Gum disease and tooth decay aren’t always the cause for damaging our oral health. Sometimes more serious health issues, like oral cancer, can get in the way of a beautiful smile.
Robert’s teeth were destroyed by throat cancer in 2006. But now, after 15+ years in the making, we’ve helped him regain his smile. Through a combination of several dental treatments, including porcelain dental crowns, bridges, veneers and implants, Robert’s smile is complete. And now his new smile is already making Burien a little brighter!
About Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a disease that everyone should be better aware of. Currently it’s the sixth most common form of cancer with over 600,000 cases diagnosed throughout the world every year.
What is considered oral cancer? This type of cancer may include everything from cancer of the lips, gums, tongue, and cheek, to cancers found in the bottom or roof of the mouth, as well as cancer located in the sinuses and throat.
Men are more than twice as likely than women to be diagnosed with oral cancer, and the average age for most people to be diagnosed is 62. But oral cancers also affect younger people too. More than 25% of diagnosed cases occur in people younger than 55.
When it’s detected early, survival rates from oral cancer are between 80 and 90 percent. Unfortunately, these cancers are often diagnosed at a later stage. So, what helps? Having your dentist regularly screen for it. Believe it or not, your dentist can help lower your risk of oral cancer.
How? During your routine dental check-ups and teeth cleanings, we routinely look for any signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. During an oral cancer screening exam, your dentist looks over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. We will also examine your throat and neck for lumps.
Another option we offer patients for a more thorough cancer screening is called the VELscope examination. This exams helps us find possible abnormalities that aren’t easily detected by just a visual exam. Using a hand held device, this non-invasive exam uses a light to examine your mouth’s tissues. Should any areas of suspicion appear, we’ll request a biopsy with standard pathology tests. We recommend this simple test as part of the regular dental exam based on the age, health and family history of the patient.
Detecting oral cancer is difficult because it’s often painless, or shows little in the form of physical changes. Fortunately, we can help look for and feel for possible early warning signs.
When you visit with us for your exams and cleanings, you can rely on us to do more than just check for cavities. We will have your overall health in mind too. If you have any of the above symptoms, or any questions about something unusual in your mouth area, please schedule a screening for oral cancer today – call us at (206) 242-0066 or request your appointment online.