April 3, 2019
Do you really know what happens during a routine dental exam? You probably think your hygienist will take some x-rays, poke around in your mouth, scrap some stuff off your teeth, floss them, and give them a good polishing before you’re up and out the door. Right? Well, you might be surprised to know that your visit is much more than a dental cleaning. In addition to ensuring your pearly whites are looking and feeling their best, your dentist will screen you for oral cancer. Find out more about this procedure and why it’s so important.
Listen to Your Dentist: Why It’s Important to be Screened
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. If you’re unsure why that is important, you should know that an estimated 40,000 Americans have been diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. Unfortunately, that number rises each year with more and more people succumbing to this horrible disease within 5 years of receiving a diagnosis.
When detected in a localized area, it is much easier to treat; however, once the cancer has metastasized to another area, your chances of successful treatment decreases dramatically.
Oral cancer, if caught in its early stage, is highly treatable; however, for many who avoid early detection screenings, it is diagnosed too late, often making it more difficult or impossible to treat. Therefore, your dentist strongly encourages you to attend your regularly scheduled appointments to be screened for oral cancer.
Be on the Lookout! Signs of Oral Cancer
It’s in your best interest to watch for signs of oral cancer. While not all symptoms are visible or live on the surface, should you spot any of the signs listed below, contact your dentist immediately to schedule an appointment.
- Red and white patches
- Oral sores that don’t heal or continually bleed
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Lumps or rough spots
- Tooth decay and/or gum disease
- Problems with moving your jaw or tongue
Keeping a Clean Mouth: Ways to Prevent Oral Cancer
Just like the symptoms may not always be visible, you may not always be able to prevent the development of oral cancer. However, you can take preventative measures to keep away from harmful habits and dedicate yourself to better oral hygiene. Here are a few additional ways to prevent this deadly disease:
- Watch your diet. Eat healthy foods and limit the amount of sugar you eat. It’s a breeding ground for bacteria, and once it burrows into your teeth and gums, you can expect cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Also limit acidic foods and drinks, too.
- Practice good oral habits. Brush, floss, and rinse each day according to the instructions provided by your dentist. It’s good to follow the 2/2 rule (brush twice a day for two minutes).
- Stop or Avoid Smoking. This is one of the leading causes of oral cancer, so if you want to keep your mouth healthy, as well as live a long and happy life, you’ll kick the habit.
- Visit your dentist. Even if you do all the above, you must continue to see your dentist on a regular basis (twice a year) for cleanings and oral cancer screenings.
We know you understand the importance of healthy teeth and gums, but it’s also just as important to let your dentist screen you for oral cancer. A few minutes of your time can save your life.
About the Practice
Are you looking for optimal dental care? You’ve found it at Stec Cosmetic & Family Dentistry! Patient comfort is of the utmost importance, which is why we’ve invested in new technologies to make your experience as comfortable as possible each time you visit. You can also expect a team of dental experts who enjoy getting to know our patients. This allows us to create personalized treatment plans based on your needs. From preventative to restorative to cosmetic dentistry services, we’re here to help you achieve a brighter, more beautiful smile. To learn more, contact us via our website or by calling (308) 382-4440.
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