Close to 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. Oral cancer screenings are important not only to your dental, but also to your overall health.
General dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists are the first line of defense when it comes to diagnosing oral cancer. The American Dental Association estimates that we see 60% of the population every year, and conducting an oral cancer screening at each and every appointment allows us to catch oral cancer in its early stages, allowing for a better prognosis. Dr. Schultz and her team will routinely screen for any signs of oral cancer at your appointments at Schultz Family Dental.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
You may be at greater risk for oral cancer if you fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Age 40 and above
- Tobacco use (including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and snuff)
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Viral infections, such as HPV16
- A history of substantial sun exposure, which can increase the risk of lip cancer
- Previous diagnosis of oral cancer
Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
As a patient, it is important to visit us regularly for routine check-ups. During these appointments, Dr. Schultz will examine you for any signs of cancer—such as any irregular tissues or bumps in your mouth, inflamed lymph nodes, and/or any other abnormalities in the head and neck areas. If anything concerning is detected, a biopsy may be suggested for further inspection.
Common signs of oral cancer may include:
- Sores in the mouth that do not heal
- Lumps or white/red patches in the mouth
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the orofacial region
- Prolonged hoarseness or voice changes
- Bad breath
- Coughing or enlarged neck lymph nodes
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Reducing the Risk of Oral Cancer
Along with regular dental check-ups, there are other ways you can prevent the development of oral cancer. Patients should avoid all tobacco products, as well as heavy alcohol intake. It is also advised that patients limit direct sun exposure, and regularly wear UVA/UVB protective lotions. If you think you may be at risk for oral cancer because of any of the information given above, let us know. The more knowledge we have, the better equipped we are to detect and diagnose, should the need arise. For more information, contact us today!