Do you visit the dentist every six months? Regular visits not only ensure that your teeth are healthy but also play a role in protecting your general health. Our Ann Arbor, MI, dentists, Drs. Wayne and Brett Walcott, explain how oral cancer screenings can help you stay healthy.
Oral cancer screenings are part of every checkup
Oral cancer screenings only take a few minutes, but are an important part of regular dental visits. Every year, more than 49,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer, according to Cancer.net. As with every form of cancer, early detection increases your chances of a successful outcome if you are diagnosed with oral cancer.
Oral and oropharyngeal cancers affect your gums, cheeks, lips, tongue, the base of your tongue, roof of your mouth, throat, voice box or trachea. The symptoms are often subtle and can be confused with minor mouth issues, such as canker sores. Common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Pain in your mouth, lips, tongue, neck or throat
- Sores that don't heal after a week or two
- Red or white spots
- A lump in your mouth, throat, tongue or neck
- A change in your bite (the way your teeth fit together)
- Rough, crusty patches anywhere in your mouth
- Chronic hoarseness, sore throat or throat irritation
- Loose teeth
- A change in the fit of your dentures
These signs and symptoms don't automatically mean you have cancer. Other issues may be responsible for your condition. For example, loose teeth can be caused by a blow to the mouth or gum disease. If we do notice possible signs of cancer during your visit to our Ann Arbor office, we'll recommend a biopsy to determine if there are cancerous cells present. If you do have the disease, a variety of treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy or radiation may be needed to eliminate the cancerous cells and protect your health.
Regular oral cancer screenings offer life-saving benefits. Call our Ann Arbor, MI, dentists, Drs. Wayne and Brett Walcott, at (734) 994-3700 to schedule your checkup and cancer screening.