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When patients visit their dental office for their dental cleanings, they may not always realize that a dental checkup involves more than just the teeth and gums. Your dentist will take the time to check out the state of a your health, and look for:

–tooth decay
–gum disease
–bone disease
–bite problems
–possibly take dental x-rays
–clean the plaque and tartar off the teeth and gums, and the gum line
–neck, lymph glands, palate, cheeks, tongue, lips and floor of the mouth for signs of infection or oral cancer

You might consider this checkup excessive if you are healthy, but you will be glad if you have the following risk factors:

–Frequently smoke or use tobacco
–Drink alcohol to excess
–Have a family history of cancer of any kind
–Do you never eat fruit and vegetables?
–Are you male? Men have oral cancer twice as much as women do.
–Are frequently exposed to the sun or were sunburned severely
–Do you carry the human papilloma virus (HPV)

If any abnormality is found, there will likely be a biopsy and referral to a specialist to make a definitive diagnosis. Early signs of problems include persistent red or white patches and non healing ulcers, progressive swelling or enlargement of the surface, sudden tooth mobility without an obvious cause, unusual or bleeding or prolonged hoarseness.

Early detection can save your life if oral cancer is discovered. Treatment may include surgery to remove the cancerous growth and possibly radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.

Take good care of your oral and physical health, get exams to ensure everything is functioning properly, and let us know if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach us at 248.693.5800. Please let us know if you need a dental cleaning or checkup, and we will help you keep your smile cavity and cancer free!