Understanding Oral Cancer: Risks, Symptoms, and Prevention

Dental Patient and Dentist screening for Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Awareness Day: Raising Awareness to Prevent and Detect Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a potentially life-threatening disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It can occur in any part of the mouth or throat, including the lips, tongue, gums, and tonsils. Early detection of oral cancer is crucial for successful treatment and better patient outcomes. In light of this, dental organizations around the world observe Oral Cancer Awareness Day to raise awareness of this disease, its risk factors, and the importance of regular screening.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the oral cavity or throat. It can manifest as a sore, lump, or discolored area in the mouth or throat. Oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body, including nearby lymph nodes, lungs, and liver, if not detected and treated early.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Certain factors increase the risk of developing oral cancer, including:

  • Tobacco use: Smoking or using smokeless tobacco products like snuff, chewing tobacco, or dip.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption: Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV): A sexually transmitted infection that can cause oral cancer.
  • Sun exposure: Prolonged exposure to the sun can increase the risk of lip cancer.
  • Age: People over 45 are more likely to develop oral cancer.
  • Genetics: A family history of oral cancer or genetic syndromes like Fanconi anemia or dyskeratosis congenita can increase the risk of developing oral cancer.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer may not always present symptoms in its early stages. However, as it progresses, symptoms may include:

  • A sore or ulcer in the mouth or on the lips that does not heal.
  • A lump or thickened area in the cheek, tongue, or throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing.
  • Persistent sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.
  • Numbness in the mouth or lips.
  • Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit properly.

Oral Cancer Screening

Regular screening for oral cancer is an essential part of oral health care. During a screening, a dental professional will examine the mouth, tongue, and throat for any signs of abnormal growth or discoloration. They may also feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. If oral cancer is suspected, the dentist may refer the patient to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

Prevention of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is preventable in many cases. Here are some steps that individuals can take to reduce their risk:

  • Quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
  • Practice safe sex and get vaccinated against HPV.
  • Wear protective clothing and sunscreen when spending time in the sun.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Visit the dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings and dental cleanings.


Oral Cancer Awareness Day is an opportunity to educate the public about oral cancer, its risk factors, and the importance of early detection. Dental organizations play a vital role in raising awareness and encouraging individuals to take steps to prevent oral cancer. By working together, we can help reduce the incidence of oral cancer and improve patient outcomes.

Protect Your Teeth While Playing Sports

Protect your teeth mouth guards

There are few things more exciting than watching your child play sports. But as a parent, you must ensure your child is protected from dental injuries. Here are some tips to help you keep their smile safe.

Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports.

Playing contact sports can be a great way to get physical exercise and enjoy some friendly competition, but it is important to bear in mind the potential for injury. The best way to protect yourself is by wearing a mouth guard. Not only do mouth guards shield your mouth from being directly impacted by another player or object, but they can also reduce the severity of injuries by cushioning any blows and absorbing energy before it reaches your jaw. Luckily, mouthguards come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find the perfect fit no matter what sport you play. With a mouth guard firmly in place, you will have less to worry about while playing contact sports and more time to focus on having fun!

Wear a helmet to protect your teeth.

Did you know that wearing a helmet not only protects your head, but it is also a powerful way to safeguard your teeth? Even if you think the risk of damaging your teeth is low, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, the next time you go on an adventure, don’t forget to wear a helmet.

Preparing for dental emergencies.

Be prepared for any dental emergency with the proper protection! Wearing a mouth guard and helmet when playing sports can help secure your teeth from injury, but what else do you need to know? Our emergency dental care services are here to provide all your needs if an unexpected incident should occur. From broken molars or chipped tooth enamel – we are here to give support whenever those pearly whites take a hit.

Thanks for reading, and we hope this information was helpful!

The Truth About Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride Treatments for Tooth Protection

What are the Benefits of Tooth Fluoride?

First, it’s important to know that fluoride is a natural mineral that’s absorbed by your teeth and makes them more resistant to acid. Your mouth contains bacteria that feeds on sugar (creating acid as a byproduct). Fluoride varnish is applied to teeth to protect them from acid, bacteria, and aid in the prevention of cavities.

