Category Archives: Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Risks & Preventative Measures

Oral Cancer Risks - Norwich, ConnecticutApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month,  it is a month to recognize and spread awareness about the risks, warning signs, and the devastation that can affect those diagnosed with oral cancer. Here is an overview of oral cancer risks, symptoms, and preventative measures to decrease the odds of you or someone you love contracting this potentially deadly disease.

Key Statistics:

It’s estimated that almost 50,000 people will suffer from oral and pharynx cancer in 2017 alone. While this accounts for less than 3% of all cancer cases, it means almost 10,000 people will still lose their lives. Almost 350,000 people in the United States alone were living with oral cancer in 2014, and new cases have risen 0.6% on average over the last 5 years. Unfortunately, the survival rate for those diagnosed after five years only 64.5%.

Who is the Most Susceptible?

While men are twice as likely to develop this type of cancer as women, it can develop in anyone. Though smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers are at high risk, young non-smokers are a growing segment of the population contracting oral cancer due to the human papillomavirus (HPV).


  • Eroded, crusty, rough spots; as well as thickening tissues
  • Irritation or sores that won’t go away
  • When you close your mouth, you notice your teeth fit differently
  • Difficulty when it comes to speaking, moving your tongue/jaw, swallowing or chewing
  • Numbness, pain or tenderness in the lips or mouth (along with white or red patches)

If symptoms persist beyond 2 or 3 weeks, that is a red flag to immediately make an appointment with your dentist.

Oral Cancer Risks:

  • Alcohol: Heavy drinkers make up about 70% of those suffering from oral cancer.
  • Smoking: 80% of people with oral cancer had habits such as using snuff, cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
  • Genetics: Fanconi anemia is an inherited blood condition that can develop into aplastic anemia or leukemia. Folks with this condition are 500 times as likely to develop oral cancer as people without it.
  • Age: About 66% of people with this type of cancer are over the age of 55. The average age is 62.
  • Suppression of the immune system: Using immune suppression drugs may lead to oral cancer.
  • Ultraviolet Light: Prolonged exposure to sunlight in addition to an unnutritious diet can evolve into this oral health condition.

Preventative Measures:

Fortunately, there are best practices you can adhere to in order to prevent oral cancer. The most obvious is a regular habit of brushing and flossing your teeth daily. Including green tea, cabbage, berries, garlic, tomatoes, broccoli, flaxseed, grapes, and beans in your diet can also be a huge combatant. Avoiding cigarettes and heavy alcohol abuse, as well as regular dental visits, help fight against the onset of oral cancer.

At Norwich Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we know the impact that this horrendous disease can have on individuals and their loved ones. That is why we provide an annual screening for all of our patients to minimize oral cancer risks and consistently monitor the status of your oral health. So if you haven’t scheduled your next dental examination, now is the time!

Schedule your routine cleaning or dental exam TODAY, it could save your life. Call (860) 887-2231 to schedule a time.

Everything You Need to Know About Dental X-Rays

Dental X-RaysTechnology is an integral part of modern dentistry. High-resolution imaging, laser technology, and state-of-the-art cleaning tools are all used to provide the best quality dental care possible. Among these advancements, x-ray imagery plays a prominent role in the pursuit of ideal oral care. However, some patients may not be familiar with the process and intent behind taking x-ray images of their mouth. That is precisely why we would like to explain the importance of dental x-rays as part of your oral care regimen.

Dental X-Rays Defined:

Dental x-rays are transparent images of the teeth, surrounding bone and soft tissue to get a closer look at the interior of the mouth. They help dentists detect underlying issues like cavities, bone loss, or problematic wisdom teeth that cannot be detected by mere visual examination. At your first dental appointment, your dentist will order a full-mouth x-ray called a periapical image, which provides a highly detailed view of the eWisdom Teeth Removal - Dental X-Raysntire tooth and underlying bone structure. This allows a deeper look to detect issues below the gum line. After that, bitewing x-rays are taken at each checkup to look for cavities, especially those that occur between the teeth. Younger patients might have an occlusal x-ray to look for extra teeth or teeth that haven’t yet erupted from the gum line, such as wisdom teeth. Your dentist may also do a panoramic x-ray to include a broader view that includes the jaws and sinuses.

