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The Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco

October 9th, 2019

Many smokers believe that chewing tobacco is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This simply isn't the case! In fact, smokeless tobacco can cause serious health concerns.

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and goes by many names: dip, snuff, snus, or simply chewing tobacco. Use of these products usually involves sucking or chewing on shredded or loose tobacco leaves, sometimes flavored, for a prolonged period. There are even products that emulate a dissolvable candy-like consistency which are made of compressed tobacco powder.

What are risks and smokeless tobacco?

Whichever form a tobacco product takes, the dangers of using or consuming them is very real. According to a 2007 study by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, there are upwards of 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco that are known to cause cancer. And these products are habit-forming just like any other tobacco product that contains nicotine. Using them will increase your risk for many serious diseases including but not limited to: cancer (especially oral and esophageal), gum and heart disease, cavities, and pre-cancerous mouth lesions.

At the end of the day, long-term use of smokeless tobacco can cause serious health issues. These products really take a toll on both your oral and overall health. They put a strain on your immune system and make it less capable of warding off infection and disease.

Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team strongly advise you to stop using smokeless tobacco—or any kind of tobacco product—and not to pick up the habit if you aren't. There is no safe level of tobacco use, smokeless or otherwise.

Need to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products?

You can and should always talk to your doctor, healthcare practitioner, or Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen for help quitting. But there are many other resources available today for those who'd like to quit. The National Cancer Institute offers information, support (local and online), and tools to help smokers and smokeless tobacco users quit. They offer live online chat with cessation counselors Monday through Friday and even have a smartphone application available to help people who are serious about quitting.

You can take a look at their website at smokefree.gov or call them toll-free at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1-877-448-7848). There is also help available from your state's quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Make the best choice for your health and well-being; avoid the bad habit of tobacco products. If you have any questions about how tobacco related products affect your oral health and hygiene, please don't hesitate to ask one of our Jacksonville, FL staff members.

Eco-Friendly Toothbrushes

October 2nd, 2019

When it comes to dental hygiene, “going green” is not the first phrase that comes to mind. But if you are brushing properly, you are also replacing your toothbrush every three to four months as the bristles become frayed and wear down. Sure, that’s a tiny amount of plastic from each of us going to our landfills, yet it adds up to millions of brushes a year nationally. If you are concerned about reducing your carbon footprint while reducing your risk of cavities, there are several new toothbrushes designed to make brushing more eco-friendly.

Biodegradable Toothbrushes

Some brushes claim to be completely compostable. These models generally have heads fitted with boar bristles and handles manufactured from sustainable woods or bamboo. Boar bristles aren’t for everyone. Some users complain of the taste of the bristles, and boar bristles might be harsher than the soft bristles we recommend to protect both enamel and gums. There is also some concern about bacteria growth on organic bristles.

Earth-friendly Handles and Bristles

If you prefer the consistency and texture of regular synthetic bristles, you can still opt for a brush with a handle of sustainable wood or bamboo. You can also select PBA-free bristles, bristles made primarily of castor oil, or bristles that use natural ingredients in combination with synthetics.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If these exotic brushes aren’t for you, there are more conventional choices that will save energy and cut down on waste.

  • Reduce the amount of electricity you use for your electric toothbrush with a model that requires less charging time.
  • Reuse your toothbrush by buying one with a handle made of metal, natural materials or plastic and replace the detachable head every three months.
  • Recycled plastics can be found in the handles of some toothbrushes, and many brushes come in recyclable packaging. Every bit helps!

If you decide to use one of these green products, remember that your dental health is still the primary goal. Be sure the bristles of your brush are soft enough to protect your gums and enamel and can reach all the places you need to brush. The handle should be easy to grip and the head should be a comfortable fit for your mouth. It’s always best to choose products with a seal of acceptance from your local dental association, or talk to us about greener alternatives during your next visit to our Jacksonville, FL office. Luckily, there are several workable options to protect the health of your family's teeth while still being mindful of the health of our planet.

Oral Cancer

September 25th, 2019

Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team want you to have the healthiest possible smile in the healthiest possible body. Oral cancer can affect the mouth, tongue, throat and jaw. Early detection is vital for the best possible outcome when treating this disease. That is why we check for symptoms of oral cancer at every dental examination.

