More than “just a check-up”
Many people attend for 6-monthly check-ups with the dentist. It is a great time to get advice on any concerns for issues such as tooth sensitivity, jaw discomfort or clicking, or even persistent mouth ulcers. Otherwise, the majority of patients believe the dentist is just checking their teeth, and talking – in ‘dental speak’ – to his nurse at a computer.
In fact, in a full assessment your dentist examines all the soft tissues of the mouth: cheeks, tongue, around the tonsils, soft and hard palate. In short, all parts of the soft lining of the mouth are checked for abnormalities that in some cases prove malignant.
Some stats: cancers can occur in the mouth
Around 5,000 people present in Australia each year with head and neck cancers with more than 50% being visible within the mouth. Years of health campaigns have taught us how to monitor for breast and skin cancers, however there is no equivalent for oral tissues. Like other cancers, early detection and treatment are key, and survival rates are high.
‘But I eat well, I don’t smoke . . .’
Oral cancers don’t necessarily fit a risk profile, for example smoker, heavy-drinker, over 50 etc. They can occur in anybody – young or old, smoker or not, male or female.
American journals suggest that dentists are ideally placed to detect up to 90% of mouth cancers. They, along with hygienists, are far more familiar with tissues of the mouth than their medical colleagues.
At Carter Dental
If an area of concern is noted, it will immediately be brought to your attention. You will be referred to a local specialist for a second opinion. It may be necessary for a small sample, or biopsy, to be taken for testing. Remember that a good percentage of these results will come back ‘benign’. If this is not the case, then catching a small lesion before it spreads can also be a very good outcome.
Sometimes clients booking appointments will request ‘only a clean’, hoping to save on the cost of the examination or check-up. Unfortunately, this is something we do not offer. Our dentists believe that a full assessment is a routine part of their responsibility towards your overall health.