During routine dental examinations, your dentist may look for signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer refers to cancers in the tongue, mouth, lips, jaw, and throat. Many La Mesa dental patients don’t realize the seriousness of oral cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 39,000 people will get oral cancer this year.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “the death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer, and endocrine system cancers.”
When your dentist performs an oral cancer screening during your dental examination, he/she will look for red or white spots, bleeding, lumps, difficulty swallowing, loose teeth, any color changes, and mouth sores. It is vital to tell your dentist if your bite has changed, if you have sores that won’t heal, and prolonged hoarseness. An earache in only one ear can also be an indicator.
The existence of any of these symptoms does not mean you have oral cancer, as they can be caused by any number of other conditions. However, if your dentist does discover something unusual, he/she may order additional tests or refer you to a medical doctor for further diagnosis and treatment if necessary.
It’s probably no surprise that the main risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco use. This includes all forms, not just cigarettes. Furthermore, those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol are also more likely to contract oral cancer. People with HPV, a sexually-transmitted virus, have a higher risk and prolonged sun exposure to lips makes lip cancer more likely. All of these previously mentioned factors are lifestyle-related and, to a great extent, preventable. People who don’t use tobacco or drink heavily are statistically far less likely to get oral cancer or other problems affecting oral health in La Mesa.
For more information about oral cancer screening or oral health in La Mesa, contact Jeff Gray DDS – Sedation & Cosmetic Dentistry at 619-337-7700. If you are looking for an experienced dentist who provides comprehensive general, restorative, sedation, or cosmetic dentistry, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jeff Gray. Dr. Gray has been serving the La Mesa area since 1986.