Oral Cancer Doesn’t Only Affect Smokers

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Knowing the Causes of Mouth Cancer Can Save Your Life

Just saying the word “cancer” around someone who has the disease is essentially like giving the person a life sentence. It might seem that the word itself is something that should be whispered or not even spoken at all. But it’s important that we’re able to talk about cancer freely so people can gain awareness about the proper treatment necessary to live a long and fulfilling life. Knowing the causes before and even during the progression of cancer is essential and can potentially save your life.

Risk Factors that Can Cause Mouth Cancer

The following are the risk factors that can cause mouth cancer—the most obvious one heads the list:

  • Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff,
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Excessive sun exposure to your lips
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – a sexually transmitted virus
  • A weakened immune system

Tobacco and Oral Cancer

Using tobacco is a surefire way of getting cancer of the mouth. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff may seem harmless, but they’ve all been medically proven to be causes of cancer. To prevent yourself from getting mouth cancer—or any cancer at all for that matter—refrain from any use of tobacco. If you already use tobacco, you should stop. Ending your tobacco use may not cure your cancer, but it can only lead to additional harm.

Carcinogenic Effects of Alcohol

You may have an understanding of tobacco and its causal relationship to mouth cancer, but what you may not know is that heavy alcohol use can also cause the disease. Drinking every day, and in large quantities, not only can affect your liver, but also your mouth.

Oral Cancer of the Lips

Somewhat surprisingly, oral cancer on your lips is considered oral cancer, not skin cancer. But, just like with skin cancer, overexposure to the sun can cause mouth cancer on your lips. To help prevent this from occurring, use a protective SPF 40 or higher lip balm and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

HPV and Oral Cancer

A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause mouth cancer. To prevent this type of oral cancer, be sure to get yourself and your partner tested for HPV and always take appropriate caution if you aren’t sure.

Autoimmune Deficiencies

Weakened immune systems, as is the case with people who have HIV or AIDS, can also lead to the development of oral cancer. For prevention of cancer of the mouth, be sure you’re taking your medications as prescribed and live a healthy lifestyle by eating properly and exercising.

How Mouth Cancer Grows

According to the Mayo Clinic, mouth cancers start in the squamous cells that line your lips and the inside your mouth. When these healthy cells are attacked by cancer cells, it can lead to mouth cancer or squamous cell carcinomas. If not caught in the early stages, tumors will develop.

How to Prevent Mouth Cancer

  • Refrain from all tobacco use. If you already consume tobacco products, quit.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips.
  • Schedule regular appointments with your periodontist for early detection and preventative care

*Authoritative sources: Mayo Clinic

Root Canals: Not as scary as they seem

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Root Canals – An Introduction

Hearing the words ‘root canal’ and going to the dentist can sometimes cause people to conjure up images of swollen faces, painful operations and long recovery times but nothing could be further from the truth as it is reality a simple, common and relatively painless procedure that will relieve, rather can cause pain and can help save your tooth as opposed to having to remove it.

A root canal treatment is a kind of endodontic procedure in which the inside, rather than the outside of the tooth is the focus, usually due to an infected or inflamed tooth or teeth that can result from a variety of situations and be very painful to the person suffering from it. When the inside of a tooth is found to be infected, inflamed or dead, the procedure is deemed necessary to remove and clean the infectious tissue and restore the tooth to health.

Anatomy of the tooth

In order to have a greater understanding of the procedure it is useful to know a little bit about the composition of the tooth itself. From outer to innermost the main parts of the tooth are:

The Crown: The hard, outermost part of the tooth contains the pearly white enamel followed by a hard layer known as the dentin and the uppermost part of the pulp which reaches down to the root.

Pulp Chamber: The softer pulp is made up of tissue, nerves and blood vessels and extends from the chamber near the crown down to the root through the root canal where it connects with tissue and bone. The pulp is particularly important during the initial development of the teeth however once a tooth is done growing it can survive without the pulp. It is this area that becomes infected/inflamed that requires removing and replacing through a root canal procedure.


The first step in determining if you need a root canal is to get examined by a dentist or Endodontist. An X-ray will usually be sufficient to determine the root of the problem but your dentist may also perform a pulp vitality test (where cold stimuli is placed on the teeth in order to see the response) to see if the pulp requires removal. If the procedure is deemed necessary it will usually take one or two appointments from the time of identification to complete the treatment.

