According to a December 2015 article in Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, the number of cases of oral cancer is on the rise in young adults. This is due to infection by the human papillomavirus or HPV. Of the more than 100 varieties of viruses in this group, it is HPV strains 16 and 18 that increase the risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer in young adults who do not use tobacco products or drink. The source of this infection is most commonly oral to genital contact. Contributing factors include multiple sexual partners, early age for sexual activity, lack of condom usage, and history of sexually transmitted diseases. This is a concerning trend as the overall 5 year survival rate for oral cancer remains at approximately 50%, due to the lack of early detection. Our general dentistry practice routinely inspects the mouth visually for oral cancer checking all of the most vulnerable ares like the lateral borders of the tongue, the area beneath the tongue, and the back of the throat. This is why the dentist will pull out your tongue, lift it up, and ask you to open wide. A thorough exam of your mouth should include all of these things in addition to merely looking for cavities. We also offer the option of the Vizilite, which is a chemical cancer test that detects cancer before it is visible in the mouth.