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DENTAL SERVICES

ORAL CANCER SCREENINGS

You may depend on your doctor to go through a myriad of cancer screenings with you, but you should also expect this from your dentist.

ORAL CANCER SCREENINGS

FAMILY DENTISTRY

The most effective way to detect oral cancer in its earliest stages is for the dentist to perform a quick and efficient screening during a patient’s regular visit.

Cancerous regions can be found throughout the oral cavity. The oral cavity consists of your lips, cheek lining, gums, tongue, floor of the mouth beneath the tongue and the hard palate at the roof of your mouth. The throat (pharynx) starts at the soft part of the roof of your mouth and continues back into your throat. It also includes where the tongue attaches to the floor of your mouth.

During your dental visit, your dentist can talk to you about your health history and examine these areas for signs of mouth and/or throat cancer. Regular visits to your dentist can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early. Dr. Appel will also advise you to contact him if you see symptoms related to oral cancer. Those could be a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away, red or white patches, painful lips, numbness in the mouth or a change in the way your teeth fit together upon closing your mouth. You also want to stay aware of lumps, crust, and small eroded areas. Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw are also important signs.

According to the American Dental Association, almost 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers this year. This translates to one death every hour. Tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption and exposure to HPV are all risk factors. In fact, the risk is 15 times greater for those who partake in both drinking and smoking. Luckily, early diagnosis can double a patient’s chances of survival from 40 percent to 80-90 percent.

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