Author Archives: Claudia Trusty

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!

An Apple a Day



We all grew up hearing “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and guess what?  It’s true!  Recent studies show that apples do, in fact, have many health benefits. With 4 grams of soluble fiber and loads of antioxidants, apples are a delicious treat to enjoy every day!

Top 15 Benefits From Eating Apples

1. Get whiter, healthier teeth:

An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

2. Avoid Alzheimer’s

A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

3. Protect against Parkinson’s

Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fibre foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

4. Curb all sorts of cancers

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumors in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

5. Decrease your risk of diabetes

Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fiber, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

6. Reduce cholesterol

The soluble fiber found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

7. Get a healthier heart

An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fiber intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

8. Prevent gallstones

Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fiber to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

9. Beat diarrhea and constipation

Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fiber found in apples can help. Fiber can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

10. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fiber in your diet.

11. Avert hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a swollen vein in the anal canal and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. They are caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. Part and parcel with controlling constipation, fiber can prevent you from straining too much when going to the bathroom and thereby help alleviate hemorrhoids.

12. Control your weight

Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fiber. Foods high in fiber will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

13. Detoxify your liver

We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

14. Boost your immune system

Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed out.

15. Prevent cataracts

Though past studies have been divided on the issue, recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants—like apples—are 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop cataracts.

Brushing is Your Duty!

drwestad2-tbn1During World War II our soldiers were required to brush their teeth daily, something most  Americans did not do. At the same time the Dupont de Nemours company introduced the first toothbrush with nylon bristles, Dr. West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush. Their ad campaign “Your American Duty…” encouraged all Americans to brush daily. When the soldiers came home, they kept up this very  excellent routine, and their families joined in.  Today, we recommend brushing twice a day and flossing daily – maybe not your American duty but certainly a great habit!

Sealants Can Seal The Deal

smiling-teenTo help protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – pre-molars and  molars – we may recommend applying a sealant to your child’s teeth. Made of plastic material, the sealant is “painted” on teeth where bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.

A sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed.

Because the likelihood of developing tooth decay which leads to cavities begins early in life, children and teens are perfect candidates for sealant application. But adults can benefit from sealants, too.  You are never too old or too young to prevent cavities! Dr. Hawkins will discuss all the options to you so you can make the best choice for you and your family.

Here’s To Moms, and Their Healthy Smiles!

imagesBefore You Get Pregnant

Women who are planning a family don’t necessarily think about a visit to the dentist. But it is a very good idea to schedule your regular checkup before getting pregnant. Because your overall health is important for you and your baby-to-be we want to thoroughly clean your teeth to ensure that any oral health issues can be resolved before pregnancy.

Dental Care When Pregnant

You will want to let us know if you are pregnant but do not cancel any regular checkups. We will offer the dental treatment plan appropriate for whichever trimester you are in. Pregnancy causes changes to the mother’s hormones which can effect oral health, including a periodontal problem called “pregnancy gingivitis.” Some women experience tender or bleeding gums during pregnancy. If that does occur, call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hawkins.

A healthy diet is good for you and your baby. Your baby’s teeth begin developing during the third month of pregnancy — calcium rich foods such as dairy products will help your baby develop strong teeth, gums and bones.

Maintain strong twice daily brushing and flossing habits to protect yourself from gum disease and help your baby, too. Studies have shown that bacteria which causes tooth decay can be passed from mother to baby.

If you suffer from morning sickness and the taste of toothpaste is a problem, try a different brand that does not contain mint or other flavoring. Rinsing with mouthwash or even plain water can help reduce the adverse effect of frequent morning sickness on your teeth.

After Your Baby is Born

Taking care of your baby will keep you very busy, and sometimes taking care of yourself falls through the cracks! We suggest you make your “after the baby” regular checkup before delivering so you already have it on your schedule. If you experience any gum problems during pregnancy you will want to come in as soon as possible after the baby is born.

