Category Archives: Healthy Living

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.

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

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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.

Medications and Oral Hygiene

asthmaYou may wonder why we ask about your health history, including all medications you may be taking, when you visit Hawkins Dentistry. Some medications can have an adverse effect on your oral and dental health, so we want to be sure we help manage any concerns.  As part of our commitment to sharing information with patients we will share suggestions on how to best manage some common medications.

Asthma Inhalers 


While a vital part of some asthma management plans, the powder in some inhalers is acidic and can damage tooth enamel. This could lead to tooth decay over time if it isn’t balanced with good oral hygiene. To avoid tooth decay, rinse your mouth with water immediately after each use of the inhaler. Do not brush your teeth immediately after using the inhaler because the powder can soften tooth enamel. Allow 30 – 60 minutes before brushing.

Other medications

Some medicines can affect your oral health because of their sugar content. Check the label of any medication for any hidden sugars, particularly if you will be taking the medication for a long period of time.

Saliva helps clean and protect your teeth – without saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems can become more common. Some medications can reduce saliva production, leaving you with a dry mouth. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of the medication on saliva and teeth. Older children and adults can try chewing sugar-free gum. It stimulates saliva flow and helps to protect teeth from decay.

Rinse your mouth with water immediately after taking medication, and brush with fluoride toothpaste one hour after taking medication.

Talk To Your Doctor

Please discuss any concerns you may have about your  oral healthcare with their doctor. And let us know of all medications you take.  We want to be your partner in your oral and dental healthcare.