Did you know that the sooner you catch oral cancer, the easier it is to treat? It also gives you a much higher chance of survival, unlike a majority of those who are newly diagnosed. About 60 percent of patients initially diagnosed don’t live longer than five years, mainly because they failed to catch their oral cancer in time. However, by visiting your dentist in Coeur d’Alene every six months, you can stay ahead of oral cancer and treat it if it appears.
Dental Visits: A Matter of Life and Death
Visiting the dentist is no longer only about checking for cavities, getting a filling or crown treatment done, or having your teeth cleaned. More and more dentists are partnering with organizations, such as The Oral Cancer Foundation to instill one fact into the public mind: oral cancer screenings are necessary during your routine exams and cleanings.
In the United States, a person dies from oral cancer every hour. On average, just over 50,000 patients are diagnosed with some form or oral cancer annually. Your dentist is in a unique position to catch early signs of oral cancer, but only if you make the effort to visit. You don’t want to end up as just another statistic.
Abnormalities: Cold Sore or Cancer?
Your dentist is used to seeing common abnormalities in the mouth and neck that mimic the appearance of pre-cancerous changes or very early cancers of soft tissue. Whether it’s a cold sore, an apthous ulcer, or wound that occurred from biting the inside of your cheek, your dentist can’t always tell at first glance if the abnormality is cancerous or not.
Upon discovery, your dentist in Coeur d’Alene will use their oral cancer screening device to detect more significant signs of oral cancer. Even if they don’t find further signs after the screening, they may still want to see you for a follow-up to confirm if the area heals properly. If it does not heal on its own after a two-week period, with or without treatment, it will be considered worthy of closer examination and referral.
How to Protect Yourself at Home
Since you typically only see your dentist every six months, it’s important that you practice a self-examination at home as well. This exam only takes a few minutes to complete and is relatively simple to conduct.
- Start by standing in front of a mirror in a well-lit room.
- Then, open your mouth and examine all the surfaces of your tongue, cheeks, throat, lips, and palate. Take note of any red or white patches, lumps, bumps, or sores that haven’t healed after a two-week period.
- Also, take note of any irritations, difficulty chewing or swallowing, moving the jaw or tongue, or swelling in the jaw or neck.
If you notice signs of oral cancer during your self-exam, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. Bi-annual checkups are necessary to catch oral cancer early and treat it effectively!
About the Author
Dr. Filip Orban earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. He truly cares about his patient’s oral and overall health, which is why he remains strongly diligent in the fight against oral cancer. To get yourself checked, contact him at (208) 667-1546 or visit his website.