It isn’t as widely addressed as others, like breast cancer, but the truth is that oral cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in America. It also boasts an alarmingly high mortality rate, though that rate is largely influenced by late-stage detection and treatment. Because of this, it’s important for your dentist to perform regular oral cancer screenings during your routine dental checkup appointments. Doing so not only keeps you informed about the state of your oral health, but can also significantly improve your chances of success if oral cancer treatment becomes necessary.
The Ugly Truth About Oral Cancer
Each year, approximately 40-50,000 people are newly diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States. As a collective term, oral cancer can include cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, and other oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Though the survival rate of late-stage oral cancer treatment is typically lower than 50%, that rate jumps dramatically for patients who detect and treat their condition early (up to approximately 80%).
How Your Dentist Can Help
The point of regular checkup and cleaning appointments with your dentist is to prevent the issues that can threaten your oral health, and therefore your overall wellbeing. In addition to cavities, gum disease, tooth damage, bite problems, and more, oral cancer screenings are a vital part of preventive care. Unlike your physician, your dentist is well-acquainted with the specific signs and behaviors of oral cancer, and is best equipped to help you keep an eye out for its development.