Oral Cancer: What You Need to KnowThe prevalence of oral cancer is high on a global level. Nearly 657,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

If not diagnosed early, oral cancer can be life-threatening. In this article, you will learn important information about oral cancer including the risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment options.

About Oral Cancer

Oral cancer refers to the cancer of the lips, tongue, hard and soft palate, the floor of the mouth, throat, sinuses, and cheeks. The cancer is caused due to uncontrollable growth of cells that cause damage to the surrounding tissues.

Various risk factors have been identified for oral cancer apart from genetic predisposition.

Among other health complications, excessive use of alcohol and tobacco also increases the risk of oral cancer. Heavy and moderate drinkers are said to be three to nine times greater risk of developing alcohol content as compared to non-drinkers. Moreover, individuals who chew or snuff tobacco are at about four times greater risk of developing oral cancer as compared to non-users.

Studies have also found that long-term exposure to sun leads to increased risk of lip cancer.  Sexually active individuals are also at risk of developing oral cancer. STIs such as herpes, HPV, Syphilis, and gonorrhea can result in oral cancer.

Diagnosis of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be diagnosed through physical inspection and imaging techniques. Some of the symptoms that indicate the presence of oral cancer include.

  • Prolonged tongue pain
  • Bleeding sores that don’t heal
  • Difficulty or pain in swallowing or chewing
  • A chronic sore throat
  • Lump or growth of the skin of the mouth
  • Jaw stiffness or pain

FDA has approved different devices and techniques for carrying out a diagnosis. These include brush biopsy (cytology), tolonium chloride (tissue staining), light reflections, and fluorescence. These techniques are helpful in confirming the presence of oral cancer. The preferred method for detecting lesions is biopsy involving tissue sampling.

Doctors also use imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to know about the level of cancer.  However, these techniques don’t replace biopsy for investigating the suspicious tissue.

Treatment of Oral Cancer

The treatment of oral cancer is formulated depending on the stage of cancer. The treatment plan generally consists of chemotherapy or radiation. Sometimes surgery is recommended for the treatment of cancer.

Typically, the treatment plan involves different medical specialists such as dental hygienists, dentists, surgeons, and oncologists.  All treatment plan emphasizes the protection of the teeth from decay, gum infections, and mouth dryness.

In conclusion, oral cancer is one of the most prevalent conditions,particularly in the developed world. It’s important to take precaution to avoid the risk of developing cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual oral check-up for individuals aged 40 and above and every three years for individuals aged between 20 and 29 years. A regular checkup will help in early diagnosis of oral cancer. This will increase the chances of recovery from oral cancer.

If you have any questions regarding Oral Cancer, or any other Oral Health topics, give The Gentle Dentist a call.  We are located in Shelby Township, MI and can be reached at (586) 247-3500!



Categories: Oral Cancer

Oral cancer detection, treatment and dental implications for radiation treatment

I attended the Michigan Dental Association conference in mid April and wanted to share some of the information with you, the public. I will keep this simple, but at the same time relevant to you, the reader.


  • There are about 37,000 new cases of oral cavity cancer diagnosed in the US each year.  Around 8000 will die each year annually.  The majority are squamous cell cancer over half of these have a metastases at a distant site.  There is a five year survival rate of around 60% for all stages combined.
  • HPV or Human Papilloma Virus, a sexually transmitted disease is found in some of these oral cancers.
  • Those who are most at risk are those who smoke and drink alcohol.  The most recent and fastest demographic are sexually active men and women in their 20s and 30s.  The HPV virus is transmitted and can contribute to oral cancers in this young group, who in the past were at a very low risk.
  • The earlier the cancer is diagnosed and treated the better the outcome


During a the soft tissue phase of a dental examination it is the standard of care for the dental provider to feel the neck for any swelling or lumps, check out under  the base of the tongue and examine the roof of the mouth and soft tissues in the throat.  These visual and tactile exams can reveal early signs of oral cancer.  Oral cancer can appear as a minor change in the soft tissues.  The most common area where oral cancer is located is under the tongue and in the back of the throat so it is very important for your dentist to have you, the patient, stick out your tongue and to roll and pull the tongue to the side.  If there is a red or a white lesion that cannot be directly related to a tongue bite or injury, a biopsy is usually necessary.