During the procedure a small access hole is made in the crown to reach the pulp chamber, the interior of which is then removed, cleaned and filled in with a biocompatible substance known as gutta-percha. The opening is then closed with a temporary filling which is removed when the tooth is healed and replaced with a crown. The procedure uses local anesthetic and is no more painful than having a regular filing done.

When to get a Root Canal Procedure?


Infections/inflammations of the pulp chamber can be the result of a chip or fracture in the tooth, poorly placed crowns, the side effect of numerous dental procedures, cavities or trauma. An infected or inflamed inner tooth can create an abcess and become a significant source of pain and discomfort.


When the inside of the tooth (pulp chamber) becomes infected or inflamed it can lead to abcess, a pocket of pus that accumulates as a result of the infection and the breakdown of tissue. Since there is nowhere for the pus to go the abscess can spread to the surrounding area in the jawbone and tissue so this should be taken care of as soon as possible. The number one symptom for this condition is a toothache and the type of pain you experience can be indicative of the state of your tooth

Sensitivity to Heat/Cold: If you have become sensitive to hot or cold foods and liquids and the sensitivity continues even when not exposed to food or drink it may be a symptom. The pain may come and go sporadically even if you are not eating or drinking at the time and may lead to a headache. In these cases the tooth is generally thought to still be alive.

Pressure: If an abscess has formed and the tooth died you may feel pain when chewing food or applying pressure to the tooth in question.

Swelling/Bleeding: While swelling and bleeding around the tooth may be caused by many other conditions they can also be caused by an abscess and if that is the case it may be necessary to receive treatment urgently.

Other Considerations

Advantages, Cost, Etc

Advantages: It is preferable to save the tooth through a root canal treatment rather than removing it entirely and then having to deal with the additional work of either an implant, bridge or denture. The aesthetic aspect is also a major advantage as a root canal allows you to retain the look and function of your own natural teeth. Additional advantages are regular chewing, biting, overall feeling and natural appearance as well as protecting the jawbone from further deterioration and the surrounding teeth from strain and wear.

Cost: The cost of the procedure will vary depending on which teeth (the molars are usually more expensive), how many and the amount of damage to each one. Most but not all dental plans cover root canal treatments so check with your insurance provider. It is normally less expensive to have a root canal treatment done than removing the tooth itself.

After the procedure: When the treatment is completely finished (i.e. when the tooth heals and the temporary filling is replaced with the permanent crown) it is best to minimize the use of the tooth in question. Following this it is recommended to brush, floss and see your dentist at the regular intervals to maintain the health of your teeth.

Success Rate: Root canals are an incredibly routine procedure and have over a 95% success rate . A properly executed treatment will last a lifetime with the regular maintenance and care that oral health requires for a healthy and beautiful smile.

Supplements for Fighting Periodontal Disease

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Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. It affects not just the gums but also the teeth, the supporting structures and the bone around the teeth. Periodontal disease begins with the oral bacteria that live in plaque, and as it progresses, it can cause widespread dental and overall health problems. Our expert in dental implant in Los Angeles recommends taking a proactive approach that includes good daily dental hygiene, routine checkups and a balanced diet with nutrients that are essential for gum health.

• Vitamin C – Insufficient intakes of vitamin C have long been associated with an increased risk of gum disease. Adults who are not consuming the RDA of 60 mg. a day should adjust their diets by including more citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberry, bell peppers, broccoli and cantaloupe or consider supplementation.

• Vitamin D – Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties that can increase your resistance to gum disease. Sun exposure can promote healthy vitamin D levels naturally. Fortified milks and juices can be great ways to improve your vitamin D consumption.

• Tea tree oil – Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties. Use tea tree oil toothpaste rather than the essential oil for the best results.

• Coenzyme Q10 – This powerful antioxidant occurs naturally in the body, but topical application of Coenzyme Q10 in the form of toothpaste can reduce infection and inflammation.

• Cranberry – Cranberry can make it difficult for bacteria to adhere to the teeth. Natural cranberry juices without added sweeteners are the best choices.

Contact our periodontist in Los Angeles today to learn more or to schedule your appointment.

