This year, over 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer and 8,000 people will die from this preventable condition. Oral cancer affects the mouth, lips, tongue, cheek, throat, and sinuses and can spread to other areas of your body. Thankfully, your Grand Rapids dentist at NorthPointe Family Dental can detect the early stages of mouth cancer through oral cancer screenings. Keep reading to learn the and why you should never skip an oral cancer screening.
What are the signs of oral cancer?
Oral cancer is so dangerous because people usually don’t exhibit symptoms until it is too late. You are more at risk forif you have a history of tobacco use, alcohol abuse, poor diet, or excessive sun exposure on the lips.
Signs of oral cancer include
- White or red patches in mouth
- Lump in mouth or throat
- Numbness or pain when biting down
- Bleeding in mouth
- Hoarse voice
Keep in mind that you may experience some or none of the above signs of mouth cancer. Thankfully, screenings are designed to catch oral cancer symptoms early on so you have the best chance of survival.
Why are oral cancer screenings important?
Your dentist will recommend oral cancer screenings so you can maintain good oral health. Early detection of mouth cancer will give you a better chance of survival, which is why you should have them done at least once a year. Oral cancer screens are especially important for people who are at increased risk for oral cancer. For example, people with a history of smoking are more at risk for getting mouth cancer.
What can I expect during an oral cancer screening?
Depending on your dentist, you may have a clinical or oral examination. During a clinical examination, your dentist will examine your mouth for white or red patches. They will also physically check for lumps that don’t belong inside your mouth. A clinical examination is simple enough that it can be done during your regular teeth cleaning appointment. If your dentist decides you need an oral exam, they may use a special screening device to detect mouth cancer in its early stages.
How can I reduce my risk for oral cancer?
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to cut tobacco and alcohol consumption. Both tobacco use and alcohol abuse increase your risk for mouth cancer. If you spend a lot of time outside, make sure that you put proper skin protection on your lips to prevent oral cancer.
Reduce your risk of oral cancer by:
- Cutting alcohol consumption
- Not smoking or using other tobacco products
- Using sun protection on your lips when outside
- Eating a nutritious diet
If you recognize any of the mouth cancer symptoms in your own smile, schedule an appointment with your emergency dentist as soon as possible. The sooner oral cancer is detected, the sooner your doctor can begin mouth cancer treatment.
Dr. Yun DDS at NorthPointe Family Dental is dedicated to helping patients increase their survival rate through regular . If you are interested in scheduling a dental exam or mouth cancer screening, be sure to call our dentist in Grand Rapids, MI at (616) 288-6134.