April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. The National Cancer Institute estimates about 41,000 cases of oral cancer in 2013 and about 8000 deaths due to oral cancer. As part of a comprehensive oral exam, our dentists and hygienists look for pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions. These could be white, red-white, or red lesions, specially greater than 1 cm in size that have persisted for more than two weeks. The high-risk sites include the tongue, floor of the mouth, and anterior tonsillar pillars. Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol use increases oral cancer risk upto 15-fold. 5% of the incidence of oral cancer is related to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). So, make sure you get screened regularly at your dentist’s!
April is also National Facial Protection Month. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that there were 3 million emergency room visits in the US in 2013 for facial trauma. If your child is involved in gymnastics, cycling, cheerleading, or any contact sport (basketball, football, ice hockey, wrestling, etcetera), please encourage the use of helmets, protective eyewear, mouth-guards, and face-shields (depending on the sport).
At the dentist’s, we think of Hersheys = chocolates, not so great for teeth. But look at this! Hershey Ice Breakers Ice Cubes Sugar Free Chewing Gum now has the ADA seal. This means that the American Dental Association recommends chewing this sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals to stimulate the flow of saliva. This then reduces the plaque acid, and thus prevents cavities.