Regular dental exams are very important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Your dentist can look for early signs of diseases. This is when they can be more successfully treated. April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. As part of this public awareness campaign, the Academy of General Dentistry is recommending that patients ask for an oral cancer screening during their next visit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year and nearly 8,000 people die annually from the disease. Only about half all oral cancer patients are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
Patients will have a much better chance for survival and will face less invasive treatment if the disease it detected early. Early detection is extremely important because treating oral cancer during its advanced stages can lead to severe pain, the
loss of function, and permanent facial disfigurement.
Oral cancer can cause bleeding sores in the mouth, difficulty in chewing or swallowing, numbness of the tongue, ear pain, and lumps or hard spots in the mouth. If you have any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your dentist
Your dentist will thoroughly examine inside your mouth, the roof of your gums, the back of your throat, your tongue, the floor of your mouth, as well as the lymph nodes in your neck. This will help determine if there are any unusual tissue changes in those areas. A biopsy may be needed in order to find out if any of the tissue is cancerous.
Remember, April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. In order to detect this potentially deadly disease in its early stages and to stay on top of your overall dental health, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends that you visit your dentist at least once every six months.