Word of Mouth: Your dentist is key to early cancer detection

IT SEEMS LIKE you hear about many different kinds of cancers these days, but one that isn’t being talked about enough is oral cancer. Cancer in the mouth and throat are diagnosed in nearly 50,000 Americans a year, and statistics show that only 57 percent of those diagnosed still will be living in five years.


The main reason why oral cancer is so deadly is that it often is detected much later than other forms, giving the cancer time to advance and spread. Oral cancer can affect your lips, tongue, throat, and any surrounding tissue. It can be difficult to see into your own mouth, and really the only other person peering in there is your dentist. Your dentist is key to early detection of oral cancers.


You may think your dentist is only looking for cavities and gum disease, but the truth of the matter is, every time your dentist examines your mouth, he or she is searching for signs of cancer. Signs that need to be examined further include sores that bleed or won’t heal; mouth tissue that has changed color or texture; pain, numbness, or tenderness in the mouth; a lump; or any difficulty chewing or swallowing. Have such changes or oral issues examined by your dentist as soon as possible.


Many risk factors for developing oral cancer — such as being over 40 — are out of your control. However, the biggest culprits are the use of tobacco products and alcohol consumption. Both significantly raise your risk of developing oral cancer. In addition to avoiding tobacco and alcohol, inspect your mouth as part of your daily oral care routines, and see your dentist regularly.

Word of Mouth is sponsored by Midtown Dental.



BIO: William Nerestant, DDS received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Detroit/Mercy School of Dentistry in Michigan. After serving and being recognized for his meritorious service in the Air Force as an officer in the Dental Corps, he currently serves patients at Midtown Dental in Lakeland. For more information, visit www.mymidtowndental.com or call (863) 226-0987.

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