You already know that avoiding tobacco products is one key to preventing oral cancer. But according to the American Dental Association, there is a second strategy that is equally important: scheduling regular visits with your dentist. If not detected early, only about 50 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer will survive after five years. That is why it is so vital that you have your mouth examined every six months by a trusted dentist. He or she will identify anything out of the ordinary that may be signs of cancer or pre-cancer and advise you on the smartest steps to take next. The American Dental Association suggests that oral cancer is often preceded by the presence of “clinically identifiable pre-malignant changes” that may appear as white or red spots in the mouth.
If caught early and removed by a dentist, these spots never have the opportunity to become cancerous – or deadly. Visiting a dentist on your dental plan on a regular basis will help ensure that any changes in your mouth are caught at the earliest possible stage. Also, remember that even if you do not smoke or use other tobacco products, you are still at risk for oral cancer. Research discovered by the American Dental Association shows that up to one quarter of all oral cancer patients did not use tobacco. African-Americans also face higher risk factors, so talk to your dentist and develop a plan to prevent oral cancer. It could save your life!