Your dental checkup is as important to us as it is to you. Maintaining the health of your teeth and gums is important for both bite function and your beautiful smile. However, your checkup is also important to screen you for any signs of oral cancer. While simply screening can seem scary to some patients, the goal is prevention and early treatment.
It is estimated that nearly 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer a year in the U.S. Worldwide, this number grows to 450,000. One thing you have in your favor is the quality of dental care here with dentists and hygienists who are dedicated to keeping you healthy.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
When you go to the dentist for your routine exam, your oral cancer screening includes checking the mouth and gums, as well as your neck for any signs of problems. Not all these signs are visible, and some may only be indicated by what you tell your dentist.
Signs of mouth cancer include:
- Red or white lesions on your lips and mouth
- Loose teeth without any apparent cause
- Lumps, sores, swelling or thick patches in or around your mouth or throat
- A sore throat or hoarseness that lingers
- Feeling of something stuck in your throat
- Oral swelling that can make dentures feel uncomfortable
- Numbness, tenderness, or pain in your mouth or on your tongue
- Trouble with moving your jaw or tongue
- Problems swallowing, chewing, or speaking
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
There are many risk factors that can increase your risk for cancer in your mouth. The big ones are tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. Your risk goes up even further if you are a male or over 40. Another recent risk factor health experts have found is people who have human papilloma virus (HPV), which is very common. Some doctors may recommend the HPV vaccine for children as young as 11 or 12 to help protect them as they grow older.
Even if you do not have any of these risk factors, and you have the added benefit of eating well and taking care of yourself, you should still be screened for oral cancer. Things beyond our control, such as genetic disposition, can increase the risk for these types of cancers.
If you notice any changes between dental checkups, be sure to schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible. While your routine checkup will include an oral cancer screening, your dentist can allay any suspicions or fears you have any time of the year.
If you notice any changes in your mouth or gums, or have questions about oral cancer, contact Janet at Whitmore Dental to arrange a consultation by calling Whitmore Dental at 877-779-4486. We are conveniently located at 5932 West Parker Road, Suite 600, Plano, TX 75093.