It’s important to visit the dentist every six months to keep your oral health in top condition. Your dentist in Washington D.C. uses professional-grade materials and deep cleaning techniques you can’t perform at home. However, did you know that during your examination she’s also checking for early signs of oral cancer?
Nearly 50,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed annually in America alone. It’s just another reason why regular visits are so essential to both your oral and overall health.
To Beat Cancer, It Must Be Caught Early
The main cause of oral cancer’s high death rate isn’t because it develops quickly. In fact, most people don’t realize they have oral cancer until their dentist discovers it late in development. Late-stage cancer is always more difficult to treat, and the life span of patients is typically shorter as a result of this progression. According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, 40 percent of newly diagnosed oral cancer patients don’t live longer than five years.
This is just another reason why visiting the dentist regularly is so important for your overall health. Treatment for oral cancer is easier when caught early, plus you have a higher chance of being cured. Depending on your risk factors, you may even need to visit more often than twice a year.
Risk Factors Matter, even if You Have None
In the past, it was mostly older patients who saw a higher risk of oral cancer; being over 40 is still a risk factor today. However, other factors also come into play, so it’s essential that you make the effort to visit if you have the following:
- Heavy drinking habits
- Smoking habits (especially if you chew tobacco)
- Poor diet
- Poor oral health
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
Keep in mind that not having any of the following risk factors doesn’t exclude the possibility of developing oral cancer. For example, men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer by default, so current habits or previously diagnosed conditions aren’t always necessary.
Don’t Ignore Potential Symptoms!
Oral cancer also has a tendency to mask as more common symptoms, so it’s important to pay attention to them over a certain period of time. Having a sore inside your mouth may not be oral cancer. However, if the sore doesn’t heal after a two-week period or if it bleeds continuously, it’s considered a sign of oral cancer and will need to be tested to confirm otherwise.
Other symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Red or white patches in the oral cavity
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the mouth or lips
- Lumps, bumps, thickenings, or rough spots
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your tongue or jaw
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when closing the mouth
With these reasons in mind, it’s always worth it to get yourself checked. Don’t spend money and time on treatments that could have been prevented! Visit your dentist in Washington D.C. to know for sure!
About the Author
Dr. Yelena Obholz earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the New York University College of Dentistry. She’s currently enrolled at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. If you believe you’re seeing signs of oral cancer, contact her at (202) 364-8989 or visit her website to schedule an appointment.