April 2, 2018
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, about 50,000 patients are newly diagnosed with oral cancer every year. About one life is lost every hour in the U.S. alone, so you can rest assured knowing your dentist in Brandon is taking the steps to catch oral cancer as early as possible.
Not sure what that process entails? Not sure how to protect yourself in between regular visits? You’ll want to read this post from him today and keep you and your family protected.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is classified as growths of white or red plaques that do not go away. Cancer of the lips, mouth, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, and throat all classify as oral cancer. Oropharyngeal cancer specifically refers to cancer of the throat but is often put in the same category as oral cancer. It’s estimated that about 10,000 people die from oral cancer every year in the U.S. alone.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Being over 40 years of age
- Gender (men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer)
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Excessive alcohol use
- Having HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Having a poor diet or poor oral hygiene
- Prolonged exposure to UV rays from sunlight or tanning beds
How Does Your Dentist Catch Oral Cancer?
To make catching oral and oropharyngeal cancer easier, your dentist makes use of the Velscope on top of his standard manual exam. As part of your comprehensive examination, this unique device uses blue light to stimulate natural fluorescence in the soft tissues of the mouth. If your dentist in Brandon finds potentially cancerous lesions, he’ll take a biopsy, and have it tested to confirm your health status.
Some signs of oral cancer are visible to the naked eye while others aren’t. By using this device, your dentist can perform earlier detection and effective treatment sooner. This is key to curing oral cancer as most cases are typically found late in development, making it much more difficult to treat.
How Can You Protect Yourself at Home?
Visiting your dentist every six months will make a big difference, but you’ll still need to remain diligent in between your visits. This can easily be done through monthly self-exams in the mirror. Start by finding a well-lit room, such as a bathroom, and open your mouth. Look at all the corners of your mouth, your tongue, and the soft and hard palate. Watch out for:
- Red or white patches
- Sores that continuously bleed or fail to heal after two weeks
- Lumps, bumps, thickenings, or rough spots
- Soreness or hoarseness in the throat
- Pain or numbness while biting down
- Changes in the way your teeth fit
By visiting your dentist every six months for screenings and checking yourself at home, you’ll be far better equipped to catch oral cancer. Schedule a visit with your dentist in Brandon today to learn more about screenings!
About the Author
Dr. Scott Wehrkamp earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Loyola University Chicago School of Dentistry. If you believe you show signs of oral cancer, don’t hesitate to contact him at (605) 582-6522 or visit his website to schedule an appointment.
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