According to the Academy of General Dentistry, over 90% of systemic diseases display symptoms in the mouth. That’s why when you go in for your oral exam, your dental hygienist isn't just looking for cavities. Your teeth are the most obvious area of concern, but a hygienist will also check your gums, tongue, cheeks, and throat for any signs of trouble. One of their primary concerns is oral cancer, which is why your regular dental checkup includes an oral cancer exam.
At the most basic, oral cancer exams start with a visual check of your mouth, often with magnification. Your dental hygienist will look for any unusual colors or textures that may indicate cancerous growth. They may also apply dyes, rinses, or specially calibrated lights to make any abnormal growth more apparent. If anything abnormal is found, you will be sent to have the area biopsied and tested.
If you're generally healthy and don't smoke, it may seem like you wouldn't need regular oral cancer screenings. But oral cancer is extremely common. One of the major causes of oral cancer is human papillomavirus, which is widespread enough that most people will be affected at some point in their lives, many without even knowing it. Because this invisible illness is so common, oral cancer exams are an essential tool for protecting your health.
Additionally, your dental hygienist sees your mouth from an angle you can't. What you're likely to miss, a dental professional can highlight. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the prognosis—so having someone to spot the warning signs you've overlooked is your best chance of a positive outcome.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, which is another reason to make your next dental appointment right away. A trip to see a dental hygienist can make all the difference in the fight against cancer. For the most trusted oral health care services, turn to Smile Rockers in Westminster, CO. Get in touch with them today through their Facebook page to schedule an exam and protect your mouth.