At Quince Orchard Dental Care, our practice is a complete health practice, which means that while our specialty is oral health, we consider your overall health in everything we do. Educating our patients on the systemic link between the mouth and the body is one unique and very important aspect of our practice. We desire that our patients understand that the risk of contracting other inflammatory diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other serious diseases can be raised by periodontal disease. A healthy mouth is free from biofilm, oral pain, calculus (tartar), sensitivity to hot and cold, bad breath, decay, gum disease and oral cancer.
A surprising statistic shows that one death every hour of every day in the United States, is caused by Oral or pharyngeal cancer. Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, only 60% will live longer than 5 years. Moreover, many who do survive will suffer long term problems such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulty eating and speaking. The death rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. However, if detected early, oral cancer patients have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate.
Quince Orchard Dental Care is proud to announce that we use the Identafi Oral Cancer Screening System. This screening tool, which is not a diagnostic tool, performs enhanced oral assessment that detects lesions that are not yet visible to the naked eye. It helps clinicians by directing their attention to areas that are potentially problematic. If we find abnormalities in your mouth, we refer you to an oral surgeon to have further checks done or to have a biopsy done which will give a definite diagnosis.
Consider these statistics:
- Close to 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year.
- It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day.
- Of the 50,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.
- The mortality rate of oral cancer has not decreased in over 40 years.
These statistics only emphasize the importance of getting frequent oral cancer screenings.
The Screening Problem
Only 14% of patients in the United States over age 40 claim to have ever been screened for Oral Cancer. This number might not be 100% accurate mostly because most dentists and hygienists do the oral cancer screening on their patients without informing them that they are doing it. How would you know? If they ask you to stick your tongue out, check the sides of your tongue, check your gums and cheek and palpate your lymph nodes they are checking for any abnormalities which might indicate oral cancer.
Who Gets Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer has been marked for a 60% increase in adults under the age of 40 in the last 10 years. Of this number, 25% of cases have shown no traditional risk factors.
See below conventional risk areas ranked from highest risk to lowest.
High Risk areas
- Floor of the mouth
- Lateral border of tongue
- Tuberosity and retromolar area
Medium Risk areas
- Lower lip
- Buccal mucosa
Low Risk areas
- Hard palate
- Dorsal section of tongue
Traditional Risk factors for Oral Cancer
- Previous History of Oral Cancer
- Alcohol (excessive use)
Tobacco Use (including smokeless tobacco)
In some patient populations, contrary to popular believe, up to 40% of cases of oropharyngeal cancer were not preceded by any history of tobacco, alcohol use or other significant lifestyle risks. This statistic can possibly be explained by HPV, an emergent risk factor. HPV, the sexually transmitted Human Papillomavirus, is the most common virus group in the world today affecting the skin and mucosal tissue and approximately 75% of the population will be infected at some point with over 100 different variations of the virus. Most HPVs are not fatal and are treatable. The two strains linked to oral cancer are HPV 16 and HPV 18 and according to studies conducted by the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, 25% of patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer had HPV 16.
Each year in the U.S., HPV is thought to cause an estimated 1,700 oropharyngeal cancers in women and 6,700 oropharyngeal cancers in men. These statistics have developed a greater need for a once-per-year screening for HPV for persons over the age of 18.
HPV Signs and Symptoms include:
- Continual/persistent sore throat
- Pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing
- Pain when chewing
- Continual lymphadenopathy
- Non-healing oral lesions
- Bleeding in mouth or throat
- Numbness in the tongue
- Unilateral ear pain
- Lump in throat or feeling that something is stuck in the throat
- Unexplained weight loss
- Slurred speech
- Tongue that tracks to one side when stuck out
- Asymmetry in tonsillar area.
Preventive Dentistry incorporates knowledge and education that equips children and adults with the techniques they need to keep teeth clean, strong and white. At Quince Orchard Dental Care, we strive to provide attentive consultations that allow for us to delve a little deeper and provide education about proper dental care as well as your overall health. We encourage you to visit our office for an oral cancer screening today.