How is Fluoride Applied?

Fluoride varnish treatment is a quick and painless procedure. Dental fluoride varnish is painted on all parts of the teeth and quickly hardens after saliva touches it. You may eat and drink right away but try to avoid crunchy foods or hot beverages as they may remove the varnish. After the varnish is applied, the teeth will feel a bit sticky or rough, but this feeling will go away after you brush your teeth. Avoid brushing for at least 4-6 hour as you want the fluoride varnish treatment to stay on your teeth as long as possible.

Who Should Have Fluoride Treatments?

Typically, fluoride varnish treatments are recommended for children, but adults may receive this cavity preventing treatment as well.

How Often Should I have Fluoride Applications?

For children, a dentist or pediatrician may recommend fluoride varnish treatment as soon as the first teeth erupt. Fluoride varnish will be applied 2-4 times per year based on the child’s risk of developing tooth decay. Fluoride varnish for adults may be recommended if the risk of cavities is determined to be high, if the patient already has “starter cavities,” or if acid levels are higher in the mouth for other reasons such as acid reflux.

Is Fluoride Varnish Treatment Safe?

Fluoride varnish treatment has been used for decades in dental offices. It is a safe and effective cavity preventing treatment for both kids and adults.

Our team of excellent dental professionals is here to bring out your best smile. If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please reach out to us.

Spring Cleaning for a Healthy Smile

Dental Spring Cleaning Man Smiling

March has arrived, which means that spring is just around the corner! For most of us, this time of the year is when we celebrate the end of winter by opening our windows, cleaning our houses, and getting out and enjoying some fresh air. But as we focus on fresh air and spring cleaning, how many of us think about our cleaning our teeth and ways we can ensure a healthy happy smile?

Even if you are dedicated to brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day, you still should add dental cleaning to your spring routine. Visiting your dentist regularly can improve not only your oral health and your smile, but it can also significantly improve your long-term health.

What is the importance of dental cleaning appointments?

Routine Cleanings Make a Difference! We recommend dental cleanings every six months to remove plaque and tarter from your teeth, which can’t be removed with regular brushing and flossing.  Your dental hygienist or dentist will use special tools to safely remove the buildup that accumulates overtime by scaling and polishing your teeth. Without these routine cleanings, the plaque and tartar can buildup on your teeth and can cause cavities, decay, inflammation in the gums, and gum disease.

Dental cleanings are very important to your overall health and can prevent dental decay or disease. They are also an opportunity for your dentist to examine your teeth and gums and identify any other issues that may have gone undetected.

Benefits of Routine Cleanings

  • Regular dental cleanings allow you to get rid of disease-causing bacteria.
  • They can reverse early symptoms of gum diseases and prevent complications such as tooth loss.
  • It gives your dental hygienist and dentist a chance to examine your mouth at regular intervals. This facilitates early detection of dental decay or gum disease.
  • Prevents dental decay or gum disease progression, which can save you money as it decreases the chances that you will need future procedures or treatments.
  • Regular teeth cleaning keeps your teeth looking bright and gums healthy.
  • It prevents bad breath.
  • Boosts your overall health.

As you get your spring-cleaning checklist ready, make sure to think about yourself and ways you can keep your smile bright. So, please make the most of this season by scheduling a routine dental cleaning to ensure that you can maintain good oral and overall health. Our team of excellent dental professionals is here to assist you in your journey to a beautiful and healthy smile. If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please reach out to us.

The Truth About Flossing

benefits of flossing

At one point in all our lives, we have been told to floss during a dental appointment by a dentist or a dental hygienist. Ever wondered why is there so much fuss about this oral hygiene practice? If yes, then read ahead as we discuss the truth about flossing.

If I Brush My Teeth Do I Have To Floss?

Toothbrushing alone cannot effectively clean between the tight contact spaces of teeth. This is where flossing comes to the rescue and can help you clean these hard-to-reach surfaces.

