Posts for: August, 2011
An article published in the Journal of American Dental Association has examined the relationship of oral cancer to infection by the HPV. It has been known for some time that most cervical cancers occur in females infected by HPV. Evidence is now emerging that shows that HPV infection occurs in most oropharyngeal (throat) cancers. Alcohol and tobacco use are contributing factors that increase the likelihood that those infected with HPV will develop throat cancer.
HPV infection is most commonly transmitted from person to person by sexual contact. Two vaccines have been developed to help control the spread of HPV. These vaccines are preventive, no therapeutic. They do not treat infected people, but help prevent infection. It has been recommended that young females receive their vaccinations before their first sexual encounter, to reduce the risk of their later developing cervical cancer. Though not confirmed by clinical trials, it now seems obvious that young boys should also receive the vaccine to help prevent the development of throat cancer. Up to 85% of all throat cancers are related to HPV infection, and are more prevalent in males than in females.
One of the most important components of your periodic oral exam is the oral cancer screening. Every time that I do an exam, I check your mouth and throat for signs of cancer. I check your tongue, cheeks, floor of mouth, lips, palate, and throat for any abnormal tissue. If something suspicious is observed, I will recommend a biopsy to microscopically determine the nature of the lesion. Throat cancer can be difficult to see directly. It often develops in tonsils or deep down the throat. Be sure to report signs that indicate that you may have a problem. These include difficultly swallowing, pain, swelling, hoarseness, or bleeding from the back of the throat. If I cannot directly observe the cause of the problem, then I will refer you to an ear, nose, and throat physician, who has the tools to visualize the affected area.
HPV caused throat cancer is often effectively treated by chemo and/or radiation therapy if discovered early. Be sure to keep your regular oral examination appointments, so that we have the chance to catch things that are abnormal. Think twice about declining to have your oral cancer screening done when you have your teeth cleaned. Ask your pediatrician about the possibility of having your children vaccinated before age 12. Remember that no one other than your dentist will do a thorough oral cancer screening. The life that you save could be your own, or more importantly, the lives of your children.
Wyman B. Martin, DDS
Well, we have been absolutely amazed the past couple of weeks at our new digital x-ray technology. There are several benefits to the patient. The images as so very clear, allowing very accurate diagnosis. In addition, the image is immediately available and appears on the screen for the findings and treatment to be discussed. Dr. Martin has always enjoyed helping his patients understand what is going on in their mouths, and having the image on a monitor so patients can see what he is referring to not only gives patients a sense of knowing, but also allows them to see exactly what he is talking about. Often during the exam, he may want to get a closer look. An x-ray can be quickly taken to provide more information for him. For many of you who have digital cameras, the tools are similar that allow Dr. Martin to zoom in to a area of concern. The images for that particular tooth can be compared with previous images to monitor changes in the tooth. As you know, with Dr. Martin's dedication to provide the most conservative restorations, this is very helpful in detecting and diagnosing problems earlier. Finding areas that need to be addressed sooner allows for a less invasive, less expensive restoration in most cases. Another benefit is less radiation exposure. While it was minimal before with traditional film, the radiation now is even less. For some of our patients who see specialists, such as periodontists or oral surgeons, this technology also helps with consults. We can share the images between offices to better provide for patient care. Patients have also commented that the sensor that is used for the digital x-rays is more comfortable than the sharp edge of traditional film. We are clearly looking forward to seeing you and your smile soon.