Oral Cancer Screening Can Protect Your Overall Oral Health
Dr. Daniel SW Han and Dr. Sooyeon Ahn focus on preventive dentistry and employ cutting-edge diagnostic technology for oral cancer screening at our McLean, VA, practice. At Han & Ahn DMD, PC, we use tools such as VELscope® and salivary diagnostic testing to assess the risk of oral cancer during routine dental checkups. Having a checkup and cleaning every six months allows your doctor to notice any changes in your oral health in a timely manner. Our state-of-the-art technology can also reveal unhealthy tissue and any abnormalities in their earliest stages. When oral cancer is detected early, patients have an 80-90% greater chance of survival.
Importance of Preventative Care
Drs. Han and Ahn place great importance on preventative care and educating patients how to care for their smiles. Preventative care starts at home with good oral hygiene. You can preserve your natural teeth and oral health simply by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash, and visiting the dentist every six months.
When oral cancer is detected early, patients have an 80-90% greater chance of survival.
By caring for your mouth, you will not only protect yourself from tooth decay and gum disease, but you may reduce your risk for serious health concerns, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and oral cancer. An oral cancer screening can detect the earliest stages of oral cancer when it is most treatable.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer affects nearly 50,000 people each year in the United States. Of those, only 56% will survive past five years. This type of cancer has a very high mortality rate, which is why we place great importance on oral cancer screenings and early prevention.
Patients who smoke, use tobacco, heavily drink alcohol, have poor nutrition, and are repeatedly exposed to sunlight are at a much greater risk of developing oral cancer. Because it is hereditary, if you have someone in your family with cancer, you are more susceptible. Although this type of cancer generally affects people over the age of 50, research has recently linked oral cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which has caused an increase of oral cancer diagnoses in younger patients.
Signs and Symptoms
Oral cancer can affect the lips, tongue, throat, gums, salivary glands, and soft tissues inside the mouth. Because early detection is crucial, if you notice any of the below side effects for more than two weeks, contact our office immediately:
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficultly swallowing
- Rapid weight loss
- Bleeding mouth sores
- Red or white lesions on tongue, lips, or inside mouth
- Jaw pain
- Numbness or swelling in your face, neck, or inside mouth
- Pain when chewing or speaking
What to Expect During Your Screening
After your professional cleaning, your doctor will review your digital x-rays and perform a salivary diagnosis. This quick 60-second test allows Dr. Han and Dr. Ahn to test the amount and type of bacteria present in your mouth putting you at risk for oral conditions, such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, HPV, and oral cancer. Testing for the early side effects of these diseases can be lifesaving.
Your doctor will also check your head, neck, face, and jawline for any lumps or abnormalities and use VELscope® technology to detect oral mucosal abnormalities inside your mouth. This award-winning and non-invasive handheld device uses tissue fluorescence visualization so the doctor can easily identify soft tissue irregularities not visible to the naked eye.
Protect Your Health
Early detection of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer can prevent serious and costly procedures, and even add years to your life. Contact our office to schedule your consultation with one of our skilled doctors.