Monthly Archives: January 2015

Oral Cancer Can Be Deadly

smokingOral cancer is a deadly disease with 42,000 new cases resulting the death of 8,000 Americans each year. With early detection, oral cancer is 90% curable. Dr. Hawkins exams each patient for any signs of oral cancer but we want you to know some of the symptoms.

If you or a family member shows any of these symptoms, please contact us or your doctor to schedule an exam.

• A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
• A lump or thickening in the cheek.
• A  white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
• A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
• Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
• Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
• Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
• Chronic hoarseness.

There are many factors that have been identified as risk factors for oral cancer but using tobacco products remains the most significant. Cigarettes, cigars, pipe smoking and smokeless tobacco products are the major contributors to oral cancer. The incidence of oral cancer increases as we age, so screening of at-risk adults is critical.

Early detection is critical to recovery. Please talk with Dr. Hawkins about your risk factors for oral cancer.

How Fluoride Works

healthysmileIn an advance toward solving a 50-year-old mystery, scientists are reporting new evidence on how the fluoride in drinking water, toothpastes, mouth rinses and other oral-care products prevents tooth decay.


Despite a half-century of scientific research, controversy still exists over exactly how fluoride compounds reduce the risk of tooth decay. That research established long ago that fluoride helps to harden the enamel coating that protects teeth from the acid produced by decay-causing bacteria. Newer studies already found that fluoride penetrates into and hardens a much thinner layer of enamel than previously believed, lending credence to other theories about how fluoride works.The report describes new evidence that fluoride also works by impacting the adhesion force of bacteria that stick to the teeth and produce the acid that causes cavities. The experiments — performed on artificial teeth (hydroxyapatite pellets) to enable high-precision analysis techniques — revealed that fluoride reduces the ability of decay-causing bacteria to stick, so that also on teeth, it is easier to wash away the bacteria by saliva, brushing and other activity.If you and your family drink only non-fluoridated bottled water, please talk with Dr. Hawkins at you next visit to see if a fluoride treatment may be a good choice to help protect you from tooth decay.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society.

Stop Your Bad Breath Problems!

bad-breathWorried about bad breath? You’re not alone. Forty million Americans suffer from bad breath, or halitosis, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Bad breath can get in the way of your social life. It can make you self-conscious and embarrassed. But you don’t have to mask the smell. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to freshen your breath.

1. Brush and floss more frequently.
One of the prime causes of bad breath is plaque, the sticky build-up on teeth that harbors bacteria. Food left between teeth adds to the problem. All of us should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. If you’re worried about your breath, brush and floss a little more often.  But don’t overdo it. Brushing too aggressively can erode enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

2. Scrape your tongue.
The coating that normally forms on the tongue can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. To eliminate them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. Some people find that toothbrushes are too big to comfortably reach the back of the tongue. In that case, try a tongue scraper.

3. Avoid foods that sour your breath.
Onions and garlic are the prime offenders. Unfortunately, brushing after you eat onions or garlic doesn’t help, because the volatile substances they contain make their way into your blood stream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out. The only way to avoid the problem is to avoid eating onions and garlic, especially before social or work occasions when you’re concerned about your breath.

4. Kick the habit.
Bad breath is just one of many reasons not to smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also increases your risk of oral cancer. Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge to smoke. If you need a little help, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about prescription medications or smoking cessation programs that can help you give up tobacco for good.

5. Rinse your mouth out.
In addition to freshening your breath, anti-bacterial mouthwashes add extra protection by reducing plaque-causing bacteria. After eating, swishing your mouth with plain water also helps freshen your breath by eliminating food particles.

6. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.
Sugary candies promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth and add to bad breath problems. Instead, chew sugarless gum. Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids which cause tooth decay and bad breath.

7. Keep your gums healthy.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common cause of bad breath. Bacteria accumulate in pockets at the base of teeth, creating bad odors. If you have gum disease, Dr. Hawkins may recommend a periodontist, who specializes in treating gum disease.

8. Be alert to dry mouth.
Lack of saliva promotes tooth decay and can cause bad breath. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy, which helps stimulate saliva. Use a humidifier at night if the air is dry. If your mouth is still unusually dry, talk to Dr. Hawkins or your doctor. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications but we can help you deal with it.

9. See your doctor.
If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, see your doctor. In some cases, bad breath can be a symptom of medical conditions such as a sinus infection, postnasal drip from allergies, lung infections, diabetes, or liver or kidney diseases.

If you are concerned about bad breath, talk to us during your next visit to Hawkins Dentistry. We’re here to help you!