70% of people in the U.S. brush their teeth at least twice per day, and just slightly less (63%) see their dentist regularly. As awesome as these statistics sound, that still means that 30%-40% of people neglect annual dental visits and are not brushing! April is National Oral Health Month, and our team at Stetson Hills Dental wants to help educate people on the importance of dental health so we can improve the statistics.
It’s Not as Rare as You Think
Oral cancer kills at least one person every hour, and it is projected that 54,000 people will be diagnosed, and close to 10,000 Americans will die from the disease in 2022. Of the 54,000 diagnosed, only slightly more than half will be alive in five years. It is a disease that is rarely talked about but is not so rare to have.
Oral cancer – which includes head and neck cancers, throat cancer, and laryngeal cancers – is obviously the worst-case scenario when it comes to poor dental health and disease. But, the real evil of this disease is that it can start subtly and suddenly, and if you aren’t seeing a dentist for regular checkups – it could be you.
How it Begins
Oral cancers don’t start as oral cancers. Oral cancers progress from other diseases that, if caught early on, could dramatically decrease the sad statistics we mentioned earlier.
We have all heard of this disease, but most people will brush it off as ‘no big deal’. Gingivitis is an inflammation of your gums. Sometimes when you brush, you may notice bleeding or swelling. This may be an indication of early-onset gingivitis and you need to see a dentist immediately.
This is even more important for pregnant women, as they can assume it is a normal pregnancy symptom and brush it under the rug. If you notice any kind of swelling, sensitivity, or bleeding, get checked out. It may save your life.
If left unchecked or untreated, gingivitis will progress into another serious disease: periodontitis. The tenderness of your gums will severely increase, as will the bleeding, but more symptoms will begin to appear. You may experience rapid tooth decay or tooth loss and you may be diagnosed more frequently with gum infections. It doesn’t stop there. Periodontitis also affects your jawline and can cause the bone itself to become compromised.
It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way
Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom. Oral cancers and serious dental diseases like the ones mentioned above can be prevented, but you have to put in the effort. Brushing your teeth twice per day is a great start, but unless you are seeing a dentist regularly (twice every year) for routine cleanings, exams, x-rays, and an oral cancer screening, you are still at risk.
At Stetson Hills Dental, we would love to care for your entire family. Let us help you get on the right track for your dental health and together we can change the statistics for the better. Schedule an appointment today!