April has been designated as National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and dentists around the country are joining forces to get the word out about this disease that over 40,000 people will be diagnosed with this year. Your dentist in Englewood is doing his part by encouraging you to take advantage of preventive care visits. In addition, he’ll explain what contributes to the development of oral cancer.
What is Oral Cancer?
Before moving forward, let’s establish a working definition of what oral cancer is. It’s the rapid growth of mutated cells in your mouth and throat, and here’s how it attacks in both areas:
- Mouth – Inside the mouth, it can attach to the lips, inner cheek, the front two-thirds of the tongue and the roof.
- Throat – If it enters the throat area, it can be found in the tonsils and the back third of the tongue (considered as part of the throat in this context).
Beware of These Symptoms
If you notice any of these symptoms, you shouldn’t ignore them:
- A sore or irritated throat that doesn’t seem to get any better
- Red or white patches on the soft tissues in the mouth
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
How Can Your Dentist Help to Prevent Oral Cancer?
As it pertains to oral cancer, there are two key things your dentist can help you with:
- Prevention – Researchers have found a link between bacteria growth, gum disease and susceptibility to oral cancer. Thus, when you go in for a semi-annual visit for a thorough cleaning and the dental hygienist removes stubborn plaque and tartar, you’re taking a stand against oral cancer just by having a cleaner mouth.
- Early Detection – While at your six-month visit, you’ll also receive a thorough oral cancer screening in Englewood. Thus, if there are any signs of the condition, your dentist will be able to develop a treatment protocol to address it. The earlier the disease is detected the better, because it leaves you open to a broader spectrum of treatment methods and increases your chances of survival.
So before the month of April winds down, be sure to give your family dentist in Englewood a call to schedule your preventive care visit. Then, pay it forward by encouraging your family members and friends to follow your lead.
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Florida, College of Dentistry, Dr. C. Romesh Weerasooriya (Dr. Mesh) has been practicing dentistry for over two decades now. In his quest to provide his patients with the absolute best care, he has completed over 1,000 hours of postgraduate education. Dr. Mesh can be found providing comprehensive care at Tarpon Shores Dental and can be reached for more information through his website.