Why Do I Need an X-Ray?

These images help dentists look for tooth decay and any damage to the underlying bone that supports the teeth. Dentists also look for any injuries that may have occurred to the tooth roots and other structures. Dental x-rays are much higher resolution than the naked eye, which allows a more thorough visual inspection. With this clearer view, your dentist can better detect oral health issues early before symptoms arise and before more serious conditions can develop, such as oral cancer. Tumors, cysts or abscesses can show up very clearly in x-rays. Children’s teeth are examined with this technology as well to keep an eye on the development of permanent teeth, making sure they are erupting straight and in the right location. Similarly, wisdom teeth are monitored through x-rays, giving your dentist a better idea of whether or not they will have to be removed or if they’re affecting your other teeth.

How Often Should X-Rays Be Administered?

Dental X-rays are scheduled when you need them based on your age, risk for disease, and signs of disease. As a norm, the bitewing x-rays are done at every checkup, but you may need them less frequently if everything checks out; or more frequently if there is a condition or area of concern the dentist is monitoring. Skipping your routine x-ray could cause your dentist to miss any early signs of tooth decay and other serious issues like tumors or oral cancer.

Are They Safe?

The x-ray pictures use a very small amount of radiation and are very safe. As an extra precaution, dentists usually advise pregnant women to wait until after the birth of their child to receive x-rays just ensure proper development of the baby. A lead bib is also applied over the patient’s clothing, covering their reproductive organs to protect the area from the minimal radiation. Simply put, dental x-rays are completely safe!

If you’re a new patient at Norwich Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we can easily set you up with your initial appointment which will include a complete overview of your oral health status. Dental x-rays will be administered as well as a thorough examination and cleaning.

To schedule your first appointment with us, call us at (860) 887-2231.

Oral Health Resolutions: Kick-Start the New Year!

Oral Health Resolutions Norwich CTEvery year, as January begins to approach, you set goals to improve your life in the form of a ‘Resolution’. These self-promises could be anything from joining a new gym, eating healthier or traveling more often. However, there is one area that most people overlook when it comes to New Year’s resolutions; oral health. Taking care of your teeth, gums and oral cavity should be a priority throughout the entire year, so if you haven’t been doing as well as you should so far, this is your chance to make a concrete improvement! There are a few simple practices that you should consider starting in 2017 to improve your oral health for the new year and beyond. Here is a list of oral health resolutions that you can choose to incorporate into your routine.

1. Choose Healthier Foods and Drinks:

Eating healthier is a popular resolution choice for many people, but is more often in the pursuit of weight loss. Making healthier food and beverage choices are just as important for your oral health. Almonds and leafy green vegetables are excellent for promoting strong teeth as well as plenty of Vitamin D. Or, for the sweet tooths out there, simply cutting back on sugar can make a world of difference in protecting your teeth and avoiding cavities.

2. Consider Braces:

Braces certainly aren’t necessary for everybody, but consult with your dentist to see if it is a wise choice for you. Typically applied during adolescence, (but can be recommended at any age) braces are designed to straighten misaligned teeth in the effort to prevent future dental complications and create a more stunning smile. Teeth that do not erupt from the gums properly or teeth that shift over time can cause pain, discomfort, difficulty chewing, and even more susceptibility to cavities. If you are a prime candidate for braces, consider investing in them as one of your oral health resolutions.

3. Schedule Any Outstanding Dental Work:

Dental issues left unattended for long periods of time are a ticking time bomb. Any time you require extensive restorative dental work, it is advised to address it as soon as possible whether it is a new year or not. Ignoring a toothache, chipped tooth, or any other dental procedure that you have been putting off only serves to harm your long-term dental health.

4. Quit Smoking & Other Tobacco Products:

This is another example of a popular resolution for obvious reasons. In addition to the well-known damage that cigarettes and other tobacco products can do to the body, they can also cause negative cosmetic issues such as yellowed teeth and bad breath. More importantly, tobacco can create far worse complications in the mouth such as gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and even oral cancer which can become fatal. Since tobacco products are highly addictive, this type of resolution can be difficult to achieve. Surround yourself with a strong support system and take advantage of resources such as if you have trouble kicking the habit.

