What The Pandemic Taught Us About The Importance of Oral Health

This past year has taught us a lot, including just how important it is to wash our hands, how to juggle toddlers and Zoom meetings, and how to be comfortable in our own homes day after day. When it comes to your dentist in Boerne, we also learned a lot during this pandemic. Granted, we already knew most of it, but it’s more apparent now more than ever, and we want to share it with our patients and neighbors. 

Lesson #1 – Lost Prevention 

One of the most important parts of dental health is prevention. But what happens when you lose the opportunity to practice prevention? We found out early last year when dental offices across the globe shut down and patients went without preventive dental care. Preventive dental checkups and cleanings are the best time for your dentist in Boerne to find any potential problems and treat them early, while treatment is still easy and has a greater chance of success. But when patients can’t get in to see the dentist when they’re supposed to, small problems can easily turn into big problems. A tiny cavity can turn into a large area of decay and require a root canal and crown instead of a simple filling. Early gum disease can progress into moderate gum disease that can’t be reversed and puts the patient at risk for heart disease and even tooth loss. Bi-annual dental checkups are incredibly important to keeping your mouth and your body healthy. Don’t skip them.  

Lesson #2 – High-Risk Patients Need Preventive Dental Care

This past year (and counting) can’t be easy for patients with certain medical conditions. Those who are considered high-risk for severe sickness from COVID-19 may have understandably avoided dental visits out of fear. But these patients are the ones who benefit the most from preventive dental care, oftentimes visiting their dentist in Boerne every three months instead of every six. There’s a strong correlation between certain medical conditions – such as heart disease and diabetes – and oral health, so much so that these preventive dental checkups should be a crucial part in managing the disease. 

Lesson #3 – The Dental Office is a Safe Space

Even some patients who aren’t considered high-risk may be hesitant to see their dentist. However, dental offices are incredibly clean and dentists themselves have had significantly lower infection rates of COVID-19 than other healthcare workers, according to the FDI World Dental Federation. Dental offices have to adhere to very strict infection control protocols by law, which made them a safe space to visit before the pandemic. These rules still exist and many dentists have taken additional precautions such as wearing better masks, donning gowns, using HEPA filters, and disinfecting rooms and the air several times throughout the day. 

Even though the pandemic has had us all holed up for quite some time, and many may still feel uneasy about getting out there, rest assured that your dentist in Boerne is safe. Visits are also a necessary part of maintaining good oral and overall health. Don’t put off your dental appointments, schedule one today. 

Early Signs of Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, affects more than 50,000 newly diagnosed people every year. It’s scary, it’s serious, and it can be deadly. However, it’s not all bad news. In fact, oral cancer can be treated successfully if it’s caught early and treatment begins quickly. To do this, your dentist in Boerne, as well as yourself, need to check for signs of oral cancer often. But what exactly should you look for? 

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Some of the early signs of oral cancer can easily be confused with other non-serious oral health conditions. This is one thing that can make oral cancer tricky to catch. However, if any of the signs and symptoms below don’t go away within 2-3 weeks, schedule an appointment with your Boerne dentist to get checked out. 

  • Chronic cough
  • Changes in voice 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • An earache on one side 
  • A hard lump in the soft tissues
  • Swollen tonsil on one side without pain
  • A painless lump on the outside of the neck
  • Any sore that doesn’t heal itself within 2-weeks
  • Discoloration in the mouth including a red, white, or black appearance

Check Your Mouth Initiative

Created by The Oral Cancer Foundation, the Check Your Mouth public health initiative was designed to help people self-identify potential abnormalities in the mouth. Now, while this tool is incredibly helpful for those at-home checks, they don’t replace your dentist. The best way to truly diagnose oral cancer is through your dentist in Boerne. This is one reason why bi-annual dental visits are so important as they allow your dental team to see any changes that may have occurred since your last appointment and treat them appropriately. 

Reduce The Risk

Oral cancer can happen to anyone at any time. But there are a few people who are at increased risk of developing oral cancer, including:

  • People 50 or older — Oral cancer tends to be most prominent after 50. 
  • Current or former tobacco users — 80% of those who get oral cancer either currently use tobacco or did at one time. 
  • Heavy drinkers Another habit that can increase the risk of oral cancer is drinking alcohol heavily. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
  • Men — Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women. 

If you’re overdue for a dental visit or have an area of concern, we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental office today. We’re always happy to help!