Biopsies include a brush biopsy which uses a stiff brush to scrape off some of the cells of the lesion or a full blown scalpel biopsy which excises the tissue.  Both require the sample to be sent to a pathology lab to be diagnosed under a microscope.  If there is a positive diagnosis of oral cancer then swift care is vital to a favorable outcome.


Most patients will receive head and neck radiotherapy with chemotherapy as a primary curative therapy.  Surgery is necessary to remove the affected parts of the tongue, bone and sometimes face.  This is gruesome at times and really affects the appearance of the patient.

There are specialized protocols and masks that are used to protect those tissues that are in the line of fire of the direct radiation.  Multiple visits are necessary to eliminate the cancer in the tongue or neck.  The radiation kills off any of the tissues that are in the path of the x-ray beam and since the intensity of the beam is extremely strong and focused is it critical to stay out of the path of important saliva glands in the head and neck.

Since cancer cells and saliva glands are fast growing cells they are both at risk. Of course the objective of treatment is to kill off the bad cells and spare the good cells in the glands.

Side effects of Radiation:

Side effects of head and neck radiation therapy include

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth
  • Oral pain, burning tongue pain and difficult time swallowing.
  • Loss of taste
  • Jaw muscles tightening and freezing up, limiting opening.
  • Burning of the skin from the xray beam
  • Yeast infections of the mouth
  • High risk of Dental cavities
  • High chance of periodontal disease
  • Osteoradionecrosis of the jaw .Radiation of the bone has very negative consequences associated with it.  Bone that has been radiated does not heal itself and is very prone to infections.  The term osteoradionecrosis is a term that affects bone which means that the bone dies off and is very difficult to heal.  Bone that is in the line of the tumor, especially the mandible (lower jaw bone) is the highest at risk.  Since bone metabolism is affected, dental treatment before cancer therapy is vital.

Dental Treatment:

Once the cancer has been diagnosed the oncologists usually desire to begin treatment within 2-3 weeks.  Since time is vital there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.  Since the side effects mentioned above are real, dental treatment needs to begin just after diagnosis.  Teeth that even have the hint of a periodontal or dental infection need to be extracted.  Any fillings that need to be completed need to be done immediately.  Prompt and aggressive care is vital since the tissues cannot heal normally once radiation therapy begins.  It is much better removing any of these questionable teeth since major problems and complications can develop afterwards.

Palliative Care (pain management):

Once treatment begins it is critical to do what is necessary to relieve pain.  The oncologist can prescribe mouthwashes to reduce the pain.  Fluoride use is important to reduce the high risk of developing cavities at a high rate.  For prevention of oral yeast infections medications can be given.  This type of infection can make the mouth very uncomfortable and can be very stubborn to eliminate.  With a dry mouth, the normal balance of good oral bacteria is affected and the opportunistic yeast infection (thrush) takes over.  Saliva substitutes and oral moisturizers are available to help out.

In summary the diagnosis of oral cancer can be devastating to the patient and their family but with good planning and a very fast response by a competent cancer team, including the dentist, is critical.  If you or a loved one has been diagnosed you can give us a call to provide possible solutions to your problem.  Our phone number is (586)247-3500.

Ask The Gentle Dentist: Shelby Twp Dentist Discusses Oral Cancer

If you have any follow up questions or suggestions for future articles please contact The Gentle Dentist in Shelby Twp by filling our our contact form or by writing us at: 15055 22 Mile, Shelby Twp, MI 48315.

Shelby Twp. Dentist Explains How Exams Can Prevent Oral Cancer

Hi, this is Dr. Robert Antolak from thegentledentist.com in Shelby Township, Michigan, in Macomb County.  We are located on 22 mile, just west of Hayes.

