When was the last time you received an oral cancer screening? According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, over 48,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2016 alone. Of that number, nearly half will succumb to the disease within just five years. The reason? The disease is rarely caught in the early stages. This is why routine screenings are absolutely essential.
Common Question About Oral Cancer Screenings
Question: How often should I have one?
Answer: You should, at a minimum, have a screening once a year. That allows a dentist to identify the early warning signs. You can then speak with a specialist about your options. Early identification increases the chances of a successful recovery.
Question: Do you perform them as part of a checkup?
Answer: Yes. For adults we perform them as part of a routine checkup. Your checkups should happen about twice a year, or once every six months. We will also look for signs of other issues that may need treatment, such as tooth decay, gingivitis, gum disease, TMJ disorder, or even bruxism. As with oral cancer, early diagnosis improves the chances of recovery.
Question: What are the common warning signs?
Answer: You should look for changes to your mouth. You may notice chronic throat soreness, hoarseness, or pain when you swallow. If lesions appear and don’t heal after 14 days, then talk to your dentist. Red and white splotches in the mouth, rough patches on soft tissue, changes to your voice, and unexplained weight loss are also potential warning signs. If one or more of these sound familiar, then please see your dentist right away for a thorough diagnosis.
Question: Does smoking impact my risk?
Answer: Yes. When you smoke or use other tobacco products you can increase the likelihood of oral cancer. Other issues related to smoking include gum disease, teeth stains, and lung and throat cancer.