The dentist is probably not anybody’s favorite place to be. Some people even have dental anxiety, where they try to avoid dental visits at all costs. However, the simple truth is that avoiding dental exams can be detrimental, causing you to suffer later rather than facing your fears now. Dental exams are not only about keeping your teeth, oral hygiene, and smile in top form. These exams are also about your overall health, and some of the things covered during a dental exam could possibly save your life.
Getting comprehensive dental exams every year is vitally important, as oral cancer and other health complications can be checked for by your dentist. When your dentist does a dental exam, they use many tools to look for things such as discoloration or sores in your mouth. They then feel the tissue around your mouth and tongue for lumps or abnormalities. If they detect any form of abnormality in your mouth, they will send a sample of it to a lab for further testing, to receive an accurate diagnosis.
One of the lesser known benefits of a truly comprehensive dental exam is early detection of oral cancer. During your next checkup, you may want to have an oral cancer screening to see if you are at risk of developing oral cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Over the course of a year, oral cancer will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly one person per hour. While not everybody is at a high risk of oral cancer, those with family history, and especially people who continue to use tobacco products, are at increased risk.
Historically, the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high, not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer constantly being discovered late in its development. As this fact rings true, oral cancer screenings are so important, as these comprehensive dental exams are designed to try to catch the early signs of problems like oral cancer, before it progresses to a more advanced stage. The good part is, oral cancer can be successfully treated, but only if caught early enough.
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, receive a comprehensive dental and oral cancer exam. Early detection saves lives. Most dental insurance fully covers 1-2 dental exams per year, and sticking to this routine can not only keep your smile healthy, but could also save your life.