Oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day, every year. Only 60 percent of people newly diagnosed with oral cancer live for 5 years and those who do survive are forced to live with oral issues the rest of their lives. What’s worse is that many people die from oral cancer because they failed to get it diagnosed in time. That’s why your dentist in West Orange is in a unique position to catch early signs of oral cancer before it’s too late.
A Summary of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a form of cancer that occurs anywhere inside the mouth. Some of the most common areas include the gums and tongue, but it can also appear in the upper throat. This is referred to as pharyngeal cancer. Oral cancer appears in the form of red and white plaque deposits or lumps in the mouth.
What are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?
Most people are aware that the use of alcohol or tobacco increases the chances of contracting oral cancer later in life, but many people don’t realize how much the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) affects it as well. In fact, people with HPV are 30 times more likely to get oral cancer, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
Other risk factors include:
- Amount of exposure to radiotherapy to the neck and head
- Familial history of head and neck cancer
- Being over the age of 55
- Poor oral hygiene
- Prolonged sun exposure
- Weakened immune system
How Are We Building Awareness?
Dentists across the country are promoting awareness about oral cancer, especially during their patients’ regular dental visits. It’s become more common to include oral cancer screenings as part of your examination. You may not even realize you’re being screened if your dentist in West Orange doesn’t tell you.
They may also carry informational guides in their practice that highlight the importance of seeing your dentist regularly as well as checking for signs of oral cancer at home.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The only way to know for sure if you don’t have oral cancer is to visit your dentist for your oral cancer screening. The key to preventing oral cancer from affecting you is to detect the signs of oral cancer early. It is far more treatable and manageable at this stage, so don’t skip your dental visits.
A great way to protect yourself in between visits is to practice self-exams every month in the mirror. These exams are very simple and only take a few minutes to complete. To start, stand in front of a mirror in an area that’s well-lit. Then, feel the inside of your lips, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth. Check the front and back of your gums as well as all the surfaces of your tongue. If you notice any:
- Sores that haven’t healed after a long period of time
- or discolored patches
you should visit your dentist for an oral cancer screening in West Orange right away.
Have more questions about oral cancer or on how to reduce your risk? Schedule an appointment with your dentist before it’s too late!
About the Author
Dr. Medhat Dawoud earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. His practice includes oral cancer screenings as part of your routine checkups, so it’s essential that you make it to them. To learn more about his screenings or practice, contact him at (973) 731-2200 or visit his website.