What can you do to reduce the chance of oral cancer?  Reduce your risk factors. You can help prevent oral cancer by adopting these healthy habits:

  • Don’t smoke. Don’t chew tobacco. Don’t use a pipe. If you use any tobacco products, quit. Tobacco use is the single largest risk factor for head and neck cancers. Talk to us—we have suggestions for helping you break the habit.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Heavy drinkers have a higher rate of oral cancer. More than one to two drinks per day can be considered heavy drinking, depending on factors such as weight, age, and even gender. Check with your doctor to find your personal definition of moderation.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables are a great addition to any menu.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Help prevent sun-related lip cancers by always wearing a UVA/UVB blocking sun screen or lip balm whenever you are working or playing outside—and reapply frequently.
  • Some forms of the HPV virus have been linked to oral cancer, and those affected are generally younger and less likely to be smokers. Research indicates that the HPV vaccine, known for preventing several types of cancer, might also help prevent HPV-related oral cancers.
  • Schedule regular dental exams. We are trained to recognize oral cancer and precancerous conditions that you might miss.

Of course, cancer can occur even with the healthiest habits. Do come see us if you detect any of these symptoms:

  • A sore or ulcer that doesn’t heal, or persistent tenderness and pain in the mouth
  • Lingering sore throat, hoarseness, or vocal changes
  • Pain in the neck or ear that doesn’t go away
  • A lump, a rough or thickened area, or eroded tissue in the skin lining the mouth
  • Red or white patches in the lining of the mouth or on the tongue
  • Difficulties chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Numbness in the tongue or mouth
  • Changes in the way your natural teeth or your dentures fit together.

Not every symptom is caused by cancer, but it is important to rule out the possibility. We are trained to recognize early signs of oral cancer, and can recommend further tests if needed. Call our Jacksonville, FL office immediately if you have any concerns. Early detection and treatment lead to the most successful outcomes.  

Diet and Dental Health: What to eat and what to avoid

September 18th, 2019

You are probably aware that guzzling soda and drinking those sugary Starbucks Frappuccinos aren’t particularly good for your dental health. But how much thought do you give to the effects of your diet on your teeth? Practicing healthy eating habits isn’t just helpful for your waistline, it also ensures that your teeth stay strong and cavity-free.

How diet affects dental health

Our team at our office will tell you that your mouth is a complicated place on a microbiological level. Harmful bacteria form dental plaques which convert the sugars in food to acids that wear away at tooth enamel. Meanwhile, saliva washes away some of the detrimental acids, while minerals work to rebuild where teeth are damaged. The foods you eat are important for managing this balancing act between harmful bacteria and helpful rebuilding agents.

Rethinking your diet to prevent cavities

Carefully considering your dietary choices is a smart way to become mindful of the foods you eat and how they affect oral health.

Foods to eat

  • Calcium- and phosphorus-rich foods. We’ve all heard that milk builds strong bones, and your teeth are included in that. Milk, cheese, nuts, and chicken are strong sources of calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are used to repair damage to the teeth’s enamel.
  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables. Biting into an apple stimulates saliva flow, which washes harmful acids from the surface of your teeth. Turn to other crunchy fruits and vegetables, including carrots, celery, pears, and lettuce, to increase saliva production.
  • Sugar substitutes. If you have a sweet tooth but want to decrease tooth decay, sugar substitutes such as Stevia or Equal provide a sugary kick without harming your teeth.

Foods to avoid

  • Sugary snacks. Cookies, cakes, candies, and other sugary treats provide a feast for the acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. Furthermore, these foods often get stuck in the ridges of your teeth, and provide a breeding ground for new bacteria.
  • Acidic fruits and vegetables. Foods high in acidity, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries, peaches, and lemons, wear away the enamel of your teeth. Because these foods can be part of a healthy diet, remember to brush after eating them or swish with a mouth rinse to protect your teeth.

Eating well is an essential part of keeping your teeth healthy. Consult Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen about your diet for tips on food habits that keep your teeth strong and cavity-free. For more information about the link between your diet and your oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!