Posts for: January, 2018
Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.
As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.
Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.
Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.
Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome. If you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
Are you in need of a dental implant?
Dental implants are not just a restorative procedure that can improve your smile, but it's vital for providing your jawbone with the necessary strength. Your dentist in Jacksonville Beach, FL, Dr. Rick Harrison, is here to help and advise you!
What's a dental implant?
If you're suffering from tooth loss, it's vital to deal with this problem as soon as possible. Tooth loss can lead to the deterioration of your bones without the support it needs. If you decide to get a dental implant, here's what you need to know about the process:
- A local anesthetic is applied to the area that will undergo the procedure.
- Your dentist will place a titanium post into the jawbone. The titanium post acts as the new tooth root and is biocompatible, so there is no worry of tissue rejection.
- The doctor will then surgically close the area and allow it to heal for a period of 3 to 6 months, while the process of osseointegration takes its full course.
- When you return, your Jacksonville Beach dentist will re-open the area, insert an abutment and place a crown over the abutment that matches the rest of your teeth.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
- Implants can have a high success rate, reaching 95 percent, compared to other dental restorations.
- They can last a lifetime if cared for properly.
- They don't slip out of place like dentures, which makes them comfortable and practical.
- They provide your jawbone with the support it needs so that it doesn't shrink.
- They are used to fill a single gap in your teeth, a few gaps, or all of your teeth.
- Dental implants look natural and can give you a beautiful smile.
- You won't have to worry about being able to bite into and chew your favorite foods.
If you have questions or concerns, Dr. Harrison can help you out. Call his office, located in Jacksonville Beach, FL, at (904) 241-4237 to make an appoint today!
One of the most effective techniques for saving decayed or injured teeth is the root canal treatment. Yet when many people hear they need it, they become nervous at the prospect.
Much of this stems from a common misunderstanding that undergoing a root canal is painful. It’s not — today’s anesthetics are quite effective in numbing pain during a procedure, and mild pain relievers like ibuprofen are usually sufficient to manage any discomfort afterwards.
In fact, a root canal treatment relieves pain caused by decay within a tooth. As decay progresses, it can enter the interior known as the pulp, which contains bundles of nerves and blood vessels. It attacks these nerves causing pain and infection. If the infection progresses through passageways known as root canals that are in the roots of the tooth, the pain can intensify. More important, the tooth is in danger of loss as the root and connective tissues that hold the tooth in place are injured from the spreading infection.
During a root canal treatment, we access the pulp by drilling a small access hole, usually in the biting surface or in the rear of a front tooth. Once we enter the pulp chamber we remove all the contaminated tissue. Once thoroughly cleansed, we fill the empty chamber and canals with a special filling (usually gutta percha) to prevent future infection. The access hole is then sealed and at a subsequent visit we strongly recommend placing a permanent crown to provide further protection from damage to the tooth.
Root canal treatments are quite common. All general dentists have been trained in endodontic treatment and can perform most types of procedures. More difficult cases (like a complex root canal network that may be hard to access) may require the services of an endodontist, a specialist in root canals. Endodontists use advanced techniques and specialized microscopic equipment to treat complicated situations.
It’s actually good news if we recommend you undergo a root canal treatment — it means your tooth has a good chance of survival once it’s disinfected and the decay is removed. But don’t delay: the sooner we can treat your tooth, the better your chances of a healthy outcome.
If you would like more information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns about Root Canal Treatment.”