Early Detection Best Solution for Oral Cancer

“Cancer” is a word that scares even the bravest among us. We’d all like to avoid thinking about it or developing it in any form.

Cosmetic_Dentist One of the best ways to avoid cancer complications is to have your dentist do an oral exam at your regular check up. Sometimes your dentist doesn’t tell you about a cancer check. When a dentist asks you to stick our your tongue, looks underneath, around your gum line and runs a gloved finger through your mouth, looks and feels your palate, gums, the space behind your last teeth and into your throat, massages your jaw and neck-that’s an oral exam. You may not even be aware of it. It is an important part of  your dental visit.

“An oral cancer exam is done as preventive care, not because the dentist thinks you have cancer,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office. If your dentist has concerns, you will be sent for a screening. An exam is something you want to have happen at every visit and at least once a year if you wear dentures.

The National Cancer Institute reports that “most oral cancers start in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells that line the lips, oral cavity, and oropharynx. Cancer that forms in squamous cells is called squamous cell carcinoma.”

Deaths from oral cancer have dropped off in the last 30 years, but cancer caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has increased. One type, HPV16, is spread from person to person by sexual contact. A vaccine already exists for this type of cancer.

The best way to avoid oral cancer is the exam at your regular dentist visit. You should also avoid tobacco, whether it’s cigarettes, snuff, or second-hand smoke. Reduce your sugar intake, get exercise, don’t thrive on stress and eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. A healthy lifestyle is the best defense against cancer and a good way to stay healthy and live a long life. And that’s enough to put a smile on your face.

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