5. Basic Preventative Measures:

If you’re not brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day, now is the time to start! The best way to avoid painful and sometimes expensive dental treatments in your later years is to begin a consistent oral regimen early on to minimize the chances of complications down the road. Simply brushing and flossing regularly can keep your mouth free of harmful bacteria that can cause cavities, gum disease, and other oral health concerns.

6. Schedule Routine Dental Visits:

Unless it is necessary to have extensive treatments performed that could require multiple visits to your dentist, a quick exam and teeth cleaning are recommended twice a year. By keeping up with these regular preventative appointments, you can maintain a cleaner, healthier mouth while also being informed of the status of your overall oral health.

7. Update Your Dental Insurance (if applicable):

Insurance policies and benefits tend to expire starting January 1st. The very first thing on your oral health resolutions list should be to update your current dental insurance or purchase new coverage. This will ensure that you and your family’s dental needs are met and properly compensated not only for routine cleanings but in the event of a dental emergency. For those without dental coverage, have no fear! Norwich Family & Cosmetic Dentistry offers a cost-effective alternative for uninsured patients called the “Dental Savings Club”.

In addition to other resolutions that you might make for 2017, strongly consider the recommendations above to improve and maintain ideal oral health. Our office is always more than happy to help all of our patients on their journey towards stronger teeth and a more dazzling smile! If one of your goals is to obtain whiter, more vibrant teeth, learn more about our Teeth Whitening Treatments by Clicking Here!

4 Reasons Alcohol is Bad for Your Oral Health

Alcohol The holiday season is among us, which means that for many, celebratory drinking (especially on New Year’s) is something to look forward to. However, although alcohol can be a fun way to ring in the New Year and otherwise celebrate the joy of the holidays with friends and family, drinking in excess can seriously impact your oral health. Thus, it is always crucial to remember to do so in moderation. Here are a few negative impacts of excessive alcohol consumption on your oral health:

1. Tooth Decay:

Alcohol can increase the likelihood of tooth decay and cavities in several ways. It can lead drinkers to neglect their oral hygiene, as well as develop an excessive appetite that leads to more snacking with less dental care. Furthermore, the sugar content in many alcoholic beverages can wear down tooth enamel, as can the acidity present in vomit (which many heavy drinkers experience after consuming too much alcohol). Without the protective layer of tooth enamel, cavities can develop. Alcohol can increase the likelihood of tooth decay and cavities in several ways. It can lead drinkers to neglect their oral hygiene, as well as develop an excessive appetite that leads to more snacking with less dental care. Furthermore, the sugar content in many alcoholic beverages can wear down tooth enamel, as can the acidity present in vomit (which many heavy drinkers experience after consuming too much alcohol). Without the protective layer of tooth enamel, cavities can develop. Alcohol can increase the likelihood of tooth decay and cavities in several ways. It can lead drinkers to neglect their oral hygiene, as well as develop an excessive appetite that leads to more snacking with less dental care. Furthermore, the sugar content in many alcoholic beverages can wear down tooth enamel, as can the acidity present in vomit (which many heavy drinkers experience after consuming too much alcohol). Without the protective layer of tooth enamel, cavities can develop.

2. Periodontal Disease:

Alcohol impairs the function of neutrophils, which function in the blood to wipe out bacterial infections. When this occurs, your mouth is at a greater risk of developing periodontal or gum disease. This is caused by the growth of bacterial colonies in the soft tissue of the gums and leads to pain, tooth loss, and infection.

3. Excessive Bleeding:

Consuming too much alcohol damages the liver and bone marrow, which can cause excessive bleeding during dental treatment. Alcohol can also increase blood pressure, creating the same result. This may make it more difficult for your dentist to treat any other problems you may have as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.

4. Oral Cancer:

Alcohol has been linked to higher rates of oral cancer, which can develop when the body’s cells react to the acetaldehyde compounds that alcohol breaks down into. Cancerous cells can develop on the mouth and tongue, and, in worst case scenarios, can spread to the rest of the body, leading to serious damage and the risk of death, if not taken care of at the start. Make sure to talk to your dentist, and perform oral cancer screenings frequently, especially if you consume alcohol heavily. Norwich Family & Cosmetic Dentistry wishes you a fun, but safe holiday season and the happiest of new years! If you choose to celebrate with an adult beverage, we ask that you please do so responsibly!

