April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month — when dental professionals across the nation take time to remind patients that regular checkups can help save lives. We here at Dr. Curtis H. Roy & Associates are no exception and aim to educate you about the signs and the latest technologies we employ at our office to screen for disease.
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, oral and oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the mouth and upper throat) collectively kill nearly one person every hour every day of the year. Of the people newly diagnosed, 40 percent will not survive longer than five years. And, many of those who do suffer from long-term problems, such as facial disfigurement or difficulty eating and speaking.
The death rate with these cancers is particularly high because they routinely are discovered late in their development; hence, early detection is key!
The AAOM advises patients to be especially mindful of these symptoms:
• a sore or soreness in your mouth that doesn’t go away;
• red or white patches, pain, tenderness and numbness in the mouth or lips;
• lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas;
• difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue; or,
• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth.
At our practice we use the VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System — a handheld scope that helps us visualize oral tissue abnormalities, including cancer and pre-cancer. Used in conjunction with a traditional intra and extraoral head and neck exam, it might detect problems in time to treat and eradicate any threat. Unlike other devices used for oral exams, the VELscope® Vx does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. It takes only about two minutes to use during a routine hygiene visit in our office.
If you have fallen behind on your dental checkups, and especially if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please call 337-981-9811 and schedule an appointment today!
Hygienist Shawn Fonseca screens a patient with the VELscope® Vx.