The worst thing that could happen to your smile hasn’t happened yet.
If you’ve had to put up with crooked teeth, or even a painful oral injury, then they will pale in comparison to what oral cancer can do to you. Crooked teeth can make your teeth hard to clean, and having a tooth knocked out can certainly lead to complications if untreated, but oral cancer? It’s more dangerous than playing with fire.
And each year, too many Americans get burned. According to figures from the American Cancer Society, over 48,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. by the end of this year. And sadly, over 9,000 of those cases will result in death.
The truth about those numbers leads to a frustrating conclusion. By and large, oral cancer is entirely preventable, and therefore those deaths could have been avoided.
Make no mistake: Oral cancer is dangerous, but it’s danger has more to do with your actions – or should I say inaction – more than any other factor. That’s because the vast majority of oral cancers are detected so late in their development cycle, that oncologists won’t be able to effectively treat it; the cancer will have spread so completely that survival rates rapidly plummet.
So in our observance of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, let’s discuss this deadly – and entirely preventable – disease, as well as an effective preventative treatment which can dramatically increase your chances of a successful treatment.
Now let’s begin!
A Life-Saving Screening
As we just discussed, the survival rate for oral cancer drops sharply once it has spread from the mouth and into other, deeper areas of your body. According to some of the latest research, approximately 60% of oral cancers spread to the lymph nodes first.
However, similar research shows that, if the cancer is caught in time, then the survival rate for patients can be as high as 90% (depending on the location of the cancer). But that only matters if your Birmingham dentist can detect your cancer while there is still time to begin your treatment program.
The way I will do that involves a painless oral cancer screening that I can perform when you come in for a teeth cleaning. My practice uses an advanced cancer-detection tool known as VELScope, which uses a special chemical-light to illuminate the soft tissues of your mouth and highlight cancerous or precancerous cells in contrast. It’s a quick, easy procedure, and I can routinely perform them every time you come in for your semi-annual check-up.
You are getting your semi-annual check-ups, aren’t you? If you were, you wouldn’t only be preventing oral health conditions like gum disease from ever rearing its ugly head, but it can ensure that any instance of oral cancer is detected as early as possible. It’s a cornerstone of preventative dentistry, and it could easily save your life, or the life of a loved one.
If a VELScope screening reveals what appear to be cancerous or precancerous growth anywhere in your mouth, then the next step involves taking what is known as a “plaque biopsy.” It’s not as painful as it sounds, honest: I’ll simply swipe the natural bacterial film from your teeth and sent it to a specialized laboratory.
Once that is complete, then your treatment can begin with a head start!
Making Your Appointment Is Crucial
There is no substitute for a professional oral cancer screening when it comes to making sure that your smile is free from harm.
Although oral cancer can display unique symptoms – such as red or white lesions inside your mouth – it can also be asymptomatic, or without symptoms. It can lull you into a false sense of security that only allows the cancer to grow and metastasize unchallenged.
To be absolutely safe, then you need a dentist in Michigan who can thoroughly examine what’s going on in your mouth and clearly lay out your options going forward.
Oral cancer can be be beaten, but only if you make an appointment to secure a cancer screening in time.
I can be reached at 248-972-8720. You may also request an appointment online; just fill out this web form and my staff and I will get back to you as soon as we can!