Dentist in Chevy Chase MD prevents oral cancer, offers quick and easy screening process for early detection
The American Cancer Society reports that around 54,000 people are diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancers each year. While the very word “cancer” inspires dread, these cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx have a high “cure” rate when they are detected early and promptly treated before cancer spreads to other parts of the body. At Health 360 Dental, we play an essential role in identifying precancers and cancers of the mouth and related areas. A good practice is to combine screening for these abnormalities with your regular check-up or dental exam and professional cleaning.
Now, Drs Erick Hosaka and Valerie Cassis recommend that these check-ups occur at least twice a year or once every six months. However, if you are at increased risk of developing these cancers (or other oral conditions, for that matter), we will want to examine your mouth more frequently. Risks include:
- Smoking and vaping
- Use of any nicotine-containing products, not limited to chewing tobacco
- Are a heavy drinker
- Work (or play) in the sun for long periods without proper sun protection (puts you at increased risk of lip cancers)
Do not wait if you are concerned about a new lump or any other potentially suspicious symptoms. Call us immediately to schedule your exam. We will get you evaluated promptly. We look for potential trouble spots during these exams, such as sores that don’t heal. We will also want to know about any numbness, bleeding, swelling, hoarseness, or soreness that you may be experiencing. It’s not unusual, too, to feel like something is “stuck” in your mouth. Be sure to tell us about sudden problems with chewing food or with swallowing. We may also notice that swelling has altered the fit of dental work, like dentures. This swelling can also affect the fit of oral appliances, like mouthguards, oral splints, retainers, or aligner trays.
Your dentist will also look for facial drooping or asymmetry. Drs Hosaka or Cassis feel for trouble spots, such as lumpy areas inside of the cheeks. A small sample of tissue may be taken to aid in accurately diagnosing a suspicious area, which informs effective treatment.
Proactive care saves lives
Several of the risk factors that are associated with oral and oropharyngeal cancers can be avoided or minimized. Our approach to dentistry focuses on preventing oral conditions rather than responding to them after they have developed. We partner with patients on encouraging or modifying habits that support a healthy smile and overall health. One of those habits is to get into the routine of visiting us at least once every six months for check-ups. Contact us today at (301) 686-5255 to schedule your visit.