Your dentist in Clarksville at Arkansas River Valley Dentistry routinely screens for oral cancer because this potentially deadly disease affects thousands of American adults each year. Many patients do not realize that oral cancer is a genuine risk to their health. People should understand symptoms and risks and get early treatment if cancer is diagnosed. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and Drs. Fisher, Cook and Nichols want you fully informed on why they perform this quick and comfortable dental health assessment.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a deadly disease affecting the soft tissues of the mouth and the back of the throat. Striking people of all ages, ethnicities, and walks of life, most oral cancers occur in the over 40 age group. However, more people ages 25 to 55 are starting to receive this worrisome diagnosis.
Until recently, oral cancer was not well known, and people were not routinely screened for it. Now, however, your family dentist in Clarksville sees wonderful benefits in screening for cancer with each semi-annual dental exam.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Sometimes, oral cancer exhibits no symptoms whatsoever, or it may be hidden in areas of the mouth and throat that are only visible during an oral examination by a skilled dentist or ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist). Other cases of oral cancer may show symptoms that are very obvious to the patient, such as:
- A sore in the mouth that lasts two to three weeks or longer and is red, white or black in color
- Painful chewing
- Hoarseness of voice
- A persistent cough
- Difficulty swallowing
- Earache on one side only
What are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?
Men used to be at higher risk for oral cancer–six males to every one female, in fact. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the proportion is now two men to one woman. While alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, and sun exposure are common risk factors for cancer of soft tissues of the mouth, throat, and lips, there is another risk factor which plays a role in both men and women ages 25 to 55.
This demographic often contracts HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus. While the virus typically leaves a person’s system without causing any problems, some people develop oral cancer from it. Young adults, especially those with suppressed immune systems or who have more than one sexual partner, seem more susceptible. Heredity may contribute to it as well. Therefore, people in the 25 to 55-year-old age group should be screened carefully.
Screening with Your Family Dentist In Clarksville
Oral cancer screening is a fast, painless part of your six-month dental check-up. Your dentist will visually inspect your face and feel the lymph nodes on the sides of your neck. He or she will look at your tongue, under your tongue, at the roof of your mouth, cheeks, lips and gums, checking for swelling, sores or changes in the color. In just a few minutes, your oral cancer screening is complete. According to the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, oral cancer has a very good cure rate when it is detected early in its development.
Would You Like Some Peace of Mind?