Alcohol in Mouthwash Linked to Oral Cancer

I read the following article regarding mouthwash use.  I think you’ll find it interesting:

Australian researchers have linked alcohol, an ingredient found in many mouthwashes, to oral cancer and are calling for them to be pulled immediately from supermarket shelves. The review, published in the Dental Journal of Australia, says there is “sufficient evidence” that “alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer.”

The alcohol is believed to allow carcinogenic substances to enter the lining of the mouth more easily. In addition, acetaldehyde, which is a toxic byproduct of alcohol that can build up in the mouth when mouthwash is swished around, is also thought to cause cancer.   Some brands, such as Listerine, contain over 25 percent alcohol.

Lead author Professor Michael McCullough believes mouthwashes that contain alcohol should be available only by prescription. McCullough, who is chair of the Australian Dental Association is urging the organization to consider withdrawing their seal of approval for mouthwashes that contain alcohol. (The American Dental Association also gives mouthwashes containing alcohol its seal of approval.)
“We see people with oral cancer who have no other risk factors than the use of alcohol-containing mouthwash,” he told McCullough’s review found that using alcohol-containing mouthwashes daily raised the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx 400 to 500 percent. Those who smoked and used alcohol mouthwashes had a 900 percent increase in risk.
McCullough believes mouthwashes are more risky than alcohol or beer because they usually contain higher concentrations of alcohol than wine or beer and are kept in the mouth longer. “If you have a glass of wine, you tend to swallow it,” he said. “With mouthwash, you have a higher level of alcohol and spend longer swishing it around your mouth. The alcohol that is present in your mouth is turned into acetaldehyde.”
McCullough recommends switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash.

This article is one more reason we recommend Tooth and Gum Tonic.   In addition to not being as effective in controlling periodontal inflammation, Listerine and other mouthrinses containing alcohol are being implicated in oral cancer. Listerine is 25% alcohol.
Tooth and Gum Tonic is the best sweet breath freshener you can find because it not only kills the most dangerous bacteria that cause periodontal disease, it also kills the volatile sulfur compounds which cause bad breath.
Tooth and Gum Tonic products are available in our office.

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Local Phone: (606) 845-CARE (2273)

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Physical Location: 303 South Main Cross, Flemingsburg, KY

Mailing address: P.O. Box 474, Flemingsburg, KY 41041

What are Tori and Exostoses?

In about five percent of patients, bony growths are found that are normal variants.  An exostosis is a thickening of bone around the teeth.  A torus (plural tori) is a larger area of bone, and can appear in two forms:

  • Found on the middle of the hard palate or

  • On the gums adjacent to the tongue.

These bony growths appear to have a genetic link, but environmental situations tend to make them larger.  Bruxism (tooth grinding) and ice chewing especially seem to make them worse.

Exostoses, the growths directly adjacent to the teeth, can make it more difficult to keep the teeth clean, since the bone’s overgrowth makes it more difficult to position a toothbrush and floss properly around the teeth for good home care.

Tori are generally not a problem, except when a removable prosthesis, such as a partial denture or complete denture has to be fabricated.  Tori can cause these problems with a prosthesis:

  • Tori have very thin gingiva over them, and movement of a prosthesis can rub sore spots.
  • The position of the bone gets in the way of the prosthesis.
  • A palatal torus keeps a complete denture from accomplishing a tight suction.

For these reasons, it is especially important for patients that have tori to keep their teeth and gums in excellent shape.  Many people have had tori most of their life with no problem, and just assumed everyone had the same thing!

In cases where tori or exostoses are in the way for a prosthesis, a minor surgical procedure is used to remove them so that the complete denture or partial denture can be fabricated without problems.  Mandibular tori and exostoses can be removed by most general dentists, while a palatal torus is often referred to an oral surgeon when a complete denture is needed.

It is also possible to have a bony growth that doesn’t belong there.  Cancers called osteomas and sarcomas can form cause unusual bone growth in the mouth.  In virtually all cases, these growths lack symmetry, growing on just one side of the mouth or notably large on one side than the other.

Thanks for visiting,
Have a great day!

