April 4, 2018
Did you know that your dentist is in a unique position to protect your overall health as well as your oral health? One way he does this is by checking for oral cancer during your routine dental exam. Fortunately, about 84 percent of oral cancer cases can be detected by your dentist, so it’s just another reason why you shouldn’t ever skip your appointments.
In today’s post, your dentist in Beaumont explains why oral cancer screenings are so important and what you can do to protect yourself in between visits.
Why Your Dentist Checks for Oral Cancer
Most people who die from oral cancer only do so because they weren’t diagnosed soon enough. By catching oral cancer in its earliest stages, doctors can treat it far more easily. Since people typically see their dentist every six months and they’re examinations focus heavily on the mouth, head, and neck, they’re better equipped to catch oral cancer than a general practitioner you may only see once a year.
Oral cancer can appear in many areas of the mouth, including the lips, cheeks, tongue, palate, gums, and throat. However, symptoms for oral cancer can appear anywhere around the neck and mouth, so your dentist in Beaumont is always keeping them in mind as part of his regular dental exam.
Are You at a Higher Risk?
It’s important to recognize your risk factors for oral cancer so you can reduce the chances of developing it later in life. Here are several risk factors to consider before your next appointment:
- Gender – Men are twice as likely to get oral cancer than women.
- Tobacco Use – One of the biggest risk factors of oral cancer.
- Alcohol Use – Heavy drinking carries a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
- Age – People over 40 are at a higher risk.
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- Prolonged Sun Exposure
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Keep in mind that more and more people are being diagnosed with oral cancer even if they don’t have any of the risk factors mentioned. This means you’ll still need to practice regular prevention by performing regular oral hygiene, seeing your dentist in Beaumont every six months, and practicing a self-exam every month.
Watching Out for Symptoms
On top of examining your bite and temporomandibular joint, your dentist looks out for the following symptoms during your routine exam. These give a strong indication that oral cancer may be present. If your dentist suspects that you have oral cancer, he’ll take a biopsy of the affected area and have it sent to lab for confirmation. Symptoms for oral cancer include:
- Red or white patches in the mouth and neck
- Lumps, bumps, or hard spots in the mouth or neck
- Sores that consistently bleed or do not heal
- Numbness while biting down on the teeth
By making visits to your dentist every six months, you can stay ahead of oral cancer and keep your overall health in check. Schedule an appointment with them today!
About the Author
Michael R. Olson earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Texas. Today, he’s a member of many dental organizations and was awarded the 2013 Best Dentist Reader’s Choice Award for Beaumont, proving his dedication to providing dental care to the community. To learn more about his preventive treatments or practice, contact him at (409) 860-9600 or visit his website.
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