For many people, it takes incredible courage to schedule every six months with the dentist, as the fear of something we do not recognize in our mouth that could be cancer is enough to traumatize us into denial. Even if a cursory glance in the mirror at our teeth does not show anything worth immediate concern, it is easy to dismiss the necessity of regular visits. The careful consideration of your oral care is one of the best ways to supplement preventative measures into your dental routine and assist any potential issues that may arise. Here at Harry Albers DDS, it is our priority to help detect any problems before they evolve into something easily treatable if we can catch it early enough.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Even with regular bi-yearly visits, there are several factors working against you when it comes to the care of our mouths. Oral cancer, unfortunately, is genetic, so once you become aware of this factor, it is all the more important to schedule appointments with your dentist to stay on top of the matter. Regardless of if everything looks fine during one visit, a lot can happen in six months, depending on lifestyle changes, stress, and the amount of self-care we give ourselves.
Poor oral hygiene contributes to the greatest demographic of at-risk patients. It is so simple to brush regularly, and even flossing has become less complicated due to the introduction of plastic dental picks you can pick up at any store and carry around for your convenience. It has never been easier to do the very basics of dental care from the comfort of your own home!
Other factors that put you at high risk for mouth cancer and are preventable are drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco products. Men are also more than twice as likely to obtain it, as well as people who are over the age of fifty. If you have been exposed to the HPV virus, or have periodontal disease, you are also at risk. If any of this applies to you, it makes it that much more urgent to keep up with your oral care through regular visits.
What Do We Watch Out For?
At your appointment, we will carefully examine your mouth, including the gum line, cheeks, tongue, throat, and even check your neck for any lumps or inconsistencies just to be safe. Some warning signs include having a sore throat or issues swallowing or eating. If you notice a sore in your mouth that does not heal and maybe even bleeds, it is important to let us know! Detecting red or white patches that have formed is essential to helping predict any problems there may arise within your mouth.
If we notice anything we consider suspicious, the first thing we will do is try to weed out any possibility of cancer. We will advise a biopsy of the mass to send for testing if there is a concern. Generally, we will request a follow-up appointment within two weeks if we are worried that the lesion is cancerous. This will also help us determine if there have been any changes to the issue in your mouth during that time that we should be aware of.
Here at Harry Albers DDS, we do not want you to have to stress any more than is necessary about your general health. If we can answer any questions to help set you at ease or address any concerns you may have regarding possible cancerous nodes in your mouth, please do not hesitate to call us at (707) 575-1190 and set up an appointment as soon as possible.