Did you know that oral cancers are a growing health concern among adults today? Although your risk increases after the age of 45, oral cancers are diagnosed in younger people every year. Understanding your risk factors and being screened at routine dental care visits will significantly reduce your risk of a late-stage diagnosis and poor prognosis. Early detection often means that a conservative treatment plan will be effective and restore your health.
Oral cancer screening is quick, painless, and highly effective at spotting early warning signs. Dr. Sheen augments your visual screening with digital technology, using the ViziLite Pro to scan your mouth and all soft tissues. The blue-light technology in ViziLite Pro can identify abnormalities in your oral tissues, such as tiny lesions that are not visible to the naked eye or growths palpable in a head and neck exam. Performing this at your bi-annual dental exams provides peace of mind when it comes to detecting oral cancers.
Oral Cancer: what are the common risk factors?
Oral cancer can affect anyone, but there are key risk factors to be aware of that can minimize your risk. These include:
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Chewing tobacco and pipe-smoking
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Having the HPV virus
If you are concerned that you have an increased risk for oral cancer or if oral cancer runs in your family, discuss this with Dr. Sheen during your dental care visit so that we can work with you to address and minimize your risk. For patients at risk for oral cancers, bi-annual screenings are essential for monitoring the condition of your oral health and offering early detection.
Symptoms of Oral Cancers
We want our patients to understand their risks for oral cancer and to know common symptoms that can arise and should be evaluated promptly. These include:
- Changes in your mouth such as increased difficulty chewing comfortably or moving the tongue.
- Patches in the cheeks and gums that appear red or white.
- Rough areas develop in or around the mouth and lips.
- A sore in the mouth that does not heal.
- Bleeding in the mouth with no apparent cause.
If you notice any changes in the appearance or comfort of your mouth, schedule a visit with Dr. Sheen. A dental exam and possible screening could be life-saving and put you on the path to healing.