What I want to discuss is, some of the things that we look for during a routine examination. You know, as a patient, you may just think that we’re checking the teeth and things like that. But when we do that, we also check the soft tissues of the mouth on every single patient.  Whether you’re a new patient of ours, or you come in for the routine exams and cleanings, we’ll do a full exam. And what we do is we check the soft tissues of the mouth to make sure that things look healthy and normal.

One of the most common areas for oral cancers to develop is under the tongue. So, what we’ll often do, every time actually, is take gauze and take the tongue back and look at the structure of your tongue, the color of the tongue, and the consistency of the tongue. We make sure there’s no lumps or bumps or anything like that around the tongue. The most common area for cancer is in that region but it also can take place back in the pharynx area of the throat.

Knowing these things we want to just make sure that we’re always checking it out. Because, early prevention is the cure. Your cure is going to be much better off, the earlier that it’s caught.

So, if your dentist is not checking your mouth every time for any signs of cancer, you may consider asking why, and/or switching to somebody who does. So, the best prevention is early detection.  And, things like smoking and chewing tobacco can actually contribute to the risk of oral cancer.

Also kids in their twenties who have been exposed to HPV are at higher risk also for oral cancers too, which is a fairly new finding.  So you don’t have to be an old person to be diagnosed with oral cancer. Young kids can get it too. So make sure you take care of yourself in that capacity.  And if you are not married, stay abstinent, and that will reduce any risk of having these problems.

Shelby Twp. Dentist Explains How Exams Can Prevent Oral Cancer

If you would like some more information about the oral cancers and what you can do, call our office at 586-247-3500.



Categories: Dental Exams

Youtube:  Oral Cancer and Its Effects on Your Mouth

Oral Cancer and Its Effects on Your Mouth

Hi, this is Dr. Antolak at thegentledentist.com in Shelby Township, Michigan. What I’d like to discuss today is oral cancer and cancer in general, and its effect it has on the mouth.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it’s obviously a horrible time usually for families dealing with this potential life ending illness. When that takes place, a lot of things have to be done and the oncologist that you go to, hopefully will be really privy and aware that during any radiation therapy that’s done or even chemotherapy, these are intended to kill off cells in the body, fast growing cells.  Cancer cells are obviously fast growing cells.

Fast growing cells are also hair cells or hair follicles, and saliva glands that are in your mouth. When chemotherapy and radiation therapy takes place, that’s why people go without hair but also their mouth dries out.

So what are the implications of having this take place for the patient? I believe what’s very important is that when someone is diagnosed with cancer that they really get a thorough dental examination. Hopefully your oncologist will recommend a dentist to you and what’s important is getting this done in a very quick fashion. The reason why that is, is because they want a get on to that therapy pretty soon.

Well, if the mouth is not taken care of, if there are bad teeth in the mouth that seem to be problematic, because the fact that when salivary glands are knocked out it causes so many problems. You have a significant potential for getting cavities. Is if a tooth is as bad as it is, that cavity will just get worse. The problem is you can’t just take a tooth out when someone is on chemotherapy. If you do, because the immune system is really suppressed, there is a risk of having many, many potential complications from that.

The best way of dealing with this is taking care of all these urgent needs right away while the body has the ability to heal itself before it gets struck with all this chemotherapy and these very, very difficult days that would lay ahead.

Dry mouth because of the lack of saliva is another issue that takes place. But also there are many other things that can take place. For example, I put this brochure together. Increased chance of cavity, loss of taste, pain in your mouth. Of course, infections are much more prevalent.

So if you have gum disease, there might be an election to have teeth removed just so that, that area’s sealed off, and there’s no infection to the jawbone. You get jaw stiffness from this, and you get changes in your bone.

Sometimes when medications are given, for example, bisphosphonates, which are medications used for certain types of cancer, bone cancer. Once that takes place, the metabolism in the bone is altered, and therefore, once again, it’s difficult to manage patients who need to have any other additional

Oral Cancer and Its Effects on Your Mouth

So if there’s questions about that you can feel free to call me but I really recommend talking to your oncologist or your nurses who treat you or your loved one who will be going in for this care to make sure that there’s no potential of having a problem. If you’re not really current with your dental care please get in to see us or get in to see your own dentist if you have one because that itself could be a really challenging time for you.

