Oral Cancer Screening
At Surprise Smiles, your oral health is our number one priority. This is why we stress the importance of maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as having regular dental exams and cleanings at least twice a year. While these exams are important in detecting and preventing gum disease and tooth decay, they are also crucial to the early detection of other health issues, one of the biggest being oral cancer.
What is oral cancer?
The mouth plays an important role in many aspects of your life, controlling your ability to eat, swallow and breathe. Oral cancer is the cancer of any part of the mouth, including the tongue, cheeks, roof and floor, gums and the entrance to the throat. This cancer can affect the way you do any of the activities controlled by the mouth. It can also be fatal. For this reason, it is imperative that it be detected early.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Oral cancer has many signs and symptoms. Some are visible while others are not. These symptoms include:
|•||Sores that just will not heal|
|•||Pain or numbness in your lips|
|•||A sore throat that will not go away|
|•||Lumps in any area of the mouth|
|•||Difficulty chewing, swallowing or breathing|
|•||Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw|
|•||Changes in the jaw, including tooth loss|
One of the most common risk factors for oral cancer is the use of tobacco products, including smoking and chewing tobacco. Another common risk is heavy use of alcohol. Any of these activities combined with being over 50 years of age puts you at the greatest risk.
Other risk factors include a family history of oral cancer or having certain strains of HPV.
Detecting Oral Cancer
If you are a new patient, we take the time to discuss your family history as well if you smoke or drink. During every routine visit to our office, we clean your teeth and check for signs of gum disease and tooth decay. We also check your entire mouth for signs of oral cancer. If you have experienced or are experiencing difficulty chewing, swallowing or breathing, it is important that you speak up. You should also mention if you are having trouble moving your tongue or jaw.
If you notice anything unusual in between your regular visits, contact the office and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Left untreated, oral cancer can grow and spread to other parts of your body, and can be life threatening. Early detection could save your life.
Prevention of Oral Cancer
While you can't always prevent oral cancer, you can take measures to lower your risk.
|•||Brush and floss regularly|
|•||Quit smoking or chewing tobacco|
|•||Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all|
|•||Exercise and eat a healthy diet full of nutritious foods including beans, cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens. Garlic is also excellent for lowering your cancer risk. When you cook, grill or bake your food rather than frying it.|
|•||Get regular dental exams|
At Surprise Smiles we are knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of oral cancer and experienced at detecting them. We perform screenings at every regular checkup, so call us today at (602) 842-4864to schedule your next appointment!