Besides brushing and flossing at home, the American Dental Association recommends you visit your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. You know the appointments are necessary to protect the health of your teeth and gums, but did you know there is another reason to schedule a visit? Routine care is vital for the early detection of oral cancer. Not only can a general dentist perform the screenings but also your prosthodontist in La Mesa, Dr. Peter F. Johnson.
Why Do I Need an Oral Cancer Screening?
In addition to tooth decay and gum disease, oral cancer is among the biggest threats to your oral health. It can have devastating consequences if it is not found and treated early. It is estimated nearly 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it this year. Sadly, 1 person every hour of every day will die from because only 57% of those diagnosed survive 5 years.
All too often, mouth cancer is not found until it has spread to other areas of the body or reached advanced stages. Often, this is the result of infrequent screenings. Oral cancer is not widely discussed, so many people are not aware they need a screening or where to get one.
April is dedicated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Dental professionals around the country have made it their mission to increase public knowledge about the importance and availability of routine oral cancer screenings. It is estimated, 80% of new oral cancer cases can be detected early through regular examinations by dental professionals.
What are the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is classified as those that affect the head and neck; however, brain cancer is in a separate category. It can occur in the mouth, throat, lips, or other tissues. During semi-annual appointments, your oral tissues are examined to look for any signs of cancerous or precancerous cells. If a concerning area is found, a sample of the tissue is sent to the dental lab for testing.
In between your regular appointments, it is best to schedule a screening right away if you experience any of the following signs that last for longer than two weeks:
- 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.
Do Not Skip You Next Visit
If you are among the one-third of adults who did not have a preventive appointment last year, do not wait until it is too late. Schedule an oral cancer screening with your prosthodontist today.
About Dr. Peter F. Johnson
Dr. Peter F. Johnson is a board-certified prosthodontist. Although he specializes in rebuilding damaged or missing teeth, he also focuses on prevention to help you maintain your oral health. Besides cleanings and checkups, he also offers oral cancer screenings. Contact our office today to schedule your next appointment.