Chewing Tobacco: A Nightmare For Your Oral & Overall Health

Chewing tobaccoChewing tobacco has been around for centuries, and people start using it for many reasons – some to fit in socially, others to relax, and still others for its addictive qualities. Many people see it as a “safer” alternative to smoking cigarettes, mostly because they believe that the lack of smoke helps them avoid asthma, lung cancer, and other respiratory afflictions. While this may be true, chewing tobacco comes with its own set of problems – many of which can be even more serious than those caused by smoking.

What is chewing tobacco? How is it used?

Chewing tobacco (also known as smokeless tobacco, or snuff) is a substance derived from the leaves of the tobacco plant. It contains nicotine, an addictive drug that leads to a pleasant or “buzzed” feeling that causes people to continue using it multiple times. It is held inside the mouth, between the cheek and gum, and is not swallowed; instead, users spit it out (leading it to also be called “spitting” tobacco).

How does chewing tobacco affect your health, both oral and overall?

Along with nicotine, chewing tobacco is also known to contain at least 28 different carcinogens or cancer-causing chemicals. Cancer can start in the throat and mouth, leading to tumors that need to be removed, which can lead to serious difficulties eating and breathing. An even more serious effect can occur when the cancer spreads to the rest of the body; chewing tobacco has been linked to esophageal, pancreatic, and stomach cancer.

Aside from its carcinogenic properties, chewing tobacco leads to an overall decrease in oral health, starting with tooth decay and halitosis (bad breath); it can also cause gum disease, tooth loss, tooth abrasion, and bone loss around the roots of the teeth. Even more strikingly, research has also linked chewing tobacco with cardiovascular disease, including an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.

What can you do?

If you are considering starting chewing tobacco, don’t!  It can cause irreparable damage to your oral and overall health, which can stay with you for the rest of your life. The addictive properties of chewing tobacco make it hard to stop once you start. However, if you have already started, there are steps you can take to quit. The first step is deciding that it’s time to quit, which can arise from any of the reasons listed above. Then, make a plan for quitting, including a hard date beyond which you will no longer use chewing tobacco. Make sure that you are prepared for withdrawal symptoms, and that you have your friends and family on your side to keep you from relapsing. In the end, the struggle will be worth it because you will experience benefits to your oral health and overall well-being.

If you have any further questions regarding the health risks of chewing tobacco, contact your medical doctor or speak with one of the professionals at Norwich Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.

Stay Informed This April for Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Oral cancer kills over 8,650 people in the United States each year. Over 45,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, nearly 500 of them right here Connecticut. Close to half of those diagnosed this year will die within 5 years, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk Factors

The single greatest risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco use. 50 tobacco-related deaths occur every single hour. All types of tobacco products have been implicated as oral cancer causative agents.

Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of oral cancer. This risk is multiplied when alcohol abuse is combined with the use of tobacco. The heavy use of alcohol and tobacco products in combination has been implicated as the primary cause of oral cancer.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted disease, is a definitive cause of oral cancer. Although there are 200 strains of HPV, only 9 strains of HPV are considered high-risk. Of these, only HPV16 is strongly associated with oral cancer.

Reduce Your Risk


  • If you use tobacco, stop immediately.
  • Abstain from or limit your alcohol consumption, especially if you use tobacco.
  • Get regular dental check-ups and cancer screenings.


Signs and Symptoms

In the early stages, oral cancer may be mistaken for a common canker sore. It can appear as a red or white patch in your mouth. If you have any discoloration or sore on the inside of your mouth that does not heal after two weeks, have the area examined by a professional. Other symptoms of oral cancer include persistent hoarseness, numbness of the mouth or face, a lump in the mouth or neck, and difficult or painful swallowing, speaking or chewing.

Routine dental visits can help catch oral cancer early. Our dental professionals are trained to recognize abnormalities in mouth tissue, including precursor tissue changes and the early stages oral cancer. At Norwich Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we are proud to spread awareness and participate in Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

Has it been years, or even decades, since your last oral cancer screening? Call our dental professionals Dr. Sami Yousuf or Dr. Joseph Palumbo at (860) 887-2231 to schedule a simple and pain-free screening.