Is the Incidence of Oral Cancer Increasing?

When you visit the oral health specialists at the Pennsylvania Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics, we assess your teeth and gum health, but will also look for oral red flags that could indicate other medical challenges, like possible oral cancer.  Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world. In 2021, it was estimated there were 54,000 new cases in the United States. older woman looking off to the side

What Can Lead to Increases in Oral Cancer?

In a recent article in the Journal of American Dental Association, the authors discuss some unhealthy habits that increased as a result of the pandemic, and how these habits could lead toward an increase in oral cancer rates in the future. The list includes:

  • Chronic ulceration due to improper dentures
  • Self-neglect in people with depression, exacerbated because of Covid-19
  • Dramatic decrease in HPV vaccination rates
  • An increase in e-cigarette and nicotine usage
  • Poorer oral hygiene and overall health care

Other studies have shown increases in oral cancer among patients with periodontitis, with the greatest relationship between those with Stage 4 periodontitis, the most advanced form of gum disease. When you’ve reached this stage of gum disease, teeth can become loose, biting and chewing are difficult, and extensive treatment is required to try to address the damage.

Early Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

Contact your periodontist for a thorough examination if you experience any of the following signs of possible oral cancer:

  • White or red patch on gums, tonsils, tongue, or lining of mouth
  • Persistent mouth pain
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Unexplained mouth bleeding

Other circumstances that can increase your risk of oral cancer include sun exposure (lips), tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and a previous mouth cancer diagnosis. You can also learn more about oral cancer from The Oral Cancer Foundation.

Our doctors and periodontal hygienists help in the fight against oral cancer by detecting abnormalities in your mouth. We remind you that maintaining your best oral hygiene is even more important in times of medical challenges or stress. Logic (and a lot of research over the last few decades) tells us that better oral health can mean better overall health. Inflammation in your mouth could be related to other chronic diseases.

If you’ve delayed treatment because of the pandemic, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We are still implementing enhanced safety measures that exceed the American Dental Association, CDC and OSHA standards.