Tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer each year, with men over the age of 50 having the greatest risk (WebMD). While family history and lifestyle choices are partly to blame, a quarter of those diagnosed do not smoke, nor drink excessively. Given the nature of this threat, dentists perform routine oral cancer screenings as part of a comprehensive dental checkup every six months.
Individuals should pay attention to the development of white, red or speckled patches in the mouth. They should also note any swelling, thickening, lumps, rough spots or crusty areas on the lips, gums or other soft tissues. In turn, dentists warn patients to report any feelings of numbness, as well as pain and tenderness in and around the mouth and face. Persistent sores on the neck, face or mouth that bleed easily should also be addressed, especially if they have not healed within two weeks. Other associated symptoms of oral cancer include chronic sore throat, hoarseness or a change in one’s voice, difficulty chewing or swallowing, ear pain, changes in one’s bite and weight loss.
While the prognosis for those that are diagnosed with oral cancer is relatively good, early detection not only increases the success of treatment, it could eliminate the need for radiation and chemotherapy. This is because the primary treatment for oral cancer is surgery. Therefore, dentists urge patients to perform regular self-checks in addition to regular dental visits. A self-exam involves using a bright light or mirror to look closely at the lips, mouth and back of the throat. In addition, it’s important to look at the lining of one’s cheeks and back gum tissues. Next, feel for any lumps or sore areas on the throat or beneath the lower jaw.
We’re Committed To Your Oral And Overall Health
At Grateful Dental, Dr. Leia Porcaro and the team are committed to your oral and overall health. Thus, as part of a complete oral health examination, we perform oral cancer screenings at each dental visit. What’s more, for patients that need assistance with lifestyle choices, including diet and smoking, we provide the tools and resources needed to support them.
Has it been some time since your last dental checkup? Grateful Dental welcomes your call today!