April 14, 2019
Sadly, an estimated 53,000 people in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with oral cancer each year, or 132 people each day. As with all cancers, early detection is the key to successful treatment outcomes, but many people aren’t aware of how important it is to get an oral cancer screening in Bedford. These screenings can potentially save your life, and since they’re conveniently done at your dental checkups, they couldn’t be more convenient. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a perfect time to learn more about this disease and how simple it is to be screened!
What Are the Risk Factors For Oral Cancer?
Although oral cancer is sometimes found in people who have no risk factors, it’s more commonly found in people with one of the following:
- A history of smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Heavy drinking
- A weakened immune system
- Frequent sunburns or failing to wear SPF lip protection (this increases your risk of a type of skin cancer called melanoma that commonly occurs on the border of the lips)
What Is a Screening Like?
When it comes to this devastating disease, there is encouraging news: The survival rate is 85-90% when it’s found early. Fortunately, oral cancer screenings with a dentist in Bedford are automatically included in each checkup and are also very fast and easy.
First, your lips, cheeks, throat, palate, and under your tongue will be visually examined by both a hygienist and dentist during their exams. They’ll also gently palpate your neck and under your jaw to see if there are any lumps, bumps, or tender areas. The entire screening takes just minutes.
Also, it’s a good idea to watch for any of the following signs and symptoms between visits:
- Trouble chewing or swallowing.
- A chronic feeling that something is stuck in your throat.
- Stiffness or pain in the jaw.
- A lump or bump that’s developed recently.
- A persistent sore throat.
- Any sores or lesions that haven’t healed within two weeks.
But try not to worry if you find something, just schedule an appointment to be looked at. And keep in mind that many non-cancerous conditions can look similar, like cold sores or benign lumps of fatty tissue. With an evaluation, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing what’s happening with your oral health so you can proceed from there.
Clearly, dental care is important for your teeth and gums, but with oral cancer screenings at each checkup, it’s also important for your overall well-being as well!
About the Author
Dr. Maegan Elam is a family dentist in Bedford and a graduate of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. As a firm believer in the power of prevention and early detection, she and her staff make oral cancer screenings and education a priority. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, you can reach Dr. Elam via her website.
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