Orofacial Pain & Oral Medicine

Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is considered one of the most common forms of cancer in the world with a survival rate of 50 percent. Early diagnosis is crucial to the person’s health, especially if other medical conditions are present. Oral cancer is typically manifested as an ulcer, a white lesion or a red patch. During the oral exam, a dentist may detect such manifestations in their initial stages and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

Most Common Risk Factors
Various factors, such as viral and bacterial infections, have been contributed to the development of the cancer of the mouth. However, the single most common reason remains to be smoking. When combined with excessive drinking of alcohol, the cancer can develop rapidly. The epidemiological research has shown that the use of tobacco may be responsible for most cancerous lesions of the oral region.

The Causes
Numerous events can lead to the formation of cancer. The evidence links the exposure to external factors directly to the development of cancer within the oral area. These factors include the following:

  • Chemical Carcinogens – A continuous exposure to chemical agents, such DMBA found in various nutritional supplements, may induce the formation of carcinoma.
  • Sunlight – Prolonged and frequently repeated exposure to sunlight has been associated with the cancer of the lower lip. Ultraviolet light acts as a DNA damaging agent resulting in the epithelial cells’ destruction.
  • Tobacco – It contains large amounts of carcinogenic components that induce genetic changes.
  • Alcohol – It has been well established that alcohol promotes the carcinogenic effects of tobacco. Through its dehydrating properties, it affects the oral mucosa.

The Diagnosis
The most common areas of the mouth affected by the cancer are the tongue, the floor of the mouth and the gingiva (gums.) A dentist evaluates the entire oral region and the location and appearance of any lesions. If any tumors are suspected, a series of radiographs may be taken along with a tissue sample for biopsy testing.

The Treatment
If the pathology report shows the presence of cancer, the patient is promptly contacted and referred to the nearest cancer treatment center. It is imperative to establish how advanced the cancer may be. In general, the smaller the lesion, the less complicated the case will be. It will also require less treatment and medications. Oral cavity cancers are typically treated by surgery or radiation therapy.

If the affected tissue is small, a simple surgery may be performed in efforts to remove the entire cancerous site. If the tumors are present, the preferred method of treatment may require radiation exposure.

For cancers detected early, the treatment prognosis is good. The lesions close to the anterior of the mouth are typically curable. The carcinomas found on the tongue or deep within the posterior areas, may be more difficult to embrace and treat.

As with any cancer, timely detection can save lives. The patients are routinely screened for oral cancer during their semi-annual visits with the dentist and dental hygienist. At that time, the exam is combined with educating the patients about the importance of oral health and changing their detrimental habits.

TMD – Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

You may suffer from headaches, a popping jaw when you open or close your mouth with pain, the possibility of locking of the jaw, limited opening, or associated pain in your jaw joints from capsulitis or arthritis. The pain can also be from the muscles. This is called myalgia. This could signify problems with your Temporomandibular Joint-the joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your head. Clicking or popping in the joint may be an indication of previous injury to the TMJ joint problem may be a result of trauma, complications with your bite, grinding or clenching your teeth, or a combination of these factors causing the disc to slip out of position.. TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a condition that affects many people, but the good news is it can often be helped. Based on the severity of your condition, we can recommend a course of treatment that will help your pain and make your day-to-day activities more pleasant. If you are experiencing or have experienced locking or pain in your jaw joint or surrounding area, ask a Haigler Dental Care team member today if you might benefit from an appointment with Dr. Mary Charles.

An Overview Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, which is also known as OSA, is a condition that occurs when the upper airway gets blocked. It causes a person to stop breathing several times at night. OSA is a dangerous condition because it can reduce blood flow to vital organs. It can also lead to an irregular heart rhythm.

Symptoms of OSA

Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of OSA. In fact, it is estimated that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of people with OSA snore on a regular basis. Snoring can make it difficult for people to get a good night’s rest.

Depression, night sweats, waking up choking or gasping and problems getting up in the morning are some of the other symptoms of OSA. It can be more difficult to recognize the symptoms of OSA in children. Some of the symptoms of OSA in children include sweating, bedwetting, learning disorders and problems at school.

Risk Factors

Anyone can develop OSA. However, there are some people who are at a greater risk for developing it than others. This condition is more common in people who are overweight. It is estimated that 50 percent of people who have sleep apnea are overweight. Fat deposits can obstruct the upper airway.