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Local Phone: (606) 845-CARE (2273)

Toll Free (From the 606, 859, and 937 area codes): 1-888-917-CARE (2273)

Physical Location: 303 South Main Cross, Flemingsburg, KY

Mailing address: P.O. Box 474, Flemingsburg, KY 41041

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

As mentioned in last week’s article, periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults.  Periodontal disease, or so called “gum and bone disease” acts much like termites on the foundation of your house.  And like termites, the disease is silent until it is very advanced.

Below are photos of one of our patients before and after periodontal treatment.  In the left photo, notice the swollen, red gums and the thick tartar on the teeth.

Periodontal Disease - Before and After Treatment
Periodontal Disease - Before and After Treatment

When she first came to our office, this patient had periodontal pockets that extended up to 6 mm (1/4”) under the edge of her gums.  In addition to improving her appearance, her breath also dramatically improved.

Bacteria thrive in the deep periodontal pockets.  The bacteria and its by-products create plaque, and the plaque eventually absorbs calcium from the mouth to form calculus, or in lay terms, tartar.  Calculus leaves a very rough surface on the root of the tooth, and even allows the bacteria to imbed itself onto the root surface. 

Treatment for periodontal disease is primarily aimed at removing the bacteria that cause the disease.  One of the primary treatments for periodontal disease is root planing, where the hard deposits of calculus are removed from the root surface, then the root surface is smoothed to remove infected tooth structure.  Unlike an ordinary cleaning appointment, root planing is performed in a very detailed fashion under the gums. 

Root planing can be done comfortably, either by numbing the treated area, or with a product called “Oraqix” that delivers topical anesthetic gel gently into the periodontal pockets to numb the gums without injections.  To keep patients even more comfortable, we recommend they take a non-steroidal medication like Advil or Aleve before the root planing, which results in a dramatic decrease in inflammation and discomfort from the procedure.

Our office is one of a few in the United States that has ozonated water available to aid in treatment during root planning.  In it’s July 2008 edition, the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice stated that “ozonated water strongly inhibited the formation of dental plaque…(showing that) ozonated water is useful in reducing infections caused by microorganisms present in dental plaque.”
Improved home care is also a must in treating periodontal disease.  Different tooth brushing techniques are taught to provide additional gentle massage for the infected gums, and daily use of floss or floss substitutes also greatly improve healing.

When periodontal pockets are especially deep, a referral to a periodontist, a specialist in gum surgery, may be needed to improve the chances of saving teeth.
Because your toothbrush and floss cannot reach further than 3mm (1/8”) below the gums, patients with periodontal disease usually require more frequent cleanings.  Only a dental professional can reach these deep areas.  By allowing your dental hygienist to perform this gentle cleaning every three months, harmful bacteria are disturbed before they can cause additional damage.

If you’re concerned you may have periodontal disease, call us today to schedule an examination.  Click here to learn about a special offer for our web readers.  You can reach us at Flemingsburg Dental Care at 845-2273, or toll-free 888-917-2273.

Periodontal Disease – The Silent Tooth Killer

Of the three ways you can lose teeth, periodontal disease – also referred to gum disease or gum and bone disease – causes the most tooth loss in adults.  Periodontal disease is a silent disease until it reaches advances stages, so without a routine dental exam, you could have it but not know it.  Of the half of adult’s that don’t go to the dentist regularly, 80% have serious periodontal disease by age 40.

The word “periodontal” describes the structures around that tooth that give it support – the gingival (gums), the bone, and the fibers in-between.  Signs that show you may have periodontal disease include:

  • Bleeding when brushing
  • Breath problems
  • Gums that are puffy and swollen
  • Receding gums 
  • Loose teeth

 First, let’s take a look at the stages of periodontal disease.  This photo shows an example of healthy gums.  The gingival is light pink and flat, and the diagram shows the bone in-between teeth with proper support.

Gingivitis, shown in this photo, is a completely reversible disease.  The gums are red and swollen, but there is no damage to the bone support.

In this third photo, an early stage of periodontitis is shown.  You can see the gums pulling away from the teeth as they are losing their bone support.  The teeth are sometimes more sensitive where the roots are partially exposed, but often there are no symptoms even at this stage of the disease.

Symptoms usually don’t develop until severe bone involvement, so shown here, when the teeth become loose and sore.  By this time, it’s often too late to save the involved teeth.

