Regular dental checkups can pay off in various ways. For example, dentists can spot signs of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, along with a variety of rare skin and autoimmune diseases. Since people typically visit their dentists more often than they visit other doctors (normally at least 1-2 times per year), regular check-ups can lead to early diagnosis and early treatment. All of which means that your dentist can do much more than save your teeth and gums. Your dentist can save your life in more ways than one.
Statistics show that 30,000 to 50,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with some form of oral cancer, and the 5-year survival rate is not very good. Often the case with cancer that goes unchecked, it can spread to other areas of the body and become quite difficult to battle. Which is unfortunate, considering that there is an 80-90 percent survival rate when the cancer is caught early! While sometimes merely a case of genetics, oral cancer is often attributed to the use of tobacco products, drinking heavily, or poor dental hygiene.
Oral cancer can invade any part of the oral cavity, including lips, cheek, tongue, gums, throat, tonsils and palate. Early detection of oral cancer can improve the chance of successful treatment. The importance of your dentist or hygienist performing an oral cancer screening on at least an annual basis cannot be stressed enough. An oral cancer screening takes only a few minutes, and can most importantly, save your life.
As this fact rings true, oral cancer screenings are so important, as these comprehensive dental exams are designed to try to catch signs of problems at the earliest possible stage. While proper dental and oral care can help prevent problems such as oral cancer, regular cleaning and screening is one of the best preventive measures you can take.
If you or someone you know has any signs or symptoms that there could be a problem, whether you have a risk factor or not, seek out a comprehensive dental and oral cancer exam. Early detection saves lives, plain and simple.