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Oral Cancer 101

The big “C Word”, a word none of us like to use and hopefully will never have to associate ourselves with. But with recent statistics showing that 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes, maybe we should be learning how to spot the signs. 
 
When you visit the dentist be that here with us at thegallery or elsewhere, your check up will include a soft tissue check. This is a routine examination of your oral cavity (the mouth) and the surrounding tissues (neck/ throat & face) do not panic if the term “Oral Cancer Check” is used. Like I said it is 100% routine and it is always better to be safe than sorry. This check will cover all of the areas of the mouth listed below (don’t be surprised if we ask you to stick out your tongue!)
 
The mouth is an amazing thing it enables us to eat, drink, chew and swallow, breath and talk!  Its medical title is the Oral Cavity. Mouth cancer includes any and all cancers that start within the Oral Cavity. In other words:
Lips
Front two thirds of the tongue
Upper and lower gums (the gingival)
Inside lining of the cheeks and lips (the buckle mucosa)
Floor of the mouth, under the tongue
Roof of the mouth (the hard palate)
Area behind the wisdom teeth (called the retromolar trigone)
Your dentist will also check for signs of potential throat cancer, the medical term for which is Oropharyngeal cancer.
 
The oropharynx is what connects the mouth to the top of the throat. 
 
Cancers that start in this area are known as oropharyngeal cancers.  (Pronounced oar-oh-fah-rin-jee-al). The areas within the oropharynx include:
The back third of the tongue
The soft area at the back of the roof of the mouth (the soft palate)
The tonsils and the two ridges of tissue in front of and behind the tonsils (called the Tonsillar pillars)
The back wall of the throat.
Now we are a little more familiar with our mouths and throats we can understand why some oral cancers do go undiagnosed, there is a lot of ground to cover in there! And if you are a person who doesn’t like to go to the dentist too often then there may be things that are being missed. 
 
 
Currently there is no national screening programme for mouth and oropharyngeal cancers within the UK; this is because these cancers are relatively uncommon. With uncommon diseases it is most cost effective to screen people who have an increased risk of developing them. So what are the numbers for oral cancers? As I mentioned before these cancers are relatively rare and including cancers of the lip, tongue, mouth, and oropharynx there are about 6,800 people diagnosed every year. Overall about 2 out of every 100 cancers diagnosed (2%) are oral cancers. 
As with most cancers, oral cancer is more commonly found in older people. Only around 1 in 8 cases are in people younger than 50 years old. But who else has an increased risk of developing oral cancer? Smoking tobacco (Cigarettes, cigars and pipes) and drinking a lot of alcohol are the main risk factors for oral cancer in the western world. A study in 2011 found that if you smoke you are at a higher than average risk of developing mouth or oropharyngeal cancer, in fact it found that more than half of the diagnosed cases within the UK are caused by smoking. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of oral cancers and a large study carried out by Cancer Research UK which looked at lifestyle factors found that a third (or 30%) of cases were caused by excessive alcohol consumption. There are several more factors that are proven to be a direct link to oral cancers, take a look at Cancer Research UKs website to see if you are unknowingly increasing your chances of developing symptoms. 
 
Now this article is not meant to scare anyone, the aim is to make us all aware of what we should be looking for in order to keep ourselves fit and healthy. Here at thegallery we are dedicated to ensuring the best care for our patients, if you have any concerns regarding your oral health we are more than happy to see you and put your mind at ease. 
 

Tooth Whitening - What You Need To Know

Hardly a day goes by when I switch on the TV to be dazzled by some celebrity's garishly white nashers! But to be honest I am guilty of  wanting to brighten my smile (I think many of us are). But what is the best way of getting the results I want quickly and safely? These days there are a million products available on the shelves, all promising wonder results; "Up to 10 shades lighter" or "Over night white" etc but in my experience, both as a gullible customer and as a dental care professional I can tell you they never work. Some are actually doing your teeth far more bad than good. For example; did you know that many whitening toothpastes are highly abrasive? And are in fact damaging your tooth’s enamel which in the long run will cause more staining and sensitivity?!
 
Recently the media have been trying to make people aware of the risks of some whitening techniques, you may have seen advertisements at your local hairdressers, beauticians or nail salon (for example) offering tooth whitening for a very reasonable price. But please be warned when i tell you that this is highly illegal practice and could put you at risk from serious chemical reactions and possibly even chemical burns.
 
Tooth whitening is a process by which the decolourants or stains on the teeth are chemically lightened. There are two main types of active ingredients that are in legal whitening kits:
- Hydrogen peroxide, for strong fast whitening 
- Carbamide peroxide, for slower gentle whitening 
 
Now here's the science bit; when a whitening product is applied to the teeth, it breaks down into water and oxygen ions. The oxygen ions enter the enamel and attack the long stain molecules to effectively break them down to be short and colourless. These short and colourless molecules are then naturally removed from the tooth by saliva. The intensity of whitening is related to the number of oxygen ions available and the length of time they are on the tooth. This process has to take place in an environment where it can be controlled. Or at least prescribed by someone who is qualified to do so. The chemicals mentioned above are highly regulated by EU standards agencies and the law states that only a qualified Dental professional who is registered with the GDC (General Dental Council) can issue them to members of the public. This means that legally only Dentists, Dental Hygienists, Dental Therapists and Clinical Dental Technicians (working on the prescription of a Dentist) can help you when it comes to whitening your teeth. 
 
