April has been set aside as National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and the focus is on preventive care, and how it can contribute to preserving more than just your oral health. As you continue reading, discover how a visit to your dentist for preventive maintenance, which includes an oral cancer screening, could save your life!
Don’t Ignore These Statistics
Researchers estimate that as many as 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and of that group, nearly 20% of them will succumb to the disease. That’s why in the month of April so much attention is being placed on preventive care and oral cancer screenings.
How the Oral Cancer Screening Process Works
Typically, the screening is carried out in the following two stages:
- Visual Assessment – The purpose of the visual assessment is for your dentist to use his or her “bird’s eye view” to assess your face, neck, lips and oral and nasal cavities to look for any swelling, bumps or white or red patches.
- Hands-on Examination – Then, to further search for any evidence of the disease, he or she will then manually probe the same areas for any signs of abnormal growths.
If any traces of oral cancer are discovered, further tests can be conducted to verify the disease’s presence.
Why Early Detection is So Important
When oral cancer is identified and treated early, data shows that the five-year survival rate is as high as 75%. However, the chances of recovery fall significantly when the cancerous cells are given more time to grow and spread.
How You Can Prevent Oral Cancer
The best way to treat oral cancer is to never develop it. Given that studies have proven that one of the main contributors to its development is bacteria growth, a simple strategy is to limit the microorganisms’ food supply and to remove them as frequently as possible using these methods:
- Limit your consumption of foods and beverages that are high in sugar.
- Perform oral hygiene, which includes brushing and flossing, at least two times a day.
- Increase your water intake to aid in the flushing of bacteria from your mouth.
- Visit your dentist for cleanings and examinations at least semi-annually.
Protecting yourself from oral cancer requires adherence to some small steps that will yield big results. By working in conjunction with your local dentist, you can prevent the development of the disease and lead a happy and productive life!
About the Author
For the past two decades, Dr. J. Peter St. Clair has been providing high-quality dental care. Still, the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine graduate remains driven to further expand his knowledge. Thus, Dr. St. Clair is a student and Faculty Club Member at Spear Education. He enhances his patients’ quality of life by providing thorough oral cancer screenings at Dental Partners of Newburyport, and he can be reached for more information through his website.