Dental Articles

Oral Cancer and Oral Health

Overall Oral Health
There's a growing trend within general dentistry that stresses the importance of overall oral health — not only health of teeth and gums, but of all the soft tissues in the oral cavity and oropharynx. Growing numbers of clinical practitioners now incorporate routine intra- and extra-oral head and neck exams into their hygiene appointments to screen for dysplasia, oral cancer and a host of other oral diseases.


Oral Cancer
Approximately 36,540 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx in 2010. During the same time period 7,880 Americans will die of oral cancer.*

One of the VELscope system's most important tasks is to help identify areas that might, if not identified and treated, progress to oral cancer. The statistics below, from the National Cancer Institute's SEER Database, 1999-2006, are a compelling argument for regular VELscope exams:

Found early, while still Localized (confined to the primary site), oral cancer's five-year survival rate is good: about 83%. Only 33% of all oral cancer discoveries fall into this category.

Found while Regional (progressed to regional lymph nodes) the five-year survival rate drops significantly, to about 55%. Approximately 46% of all oral cancer discoveries are Regional.

Found late, oral cancer's five-year survival rate is poor: approximately 32%. This accounts for approximately 14% of all oral cancer findings. Clearly, finding oral cancer in its early stages is key to survival. Routine VELscope examinations can improve the morbidity and mortality of oral-cancer, because the VELscope system assists in early detection, potentially saving lives through less invasive, more effective treatment.

HPV — Changing the Demographics of Oral Cancer An increasing body of evidence points to a strong link between particular strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV, most notably strain 16) and a certain type of oral cancer that occurs in the oropharynx. HPV 16 is the same strain associated with almost all cervical cancer. Many experts now recommend that all adult patients over the age of 18 receive a thorough intra- and extra-oral head and neck exam annually.

For more information on oral cancer, please visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.

* All statistics from the National Cancer Institute's SEER Database.


According to the American Dental Association, there is recent good news about progress against cancer. It is now easier than ever to detect oral cancer early, when the opportunity for a cure is great. Currently only half of all patients diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years.

Our practice has the skills and tools to ensure that early signs of cancer and pre-cancerous conditions are identified. We can help you fight and win the battle against oral cancer. Know the early signs and see your dentist regularly.


You should know:

Oral cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the Mouth.
It can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum tissue, cheek lining, Tongue and the hard or soft palate.
Other signs include:
A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
A color change of the oral tissues
A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the mouth or on the lips
Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue
A change in the way the teeth fit together
Regular Dental Check-ups Important
Regular dental check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. You may have a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore and not be aware of it.

Request an appointment or call our office to schedule a personal consultation during your next


• Did you know that chewing 5 pieces of gum with 100% Xylitol can reduce your risk of cavities significantly? So chew away!!

• Did you know that Xylitol is a natural occurring sugar found in mushrooms, strawberries, and can be manufactured naturally from birch wood?

• Did you know that Xylitol is one of the safest sugars ingested by those with diabetes?

• Did you know that Xylitol is now being researched significantly in those with osteoporosis in aiding in the prevention of weakening bones?

• Did you know that Xylitol has been shown to help prevent ear, nose and throat infections?

• Did you know that Xylitol is safe for pregnant and nursing women and that studies have shown that regular use significantly reduces the probable transmission of Streptococcus Mutans (the bug which causes tooth decay)?