Research has identified a number of factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancer. The most common are the use of tobacco and alcohol. Others include poor oral hygiene, irritation caused by ill-fitting dentures and rough surfaces on teeth, poor nutrition, some chronic infections and combinations of these factors. Because changes can be seen easily in the mouth, diagnosis of oral cancer can be made in its early stages allowing for suspicious areas to be treated and prevent progression. It is recommended that everyone perform a monthly oral exam looking for irregularities, specifically non-healing sores as well as white or red lesions. This should be performed with a bright light and a mirror. Closely examine all areas in your mouth including the roof of your mouth, cheeks, gums, and all surfaces of the tongue and floor of the mouth. In addition to this it is recommended that everyone have an oral screening exam at least once a year, especially if you have any of the above risk factors.
Visits to the dentist and oral surgeon can be a significant source of stress and anxiety to our patients, many times because of the fear of the unknown as they usually have not had a similar experience before. This patient is typically concerned about possible pain- specifically whether the procedure is going to hurt. The good news is that whether your procedure requires local or intravenous anesthesia, today’s technology makes it possible to perform complex surgery in the oral and maxillofacial surgery office with little or no discomfort for the patient. Knowing this should start to reduce your level of anxiety. When patients are given the option of local anesthesia or general anesthesia by the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon for procedures such as wisdom teeth extractions, they almost invariably choose to have a general anesthesia. This allows the patient to be completely asleep for the entire procedure which leads to a considerable more pleasant experience and less stress about the procedure. General anesthetics may be used for minor procedures as well, allowing those with dental anxiety to be at ease. Having a general anesthetic is a great and very safe option for any of us needing oral surgery procedures, especially if you are at all nervous.