April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
It seems as though each month of the year has been dedicated to making people aware of a number of different medical conditions. This is the 13th year that the month of April has been dedicated to Oral Cancer awareness, a fact that my staff and I at Anthem Periodontics and Dental Implants are more than well aware of. In a recent report issued by the Oral Cancer Foundation, it was noted that oral cancer has one of the highest rates of mortality of any known form of cancer. In fact each year, over 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with this disease.
Too Little Too Late
As a periodontist, the one thing I have noticed is that this particularly high mortality rate occurs not because the disease is hard to spot, but that in most cases our patients wait until it is too late to do anything about it. Throughout the year, and especially this month, my staff and I are working hard to educate our patients about oral cancer and how important it is that they are screened on a regular basis. We are also heavily engaged in teaching our patients what steps they can take to prevent oral cancer.
Following extensive research, a number of factors have been found to increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Among these factors are smoking and the use of chewing tobacco, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and human papilloma virus (HPV). I, along with many of my fellow periodontists, have found that the use of tobacco products in any form is the leading cause of oral cancer and one that can easily be eliminated.
Prevention Is Better than Cure
Here at Anthem Periodontics and Dental Implants we are firm believers in the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” With this being said, we spend countless hours every year educating our patients on the steps they should follow to ensure proper oral hygiene. Along with this, we also teach our patients to use a bright light and a mirror to examine their gums, insides of their cheeks, and tongue for any signs of abnormalities.
Among the many early signs of oral cancer are sores that don’t seem as if they are healing, patches of tissue that appear red or white in color, thickening of mouth tissues, lumps, and difficult or painful swallowing that does not go away. Taking a few minutes every month to inspect your teeth, tongue, gums, and the inside of your mouth will reduce the risk of oral cancer gaining a strong foothold in your mouth and may in fact save your life.
Even if you never use tobacco and perform routine monthly inspections, there is one more important step in helping to prevent oral cancer. This is schedule regular appointments with my team and I at Anthem Periodontics and Dental Implants. Allow myself and my staff to thoroughly examine your mouth along with your efforts offers you the best possible chance of early detection.
Should you find any of the above signs, contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. I cannot stress enough just how important early detection of oral cancer is to your overall health and indeed to your life.