How regular screenings at the dentist’s office can save your life!
According to the Oklahoma Oral Cancer Coalition, nearly 49,000 individuals will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Put another way, 132 fellow Americans find out that they have this deadly cancer each day of the calendar year. Fortunately, this diagnosis doesn’t have to be in your future, nor does it have to be deadly!
It is our intent at Intentional Smiles to get to know you and become a valuable and trusted partner with your family. From our office in Edmond, Dr. Taylor Barton works with you to minimize any risk factors for mouth and throat cancers. Screenings by Dr. Barton happen every time he looks in your mouth. That is why you will hear him ask you to stick your tongue out, move it left and right, say ahhhh, check for tenderness under the jaw and in the lymph nodes.
Those “risks,” which we work to address, include:
- Use of other tobacco products
- Vaping alternatives to nicotine that still contain carcinogens
- Medical history of cancers (oro-pharynx, cervical, esophageal, lung)
- Primary family members (parents, children, siblings) with a diagnosis of SCCs (squamous cell carcinomas) of the head or neck
- Inadequate protection from UV light (for lip cancers)
- Pre-existing disease, which weakens the immune system
- Deficiencies in nutrients, such as carotenoids, commonly found in fruits and veggies
- Chronic infections of the mouth and lichen planus (characterized by itchy, discolored bumps)
Notably, oral and immune system comorbidities increase the risk of developing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a risk factor for oral cancerous lesions among individuals who do not smoke or use other nicotine-containing products and who do not drink alcohol in excess.
What to expect and watch for
Dentists like our own Dr. Barton are often on the front line of pinpointing pre-cancers and cancerous growth on the lips, gummy tissues, and other areas of the mouth. During regular check-ups, our team visually inspects as well as “palpates” (checks by touch) for any abnormalities, such as patches of discoloration, sores, bumps, and facial drooping. It is also important to raise the red flag if you notice any changes to your speech, swallowing, and chewing. For instance, these cancers are associated with chronic hoarseness, dysphagia (trouble swallowing), sore throats, and a feeling like something is “stuck” in the throat.
Even if we find something that warrants further investigation, it is important to note that oral cancer is not unlike other cancers. When detected early into the process, before the cancer has metastasized or spread, there is a very high rate of successfully treating the tumor.
Do not delay. Get into a healthy habit of regular check-ups at Intentional Smiles in Edmond, OK, today. These visits just may save your life! Call (405) 348-2266 or reach out to us from this website.