COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of nearly everyone in the United States and throughout the world. This global pandemic may be declining as of right now, but there are serious health consequences that many people are continuing to suffer from – one of which is oral cancer. Read on to learn about the connection and why there has been a sudden increase in diagnoses as well as when you should plan to seek help from your local dentist.
What is the Connection Between Oral Cancer & COVID?
With more than 281 million previously confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the world as of January 2022, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the effects of this pandemic have been catastrophic. Apart from the physical ailments people have experienced, the social, emotional, and mental toll has been equally as devasting on citizens.
Whether a person caught COVID-19 or not, there has been a sudden rise in oral cancer cases. Why is this? There are many reasons, some of which include:
- A lack of preventive dental care due to the closures and shutdowns caused by the spread of COVID-19. This means people did not receive regular exams that can often include oral cancer screenings and, in turn, detect early signs of the disease.
- Worsening overall health and an increase in individuals who are obese or overweight. The pandemic forced many people to remain inside, allowing bad habits to form with regard to food and exercise.
- Increased tobacco use, as stress levels from the pandemic reached an all-time high. This caused people to resort to unhealthy habits as a way to handle the turmoil occurring at the time.
When You Should See a Dentist
Since most dental offices throughout the United States now have safety precautions in place to combat COVID-19, and because many individuals are now vaccinated, returning for regular six-month exams and cleanings is essential. Preventive care is the cornerstone of dentistry, as it is the best way to identify early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer.
With more than 54,000 people diagnosed in 2021, there is a five-year survival rate of around 60%. To avoid becoming a statistic, early detection is key. This is why most dentists offer oral cancer screenings, which means looking for abnormal lesions or lumps as well as discolored patches of tissue. Should problems exist or areas inside the mouth look suspicious, a dentist can refer you for additional testing.
But if you’re not due for a regular checkup right away, be sure to look out for the following signs. If you notice any, don’t wait to get in to see your dentist:
- White or red patches inside the mouth
- Oral sores that do not heal
- Lesions or lumps that form on the cheeks, tongue, or gums
- Sore throat or hoarse voice
- Ear pain
- Swelling inside the mouth
Oral cancer is not something to disregard or put off. Seeking treatment by a skilled dentist can do more than prevent cavities. It can actually save your life.
About the Practice
Pure Dental Spa has two locations in the Chicago area – Lincoln Park and West Loop. Providing patients with preventive care, oral cancer screenings are part of the normal exam process. By identifying signs early on, the chances of survival are much higher. If you suspect you might have one or more symptoms associated with oral cancer, do not wait to seek help. Call us or visit our website to learn how we can help.