If you have questions about oral cancer and its effects on your mouth, my phone number is (586) 247-3500. The website is thegentledentist.com. Our dental office is in Shelby Township, Michigan. Thank you, and God bless.



Categories: Oral Cancer

Shelby Township Dentist Discusses Oral Cancer

Question:  I continuously hear about the effects of cigarettes  and the damage they cause.    My husband died 2 years ago from an oral cancer that his dentist first discovered.   He  suffered tremendously and now I believe my granddaughter is smoking.  I have fear that these cigarettes will eventually harm her.  I don’t know what to do but need to do something.

Answer:  I am sorry that you lost your husband from this deadly and extremely contagious habit.  Here are some statistics that concur with your concerns.  Unfortunately, there are many factors that oppose parents and concerned grandparents such as yourself.

Unlike other companies that manufacture consumer goods, tobacco companies do not compete by cutting prices. They compete on the public’s emotional level by creating enticing images that people wish to pursue for themselves. Kids are particularly vulnerable to these seductive images. They believe that if they smoke they’ll appear thinner, more glamorous, more macho, more mature.  And unfortunately, what starts out as adventurous experimentation often results in a deadly addiction.

Each day, over 3,300 kids become regular smokers. Of these, one-third will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.

The average age for first-time smoking is twelve. Joe Camel is this decade’s single most effective ad campaign targeting children; this smoking cartoon character was found to be as recognizable to kids as Mickey Mouse.

Each day, at least 4,800 adolescents (age 11 to 17) try their first cigarette. The number climbs to 5,500 if you include youth 18 to 20 years old.

Four and a half million kids between the ages of 12 and 17 are regular smokers.

Unless current rates are reversed, more than five million children under the age of 18 will die from diseases related to smoking.

Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking at or before age eighteen.

Tobacco marketing is a major factor in persuading kids to begin smoking—twice as influential as peer pressure, the culprit the tobacco industry usually seeks to blame.

The most popular brands of cigarettes among youth—Marlboro, Camel and Newport—account for 86 percent of the teenage cigarette market. These brands are also the most heavily advertised, portraying images of slim, attractive young women and rugged, handsome men.

Tobacco is considered to be a “gateway drug.” This means its use is likely to pave the way for use of other illicit drugs. About 65 percent of cocaine users started by smoking cigarettes, and about 50 percent followed tobacco use with alcohol and marijuana.

Seventy percent of teens who smoke report that they are addicted and regret ever having started.

It is basically a war that we are faced with and the best influence you can have on your granddaughter is to be honest but not come across as lecturing.

What are her parent’s view of smoking?  You may need to get them involved.   You may want to get her dentist the “heads up” and he/she can give her information that may help to influence her to make a decision that would affect her for the rest of her life.

Shelby Township Dentist Discusses Oral Cancer

Question:   Now that I have full dentures, do I really need to see the dentist as often as before?

Answer:   Even if you no longer have your natural teeth, you should see your dentist regularly for an oral examination. The dentist will examine your mouth to check for any problem with the gum ridges, the tongue and the joints of the jaw, as well as screen for oral cancer. For a variety of reasons, many older adults are more susceptible to oral diseases, including oral cancer. About 95 percent of all cancers are found in people over age 40. However, many of these cancers are treatable if detected early. Oral tissues are also checked for signs of other diseases that can first manifest themselves in the mouth.

Dentist in Shelby Township Explains Full Denture ExaminatioThe Gentle Dentist Logon



Categories: Dentures

Hi. My name is Dr. Robert Antolak, the owner and president of  The Gentle Dentist located out in Shelby Township, Michigan. What’s a really important topic is for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Cancer, especially head and neck cancer, is something that is fairly prevalent. And one very important facet of when someone has been diagnosed with cancer and they’re supposed to be having either radiation therapy or  chemotherapy is to go on and have their dental care taken care of right away, before they start. Especially when they start radiation therapy. Especially if it’s above the head and neck area.

