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Posts for: August, 2014

By Dr. Marvin Ernst General and Cosmetic Dentistry
August 25, 2014
Category: Oral Health
TakeaLessonFromHockeyPlayerMikeBossy

It might seem that adults who play aggressive, high-contact professional sports (ice hockey, for example) have the highest chance of sustaining dental injuries. But for many — like NHL hall-of-famer Mike Bossy — their first injured teeth came long before they hit the big time.

“The earliest [dental injury] I remember is when I was around 12,” the former New York Islanders forward recently told an interviewer with the Huffington Post. That came from a stick to Bossy's mouth, and resulted in a chipped front tooth. “Unfortunately, money was not abundant back in those days, and I believe I finally had it repaired when I was 16.” he said.

You may also think there's a greater chance of sustaining dental trauma from “collision sports” like football and hockey — but statistics tell a different story. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), you (or your children) are more likely to have teeth damaged while playing soccer than football — and basketball players have a risk that's 15 times higher than football players.

So — whether the game is hockey, basketball or something else — should you let the chance of dental injury stop you or your children from playing the sports they love? We think not... but you should be aware of the things you can do to prevent injury, and the treatment options that are available if it happens.

Probably the single most effective means of preventing sports-related dental injuries is to get a good, custom-made mouth guard — and wear it. The AGD says mouthguards prevent some 200,000 such injuries every year. And the American Dental Association says that athletes who don't wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to sustain harm to the teeth than those who do.

Many studies have shown that having a custom-fitted mouthguard prepared in a dental office offers far greater protection then an off-the-shelf “small-medium-large” type, or even the so-called “boil and bite” variety. Using an exact model of your teeth, we can fabricate a mouthguard just for you, made of the highest-quality material. We will ensure that it fits correctly and feels comfortable in your mouth — because if you don't wear it, it can't help!

But even if you do have an injury, don't panic: Modern dentistry offers plenty of ways to repair it! The most common sports-related dental injuries typically involve chipped or cracked teeth. In many cases, these can be repaired by bonding with tooth-colored composite resins. For mild to moderate injury, this method of restoration can produce a restoration that's practically invisible. It's also a relatively uncomplicated and inexpensive procedure, which makes it ideal for growing kids, who may elect to have a more permanent restoration done later.

If you have questions about mouthguards or sports-related dental injuries, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards,” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”


(PHOTO: Howard Smith/USA TODAY Sports)

(PHOTO: Howard Smith/USA TODAY Sports)

In June, longtime MLB pitcher Curt Schilling announced that the cancer he had been battling since February was in remission. But until a radio telethon for the Jimmy Fund on Wednesday, he had kept mum about the specifics.

Schilling told NESN and WEEI that he has squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer of the mouth, and that he believes it came from chewing tobacco during his baseball career. Via Boston.com:

“This all came about from a dog bite,” Schilling said. “I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor, and the day that I went to see the doctor, I was driving and I went to rub my neck and I felt a lump on the left side of my neck. And I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. So there happened to be an ENT [Ear, Nose, and Throat] right next door to the hand doctor, and I thought what the heck, let me just stop in and see and so I waited in the office and went in there and they did the biopsy, and two days later, they diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma….

“I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably that chewing is what gave me cancer and I’m not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing. I will say this: I did for about 30 years. It was an addictive habit. I can think of so many times in my life when it was so relaxing to just sit back and have a dip and do whatever, and I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff. None of it was enough to ever make me quit. The pain that I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day it was the only thing in my life that had that I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful.”

Earlier this year, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn succumbed to salivary-gland cancer at age 54. Gwynn, too, attributed his illness to smokeless tobacco use. Two MLB alumni from his San Diego State program, Addison Reed and Stephen Strasburg, said they planned to quit using tobacco after hearing word of Gwynn’s death.

Schilling’s doctor, Robert Haddad of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, confirmed to Boston.com that there is a direct link between smokeless tobacco use and oral cancer.

“It is not a question mark,” Haddad said. “The National Cancer Institute clearly makes the case that any form of tobacco is harmful and should not be used.”


When it comes to the best way to brush your teeth, experts do not agree.

British researchers surveyed 15 dental association guidelines in the United States, Britain, Japan and seven other countries; searched the dental literature for studies; recorded information by toothbrush manufacturers; and read 10 dental textbooks searching for advice on how, how long and how often to brush.

The review, published in the August issue of the British Dental Journal, found no randomized trials of brushing technique and very little agreement on how to go about cleaning teeth. Some sources, like the American Dental Association, recommended the Bass technique — holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum and making very short back-and-forth movements.

