Why You Need an Oral Cancer Screening
The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that someone dies from oral cancer every single hour in the United States. Cancer comes in many forms and occurs in many areas of the body, but most people don’t think about their oral health when it comes to cancer. Thousands are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, and 1 in 5 end up dying from it. However, the good news is that oral cancer is preventable if detected and diagnosed early. That’s why it’s so important to visit the dentist often for comprehensive examinations, dental cleanings, and an oral cancer screening. Protect your health today and have your screening!
Oral Cancer: What Is It?
Cancer can happen in any part of the body. In fact, the National Cancer Institute reports that there are over 100 different types of cancer. Oral cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. The NIH reports that your salivary glands have many different types of cells that can become cancer. You are constantly producing saliva to aid you in digestion and keeping your teeth healthy and clean. However, cancer cells can form and turn into oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that there are almost 50,000 cases of oral cancer each year (about 49,750). Over the years, research shows that about 1 in 5 people will eventually die from oral cancer.
That comes out to about 1 person dying every hour of every day from oral cancer. Some patients will often have a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away. Others will develop red or white patches, or will have pain, tenderness, or numbness in the mouth or lips. Oral cancer sometimes develops lumps or thickening in the tissues in your head or neck, or they cause difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your tongue or jaw. The good news about all of this? Oral cancer is completely preventable if you keep up on your oral health and are screened often. In fact, an oral cancer screening could actually save your life and it takes less than 5 minutes of your time!
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral cancer screening is usually part of your comprehensive exam when you come in to see the dentist. During this screening, we will look at all the hard and soft tissues of your mouth. These include the teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, throat and lips. We actually start this screening as soon as you begin talking with us, as speech abnormalities can be a sign of oral cancer starting to form. We listen for a hoarse or raspy voice that could indicate an abnormality in your throat.
Using a light, we’ll thoroughly examine every part of your mouth and the back of your throat. We do this to check for abnormal lesions that we are trained to see, but that you may not notice. You may think that you would feel an abnormal lesion, but these generally are not felt, and oral cancer is not painful in many people, especially in the beginning stages. We also check your head and neck to detect pain in any area where there shouldn’t be pain. If you use tobacco or drink alcohol, we recommend that you stop using these substances, as they significantly increase your risk for oral cancer. With your oral cancer screening, we can detect cancer when it starts and stop it’s progression. An oral cancer screening can literally save your life!
Services You Need Each Year
Besides an oral cancer screening, we recommend that our patients also receive biannual cleanings and comprehensive exams. This recommendation comes from the American Dental Association. Most patients can keep up on their oral health and avoid issues if they see their dentist at least twice a year. However, for patients that know that they have cavities often, or for those who have gum disease, they should see their dentist about every 3-4 months. Why is this? Most of the upkeep of your oral health must be done at home. You must be brushing and flossing every single day to avoid tooth decay and gum disease. However, only dentists are trained to notice cavities and where they are forming, if gums are receding, if the teeth have stuck-on tartar, and more.
A comprehensive exam is the dentist’s chance to get a close-up view of all your teeth, gums, and mouth as a whole. We can evaluate your bite and alignment, signs of decay and gum problems, and problems with the jaw. We can remove stains from your teeth at this time. We’ll also examine all your tooth restorations and past work to make sure the structure of your dental work is still sound. Generally, a comprehensive exam goes hand-in-hand with a dental cleaning. We thoroughly clean your teeth with our special brushes and tools, removing plaque that is stuck in hard-to-reach places. We also polish the teeth, remove tartar, floss thoroughly, and provide you a fluoride treatment. This helps to reduce your risk for tooth decay. When patients come in several times a year, they can know what oral health issues they have and how to avoid problems in the future.
See Your Dentist Often!
If you want to have healthy teeth and a healthy mouth, you have to be diligent with healthy oral habits. Brush and floss your teeth each day. See your dentist several times a year and don’t put off seeing the dentist due to fears or a busy schedule. It’s easy to correct minor problems, but you don’t want to deal with severe oral health problems. If you have concerns with your teeth, or fears about seeing the dentist, we have ways to make your experience informative and also relaxing. Receiving an oral cancer screening is vitally important for your health and could even save your life in the long run. Schedule your oral cancer screening today by calling Dr. Ania’s office at (303) 872-9940!