Don’t Be Foolish About Oral Cancer

When most people think about general dentistry, they are thinking about the basics, like getting dental cleanings to fight tooth decay and gum infections. It also means regular exams to identify problems such as cavities, periodontal disease, and impacted teeth.

Early detection can make a big difference in your overall health. It also has the potential to save your life, which is why we encourage you to make regular visits to our Chagrin Falls, OH dental office.

Cavities and gum disease aren’t usually life-threatening, but another oral disease can be. On an average day in the United States, more than 130 people find out they have oral cancer, and roughly once an hour, someone dies from this disease.

This helps to explain why oral cancer screenings are part of our routine preventive care at Perfect-A-Smile. If you haven’t been screened recently, please call 440-708-0900 soon to make an appointment with us.

We want to keep seeing your smile for many years to come.

Be Aware Of The Symptoms

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which makes this a great reason to help you know the signs that could indicate some form of mouth or throat cancer. They include:

Sores in your mouth that don’t seem to be healing

Patches of soft tissue that appear red, white, or a mix of both

Pain or difficulty speaking, swallowing, and chewing

Lumps or rough spots on the soft tissues of your mouth or throat

Numbness or pain on your lips or inside your mouth

If any of these symptoms persist for two weeks, you should contact your doctor to determine if a biopsy may be needed. This is definitely a time when being in the know can make a big difference.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, you have an 80-90 percent chance of survival if your oral cancer is found in the early stages. That dips to 57 percent if your oral cancer is discovered during the late stages of the disease.

Knowing this, we want to help you find this disease as soon as possible if you do develop it. To that end, we have invested in technology that helps us find that problem sooner.

The VELscope measures the fluorescence of the tissues inside your mouth. By shining a special light, we can detect subtle differences that are not obvious to the naked eye. This gives us a way to identify suspicious areas of your mouth much sooner than we could otherwise.

Know Your Risk Factors

For around 9 in 10 people, doctors can identify one or more contributing factors when someone is diagnosed with oral cancer. The good news is that the top three are things you can do something about.

Tobacco use is easily the most common cause of mouth, throat, and other cancers in the United States. According to conservative estimates, 3 out of 4 oral cancer patients have some history of tobacco use.

Alcohol abuse (defined as consuming 21 or more drinks per week) is another known risk factor. While bad on its own, heavy alcohol use combined with tobacco use can be a deadly combination. Alcohol can dry out the soft tissues of the mouth, which can make it easier for them to absorb the carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco products.

The final risk factor is one that has been on the rise in recent years. HPV-16, a strain of the human papillomavirus, increases people’s risk for oral cancer. (It’s also a known risk factor for cervical cancer in women.) This is why public health officials have advocated in favor or getting vaccinated against this virus around 12 years of age.

Stay Healthy

Please plan to visit Perfect A Smile soon. By scheduling a dental cleaning and exam, you can get an oral cancer screening from us, too. Call 440-708-0900 or contact us online to request an appointment.