We know a beautiful smile is important to you and that you take care of your teeth and gums as well as you can. So, if this is true, why should you also need to be screened for oral cancer? The truth is, you are already screened when you come to Whitmore Dental for your biannual teeth cleaning.
We believe that your general health is as important as your smile. Dr. Whitmore will check your mouth and jaw, as well as your head and neck as part of your visit. He is looking for anything out of the ordinary, and this screening is designed to catch early signs of oral cancer. When caught early, you can be treated. Most cases of oral cancer are caught by dentists during routine cleanings, and Dr. Whitmore will check every part of your mouth closely.
There are several factors that increase your risk for oral cancer. The main ones are using tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol. If you are over 40 or a male, your risk goes up. One risk factor that has increased is that of people who have human papilloma virus (HPV). This is a common virus that many people have. However, there is a vaccine for HPV that some doctors recommend for children as young as 11 or 12. This will keep the risk of oral cancer very low as these children grow older.
There are some men and women who do not smoke, drink, or have HPV, and who eat well and take care of themselves, who may wonder if they should still be screened for oral cancer. As with all kinds of cancers, there are people who never thought they’d have to be treated. An absence of risk factors doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t be checked out.
What to Look for
It’s also good practice for you to be aware of what to look for between visits. Dr. Whitmore looks for red or white spots or patches, as well as lumps in your mouth and jaw. You may notice sores that do not heal well, a sudden lump, numbness or pain when you bite down, or something else that doesn’t seem right. If this occurs while you are between cleanings, we can fit you in for an examination. If something needs further attention, we will send a sample to a lab for a biopsy.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, but you should be aware of any changes that occur with your mouth, tongue or jaw all year long. If you notice any changes, contact Janet or Rachel at Whitmore Dental to arrange a consultation by calling Whitmore Dental at 877-779-4486. We are conveniently located at 5932 West Parker Road, Suite 600, Plano, TX 75093.