Posted: March 26, 2019
Seeing a dentist for regular checkups is key to living a healthy life, but not for the reason you may think. Did you know that your dentist does more than keep your teeth clean? They help keep your mouth cancer-free.
Oral cancer affects more than 50,000 Americans per year. Oral cancer screenings as part of your routine dental appointments are your best defense against this disease.
Your Lifestyle Habits Could Put You at Risk
Anyone can develop oral cancer, but certain lifestyle habits may increase your risk. These include:
- Cigarettes and other tobacco products: All tobacco products contain deadly carcinogens and have been definitively linked to oral cancer.
- Heavy alcohol use: All forms of alcohol have been linked to oral cancer, but liquor and beer have a higher associated risk.
- Frequent sun exposure: Spending prolonged periods in the sun without sunscreen or sun protection can increase your risk of lip cancer, which is a form of oral cancer.
Studies have also found that a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables may put you at greater risk, as can a weakened immune system and certain genetic disorders.
Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer, regardless of their lifestyle and health. Adults age 40 and over are also at an increased risk.
If you have a predisposition to oral cancer, it’s especially important that you schedule regular screenings at our office. We recommend that every patient make it a priority to see Dr. Greenhalgh for general dental exams, which include him checking for signs of the disease.
You May Not Notice Oral Cancer Symptoms
It’s normal to get a sore in your mouth from time to time, but persistent bumps should be looked at more closely. Common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Sores on your mouth or lips that won’t heal
- White or red patches in your mouth or throat
- A growth, lump or hard spot in your mouth
- Persistent bleeding or mouth pain
- Difficulty or pain swallowing, chewing or moving your tongue
Many symptoms of oral cancer are mild at first, but this is when detection is most important. If something has been bothering you for several weeks, please contact us.
Oral Cancer Can Be Cured If Caught Early
More than 10,00 people die of oral cancer every year, but almost all cases can be successfully treated if detected early enough. During your regular dental exam, Dr. Greenhalgh will check your lips, cheeks, teeth and gums for early signs of oral cancer.
He also uses advanced Vizilite technology for a more thorough assessment. The only oral cancer screening device approved by the FDA, Vizilite uses fluorescent light to help Dr. Greenhalgh more easily see changes in your mouth.
You will rinse with a special solution that shows the difference between healthy and non-healthy tissues. After you rinse, Dr. Greenhalgh will shine the Vizilite light in your mouth. Any abnormal tissues will appear significantly lighter in color.
Contact Our Denver Dentist
An oral cancer screening is the best way to detect and prevent cancer in your mouth. Call 303-988-9060 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Greenhalgh. We serve patients in Lakewood, Golden and the greater Denver area.