Newsroom | 26 January 2010

A Visit to Your Dentist May Save Your Life

Serious Ailments, Like Oral Cancer, Can be Found During Regular Exams


Judy Hartling, 860-226-6272

PHILADELPHIA, January 26, 2010 - A dental exam is much more than a cavity-spotting expedition. In addition to decay, dentists look for potentially life-threatening conditions including oral cancer.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 35,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with oral cancer, while 8,000 Americans each year die from it. Without early detection, survival rates significantly worsen.

Having regular dental exams is the most important step, but knowing what to look for between check-ups is also critical. Test your knowledge with a short multiple-choice online quiz. Then, go a step further and listen to a three-minute podcast with Dr. Cary Sun, a dental director at Cigna Dental, on's audio page. Finally, ask your dentist for an oral cancer exam at your next regular checkup.

"Since oral cancer is not in the news as often as other types of cancer, education is extremely important," Dr. Sun said. "If people learn about the disease and its symptoms, oral cancer can be detected sooner."

As part of Cigna's effort to help people improve their health, wellness and sense of security through health education, the quiz and podcast teach people about the signs of oral cancer:

  • unusual spots
  • unexplained tender areas in the mouth
  • a feeling like something is stuck in one's throat
  • thickening of the tissue in the mouth or neck

"Screenings for oral cancer are usually quick and painless," Dr. Sun said. "People need to make sure they get their regular dental exams, not just for teeth cleanings and cavity treatment, but to guard against more serious ailments like oral cancer."

About Cigna

Cigna (NYSE:CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and security. Cigna Corporation's operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 46 million people throughout the United States and around the world. People covered by a Cigna dental plan can choose their dentists from one of the largest dental HMO and dental PPO networks in the United States. To learn more about Cigna, visit To sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of company news, log on to Also, follow us on Twitter: @cignatweets.