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Posts for: February, 2020

By O'NEILL FAMILY DENTISTRY
February 21, 2020
Category: Oral Health

Are you a smoker? Over the age of 40? Diagnosed with HPV? If so, you may be at increased risk for oral cancer.

While oral cancer is also more common among men, heavy drinkers, and unhealthy eaters, it can still develop in almost anyone. That means even the healthiest among us should keep up with regular oral cancer screenings.

Here at O'Neill Family Dentistry in Columbia, SC, your dentist, Dr. Kris O'Neill, offers oral cancer screenings that are quick, painless, and accurate, allowing you to feel at ease during the screening and confident in your results.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

Oral cancer can develop in both the throat and mouth, and can develop symptoms such as bleeding patches, lumps, red/white spots, and numbness or pain when eating. Additional signs include loosening teeth, a hoarse voice, jaw swelling, mouth ulcers, sores, and/or a swollen jaw.

Why is an oral cancer screening so important?

Oral cancer patients who are diagnosed early have a far greater survival rate than those whose cancer is discovered in later stages. If a screening at our Columbia, SC, office comes back with positive results, our dentist can develop an appropriate treatment plan to address your specific case.

What happens during an oral cancer screening?

Your dentist will use a small apparatus with an angled examination mirror to check all areas of your mouth, including the palate, tongue, and pharynx. We will also look for discolorations, sores, protrusions, or other abnormalities. If an issue is found, we will send a tissue sample to a lab for further diagnosis. Your dentist may also feel your neck for any unusual lumps.

Your screening should be fairly quick, and can generally be performed during your regular checkup and dental exam.

Concerned? Give us a call

If you haven't undergone an oral cancer screening before, or are due for one of these life-saving examinations, make an appointment here at O'Neill Family Dentistry in Columbia, SC, by dialing (803) 988-1070.


By O'Neill Family Dentistry
February 01, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
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When die-hard music fans hear that their favorite performer is canceling a gig, it’s a big disappointment—especially if the excuse seems less than earth-shaking. Recently, British pop sensation Dua Lipa needed to drop two dates from her world tour with Bruno Mars. However, she had a very good reason.

“I’ve been performing with an awful pain due to my wisdom teeth,” the singer tweeted, “and as advised by my dentist and oral surgeon I have had to have them imminently removed.”

The dental problem Lipa had to deal with, impacted wisdom teeth, is not uncommon in young adults. Also called third molars, wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt (emerge from beneath the gums), generally making their appearance between the ages of 18-24. But their debut can cause trouble: Many times, these teeth develop in a way that makes it impossible for them to erupt without negatively affecting the healthy teeth nearby. In this situation, the teeth are called “impacted.”

A number of issues can cause impacted wisdom teeth, including a tooth in an abnormal position, a lack of sufficient space in the jaw, or an obstruction that prevents proper emergence. The most common treatment for impaction is to extract (remove) one or more of the wisdom teeth. This is a routine in-office procedure that may be performed by general dentists or dental specialists.

It’s thought that perhaps 7 out of 10 people ages 20-30 have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. Some cause pain and need to be removed right away; however, this is not always the case. If a wisdom tooth is found to be impacted and is likely to result in future problems, it may be best to have it extracted before symptoms appear. Unfortunately, even with x-rays and other diagnostic tests, it isn’t always possible to predict exactly when—or if—the tooth will actually begin causing trouble. In some situations, the best option may be to carefully monitor the tooth at regular intervals and wait for a clearer sign of whether extraction is necessary.

So if you’re around the age when wisdom teeth are beginning to appear, make sure not to skip your routine dental appointments. That way, you might avoid emergency surgery when you’ve got other plans—like maybe your own world tour!

If you would like more information about wisdom tooth extraction, please call our office to arrange a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”