A recent study of Taiwanese men found that the risk of oral cancer is higher if the person is exposed to high levels of air pollution. Published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, the results are one more reminder of why regular visits for oral exams are so important for patients of the Sacramento Dentistry Group.
Pollutants Linked to Oral Cancer
To conduct the study, the scientists first had to account for the relative risks from known causes of oral cancer, like tobacco use. Then they looked at both pollutant and medical data from cities in Taiwan. What they found is that areas with high ozone levels or large amounts of very small particulates (called PM2.5) showed an increased risk of mouth cancers.
Unfortunately, Sacramento air quality does not meet all state or federal standards for ozone. And while Sacramento’s averages for particulates are mostly considered safe, our air does not consistently meet the state and federal standards for fine and ultra-fine particulates (particles 2.5 microns or less, thus PM2.5). Compared to Taiwanese averages, Sacramento has better air quality in relation to ozone, but is fairly similar when comparing particulate matter.
Visiting the Dentist Helps with Oral Cancer
If California continues to have longer and more intense fire seasons, the amount of fine particulates in the air will increase during upcoming summers. And while the Air Resources Board continues to work towards better air quality for all Californians, population gains may counteract future air quality improvements caused by better technology and consumer habits. Therefore, this new finding emphasizes the need for regular oral cancer screening.
During semi-annual oral exams that take place before teeth cleaning, the Sacramento Dentistry Group looks for oral cancer. In addition to carefully examining the mouth visually, we also use VELscope technology for advanced detection of suspicious tissues. So make sure to visit our downtown dental office regularly to monitor your health and support early detection of oral cancer.