While it may surprise you, did you know that you can get oral cancer even if you don’t smoke or use any tobacco products at all? While patients who consume alcohol and tobacco are 15 times more likely to contract oral cancer according to The Oral Cancer Foundation, it’s just another reason why your regular dental visits are so important. In fact, your dentist in Lansdale is highly equipped to catch the early signs of oral cancer. Making the effort to visit could really mean the difference between life and death.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer covers many different areas, including the mouth, tongue, throat, pharynx, sinus, and cheek cancer. About 37,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer every year and about half of oral cancer patients won’t survive 5 years after being diagnosed. However, with early detection, the survival rate jumps 90 percent, so it’s added incentive to make it to your dentist in Lansdale.
Many different factors can influence your chances of contracting oral cancer, including:
- Tobacco and Alcohol use
- Pre-existing conditions (such as HPV)
- Sun exposure
Why are Oral Cancer Screenings Important?
Since early detection can increase your survival rate, your dentist makes the effort to perform screenings every time you visit. If you’re seeing your dentist every six months, then you’re currently in a good position to catch oral cancer before it spreads or grows any further.
While it is far more likely to contract when you use tobacco, oral cancer can also appear through other means. If you spend long periods of time in the sun, your risk for oral cancer goes up. If you are over the age of 40, your dentist will likely put you in a higher risk category. Regardless, it’s not worth skipping your regular dental exams. Dentists have the tools and expertise necessary to catch oral cancer before it becomes untreatable.
What Your Dentist Looks for During an Oral Cancer Screening
It’s likely your dentist won’t even mention that their conducting an oral cancer screening. They may only bring out more advanced tools if they need to confirm the abnormality in your mouth is oral cancer. If you notice any of the following symptoms before your exam, make sure to mention them to your dentist so they know what to look for:
- Lumps and hard spots in the mouth, cheek, gums, and soft tissue
- Sores that don’t heal after a few days
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- White, red, and discolored areas of soft tissue
The exam is completely painless and usually very quick. While your dentist in Lansdale checks for oral cancer at every checkup, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist right away if you notice any of the following symptoms prior to your regularly scheduled visit.
About the Author
Dr. Michelle Ardzinski earned her master’s degree in medical sciences from Boston University and her doctorate from the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, graduating magna cum laude. She also practiced in Southeastern Massachusetts at a community health center, where she honed her technical skills and built significant relationships with patients. To learn more about her practice and receive an oral cancer screening, contact her at (215) 368-2424 or visit her website.