Close to 50,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer in 2018. One of the most dangerous aspects of oral cancer is that the early symptoms may go unnoticed. Regular dental checkups provided at Northwest Dental include oral cancer screenings. Book an appointment at one of the Washington locations of Northwest Dental -- Bellingham, Burlington, Arlington, Everett, or Oak Harbor -- to make sure you don’t have any signs of oral cancer.
Like many illnesses, some people have a higher risk of developing oral cancer than others. Some of the main risk factors for oral cancer are:
Some experts believe that age is less of a risk factor alone and that chemical factors such as alcohol and tobacco use are cumulative. As the dangers of smoking have become more well-known, incidences of oral cancer associated with tobacco use have declined.
However, more young people are being diagnosed, and researchers think it’s because of HPV16. The area of the mouth affected also seems to be changing. More incidences of oral cancer in the back of the mouth than in the front are being reported than in the past.
When your Northwest Dental dentist conducts an oral cancer screening, they inspect all parts of your lips, gums, tongue, the insides of your cheeks, the roof of your mouth, and the back of your throat.
Although the exam is short, usually less than five minutes, the dentist may put one or more fingers in your mouth and feel under your jaw to look for lumps, spots, or anything unusual.
In some cases, the dentist will ask you to rinse your mouth with a dye that any cancer cells absorb and become visible.
Although oral cancer is often not detected in its earliest stages, there are some signs and symptoms to watch out for:
If you have any of these symptoms, and particularly if they last two weeks or more, book an appointment at Northwest Dental.