In our Texas dentist office we help patients to stay in the best possible oral health. This includes looking for signs of oral cancer so that patients can receive the treatment they need and their best shot for beating the disease. Many people are not aware of how serious the disease is and how many people it impacts. In the United States around 35,000 adults are diagnosed with oral cancer on an annual basis. This is a staggering number considering that most people don’t know how to catch oral cancer. Early detection is important for beating the disease and we look for signs during regular dental examinations. We recommend that patients have their teeth cleaned and examined every six months in order to stay in the best possible oral health. During these teeth cleanings we are able to remove bacteria and plaque that can cause cavities and gum disease. We also look for existing cavities that need to be treated and for signs of oral cancer. Knowing what to look for is important and some of the signs can be watched for at home. For example, you may be able to identify any strange bumps, rough patches, or sores. If you do, schedule an appointment with our office immediately so that we can conduct a thorough examination. As a local dentist we will also look for any red or white velvety spots or teeth suddenly moving out of place. Tell our staff if you notice anything strange on your gums or inside of your mouth so that we can examine it further. We also want to know if you are having any difficulty or pain when swallowing. If we find something that appears cancerous we will typically have the area biopsied to see if there are any cancerous cells. If there are, we will refer you to an oncologist for treatment. By catching the disease early, it increases the odds of beating it. There are also things you can do to decrease your risk of oral cancer. This includes:
- Don’t overexpose yourself to the sun. This is especially important for children. Too much sun can increase your risk of skin cancer and oral cancer. Wear a sun hat in the summer and spend time in the shade to make sure that you are not overexposed.
- Don’t drink excessively. People that drink too much alcohol are at the same increased risk of oral cancer as people that smoke cigarettes. Excessive drinking is often viewed as binge drinking or anything over two drinks a day on a regular basis.
- Stop smoking cigars and cigarettes. This carries a greater risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and oral cancer.
- Don’t use smokeless tobacco products. This is the greatest risk factor of all. People that chew tobacco, use dip or snuff, have a sixty times greater chance of getting oral cancer. This is a significant increase and may also be the reason that men are at a greater risk of oral cancer than women, since more men tend to use these products.
At our local dentist office we watch for signs of oral cancer so that our patients have their best shot at beating the disease. Avoid unhealthy habits and visit our office twice a year in order to improve your chances of staying in good oral health.