Dental Tips Blog


Tony Gwynn, Chewing Tobacco and Oral Cancer

Posted in Oral Cancer

The recent death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn sends a clear message about the risks and dangers of one of major league baseball’s favorite pastimes, chewing tobacco.

Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer. He was only 54 years old.

Gwynn blamed his cancer on chewing tobacco, a habit he had had since he was a rookie. A right fielder considered to be one of the best and most consistent hitters of all time, Gwynn played 20 seasons for the San Diego Padres. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Recent reports say while the incidence of many types of cancers is actually on the decline, oral cancers are on the rise. According to the American Cancer Society, 37,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and 7,300 will die.

Most of the recent spike in oral cancers is reportedly attributed to the spread of HPV, or human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease.  Regardless of the cause, officials across the health industry are using Gwynn’s death to illustrate the need for more frequent and thorough oral cancer screenings. In many cases, they say, cancers of the mouth and throat can be treated successfully if detected in its early stages.

Your dentist can screen for oral cancer during your routine dental examination. But if you are experiencing any pain, discomfort or red or white patches within your mouth or throat area, you should contact your doctor or dentist immediately.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates


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