Why You Need an Oral Cancer Screening
Firstly, they don’t take very long, they don’t hurt, they could save your life, and can be done during your next routine check-up.
Oral cancer screenings are an excellent way for your dentist to discover abnormalities in your mouth and potentially diagnose oral cancer. If found early on, oral cancer actually has an 80% chance or higher survival rate – meaning it can be beaten! Thus, making early detection a key factor in beating Oral Cancer.
Smokers are at a higher risk for oral and throat cancer, but that doesn’t mean that only smokers are susceptible. Around 25% of those with oral cancer do not have any known risk factors like being a tobacco user – the cancer just appears without understood reason. Even more people do not have any initial symptoms, so it’s no wonder that oral cancer is often discovered in the dangerous, later stages of development.
Causes of Oral Cancer
In addition to tobacco use, many diagnosed oral cancer cases have been linked to long-term alcohol use – often in conjunction with tobacco (smokeless or otherwise).
In more recent years, diagnosed cases have been linked to the HPV16 virus. That’s why young adults and teens are suddenly more at risk.
Lastly, a very small percentage (< 7%) of oral cancer cases may be due to genetic predisposition.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
- white and red patches in the mouth
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Numbness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
- Persistent sores on the face or mouth that do not heal within 2 weeks
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- Ear pain
- Dramatic weight loss
When & How Often Should I Have Oral Cancer Screenings?
You’re already coming in twice a year for you check-ups, so we recommend choosing one of those dates each year for an oral cancer screening. Depending on what your dentist finds, he or she will make recommendations for future screenings. Give us a call, or schedule your next visit with us online!