03 Apr Stick Out Your Tongue and Say Ahh…
Did you ever wonder why dental professionals make us do parlor tricks with our tongue while in the dental chair? Once while performing an oral cancer examination, a patient asked me if I was performing a dexterity test and did he pass? I was happy to report that he did indeed pass but it was not the dexterity test, it was an oral cancer evaluation. This is one of the most health centered components of a dental examination. Make sure you always have this performed. It could save your life!
April is National Oral Cancer Month. At Glen Lake Dental, it is always Oral Cancer Awareness Month because of our commitment to our practice family! As a practice, we are staggered by the statistics surrounding oral cancer!
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral oropharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour 24 hours per day. Many of these individuals will have simple signs that will go unseen without a thorough intra and extra oral examination completed by their general dentist. The challenge is that many lesions begin with a simple color change in the gum tissue, tongue or back of the throat. Patients cannot see these areas when brushing and flossing.
Oral cancer has a very high mortality rate not because it is hard to treat but because it often goes undiagnosed until it is in the late stage of development. We now know that the virus HPV16 contributes more to the incidence rate of oral cancers, particularly in the posterior part of the mouth (the oropharynx, the tonsils, the base of tongue areas) which many times does not produce visible lesions or discolorations that have historically been the early warning signs of the disease process.
Two additional high risk factors are alcohol and tobacco use. Other studies suggest that males are at a higher risk than females. As we mature, our risk of developing oral cancer increases. The incidence of oral cancer increases over age 55 and other studies link poor nutrition such as a diet low in vegetables as a secondary risk factor. Ask you can see there are so many areas that put us at risk and a good oral cancer examination is the one small thing we know to minimize our patient’s risk.
Treat yourself to an dental visit today. We know that prevention or early diagnosis is the key to a healthy life. Call us today so that we may answer your questions.
Here’s to your Oral Health!
Dr. Danielle Leonardi and Team