From helping dental patients understand risk factors and preventative measures, to supporting dentists in their efforts to save lives through early detection, the American Dental Association, ADA offers valuable resources during Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Statistics from organizations such as the American Cancer Society and The Center for Disease Control support the ADA in explaining cautionary information.

In this ADA interview, Registered Nurse Sandy Wexler credits her dentist with saving her life through early detection

When people skip a regular dental appointments, they might not be considering the risk they run. Not only are regular cleanings and x-rays necessary for basic oral maintenance, but dental checks for infections or cancerous growths could potentially be life saving. An ADA interview with Registered Nurse Sandy Wexler shares this message.

As a registered nurse, Wexler didn’t think much of a swollen lymph node. Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that the body is fighting off an illness, so can occur quite commonly. But after her screening at the dentist, she was sent to her primary care doctor and diagnosed with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. After completing over 15 weeks of treatment and five years total of recovery, she is grateful to call herself a survivor.

“I’m glad I went to the dentist in July of 2012 for her to find the lymph node. If I hadn’t, my routine physical exam was six months later… metastasized even further and I probably wouldn’t be here.”

Sandy Wexler, RN, in an ADA video interview credits early detection by her dentist as a lifesaving experience

ADA shares benefits of HPV vaccine to reduce oral cancer risk

Another perspective on oral health to consider during Oral Cancer Awareness Month: the risk for human papilloma virus (HPV) patients. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that HPV is associated with about 9,000 cases of head and neck cancer. Once the sexually transmitted disease is contracted, cancer odds increase dramatically. To help reduce the risk, the ADA points out the benefits to getting the HPV vaccine.

“HPV can cause cancers in the oropharynx – which includes the back of the throat, the tonsils and the base of the tongue. Studies show that HPV causes up to 70% of these cancers in the U.S. Thankfully, the HPV vaccine is a simple way to protect your family.”

The American Dental Association

When it comes to oral health, regular dental appointments ensure more than just healthy smiles: Routine dental exams can result in early detection of oral cancer and lifesaving results. Learn more about ADA resources available for dentists to increase oral cancer awareness among their patients.