When you think of malignancies, do you think of lung, colon, or breast cancer? Most people think of everything but oral cancer. However, your Santa Rosa Beach, FL, dentists, Dr. Michael O'Donnell and Dr. Chris Farrugia, are well aware of it, teach their patients about it and perform routine assessments for it. Learn about the early signs of oral cancer from the experts at Great Florida Smiles & Orthodontics.
First, some facts...
Did you know that oral cancer is not just one kind of malignancy? The term really points to a group of cancers which affect the head and neck, says the Oral Cancer Foundation. Unfortunately, there are more than 49,000 new cases diagnosed among Americans annually, and it's difficult to cure if not detected early.
In fact, the American Society of Clinical Oncology says that only 63 percent of oral cancers found in their later stages will be be effectively cured beyond five years. However, with early detection, that percentage increases to 83 percent. Obviously, regular assessment, and detection is vital.
In addition, you should know that oral cancer affects all kinds of people. However, men over 40 are more prone, as are individuals who:
- Have been exposed to Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Abuse alcohol
- Smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco
- Eat a diet low in fruits and vegetables
Early signs of oral cancer
As you partner with your Santa Rosa Beach, FL, dentist in caring for your oral health, be as informed as possible about tooth decay, gum disease, and other issues, including cancer of the lips, tongue, back of the throat, and other soft tissues of the mouth.
When you come to Great Florida Smiles & Orthodontics for your usual six-month check-up and cleaning, Dr. O'Donnell or Dr. Farrugia also will inspect the soft tissues of your mouth and palpate, or feel, the sides of your throat and the angles of the jaw. The assessment takes just a couple of minutes but yields information so helpful in detecting cancerous lesions.
So what are the early signs of oral cancer? They may include:
- White or red patches on the oral mucosa
- A change in dental bite or in the fit of a denture
- Mouth pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain
- Loose teeth
Be sure to alert your dentist right away if you discover any of these signs at home. Remember, the sooner a lesion is discovered and treated, the better the chances are for a complete cure.
Find out more
Your Santa Rosa Beach, FL, dentist will be happy to tell you more. Why not schedule your six-month cleaning and exam at Great Florida Smiles & Orthodontics? In Santa Rosa Beach, call (850) 622-5888. In DeFuniak Springs, call (850) 892-2500.