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Cancer is never an easy disease to face. Many types of cancer are very treatable especially when diagnosed early. Oral cancer is one of those that are easily treatable in its very earliest stages. However, the prognosis changes dramatically once it progresses. Oral cancer is any cancer of the mouth and the pharynx. The most common oral cancer affects the squamous cells in your mouth and can spread quite quickly. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement, and even death. Oral cancer accounts for about 40,000 diagnoses per year and 8,000 deaths annually.

Causes Of Oral Cancer

Use Of Tobacco Products.

Heavy Alcohol Use.

Human Paplilloma Virus (HPV).

Excessive Exposure To Sun.

Warning Signs Of Oral Cancer

-Presence Of White Or Red Patch In The Mouth Or On The Lips.

-Persistent Mouth Sore. Any mouth sore that persists longer than 10-14 days.

-Persistent Sore Throat. Difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness.

-Difficulty In Chewing, swallowing, moving the jaw or tongue.

-Numbness In The Tongue.

-A Constant, Unexplained Toothache.

An Earache.

Oral Cancer Screening By Your Dentist

Your dentist should screen for oral cancer during routine dental examinations at least twice a year. A manual and visual examination is necessary. He or she feels for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity, and thoroughly examines the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues. The use of the Velscope oral cancer screening system has been proven to diagnose precancerous as well as cancerous changes in the tissue as early as possible to give you the best chance for recovery and survival from oral cancer.

Treatment of Oral Cancer

If during your dental examination your dentist finds anything suspicious they will recommend that you have a biopsy performed of that area. The biopsy of the lesion will be used to confirm the diagnosis of cancer. If it is confirmed that you do indeed have oral cancer you will probably be referred to an oral surgeon for removal of the tumors. Radiation or chemotherapy may be also used in the course of your treatment.

Oral Cancer Conclusion

If you have any concerns about your oral health or have any of the warning signs listed above, see your dentist immediately. As in any disease, an early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. So be vigilant and, even if you do not have any warning signs, visit your dentist for routine oral cancer screenings.

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April, 2014


Oral Cancer Facts

-Expected to have approximately 42,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed in 2013 alone.

-Males account for almost 70% of all new cases.

Survival Rates of Oral Cancer

1 year – 89% survival

5 year – 56% survival

10 year – 41% survival

-Approximtely 8,000 deaths per year from oral cancer.

Age 0-44 – 9%

Age 45-54 – 20%

Age 55-64 – 29%

Age 65-74 – 21%

Over Age 75 – 21%

Keep The Whole Family Healthy With Regular Oral Cancer Screenings

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

-Family History of Cancer

-Presence of HPV-16 Virus

Smoking Tobacco – Increases risk by a factor of 6.

-Alcohol Consumption – Increases risk by a factor of 6.

Chewing Tobacco – Increases risk by a factor of 50!

-25% of all new oral cancer cases are patients who never smoke and only drink on occasion (or never). This is where the biggest growth of new oral cancer cases is occurring.

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

-White or red patches.

-Long term earache that never seems to go away.


-Tooth Loss

-Sores in mouth that never heal.

-Lumps in head and neck area.

-Numbness of jaw or surrounding tissues.

-Pain upon swallowing.

Early Diagnosis Is The Key To Beating Oral Cancer

The earlier the cancer diagnosis is made and the quicker treatment is begun, the better chance for a successful long term prognosis from oral cancer. Oral cancer will spread very quickly and needs to be found early in its localized state before it progresses to other parts of the head and neck as well as the rest of the body.

The tool of choice in early diagnosis of oral cancer by many dentists is the VELscope. The Velscope uses a special light that can distinguish normal healthy tissue from precancerous and cancerous tissues. The VELscope examination takes about 1-2 minutes (and is non invasive!) and has literally saved thousands of lives. There are currently about 10,000-12,000 VELscopes in the United States alone. Make sure your dentist has a VELscope to ensure you are getting proper dental care for the possibility of oral cancer development.

Recent research has shown direct connections between dental health and general health. This makes regular visits to the dentist for dental examinations and professional cleanings doubly important. Poor dental health has been linked to many different health issues. Below you will find a list of the top 7 diseases associated with poor dental health.

Poor Dental Health Can Contribute to Dangerous Health Issues.

-Cancer. Studies have shown a definite link between progressive periodontal disease and cancer. It is believed to be linked to systemic inflammation (a major factor in periodontal disease) which promotes the growth of cancerous cells. Researchers found that men with periodontal disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop cancers of the blood.

Heart Disease / Stroke. When dental hygiene is not maintained, the bacteria in the mouth can multiply and grow out of control. This bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread to the rest of the body. If the oral bacteria reach the heart, the bacteria can cause inflammation of the heart (endocarditis). This condition can lead to heart damage or even a stroke. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures.

Respiratory Disease. Studies have found that bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lungs to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.

-Alzheimer’s Disease. This needs further study but recent research has linked poor oral hygiene maintenance with development of alzheimer’s disease.

-Low Birth Weight For Newborns. Recent studies have shown periodontal disease in pregnant women to lead to possible low birth weight. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. However, more research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes.   Any and all infections are a concern to pregnant women because they pose a risk to the baby’ health.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology completed a study regarding early labor in pregnant women diagnosed with periodontal disease. A number of the participants were given an alcohol-free mouth rinse designed to kill the oral bacteria linked to periodontal disease, the other group were told to follow their usual procedures. Of the women given the mouth rinse, 25 percent saw a decreased risk in premature labor and delivery.

-Diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes. This is probably because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. Those people who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk. Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications.

