April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Close up of woman biting her lip

Oral Cancer affects thousands of Americans a year and is commonly not detected in its first stages.

On average, only half of those diagnosed will survive more than five years. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and local Quality Dental Plan Dentists across the country will be offering Free Oral Cancer Screenings this April.

You can find a qualified dentist, and find out about his screening policies on the American Dental Association Website. Your first defense against oral cancer is through your regular check-ups with your dentist. A regular check-up should include routine cancer screening. The screening includes checking the mouth tissues for spots or blisters. Most spots or blisters are normal and heal on their own. Some are a sign of cancer. If your dentist sees one that looks like it has a possibility of cancer or pre-cancer, he will advise additional tests or may perform a biopsy. Most oral cancers, if caught early, can be removed through oral surgery.

Dr. James McCall, DDS in Jacksonville, Florida, has an oral cancer detection system called Velscope. It is a special light that shows trouble spots to the examiner. He says he also checks for swelling that the patient may not recognize as cancer. People tend to accept slight swelling or changes in the mouth and they adapt to these changes, not realizing they may be a sign of cancer. If Dr. McCall finds a problem, his patients are referred to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.

Most insurance policies allow for two check-ups per year, with one including an x-ray. If this is not available to you, many dentists now offer A Quality Dental Plan. In this plan, you pre pay for exams, x-rays, and cleaning. Ask your dentist if this he offers this, and ask about his plan specifics.

What symptoms of possible oral cancer should I be looking for?

Each of the following are warning signs:

  • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
  • A color change of the oral tissues
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.

Why should I worry about oral cancer?

Just in the United States, 100 cases of oral cancer are found each day! Of those that are found, half of the cancer victims die within five years. This is because many times, oral cancer is found after it has spread to the lymph nodes. Once it spreads, it is very difficult to stop. Early detection therefore is key.

To prevent oral cancer:

  • eat a healthy diet
  • do not smoke or use any type of tobacco
  • exercise regularly

 SML TIP: If you need a new dentist and are in the Jacksonville, FL area, try someone like Dr. McCall who will not only pamper you while you go to the dentist, but has years of dentistry under his belt to know what to look for. He’ll know what is normal and abnormal.

If you mention Shannon Miller’s Walk-Fit Program, new patients get:

  • New Patient Comprehensive Exam

  • X-Rays

  • Treatment Plan…a $276 value, for only $99!

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