March 2, 2020
Most people know that regularly visiting a dentist is an important way to prevent tooth decay and other oral health infections from developing. However, did you know routine dental checkups can actually save your life? It is true! That is because your dentist in Reading performs an oral cancer screening to check for signs of the potentially fatal disease during every routine dental checkup. Surprised? Keep reading below to learn more about oral cancer and why early detection with the help of a dentist is so important.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is any type of cancer that occurs in or around the mouth, including the gums, lips, tongue, throat, tonsils, or floor or roof of the mouth. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, over 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Meanwhile, experts at the National Institutes of Health warn that oral cancers represent the sixth most common cancers in the world.
What Are the Warning Signs?
The warning signs of oral cancer are often subtle and difficult to detect in the mirror at home. However, if do notice any of the following symptoms, you should contact your dentist in Reading right away:
- Red or white patches in the mouth or on the lips
- Sores that bleed easily and fail to heal
- Lumps or areas of thickened skin inside the mouth or throat
- Ear pain without any loss of hearing
- Loose teeth
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
The following risk factors increase a person’s risk of developing oral cancer:
- Tobacco use in any form – the #1 risk factor for oral cancer
- Frequent alcohol consumption
- Sun exposure – linked to lip cancer
- Previous instance of cancer or a family history of oral cancer
- Diet low in vegetables and fruits
- Poor oral health
Why an Oral Cancer Screening in Reading Is Important
Detecting oral cancer early is critical to overcoming the potentially deadly disease. Indeed, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the five-year survival rate for oral cancer patients who received an early diagnosis is 75%. However, that number drops to just 20% for those that are diagnosed after oral cancer has already spread.
These numbers are not meant to frighten you, but rather to illustrate why it is so important to visit a dentist in Reading every six months for a routine dental checkup.
In addition to cleaning your teeth and checking for cavities, your dentist conducts an oral cancer screening during every routine visit. Such a screening typically includes:
- A visual examination inside your mouth for signs of oral cancer
- A manual examination to check for unusual bumps and masses
- Questions to identify your exposure to oral cancer risk factors like smoking
- Questions to help identify nonvisible symptoms of oral cancer, such as a hoarse voice
As the saying goes, an ounce a prevention is worth a pound of cure. Protect your oral and overall health by talking to your dentist today about scheduling an oral cancer screening in Reading.
About the Author
Dr. Gail Iebba has over three decades of experience helping men and women achieve and maintain healthy smiles. The Boston University School of Graduate Dentistry alumnus regularly works evening and even some weekend hours to ensure every Reading patient can fit a visit into their schedule. For more information about the importance of preventive oral care, visit the Associates in Family Dentistry website or call Dr. Iebba at 781-944-6761.
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