Many of us fail understand the importance of twice-yearly dental checkups, because of this an increasing number of people have reduced the rates of seeing a dentist to just once a year or completely forgo these check-ups. What we don’t realize is that your dentist does more than just clean your teeth. Along with checking for problems of the bones and gums, your dentist also performs screenings for Oral Cancer.
What is Oral Cancer?
Although oral cancer isn’t everyone’s first concern, it is a very serious condition. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 48,250 people get diagnosed with oral cancer a year and about 1 person passes away due to oral cancer every 60 minutes. Oral Cancer actually claims 3 times as many victims as cervical cancer every year. The numbers are daunting, but many of aren’t quite sure what oral cancer means. Oral cancer is cancer anywhere in the mouth including the lips, throat, and tongue and It is responsible for about 80% of the head and neck cancer cases every year (which include the nasal cavity, sinuses, thyroid, and other regions).
Due to it going unnoticed in its early stages, there is a very high risk of developing a secondary tumor or cancer elsewhere in the body, once the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body the mortality rate and risk for developing long term conditions from it increases. Because of the location of the cancer, there is also a risk it will spread within the body without actually showing any outward signs making it much more dangerous.
Am I at Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?
Everyone is at risk of developing oral cancer. However, some are more predisposed to the condition, for example 90% of Oral Cancer Cases come from cigarettes, cigar, and tobacco smokers. In addition, if you are over the age of 50 your chances increase exponentially as “86% of cases are diagnosed in those over 50” according to the British Dental Health Foundation. Chances also increase if you have a poor diet, or spend a long amount of time under the sun the risk increases as compared to others. Men are more likely to get diagnosed with oral cancer than women, and recently those who have HPV16 have also been found to have a higher rate of Oral Cancer than those without it.
How Does My Dentist Screen for Oral Cancer?
One of the biggest issues with oral cancer is that because it isn’t easily noticed in the beginning stages, the cancer may spread to other parts of the bodies before getting diagnosed (making it much harder to treat).
Your dentist will screen for oral cancer at every visit by watching out for signs of lumps, sores, lesions, swelling of the mouth, or lose teeth not due to any gum damage. If any of these signs exist, the dentist may request some or all of the following:
· Imaging Testing: The doctor may request X-Rays, CT Scans, MRIs, or Pet Scans to determine the size and location of the cancer.
· Endoscopy: A light scope may be passed through the patient’s mouth to determine whether the cancer has spread and where.
· Biopsy: A small sample of the infected tissue is taken to determine whether or not the cells are cancerous or benign.
The best way to prevent Oral Cancer is by seeing your dentist every 6 months, as it is better to detect oral cancer as early as possible. The dentist will look for signs more closely at these screenings. To schedule a routine cleaning and Oral Cancer cleaning, call Marion Smile Center today at (724) 452-4300 for exceptional dentistry in Zelienople, Pennsylvania, request an appointment Online. Conveniently located north of Cranberry Township, PA, we also serve Harmony and the North Hills area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as communities in Butler and Beaver County.