According to the American Cancer Society, over 30,000 new oral cancer cases are diagnosed annually with more than 7,000 of these cases resulting in death. In its earliest stages, oral cancer can be very difficult to detect, but luckily dentists across the country are leading the charge to help their patients through oral cancer screenings at their biannual checkups.
Oral cancer has a very high chance of spreading, due to the nature of the gums, so the earlier it can be detected, the higher the odds become of surviving. Through early detection and treatment, dentists have helped to save thousands of lives.
Your dentist will check the entire mouth area (lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, salivary glands, throat, etc.) as well as soft tissue areas around the mouth. Through visual inspections and physically checking the lymph nodes, your dentist can identify anything suspicious and make a recommendation to have the area in question further analyzed.
It is also important to note that around 75% of oral cancer cases are caused, in part, by modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption. However, it is even more important to remember that 25% of the cases stem from those who do not smoke or drink alcohol. You never know what will cause cancer, but the best bet is to stop in its tracks as early as possible through oral cancer screenings.