How Going to the Dentist Can Prevent Cancer

Hello! Welcome to Dr. Devang Shah’s dental blog.

We’re going to shed some light on some interesting dental health topics, talk about local events, and elaborate on the innovative treatments we offer.

Today, we’re going to cover a pretty serious topic.

When most people hear the word “cancer,” they mostly think of the big ones: breast, lung, or skin cancer. We seldom think about cancer of the mouth. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know the causes or warning signs.

However, your dentist does, and your dentist can tell a lot about you by your mouth. He can tell whether you smoke, drink coffee, and even how often you brush and floss. Your dentist knows your mouth  well, and this is what makes him the most important person in your defense against oral cancer.

While we’re checking your teeth for cavities and gum disease, we’re also scanning your mouth for signs of  cancer. Cancer doesn’t occur overnight. It takes time for abnormal cells to grow at a rate that make it detrimental to your health. With that being said, the best way to treat cancer is through prevention and early detection.

Causes of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is on the rise in the United States. In the year of 2014, over 40,000 people in the U.S. we’re diagnosed with cancer of the mouth. While oral cancer can be caused from genetics, there are a large number of lifestyle factors that can raise your chance for developing cancer in the mouth.

It’s pretty common knowledge that smoking and tobacco products cause all kinds of cancer. If you smoke cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, you’re six times more likely to develop oral cancer. If you partake in smokeless tobacco, you’re 50 times more likely to develop cancer in your cheek, gums, or around your lips.

If you excessively consume alcohol, you’re six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nondrinkers. Another risk factor for oral cancer is something that’s fairly common in Georgia – excessive sun exposure. Most people think of enjoying golden summer rays of sunlight as a completely harmless task. However, too much sun exposure damages your body’s ability to undergo normal cell growth.

While these lifestyle factors raise your chances of developing cancer, they aren’t the primary causes. Over 25% of oral cancer can happen in people who don’t even participate in libations or smoke regularly. In fact, a lesser known and silent cause of oral cancer is the Human Papilloma Virus (or HPV).

The Link Between Oral Cancer and HPV

You’ve probably heard of HPV. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active people will contract some type of HPV at some point in their lifetime. Fortunately, not all HPV is cancerous. About 7% of people in the United States have oral HPV. It’s much more common in men than women.

It’s not completely known how people contract oral HPV, but most studies suggest that it’s contracted through oral sex or open-mouthed kissing. Alas, there isn’t significant backing on how people get oral HPV. However, there are significant studies that show links between oral HPV and cancer.

Serious as Cancer

Oral cancer has a 5-year survival rate, and it only has a survival rate of 50%. In fact, it’s one of the few cancers in which the survival rate hasn’t gotten better in the last 50 years. This is primarily due to the fact that it’s difficult to screen for this disease solely with a visual exam. This makes oral cancer an incredibly deadly disease.

The most prevalent form of oral cancer, Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas, has a subtle appearance. In its initial stages, it appears as a white patch or red inflamed area. By the time these areas become visible to the human eye, they’ve already advanced to a harmful state.

The reason that other forms of cancer have declined is because they can be screened for at an early state by taking a sample of the abnormal cells for testing. This doesn’t tend to happen with the mouth. For one, people barely go to the dentist twice a year for annual cleanings. It’s easy to put your mouth’s health on the backburner.

With that being said, if you have any of the precursors for oral cancer, early detection is key to getting treatment on time. Early detection could save your life. Luckily, with advancements in technology, we utilize a way to detect mouth cancer at an early stage.

How Our Advanced Lesion Detection Device Can Help

At Dental Smiles at Dacula, we care about our patient’s health on holistic levels, and we want to help make a difference by stopping oral cancer in its tracks. That’s why we urge you to incorporate our advanced lesion detection device into your regular dental appointments.

We use an innovative device called the Sapphire-LD to identify pre-cancerous lesions that are unseen by the human eye. With the Sapphire-LD, we can look below the surface of the oral tissue to help diagnose and treat lesions early on. The technology works by revealing dysplasia (abnormal cells) through fluorescent technology. This makes detection easier and more effective.

You can read more about our non-invasive oral cancer detection process on our website. Otherwise, you can stay tuned into our blog to learn more about detecting, preventing, and treating mouth cancer.

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