Follow this link to the GDC website where you can get all the required information you need regarding tooth whitening. The GDC are a council committed to keeping dental patients safe. All Dental professionals of any level must be registered with the council in order to practice. If they do not hold a legally recognised dental qualification along with their GDC registration then they are not permitted to interact with patients in a clinical manor.  
 
At thegallery we are able to offer fully regulated tooth whitening treatments at competitive prices. The company we have chosen to supply us with our products is called Pola. Dr Balaji, Kate Barker and Annie Briggs are all qualified and able to help you brighten your smile. So why not give us a call for a free whitening consultation? 01280 822567
 

Set Your Smile Straight!

When you think of braces, what image springs to mind? Big, thick metal "train tracks"? I thought so. For some patients, whether they're children or adults braces are the only way to correct a smile that may be crooked or causing problems such as jaw pain. Now, the majority of children are okay with the idea of metal braces. Some are even excited at the thought of brightly coloured attachments decorating their pearly whites but what about people who are not so eager and would rather their journey to a perfected smile be slightly less obvious?

This is where we at thegallery come into the equation! We are proud to be members of the Invisalign family. If you are yet to hear about this marvel then let me explain.

                                                                  

In 1999 Align Technology pioneered the invisable orthodontics market with the introduction of the Invisalign system and by 2001 had manufactured 1 million unique clear aligners! by combining new technologies the comapny have been able to help over 3 million people world wide. 

One of those technologies is the ClinCheck. This is a 3 dimentional image of your teeth that is generated from impressions taken here at thegallery. It will allow you to see the process of your teeths movements before you even begin the treatment! This way you can see the final result and have an amazing goal to work towards.  

There are different Invisalign treatments to suit different patient needs and budgets.

Invisalign Full: The foundation treatment option. Straightens teeth with a series of removable, virtually invisable aligners.

Invisalign Lite: For less complex cases such as minor crowding and spacing issues

Invisalign Teen: All the features of Invisalign Full, but with additional features such as wear indicators that meet the needs of younger patients.

Invisalign i7:  An easy and convenient solution, designed specifically for minor tooth movement. Invisalign i7 works in as little as three months!

We offer free of charge consultations for these treatments, so why not give us a call? We'd love to meet you. 

 

 

The Pain of Unstable Dentures!

Everyone knows someone who has dentures; the stereotype is Granny or Granddad. But you would be surprised how many people of all ages wear dentures! You'd be even more surprised at how many of those people are unhappy and struggling with their teeth because of how loose and unstable they are.
 
Many patients do not understand why their once brilliant denture no longer fits as well as it once did, it is all down to a lack of teeth. In the absence of teeth the supportive bone (the jaw bone) starts to recede. This can lead to dentures becoming extremely loose and unstable. This can cause further problems such as painful mouth ulcers and the inability to chew! The greatest level of bone loss usually occurs directly after the extraction of a tooth, but years of chewing forces created whilst wearing dentures can have a slow but steady effect on bone levels and will definitely have a hand in aiding the receding process. The longer dentures are worn the higher risk there is of large levels of bone loss.
 
The majority of patients who complain about loose dentures will have their lower set in mind, noticing that the suction that was once holding them in place is now a thing of the past. This can have a huge effect on many aspects of everyday life! Social activities are hindered by the fear of having to eat in public, or even worse, the fear of their dentures falling out all together!! Because of fears such as these many people heavily rely on the thick pink gloop adhesives that are available in most pharmacies and supermarkets. But yet again these are not great as many people complain that when eating the glue is all they can taste. Some patients opt for a basic re-lining of the denture, this is done by a dentist and will compensate for the lost supportive bone but is usually a temporary method of creating stability as it is not 100% effective. 

There is another option, one that is stable and quite possibly permanent. Implant retained dentures!
 
This treatment includes implants being placed into the remaining supportive bone and  acting as roots or anchors for a specially made denture to attach to. The implants will create a stability that will enable you to enjoy tougher foods again as if you had your natural teeth once more! But what if the idea of dentures at all really puts you off? Well there are other options available too, such as implant retained bridges. They act on the same principle but instead of being removable they are fixed in place. This may all seem a little drastic when it comes to dental work, but with more and more people undergoing the treatment; it is proving to be highly popular and successful!
 
Here at thegallery we are able to offer these treatments to our patients. Our consultations are free and who knows, once you visit us you could be chewing toffees again in no time! So why not give us a call? We'll be happy to arrange you an appointment to start your journey to a new smile. 
 

Nervous patient?

If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, rest assured that we understand! The good news is we know how to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable. 

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Before you visit us

If you are a first time visitor, or your medical situation has changed, you can print out and fill in our induction and medical history forms and bring them in.

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