Dental Exams Can Save Your Life

Friday, September 21st, 2012, 8:25 pm

Dental exams are an important part of your overall health and, just like any checkup, shouldn’t be skipped. During these routine exams, your dentist is not only checking for cavities and decay, they are also looking for things like potentially life-threatening conditions including oral cancer.

Did you know that nearly 35,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year? The majority of these cases will be discovered after the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Oral cancer can be effectively treated if warning signs are caught early. However, oral cancer does not get the publicity that other cancers do unless a celebrity is diagnosed. Michael Douglas has done public service announcements about oral cancer because educating the public about the disease is extremely important.

Oral cancer can affect many areas in and around your mouth, including your throat and sinuses. Of the estimated 35,000 diagnosed with oral cancer annually, approximately half will survive five years. This depressing statistic is due largely to the fact that because patients do not know what to look for, and because oral cancer is typically painless in its earliest stages.

So what do you need to look for in your mouth in between visits to the dentist?

Be on the lookout for:

  • Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissue in your mouth;
  • A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth or neck;
  • Difficulty swallowing; Numbness in or around the mouth;
  • Ear pain that you only feel on one side;
  • The feeling that something is stuck in your throat;
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue

These are all symptoms of oral cancer but don’t panic if you have one. Having one of these symptoms does not always mean you have cancer – some can be signs of other conditions as well. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than 14 days you should visit your dentist right away.

If oral cancer is caught early survival rates sky rocket to 80-90%. Your regular dental checkup can help keep your smile healthy but it can also save your life. Don’t delay, please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your dental checkup.

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Category: oral health

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