Everyone knows that it is important to go to the dentist to get his or her teeth checked. But a very important part of a dental exam is checking the soft tissues–the lips, gums, cheeks and tongue–for disease, especially cancer. Oral cancer is one of the easiest to treat if it is caught early and a periodic exam, each six months for most people, is the best way to stay on top of it. By the way, the vast, vast majority of oral cancer occurs in those who use tobacco products. Current research is showing a strong link between gum disease and heart disease, strokes and premature delivery. Gum problems occur when mouth bacteria grow unchecked, causing swelling, bleeding and bone loss around the teeth. These bacteria then get into the blood stream and can cause further trouble. Unfortunately, nearly half of the adult population has some degree of gum disease. But, it is entirely preventable. Thorough brushing and flossing and professional cleaning pretty much takes care of it. Using tobacco really makes gum disease a lot more likely so here’s one more reason not to smoke. If a tooth gets knocked out intact rinse it off in warm water. Hold the tooth by the top and don’t touch the root. Rinse the mouth with mouthwash to kill the bacteria. Push the tooth back into the socket and go to a dental office or to an emergency room immediately. If you can’t get it back in then put the tooth in milk. If milk is not available then hold the tooth in your mouth. One of the ways that a person is judged in our society is by that “winning smile”. There are several options available now to make the front teeth look really nice. Take a look in the mirror at your smile. If it’s not what you’d like it to be ask your dentist what can be done to improve it.