Oral cancer tends to be overlooked but it affects many people’s lives across the nation. Spreading word about this disease has become increasingly important, so much so that the Oral Cancer Foundation took the initiative to make April Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This is the time when dental associations from all over come together to recognize oral cancer and inform others about the disease.
A Few Facts You Should Know
- Nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancers in the US each year.
- Every hour, every single day, one person in the US will die because of oral cancer.
- Those who survive often suffer from long-term problems. These can include severe facial disfigurement or difficulties talking and eating.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
A common misconception about the disease is that it only affects those that are old and unhealthy. This is simply not true. Oral cancer is generally linked to tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and older age. In addition, there is connection to the HPV virus resulting in more young and healthy patients being diagnosed with this disease.
How Can You Decrease Your Risk?
- Stop Using Tobacco. Tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and pipes have been known to cause cancer in the mouth and throat, not to mention in other parts of your body. The risk of developing one of many cancers is not worth continuing to use the products.
- Minimize Alcohol Consumption. Drinking alcohol dramatically increases your risk of developing oral cancer. Approximately 70% of patients that are diagnosed with oral cancer have a history of heavy drinking.
- Prevent HPV. The Human Papilloma Virus, known as HPV, is a sexually transmitted disease directly linked to oral cancer. In the last few decades, the number of patients with HPV that have developed oral cancer has increased dramatically. In addition to your standard STD prevention methods, the HPV vaccine is a good way to prevent contracting the virus.
Early detection can mean life or death. Unfortunately, oral cancer’s death rate remains and high and that is not because it is hard to diagnose but instead because it is often not detected until it is in its later stages of development. This is why it is increasingly important to visit your dentist regularly to be screened for oral cancer symptoms. We, and most insurance companies, recommend coming in every six months.
Common Signs & Symptoms
- White or red patch on your gums, tongue, or the lining of your mouth
- A lump in your mouth or throat or on your lip
- Bleeding, pain, or numbness in your mouth
- A constant sore throat that does not improve with standard treatment
- Difficulty or pain caused by chewing and/or swallowing
- Swelling of the jaw
- Hoarseness in your voice that can last several weeks
- Ear pain
Get Screened Today at Torbeck Dental
Oral cancer screenings are included in our new patient and routine exams. When you visit Torbeck Dental, you can expect our dental team to evaluate your risk factors and examine your mouth for signs that oral cancer is present. Oral Cancer Awareness Month is an important time to get the information out there, but it is not the only time for us to remind you how important early detection is. We feel that it is important for our patients to always be aware of the risk factors and to prioritize bi-annual visits in an effort to avoid this disease.
At Torbeck Dental, we take oral cancer seriously and are committed to keeping our patients free of the disease. Contact us today to schedule your next routine examine and screening.
About Torbeck Dental
Torbeck Dental treats every patient with dignity and excellent care. We are highly trained dental professionals with exceptionally friendly and helpful service. We understand that for many, visiting a dentist can be a stressful experience so our comfortable surroundings and compassionate staff will ease any fears you may have. We are here to help you achieve your happiest and healthiest smile! Our dental team are a group experienced professionals using the latest treatments. Our team has the professional experience to realize that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all treatment, so we never use a one-size-fits-all approach to your dental plan. We provide quality and personalized oral health care while keeping your individuality in mind. Our goal is to improve and maintain your oral health so you can smile with confidence!