a healthy mouth can keep your body healthier and help you avoid diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Keep Dr. Marinic informed of any changes or updates in your medical history to help prevent potentially harmful drug interactions or health conditions.  The best way to achieve good oral health is to visit Dr. Marinic for professional teeth cleaning at least twice a year.

What if it’s too difficult to brush?Large handle toothbrush

If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to brush and floss.  Ask Dr. Marinic for ways to overcome this problem.  Certain dental products are designed to make dental care less painful for arthritis sufferers.  Try using a battery operated toothbrush with a large handle.  These toothbrushes can help by doing some of the work for you.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age.  See Dr. Marinic imOral cancermediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums or tongue, sores that fail to heal within two weeks, or an unusual hard spot on the side of your tongue.  Oral cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, when it can be cured easily.  Dr. Marinic can perform a head and neck exam to screen for signs of cancer.

Is Everything OK in Your Mouth?

Dorothy cleaningRegular dental exams not only help decrease your risk of oral diseases, such as cavities and gum (periodontal) disease, but may also help to diagnose other, sometimes life-threatening, medical conditions.  Dr. Marinic is an important part of your health care team.  He is able to assess your overall oral health and may recognize symptoms of serious diseases, including diabetes and cancer, which often manifest as signs and symptoms inside your mouth.  There are many diseases with oral manifestations that, in many cases, may first present in the mouth.

Diabetes

More than 25 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is associated with high levels of blood sugar and is known to lower resistancGum diseasee to infection and increase the chance of the following:

  • Gum disease, including gums that bleed easily or are tender and swollen
  • Tooth decay
  • Taste impairment
  • Inflammatory skin disease
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Changes in teeth position

Additionally, patients with diabetes (especially those with dentures) are more likely to experience oral fungal infections, including thrush (oral candidiasis).

Oral cancer

During your regularly scheduled dental check up, Dr. Marinic will also search for signs of oral cancer.  Oral indicators of cancer include:Oral cancer

  • Sores that bleed easily or do not heal
  • Crusted, rough areas of skin
  • Lumps or thick hard spots
  • Red, brown, or white patches
  • Changes in the lymph nodes or other tissues around the mouth and neck
  • Tenderness or pain, numbness inside the mouth
  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together

While Dr. Marinic will check all his patients for these signs and symptoms, patients with a history of smoking, using smokeless tobacco, or drinking heavily are at an increased risk for developing oral cancer.

Eating disorders

Eating disorderEating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, physically damage both your oral and overall health.  These disorders, which include patterns of insufficient food intake or excessive food intake with purging, can rob the body of much needed vitamins and minerals.  These vitamin and mineral deficiencies can present themselves orally.   Without proper nutrition, the gums can lose their healthy pink color and become increasingly soft and tender, bleeding easily.

Additionally, disorders that involve excessive vomiting, such as bulimia, can cause discoloration and erosion of the teeth through constant contact with stomach acid. Those with eating disorders may also experience:

  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Dry mouth
  • Thin, sensitive teeth
  • Loss of tooth enamel

Alcohol use disorders

Alcohol use disorders affect more than 17 million adults in the United StatesAlcoholic beverages alone.  In addition to causing irreparable social and medical problems, alcohol use disorders can severely impact your oral health.  Dentists treating patients with alcohol abuse problems may observe the following signs and symptoms:

  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth erosion
  • Moderate to severe gingivitis (gum disease)
  • Gum irregularities
  • Poor dental hygiene

Be proactive about your oral health

Diseases that negatively impact your general health also can damage your teeth, gums, and mouth.  Regularly scheduled dental exams allow Dr. Marinic to detect or monitor these diseases and recommend treatment.  Patients should inform Dr. Marinic about all medical conditions they have or medicines they are taking, which may affect their oral health.  Remember, maintaining a healthy body includes taking care of your oral health.