Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month
Dental Exams Provides Prevention
Because April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month we wanted to stress once again how important it is to get periodic routine dental exams.
Dental exams every six months really can save lives. At Timbercrest Dental Center, Dr. Luther looks at more than just your teeth. He’ll do a visual and tactical external and oral screening which encompasses your teeth, gums, tongue, cheek, palate, floor of the mouth, lips, lymph nodes, throat and jaw joint. Periodically, a Panoramic radiograph (x-ray) will be recommended to allow him to see the entire jaw bone, tips of the roots of all the teeth, the jaw joint condyles and sinuses, and to check for cysts, tumors, abscesses, bone loss, faulty restorations, etc.
The sad fact is, oral cancer takes the life of one American every hour; because of this, your dental office often serves as a first line of defense against oral cancer.
At your initial and each periodic exam, Dr. Luther and staff will perform a visual screening to determine if there are any changes to your oral health. While most oral “sores” or “lesions” are harmless, there are some that may require additional testing to rule out a dangerous change. Dr. Luther will determine if further testing is needed.
Some things we should be aware of, but don’t often think about, according to Dental Oncology Professionals spokesman, Dennis M. Abbott DDS, are:
- H – P – V With the increased prevalence of infections of the human papilloma virus (HPV), younger patients (sometimes in their 20’s and 30’s) are being diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancers. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. and can be transmitted through genital contact including oral sex. In most people this virus is cleared naturally from the body through the immune system; but in an increasing number of people we find changes in the cellular structure which in turn leads to cancer. For more information about HPV, visit the CDC site or the Oral Cancer Foundation.
- Oral cancer affects your entire body, not just the oral cavity; cancer cells can travel to the lymphatic system. Simple things like swallowing and speaking can become compromised even with the most advanced treatment. Some treatments can cause burning of the skin, loss of hair, carotid stenosis, muscular atrophy, etc. Psychological and emotional stress can weigh heavy when fighting a potentially deadly disease.
Because our patients are so important to us, we cannot stress enough how important these dental exams are to your overall health.
If you haven’t had a dental exam in a while, call our office today (734-9148) and our friendly staff will be happy to schedule an appointment.