You probably don’t need additional motivation to see your dentist every six months. Virtually everyone already knows that these visits are absolutely crucial when it comes to preventing or detecting tooth decay. However, cavities are far from the only worrisome symptoms that a dentist might find when looking at your mouth. In this post, you’ll discover why a dental checkup just might end up saving your life from oral cancer.
What Exactly Is Oral Cancer?
As you’re probably already aware, cancer is any disease where cells in a particular area of the body start to grow out of control and attack nearby tissue. Oral cancer is any form of cancer that appears in the mouth; this might mean that it affects the lip, the tongue, the inside of your cheeks, the floor of your mouth, your hard or soft palate, your throat, or even your sinuses. The 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is about 84% if it is caught early on, but this number drops to about 65% if it has already spread to nearby tissues or organs by the time it has been diagnosed.
What Can Your Dentist Do to Protect You from Oral Cancer?
While a regular dentist typically won’t be able to treat oral cancer by themselves, they can take the all-important step of finding the warning signs early on so that they can refer you to an expert that can perform the procedures necessary to restore your health. As such, every regular checkup at your dentist’s office will also include an oral cancer screening; you’ve probably already had such an examination multiple times in the past without even realizing it!
How Do Oral Cancer Screenings Work?
Oral cancer screenings include a visual check and a tactile check. For the visual check, the dentist will look for unusual sores or any discolored patches in your mouth that you might not yet be aware of. Then, for the tactile portion of the screening, they will feel around the mouth, throat, and neck for unusual lumps.
If a potentially troublesome issue is found, a follow-up visit can be scheduled in a few weeks to see if the abnormality changes. They may also recommend a biopsy, which involves taking a sample of cells and testing them to see if cancer is present; some dentists are able to perform biopsies themselves, but others may have to send you to a specialist.
Finding out you have oral cancer can be terrifying, but it’s definitely news you’ll want to hear sooner rather than later. If you need extra motivation to visit your dentist this year, remember that you could be protecting your entire body – not just your smile – simply by having these regular examinations performed.
About Bethel Dental
Here at Bethel Dental, our dentists are all about going above and beyond to help their patients enjoy life with excellent oral health, and their primary focus is to help you feel welcome, relaxed, and informed whenever you visit their office. Oral cancer screenings are a standard part of the dental checkups we provide, and our Oral ID technology helps us catch symptoms as early as possible. To schedule your next visit, get in touch with us through our website.