To check the health of your gums, your dentist gently slides a measuring probe under your gums.  Measurements are made several places around each tooth to show where the gums attach to your tooth, and if there is any bleeding or pus present.  If the periodontal support around your tooth is in good shape, the farthest that the probe should be able to measure is 3 mm, or 1/8 inch.  This is the farthest that a toothbrush and floss can clean under the gums adequately.  A measurement of 4mm or greater demonstrates evidence of periodontal disease.  Dentists refer to these areas as “periodontal pockets.”  Other signs of periodontal disease include bleeding gums and receding gums.

The actual cause of periodontal disease is bacteria that live in these periodontal pockets.  In areas this far below the gums, a breeding ground develops for particular types of bacteria called anaerobes, a type of bacteria that thrives where there is no oxygen.  These bacteria release toxins that slowly cause destruction of the bone and periodontal fibers that support your teeth. 

Periodontal disease can be treated if it is caught early enough.  Much like a patient with high blood pressure, a patient with periodontal disease cannot be completely “healed” from the damage that has already been caused, but the disease can be controlled so that further damage doesn’t occur.  Treatment for periodontal disease will be covered next week.

If you’re concerned you may have periodontal disease, why not call us today to schedule an examination.  Click here to learn about a special offer for our web readers.  You can reach us at Flemingsburg Dental Care at 845-2273, or toll-free 888-917-2273.


Gum Disease and Your General Health

If you have or might have periodontal disease, also sometimes called “gum and bone” disease, we know that you are at risk for other health problems.  For instance, researchers have now shown us that untreated gum and bone disease directly increases your risk for heart disease and strokes.  The bacteria under your infected gums release toxins into your bloodstream that ultimately travel to the heart. According to one theory, when the bacteria travel into the blood stream, the microbes attach to fatty plaque in the blood vessels of the heart.  The artery walls thicken with the buildup of fatty proteins, ultimately causing clots to form. When your normal blood flow is restricted by clotting, the heart’s function is impaired, keeping it from taking in oxygen and nutrients as efficiently. As heart function gradually diminishes, a diseased condition eventually develops that can eventually lead to a heart attack.  Even the slightest amount of gum inflammation in your mouth causes bacteria to enter the bloodstream that can cause all of these problems.

Diabetics are more prone to periodontal disease.  If left untreated, gum disease makes it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar.  When gum disease is eliminated, diabetics improve their blood sugar control and make diabetic complications less likely.  And with diabetes, it’s kind of a two way street.  Periodontal disease makes it harder to control blood sugar levels (making diabetes worse), and diabetic patients have a harder time fighting off infection when it occurs, including periodontal disease.

Gastric ulcers are caused by bacteria.  When your gums are inflamed, bacteria from the mouth can travel to the stomach and cause ulcers to become active.  If you have been treated for ulcers, you should make sure your gums are as inflammation free as possible.

Several other health conditions can make you more prone to periodontal disease, including:

  1. Tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for gum disease.  When nicotine is in the blood stream, it decreases your body’s ability to fight off infection, including periodontal disease.
  2. Obesity:  Being overweight has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and gum disease.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis:  The causes of gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis may be related.  One doesn’t cause the other, but when one is present, the other is more likely to be going on.
  4. Osteoporosis:  Osteoporosis can affect the jaw bone.  If you have osteoporosis, you are more likely to lose teeth if you allow gum disease to persist.
  5. Medications:  A side effect of some medications can cause changes in your gums.  The seizure medication Dilantin causes gum tissue to become fibrous and overgrown unless home care is exceptional.  Many blood pressure medicines make it easier for gums to bleed.
  6. Stress:  Major stressors have a very definite affect on your immune system.  If your immune system doesn’t stay healthy, it can’t fight off the bacteria that causes periodontal disease.
  7. Contagious contact:  The bacteria that cause periodontal disease is mildly contagious.  If anyone in your family is treated for periodontal disease, other family members should also be checked.

If you have conditions that make you more prone to periodontal disease, why not give us a call today?  Contact us at 606.845.2273, or toll-free at 888.917.2273.  Click here for a special offer for new patients in our practice.

Thanks for visiting,
Have a great day!

Local Phone: (606) 845-CARE (2273)

Toll Free (From the 606, 859, and 937 area codes): 1-888-917-CARE (2273)