Morgan Nordstrom, D.D.S.

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The Benefits of Regular Oral Cancer Screenings

May 30, 2022
Posted By: Morgan Nordstrom, DDS and William C. Vizzolini

At Morgan Nordstrom, DDS and William C. Vizzolini, DDS we emphasize prevention and early detection of all oral health issues, including oral cancer. For the latter, we provide oral cancer screenings in Vallejo, CA as part of your regular preventive dentistry checkup.

In the case of oral cancer, early detection typically means a better outcome.

Oral Cancer Statistics

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk for developing oral cancer is about 1 in 60 for men and 1 in 140 for women—meaning women are more than twice as likely to develop oral cancer compared to men.  However, certain factors, including lifestyle choices and genetic syndromes, can increase oral cancer risks across both demographics—mouth, throat, and oropharyngeal cancers.

Outside of an increased risk for women, here are other factors that make oral cancer more likely, including:

  • Tobacco use in all forms—including vaping and chewing
  • High alcohol consumption—heavy drinkers are at an increased risk
  • Ongoing exposure to UV light—this includes working outdoors
  • Poor nutrition—this includes diets low in fruit and vegetables
  • Certain syndromes—including Fanconi anemia
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus)—also linked to other types of cancer

Possible risk factors may also include:

  • Overuse of mouthwash
  • Ill-fitting dentures
  • Poor oral health

Oral Cancer Symptoms

Oral cancer can occur anywhere in or around the oral cavity, including:

  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Inner cheeks
  • Tongue
  • Mouth floor
  • Mouth roof
  • Behind teeth

And symptoms may include:

  • A sore in any of these locations that bleed easily or do not heal
  • Bad breath that recurs despite your best efforts
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, or swallowing
  • Pain or numbness in the head, neck, face, ear area
  • Crusty, thickened, or rough patches
  • Weight loss without trying

You do not have to have all these symptoms to be diagnosed with oral cancer. Likewise, these symptoms do not mean you have oral cancer. In medicine, many issues mimic one another, which is why it’s important to stay on top of your oral and physical health with your dentist and physician.

Regular Oral Cancer Screenings with Your Vallejo Dentist

Most dentists, including your dentist, recommend coming in for an oral exam and teeth cleaning every six months. During your exam, we provide an oral cancer screening. This means you’re checked for oral cancer twice yearly, which means early detection.

In our dental office, we compare oral health changes since your last visit, and your dentist is a maxillofacial expert, meaning he can spot emerging oral cancers and refer you to the right place for treatment.

Your dentist always discusses findings with you.

Other Preventive Measures for a Healthy Life

Your mouth is the gateway to your body, so checkups and teeth cleanings are essential to your entire well-being.

By visiting the dentist every six months, we can catch emerging issues before they put you at serious risk, including oral cancer, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Gum disease starts as a reversible condition called gingivitis. At this stage, your dentist can eradicate the problem and prevent you from ever developing gum disease. Gum disease is merely treatable, but without treatment, you risk heart complications and other potential issues including but not limited to certain types of dementia and low birth weight in babies.

Your teeth cleaning rids your mouth of harmful bacteria, tartar, and plaque—tenacious sediment that your toothbrush and dental floss can’t entirely remove. This gives you a fresh start every six months.

For your part in prevention, be sure to brush and floss after every meal or at least twice every day. Other healthy choices include:

  • Eating a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding or lowering alcohol consumption
  • Quitting tobacco in all forms
  • Getting the HPV vaccines (patients 45 and under)
  • Reporting oral changes to your dentist

Contact Your Vallejo, CA, for More on Prevention

Oral cancer screenings are painless, and early detection is always the best course. If you have signs of oral cancer or if it’s been a while since you’ve seen the dentist, we invite you to reestablish care with our friendly, skilled, and compassionate team.

Give us a call today to get started.

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