My Blog

Posts for tag: oral cancer

By Ashley Harrison, DDS
December 08, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral cancer  

Seeing your dentist for a regular examination and cleaning is a quick and easy appointment many people undergo twice a year. oral cancerHowever, did you know that your normal appointment could also serve as a chance for you to take your preventative dental health to the next level? A cancer screening can take place during your regular appointment and helps your dentist find and diagnose oral cancers at their earliest stages. Learn more about oral cancer screenings with Dr. Ashley Harrison in Chico, CA.

What is an oral cancer screening? 
An oral cancer screening focuses on spotting the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. The earlier you and your dentist find oral cancer, the higher its curability rate. The examination itself involves your dentist thoroughly checking the oral tissues, gums, tongue, mouth and cheeks for signs of abnormalities. Additional testing for abnormal, cancerous and pre-cancerous cells in your mouth can also aid in diagnosis.

Who should have an oral cancer screening? 
Those who are at-risk for oral cancer should have regular screenings. Risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • tobacco users
  • heavy alcohol users
  • those with a family history of oral or other cancers
  • those who have had oral cancer previously
  • history of more sun exposure than usual

The American Cancer Society advises people with an average risk of oral cancer to begin having regular screenings every year after the age of 40. Your dentist can use your dental history and assess your risk to help you determine how often you should have an oral cancer screening.

Oral Cancer Screenings in Chico, CA
Dr. Harrison will carefully examine your oral tissues for any signs of oral cancer. These include white patches, lesions and other abnormalities. A special dye may help your dentist see any instances of cancerous cells inside of the mouth. The dye reacts with the cells, causing that area to change color. This allows your dentist to easily see any areas of concern. You may also have cells scraped from your mouth and examined underneath a microscope for cancerous cells.

For more information on oral cancer screenings, please contact Dr. Harrison in Chico, CA. Call (530) 894-5454 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Harrison today!

By Ashley Harrison, DDS
November 15, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral cancer  
KeepanEyeonYourOralHealthduringCancerTreatment

A third of people treated for cancer develop adverse side effects within their mouth. But while these effects can be devastating to teeth and gums, there are ways to minimize the damage.

Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation work by destroying cancer cells. Unfortunately, they may also destroy normal cells. The accumulation of this “collateral damage” ultimately affects uninvolved areas and organ systems of the body. Chemotherapy, for example, can interrupt bone marrow blood cell formation and decrease the body's ability to fight infection.

These ripple effects can eventually reach the mouth. It's not uncommon for cancer patients to develop mouth sores or see an increase in tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease. The treatments may also inhibit saliva flow: because saliva neutralizes acid and provides other benefits that lower disease risk, dental disease is more likely to develop when the salivary flow is reduced.

The first step to minimizing these effects is to improve oral health before cancer treatment begins. An unhealthy mouth vastly increases the chances for problems during treatment. Cooperating with your cancer physicians, we should attempt to treat any diseases present as soon as possible.

During cancer treatment we should also monitor your oral health and intervene when appropriate. If at all possible, you should continue regular dental visits for cleaning and checkups, and more so if conditions warrant. We can also protect your teeth and gums with protective measures like antibacterial mouth rinses, saliva stimulation or high-potency fluoride applications for your enamel.

What's most important, though, is what you can do for yourself to care for your mouth during the treatment period. Be sure to brush daily with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. You can use a weak solution of one-quarter teaspoon each of salt and baking soda to a quart of warm water to rinse your mouth and soothe any sores. And be sure to drink plenty of water to reduce dry mouth.

While you're waging your battle against cancer, stay vigilant about your teeth and gums. Taking care of them will ensure that after you've won your war against this malignant foe your mouth will be healthy too.

If you would like more information on taking care of your teeth and gums during cancer treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”