Dental and Oral Health Screening

Dr. Matthew Yuen likes to see patients every six months for regular dental checkups and cleanings. These biannual appointments help keep your teeth and gums healthy, as well as catch the early signs of oral cancer, disease, or dysfunction.

Why are regular dental and oral health screenings important?

Bi-annual dental appointments are essential for children and adults. At Castro Valley Dental Home, our team offers screening for elementary school clearance and thorough exams for older children, teens, and adults who just want to maintain a healthy smile.

One of the most important reason to visit our office every six months is to catch oral cancer in the early stages. Out of the nearly 50,000 Americans that are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, roughly 10,000 of them will succumb to the disease. However, early detection gives patients a five-year survival rate of 85%. Therefore, regular screenings don’t just save your teeth and gums–they could save your life, too.

What can I expect from dental and oral health screenings?

While screening for oral cancer may sound frightening, it’s actually a very simple (yet effective!) process. Dr. Yuen uses top-tier technology (digital x-rays, intraoral cameras, and intraoral scanners) and techniques that can detect even the earliest signs of oral cancer.

To start, your dentist will ask if you’ve had any changes in your medications or medical history. Next, you will be asked if you’ve been experiencing any pain or problems concerning your oral and dental health. Then a thorough examination of your mouth, tongue, throat, lips, head, face, jaw, and neck will be conducted.

During this thorough exam, Dr. Yuen will gently palpate these areas to locate any lumps, bumps, or abnormalities. They will also use high-tech intraoral cameras and digital x-rays (with 90% less radiation!) to get accurate images of hard-to-see oral structures and tissues.

What issues are most commonly found in children?

A simple and thorough exam of your child’s mouth can help us spot early signs of cavities and gum disease. We also check the child’s dental development to determine if braces might be in their future.

During this appointment, we will also help you, the parent, create an oral hygiene routine or plan the helps your little one avoid common oral health issues (like cavities) in the future. Oftentimes school districts will ask that children get dental clearance before the start of a new school year. This screening can be completed at your child’s regular check-up appointment.

How common is oral cancer?

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that oral cancers account for approximately 3% of all diagnosed cancers. This means that roughly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer each year.

Men are two times more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer compared to women. Additionally, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is linked to a higher incidence of developing oral cancers. Smokers and heavy alcohol consumers over the age of 50 are the most at-risk of developing oral cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?

Oral cancer may present in the oral cavity, lips, tongue, throat, jaw, neck, or face. Common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Persistent bumps, sores, or irritation in or around the mouth
  • White or red patches in the oral cavity
  • Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
  • Trouble speaking, chewing, or swallowing
  • Feeling like something is caught in the throat
  • Numbness
  • Voice changes, like hoarseness

If you are noticing any of these signs or symptoms for longer than two weeks, then contact our Castro Valley Dental Home team immediately.

What can I do to prevent oral cancer?

Limiting risk factors that are linked to oral cancer is the best way to prevent it. For example, avoiding tobacco products, limiting alcohol consumption, and getting an HPV vaccine are all ways to limit your risk of developing oral cancer.

Additionally, making healthy lifestyle choices helps maintain your oral and dental health. That’s why our Castro Valley Dental Home team encourages our patients to eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, stay active, and schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings!

Scheduling a Dental and Oral Health Screening

Scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings is your frontline defense against oral and craniofacial cancers. If you haven’t seen a dentist in over six months, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yuen now. Save your oral and overall health by calling our compassionate team at 510-886-3888 to schedule your next dental checkup.

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