February 16, 2018
Lots of people are guilty of skipping their biannual dental appointments. They might think they’re too busy to take an hour or two every six months to get their teeth taken care of, or maybe they’ve convinced themselves that their oral health is great and they don’t need to see a dentist. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a checkup and cleaning, though, we urge you to make an appointment soon. Your mouth will feel clean and fresh afterward and, more importantly, your dentist might even save your life. Here’s how.
Oral Cancer Is a Real Danger
It’s estimated that in 2018, a staggering 51,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer. Roughly 10,000 of those people will die from this devastating disease.
“But there are millions of people in this country,” you might say, “51,000 doesn’t seem like a huge number.” It’s true that oral cancer isn’t as common as other forms of the disease, but that doesn’t give you permission to ignore the risk. Oftentimes, the people who end up dying from this condition are the ones who believed it could never happen to them — they’re the people who didn’t bother to get screened until the disease had progressed to the point where it was impossible to defeat.
The earlier oral cancer is discovered, the better the chances of survival. Fortunately, getting screened isn’t a complicated or time-consuming process.
Your Dentist Performs Oral Cancer Screenings
As part of your regular checkup, your dentist will look for any signs of oral cancer, perhaps identifying symptoms well before you you’re aware of them. Some things your dentist may look for include:
- Swelling anywhere in your oral cavity, lips, or throat
- Rough patches, bumps, or lumps
- Persistent sores around your mouth or face
Your dentist may also ask you questions about your oral health to help them spot signs of trouble. If you’ve noticed changes in the way your teeth fit together, changes to your voice, or frequent sore throats or trouble swallowing, be sure to let your dentist know.
Who Should Get Screened?
It’s recommended that all adults age 18 and older get screened for oral cancer at least once a year. However, screenings are particularly vital for people who have risk factors for the disease. Groups who are more likely to develop oral cancer include:
- Anyone who uses tobacco products
- Those who drink large amounts of alcohol
- Anyone over age 55
- People who have spent a lot of time in the sun throughout their lives
Of course, even if you don’t have any of the risk factors for oral cancer, screening is still important because this disease can strike anyone. Really, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking the time to ask your dentist to check for signs of this terrible condition.
About the Dentist
Dr. Alex Martin is your friendly, skilled dentist in Scottsdale who is passionate about protecting the health of his patients. If you think you should get screened for oral cancer, please contact our office at 480-860-1993 to schedule an appointment.
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