Periodontal disease is a definite issue for people diagnosed with diabetes, because their body has a hard time fighting the infection. In addition, experts feel that periodontal disease also makes it harder for the body to regulate blood sugar levels in non-diabetic patients. People with no prior signs of diabetes suddenly have high blood sugar levels, and people previously diagnosed with diabetes struggle to lower their blood sugar levels.


The evidence is mounting, showing that dental health is linked to general health. Periodontal disease alone is treatable, but can be quite a fight to manage once it reaches critical levels. Adding periodontal disease to systemic disease makes it even harder to control. It is best to manage periodontal issues early while your health is intact and stay healthy for a lifetime of smiles. Your dentist and hygienist will help teach you all that you need to know to keep your gums in optimum condition.

As any baseball fan will tell you, baseball players for years have been using chewing tobacco (also known as smokeless tobacco). Did you know, that the risk of developing oral cancer by using smokeless Smokeless Tobacco Marielaina Perrone DDStobacco products is just as high as from smoking cigarettes?

Smokeless tobacco is tobacco that is not burned. It is also known as chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spit or spitting tobacco, dip, chew, and snuff. Most people chew or suck (dip) the tobacco in their mouth and spit out the tobacco juices that build up, although a spit less smokeless tobacco has also been developed. Nicotine in the tobacco is absorbed through the lining of the mouth.

People in many countries use smokeless tobacco, but America’s favorite pasttime has been the one that has popularized it for many young Americans. Up until recently, major league baseball players were able to carry it in their back pocket on the field. Generally, you could see the outline of the tin in their back pockets as well as from time to time they would remove it to refill the tobacco in their mouths. Now, under new rules agreed to by the players union and owners, major league baseball players can no longer carry the smokeless tobacco tins in their pockets onto the field. They are also banned from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews, team or league sponsored appearances, autograph signings and other events where fans are present. They can, however, continue to chew it while they play as long as those familiar round tins are not visible in their back pockets.

How Does Smokeless Tobacco Differ From Smoking?

Smokeless tobacco contains at least three known carcinogenic agents: N-nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and the radioactive polonium 210. Also, abrasive ingredients are added to the chewing tobacco that inflict tiny nicks in the gums and thin epithelial lining of the cheeks in order to more quickly transport nicotine (and carcinogenic additives) into the bloodstream. Prompted by the irritating juices from smokeless tobacco left in the mouth for prolonged periods of time, precancerous leukoplakias (white areas) develop into cancers in 3-5% of smokeless tobacco users.

Unlike lung cancer from smoking tobacco, which typically develops after decades of use, these precancerous lesions can come on very quickly.

Celebrities promoting chew are very influential. About 12-15 million in the United States will use a chewing tobacco product this year alone. Six million Americans use it every day. And according to the National Cancer Institute, between 35-40% of professional baseball players use smokeless or “spitting” tobacco.

Approximately 40,000 Americans will develop oral cancers this year. Between 80%-90% of these oral cancer cases will be directly related to the use of some form of tobacco, including smokeless

Despite many advances in the treatments options for oral cancer, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, these patients still have only a 60% chance of a five-year survival rate.

Cosmetic Effects of Smokeless Tobacco

The detrimental and readily apparent cosmetic effects can be far greater — and develop far more quickly — with spitting tobacco than with cigarettes.

There are many visible signs of smokeless tobacco use. These can include:

-Tooth abrasion – The gritty abrasives in smokeless tobacco scratch and wear down teeth and gums.

-Loss of Tooth Enamel – Premature loss of tooth enamel can cause teeth sensitivity.

Gum Recession – Injured gums pull away from the teeth. This can result in permanently damaged periodontal tissue, increased sensitivity to heat and cold, loss or breakdown of supporting bone structure, and accelerated loss of teeth.

-Tooth cavities – Sugar is an additive in smokeless tobacco and stays in the mouth while using chewing tobacco. Thereby, increasing risk of tooth decay.

-Discolored teeth – Stained teeth are the rule in smokeless tobacco users.

Halitosis or Bad breath – Sticky tobacco residues are a breeding ground for bacteria.

-White corrugated tissue – chronic irritation of the same area of the mouth causes the gum or lip tissue to form a white calloused appearance. This is generally precancerous, but can become cancer.

Signs of Oral Cancer

-A sore that will not heal or go away.

-An unexplained lump or bump in the mouth.
-White, red, or off-color patches on cheeks and gums.
-Prolonged sore throat that never seems to go away.-Difficulty chewing or swallowing.-Restricted movement of the tongue or jaw.-A feeling of something in the throat.-Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth.

Conclusion on Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Cancer

Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Using smokeless tobacco may also cause heart disease, gum disease, and oral lesions other than cancer, such as leukoplakia (precancerous white patches in the mouth).

All tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, contain nicotine, which is addictive. Users of smokeless tobacco and users of cigarettes have comparable levels of nicotine in the blood. In users of smokeless tobacco, nicotine is absorbed through the mouth tissues directly into the blood, where it goes to the brain. Even after the tobacco is removed from the mouth, nicotine continues to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, the nicotine stays in the blood longer for users of smokeless tobacco than for smokers.

The level of nicotine in the blood depends on the amount of nicotine in the smokeless tobacco product, the tobacco cut size, the product’s pH (a measure of its acidity), and other factors.

Many believe smokeless tobacco is a harmless habit, it most definitely is not. The effects of smokeless tobacco happen very quickly and can affect young people as well as old.

There are many methods available to help with quitting. Remember, it is a habit, albeit a life threatening one, but it can be stopped. If you want to live a healthier life, you’ll need to stop using tobacco products entirely.