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A somber fact is that cancer of the mouth and throat–oral and pharyngeal cancer–kills almost one person every hour of the day, resulting in over 8,000 deaths every year. Part of the reason is that oral cancer awareness in general is low for the American public. The good news is that April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and during this time the dental community unites to increase awareness in our patients.

Our dentist can diagnose oral cancer early on, by examining your neck and mouth during oral screenings. Smoking and using tobacco seem to be the highest risk factors, and heavy alcohol use. But what is troublesome is the numbers are rising in the younger generation, but not from smoking, but rather from catching HPV. Sadly, HPV (the human papillomavirus) is the leading cause of oral cancer today.

The key is early detection, combined with early treatment, and this is vital because cure rates are low. What this means is that we need to be screening for this disease every year. What are some of the signs of oral cancer? Typical symptoms include sore throat and neck mass, sores in the mouth which bleed easily and which don’t seem to be healing. Also, if your teeth are not fitting together properly when biting down, and a thick lump or hard spot in the mouth. Finally, if you have tenderness, pain or numbness or a rough or crusty area in the mouth.

Consider keeping regular dental checkups, not just for your healthy teeth and gums but for your overall well-being. Protect yourself and those you love with regular checkups and screenings. Remember, oral pharyngeal cancer screenings can save your life, because early detection is key to survivability.

As National Oral Cancer Awareness month, April is a wonderful time to schedule a dental checkup and a cancer screening. To schedule a visit with Dr. Manveen Atwal, please call our Northwest Family Dental team in Gainesville, Florida at 352-231-8451 today!