Oral Allies: How Dentists Spot Mouth Cancer And Help Patients Who Have It
One of the benefits of visiting the dentist is receiving a thorough examination of your mouth. A trained dental professional will be able to tell quite a few things from the state of your oral health, including whether your diet is sufficient and if you have any infections in your mouth.
Screening for cancer of the mouth is also a part of your dental examination. Here are 3 ways your family dentist can help spot, treat, and repair damage from cancer:
Advanced training and tools help diagnose problems.
Your dentist received many years of advanced training to identify problems with the teeth, gums, mouth, and throat. They also continue to take classes to learn new skills and identify new dental diseases. They know that a bump or lesion in your mouth may be caused by a nutritional deficiency, or it may be the sign of a cancerous tumor forming. They can spot the differences between a benign, temporary symptom and a suspicious symptom that needs more investigation.
Dentists have so many tools and gadgets available to see into your mouth, from bright, focused lights to digital scanners; they can get a really close, accurate look at problem areas. If a biopsy is necessary, your dentist will normally be able to handle the procedure in their office, send off the sample for testing, and discuss further options with you once results are known.
Good oral hygiene makes a difference during cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy and radiation often sap the body's ability to fight even the mildest infection. Because bacteria are drawn to the mouth, having clean, healthy teeth can protect you when you undergo treatment for any form of cancer, no matter if it's cancer of the mouth or the toe.
You will want to discuss with your oncologist (or the physician treating your cancer) any concerns you have about the safety of dental treatment during cancer therapy, but do have scheduled cleanings done if they are allowed.
You may also have time to schedule a thorough cleaning before your cancer treatment begins, and you should do this if at all possible. No plaque on your teeth or secret cavities lurking in your molars mean there will be no place for nasty bacteria to hide. Having other dental issues addressed can help you with nutrition intake down the road as well. If you're having trouble chewing due to loose or painful teeth, these problems, left untreated, may become critical and exacerbate malnutrition when cancer treatment has reduced your appetite to nothing.
Cosmetic dentistry can repair some mouth cancer damage.
Often parts of the jaw must be removed when there is a diagnosis of mouth cancer. The tongue, gums, and even teeth may have to be sacrificed to remove all of the cancerous cells.
With advanced new techniques and materials, cosmetic dentists can often reconstruct the jawbone, gums, and teeth that were lost to cancer. This detailed dental work helps patients eat and look more like their old selves, which can lift the spirits and increase the health of those patients who are in the process of healing.
Make regular dental screenings a part of your healthy living plan, fix any issues you have with your teeth before problems grow severe, and ask your family dentist about the best habits to practice to prevent mouth cancer. Contact a clinic like Village Family Dental for more information.