If you’ve ever wondered why your dentist looks at more than just your mouth during a regular checkup, it’s because your neck and jaw can tell him a lot about whether you have oral cancer in Juno Beach. Oral cancer screenings are part of the preventive care you receive when visiting your dentist office for a regularly scheduled appointment. This is because early detection is key in treated oral cancer successfully. Find out more about this disease and what symptoms you should look for if you’re worried you might be at risk of developing oral cancer.
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Regular checkups and cleanings are more than just time spent ensuring your teeth and gums are healthy. Your Juno Beach dentist believes oral cancer screenings are an important aspect of preventive care, which is why one a year, you can expect him to thoroughly examine your mouth, neck, and jaw for any abnormalities.
Why? Well, the reason is simple. When oral cancer is detected early, there is a greater chance for successful treatment. It’s estimated that 53,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year. Of that number, more than 10,000 people will die. Those individuals who receive a diagnosis this year, no matter the stage it’s in, only 50% will live to see the next 5 years.
When oral cancer is detected in its latter stages, there is a slim chance of survival. However, if caught early, your dentist can refer you to a physician who can properly diagnose you and begin treatment. If the cancer is localized, you have a better chance of beating the cancer.
From Lumps to Sores: Symptoms of Oral Cancer
During a typical screening, your dentist will be looking for a variety of symptoms or signs that could be related to oral cancer. Some of these include:
- A lump or hard spot in the mouth
- Red or white patches
- Oral sores
- Changes in the color or texture of the soft tissues
He will also ask you about any changes you have noticed in your mouth or any health problems you’ve been having such as difficulty chewing or swallowing, hoarse voice or sore throat.
Who’s at Risk?
If you think you’ll never be at risk for developing oral cancer, the truth is, it can affect any age, gender, race, or ethnicity. Oral cancer doesn’t only occur in one type of person. While it may be more common in a certain demographic, it doesn’t mean that only people who smoke will be diagnosed. Other risk factors include:
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Overexposure to the sun
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Autoimmune disorders
Keep in mind that your dentist is the first line of defense in the battle against oral cancer. If your upcoming appointment has you scrambling for something else to replace it, stop right now. A short time spent at your dentist can save your life, so keep your scheduled appointment and walk away with greater peace of mind.
About the Author
Dr. Greg Riley completed his Master of Science degree at the University of Miami and earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at the Temple University School of Dentistry. For 20 years, he has been caring for his patient’s smiles, offering a wide array of dentistry services. He and the team at Juno Beach Smiles are dedicated to providing patients with transformative dental care that offers life-changing results. For questions about our services, visit our website or call (561) 622-7243.