The reason why it’s important to have your dentistry done before you go in for therapy is that the body, because of the fact that radiation is going to end up slowing and even killing off all the salivary glands and the that produce saliva. Saliva is important to keep your mouth hydrated and wet, which prevents cavities. It’s also very important because when you do that, you can get a ton of pain in your mouth. And an infection that’s very very common for people who have had oral cancer, and who’ve had treatment with that. So,  if a tooth has to come out, because it’s a bad tooth, we need to extract it before starting into therapy. Because once they start the therapy, your body’s immunity is really suppressed. You don’t have that ability to, to heal like you can. So, if teeth ever have to be removed afterwards, it’s a nightmare, it’s very difficult and it’s pretty risky, for having much more signifigant problems after that. So, when we do that we can, we can either extract your teeth, and the beauty of our office is we do, I do all phases of dentistry. So we can extract the necessary teeth if you need fillings on teeth we can do that, if we need to clean them we want to get that done very quickly after you’ve been diagnosed and then after that point on you can get your therapy doneand then work it out so that things are much more manageable at that point.

There’s a couple things that are important to know to aid in the problems with the dry mouth even afterwords is to use sugarless products, drink plenty of water, make sure you use fluorides that help to refluoridate your teeth, and avoid soda pop. That’s really a bad thing, that your mouth is dry. So you have to do these necessary things.

The key is to get in before you start your chemotherapy or radiation therapy. So our dental office is located in Shelby Township, Michigan and our phone number is 586-247-3500 and our website is thegentledentist.com. Thank you and have a blessed day.



Categories: Oral Cancer

Systemic diseases that can be discovered through an Oral Examination
Ask The Gentle Dentist – January 2012

I want to wish all of the readers a Blessed 2012 as we enter into the new season and year.  I have been writing these articles for the past nine years and have appreciated all of the positive feed back over the years on how these articles have informed so many people and the fact that they look forward to reading them each month.  When I hear these comments I know my efforts to provide informative and relevant topics that relate to the oral condition are worth it.  I do depend on questions from the reading audience to keep this monthly article relevant.  Please submit your questions to me even if you want to just call the office and ask the question so I can post it on the next month’s article would be fine.  Our address is:

Ask The Gentle Dentist
15055 22 Mile #2
Shelby Twp, MI 48315

The phone number at the office is: (586)247-3500 or email at DrAntolak@thegentledentist.com.

The reason why I post our office address is that a new patient I recently saw has been reading the articles and thought I was a national dental writer.  He didn’t realize that I was local so to answer his question—Yes our office is local.

Oral/Systemic connection (continued from last month)

Diabetes– The palate and tissues of the mouth appears reddish with possible white film.  This can be from hyperglycemia (uncontrolled diabetes).  Excessive blood sugars from diabetes can increase the bacteria levels on the soft tissue and plaques of yeast can be present from a poor balance of good/bacteria in the mouth.

Dry Mouth

  • Multiple drugs can lead to dry mouth.  Dry mouth has a number of consequences, including altered taste, increased risk of fungal infections, increased risk for decay and even traumatic ulcers due to lack of normal lubrication that saliva provides.  Patients with severely impaired salivary flow are challenged with eating, swallowing and speech.  This can result in poor eating and nutrition. Healthy saliva naturally controls the balance of the micro-organisms in the mouth and buffers the soft tissues from the ill effects of this disease. We have a number of options to lubricate the mouth.  These include:
    1. The use of a lozenge with a drug called pilocarpine which helps to induce saliva flow.  I have this compounded at a local pharmacy.
    2. MI Paste. This is a gel that is applied with the finger and rubbed into the teeth.  It contains Calcium/phosphorous and fluoride in a milk base.  This is good for preventing decay and adds lubrication to the mouth.
    3. Biotene products:  These are an entire line of lubricating toothpastes and mouth rinses sold over the counter.

