Though many of us do the best we can with our dental health, our mouths are always changing, and sometimes we may notice something that does not look quite right. Even with regular brushing and bi-yearly checkups, it is possible to lose track of your mouth. Fortunately, with the help of Olympia Prosthodontics & Cosmetic Dentistry, we can keep an eye on things for you, so you do not have to worry needlessly.
WHAT IS ORAL CANCER?
Because we may find something during a six-month visit that was not there during a previous one, it is important for us to be aware of differences. If caught early, oral cancer is treatable, but if neglected, may have a five-year survival rate of only sixty percent.
Those who use tobacco and drink alcohol are at a much higher risk of developing oral cancer than someone who does not, but genetics may also play a pretty serious role so even with good habits it is still possible to contract it. Men are twice as likely to get it than women, and those who are over the age of fifty also have a higher chance. Also, those who have been exposed to the HPV virus or who have gum disease or a history of cancer in their family could also be at risk.
Early signs may include a sore in your mouth that does not seem to heal or strange patches on the insides of your cheeks which could be either red or white. You may also find that you are having issues with closing your mouth completely, whereas it may not have been a problem before, difficulty swallowing, or strange lumps. If you notice you have an aching throat that continues for more than two weeks that is not affiliated with sickness or have sudden numbness in your mouth, it may be a good idea to call us so we can screen you for cancer.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A SCREENING?
We will take down any information that is relevant before the exam. If you have any concerns, be sure to mention them to us immediately so we can be sure to check it out. During the screening, we will thoroughly inspect your entire mouth, which includes your lips, tonsils, and tongue, but will also include your throat, jaw, neck, and face for any irregularities or swelling. It is our goal to ensure your mouth is healthy, and the best way to do that is to make sure the surrounding tissues are in optimal condition as well.
Oral cancer does not show obvious signs that it is there, and advancement can happen quickly. The same bacteria that are in your mouth, which causes tooth decay has been found in cancerous cells, which makes it that much more essential to your health that you take good care of your teeth. Following an optimal routine of brushing at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and having regular cleanings can help your mouth stay in good shape while lowering the risk of getting cancer.
One of the best ways to prevent oral cancer is to maintain superior dental habits. Taking care of your teeth and having frequent checkups can help keep your mouth in great shape. If we detect something suspicious, we can send a sample to the lab to determine what it is, and if it is cancer, we can begin treatment immediately.
There is no need to delay. If you are concerned you may be a high risk for oral cancer and have noticed lesions or spotty areas that need a professional eye, and please give us here at Olympia Prosthodontics & Cosmetic Dentistry a call here at (360) 456-1200 to schedule your oral cancer screening.