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When to Talk to Your General Dentist About Oral Cancer
It is important to know when to visit your general dentist for an oral cancer screening. While screenings do not prevent the development of oral cancer, it allows the patient to mentally prepare and start treatment as early as possible.
When to consider oral cancer screening
There are certain risk factors that prompt a visit to the general dentist specifically for an oral cancer screening and to discuss the possibility of oral cancer in greater depth. The following are four common risk factors that have a correlation with the onset of oral cancer.
Men over the age of 55
Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women. Additionally, the average age of oral cancer is over 60 years old, so older men are more at risk than other groups. As such, it is encouraged for men who are older to receive annual check-up visits with their general dentist for an oral cancer screening, especially those who are at risk of oral cancer for other reasons as well.
Tobacco and alcohol use
One of the reasons men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women is likely because more men use tobacco regularly than women. Those who consume tobacco on a regular basis either through chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes or using any other form are far more likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not. Additionally, there seems to be a correlation between those who drink regularly and oral cancer. Therefore, those who consume tobacco or alcohol regularly should visit the general dentist for an oral cancer screening.
Excessive sun exposure
There also seems to be a fairly strong link between increased sun exposure and oral cancer. This means that those who work outside or spend time in outdoor environments for other reasons may have a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Additionally, heavy use of tanning beds is considered as a risk factor by many general dentists. It is helpful to visit the general dentist for an oral cancer screening and to discuss ways to minimize sun exposure.
It is also helpful to become familiar with the symptoms of oral cancer as well. Several common early signs include:
- A persistent mouth sore
- White or red patches
- Difficulty swallowing
- Mouth and ear pain
- Loose teeth
If any of these symptoms develop and last for an extended period of time, then it is encouraged to talk to your general dentist about oral cancer. The symptoms alone likely need treatment as well, which the general dentist can provide during the oral cancer screening visit.
Talk to a general dentist today about oral cancer
If you are interested in learning more about the risk factors and symptoms of oral cancer from a general dentist, then reach out to us today. We can schedule a time for you to come in for a visit to discuss oral cancer and ways to minimize risk moving forward.
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