By Tooth Fairy / www.divinecaroline.com
Oral cancer is a topic that, unfortunately, does not get a lot of press. As I am educating my patients, I tend to get a variety of responses on this.
Anything from: “I have never heard of getting cancer in the mouth” to “I don’t smoke though” and the one I least like hearing, “I have never had that done before.” Eeks. What? So, it is in response to these statements that I feel it is best to address this issue.
So why is this an issue, and is it that serious?
Here are some stats I found from the oral cancer foundation.
“More than 34,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 34,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only half will be alive in 5 years. This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, endocrine system cancers such as thyroid, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma).”
Pretty scary! Why don’t we here more about this? I don’t know, but this is why I stress this exam. I will walk you through what to expect, and what to look for. If you have not have this done, get it done. Just ask. Most offices do not charge for it.
The exam is called an extra oral (outside of the mouth) and intra oral exam (inside of the mouth). Or you can call it an Oral Cancer Exam/Screening. And quite frankly, I find it the best part of the cleaning appointment. (My second would be when the hygienists cleans my lower front teeth and afterward I can run my tongue behind them, it just feels so good and clean. I love it!) I mean it feels like a little mini massage (the cancer exam) and all I could ask for more would be to have someone massage the feet and my dental appointment would be the best part of my week! So let me walk you through the exam. It is actually quite quick and doesn’t take a lot of time away from the cleaning; and it is way worth it, esp.