Regular Dental Exams Can Keep More Than Just Your Mouth Healthy
Although many people understand the importance of keeping their teeth healthy and free from decay and gum disease, they might not understand how vital regular dental visits truly are, and not just for dental health.
Part of your examination when you come to your semi-annual appointment is to also screen your mouth, face, and associated glands for signs of cancer. Early cancer detection is a little known, but extremely important part of your dental visits,and it is one of the reasons you should make it a priority to go to the dentist on a bi-yearly schedule.
It can be said that the majority of people in the United States live healthy lives- ironically this can actually prevent the detection of early cancer detection. Living a healthy life means that a typical person may not go to their physician as often as is recommended because they are not sick. They therefore miss out on physicals that are a part of the early cancer detection process.
Teeth, on the other hand, see constant use, and even though they may be healthy now, a cavity may be a few missed brushings away. Dental patients who keep up with their routine regular check up and cleaning visits see their dental team at least two or more times a year. Patients do not regularly see their medical doctor or dermatologist unless they perceive a problem. Because of this, it is much more likely that your dentists and hygenist can find possible cancerous tissues in what is known as early cancer screening. Just six months ago Dr. Briglia referred a patient his dermatologist about an unhealthy lesion on the patients neck that was not healing, the lesion was an early form of cancer and was able to be removed.
As often as we visit the dentist, many patients are unaware of what actually takes place inside their mouth during the oral exam. If you have ever wondered what your dentist is doing after the hygenist is done scaling and polishing you teeth, you may now have a better idea. While the dentist is examining your teeth and gums for any issues that may need attention , we are also looking for any abnormalities in the soft tissues of your palette, tongue , floor of the mouth , salivary glands or on the face, lips , ears and necks. In fact many facial skin cancers are first detected by the dental team.
Cancer is one of the most frightening diseases because it can seemingly strike without warning. Mild discomfort and a lump may be completely benign, but it could also mean that a cancerous tumor is beginning to grow. Medical professionals, like your dentist, are trained to look for the signs of malignant tumors. Detecting and treating cancer at it’s earliest stages gives the best chance for a positive outcome.
The best chance of detecting beginning oral or facial cancer is to always keep up with your regular six-month dental hygiene appointments. Not only will this allow your smile to be healthy and beautiful, it will give your dentist a clear understanding of what your mouth looks like. If a sudden change occurs in your soft tissues, a dentist who is familiar with your mouth will spot the change right away. Other more commonly known causes of mouth and throat cancer are the use of tobacco products and alcohol. However in the last 20-30 years there has been an increase in oral cancer in patients who have never smoked or were light drinkers. It has been found that the DNA of certain cervical cancers is the same DNA found in oral cancers. Without getting too specific , certain sexual practices can be a risk factor for oral cancer.
If you have any questions about the early detection of oral cancer or facial cancer, make sure to ask your dentist. Answering questions about oral and dental health is our passion at Briglia Dental Group and we are only too happy to help educate our patients. To submit any questions about early cancer detection or any other oral health related topics Email Dr. Briglia today!