Category Archives: Preventative Dentistry

Sleep Apnea and Cancer

snoringIt has been proven that over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a shallow breathing condition that inhibits sleep. The non-breathing pauses one can take whilst sleeping can happen as often as 30 times in a sleep session, with each pause lasting as long as a few minutes. Various causes lead to this condition, like smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and dental issues. But now there is one more thing we have to be careful of when it comes to sleep apnea: it can also increase your cancer risks.

Recent studies have concluded that intermittent hypoxia, or oxygen reduction to the body tissues caused by sleep apnea, may be the cause of growing cancer tumors. The experiments have only been conducted on lab mice, but those with the simulated intermittent hypoxia developed more vascular progenitor cells and endothelial cells than those mice unexposed. These cells can go on to mature and create blood vessels, which feeds cancer tumors. There has also been evidence that intermittent hypoxia can also lead increase vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and it is that protein that is also known to boost blood vessel formations.

At the European Association of Urology (EAU) Congress in Munich, Germany, lead researcher Dr. Antoni Vilaseca, of the Hospital Clinic De Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues recently presented their findings. Found to be remarkable, many believe these results definitely show that oxygen deficiency is affecting renal tumor growth. Vilaseca says, “Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea usually suffer from intermittent hypoxia at night. This work shows that intermittent hypoxia has the potential to promote the formation of blood vessels within tumors, meaning that the tumors have access to more nutrients.

This is of course an early animal study, so we need to be cautious in applying this to humans. Nevertheless, this work indicates a plausible mechanism for just why conditions which restrict oxygen flow to tissues, like sleep apnea, may promote cancers.”

Because there are so many factors that cause sleeping disorders, and so many variations of sleep, misdiagnosis is often common when it comes to those with sleep apnea. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent further complications to your sleep, but getting yourself checked is the only real way to know for sure. You may or may not have sleep apnea, but the best way to rule it out and come up with a definite diagnosis is to have yourself checked by a sleep professional. Free yourself from sleep apnea and its many effects on your health!

If you think that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, contact Dr. Gary Alhadef, DDS to schedule a consult today. Visit our website at www.dallascosmeticdental.com to learn more about sleep apnea.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

166219324April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every 3 years for persons over age 20 and annually for those over age 40.

Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in any of the parts that make up the mouth. Oral cancer is one of several types of cancer grouped in a category called head and neck cancers. Mouth cancer and other head and neck cancers are often treated similarly.

If you notice any of the below changes, contact your dentist or health care professional immediately.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
  • The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
  • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • Ear pain
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss

How Is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?

As part of your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam. More specifically, your dentist will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores or discolored tissue as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned above.

Your dentist may perform an oral brush biopsy if he or she sees tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it for abnormal cells. Alternatively, if the tissue looks more suspicious, your dentist may recommend a scalpel biopsy. This procedure usually requires local anesthesia and may be performed by your dentist or a specialist. These tests are necessary to detect oral cancer early, before it has had a chance to progress and spread.

How Is Oral Cancer Treated?

Oral cancer is treated the same way many other cancers are treated — with surgery to remove the cancerous growth, followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

What Can I Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?

To prevent oral cancer:

  • Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products and drink alcohol in moderation (and refrain from binge drinking).
  • Eat a well balanced diet.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun. Repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lip, especially the lower lip. When in the sun, use UV-A/B-blocking sun protective lotions on your skin, as well as your lips.

See your dentist on a regular schedule. Even though you may be conducting frequent self exams, sometimes dangerous spots or sores in the mouth can be very tiny and difficult to see on your own.

Early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment. During your next dental appointment, ask your dentist to perform an oral exam.

For more information on your oral health contact Dr. Gary Alhadef, DDS. Make an appointment by calling 469-718-0128 or visit our website at www.dallascosmeticdental.com.