Benefits Of Flossing

Flossing helps to remove plaque and food debris that collects between your teeth.

If not removed, the bacteria in dental plaque can buildup on your teeth causing cavities and must be removed by a dental professional. If plaque is not removed, tartar (called calculus) will buildup and can lead to swollen and bleeding gums also known as a condition called gingivitis.

The Correct Way To Floss

Two methods can be employed for proper flossing.

  • Spool method (finger wrap method)

You start by cutting off a piece of floss about 18-20 inches long. Hold this piece of dental floss by the ends and wrap most of it around the middle finger of both hands. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers, gently sliding it up and down between your teeth. Using your index finger as a guide, insert this floss between two teeth and go in an up and down motion. Curve the floss in a “C-shape” around the base of each tooth to gently clean beneath the gumline. Use clean sections of floss as you move to other teeth in the mouth. You may feel a slight resistance while inserting the floss but never snap or force floss, as you could damage your gums. To remove floss, gently use the same sliding motion to bring it back up and away from the teeth. Please start with the back teeth of either side and make your way to the front and finish it on the opposite side’s last teeth. Make sure you cover all your teeth in the upper and lower jaw

  • Loop method (Circle method)

Cut off around 18 inches of floss and tie the two loose ends firmly to form a circle. Follow this by placing all your fingers inside the loop except the thumb, making it tight. Use your index finger to guide the floss when working on lower teeth and the thumb on the upper teeth. Insert the floss between your teeth, push it down, reaching below the gum line, and come up while making a c-shape on either side of the tooth. Make sure you cover all the tooth surfaces on the upper and lower teeth.

Alternatives To Flossing

Flossing is a crucial and irreplaceable part of a dental routine. However, if traditional flossing methods are not your thing, there are a variety of techniques and products to ensure the health of your smile.

  • Water flosser removes the plaque and debris with the help of a high-pressure water stream.
  • Interdental brushes or floss picks can be inserted between the two teeth to ensure proper plaque removal.
  • Dental tape has a wide and flat surface and can prove to be an excellent option for people with gaps between teeth.

Please reach out to us if you have any more questions or want to schedule an appointment. Our team of excellent dental professionals is here to assist you in your journey to excellent oral health from all 7 locations in the Madison area.


Oral Health is Overall Health

Dental Health and Overall Health

The health of your mouth, teeth and gums plays a significant role in the state of your overall well-being.

Recently, oral health has been significantly elevated in importance, as researchers are able to find a direct correlation between declining oral health and underlying health conditions. Also, we are learning that a healthy mouth can help you maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Are you wondering how oral heath can affect other systems in your body? Bacteria can spread from your oral cavity to your bloodstream, causing infections and other issues such as:

1. Heart disease

Several studies link chronic inflammation from periodontitis with the development of cardiovascular problems. Some evidence suggests that oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, arterial blockages and stroke.

2. Diabetic complications

Periodontal disease can make your blood sugar difficult to control and cause worsening of your diabetes symptoms.

3. Pregnancy complications

Several studies have shown an association between periodontal disease and adverse outcomes in pregnancy such as premature deliveries, fetal growth restriction, and other complications.

4. Rheumatoid arthritis

Because arthritis is an autoimmune disease, improving your dental care could play a role in reducing the effects of RA.

5. Dementia

A recent analysis led by the National Institute of Aging scientists suggests that bacteria that cause gum disease are also associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, specifically vascular dementia.*

Your oral health influences more than just your teeth. Poor oral and dental health can contribute to issues with your self-esteem, speech, or nutrition.

Keeping you smile healthy is an important part of your overall health.  Make sure to schedule regular cleanings and focus on preventative care in order to reduce your risk of severe gum disease and tooth loss.

* Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.


About Dental Health Associates

At Dental Health Associates of Madison we are here to support you and your overall health and we create a personalized treatment plan for each and every patient. All of our dentists and staff will always be open and honest with you about your dental health, with a focus on preventative treatments and patient education. We’d love to schedule an appointment for you today!