April 13, 2019
Routine dental checkups and cleanings are important for many reasons. You may think about preventing and detecting issues like cavities or tooth decay, but did you know that these appointments can be potentially lifesaving? Besides examining your teeth, your dentist in Scottsdale also provides in-depth oral cancer screenings. This couple-minute part of your regular checkup catches oral cancer early, giving you your best chance at a full recovery.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is essentially melanoma (skin cancer) that develops in the mouth. Cases of oral cancer continue to grow in the last 16 years, making it one of the more common cancers. While anyone can be affected by oral cancer, here are some factors that increase your risk:
- Routine smoking or tobacco use
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight
- Family history of oral cancer
There is an increasing number of cases of those with HPV being affected by oral cancer as well. However, research hasn’t shown a direct link yet as it’s a relatively new finding.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Symptoms of oral cancer are often hard to see on your own. However, you should contact your dentist if you notice any of these common warning signs:
- Difficulty or pain swallowing
- Changes in color of soft tissue
- White or reddish patches in your mouth
- Sores in or around your mouth that won’t heal
- Pain when chewing
- Pain in your mouth
- Pain in your ears
What is an Oral Cancer Screening Like?
Dentists alone catch 84% of oral cancers early on. While it is a common disease, it is also one of the most curable cancers if it’s caught soon enough. You may have even received an oral cancer screening before without even knowing it. From start to finish the screening will only take a few minutes, but it can detect potentially life-threatening symptoms. Your dentist will visually check your head, mouth, cheeks, tongue, gums, tonsils, throat, and any other related areas for abnormalities or warning signs. After, they may physically examine your jawbone and lymph nodes for lumps or bumps that could tip off cancer.
While remaining cavity-free for a great looking and feeling smile is important, now you know another reason why you should never skip your routine dental visits. When is the last time that you received a dental checkup and cleaning? Contact your dentist in Scottsdale to ensure your oral and overall health.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Alex Martin believes in preventive dentistry, which is why he checks for numerous issues in your mouth in addition to teeth. He never wants to find cancer, but he takes pride in giving his patients their best chance at a full recovery. He currently runs his own practice and he can be contacted through his website or by phone at (480) 860-1993.
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