Each year, an estimated 30,000 new cases of oral cases occur in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. More than 7,000 of these cases result in death. Whether this number sound big or small to you, it’s important to remember that oral cancer can be successfully treated if detected early. This emphasis on early detection is why your dentist wants you to be sure and attend your regularly scheduled dental appointments. Here’s a bit more information on the importance of screening, signs, and symptoms, and if you might be at risk.
Why is It Important to Be Screened?
If you hear the words, “life-threatening,” it’s probably best that you listen. Oral cancer can be a life or death situation if you do not catch it early enough. Many patients are diagnosed too late, which is why oral cancer actually kills more individuals than those suffering from other types of cancer such as cervical, brain, kidney, liver, or those with Hodgkin’s disease.
Oral cancer screenings are a normal part of your regular dental checkup. Oftentimes, you don’t even know your dentist is performing an examination. By visually and physically examining your mouth, your dentist will be able to detect cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. Should your dentist find any concerning areas, he will perform a brush test to collect cells from the lesion and send it to the lab for analysis. If it returns positive or atypical, a biopsy will be ordered, and you and your dentist will determine a treatment plan.
What are the Signs of Oral Cancer?
While your dentist will have all the necessary tools and equipment to effectively look for symptoms of oral cancer, there are a few you can be watching for should you believe you are at risk.
- Red and white patches or sores in your mouth
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking, or moving your jaw
- Rough spots or a lump in the mouth
- Pain or tender areas in the mouth or on the lips
Who is Most at Risk for Developing Oral Cancer?
Years ago, it was most likely for men over the age of 50 to be the most susceptible to developing oral cancer. However, as more people engage in risky behavior, new cases are being seen in people under the age of 40 and in both women and men. If you fall into any of the categories listed, you may be at a higher risk:
- Use tobacco
- Drink heavily
- Have human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Have extreme sun exposure
What Are Some Tips for Preventing Oral Cancer?
Although no cancer is completely preventable, you can take the following steps to reduce your chances of developing oral cancer:
- Avoid tobacco products
- Eliminate or cut back on excessive drinking (only in moderation)
- Limit your exposure to the sun. If you are in the sun, make sure to wear sunscreen on your skin and lips.
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups
- Maintain and balanced diet
Entrust that when you visit your dentist, your mouth, teeth, and gums are in the best of hands. From providing a thorough cleaning to screening for oral cancer, you can rest easy knowing you and your dental professional are taking the necessary steps to keep your oral health in check.
About the Practice
As a family-owned and operated dental practice, Center One Dental is led by Dr. Raj Vekariya and his wife. Working together, they create a smooth and successful patient experience for people of all ages. Offering a personalized approach, you can expect their team to exceed your expectations every time you visit. To learn more, contact us via our website or by calling (724) 300-3700.