Do You Need an Oral Cancer Screening?
By Kathryn Winkel, DDS
July 12, 2017
Category: Dental Screening
Tags: Oral Cancer  

Your Midland, MI, dentist routinely screens her patients for oral cancer. Why? The Oral Cancer Foundation says that close to 50,000 Americans receive that alarming diagnosis annually, and many do not survive beyond five years. That's why Dr. Kathryn Winkel performs oral cancer assessments with every six-month exam and cleaning at her office. With simple, but careful, assessments, oral cancer can be caught early and, hopefully, cured.

What does oral cancer look like?

To the average person, an oral cancer lesion may look or feel like nothing. In fact, physicians and dentists say that many individuals exhibit no symptoms of oral cancer at all, and, yet, they may have it, so all the more reason to get a painless, five-minute check with your dentist in Midland.

What does your dentist look for? Common signs of cancer include:

  • Red or white patches on the oral mucosa (lips, inside of the cheeks, gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, under the tongue, back of the throat)
  • A persistently hoarse voice
  • Swelling, sores or lumps that do not resolve within two to three weeks
  • Tender lymph nodes under the jaw
  • One-sided ear pain
  • A change in how a denture, bridgework or natural teeth bite together
If Dr. Midland does find an area of concern, she takes a sample for analysis at an outside lab.

Who gets oral cancer?

You may be surprised to learn that anyone can get oral cancer regardless of his or her age, gender, ethnicity or lifestyle. However, men over the age of 40 seem most prone, although diagnoses among young women are increasing.

Other risk factors include:
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Alcohol abuse (more than two drinks a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control)
  • Exposure to the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV
What can you do?

Simply be vigilant about your oral health by,
  • Eating a nutritious, high-fiber diet
  • Starting a smoking cessation program
  • Reporting any suspect areas to your primary care physician or to Dr. Winkel right away
  • Coming to the dental office every six months for your oral examination and hygienic cleaning
So if it's time for your regular appointment, call Dr. Winkel's office in Midland, MI. The more you know about your dental health, the happier your smile will be.