April 18, 2019
It’s projected that close to 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and nearly 20% of those cases will be fatal. To aid in reversing this trend, dentists around the country have joined forces to recognize April as National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. As you read on, you’ll learn why such a great emphasis is placed on preventive care during this time period.
A Brief Look at Oral Cancer
In your mouth, there is an abundance of flat cells that cover the tongue, lips, cheeks and other surfaces, and it’s in these places that you’ll find the origin of oral cancer. Here are some of the warning signs to be on the lookout for:
- Red or white patches
- Lumps in the oral cavity
- Signs of numbness in the mouth or lips
- Sores and bumps that have persisted more than a few days
The Typical Causes of Oral Cancer
The disease can be brought on by such activities as tobacco use, over-exposure to the sun, excessive alcohol consumption and a high intake of processed foods. Another major contributor is untreated gum disease, which involves the exponential growth of harmful oral bacteria.
How a Preventive Care Visit Can Help
As a general rule of thumb, you should visit your dentist for preventive care every six months. While there, you’ll receive a thorough cleaning, and you’ll also undergo a full examination, which includes an oral cancer screening.
Here are the advantages of the above activities:
- The Cleaning – Having your teeth cleaned removes the lingering plaque and tartar that can contribute to gum health issues and the development of oral cancer.
- The Consultation – The dental visit is not just about a cleaning and examination. It’s also an educational opportunity. Thus, your dentist will provide helpful tips on how to improve your dental health and to prevent the development of oral cancer.
- The Oral Cancer Screening – One of the most important aspects of the visit is the oral cancer screening, because it provides a way to identify the condition early so that a plan of action can be developed to treat it.
Early detection is always better than scrambling for solutions when oral cancer has matured, and it has begun to move. Statistics support this sentiment as there is a 75% five-year survival rate when the disease is treated early. Conversely, that number dips greatly to 20% when there is no early detection.
So when you visit your dentist for preventive care, you’re getting more than just clean teeth; it could actually save your life.
About the Author
When it comes to dental health, Dr. Robert V. Hughes has seen a thing or two in his 50-year career as a dentist. Still, he remains just as passionate about helping his patients enjoy excellent oral health as he was when he first entered the dental field. Dr. Hughes provides preventive care to help patients avoid oral cancer at his private practice, and he can be reached for more information through his website.
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