Your toothbrush and floss are your first line of defense against preventable oral health issues, like tooth decay and gum disease. Even with the best brushing and flossing techniques, there are some complications you cannot prevent, like oral cancer. Although you may think your semi-annual visits are only important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy, they are also necessary for a routine oral cancer screening with your dentist in Columbia. Now, you have another reason not to skip your next preventive visit.
Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Besides tooth decay and gum disease, oral cancer is the biggest threat to your dental health. Oral cancer is classified as those that affect the head and neck, but brain cancer is in a separate category. An estimated 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it this year. Despite new advancements in detection and treatments, only 57% of those diagnosed will survive for 5 years after being diagnosed. In fact, 1 person every hour of every day passes away from it.
The low survival rate is attributed to late detection. Often, oral cancer is not found until it has reached advanced stages or spread to other areas of the body. A leading reason it is left undetected is that many people do not know they are at risk of it. In addition, they do not know they can receive a routine screening during preventive dental appointments. Although you may not feel these visits are necessary, it is estimated as much as 80% of new oral cancer cases can be detected early by a dentist.
Do I Need an Oral Cancer Screening?
Everyone should have an oral cancer screening during their routine appointments for a cleaning and checkup. Your dentist can easily perform the examination necessary to detect cancer and precancerous cells early. If a suspicious area is discovered, a biopsy is taken to have it tested in a lab. Your dentist will inform you of the results and if any additional treatment is needed.
Besides your routine screening, it is best to schedule an appointment if you develop any concerning warning signs in between your visit, such as:
- Sores on the lips or mouth that will not heal.
- White or red patches on the inside of your mouth.
- Loose teeth.
- Unexplained dental pain.
- Lumps or growths inside your mouth.
- Numbness or tingling in the mouth.
- Ear pain.
- Difficulty or painful swallowing.
- Feeling as though something is stuck in your throat.
- Difficulty moving the tongue.
Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening
If you have not had an oral cancer screening, do not wait. Schedule a cleaning and checkup with your dentist today!
About Dr. Philip Batson
Dr. Philip Batson strives to help the community reach and maintain optimal oral health through a focus on prevention. Besides a cleaning and checkup, he also offers oral cancer screenings. If you are ready to benefit from early detection, contact our office today to schedule your appointment.