Some people have a narrowed airway, and this can increase the risk of this condition. High blood pressure is another health condition that can increase the risk of OSA. Diabetes, smoking, asthma and chronic nasal congestion are some of the other risk factors for this condition. Additionally, if you have a family history of this condition, then you are more likely to develop it.


Mild cases of OSA can typically be resolved with lifestyle changes. Losing weight, exercising and eating right are some of the ways that OSA can be naturally treated. A continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine can also be used. It works by delivering constant air pressure, which keeps the airway open. Additionally, an oral appliance can be used. It works by positioning the tongue and jaw.

Sleep Apnea Appliance (mild to moderate OSA)

Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea. In a patient with sleep apnea, the position of the lower jaw can allow soft tissue to obstruct air flow during sleep, causing the patient to snore, and at times, to stop breathing for a time. The quality of sleep for both the patient and their partner suffers tremendously. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be very dangerous – leading to systemic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or even a stroke. Dr. Mary Charles can help patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea overcome their condition. After a sleep study is completed at a sleep lab, treatment may include the use of a customized mouthpiece, which comfortably repositions the lower jaw, allowing for clearer breathing and uninterrupted sleep. If you suffer from daytime sleepiness, or snoring, ask your Haigler Dental Care team member about sleep apnea screening today!

Snore Appliances

If you or a loved one snores, you are likely aware that snoring often accompanies fitful sleep. Severe snoring may also be a sign of a more serious problem like sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when an individual stops breathing for an extended period of time during sleep. Snoring happens when the mouth relaxes and the soft tissue vibrates with air flow. After a sleep study to find out if there is sleep apnea, snore appliances are designed to comfortably hold the airway open during sleep. There are a wide variety of snore appliances available to you. Let Dr. Jason or Dr. Mary Charles select the right one that fits your needs.

Occlusal Guard/Night Guard

Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called an occlusal guard, which protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Dr. Jason takes great care in making sure that you have a proper fit.

Bite Splint

In addition to preventing damage to the teeth like an occlusal guard, a bite splint offers the additional benefit of allowing your muscles to relax for a time. The splint distributes forces in a way that allows less stress on the TMJ and teeth, while reducing the work load on the muscles. This reduces muscle soreness and fatigue.

If you are suffering from frequent headaches, recurring muscle pain, as well as from damaged teeth, a bite splint may be the answer. Ask Dr. Mary today about having a bite splint custom created just for you.

Injection for Pain Management

Though usually not the first line of treatment, there are times that

  • Trigger point injections of lidocaine
  • Intramuscular injections of Botox (Botulinum Neurotoxin)
  • Intracapsular (TMJ) injection of steroid may be the best treatment.


Dr. Mary Charles will evaluate your case specifically and determine what the best recommendation is.  As always, she is happy to discuss any questions or concerns.

Atypical Odontalgia/Phantom Tooth Pain

A tooth hurts, but a) your dentist sees no problem with the tooth or b)the tooth is not even there. Let Dr. Mary help you find the source of your pain. With correct diagnosis, the pain can begin to be managed.

Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Mucositis, xerostomia, dry mouth, BRONJ/MRONJ/ONJ (osteonecrosis of the jaw), contracture (shortening of the muscles) are all possible side effects that can be helped.  Let us help you manage these conditions.

Oral Medicine

Do you have a bump, sore, or other unexplained problem in your mouth?
Let Dr. Mary Charles evaluate the lesion. That is the first step to Diagnosis and Treatment.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Does your mouth burn, but there are no physical signs of a problem? It could be a condition known as Burning Mouth Syndrome. Call Haigler Dental Care for an appointment with Dr. Mary Charles.

Neuropathic Pain or Trigeminal Neuralgia

You may be someone who suffers from sharp or burning pain with little or no trigger. Let Dr. Mary Charles evaluate you so that, together, we can work to diagnose and manage the condition.


After a thorough evaluation, we can biopsy suspicious lesions. These maybe area that you are aware of, or areas found to be suspicious during an oral cancer screening.

Haigler Dental Care
688 By-Pass 72 Northwest
Greenwood, SC
Phone: (864) 229-3310
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