Many of you come into our office for your six-month exam and don’t think twice about why we not only examine your teeth and gums, but your throat, cheeks, lips and tongue. That’s because we are concerned about your overall health. Many times it can be your dentist that discovers a concerning spot or discoloration in the inside of your mouth. Although oral cancer has not been as prominent a topic as other types of cancer in recent years, it is equally important and just as dangerous. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and all of us at Mitchell Dentistry want to make sure you’re informed.
In 2013, approximately 42,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, this will be the fifth year in a row that these numbers have increased. The two primary ways people get oral cancer is from the use of tobacco and alcohol products and from exposure to the HPV-16 virus, which also causes cervical cancer in women. When discovered in the early stages, oral cancer has an 80 to 90% recovery and survival rate. Unfortunately, the majority of cases are discovered in the later stages of cancer because these cancers of the mouth and throat are sometimes hard to discover and not much attention has been given to oral cancer as a health concern.
Preventative measures include limiting alcohol consumption, not using tobacco in any form, conducting self-examinations with a flashlight and thoroughly inspecting the inside of your mouth. You will also want to have regular, professional screenings, either by a dentist, an ear, nose and throat doctor or primary care physician.
Remember – early detection can save your life! If you would like to come in for an oral health screening, please give our office a call at 239.939.5556.