How to Stay Free of Gum Disease

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Gum diseases are one of the leading causes of tooth loss in the United States. Gum disease is caused by the oral bacteria that live in plaque. Plaque is a colorless biofilm that is constantly developing and accumulating on teeth. The bacteria can irritate and infect the gums, which eventually leads to gum disease. Our Los Angeles dental implant expert encourages dental health practices that can help you stay free of gum disease.

Removing plaque regularly can help reduce exposure to oral bacteria and reduce the potential of gum irritation. Plaque that is removed infrequently or incompletely can quickly harden into tartar, a mineralized substance that harbors even more bacteria and can only be removed by a dental professional. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush effectively removes plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. You should brush at least two times a day or after meals. Flossing removes plaque in those hard-to-reach spaces between your teeth and along the gumlines. Floss at least once a day for the best results. Visiting our dentist regularly for professional cleanings is also important because we can remove tartar buildup and identify the earliest signs of gum disease.

Symptoms of gum disease include inflamed gums, gums that are easily irritated, sensitive or painful gums, gums that bleed when teeth are brushed or flossed, swollen gums, receding gums, chronic bad breath or a chronic bad taste. Contact our periodontist in Los Angeles if you have any of these symptoms or would like to schedule an appointment.

Myths about Gum Disease

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Gum disease is a serious dental health problem that as many as three out of four Americans experience at some point in their lifetime. It can range from mild gingivitis to more serious periodontitis. Unfortunately, only a minority of those who are affected ever seek treatment. Dr. Afar, Los Angeles dental implants expert combats the myths that are known to contribute to this low number.

• Bleeding gums are normal.
Bleeding gums are a common symptom of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you brush, floss or eat, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Afar as soon as possible.

• Flossing is not necessary.
Plaque and bacteria can build up between your teeth where brushing alone cannot reach. Brushing after meals and flossing at least once a day is critical for removing this buildup and preventing gum disease.

• Poor oral hygiene is the cause of gum disease.
Although poor oral hygiene can contribute to the onset of gum disease, it is not the only factor. Gum disease can be caused by smoking, an unhealthy diet, genetic factors and stress.

• Once a tooth is lost to gum disease, it cannot be replaced.
Gum disease is one of the top causes of tooth loss. However, dental implants can be used to restore teeth safely and effectively.

• The periodontist is scary.
Dr. Afar has a warm, friendly manner and will work with you to ensure your comfort. He is highly skilled and has completed extensive training in the field of periodontology so that he can meet your needs.

Contact our Los Angeles periodontist today to schedule your appointment.

What Happens if You Do Not Replace Missing Teeth?

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Tooth loss is a common dental health concern for patients who are over 35. Because potentially serious dental health problems are frequently associated with tooth loss, our expert in dental implants in Los Angeles advises our patients to restore missing teeth.

1. Shifting teeth – If lost teeth are not replaced, remaining teeth can begin to shift. You may be left with crooked teeth, unsightly gaps or tilted teeth. You may be at an increased risk of tooth fracture or further tooth loss because your teeth no longer fit together properly.

2. Increased risk of health problems – Tooth loss can lead to an increased risk of gum disease, which is associated with diabetes, dementia, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications and respiratory infections. Tooth loss can also increase your risk of obesity since your diet may be more limited due to inefficient chewing, and you may be prone to nutritional deficiencies.

3. Decreased bone tissue – The jawbone begins to resorb after the loss of a tooth, which means that the bone density decreases. This can eventually lead to further tooth loss and dental disease.

4. Decreased self-confidence – A gap in your smile can be unattractive and leave you unwilling to share your smile. You may even feel self-conscious about speaking or eating in public or meeting new people.

Replacing your missing tooth or teeth can help prevent many of these potentially serious dental health problems and restore your smile confidence. Give us a call today to learn more about your tooth replacement options or to schedule your consultation.

Do Dental Implants Require Special Care?

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Dental implants offer patients many benefits over traditional tooth replacement options such as dental bridges or dentures. Similar to your own natural teeth, dental implants have both a root and a crown, which creates a prosthetic restoration that can last for decades. Our Los Angeles dental implant expert recommends caring for your dental implants properly to ensure that they last a lifetime.

