Oral Cancer Screening
East Wenatchee, WA
You've heard it many times during the course of your life - proper oral hygiene is very important to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. You should brush twice a day, floss and use mouthwash. Visiting the dentist at least twice a year is also a necessary part of this regimen. But at Johnson Family Dental, we do more than just clean your teeth. Part of your exams include an oral cancer screening, crucial to early detection and prevention.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is cancer of any part of the mouth, which includes the lips, cheeks, tongue, hard palate, floor of the mouth, gums and the entrance to the throat (also called the oropharynx). Since your mouth plays the main role in your ability to eat, breathe and speak, cancer in this region can affect one or all of these functions. Oral cancer can be life threatening if not treated early, thus, early detection is critical.
There are several symptoms of oral cancer. These include:
|Sores that will not go away
|Painful or numb lips
|Lumps in any area of the mouth
|Eroded areas of skin in the mouth
|Difficulty with chewing, swallowing or breathing. It can even be difficult to move the tongue or jaw
|Changes in teeth
What causes oral cancer?
One of the biggest risk factors for oral cancer is the use of tobacco products. This includes smoking as well as chewing tobacco. Another big risk factor is the excessive use of alcohol. Those over 50 that smoke and drink are at the highest risk.
Individuals with a family history of cancer have an increased risk for developing oral cancer. Genetics plays a big role in the possibility of developing just about any type of cancer.
There has also recently been some evidence that links certain strains of HPV (the human papillomavirus) to oral cancer.
During your regular visits to the office, the dentist will clean your teeth and check for signs of tooth decay and gum disease. Then you will be checked over for signs of oral cancer. You've probably never noticed this part of the exam before. He will check all areas of your mouth – your tongue, cheeks, lips, roof and floor, the throat – for any signs that something isn't quite right. It is also important during your exam, it is important to tell the dentist if you are experiencing any difficulties chewing, swallowing or breathing or if you are having trouble moving your jaw or your tongue.
If you are a new patient, your family health history will be discussed, as well as your lifestyle habits, so that your risk can be assessed.
Since, at the minimum, you have regular exams twice a year, it is also important that if you ever notice anything out of the ordinary with any part of your mouth, you should call the office. Early detection is key to preventing oral cancer from spreading and saving your life.
At Johnson Family Dental, we take your health seriously. Oral cancer, if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body and is life-threatening. Call us today to schedule your next dental exam!