You may have not realized it, but each time you visit our office, Sun Valley dentist Dr. Cunningham conducts an oral cancer screen with you. The entire process takes less than five minutes, but the benefits of the screening at every dental exam protect you for a lifetime. April has become a month that those of us in the dental industry refer to as Oral Cancer Awareness month. Our hopes are to educate the masses so that a small issue doesn’t turn into a frightening diagnosis. To that end, let’s take a look at some common questions.
What does an Oral Cancer Screening Entail?
Typically, our Sun Valley dentist uses visual cues and touch looking for bumps, open sores, abnormal discoloration, and problematic soft tissues. A check of the throat and lymph nodes is also part of the process. If a change is found, it is noted on your chart. Insignificant yet possible issues are added as spots to watch for at your next dental exam. More serious, apparent issues are handled immediately. In some cases, we may refer you to a different office. An Oral Cancer Screening is quick but effective and ensures early detection.
Why is early detection best for oral cancer?
Like many cancers, the earlier you catch it, the better your survival rate. Unfortunately, many oral cancer patients wait too long before coming to our Sun Valley dentist office with their oral problems. Because oral cancer can occur in anyone at any age, we recommend regular dental exams every 6 months. The goal is to treat the signs and symptoms as quickly as possible. You may be the healthiest person in the world and practice the best oral hygiene techniques at home. However, if you don’t have a professional oral cancer screening exam you may not recognize a problem until it stretches into an advanced stage of the disease. This is why the mortality rate of oral cancer is so high. Early detection equals prevention.
What causes oral cancer?
Tobacco and alcohol use are two of the top factors causing oral cancer, especially in older adults. However, it is important to note that HPV is causing oral cancer in thousands of young adults including those who don’t smoke. The symptoms of HPV are less recognizable at times which have the risk of going undetected before a treatment plan can be formed. The best approach is to talk with our Sun Valley dentist or hygienists about any concerns you have. We will discuss your oral history and any health related issues with you privately and confidentially. Our goal is to make sure you remain in the best of health.
So as April draws to a close, don’t think you’ve missed your chance for an oral cancer screen. Instead, stay educated and keep your regular appointments with our Sun Valley dentist. Find out more about our services and oral health education by visiting us on Facebook or by calling to schedule your next appointment.
In need of immediate care?
Dr. Cunningham provides emergency services after working hours and on weekends. Call (208) 726-3457