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The Other “C” Word In Dentistry

The Other “C” Word In Dentistry

One of the most frightening words today when it comes to our health is the “C” word. As a dentist, I am not speaking about cavities, although, my patients do not like to hear that word either, but a most frightening diagnosis of cancer. In our case oral cancer.

The Other Important Screening – Oral Cancer

In today’s modern society we understand preventative screenings and get regular prostate exams, mammograms, and if need be colonoscopies. We know that these preventative health care exams are crucial for detecting any abnormalities–including cancer–early, and can save our lives with early treatment if necessary.

But what about oral cancer screenings? Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that a regular oral cancer screening is just as important as the other preventative exams. Today, we want our patients and residents of Coconut Grove, FL, and surrounding communities to understand that seeing the dentist every six months is not just to make sure you do not have cavities, but it can save your life.

Scary Truth Statistics

Although not as well-known as the other cancers, 400,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year in the U.S. alone; that is approximately 100 new cases every day. Oral cancer is a particularly aggressive cancer and should not be dismissed as only about half of oral cancer patients survive five years past their diagnosis.

These statistics are very frightening but necessary to know in regards to early detection and treatment. Early detection of oral cancer can boost survival rates 80 to 90 percent.

It is also important to understand that the reason oral cancer is so harmful is that many patients are not diagnosed until they are in the late stages. By raising awareness about this disease and the need for regular screenings and developing oral health habits early in life, we hope to help stop that from happening.

Poor Choices Lead To Higher Risks of Oral Cancer

Certain lifestyle activities can put you at a higher danger of developing oral cancer. Familiarize yourself with these risk factors:

* Tobacco use–Smoking and other tobacco use make you three times more likely to develop oral cancer

* Age–Two-thirds of individuals with oral cancer are over age 55

* UV exposure–Frequent and prolonged exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of developing lip cancer

* Alcohol consumption–Drinking alcohol more than doubles your risk of oral cancer

While knowing the risks can help us prevent oral cancer, it still occurs in people without any of the above risk factors. In fact, it is becoming increasingly more prevalent among non-smoking, healthy adults.

The reason for this shift is the rise of HPV, or human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted infection. Individuals with HPV are 32 times more likely to develop oral cancer–even more so than tobacco users.

Be Aware of Changes And Get Regular Screenings

We’re all used to the occasional canker sore or sensitive cheek that we accidentally bit while eating dinner. While sores in the mouth are common, it’s important to remember that oral cancer often begins as a painless sore that just outstays its welcome. If you experience any of these symptoms, come in to see us right away:

* A lump or thickening in your cheek
* A white or red patch on any part of your inner mouth or throat
* Numbness inside the mouth
* A sore inside your mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks
* Difficulty with swallowing, chewing or moving the tongue or jaw

The most important thing you can do to combat oral cancer is to get regular screenings. As Dentists, we are the first line of defense against this disease and are often the first health care professionals to notice any abnormalities.

Don’t Miss Your Checkup!

At Grove Smiles Dentistry in Coconut Grove, FL, we want to keep you and your loved ones healthy and smiling brightly for a lifetime. So, ask us more about oral cancer screenings when you come in for a biannual checkup or are at the dentist for your visit.

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For Your Health,

Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S.

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Grove Smiles® Dentistry

Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S., P.A.
2685 Bird Avenue
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Phone: 305-858-0505
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