Oral Cancer Awareness Month

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It’s April, and in the world of dentistry, that means oral cancer awareness month. Cancer is a generally terrifying subject, and oral cancer is no exception. Oral cancer affects roughly fifty-three thousand new Americans each year.  Although this form of cancer gets less attention in the public eye than many others, it has some of the highest lethality rates. A big part of this fatality rate is a result of oral cancer rarely getting diagnosed until it’s already progressed beyond what our treatments can handle.

Half of the people diagnosed with oral cancer within the US die within five years of receiving that diagnosis. Of those people, many of them will have already had their cancer metastasize to other areas, which dramatically lowers the odds of survival. Traditionally, people over forty have had a significantly higher risk of developing oral cancer, but recent research has shown increasing rates of development within younger demographics. Many of these instances of more adolescent development have been shown to coincide with the presence of the virus HPV, and research has drawn a strong causal link between the two. Scientists also believe that an increase in youth smoking habits plays a notable role in this trend.

Regarding preventative measures, there are some things we can do to reduce our odds of developing oral cancer. Having the vaccine for HPV is an obvious and relatively inexpensive path that can drastically reduce the odds of early development of oral cancer. You may think this vaccine can only benefit women, as the most touted fact about HPV is that it causes roughly eighty percent of cervical cancers, but research around oral cancer strongly indicates that everyone can benefit from this vaccine. If you’re doubtful about vaccines, then ask the dentist about them at your next Tulsa teeth cleaning.

Another important step we can take is to not inhale smoke. Whether you’re consuming tobacco or if you’re in one of the states that allows for legal marijuana, the inhalation of smoke can significantly increase the odds of developing oral cancer. Alternative methods of consumption can reduce the risks, but it is important to research each method fist. When you come in for a Tulsa teeth cleaning, the dentist can share what they know about the various methods of tobacco consumption and the associated oral health risks.

A third factor that we can control is the quantity of our alcohol consumption. Alcohol, like tobacco, can drastically increase the risk of oral cancer when consumed regularly. Like many chemicals, alcohol poses a minimal threat when consumed with intentional moderation but can be very harmful to us when unregulated. Minimizing alcohol consumption will reduce the odds of developing oral cancer, and it can also result in a plethora of other health benefits. Come in for a Tulsa teeth cleaning and ask the dentist how alcohol impacts your oral health.

Cancer is scary, and oral cancer is more frightening than many other forms. There is little that we can do at home to catch this illness early on, as it often masks its symptoms. Regular Tulsa teeth cleanings allow the dentist to examine you for warning signs, and lets you rest easy knowing you are doing everything you can to take care of your health. So, don’t let the fear hold you back: schedule a Tulsa teeth cleaning today.