Others preferred the Fones technique, which requires large, sweeping circles over the teeth with the toothbrush at right angles to the tooth surface.

At least three other variations were suggested by other sources. Some said to brush for two minutes, some for two to three, and others for at least three minutes. Some experts said twice a day; others said three times at least.

“Despite all the techniques described by experts, there’s no evidence to suggest that any of them is more effective than a simple scrub,” said the lead author, John Wainwright, a dentist in Doncaster, England. “Expert opinion is worth something, but it’s low on the hierarchy of evidence.”


By Dr. Marvin Ernst General and Cosmetic Dentistry
August 15, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
OvercomeOralCancerWithScreeningsandLifestyleChanges

Baseball legend Babe Ruth, President Ulysses S. Grant and George Harrison of the Beatles — these three notable people from different backgrounds and historical eras have a sad commonality — they all died from oral cancer. They are a reminder that regardless of one’s wealth or fame, no one is immune from oral cancer and its deadly effects.

Like other cancers, oral cancer is characterized by abnormal cell growth capable of spreading into nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Although oral cancer accounts for less than 3% of all occurring cancers, it’s among the most deadly: only 58% of oral cancer patients survive five years after treatment. This is mostly due to the difficulty of detecting oral cancer in its early stages; in fact, 30% of oral cancers have already spread (metastasized) when they’re finally diagnosed.

Early detection through careful monitoring is the best strategy for defeating oral cancer. If you have a predisposing factor like a family history of oral cancer, then regular screenings during dental checkups are a must. During an exam we may be able to detect abnormalities (like unusual white spots on the gums or jaws) that may signal a cancer in a pre-cancerous or early stage. You also should be on the lookout for a persistent sore throat or hoarseness, lingering mouth pain, a painless lump in the mouth or on the neck, or ear pain on only one side.

There are also conditions or behaviors that may increase your risk for oral cancer, like using tobacco (both smoke and smokeless) or consuming alcohol. If you use tobacco you should consider quitting it altogether; you should consider cutting back on alcohol consumption if you’re a moderate to heavy drinker. You should also avoid sexual behaviors that increase your chances of viral infection — research has found a link between oral cancer and the viral infection caused by the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV 16).

Improving your nutrition can also reduce your cancer risk. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables supplies the body with cancer-fighting nutrients, including antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by carcinogens. Studies have shown this kind of diet consistently lowers the risk of oral and throat cancer, as well as cancers of the esophagus, breast, prostate, lung and colon.

If you would like more information on oral cancer, 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 Cancer.”


By Dr. Marvin Ernst General and Cosmetic Dentistry
August 01, 2014
Category: Oral Health
AWake-UpCallinMajorLeagueBaseball

What would it take to get you to give up tobacco? For major league baseball player Addison Reed, it took the death of his former coach, Tony Gwynn. Gwynn, a Hall-of-Famer who played for the San Diego Padres in addition to coaching at San Diego State, was just 54 years old when he died of oral cancer. As soon as Reed heard the sad news, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ relief pitcher says he knew what he needed to do: He took every can of smokeless tobacco he owned and dumped them all in the trash.

“It’s just become a habit, a really bad habit,” Reed told an interviewer at MLB.com. “It was something I always told myself I would quit.” But quitting took him many years — in fact, Reed admitted that he first started using smokeless tobacco as a junior in high school.

People begin using tobacco — in the form of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or smokeless types (snuff, chewing tobacco, or dip) — for a variety of reasons. One major draw is that they see others doing it. And, while smoking is prohibited in most all Major League venues, the use of smokeless tobacco has remained fairly widespread.

Smokeless tobacco isn’t a safe alternative to cigarettes. According to the National Cancer Institute, it contains 28 carcinogenic agents. It increases the risk not only for oral and pancreatic cancer, but also for heart disease, gum disease, and many other oral problems. It’s also addictive, containing anywhere from 3.4 to 39.7 milligrams of nicotine per gram of tobacco — and its use has been on the rise among young adults.

But now the tide may be turning. After Addison Reed’s announcement, his former college teammate Stephen Strasburg (now a pitcher for the Washington Nationals) resolved that he, too, would give up tobacco. “[The] bottom line is, I want to be around for my family,” said Strasburg. Mets left-hander Josh Edgin has vowed to try quitting as well. It’s even possible that Major League Baseball will further restrict the use of smokeless tobacco at games.

What does this mean for you? It may just be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for… to stop using tobacco. Dentists have seen how quickly oral cancer can do its devastating work — and we can help you when you’re ready to quit. The next time you come in for a checkup, ask us how. Your teeth and gums will thank you — and your family will too.




I. Marvin Ernst DDS, PA

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