Part 2: Build the Microscopic Army in Your Mouth to Fight Oral Cancer and Improve Dental Health

Last week in part 1, oral cancer was defined with a potential cause being oral dysbiosis identified. This week, I will give supporting evidence of this connection along with strategies to avoid this dysbiosis. When we talk about an unhealthy microbiome, we often use the word, “dysbiosis.” Oral dysbiosis is a mouth that is unhealthy because the microorganisms are out of balance. An imbalanced microbiome may lead to symptoms or disease. Symptoms of Oral Dysbiosis: Bad breath Blee...
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Part 1: Build the Microscopic Army in Your Mouth to Fight Oral Cancer and Improve Dental Health

Oral Cancer Is No Match for a Healthy Oral Microbiome Fostering a healthy oral microbiome can fight oral and other cancers. That’s nothing to say for its benefits on cavities, root canal infections, and gum disease. Your friendly bacteria protect you from disease, fight tumors, cool off inflammation, and boost your immune system. Who wouldn’t want this army of microscopic warriors on their side?! In this two-part blog, you will learn that cancers can be caused by bacteria, viruses, ...
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The Co-management of an Esophageal Cancer Survivor

Background: The patient is a 75-year-old female with a history of esophageal cancer in 2013. The origin of the cancer was determined to be lichen planus. Surgical removal of the lesion occurred, and no reconstructive surgery was needed. However, post-surgery to present date, the patient experiences severe acid reflux and sleeps with her head elevated. She has great home dental care and follows a 3-month periodontal maintenance. During the head and neck exam, no significant findings were disc...
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Side Effects Support LLC

As I started my first job in dentistry, my mother received a breast cancer diagnosis and suffered horribly with oral side effects from chemotherapy. Her pain from severe dry mouth and mouth sores (oral mucositis) was dismissed by her oncology team as “just part of treatments.” She received no guidance on how to prevent or reduce her discomfort and there were no oral care strategies implemented to prevent long-term damage to her dental health. Through questioning other cancer survivors, I le...
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Do You Speak HPV? Part 3

In my previous blog, I explored three common positive responses I’ve encountered from patients when offering a test for oral HPV and how I would respond to them.  In this blog, I will address some of the objections from patients and how I would further educate the patient about oral HPV and testing options. Patient 1: I don’t think I need that test.  I’ve never been exposed. Response 1: I understand but in case you’re ever curious, remember we have this potentially life-saving service ...
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Do You Speak HPV? Part 2

Dental clinicians have been on the front lines of oral cancer prevention and early detection for many years. We have been trained to do very thorough oral cancer exams and to use various light systems to visualize tissue changes; however, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the death rate for oral cancers has remained higher than that of many other types of cancers which we hear about routinely.1 Many studies support that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is responsible for a large number...
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Do You Speak HPV? Part 1

Dental professionals are often uncomfortable approaching patients on topics that are unfamiliar or that feel outside the realm of “traditional” dentistry.  One such topic is Human papillomavirus (HPV).  As a hygienist of 40 plus years, I can tell you this topic never came up in my education.  Several years ago, I had to educate myself about this near epidemic viral infection. Most importantly, I had to step out of my comfort zone to find a way to share this crucial knowledge with my patients...
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Oral HPV Awareness Campaign: Part 2

Currently about 72% of all OPCs (Oropharyngeal Cancers) are the results of an oncogenic HPV infection—and very few of these cancers are found in the front of the mouth. HPV-Oral Pharyngeal Cancer (HPV-OPC) develops at the deep base of the tongue or behind of the curtains of the tonsillar pillars. Sadly, there is no effective screening method for early cancer detection. While we fumble with the words to say and the warnings to issue, we are literally watching the HPV epidemic unfold before...
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Where Does the HPV Go?

The alarming incidence of oral cancer connected to oral infections caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV, should rightly raise concern.  For too long healthcare has overlooked the potential of HPV to cause serious disease in the oral cavity, the pharynx and larynx.  Fortunately, early detection is key, and there is now a highly sensitive test that can identify early HPV infections called OraRisk ® HPV.  OraRisk ® HPV identifies the HPV infection often before any clinical symptoms can be se...
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The Co-management of an Esophageal Cancer Survivor

  Background: The patient is a 75-year-old female with a history of esophageal cancer in 2013. The origin of the cancer was determined to be lichen planus. Surgical removal of the lesion occurred and no reconstructive surgery was needed. However, post-surgery to present date, the patient experiences severe acid reflux and sleeps with her head elevated. She has great home dental care and follows a 3-month periodontal maintenance. During the head and neck exam, no significant findings ...
Read More