What do you visualize when you think about the effects of oral cancer? Do you see dirty, unhealthy teeth? Or maybe a mouth with multiple sores throughout? The signs and symptoms are bad enough, but the impact this horrible disease can have on your mouth and overall health can create many significant challenges. Your dentist in Orlando wants you to understand the importance of early detection when it comes to oral cancer, as it can be fatal if discovered too late. Read on to find out why you should be screened and just how difficult it can be to overcome this deadly disease.
Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and other risky behaviors may be what you think of when you associate risk factors with oral cancer. Surprisingly, 25% of those who are diagnosed don’t practice risky behavior, but if not detected early enough, the survival rate of those with oral cancer is only 50%.
When determining the best way to detect and treat it, your dentist is a great ally, simply because he can screen for it during a regularly scheduled visit. By allowing your dental professional to perform a quick and painless examination of your mouth and neck, you’re increasing your survival rate to 80-90% if it’s discovered you have oral cancer.
Should your dental team discover a cause for concern, and it’s determined you have oral cancer, you and your dentist will work together to create a treatment plan. However, coping with mouth cancer in Orlando isn’t easy, especially when dealing with the recovery period. As part of the process, your dentist and his dental team will work to ensure you not only receive the treatment needed to attack the cancer, but access to services to assist in your recovery. These may include:
Depending on where to cancer exists, the type of treatment, and the severity of the cancer, you may experience problems with:
Should you receive radiotherapy as a form of treatment, you may notice a change in your taste buds and excessive dry mouth. While it may only last a few months, dry mouth can become permanent. Treatment may also cause your jaw and throat to be sore, making it hard to chew and swallow. Although it may seem hopeless, you can ask your doctor about appropriate painkillers and a protective gel to coat your mouth.
If the cancer is severe enough to require surgery, it may change the way you look. Thankfully, with the help of plastic and reconstructive surgeons, you will most likely not face much scarring. We know this can impact your self-esteem, but it’s important to remember that your family and friends will give you the support you need no matter how you look.
Worried that your new look will impact your ability to have a successful relationship? Are you concerned it will affect the way you feel about intimacy in general? Everyone is different, and while you may not find it to be something you wish to pursue immediately after treatment, another individual might. Whether or not you choose to be sexually intimate with your partner, you can certainly show your feelings in other ways such as holding hands and eye contact.
We understand it can be difficult living with the aftermath of oral cancer, but with the help of those around you, as well as your dental team, you can get back to your normal self in no time.
Dr. John E. Russo, DMD, earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Florida before achieving his dental DMD degree with honors from the University of Florida in 1993. He also earned his Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) from Wright-Patterson Medical Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Dr. Russo wants to help you achieve a healthier smile, which is why he and his team will show you how to optimize your oral health and prevent dental damage. For questions about Dr. Russo or how we can help you, contact us via our website or call (407) 470-1224.