Why Oral Cancer Screening is Important
Dental anxiety has been the butt of a lot of jokes, but when those jokes keep people from getting the important dental care they need, it’s just not funny anymore. Dental care isn’t just about your teeth; it’s about your whole mouth. Here at Dental Brothers, we take this very seriously. Your oral health isn’t just about having straight or white teeth or checking for cavities and gum disease. We also screen for oral cancer.
It May Take a Dentist to Detect Oral Cancer
Do you remember the last time your primary doctor really checked inside your mouth? Although oral cancer is a medical condition, a dentist often sees the first signs and encourages follow-up with a physician. Every year over 50,000 cases of oral cancer occur. The best chance of fighting it happens through early detection. When oral cancer is caught within a year, the survival rate is 81 percent. If it stays undetected for ten years, the survival rate drops to 41 percent. Getting regular check ups are key to keeping watch on this potentially deadly disease.
Oral cancer screening involves a thorough check of all surfaces on the inside of the mouth, including the underside of lips, inner cheeks, and the tongue. Any mass or lesion found in the mouth is biopsied by taking a sample of the tissue. If a larger sample is needed, anesthesia is available to help the patient feel as comfortable about the process as possible.
Symptoms and Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
In most cases, oral cancer is detected during a regular dental visit. There are situations where you may want your dentist to take an extra special look. Especially if you think you might have symptoms or are at a higher risk for the disease. Some common symptoms include:
- Bleeding in the mouth without an obvious cause
- Persistent sore throat
- Voice changes
- Spots or discoloration inside the mouth
- Pain or numbness in the face
- Shifting teeth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain
There are also some people experience a higher risk for oral cancer than others. Smokers have a much higher risk of oral cancer. This is regardless of how you consume tobacco whether by smoking or using some form of smokeless tobacco. Heavy drinking also increases the risk of oral cancer, as does sun exposure and family history,
Even if you don’t necessarily believe you are at a high risk, anyone can be a potential victim of oral cancer. And it may take a dentist to catch it. When caught early it is highly treatable, but you need to get into the dentist chair in order to be properly checked. Not everyone has all symptoms when it comes to cancers. It’s important not to assume that the absence of pain or discomfort means you don’t need to visit a dentist. Regular check-ups help catch problems early.
Even if you have next to no risk factors, and no cavities, it’s worth the peace of mind to get regular check ups and oral cancer screenings from a dentist you trust. When your mouth needs extra care, we provide emergency dental services, cosmetic dentistry, or dental sedation for procedures that may be a bit extra difficult to handle. For patients diagnosed with oral cancer, we work closely with your medical team in order to give you the best chance of getting well.
Ready for thorough and compassionate dental care in Phoenix or Mesa? Look no further than Dental Brothers. Our commitment to your dental health can make a real difference in your life and in how you take care of your mouth going forward. To learn more about all of the dental care options contact us to schedule an appointment!