- April 25, 2018
Many of us already know that we should visit a dentist at least twice annually for an examination and teeth cleaning. Those who have periodontal disease often visit their periodontist three to four times per year for periodontal maintenance.
But there’s another important examination that likely is happening at your appointments: screening for oral cancer.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great time for a refresher on the importance of being screened annually for this life-threatening disease.
Here are some facts about cancers of the mouth and upper throat:
- Collectively, these types of cancer kill nearly one person every hour of every day of the year.
- Of those who are newly diagnosed with these cancers, about 40 percent will die within five years.
- Many people who survive these cancers have ongoing difficulties eating and speaking, and some have severe facial disfigurement.
- The death rate associated with mouth and upper throat cancers is high because it often isn’t discovered until it has reached an advanced stage.
As periodontists, we are diligent about performing oral cancer screenings because evaluations of several studies have shown that there is an increased risk of oral cancer among patients who have periodontal disease.
Tooth loss also has been identified as an independent risk factor for oral cancer, according to the Perio-Implant Advisory. Another study found that an increased cancer risk existed in people who had lost 11 or more teeth, compared to those who had all of their natural teeth, after adjustment for alcohol and smoking. Oral cancer risk continued to increase in people who smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, and had lost teeth without having them replaced, compared to those who did not consume alcohol or smoke, and had their natural teeth.
If you are missing one or more teeth due to periodontal disease, it is important to get the disease under control. Although periodontal disease cannot be cured, it can be successfully managed. Once it has been properly treated and your mouth is stabilized, you can consider dental implants as a tooth replacement option.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a periodontal evaluation and an oral cancer screening.