Take A Moment To Learn About Oral Cancer
Preventive care is essential to good dental health. It’s central to what we do as part of our family dentistry.
Tooth decay and gum disease are the most common problems that we try to prevent and avoid.
But there is a much bigger issue that we try to watch for as well.
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the dentist. Nevertheless, oral cancer screenings are part of what we do for our patients from Rochester Hills, MI, Troy, Auburn Hills, and anywhere else in our area.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. We are taking some time to share with your how we check for signs of oral cancer.
We want to share the leading causes of oral cancer in the United States, too.
Seeing The Light
The human eye is remarkable, but it doesn’t always see everything.
For centuries, we (humans) have developed all kinds of ways to help us better see what is in front of us. Infrared cameras and night-vision goggles are just a few examples of this.
When we are checking for oral cancer, we would rather not find anything. If cancer is there, however, we want to do our best to identify the problem as early as we can. This is why we use TBlue360 and the ViziLite Plus.
TBlue 360 is a rinse that you swish in your mouth. The rinse is like a dye that can reveal potential problems areas when they are exposed to a certain kind of light.
This is where the ViziLitePlus comes into play. By shining the light from the Vizilite Plus into your mouth, we may be able to spot potential problems sooner.
This can lead to better and more effective treatment if you should develop oral cancer.
Know Your Risks
The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that 132 people are diagnosed with oral cancer on an average day in the United States. One person dies from oral cancer every hour in the U.S.
The three leading causes of oral cancer in the United States are tobacco use, alcohol use, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). Let’s consider each one individually.
► Tobacco Use
Tobacco is far and away the leading cause of most cases of oral cancer in our country. Not only does tobacco contribute to one-third of all cancer cases, and it is a factor in 80 percent of oral cancer deaths.
While cigarettes are the most common way people consume tobacco, any tobacco use increases your risk of developing oral cancer.
As one example of this, a study of women living in rural North Carolina found that women who used snuff were 14 times more likely to develop cancer in their gums and other soft tissues than women who did not use tobacco. Among long-term users (25 years or more), that risk increased more than 50 times compared to women who didn’t use tobacco.
Tobacco products have been found to contain 70 different known carcinogens. The toxic chemicals found in tobacco products also weaken the user’s immune system, which makes this a double-whammy against your health.
► Alcohol Use
Alcohol abuse is considered the second highest risk factor for oral cancer. This is defined as consuming 21 drinks in a week, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation.
Heavy drinking can contribute to nutritional deficiencies in your body. When this happens, it’s harder for your body to prevent cancer formation.
As you might expect, heavy alcohol consumption combined with tobacco use makes your risk of oral cancer even higher. Researchers have noted that alcohol dries out users’ mouths. This dryness makes it easier for the carcinogens in tobacco products to get into the soft tissues in your mouth.
HPV is much further down the list, but it is important enough to mention.
Eight in 10 people in the United States will contract HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For 99 percent of us, our bodies fight the infection, and we never know that we had it.
But for the unlucky 1 percent, certain strains of HPV can be deadly. One strain in particular, HPV16, is known to cause cervical cancer and some types of oral cancer.
HPV may be hard to avoid given how widespread it is. This is also why the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends getting vaccinated against HPV before people are sexually active. The vaccine is only effective if someone has not yet been exposed to the virus.
Get Checked And Stay Safe
To learn more about oral cancer, visit oralcancer.org.
To reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, don’t use tobacco or quit using if you are. Avoid alcohol or use it only in moderation, and ask your doctor about HPV vaccination.
And remember, Hubbard & Leath Dental can conduct oral cancer screenings for you. We welcome patients from Auburn Hills, Troy, and anywhere else near our dentist office in Rochester Hills, MI.