The Importance of Oral Health & Cancer Screenings

On Friday, March 14 2014, Dr. Anna Berik of Newton Dental Associates appeared on Fox25 News  in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Most people are not aware but oral cancer kills 43,250 people every year. That’s 118 cases diagnosed every day, and one death every hour. Recent statistics show that only 15% of all patients receive cancer screening. During her interview, Dr. Berik discussed how dentists are often the first to see early signs of oral health problems. Screenings and early detection can save lives and increase survival rates.

Dentists are able to tell a lot about your overall health just from a simple screening during a regular hygiene visit. A person’s overall health is manifested in the mouth first. A simple visit to the dentist could detect serious health conditions.  Early detection is pivotal. The tissue in the mouth turns over so quickly that dentists are able to detect not only oral cancer but also many other diseases and disorders.

What happens during an oral cancer screening?

“Not only are they easy for doctor but they’re easy for the patients as well”

Screenings are non invasive, and often free. The doctor will put a piece of gauze in your mouth and move it around left and right. Their hands will be in your mouth, feeling the floor of your mouth, and all around for lumps and bumps, looking for things that are hard to see.

You see something then what happens, what’s the next step?

“At Newton Dental Associates, we use our hygiene visits as our opportunity…
that means twice a year we are doing oral cancer screenings on all of our patients”

When you find something, a legion in the mouth that the patient was unaware of, the first thing to do is point it out to them. Ask them good questions, ‘Where you aware of this? Does it hurt you? Did you burn your mouth recently’ etc. As a dentist you don’t want to scare the patient. Dr. Berik explains that in her practice at Newton Dental Associates, they often take pictures to monitor it. As a dentist and as a patient, what you want to find out immediately is how long the legion has been there and if it has changed. If there are no changes in two weeks, a referral is almost necessary.

What is your advice to anyone?

“You should be visiting your dentist and you should be getting an oral cancer screening at your dentist.
Ask for it. The best patient is a well educated patient”


For more information on oral cancer screenings or oral and dental health, contact us at Newton Dental Associates located just outside of Boston in Newton, MA. Our office specializes in oral hygiene, general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontics. Call us at 617.965.0060 or e-mail us


From tooth cleaning to whitening, to full makeovers and total facial esthetics, Newton Dental Associates is a place for everyone.