When I remind you that you need to come in for an examination every six months, you may think, ‘Six months, eight months … what’s the difference?’ The truth is, two months could make a difference when it comes to your health. I’m not just talking about tooth decay or gum disease, either. There is a very real danger that could be avoided by being seen by me semi-annually, without fail. What is it? Oral Cancer.
The Risk of Oral Cancer
Despite what you may think, oral cancer doesn’t just affect those who use tobacco products. While that certainly increases your risk, there are other risk factors, as well, including:
- Heavy drinking (particularly when combined with tobacco use)
- Gender, as oral cancers tend to affect more men than women
- The human papillomavirus
- Prolonged sun exposure, particularly without sunscreen
- A weakened immune system
What to Look For
Only the well-trained eye of a professional can detect suspicious spots, but if you have any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with me sooner rather than later:
- A mouth sore that doesn’t go away
- Persistent pain in the oral tissues
- A lump or thickened area on the cheek
- A red or white patch in the oral tissues
Some of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, but don’t ignore them for too long; after all, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.
The Benefits of Early Diagnosis
Like many cancers, oral cancer is highly treatable when detected early. This is exactly why I like to see you every six months. Not only do I conduct a thorough visual examination of your oral tissues, but I palpate the tissue as well to make sure everything feels as it should. If anything appears abnormal — which I will only know if I see you regularly — we’ll proceed with the next step, which in most cases is a biopsy. Whatever the case may be, early diagnosis increases your chances of survival.
If you’re even a little bit late for your semi-annual appointment, call today to schedule your next exam. From oral cancer to gum disease, oral health is connected to overall health; keeping you healthy is my priority.