According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), oral cancer is a disease resulting from abnormal cell growth in the mouth, lips, tongue or throat. The national voice for dentistry reported an estimated 3,100 new cases of oral cancers identified in Canada in 2003; about 1,090 deaths occurred as a result of this disease.
The number of people predicted to be diagnosed with throat and oral cancers is startling. But did you know you can safeguard early detection? Yes! It is as easy as attending you routine dental exams every 6 months. Oral cancer screening IS a part of your regular dental exam. At Braydon Dental Care, our Dentists can see and feel precancerous tissue changes and early cancer, and they can diagnose them during the remediable stages. When oral cancer is discovered early, the survival rate is a supportive 80% to 90%.
Due to the rapidly growing number of HPV-related oral cancer diagnoses, people 18 years and older should get screened yearly. Typically, people over the age of 45 are most at risk. Research has shown that men are twice more likely to get oral cancer than women. Smokers and excessive drinkers are also most at risk. Regular dental check-ups that include an examination of the entire mouth, head, and neck are fundamental in detecting cancer early.
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral cancer screening takes merely three minutes with the Dentist. It consists of a verbal, visual, and physical examination and includes the following:
• A thorough review of your oral health history, as well as your overall health history, which includes questions that help assess your level of risk for mouth cancer
• A visual inspection of all the areas of your mouth and throat in an effort to locate any abnormalities, such as sores and red or white patches; this inspection includes the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth, and far-back section of your tongue
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms
In addition to your routine dental exam, you should be sure to perform self-examinations at home. Keep an eye out for some of the following indications that may point toward the presence of oral cancer:
• Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue
• Swelling or thickening of areas inside the mouth
• Unexplained bleeding
• Sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not heal
• Chronic sore throat
• A change in the way your dentures fit
• Suspicious lumps found by palpating your mouth, jaw, and neck
• Dramatic weight loss
Oral Cancer Prevention Tips
While oral cancer is prevalent, you can lessen your risk by implementing the following measures in your life:
• Avoid smoking and the use of all tobacco products
• Limit or refrain from drinking alcohol
• Avoid overexposure to the sun, and use sunblock on your skin and lips
• Practice safe sex
• Maintain a healthy diet
Remember – be in control of your oral health! Practice good oral hygiene, and see your Dentist regularly. Call our office today and let us help you develop the best oral health care routine tailored to your individual needs!