April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

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ORAL CANCER SCREENING

April is oral cancer awareness month, which means it is the perfect opportunity to visit Family Dentistry of Edgefield for an oral screening. This simple procedure is your first line of defense when it comes to early detection and diagnosis.

Of all the common cancers, including cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and testicular cancer, oral cancer has a higher death rate. This is because the disease usually goes undetected until it has spread to other parts of your body.

When it comes to oral cancer, knowing all the facts is half the battle. The other half is taking care of your teeth with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups with your dentist.

ORAL CANCER FACTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

When we refer to oral cancer, we mean any cancers that occur in the mouth. Oral cancer can be commonly found on the gums, tongue, the roof of the mouth,  under the tongue, the lips, and the inside of the cheeks. Other areas in the mouth where oral cancer can begin are behind the wisdom teeth and in the salivary glands.

Did you know there are over 90,000 people in the US living with oral cancer, with almost 40,000 new cases diagnosed annually?

More than 8,000 people in the United States die as a result of oral cancer yearly. To break it down further, it is estimated that one person will die from oral cancer every hour of every day, 365 days a year. This is frightening, but even more horrifying is that these deaths could be prevented with early detection.

According to studies, early diagnosis and treatment result in a five-year survival rate of around 75 percent. Late diagnosis and delayed treatment have a 5-year survival rate of only 20 percent.

Your dentist plays an essential role in early diagnosis. The Oral Cancer Foundation explains that dentists are the first line of defense when it comes to picking up the early warning signs of oral cancer.  Make sure you ask your family dentist to do a screening at your next appointment or accept a screening if one is offered.

THERE ARE OFTEN SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH ORAL CANCER THAT WE TEND TO OVERLOOK. BE AWARE OF:
  • Any mouth sores or cankers that do not heal within two weeks
  • An unusual sore or lesion that bleeds easily
  • White, red, or black discoloration of soft tissue in your mouth
  • A strange lump, often on the border of your tongue
  • Sores under dentures that don’t heal even after they have been adjusted
  • Ongoing bad breath
  • Loose teeth

Other symptoms can include swelling of the jaw, pain when you chew or swallow, any unusual bleeding as well as pain or numbness in your mouth. Something as innocuous as a change in your voice can be a sign that something is wrong.

THE MOST COMMON FACTORS THAT CAN INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF ORAL CANCER INCLUDE:
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Any tobacco products such as cigarettes, pipes, snuff, chewing tobacco, and cigars
  • Weakened immune system
  • The common viral illness called HPV (human papillomavirus virus)
  • Excessive exposure to the sun on your lips

HOW TO PREVENT ORAL CANCER

Like some other cancers, oral cancer is not always preventable, but there are things you can do to lower your risks of it developing.

THE TEAM AT FAMILY DENTISTRY OF EDGEFIELD RECOMMENDS THAT YOU:
  • Stop using tobacco products of any kind
  • Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum
  • Follow a healthy balanced diet with loads of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Include vitamin supplements in your diet
  • If you wear dentures, remove them at night and make sure you clean them daily
  • Also, have your dentist check your dentures every three to five years

YOUR DENTIST AND ORAL CANCER

One of the easiest, but most effective things you can do to lower your risk of developing oral cancer is to ask your dentist to do a screening. Family Dentistry of Edgefield offers our patients oral cancer screenings as part of their service. During the examination, the dentist will ask a few questions about your overall health and if you have noticed any unusual symptoms. He will also check your gums, the linings of your cheeks,  the roof of your mouth, your tongue, underneath your tongue and feel your jaw and neck areas for any odd lumps.

This non-invasive examination will pick up any precancerous warning signs and symptoms.

Do yourself a favor this April and make sure you visit Family Dentistry of Edgefield for an oral cancer screening. It literally could be the difference between life or death.

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