Getting Personal About HPV and Oral Cancer

Dr. Samantha Rawdin gets personal about HPV and Oral Cancer:

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and as a member of the medical community dealing directly with the oropharynx (including the mouth and throat), this is something that we feel our patients and readers should be aware of. Although it doesn’t always get the attention that other types of cancer receive, oral cancer is still a prevalent issue in the U.S. Almost 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year and one person every hour of every day will die from it.

Tobacco use and alcohol consumption still remain the greatest risk factors for developing oropharyngeal cancer, but the fastest growing population of people being diagnosed are young, healthy, non-smoking individuals with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Now, this is where things get a little weird. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can occasionally manifest in the oral cavity. Since your dentist is usually the only one examining your mouth on a regular basis, finding one of these lesions can lead to conversations you wouldn’t otherwise expect to have with your oral health care specialist.

According to an article this week in the New York Times, more than forty-two percent of Americans bewteen the ages of 18-59 are infected with HPV. In adults aged 18-69, 7% have an oral HPV infection and 4% have the high-risk strains that can cause cancer in the mouth and throat.

The good news? Over 90% of HPV infections are gone from the body within 2 years.  But, just to be on the safe side, make sure your dental professional is doing a thorough oral cancer screening. And don’t feel bad about asking– it’s something that should be a routine part of their examination anyway. If you see or feel something that’s not quite right in your mouth or throat that sticks around for longer than two weeks, such as discoloration, swelling or irritation, make an appointment to see your dentist or doctor. If you are visiting them on a regular basis, changes will be easier to spot and may be easier to manage.

Coping With Dental Anxiety




Dr. Andrew Koenigsberg of New York City’s Smilespecialists@gallery57dental discusses ways to alleviate dental anxiety:


Dental anxiety affects up to 20% of adults and can have serious health consequences. Fear of dental treatment may keep patients from seeking or delaying care until there is an emergency, often resulting in pain and additional oral health issues. Ironically, phobic patients may wind up needing more extensive treatment than they would have needed had the problem been treated in a timely manner resulting in increased treatment, trauma and expense.

Fortunately, dental anxiety can be managed by caring professionals. Dr. Camilla Mager, a New York City psychologist, suggests that the first step is to find a compassionate dentist who is willing to “openly communicate” with the anxious patient. The dentist should understand the person’s apprehensions, be willing to take some extra time and establish signals so that the patient can use if they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Dr. Mager also explains that there are self-help techniques that help reduce and control dental anxiety before getting to the dental office. People can realize that they are choosing to seek dental treatment which gives a sense of control. They should acknowledge what aspect of the treatment they fear, (embarrassment, pain, bad memories), and challenge these thoughts. They should communicate this to the dentist who can reassure them that their concerns will be accounted for in treatment.

During the dental visit, Dr. Mager suggests several meditation/relaxation techniques. Before the appointment, a patient may decide on a “brave thought” to think about and mentally repeat during treatment. There are also “apps” available such as Budhify and Headspace that teach “soothing and calming” techniques. These should be practiced in advance and can be listened to during treatment.

Medications that control and reduce anxiety are available through healthcare professionals when other techniques aren’t enough. These medications are safe when used properly and often allow people to get care they otherwise might avoid.



Complimentary iSleep Evaluations To Celebrate World Sleep Day

On Friday March 17th between 9-4pm we are inviting our existing patients and the public to come and learn about the sleep disorder, Sleep Apnea, that is affecting millions of Americans, but far too often goes undiagnosed. Those who suffer from sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 50 times a night in severe cases. Left untreated, this condition can result in serious chronic illnesses like, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Brochures will be available on the topic as well the latest innovations available to treat sleep apnea, that are available right in your dentist office, known as mandibular advancement devices. Similar to a mouth guard, it pulls the bottom jaw forward to ensure constant oxygen to the airway. We will be offering complimentary iSleep evaluations to patients that day. Anyone who completes the questionnaire will receive a gift. Light refreshments will be served.  For further information, please call 212.246.8700.

The Truth About Sleep Apnea


The American Academy of Sleep Medicine labels sleep apnea as “A hidden health crisis costing America billions”. Sleep Apnea is a serious health condition where you actually stop breathing during your sleep. These episodes of not breathing can last for a few seconds or up to a minute or more. And the number of times this can occur during one’s sleep can be very few or more than 50 times in one night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is classified as obstructive or central. Obstructive sleep apnea is when the airway gets obstructed during sleep. If you are overweight this is more likely. When the muscles of the tongue, palate and throat relax during sleep they can cause the airway to collapse. Your brain senses the lack of oxygen and there is an arousal signal from your brain to start breathing again. In central sleep apnea there is a problem in the central nervous system. This is less common but more of a serious health problem.

It is estimated that there are as many as 30 million adult Americans that have sleep apnea that are not diagnosed. Many of these people may complain of daytime tiredness but left untreated the consequences of sleep apnea can be quite serious. There are many serious health conditions that can arise from untreated sleep apnea. The most prevalent are high blood pressure, cardiac disease and diabetes. Other conditions associated with untreated sleep apnea are stroke, asthma and other breathing disorders, insomnia, impotence, weight gain, depression and anxiety and possible complications in pregnancy. One can see from the potential health problems how this could cost billions in health care dollars. Low productivity at work and potential accidents at work or driving also significantly contribute to the cost of this serious health condition.

Sleep apnea is often not diagnosed due to several factors. Doctors don’t routinely screen for this condition and patients often attribute daytime sleepiness to stress and not always getting a full night’s sleep. Doctors and dentists should routinely screen their patients for sleep apnea. A simple questionnaire is all that is necessary to see if a patient potentially has sleep apnea. Snoring is very often a sign of sleep apnea. The next step is a home sleep test or a visit to a sleep lab. Once a diagnosis is made the treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. When someone has mild to moderate sleep apnea the treatment options include: an oral device made by a dentist that positions the lower jaw forward during sleep to prevent the airway from being obstructed, surgery of the palate/throat or a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. When someone is diagnosed with severe sleep apnea the treatment options include: CPAP or surgery.

Sleep apnea awareness has increased somewhat in the past few months. There have been several incidents where train operators have fallen asleep and caused terrible accidents. These operators were found to have sleep apnea after the fact. The NY MTA has decided to have all employees screened for sleep apnea. The trucking industry as well as airlines and other shipping and train corporations should be doing the same. Basically all businesses would benefit if their employees did not suffer from sleep apnea; more productivity, less sick days, and overall healthier and happier employees.

Sleep apnea is a serious health condition and often not diagnosed. Please ask your doctor or dentist about being screened. The benefits of treatment can literally add years to your life.


Robert C. Rawdin, DDS

Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics

NY Smile Specialists at Gallery 57 Dental

24 W 57th St., suite 701

New York, NY 10019