Let's End Oral Cancer!

April 3rd, 2020

Many may not know much about oral cancer, but not to worry, we've got you covered! April is Oral Cancer Awareness month throughout the United States, and we are excited to join the Oral Cancer Foundation's (OCF) fight to end oral cancer by spreading awareness. Spreading information on oral cancer can help lead to earlier detection and thus save lives! According to the OCF, about 53,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. It's estimated to be about 132 new people each day. Sadly, one person will die from oral cancer every hour of every day of the year. In fact, oral and pharyngeal cancers have a high death rate which is highly attributed due to late detection of the cancer. Surprisingly, oral cancer is becoming widely seen in young, healthy, nonsmoking people possibly because of the increased risk of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16). However, individuals who smoke tobacco are also still high risk. The majority of oral cancers are classified as oral squamous cell carcinomas.

Let's dive in to some of the risk factors of oral cancer:

  • Men are two times more likely to have oral cancer than women.
  • Approximately 25% have no known risk factors.
  • Infection with the sexually transmitted HPV16 virus
  • Alcohol and tobacco, including vaping, smokeless tobacco, pipe smoking, etc. (Individuals who use both in combination are 15 times more at risk)
  • Prolonged sun exposure increases risk of developing lip cancer
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Infectious diseases
  • Chronic physical trauma

Potential Signs and Symptoms:

  • A sore or lump on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal (monitored by dental professional, typically for 2 weeks)
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils or lining of the mouth
  • Bleeding, pain or numbness in the lip or mouth
  • Change in voice
  • Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit well
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Jaw swelling
  • Sore throat

Some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all. Early Detection is key! It is important to check your oral cavity regularly to identify any changes. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends performing these self-exams monthly. It is also necessary to keep up with your regular dental appointments and to notify your dentist if you notice anything unusual.

If a definitive diagnosis of oral cancer is determined and staged, treatment will involve multiple disciplines likely including surgeons, oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and rehabilitation and restorative specialists.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.








Link Found Between Poor Oral Health and HPV

September 9th, 2013

There has been a recent studying showing a relationship between poor oral health and the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that has been shown to cause cancer of the cervix, mouth and throat. Cancer Prevention Research has been the first group to document this link. While this association has been made, it is still too early to say that flossing and brushing on a regular basis can prevent oral HPV infection.


Research done at the University of Texas health Science Center have looked over data on both low-risk and high-risk oral HPV infection and health in 3,439 adults between the ages of 30 and 69. The original study found that males who smoke cigarettes and having multiple oral sex partners have an increased risk of developing oral HPV infection. Researchers then controlled for smoking and the number of oral sex partners and found that self-rated poor oral health was an independent risk for this oral infection. It was shown that those with poor oral health were 56% more likely to contract the oral HPV infection, compared to those with fair oral health. It was also found that gum disease was linked to a 51% higher oral HPV risk and general dental problems were linked with a 28% increased prevalence of this infection. While there still has not been conclusive evidence revealing this, researcher believe that people who lack of good oral health, such as those suffering from ulcers, sores or lesions, and gum inflammation, give way to more openings in the mouth, providing more locations for HPV to enter.


Even though there is not enough evidence to decisively show the link between poor oral health and HPV, it never hurts to maintain good oral health. While more research needs to be done in this topic, there have been many more relationships shown, linking oral health to the body’s overall health. Good oral hygiene should become a lifestyle, a personal habit that individuals should hold up to. Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com










Gum Disease, HPV Could Lead To Head, Neck Cancer

July 11th, 2012

New research is showing that chronic gum disease in conjunction with HPV may lead to head and neck cancer. The National Cancer Institute in the United States says that HPV is definitely a factor.

The study of 124 people who were diagnosed with squamous cell carcinomas showed that about 40% of tumors tested positive for HPV. These people were also more likely to have gum disease.

Gum disease is simple to detect and could help prevent the development of cancer in these patients.

The article is available in full here. If you have any questions, please contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com.

HPV and Oral Cancer

June 21st, 2010

This is a very informative video about the HPV link to oral cancers - definitely worth a watch.

In the June 2010 issue of AGD Impact,  an article by Eric K. Curtis, MA, MAGD called "Sex Ed: What Every Dentist Must Know About HPV,"  brought to attention some startling statistics regarding the human papillomavirus (HPV) and oral cancer.  HPV is a sexually transmitted disease.

One of those statistics, stemming from a report mentioned in the British Medical Journal (BMJ, March 2010) said that a U.S. study "found that approximately 60 to 80 percent of recent oral cancer biopsies were HPV positive - 10 years ago, only 40 percent of such biopsies were HPV-positive.  The BMJ report also suggested that HPV can be transmitted through oral sex." 

Curtis seems to believe that this report "reinforces the trend that the BMJ warns: patients with HPV- positive OSCC's (oral squamous cell carcinomas) are, on average, three to five years younger than patients with other OSCCs, and they are less likely to have a history of alcohol or tobacco use."

So in the past, when doctors looked for risk factors for oral cancer, they might have considered smoking and alcohol use at the top of the list - now, having an understanding of the HPV link to oral cancer will help doctors address the numbers of oral cancer cases among the younger population.

Dentists should continue to follow this information and perform regular oral cancer screenings on all patients age 18 and over.  If you have not had an oral cancer screening, it's time to ask your dentist for one. 

Oral cancer kills one person in the United States every hour of every day. For more information, please visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.

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