Inhaled steroids

Inhaled steroids are used for those who have asthma or other breathing disorders.  The steroid dries out the mouth and gives the gums and soft tissue a reddish appearance which causes them to bleed very easily and thrush (yeast) infections are prevalent in these patients.  Rinsing out with water after its use is helpful in preventing these problems.

Autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body.  This means the body starts attacking itself and its own cells.

  1. Sjogen’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease which causes the body to destroy its own saliva glands.  This makes it very difficult to maintain a healthy mouth.
  2. Lichen Planus is a disorder that creates erosive or ulcers on the cheek and other mucus membranes.

Gingival Enlargements

Medications and hormone abnormalities including pregnancy can cause the gums to swell.  Those patients on dilantin for epilepsy or calcium channel blockers for blood pressure control are at risk for this problem.

Oral cancer

The most common areas for oral cancer is under the tongue or in the pharynx  and presents as a red or whitish lesion. Oral cancer is under diagnosed and usually treated at a very late stage when the five year survival rate is low.  Early detection at every examination is the best course.  With the careful examination of the mouth under proper lighting conditions, magnification and even special instrumentation it is possible to diagnose cancer in its earliest stages when it is most treatable.  Smokers and snuff dippers have localized areas of trauma where the heat and nicotine affect the tissues of the lip and hard palate (roof of the mouth).  Kicking the habit is always encouraged to help our patients be substance free.

Viral infections such as HIV, HPV and herpes

These sexually transmitted diseases and others can appear in the mouth because the mouth contains mucous membranes which are very thin.  The signs that appear in the mouth are similar to those who have other diseases that compromise the immune system.

Herpes simplex (cold sores show up on the edge of the lip but can be found on the tongue gums and hard palate.  These are very common and usually follow a burning and tingling sensation in the lip.  Sunlight, stress and fevers can activate the virus which is stored in the nerve of the lip.  When the virus reproduces it travels down the nerve (where it is stored when inactive) from near the brain to the lip.  Those affected can sense this with a burning or tingling sensation on the lip.  When the virus finally breaks out as a sore this is EXTREMELY contagious.  Washing the hands regularly and being protective of the affected area should be exercised.  Small children and those who have not been infected with the virus should not be kissed.  It is also very important to avoid rubbing the eyes as this could lead to vision problems.  To treat these there are a number of home remedies including lysine, placing witch hazel, turmeric or even honey on the site.  Rinsing with baking soda/water can make it more difficult for these viruses to repopulate.  I often prescribe anti-viral pills and ointment to take a more direct approach.

Other potential problems:

Blood Pressure: When we see a patient for the first time we do a blood pressure screening and amazingly enough we have uncovered many patients who have undiagnosed high blood pressure and have referred them to a physician to get this under control.

General systemic infection:  When feeling then neck any lump or bump in the neck could be a swollen lymph node.  Swollen lymph nodes could be a sigh of an infection in the body.

Thyroid gland enlargement:  The thyroid gland located on the front of the neck is used to regulate the metabolism of an individual.  If there is enlargement of the gland then there could be too high of a metabolism.  This increased metabolism can result in unintended weight loss, restlessness and a lack of sleep. A blood test by the physician is needed to confirm these symptoms.

There are other potential diseases that present themselves in the oral cavity at the early stages but because of limitations in this article I didn’t discuss them.  It is noteworthy to say that when we know what looks normal then we can define what looks abnormal.  We refer patients to their physician all of the time to see if what we see in the mouth is a related with an undiagnosed systemic medical issue.

This is the first issue of 2012 and I want to thank the readers and Jody McVeigh the editor for allowing me to inform the public of issues that relate with their oral health.  May you have a prosperous and Healthy New Year.

Blessings, Robert Antolak DDS

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation Close to 36,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 36,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

It is obvious that it is a serious problem and one that can be treated more successfully if it is treated at an early enough stage.  Early diagnosis is critical in the success but these cancers aren’t painful in the early stages.  When they get symptomatic when the patient can notice them they have usually metastasised to the neck or lymph nodes.  Your semiannual trip to the dentist is therefore critical since we do an oral cancer exam each time you are examined by Dr. Antolak. 

