Oral Cancer Prevention

When caught at an early stage, most oral cancers are very treatable and have a very good prognosis.  This goes down significantly as it progresses, so prevention and early detection are key!  Oral cancer screenings are an important part of your routine dental visit.  Both your dental hygienist and your doctor are trained to look for any changes in your mouth that look suspicious.  During your teeth cleaning and exam, they are looking at not just your teeth, but also at the tissues of your mouth, tongue and lips.  It is important to know that most mouth sores and lesions are benign, so beware of Dr. Google!  If there is an area that concerns you, call and make an appointment for a doctor to look at the area, it is very likely that it’s nothing!  If an area is concerning, we can take a biopsy to send to Quest labs for diagnosis.  Since we use a laser, biopsies are minimally invasive, and usually patients have no pain or bleeding afterwards.  Some risk factors that contribute to oral caner are smoking, chewing tobacco, heavy alcohol consumption, and infection with HPV (human papillomavirus).  Incidence of oral cancer has increased in young, healthy people due to HPV.  Vaccine’s are available for children and young adults to prevent infection with the strains of HPV that cause cancer.  These same vaccines prevent cervical cancer in girls and women.  Vaccination, smoking cessation, refraining from heavy alcohol use, along with regular dental visits are your best tools at preventing oral cancer!