Family Dentistry and Oral Cancer Detection

By Carol Waldman April 16, 2015

stop-oral-cancerAn important part of family dentistry is for the dental team to look after the dental health of each and every one of their patients. This is particularly brought into focus this month because it is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

The purpose of marking a month as Oral Cancer Awareness is to help our patients, and the population in general, to be more alert to the risks and signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer awareness in the American public is low. Approximately 45,750 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. That means that there are approximately 125 new people diagnosed with oral cancer in the U.S. every day.

Even more tragically, one person every hour of the day, every day of the year will die from oral cancer. You can read more on the Oral Cancer Foundation website.

Detecting Oral Cancer

There are several risk factors for oral cancer, which include smoking and the use of chewing tobacco. However, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals who have been infected with the HPV (Human papillomavirus) — note the importance of being vaccinated against HPV.

As we all know, early detection of oral cancer is the single best means of assuring a positive outcome for treatment. As family dentists, we see our patients on a regular basis. As a result, most of our patients are healthier so they don’t see their family physicians as frequently as they see us. This situation gives the family dentist the unique opportunity to do a thorough oral cancer screening for all patients and possibly detect a possible lesion before it becomes difficult to treat. In fact, cancer screening is one of the first things that we do when picking up our instruments to examine our patients. With the aid of our lights and instruments, we can see things that are often too difficult for an individual to see in the typical bathroom mirror.

So, my departing thought for this week’s blog is to encourage you, if you are a user of tobacco, to try to quit this potentially lethal habit, and for all my readers to maintain their minimum twice yearly dental check-ups and cleaning. This is a habit that could save your life. Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation.

Next week, I will be talking about sleep apnea in children and how treatment can change a child’s life.

Stay tuned!