This month, in observation of National Oral Cancer Awareness month, we're shining the spotlight on potentially lifesaving screenings as part of your regular dental checkups here at Austin Family Dentistry.
Oral cancer causes over 8,000 deaths in the United States every year, which is, on average, one person every hour, every day. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 43,000 Americans will receive a diagnosis of some form of oral cancer in 2016 alone. Compared to other forms of cancer, oral cancer screenings are often overlooked until symptoms have manifested themselves, which can often result in diagnoses that are too late for early treatment. A regular trip to the dentist is a prime opportunity for a patient to be thoroughly examined, allowing these cancers to often be caught early with survival rate of nearly 90%.
Risk Factors & Symptoms
Cancers of the mouth and throat simply aren't smokers' diseases anymore. Many patients who are diagnosed have little to no preexisting risk factors and do not use tobacco products. It's critical to know your personal risk factors so you can make screenings part of your regular health routine, including:
- Smoking, dipping, or chewing tobacco
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- The HPV virus
Please make an appointment to see your dentist immediately if you notice:
- Changes in the appearance of your mouth, gums, or throat
- Oral sores that tend to bleed or do not heal
- Abnormal lumps or bumps
- Numbness or pain in the mouth or throat
An examination can be an intimidating, or even frightening, experience. However, we want all of our patients to understand that we have the experience necessary in identifying any areas of true concern. We'll support you every step of the way, ensuring our patients receive the best care possible from inspection to diagnosis.
This helpful infographic further explains statistics and risk factors.
A Simple Procedure
During each examination, new or recall, we visually check the entire mouth in search of abnormalities. The screening process includes the entire tongue, palate, floor of the mouth, cheeks, and throat. If we find any areas of concern, we then send the patient to an oralsurgeon for a biopsy. Over the years we have found many types of cancers early, and, in return, saved patients' lives.
Have you seen a dentist lately? Whether you're a new or returning patient, we encourage you to set aside the time to schedule a total dental care appointment with us this April including a routine cleaning and oral examination. We offer safe and simple sedation dental care for patients who report experiencing anxiety accompanying their dental appointments. Don't hesitate - we'll be there for you!