Dental specialists are the ideal health partners to detect a type of head and neck cancer whose incidence has exploded in the past 15 years: HPV. Yes, it’s the same high-risk HPV that causes cervical cancer. The HPV virus is seemingly everywhere, so many are exposed. This type of cancer is often found on the tongue and oropharynx, the middle part of your throat behind the mouth. It includes the back third of your tongue, the sides and back walls of your throat, and tonsils. This type of cancer is distinguished from “traditional” oral cancers, partly, due to:
- It’s affecting younger men
- It’s affecting those who are not smokers or longtime, habitual drinkers
- The high incidence among people with persistent HPV, who unlike most have a hard time clearing the virus
The growing rates of these cancers underscore the importance of dental visits, at least every six months. As dentists, we’re at the front lines of not only your teeth and gum health, but also your overall wellness. Our professionals will look for abnormalities, such as ulcers or growths on the sides and base of the tongue or tonsils. If you haven’t scheduled your next checkup, call us.