Oral Cancer Screening

An important part of your routine oral health care, an oral cancer screening by the dentists at our Baytown dental office can help detect the disease at its early stages, possibly saving a life. Every year thousands of people in the US are diagnosed with oral cancer, but only a quarter of them have a known risk factor (such as smoking) for the disease.

The Importance of Regular Oral Cancer Screenings

Studies by the Oral Cancer Foundation indicate that nearly 50,000 cases of oral or pharyngeal (the passageways from the nose and throat) cancer are diagnosed in America each year. Unfortunately, the mortality rate associated with oral cancer is high – not because it’s difficult to detect or diagnose but due to the fact that the cancer is often not discovered until late in its development.

At the office of Zachary J. Holder, DDS, every routine exam includes a comprehensive oral cancer screening. This is the most effective way to detect potential problems before they become life threatening.

An oral cancer screening takes just a few minutes and is nothing to be afraid of. Dr. Holder or Dr. Kirkpatrick will examine your teeth, lips, and gums for any signs of abnormalities. For instance, what looks like a normal white spot to you may be identified as pre-cancerous. Oral cancer screenings and detection may increase the survivability rate to as much as 90 percent.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

The major risk factors for oral cancer are alcohol and tobacco use. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), these account for almost 75% of all oral and cancer in the US, and the risk increases with higher consumption. Pack-a-day smokers who also drink heavily are 24 times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who do not use either substance.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

It’s critical to schedule regular checkups and cleanings at our Baytown dental office because abnormal tissue that may be cancerous or pre-cancerous can appear to be completely normal to the untrained eye. However, some signs you should look for are:

  • A chronic sore throat or sore in your mouth that won't heal
  • A red or white patch on the gums or mouth that doesn’t go away
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
  • A lump or mass in your neck

Call Today for Your Oral Cancer Screening

Unfortunately, the rate of oral cancer is also increasing among patients who have no known risk factors such as heavy drinking, smoking, or family history. This fact alone makes it more critical than ever to be screened for oral cancer during every semi-annual exam. Please contact our Baytown dental office today to schedule your next exam and oral cancer screening.