Today I would like to address the importance of the oral exam you receive as part of your hygiene visit. In today’s challenging economic times some patients try to save money by requesting to skip their doctor exam.
During the exam I will read your x-rays to check for cavities between the teeth or under old restorations. I also do a visual inspection of your mouth, including the roof and floor of your mouth, the tongue, cheeks, and gums. If there is anything that looks unusual we refer patients to an oral surgeon for a biopsy. I palpate your neck and feel for any swelling in glands in that region. In addition, I check your temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) to make sure you are not developing joint problems.
Over the course of my career I have seen four patients with oral cancer. One of these cases was caught early and the patient had surgery and is cancer-free. The other three patients who did not come in regularly had advanced cancer by the time I examined them. Please do not take your oral exam lightly. If you notice changes in your mouth and neck, don’t wait for your next scheduled appointment; contact us immediately. It could be life saving.