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Oral Cancer Screening at Your Routine Dental Visits
Oral cancer is not a condition anyone wants to have. This disease can be serious and come with significant consequences. People with oral cancer can experience severe pain and discomfort. It may be difficult to eat, drink or even speak clearly.
Your dentist has the knowledge and training to examine your mouth and detect oral cancer if you have it. You should not wait until the disease has spread or gotten worse. Make sure you speak to your dentist the next time you have a checkup about screening for this disease.
What is oral cancer?
Cancer of the mouth mostly affects people in their 50s and 60s, though younger patients can also get the disease. People who have this cancer develop tumors in the mouth and can also have yellow and white sores in this region. It can also affect the person’s lips, tongue, cheeks, sinuses and pharynx. If a dentist or doctor does not identify the disease early, it can be life-threatening. The disease can cause pain in the jaw and neck as well as difficulty swallowing.
Who has the most risk?
Tobacco use is one of the biggest culprits of this type of cancer. People who smoke, use or chew tobacco have a much bigger risk of getting the disease than people who abstain from the substance. People who are out in the sun and have prolonged exposure on their lips can also develop this form of the disease. Also, patients who have had radiation treatment before for other types of cancers affecting the head or neck are more likely to get oral cancer.
A doctor or dentist can examine a patient for oral cancer. This is a simple procedure where the doctor will look at the person’s gums and other mouth tissues. The doctor will pay attention to lumps or sores, both with the naked eye and by using light. If the doctor detects any concerns, a biopsy will be ordered.
Screening at a dental appointment
People should visit a general dentistry professional every six months for routine exams. At these appointments, the general dentist will take X-rays, examine the teeth and gums, and look for cavities, infections, plaque, tartar and other conditions. Patients who are at risk for cancer of the mouth should ask the dentist to be mindful of the signs of the disease. The dentist can incorporate this screening into the regular examination.
Get the help you need
You should not put off an oral cancer screening test, especially if you in a category that is more prone to the disease. The sooner your doctor identifies the issues, the greater chance you have of conquering the condition and enjoying improved health and wellness. Cancer of the mouth can be painful and make it difficult to eat or speak. Your dentist can do a screening at your next appointment and recommend an effective treatment plan if you do have the disease. Call your dentist today, so you can schedule your next visit.
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