If you are already one of our patients or a regular reader of our blog, then you know that we emphasize complete health dentistry at our San Diego, CA office.
Brian Davey, DDS, and the rest of our team understand that your oral health and your overall health are interconnected. A healthy smile isn’t just a reflection of your dental habits.
It’s also why we do more than look for cavities and gum infections when you schedule a dental cleaning and exam. We also conduct oral cancer screenings. We don’t want anyone to have this disease, but we would prefer to catch it as early as possible.
If you haven’t had a dental exam in the past six months, call (858) 762-9991 to schedule a visit with us soon.
Being Proactive Is The Best Approach
According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, early detection makes a big difference in five-year survival rates (which is a standard measure for cancer treatments). When oral cancer is found in the late stages, this survival rate is 57 percent. That rises to between 80 and 90 percent when it’s found in the early stages.
Knowing this, you should be aware of the symptoms of this disease. They don’t just show up at dental appointments, after all. Pay attention if you notice any of these signs:
- A lump in your mouth or throat or on your lips or neck
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
- Problems chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Feeling hoarse or like you have a sore throat that isn’t getting better
- Having sores in your mouth that have not improved after a couple of weeks
- Patches of soft tissue in your mouth that are white, red, or a mix of colors
These symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have oral cancer. Nevertheless, you may want to contact your physician if you have noticed them. It’s better to find out it’s nothing than to worry that it could be something.
Control What You Can
In 9 out of 10 cases of oral cancer, the cause(s) can be determined. You may not be able to completely eliminate your risk, but you can reduce it by knowing the most common risk factors.
Tobacco use is at the top of the list. By conservative estimates, tobacco plays a role in 75 percent of new oral cancer cases. Whether you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, you are putting yourself at risk.
Alcohol use is the second leading cause. Specifically, people who consume 21 or more drinks weekly are more likely to develop oral cancer.
Many people consume fewer drinks than that but they use tobacco products at the same time. That, too, raises the risk. Since alcohol causes soft tissues to become dehydrated, those tissues can absorb cancer-causing chemicals more quickly.
By quitting or avoiding tobacco, you are helping yourself. Limiting or avoiding alcohol can make a difference as well.
At Dr. Davey’s office, we hope to see your healthy smile for many decades to come. That’s one of the reasons we emphasize complete health dentistry, including oral cancer screenings.