How Common is Oral Cancer

How Common is Oral Cancer

A warm hello to everyone during this Holiday season. I’m Dr. Jonathan J. Bechtel, DDS and my dental practice is in Lansing, Michigan. I’ve dedicated my life to the study and practice of biologic and holistic dentistry, and I am intensely focused on providing patient-centered care. This is a tough topic to absorb especially given that’s it’s the holiday’s and one of the most joyous times of year. But it’s so important. I’d like to take the opportunity to share some information about a serious and pressing matter affecting the lives of thousands of Americans: oral cancer.

Each year, about 53,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer. I want to do my part and do everything I can to spread awareness of this important topic and educate patients on the importance of routine examinations and oral cancer screening.

Oral cancer is a serious matter, but scientists are making progress each year. We now have the ability to diagnose and detect this disease in early stages, when patients are more likely to have a positive response to treatment. Preventative measures like the Oral DNA Testing offered at my dental office in Lansing, MI can aid in early detection and help identify the specific bacteria that cause disease. This allows my team and I to develop customized treatment plans that produce better, longer-lasting results and, ultimately, help patients get healthier.

How Common Is Oral Cancer?

Approximately 3% of all cancer cases diagnosed in the United States each year are oral cancer cases. Men may be at greater risk than women. Individuals over age 40 are also at higher risk. According to, the risk of developing oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer in one’s lifetime is about 1 in 60 (1.7%) for men and 1 in 140 (0.71%) for women. Certain lifestyle choices may also increase risk.

What Causes Oral Cancer?

Cancer is the development of abnormal cells in the human body. These abnormalities are the direct result of mutations in DNA. “Oral cancer” is a classification used to refer to cancer that develops in any part of the mouth, including the lips, throat, gums, and tongue, as well as the rest of the oral cavity.

Risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, alcohol use, HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, immune system dysfunction, excess sun exposure, dietary factors, weight, and age. Scientific research also suggests that oral cancer may also be linked to oral hygiene and the health of the mouth and gums.

Understanding the Oral-Systemic Connection

Taking good care of your teeth and gums is important not only for your dental health, but your overall health and quality of life. There is an abundance of scientific research that tells us that the health of our mouth impacts the overall health of the rest of our body. This is called the oral-systemic connection.

Your mouth is home to more than 650 species of bacteria. Most of this bacteria is completely harmless, but certain types can negatively impact your health. Thanks to science, we now know approximately that 5% of these bacteria can cause periodontal disease. Additionally, some species are highly pathogenic and cause damage to the organs and tissues throughout your body. The systemic effects of oral pathogens can include damage to the muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, and reproductive system, and may also be linked to cancer.

Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Oral Cancer

Breakthrough advancements have provided us with better, more accurate ways of diagnosing oral cancer while it is in early stages. My office in Lansing uses Oral DNA Testing to identify the specific bacteria that cause conditions like periodontal disease, systemic diseases, and oral cancer. Once identified, we can then target these specific strains with antimicrobial therapies. Then, we can debride and scale, and clean the mouth to set up the body to heal and resist further breakdown.

Oral DNA Testing

My office offers Oral DNA Testing in the form of saliva testing. Saliva testing gives us a simple, non-invasive way of assessing your unique bacteria profile. We have partnered with OralDNA® Labs, a specialty diagnostic company designed to provide reliable, definitive, and cost-effective clinical tests. These tests help my team and I to detect and diagnose disease when it is in early, more treatable stages.

Antimicrobial Therapy

Most dental offices only treat disease through debridement, scaling, and root planing. While I also utilize these methods, I take treatment a step further with antimicrobial therapy. Antimicrobial therapy allows us to target disease-causing strains found above threshold. Then, we can debride and scale. This sets you up for success on your journey towards healing and recovering.

What Can I Do to Decrease My Risk of Oral Cancer?

There are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of oral cancer. Practice healthy lifestyle and eating habits. Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. Use sunscreen and SPF lip balm when you go outside. And lastly, take good care of your dental and oral health.

It’s important that you visit my office regularly for dental cleanings and exams. Adults over the age of twenty should have an oral cancer screening every two to three years and individuals aged forty and over should have a screening completed once annually. In addition to Oral DNA testing, my team and I offer a variety of preventative treatments and services that can steer you towards wellness. Here is the test kit for patients wanting to know their associated risk of HPV:

Schedule an Appointment Today

Bechtel Dentistry is committed to the health, comfort, and safety of our patients. As leaders in our field, we are always investing in new technology, industry advancements, and ongoing education to ensure that our patients receive the very best care possible. When was the last time you visited your dentist for an oral cancer screening? I encourage you to contact my office to book an appointment for a comprehensive oral health exam. We are always accepting new and returning dental patients from Lansing, Holt, Okemos, Mason, Grand Ledge, Dewitt, Haslett, Williamston, St. Johns, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids, East Lansing, and Potterville.Contact our office today at 517-882-7132 to schedule your oral cancer screening and start your journey to better wellness. We strive to provide the highest level of care with our incredible holistic approach for the comprehensive treatment you need. We’re looking forward to working with you! Call today to schedule an appointment or speak to a member of our team!