Oral cancers are mostly found at the side and under the tongue.  They usually appear as a red or white patch which is usually asymptomatic.  If there is any sign of this a brush biopsy or biopsy can be taken which will determine if there is pathology.

Rapid and aggressive treatment is important including surgery to remove the involved area, radiation and chemo therapies.  Radiation and chemotherapy kills off fast replicating cells.  Cancer cells, saliva producing cells, hair follicles, and any other fast growing cells are killed off by the chemotherapy.  Radiation therapy has an even more focused kill so if the saliva glands are in the path of radiation there is a significant reduction in the saliva.  Since saliva provides moisture and natural protection against gum disease and cavities the mouth is prone to more decay.  In addition the bone is prone to infection because the bone cells have a reduced capacity of healing. 

It is critical to seek dental care immediately to remove and fill any teeth that could have problems after the cancer treatment is started.  Dentures will have to be remade or relined to improve the fit.  A poorly fitting denture can create ulcers in the mouth which will be difficult to heal after radiation therapy is completed.

 One of my recent cancer-surviving patients told me that there was not been enough emphasis on the long term effects of radiation treatment on the teeth after the cancer treatment is done.  She wanted it to be known to others how fast dental decay can occur once the saliva glands are irradiated.

If you have questions or need to know what your next step should be please email Dr. Antolak at DrAntolak@TheGentleDentist.com or call (586)247-3500.

Please remember our Candy Buy Back which takes place on November 2.  We will be paying children $1.00 per pound of candy they turn in.  The candy will be distributed to children in Haiti, Detroit and to the Men and Women in uniform  serving our country overseas.

A smile makeover is taking an average smile and making it a terrific smile by using modern cosmetic dentistry techniques.  An appealing smile has four characteristics:

  • The teeth are white, not yellow or discolored
  • the top teeth show when giving a full smile, but only a little bit of the gums show during the smile
  • There are no spaces between the teeth.
  • The teeth are straight

During the examination process at our Shelby twp. office we will:

  • take a complete set of digital x-rays including panorex
  • take a series of Digital Photographs including a few portrait pictures
  • Review the health history, chief complaint, expectations about what the patient wants and desires
  • Comprehensive examination which includes checking for cavities, periodontal disease, oral cancer, broken teeth, the bite including assessment of the TMJ (jaw joint)
  • discussion on what the findings are and a treatment plan on future treatment.
  • discussion about the fees and financial options which includes interest free financing through Care Credit.

By reviewing the photos taken it becomes obvious what is both good and what can be improved upon.  The computer monitor gives us a great tool to see what the possibilities are.  In fact, we can email out a before photo and have it accurately modified to give you the patient a good idea of what your smile would look like after treatment was performed.

Here is a list of the different procedures that can enhance your smile:

  • Teeth whitening
  • bonding
  • Cosmetic Veneers
  • braces
  • Gum recontouring to eliminate a gummy smile



For a free consultation about the different options are you can call our office in Shelby Township at (586)247-3500.  We service the Washington Twp, Rochester Hills, Sterling Heights, Troy areas of Michigan.

This article is from the Academy of General Dentistry newsletter that I get and thought it was valuable for men.

Now to answer the question—-Men are less likely than women to take care of their physical health and, according to surveys and studies, their oral health is equally ignored. Good oral health recently has been linked with longevity. Yet, one of the most common factors associated with infrequent dental checkups is just being male. Men are less likely than women to seek preventive dental care and often neglect their oral health for years, visiting a dentist only when a problem arises. When it comes to oral health, statistics show that the average man brushes his teeth 1.9 times a day and will lose 5.4 teeth by age 72. If he smokes, he can plan on losing 12 teeth by age 72. Men are also more likely to develop oral and throat cancer and periodontal (gum) disease 

Why is periodontal disease a problem?


