As dentists who offer prosthetic teeth and body parts to those suffering from cancer, we are observing Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This disease is treatable if caught in time, but can do incredible amounts of harm. We want our patients to know what they need to watch out for and why it matters.
The most recent statistics indicate that almost 50,000 people in the United States get diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Among people who are newly diagnosed, 40% do not live for more than five years. However, dentists can often find oral cancer before it spreads by searching for red and white spots or lesions in the patients’ mouths. We can also use a specialized light to examine soft materials below the surface of the oral cavity. If something suspicious is found, a sample of the tissue can be sent to a laboratory for diagnosis.
Besides the signs dentists look for, patients should also know to seek help if they experience ringing in their ears, pain on one side of their head, or feel as if there is persistent a lump in their throat they are unable to swallow. Smoking and alcohol use are highly correlated with mouth and throat cancer, and the later can also be caused by HPV.
Drs. Denise VeyVoda and Robert G. West operate The Oyster Bay Family Dentists at 123 South Street, Oyster Bay, New York, 11771. To schedule an appointment, call 516-922-5730 or visit Oyster Bay Dentists and fill out a contact sheet.