April is important for more than beautiful spring flowers. It is also Oral Cancer Awareness Month. A person dies every hour every day of the year from oral or oropharyngeal cancer. Approximately 54,000 cases are diagnosed annually. Sadly, 43% won’t survive longer than 5 years. Late detection is the leading cause of the mortality rate. Believe it or not, you don’t have to smoke to be at risk. Oral cancer can occur in anyone. Thankfully, you can benefit from the power of early detection by visiting your dentist in the Lehigh Valley for an oral cancer screening.
Frightening Facts About Oral Cancer
Tooth decay and gum disease aren’t the only dangers that may be lingering in your mouth. Oral cancer can occur in the oral cavity, affecting the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, the floor of the mouth, or upper palate. It can also occur in the tonsils, back of the tongue, and other related structures.
Contrary to common belief, everyone is at risk of oral cancer, even if you have never used tobacco. Although smoking and excessive alcohol drinking can significantly increase your risk, cases of oral cancer are also on the rise from the human papillomavirus (HPV). The sexually transmitted disease is connected to throat cancers.
Despite the latest advancements in healthcare, oral cancer often isn’t diagnosed until it has metastasized. Even if you don’t have risk factors, it’s best to have an oral cancer screening annually.
Benefit from Early Detection
A cleaning and checkup aren’t the only reasons to visit your dentist every 6 months. They can also perform a quick oral cancer screening. Your dentist will look for any concerning signs or symptoms, such as:
- Sores or irritation that won’t go away.
- Red or white patches.
- Pain, numbness, or tenderness of the lips.
- Thick, lumpy, or rough patches.
- Difficulty swallowing, speaking, or chewing.
- Limited tongue or jaw movements.
- Changes to your bite.
Your dentist will learn more about your medical history and lifestyle while checking your oral cavity. If they find something suspicious, they’ll take a biopsy for laboratory testing. After receiving the results, they’ll provide you with further instructions.
Commit to Semi-Annual Appointments
The American Dental Association recommends a cleaning and checkup twice per year. Besides keeping your teeth clean and your mouth healthy, now there’s another reason to maintain your semi-annual appointments.
A quick oral cancer screening ensures your dentist detects any abnormalities immediately. If it has been more than 6 months since your last appointment, visit your dentist to ensure your mouth is healthy to smile your brightest.
About Dr. S. John SalivonchikDr. Salivonchik has over 20 years of experience in dentistry. After earning his dental degree from Temple Dental School, he has regularly furthered his education to provide state-of-the-art dentistry. He focuses on prevention to help his patient maintain optimal oral health to support their wellbeing. If you haven’t had an oral cancer screening, contact our office to schedule an appointment.