Dental Implants

Mature-couple-smiling-with-arms-holding-each-otherIf you currently have bridgework or missing teeth, dental implants may be a better solution for you. Dental implants offer

  • Improved appearance – they look and feel like your own teeth
  • Improved stability – implants are a long-term solution for missing teeth
  • Improved speech – no slipping of dentures to bridgework
  • Improved comfort – no rubbing, no slipping and no discomfort while eating
  • Improved self-esteem – your smile is your own again
  • Improved oral health – brushing is easy and neighbor teeth are not compromised

Restoration with dental implants is accomplished in several steps. First you will have a consultation with Dr. Hawkins to discuss the process and your specific oral health condition. Dr. Hawkins will answer all your questions and, if implants are right for you, develop a treatment plan and timeline. While each patient’s implant treatment is unique, there are general guidelines that are important to keep in mind.

Discover if implants are right for you

Based on your current oral health, Dr. Hawkins will determine if you are a candidate for the implant procedure. If not, he will develop a treatment program specific to your needs.

It is a process

Dr. Hawkins will coordinate your implant procedure with an oral surgeon who will place the implant fixture in the bone socket of the missing tooth.  The bone actually grows around the implant, holding it in place – a process called osseointegration. A temporary tooth will be put in place while osseointegration occurs, generally two to four months.

When the implant fixture is fully integrated, Dr. Hawkins will place an abutment, or stem, on the implant fixture. The final tooth replacement piece, a customized crown, is attached to the abutment. Your new tooth is in place!

While implant restoration does not give overnight results, the results are remarkable and should last a lifetime.

AAP Recommends Fluoride to Prevent Cavities

Reprinted from American Academy of Pediatrics,

For Release:  Aug 25, 2014

boy-brushing-teethDental caries – or tooth decay — is the most common chronic disease in children in the U.S., a silent disease that disproportionally affects poor, young, and minority populations. In a new clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “Fluoride Use in Caries Prevention in the Primary Care Setting,” published online Aug. 25 in the September 2014 Pediatrics, the AAP states that fluoride is effective for cavity prevention in children. The AAP is issuing the following new recommendations:

Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for all children starting at tooth eruption, regardless of caries risk. A smear (the size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste should be used up to age 3. After age 3, a pea-sized amount may be used. Parents should dispense toothpaste for young children and supervise and assist with brushing.

Fluoride varnish is recommended in the primary care setting every 3–6 months starting at tooth emergence. Over-the counter fluoride rinse is not recommended for children younger than 6 years due to risk of swallowing higher-than-recommended levels of fluoride.

Because fluoride is available in many sources, including food and tap water, and may be administered at home and professionally applied, pediatricians should be aware of the risks and benefits of various fluoride modalities to appropriately advise families to achieve maximum protection against dental caries, and to help counsel patients about proper oral health.

If you have any questions, please ask Dr. Hawkins and our staff during your next visit to Hawkins Dentistry.


Do you or a family member frequently wake with a headache, face or jaw pain or something that feels like an earache? You may be grinding your teeth while you’re sleeping. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, effects children and adults, and has multiple signs and symptoms including:

  •     Teeth grinding or clenching
  •     Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  •     Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  •     Increased tooth sensitivity
  •     Jaw or face pain or soreness
  •     Tired or tight jaw muscles
  •     Pain that feels like an earache, though it’s actually not a problem with your ear
  •     Dull headache originating in the temples
  •     Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
  •     Indentations on your tongue

Sometimes the grinding is loud and can be heard by a sleep partner. Sometimes it can be so disruptive it wakes whoever is grinding their teeth!

While we don’t completely understand what causes bruxism, some of the most typical causes are anxiety and stress, abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion) and other sleep problems, like sleep apnea. Additionally, certain personalities – aggressive, competitive or hyperactive – are more likely to experience bruxism.

Bruxism can also be a complication of other disorders, like Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s and may be a side effect of some antidepressant medications. If you are being treated for any of these disorders, please contact your physician about your bruxism.

During your regularly scheduled appointment, Dr. Hawkins will evaluate your teeth and gums, looking for signs of any issues that can cause long-term problems, including bruxism. If he notices signs of bruxism he will discuss possible causes and treatment plans with you.  Treatment could be remedying tooth alignment or a night-time retainer. Left untreated, bruxism will cause significant damage to teeth and gums.

If you or your children are experiencing any of the symptoms don’t wait, call and schedule an appointment with Hawkins Dentistry. There is no reason to suffer when help is available!