How Often Does Your Dentist in Spring Texas Check for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer accounts for almost 2.9% of all cancer cases in America. The good news is that just like most cancers if oral cancer is discovered early, it can be treated. At Vita Dental, we advise you to come for oral cancer screening next time you come for a dental checkup.
This cancer often presents itself in form of a sore or growth that does not heal easily. It can include cancer of the lips, cheek, tongue, the floor of your mouth, hard and soft palate and the throat. If not detected early, it can become life-threatening. Studies show that almost 2,000 people in the UK die from oral cancer annually. In this article, we look at oral cancer and why it is so important to get screened for the same.
Who is at risk?
Smokers and those who drink alcohol are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Men are twice more likely to be diagnosed with this cancer than women. Another risk factor is overexposure to sunlight that often leads to lips cancer. Patients that chew, snuff or dip are also 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer. Further, if your family has a history of cancer you are more likely to be diagnosed with this cancer.
In recent years, younger patients have increasingly been diagnosed with oral cancer. The reason is the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV). This sexually transmitted virus causes cancers of the mouth cavity, anus, cervix, penis, vulva, and vagina. Research shows that soon HPV will soon rival smoking and alcohol as the leading causes of oral cancer.
This does not mean these are the only people that are diagnosed with this cancer. They are others with no risk factors that suffer from this cancer. Thus, it is important to be screened frequently.
What does oral cancer screening involve?
The routine dental checkup is essential since the dentist will most likely notice if there is any cause for alarm concerning your oral health. A thorough oral cancer screening will involve more than just checking your mouth. The dentist will also feel your face, neck, mouth, lips, thyroid gland, tongue, lymph nodes, and salivary glands for any abnormalities in addition to examining your mouth. The dentist will be looking for sores, lumps or any change in the mouth tissues.
In some instances, the dentist will rinse your mouth with a blue dye before he examines you. This will see abnormal cells take up the dye and change to a blue colour.
Your dentist might also shine a light in your mouth. This light will make the health tissue appear dark while the abnormal tissue will be white in colour.
In case there is anything suspicious, the dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon or recommend you to have a biopsy done.
What should I look out for?
It is okay to go for regular oral cancer screening but you should also know the common symptoms of oral cancer as we look at them below:
- A sore or growth that does not easily heal and bleeds easily
- Sores in the face, neck or any area near the mouth that do not heal fast
- Any change of colour in your oral tissues
- Ear pain
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- A lump, crust, or an eroded area in your body
- Changes in your bite
- Dramatic weight loss
- Pain, numbness or tenderness anywhere in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking or moving your jaw or tongue
If you have mouth cancer and it is detected early, the chances of a complete cure are high. A smaller ulcer or the area affected by cancer can be treated better compared to a larger area. However, lack of regular dental checkups is one cause of late oral cancer detection.
How to make sure your mouth is healthy
Prevention is very important. Here are ways you can ensure the health of your mouth:
- Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake. These have been detected as the major causes of this cancer
- Eat a balanced healthy diet including a lot of vegetables and fruits which is a known protection against many cancers
- Visit your dentist regularly and point out any abnormalities in your health
- Avoid overexposure to the sun
- Practicing safe sex and limiting the number of sexual partners can help reduce the chances of one getting the HPV. Additionally, there are HPV vaccines that are available for young people. They are normally given at age 12 or 13 before the onset of sexual activity. The vaccines are given to prevent cervical cancer but it likely that they can be used as a prevention measure for oral cancer since the virus is transmitted through oral sex.
It is important to point out that you should not wait for your mouth to hurt to visit a dentist or another doctor. Pain is not a predictable indicator of any cancer and you should never assume that if it does not hurt it couldn’t be a health concern.
The recommended dental checkup of every six months is very important. Your dentist will not only check for cavities but also perform an oral examination to detect any abnormalities. This can mean the difference between life and death in case of oral cancer. At Vita Dental, our qualified dentists will screen you for oral cancer and give you the right advice to enable early treatment.