April is oral cancer awareness month and we need your help to spread the word. We can save lives and the easiest way is by early detection with a visit to the dentist. All dentists and hygienists are trained to ALWAYS and CONSISTENTLY check for signs of oral cancer at every visit. So, if you skip out on your check-up and hygiene wellness visits, you are losing out on a life-saving service.
During the oral cancer screening, we check both the outside and inside of the lips, inside of the cheeks, palate, tongue, floor of the mouth and the back of the mouth. It’s a painless service and is easily completed within 5 minutes. I also remind my patients to own their health and do oral cancer screenings on themselves on a regular basis.
Some of my patients ask me, “What happens next if I do see something suspicious?” When I do see something suspicious, l typically refer our patient to an oral surgeon where they can do a more in-depth examination and diagnostic service. We have a wonderful relationship with our oral surgeons who are very skilled and competent at diagnosing and treating oral cancer.
I’ve been practicing dentistry for over 12 years. I’ve seen tons of patients. I have had a few patients where I have referred to the oral surgeon and sometimes even the dermatologist. I’m happy to say that most do not require further treatment. And, then I also have a small percentage of patients who did need further treatment.
I remember doing an oral cancer screening on a young patient and seeing a white lesion in her mouth that just didn’t look right. She was a healthy 17 year old with no medical issues who also did not smoke or drink. I referred her to the oral surgeon immediately. Her mother visited me a few weeks later and, with tears in her eyes, thanked me for saving her daughter. Her daughter had a really nasty form of oral cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) and luckily, it was detected early and removed with ease. Her mother was so grateful knowing her daughter’s life was saved and that she could go back to being a normal teenager. I, too, am grateful. It meant a lot for both of us. This moment also taught me that oral cancer can affect anyone.
Do your part…get screened for oral cancer and please help your friends and family to get screened as well. Help SAVE your life and help SAVE the lives of others.
Below are links that can provide you with more information about oral cancer:
Reach out to us today to schedule your exam and hygiene wellness visit with us.
-Dr. Jeannie Ju