You may need to maintain a soft diet and avoid smoking immediately following your implant procedure. This gives your new implants an opportunity to heal. Our dentist may provide you with antibiotics, pain medications and further care instructions that will promote healing and reduce the risk of developing complications associated with the dental surgery.

Once your dental implants have healed, you will discover that they are easy to care for, similar to your own natural teeth. Dental implants should be brushed with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Flossing is essential to removing plaque and bacteria from in between teeth and along the gumline. Biannual dental checkups and cleanings are important to keep your smile healthy.

Dental implants are virtually as strong as your own teeth. However, some dental habits can be harmful to your new restorations. Avoid chewing pencils, ice or your fingernails. Contact our dental office today to learn more or to schedule your consultation.

Are You Healthy Enough for Dental Implants?

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Dental implants are considered the standard for replacing missing teeth. If you are missing one or more teeth, you may be a candidate for the procedure, which replaces the root of the missing tooth for a sturdy, permanent restoration. Our Los Angeles dental implants expert can help you learn more about the procedure and determine if it may be right for you.

Most patients who are healthy enough to undergo a routine extraction will also be healthy enough for the dental implants procedure. Several factors will be considered when determining if you are healthy enough for dental implants.

General health conditions – Certain health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure, will not affect your candidacy for dental implants as long as they are well-controlled. If you are struggling to maintain a healthy blood pressure or blood sugar levels, our dentist may recommend regaining control of your symptoms to reduce the risks of complications.

Bone and gum tissue – Good dental health and hygiene can help reduce the risk of post-procedure infection. If you have lost gum or bone tissue due to tooth loss or gum disease, you may need to undergo a graft procedure that will help restore gum tissue so that it can support the implant properly.

Habits – Heavy smokers may be more prone to complications, but you may still be a candidate for dental implants even if you smoke. Our dentist may recommend that you quit before undergoing the procedure and during the healing period.

Contact our office to schedule your appointment and learn more about your options.

Is there a Risk of Body Rejecting Dental Implants?

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Any time a foreign object is implanted into the human body, there can be a risk of the body rejecting the material. The rejection, or failure, rate of dental implant rates tends to be extremely low, however. This is because the implants are made of highly biocompatible materials, which allows them to fuse safely and effectively with your bone tissue. Our expert in dental implant in Los Angeles uses titanium implants, which osseointegrate, or fuse, with your jawbone and become a part of your body.

However, while failure is rare, it can occur under certain conditions. The worldwide implant rejection rates are about 4 percent. The 15-year success rate in the United States is over 95 percent. The body is most likely to reject a dental implant when the implant is placed improperly, post-procedure instructions are not followed properly or the patient smokes. Certain health conditions can also increase your risk of dental implant rejection. Treatment options are available to reduce the risk of implant failure.

Implant failure is most likely to occur within a year of placement and is most frequently due to infection, improper placement, poor dental health, poor overall health, poor implant quality and insufficient jawbone. Choosing an experienced dental implants dentist can help significantly reduce these risks and improve your chances for a successful implant procedure. Following our dentist’s aftercare instructions can help reduce your risk of infection and other complications.

Contact our expert in dental implant in Los Angeles to learn more or to schedule your initial consultation.

Steps Involved in Getting Dental Implants

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A dental implant is an artificial tooth that replaces both the root and the crown of the missing tooth. They are placed directly into the jawbone where they fuse for a sturdy, permanent prosthesis. This design reduces the bone loss that tends to follow the loss of a tooth and preserves jawbone strength. If you are a candidate for a dental implant, you may need several appointments over a period of weeks or months with our Los Angeles dental implant specialist.

At your initial appointment, we will evaluate your gum health and bone density. Addressing any problems in these areas is critical to a successful procedure. We may recommend periodontal treatments or bone grafts if there are any deficiencies.

Once the jawbone and gum are prepared, the implant can be placed. The procedure is considered minor dental surgery. The implant will be placed directly into the jawbone and then allowed to heal. During the healing period, the jawbone will grow around the implant in a process known as osseointegration. This creates a durable foundation for the restoration. The healing time can vary based on the type of implant that is used and the area in which it is placed.

When the implant has fused with the jawbone, you will be ready to have the abutment and your new prosthetic tooth placed on it. Following our dentist’s aftercare instructions carefully can ensure a more successful procedure.

Contact our dental office today to learn more or to schedule your initial consultation.