Our Blog

Are you at risk for oral cancer?

October 11th, 2017

Nearly 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer annually in the United States, with more than 8,000 dying every year from the disease. Oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other common cancers, including cervical cancer, testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thyroid or skin cancers. The high death rate results from the fact that most oral cancers go undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced and has spread to another part of the body, most often, the lymph nodes in the neck.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team want you to know that cancers of the mouth and throat, which account for about three percent of all cancers in the United States, are largely preventable. However, we want you to know about certain risk factors that affect the likelihood of developing the disease.

  • Use of tobacco products including smoking cigarettes, cigars or a pipe, or chewing tobacco all elevate risk for developing oral cancer. Tobacco use especially, is a serious risk factor because it contains substances called carcinogens, which harm cells in your mouth.
  • Consumption of alcohol in excess can also increase your risk. If you drink alcohol regularly, you have an elevated risk of getting oral cancer. Alcohol abuse (more than 21 drinks in one week) is the second largest risk factor for the development of oral cancer, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
  • Excessive sun exposure. People who spend lots of time outdoors and do not use proper amounts of sunscreen or lip balm have a greater risk for developing lip cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight may also cause melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

If you notice unusual lumps, bumps, or red or white patches in your mouth that don’t go away, sores that won’t seem to heal, persistent soreness, or pain or difficulty swallowing please consult Dr. Richard Mullens and our team immediately.

Other factors that may influence your risk for developing oral cancer include:

  • Age: Oral cancer is typically a disease that affects older people, usually because of their longer exposure to other risk factors. Most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 40.
  • Gender: Oral cancer strikes men twice as often as it does women.
  • A history with viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables

During your next visit, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will examine your mouth for signs of oral cancer. If you have been putting off a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office for your regular checkup, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits can be the first line of defense against oral cancer because we can identify early warning signs of the disease. Give us a call today!

Dental Infections

October 4th, 2017

Drs. Richard Mullens and James Nguyen will tell you that dental infections can be very serious; sometimes, they develop into a life-threatening situation. Cavities are caused by acid-generating microorganisms that deposit themselves on teeth surfaces. Over time, acid erodes tooth enamel, compromising tooth strength. The major culprit or cause of cavities is sweets, but even diet soda plays a substantial role in tooth erosion, largely because the phosphoric acid it contains alters the oral pH. Cavities can pave the way for other, more serious infections to develop.

Types of infections

Pulpitis

Pulpitis is an inflammation of the tooth pulp. It typically occurs when cavities get deep enough to allow infection to reach the pulp. When this happens, bacteria travel through the pit or fissure that the cavity created. It can also develop from a fractured tooth. The symptoms may include moderate pain that comes and goes. Pain may intensify when cold liquids touch the pulp.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a consequence of chronic gingivitis, which occurs when the supportive bone structure of the tooth erodes, causing the periodontal tooth ligament to detach from the tooth. Kids between the ages of 12 and 17 and adults over age 30 are most likely to develop this disease. In severe cases of periodontitis, a periodontal abscess may form. Symptoms of the infection typically include redness, sensitivity to touch, and swelling.

Pericoronitis

Pericoronitis is an infection that occurs when food particles and other microorganisms get trapped under gum flaps. It typically happens when impacted wisdom teeth erupt. Pain at the site of the infection is a common symptom. You should try to prevent food particles from lodging in the gingivitis flaps.

Dental abscesses

A dental abscess is one of the most serious dental infections anyone can get. It begins at the base of the tooth, but without treatment can spread rapidly. When the abscess is more severe, the bacteria spread, often very rapidly, and cause severe facial swelling, pain, and discomfort.

The best way to minimize the risk of developing a dental infection is by practicing good oral hygiene, making sure that food or other particles aren’t trapped between the teeth for too long, flossing, using oral rinses that bear the ADA seal of approval, and seeing the dentist regularly. If or when there are any symptoms of infection, even if the only symptom is pain, be sure to visit the dentist. Early intervention may prevent the infection from escalating into something far more severe, painful, and costly to treat.

To learn more about dental infections, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Adults Can Get Cavities Too

September 27th, 2017

Sure, you brush your teeth and floss regularly, so you might think you’re off the hook when it comes to the dental chair. However, it’s just as important for adults to get regular dental exams as it is for kids. Cavities are common among adults, with 92% of people aged 18 to 64 having had cavities in their permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

How cavities form

Our mouths are teeming with hundreds of types of bacteria. Some are helpful and maintain good health, while others are harmful. Certain types of bacteria process the sugars in food and release acid in return. Although minor decay can be naturally reversed by your body, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will tell you that eventually the acid wears away the enamel and creates small holes in the surface of teeth.

Cavity prevention for adults

Some people are naturally more prone to cavities than others. However, making a few lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your likelihood of developing cavities.

  • Food choices. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables increases saliva production, and reduces cavity risk. It is also important to avoid foods that get stuck in the ridges of your teeth. Candy, cookies, and chips should be eaten sparingly.
  • Beverages. Most people know that drinking soda contributes to tooth decay. However, fruit juices and energy drinks also contain large amounts of sugar. Whenever possible, replace these sugary beverages with tea or water, which rinses your mouth and prevents decay.
  • Fluoridated water. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring chemical that facilitates enamel growth. Most municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride, so drinking tap water is a great way to keep teeth healthy. People with well water may use fluoridated toothpaste or other supplemental forms of fluoride to decrease cavity risk.
  • Brush teeth and floss frequently. Gently brushing teeth several times a day removes the harmful bacteria that cause cavities to develop. If possible, brush your teeth after each meal or when drinking sugary beverages. Flossing regularly removes small particles that get trapped between teeth, which further decreases tooth decay.

One of the most important steps in cavity prevention is visiting your dentist at least twice a year. Consistent dental exams ensure that cavities are caught early, before they cause major damage to your teeth.

For more information about avoiding cavities, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Dr. Nguyen

September 27th, 2017

It has been a very busy few months for all of us at Dr. Mullens’ office. Besides breaking ground (or maybe more accurately, walls) on our new office space, we have also welcomed Dr. Nguyen to our dental family!

Dr. Nguyen started with us on July 21 of this year and we are so proud of how smooth the transition has been. All of us want to thank our patients for the love and support shown to Dr. Nguyen as he has joined our practice. He feels incredibly welcome. We are so thrilled to have him on board and it is an understatement to say that he is fits in with our team perfectly!

We thank our awesome patients for their continued support and look forward to continuing to provide you with the best possible care!