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Oral Cancer Screening for Nursing Home Patients
Nursing home patients are at a high risk for oral cancer and need an oral cancer screening from the dentist. Seniors are more likely to develop oral cancer than any other age group and it is critical to catch cancer quickly. Screenings only take a few minutes and can save your loved one’s life. Find out why screenings are so important for people who live in nursing homes.
Importance of an oral cancer screening for nursing home patients
As people age, the risk of developing oral cancer increases. This is due to a variety of factors. Fortunately, dentists can examine patients to find signs of oral cancer. Suspicious lesions are biopsied to determine if treatment is needed. Learn why nursing home patients are at such a high risk for developing oral cancer.
Most oral cancers do not appear quickly. Instead, oral cancer takes years or even decades to develop. People might smoke and drink heavily in their younger years and end up with oral cancer much later in life. Nursing home patients should get regular screenings to ensure past habits and behaviors did not cause oral cancer to develop later in life.
Poor oral hygiene
Nursing home patients often receive poor oral care. Many do not brush and floss regularly, and most skip dental appointments. Many refer to this as an epidemic since it is so widespread across nursing homes. Unfortunately, there appears to be a strong link between poor oral care and oral cancer. Bacteria build up in the mouth when not cleaned away. This can lead to an infection and impact cell growth, which can lead to oral cancer.
During cancer screenings, dentists can also clean the teeth. This reduces the risk of the patient developing cancer. Patients who get regular cleanings enjoy other benefits as well. In fact, good oral hygiene can improve nursing home patients’ overall health.
Many nursing home patients wear dentures. This poses two problems. First, denture wearers often believe that oral hygiene is not necessary since they do not have teeth. This increases the risk of oral cancer. Also, ill-fitting dentures rub against the gums. The friction causes sores that can eventually turn into cancer.
Weakened immune system
The immune system becomes weaker as people age. That is one reason why elderly people tend to get sick on a somewhat regular basis. A weakened immune system puts people at risk for developing oral cancer. Catching cancer early puts people on the road to recovery.
Do not wait for an oral cancer screening
If your loved one is in a nursing home, regular oral cancer screenings could be a lifesaver. Seniors are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer than younger people since cancer can take years to develop. Poor oral hygiene, ill-fitting dentures and a weakened immune system increase the risk of oral cancer. Annual or biannual oral cancer screenings make it easier to catch oral cancer before it becomes life-threatening. Talk to your dentist about screenings for your loved one.
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