ORAL CANCER: Why Screenings Are Important
If you’re reasonably confident in your oral hygiene and you don’t have any noticeable dental issues, it’s fine to skip the semi-annual checkup and cleaning, right? Wrong. In addition to cleaning your teeth and checking for issues like tooth decay and gingivitis, your dental team does something very important for you each year: an oral cancer screening.
Why is this so important? Oral cancer, like some other cancers, often causes no pain or discomfort. Because of this, it often goes undetected until it’s done significant damage. Finding it early, though, is the best way to successfully treat it and give patients a good shot at a healthy life.
During the exam, the dentist will look for suspicious looking lesions or spots in your mouth. If any damaged cells are found, you’ll be referred to an oral surgery for a biopsy and diagnosis. Don’t stress too much over this. Most of the time, these spots are benign. That’s because damaged cells have a variety of causes. Maybe you’ve bitten your cheek, or you had a drink that was too hot. Environmental factors like air pollution and chemical exposure can cause damage to the cells in your mouth as well. If you chew tobacco, you’ll have signs of cell damage. This damage does not necessarily indicate cancer.
It’s important to note, though, that using tobacco, particularly chewing tobacco, raises your risk of oral cancer. There are more than 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco, and cancer often shows up where the tobacco is held in the mouth. Any kind of tobacco raises your risk of cancer, though. About 75 percent of oral cancer in the United States occurs in people who smoke. While some people choose to smoke cigars without inhaling, believing this will protect them from lung cancer, cigar smokers are up to 10 times more likely to die of oral cancer, when compared to non-smokers. We advise you to avoid tobacco usage to protect your health and keep your smile white and beautiful!
A healthy lifestyle, along with regular visits to the dentist, can ensure that you have a gorgeous smile and a healthy mouth for years to come. If you’re ready to find a team committed to keeping you healthy and smiling, Belmont Dental Group is ready to meet you! We cover all kinds of dental care, going beyond basic teeth cleaning to include services from periodontics to cosmetic dentistry to emergency care, and we believe in helping our patients be partners in their own dental health. Call our dental office today at (617) 484-2431 or contact us through our website for a consultation.