April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The national campaign was initiated by the Oral Cancer Foundation to increase awareness about a disease that affects many people’s lives. In April, dental associations from across the country are coming together to spread the word about this often overlooked disease.
Oral Cancer Facts
- Approximately 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancers every year in the US according to the American Cancer Society.
- Oral Cancer kills one person, every hour of every day in the United States.
- Many who do survive suffer long-term problems, such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties with eating and speaking.
Knowledge Is Power – What causes oral cancer?
You don’t have to be old and unhealthy to be at risk. Oral cancer is typically associated with tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and older age. Many people are surprised to find out that, due to the connection to the HPV virus, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is young, healthy individuals.
Decrease your risk:
- Quit all tobacco use. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco can cause cancers anywhere in the mouth or throat, as well as cancers in other parts of the body.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing oral cancer. Approximately 7 out of 10 patients with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Avoid HPV. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a sexually-transmitted disease that is linked to oral cancer. The number of oral cancers linked to HPV has risen dramatically over the past few decades. Prevent HPV with HPV vaccinations and typical STD preventative measures.
Early detection is key. Oral cancer’s high death rates are not because it is difficult to diagnose, but because it’s typically discovered late in its development. Visit your dentist on a regular basis (we recommend every six months) to be screened for oral cancer symptoms.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
- A lump in the mouth or throat or on the lip.
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or the lining of the mouth.
- Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth.
- A sore throat that does not go away.
- Difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing.
- Swelling of the jaw.
- Hoarseness in the voice that lasts for a prolonged period of time.
- Pain in the ear.
Get your Oral Cancer Screening at Your Local PERFECT TEETH
Oral cancer screenings are a part of all of our new patient and routine exams. When you see a PERFECT TEETH dental professional, we evaluate your risk factors and look for signs of oral cancer.
Additionally, we’re currently testing a new early oral cancer screening product called OralID at five PERFECT TEETH practices in Arizona. This optically-based technology saved our Chief Dental Officer’s Dad’s life, and we’re excited to see how it benefits PERFECT TEETH patients.
Oral Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity for us to remind everyone that early detection is key to saving lives. It’s also an opportunity for you to understand the risk factors and to schedule your next dental appointment in hopes of avoiding this deadly disease.
At PERFECT TEETH, we are committed to keeping our patients oral cancer free. Contact us this month to schedule your next dental appointment and get screened. Click here to locate an office near you.