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Letter From Dear Doctor

Issue 34 of Dear Doctor Magazine

What a Difference Preventive Dental Care Can Make

It's hard to believe, but it has been 10 years since my partner Dr. Garry Rayant and I founded Dear Doctor – Dentistry & Oral Health. In all that time, our goal has always remained the same: to give dental patients the kind of accurate, evidence-based information they need to make the best decisions about their dental treatment. We've covered many topics over the years, but if there's one message we would like our readers to take away from Dear Doctor, it is the tremendous benefit of preventive dental care — at every age.

As practicing periodontists, we often treat people who are suffering from gum disease — the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. We'll look at an important aspect of this disease in the feature "Understanding Periodontal Pockets." Sadly, in many cases the damage caused by gum disease could have been forestalled if basic preventive steps had been taken: for example, practicing effective daily oral hygiene, and visiting the dental office regularly for examinations and professional teeth cleanings.

But sometimes the stakes are even higher than losing teeth. In the essay "How a Routine Dental Visit Saved My Life," a courageous young woman named Brooke Vitense writes about her successful fight against oral cancer. If she hadn't been in the habit of seeing her dentist regularly, her cancer may not have been diagnosed and treated in time. "I feel passionate about sharing my story with others," said Brooke, "and getting the word out there that oral cancer is now something that young people do need to be aware of."

Brooke's cancer was diagnosed with a tongue biopsy. However, a less invasive way of screening patients for oral cancer is on the horizon. "New Saliva Test for Oral Cancer" details a promising new method of early detection: salivary diagnostics. An FDA-approved saliva test could soon be available in a dental office or clinical health-care setting near you. Valuable information provided by the test can help doctors and patients make better decisions about whether a biopsy is needed.

In addition to routine office visits, there are many other things you can do to improve your oral health. For example, it has long been known that a poor diet can cause dental problems. But can an improved diet actually help you fight periodontal (gum) disease? A new study suggests that the answer is yes! To find out more, read our consultation, "Carbohydrates Linked to Gum Disease."

The common thread in these stories is that each of us has the power to make positive choices for our own health. So here's to a happy, healthy New Year for you and your family from all of us at Dear Doctor.


Mario A.Vilardi, DMD