Like all cancer screenings, an oral cancer screening in Arlington is designed to find abnormal tissue that may indicate the presence of pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. The significant difference is that an oral cancer screening takes no extra time or effort on your part. All you have to do is maintain a schedule of regular dental checkupsand your dentist will take care of the rest. And because April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, now is the right time to have one.
The Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Risk factors may increase your chance for developing oral cancer, but most do not cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors don’t develop cancer, while those without a single factor do. That’s why knowing the risks is important.
Think about this: tobacco use, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco accounts for some 85 percent of all head, neck and oral cancers. Chewing tobacco or snuff is associated with a 50 percent increase in the risk of developing oral cancer, because then tobacco is in contact with soft tissue in your mouth. Add alcohol consumption and the risk increases even more.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of oral cancer include:
- Gender (men develop oral cancer than women)
- Light skin color
- Age (people over the age of 45 are more susceptible to oral cancer than younger people)
- Poor oral hygiene
- Weakened immune system
- Marijuana use
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
At your six-month dental checkups, you’ll have an oral cancer screening. But it’s important for you to know what the outward signs and symptoms are so you can be on the lookout during the time in between visits to your dentist. Look for:
- A sore inside your mouth or on your lips that hasn’t healed in more than two weeks
- A lump in any soft tissue in your mouth or down your neck
- A spot in your mouth that feels numb
- A red or white sore on soft tissue that is scaly or smooth
- An earache without infection
- A tooth that becomes loose without reason
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Trouble swallowing
If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, please don’t wait to call your dentist in Arlington. Oral cancer is often treatable when found early. A screening just might save your life.
Meet the Doctor
Dr. Douglas Baldwin is a general dentist in Arlington, Texas. He and his team provide a complete menu of dental services to patients of all ages, including oral cancer screenings. Call Foundation Dental Solutions today to schedule an appointment.