April 5, 2019
Cavities, toothaches, fillings – these are all common motivations for scheduling a trip to the dentist. However, did you know that seeing the dentist regularly can also help you fight cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, over 50,000 men and women will get oral cancer in 2019. Do you know the early warning signs? Your dentist does. April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, so there is no better time than now to learn about this potentially deadly disease and why it is so important to visit your dentist for an oral cancer screening in Lake Highlands.
What is Oral Cancer?
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, which invade and cause damage to surrounding body tissue. Cancer that occurs in the mouth and part of the throat – including the gums, lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, sinuses, esophagus and middle region of the throat – is referred to as oral cancer.
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Red, white, or speckled patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Ear pain without any loss of hearing
- The sensation of something caught in the throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Chronic sore throat
- Dramatic weight loss
Oral Cancer Screening: Quick and Painless
An oral cancer screening is a quick and painless procedure that your dentist in Lake Highlands conducts as part of every routine dental checkup. Here is what to expect from an oral cancer screening:
- A visual inspection inside your mouth for signs of oral cancer, using special tools
- A manual examination for unusual bumps and lumps on your neck, face and head
- Questions regarding your exposure to oral cancer risk factors (e.g., tobacco use)
- Questions to help identify nonvisible symptoms of oral cancer (e.g., sore throat)
How Technology Can Aid in Early Detection
Advances in technology are aiding dentists in their mission to detect oral cancer in its earliest stages. One such technology is Oral ID, a small handheld device that appears similar to a flashlight.
Oral ID technology uses a specific light wavelength to visually differentiate healthy and unhealthy tissues in the mouth. When a dentist uses this technology during an oral cancer screening, he or she sees green light reflected off of healthy tissue, while abnormal tissue (including pre-cancerous cells) appears dark.
This type of technology is a valuable tool in the fight against oral cancer.
How Often Should I See the Dentist?
Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early on. For this reason, the American Dental Association recommends seeing a dentist every six months for a routine dental checkup and oral cancer screening. Regular visits to the dentist are key to detecting signs of oral cancer before the disease has had a chance to spread.
Knowledge is power! Now that you know more about oral cancer you can partner with a dentist in Dallas to take action and preserve your health.
About the Author
Dr. Jim Miller has over 30 years of experience helping local families in Dallas take care of their oral health. A graduate of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry, he has completed over 1,000 hours of continuing education to stay on top of the latest advances in dental medicine, techniques and technology, including Oral ID. For more information about oral cancer awareness, visit Dr. Miller’s website or call 214-340-2111.
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