June 19, 2020
You know the secret to a healthy smile relies on routine care from your dentist in Reading, but did you know your semi-annual visits are important for more than just a cleaning and checkup? Your preventive appointments are also necessary for oral cancer screenings. Although you might not think you’re at risk, over 53,000 people will be diagnosed with it in 2020. Here’s what you can expect if your dentist finds anything suspicious.
Why Do I Need an Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer is classified as those affecting the mouth, head, and neck; however, brain cancer is in a separate category. Unfortunately, nearly 10,000 people will die from oral cancer this year. In fact, only 45% of patients diagnosed will survive 5 years or longer. The low survival rate is attributed to late detection. Most patients aren’t diagnosed until the cancer has reached advanced stages and spread to other areas of the body.
Research shows as many as 80% of new oral cancer cases could be detected early through a routine screening. When found early, the survival rate of oral cancer increases to 81%. Your dentist will perform a thorough screening during your routine cleaning and checkup to look for concerning signs.
Am I at Risk?
Anyone can develop oral cancer; however, some people have a higher risk of it, like those who smoke or use tobacco. Genetics and being male can also make you predisposed to oral cancers.
What are Signs of Oral Cancer?
Your dentist will perform a thorough examination to look for any obvious signs of cancer, such as:
• Lumps and bumps
• Swelling or thickening of the soft tissues
• Rough spots
• Velvet, white, or reddish streaks
• Persistent sores
It’s important to tell your dentist if you’ve been experiencing:
• Sore throat or hoarseness
• Voice changing
• Change in the alignment of your teeth
Besides a visual examination, your dentist may use a special light, which illuminates potentially cancerous or pre-cancerous cells for easier detection.
What Happens If My Dentist Finds Something?
If your dentist finds a concerning area, they’ll recommend a biopsy. This involves taking a small tissue sample to be tested in a laboratory. It can take a couple of weeks for the results to be sent back to your dentist. They will inform you of the results and if you need any additional care.
Benefit from Early Detection
Even if you don’t have any risk factors, it’s best to have an oral cancer screening in Reading regularly. Early detection is proven to save lives.
About Dr. Gail Iebba
Dr. Gail Iebba earned her doctorate at Boston University School of Graduate Dentistry. With over 32 years of experience and countless hours of continuing education, she provides the comprehensive care your smile needs to thrive. If it’s time for your next cleaning and checkup, don’t forget to have an oral cancer screening, too. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment.
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