Periodontal disease is a result of plaque, which hardens into a rough, porous substance called tartar. The acids produced and released by bacteria found in tartar irritate gums. These acids cause the breakdown of fibers that anchor the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets that fill with even more bacteria. Researchers have found a connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease, which can place people at risk for heart attacks and strokes. See your dentist if you have any of these symptoms:


  • Bleeding gums during brushing
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose or separating teeth


Do you take medications?


Since men are more likely to suffer from heart attacks, they also are more likely to be on medications that can cause dry mouth. If you take medication for the heart or blood pressure, or if you take antidepressants, your salivary flow could be inhibited, increasing the risk for cavities. Saliva helps to reduce the cavity-causing bacteria found in your mouth.


Do you use tobacco?


If you smoke or chew, you have a greater risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Men are affected twice as often as women, and 95 percent of oral cancers occur in those over 40 years of age.


The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips and gums. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery and even death. More than 8,000 people die each year from oral and pharyngeal diseases. If you use tobacco, it is important to see a dentist frequently for cleanings and to ensure your mouth remains healthy. Your general dentist can perform a thorough screening for oral cancer.


Do you play sports?


If you participate in sports, you have a greater potential for trauma to your mouth and teeth. If you play contact sports, such as football, soccer, basketball and even baseball, it is important to use a mouthguard, which is a flexible appliance made of plastic that protects teeth from trauma. If you ride bicycles or motorcycles, wear a helmet.


Taking care of your teeth


To take better care of your oral health, it is important to floss daily, brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily and visit your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings. Here are some tips to better dental health:


  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to reach every surface of each tooth. If the bristles on your toothbrush are bent or frayed, buy a new one.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months or after you’ve been sick.
  • Choose a toothpaste with fluoride. This can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent.
  • Brush properly. To clean the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion using short, gentle strokes. To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle strokes over each tooth and its surrounding gum tissue. Spend at least three minutes brushing.
  • Floss properly. Gently insert floss between teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or snap it into place. Curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and then the other.

Dr. Antolak treats his dental patients in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere where you are treated like a guest in the home.  His motto is to “relax while we take care of your smile”. He specializes in cosmetic dentistry, implant dentistry and general dentistry using sedation dentistry if necessary for his high fear patients. He has been treating patients for the past 21 years and is located in Shelby Township, Macomb county Michigan


Question: My friend has been stricken by cancer and the doctor told her that she needs to see her dentist to get her ready for her cancer treatment.  Why is it necessary for the dentist to get involved?

Answer: Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.  Patients treated with chemotherapy and head and neck radiation therapy suffer oral complications from these treatments.  The dentist is responsible for detecting and treating all active and potential sources of oral infection, in addition to providing follow-up care for the patient, in the manner that does not delay the treatment of the cancer.

During cancer treatment the objective is to kill off rapidly growing cells in the body.  The chemotherapy drugs don’t recognize just the cancer cell tissue, but destroys all of the rapidly growing cells including cancer cells, white blood cells (defensive system) hair follicle cells, oral mucous glands and many other cells.

It is important for the dentist to treat potential infectious areas because of the fact that the bacteria in the mouth will infect the mouth when the defensives are weakened which takes place during chemotherapy.  The most common problems faced are mucositis which is a swelling and ulceration of the lining of the mouth.  This is very painful and the best way to reduce its effects are to have good oral hygiene and treat any pre-existing or potential oral infections or trauma.

The other problem that takes place is an extreme dry mouth.  Cavities become evident and increase dramatically when the saliva is reduced to the point of having none at all.  Saliva is the natural protective layer that not only lubricates the mouth, but prevents cavities and disease. 

It is critical to maintain oral hygiene using a very soft toothbrush (Butler Ultra-soft brush) and using  Biotene dry mouth toothpaste.  There are artificial saliva substitutes such as OraLube, Glandosane and Salivart which help with re-moisturizing the mouth. 

Before the beginning of treatment your dentist should be in contact with the oncology physician and create an aggressive plan to treat cavities, extract infected teeth and treat gum disease.  If the chemotherapy is started when underlying infections are present in the mouth they will become significant problems during treatment.  If you have questions please call the office at 586.573.4500.

Call Now