The World Dental Federation estimates that 9 out of every 10 people suffer from an oral illness or condition at some point in their lives. Nearly half of adults over 30 have gum disease, even if they don’t realize it, and the American Cancer Society projects that about 40,000 people will develop oral cancer in 2015. These statistics can be alarming, but the good news is that better education about, diagnosis of, and treatment for oral health can significantly reduce your risk for both periodontal (gum) disease and oral cancer. This is why Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Sauer, and the rest of our team are celebrating World Oral Health Day this Friday. Below, we explain more about this holiday and how you can join in on the festivities by taking care of your mouth.
This year’s World Oral Health Day theme is “Smile for Life!” The World Dental Federation, which organizes this event, explains that this slogan “has a double meaning: ‘lifelong smile’ and ‘celebrating life.’” The goal of the event is to help people maintain healthy, beautiful mouths that can use for many years of smiles and laughs. As an annual topic of discussion, the World Health Organization is also emphasizing the tagline “Take the Time,” encouraging participants to remember that it only takes a few minutes to practice proper oral hygiene and visit a practitioner like Houston dentist Dr. Armstrong for regular oral health checkups.
Oral cancer isn’t often discussed, but it can be very damaging to your health or even deadly. One of the reasons oral cancer is so dangerous is because it’s easy to miss. Since it has such subtle symptoms, you might not realize there is anything wrong with your gum tissue until the cancer becomes much more difficult to treat. This is why oral pathology—tests and treatments for oral cancer and other conditions—is an important part of our practice.
When you come in for your biannual dental cleaning and exams, Dr. Armstrong or Dr. Sauer will use a laser to get a closer look at your gums and check for any early signs of oral cancer. If these are present, we may recommend a biopsy on the suspicious area. Dr. Armstrong and Dr. Sauer can surgically remove the cancer if needed. A simple oral health assessment truly can save lives. The National Institutes of Health reports that oral cancers diagnosed in their later stages have a five-year survival rate of just 20 percent, but this number jumps up to 75 percent for cancers found early.
We can also use these screenings to check for and treat other potentially uncomfortable or unnerving conditions such as cysts (fluid-filled bumps), changes in texture, or bacterial growths. Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Sauer, and our team can help keep your tongue pink, healthy, and cancer-free through careful monitoring.
Flossing can seem like an unnecessary hassle, but it should be an important part of your daily routine. You probably know that if you don’t brush properly, plaque (a sticky bacterial film) can form on your teeth. The same bacteria that attack your enamel can also get under your gums, causing gum diseases like gingivitis or even periodontitis, a more advanced form that can actually make your teeth unstable. The only way to clean below your gums and between your teeth is with floss. We recommend flossing once a day using a gentle curved motion to remove particles or debris caught between or under your teeth. Our dental hygienists can demonstrate proper flossing techniques at your next appointment.
Your oral health can affect your smile, confidence, comfort, and overall well-being. You can take part in World Oral Health Day by making sure to floss and coming in for routine oral exams at our Houston office. Contact Craig Armstrong, D.D.S. today to learn more about your oral health and how you can smile for life.