April is Oral Cancer Awareness month and Tewksbury Dental Associates wants to be sure you know some important facts about it! The survival rate for oral cancer is nearly 90% if it is caught early. Oral cancer includes cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth, and throat. Our doctors and hygienists are trained to spot anything out of the ordinary and to recognize oral cancer at the first signs when it is still highly treatable.
Your dental health care provider is often the first line of detection and defense. We are dedicated to helping our patients understand the importance of making and keeping a commitment to regularly scheduled hygiene visits. These visits will include an annual screening and they allow us to regularly monitor for oral cancer. We use a non-invasive screening device to aid in our exams called the Velscope which uses tissue fluorescence visualization to identify oral mucosal abnormalities. That is a fancy way of saying the light in the Velscope helps us see lesions or issues you may have more clearly.
There are several things you can do to lower your risk of oral cancer. Statistics show that between 80%-90% of risk factors for oral cancer are linked to lifestyle or environmental factors. First, be sure to see the dentist regularly. Keep your appointments for cleanings and exams with the doctor at the intervals we recommend. For most patients, this is every six months. A diet low in fruits and vegetables can be a risk factor for oral cancer. Be sure to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Tobacco and alcohol use are linked to oral cancer. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society tobacco and alcohol use together increase the risk even more than tobacco alone especially for men and quitting tobacco use can reduce your risk by a third.
A big part of our practice at TDA is to help our patients live long healthy lives. We state in our mission that we have a passion for dentistry and compassion for people. That is delivered in our commitment to oral cancer screening and education around important preventable health concerns like oral cancer. Next time you’re here ask us about the screening and for more information about healthy lifestyle choices that can give you lots of reasons to smile!