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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 1st, 2020

What is oral cancer?

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. If you have been putting off a visit to our Mount Vernon office, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits to Skagit Valley Family Dental Center can be the first line of defense against oral cancer, by identifying early warning signs of the disease, or helping you with preventive care tips to lower your chances of developing it.

Oral Cancer Rates in America

Nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and more than 8,000 die every year from this disease. It is a devastating illness: most people who are diagnosed with it do not live more than five years beyond their diagnosis. Oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other common cancers, including cervical cancer, testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thyroid or skin cancers. The high death rate results from the fact that most oral cancers go undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced and has spread to another part of the body—most often, the lymph nodes in the neck.

What causes oral cancer?

While there is no way to predict exactly which individuals will get oral cancer, there are some potential causes you should know about—because in some cases, you can minimize these risk factors.

  • Age (most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 40)
  • Tobacco use, either from cigarettes or smokeless chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (especially in combination with tobacco use)
  • Persistent viral infections, such as HPV16
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables

In addition, oral cancer tends to occur at a rate six times greater in men than in women, and more often for African Americans than other ethnic groups. No genetic links have been identified to explain the higher incidence in these populations, so lifestyle choices remain the likeliest cause.

Oral Cancer Treatments

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment of oral cancer usually involves a multi-disciplinary team that includes surgeons, oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and rehabilitation and restorative specialists. Our team will decide on the best approach for each patient, depending on the risk factors and how far the cancer has progressed. The strategy will be different in every case. Some of the most common methods include chemotherapy, radiation, and potential surgery.

Finding out you have cancer can be devastating news. If you are concerned that you might be at risk for developing oral cancer, talk to us about screenings and other things you can do to reduce your risk.

Are your teeth ready for the big day?

March 4th, 2020

Capturing the Moment

At Skagit Valley Family Dental Center we know that just about anyone who has taken on the challenge of planning her own wedding could tell you how important the little details can be. Things like having complementary colors, the right location, show-stopping flowers, and delicious food are all a big part of planning your spring wedding. Another little detail that has a big "I do" related role? Your smile.

Whether you’re the bride, or an attendant, looking your best when you tie the knot (or help someone tie the knot) is essential. If your teeth aren’t ready to make an entrance, turning to one of the many available teeth whitening solutions is a great option.

Reliable Solutions

Before the wedding day arrives, you should take your smile into consideration. If diet and daily wear-and-tear have caused your teeth to lose their original luster, our team can help! In-office procedures do cost more than kits you use at home, but with an in-office treatment, you benefit from a professional taking proper care of your teeth.

In addition, relying on our office to handle teeth whitening before the wedding can give you access to trustworthy advice on how to keep your teeth looking their best for a longer period of time. It’s common for someone experienced in assisting people with their oral health to suggest investing in an in-office whitening technique and then following up with a teeth-whitening kit at home.

This is a season of new beginnings and beauty. Take the time to bring out your most beautiful smile before the big day. Don’t let your smile hold you back on your wedding. With our in-office teeth whitening, you can be sure that you’ll be more confident and comfortable interacting with friends and family. So remember, when in need of some quality oral care in Mount Vernon to think of Drs. Darcie Morris and Noah Frerichs!

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

February 26th, 2020

Do you ever find yourself gnawing at your nails? Nail-biting is a very common and difficult to break habit which usually has its beginnings in childhood. It can leave your fingers and nail beds red and swollen. But if you think that your nails are the only ones getting roughed up by nail-biting you'd be mistaken—so are your teeth!

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, those who bite their nails, clench their teeth, or chew on pencils are at much higher risk to develop bruxism (unintentional grinding of the teeth). Bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, receding gums, headaches, and general facial pain.

Those are some nasty sounding side effects from chewing on your nails. Most nail-biting is a sign of stress or anxiety and its something you should deal with. So what steps can you take if you have a nail-biting habit?

There are several things you can do to ease up on nail-biting:

  • Trim your nails shorter and/or get regular manicures – Trimming your nails shorter is an effective remedy. In so doing, they'll be less tempting and more difficult to bite on. If you also get regular manicures, you’ll be less likely to ruin the investment you’ve made in your hands and fingernails!
  • Find a different kind of stress reduction – Try meditation, deep breathing, practicing qigong or yoga, or doing something that will keep your hands occupied like squeezing a stress ball or playing with a yo-yo.
  • Wear a bitter-tasting nail polish – When your nails taste awful, you won't bite them! Clear or colored, it doesn't matter. This is also a helpful technique for helping children get over the habit.
  • Figure out what triggers your nail-biting – Sometimes it's triggered by stress or anxiety and other times it can be a physical stressor, like having hang nails. Knowing what situations cause you to bite your nails will help you to avoid them and break the habit.
  • Wear gloves or bandages on your fingers – If you've tried the steps above and they aren't working, this technique can prove effective since your fingernails won't be accessible to bite.

If you're still having trouble with nail-biting after trying these self-help steps, it's best to consult your doctor, dermatologist, or Drs. Darcie Morris and Noah Frerichs. For some, it may also be the sign of a deeper psychological or emotional problem.

Whatever the cause, nail-biting is a habit you need to break for your physical and emotional well-being. If you have any questions about the effects it can have on your oral health, please don't hesitate to ask Drs. Darcie Morris and Noah Frerichs during your next visit to our Mount Vernon office.

How to Handle an Unexpected Dental Emergency

February 19th, 2020

Regardless of the type of dental emergency you experience, it is important that you visit Skagit Valley Family Dental Center for emergency dental care as soon as possible. A chipped or cracked tooth requires professional attention, as bacteria may gather in these areas, potentially causing infection that could require a root canal. Remember, you may be capable of managing pain, bleeding, and swelling at home, but by visiting our office for immediate treatment, you can fight infections and minimize lasting damage to your mouth, teeth, and gums under the expert care of our emergency dentist.

24/7 Emergency Dental Care

Skagit Valley Family Dental Center is proud to offer emergency dental care around the clock, seven days a week. Dental emergencies do not wait for regular business hours, and if you experience a serious dental emergency, you need immediate treatment. Whether you have a broken tooth or if you have bitten through your tongue, do not hesitate to visit us day or night. Until you arrive at our office, however, there are some helpful steps you can take if you encounter a serious dental dilemma.

Managing Your Dental Emergency

If a toothache is causing problems, you can probably keep the discomfort under control until our emergency doctor can treat you. Start by checking the gums that surround the affected tooth for inflammation, bleeding, or foreign objects. There may be food lodged in the gum that could be removed by flossing. You can control pain by placing a cold compress against your mouth, or by using an over-the-counter oral numbing agent.

More serious situations may be extremely time sensitive, and require immediate emergency attention. For example, if a tooth is completely knocked out, carefully clean it with water. Try to place the tooth back into its socket or briefly store it in a cup of milk if it will not fit back into the gum. Never pick up a tooth by the root or force it into the socket. Come straight to our office, as your tooth will need to be replaced within a short amount of time. Similarly, if you have bitten through your lip or tongue, the American Dental Association recommends carefully cleaning the area before coming as quickly as you can to our emergency dental office for treatment.

Remember, there is no reason you should live with discomfort. By visiting our Mount Vernon office immediately in an emergency, you can take control of your oral health comfortably and safely.