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Helpful tip of the Month - August from Linda Kihs

01 Aug 2015 3:00 PM | Anonymous

Dental Assistants Play a Role in Cancer Detection

Dental assistants are valuable members of the dental team and can play a role in helping detect the possible deadly disease of oral cancer.  While obtaining new or recall medical histories or just in casual conversations, a well informed dental assistant can pick up on possible warning signs that must be brought to the dentist's attention.

  • An unusual white or dark spot on the tongue, oral mucosa and/or lip  
  • An ulcer or sore that doesn't heal within 2-3 weeks.
  • Numbness in the lips or mouth
  • An earache on one side that lasts for an unusual amount of time
  • Difficulty or painful when swallowing or chewing
  • A lump or swelling in the mouth or neck area
  • A persistent cough, sore throat or hoarse voice

Researchers have discovered a link between oropharyngeal cancer and the human papiloma virus number 16 (HPV16).  The HPV link is thought to be responsible for an increase in these cancers in otherwise healthy non-smokers ages 25 to 50.  Other carcinogens such as tobacco and alcohol are also a contributing factor for oral cavity malignancies.  

Additional information is available on Dentistry iQ.  

Submitted by:

Linda Kihs, CDA, EFDA,  OMSA, MADAA

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