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Palo Alto, CA
2290 Birch St, Ste A, Palo Alto, CA 94306.
(650) 503-6777
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Redwood City, CA
81 Birch Street, Redwood City, CA 94062.
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Santa Clara, CA
1394 Franklin St, Santa Clara, CA 95050.
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How Dental Visits Reduce Risks of Oral Cancer

How Dental Visits Reduce Risks of Oral Cancer_Redwood City Dentists

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Early detection considerably increases long-term survival and underscores the importance of routine oral cancer screening. Every dental appointment is your chance to get screened.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be around 54,000 new cases and 11,230 deaths in 2022 because of oropharyngeal cancer and oral cavity.

Oral cancer includes cancers of the tongue, lips, throat, minor salivary glands, the floor of your mouth, and gums. Men are more prone to oral cancer than women, making it the 6th most prevalent cancer among men. If not detected and treated early, oral cancer can be life-threatening. That’s why many general dentists in Palo Alto take advantage of routine visits and dental appointments to check for signs of cancer.


Signs and symptoms of oral cancer 

Oral cancer often appears as a sore or growth that doesn’t go away. For instance, you may have recurring sores on your mouth, neck, or face that bleed easily and don’t heal as quickly as they are supposed to.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, other typical symptoms of oral cancer include:


  • Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
  • Bumps or lumps, rough spots/eroded areas in your gums, lips, or other parts inside your mouth
  • Speckled white-and-red patches in your mouth
  • Soreness or a strange feeling that something is stuck in the back of your throat
  • Unexplained numbness or pain in any area of your mouth, face, or neck.
  • Chronic sore throat, voice changes, or hoarseness
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving your tongue or jaw
  • Changes in your bite
  • Ear pain
  • Dramatic weight loss


What happens during oral cancer screening? 

Oral cancer screening covers your oral cavity and related tissues, which can be in the sinuses, throat, pharynx, and larynx. Screening can reassure you that there are no abnormalities or trigger early treatment.

The phrase “oral cancer screening” and “mouth cancer screening” are used interchangeably, as you may hear from your Palo Alto dentist. Screening is divided into two parts – a visual exam and a physical exam. Let’s dive in!

Visual examination 

During a visual examination, your dentist will advise you to remove dentures or other removable dental devices you may have. This ensures your entire mouth is accessible. Your dentist will be looking for asymmetries, bumps, swellings, ulcerations, patches of color, or other abnormalities. They may also observe your face, lips, jaw, cheeks, neck, and inside of your nose.

Your top dentist Palo Alto will use a light and a mirror to examine the inside of your mouth. Additionally, they employ a tongue depressor to hold your tongue down and examine the back of your mouth. And, as you may recall from your childhood physical, your dentist will request you to stick your tongue out and say, “Ahh.” These reveals areas of your throat that would otherwise be difficult to see.

Physical examination 

Aside from a visual examination, your dentist will touch your face, neck, and mouth to feel for strange masses and nodules. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), touch is necessary for dentists to detect any cancer-causing anomalies in your mouth. In other words, a tactile examination helps your dentist quickly locate any hard tissues and lumps in the mouth. Signs of oral cancer are usually painless in the early stages, hence more reasons for dentists to screen for it regularly.

If your dentist discovers an oral cancer-like symptom, they might recommend further testing to establish clearly what that symptom means. Remember, results that require further assessment are not necessarily an indication of a cancer diagnosis. However, if the tests confirm the presence of oral cancer, early treatment is highly advised.

Oral cancer screening is not only a visual or physical examination. It’s a golden chance for you to discuss your anxieties and concerns regarding oral cancer. Come prepared with questions and seek guidance on lifestyle adjustments. It’s not unusual to be edgy regarding the possibility of oral cancer but going regularly for this screening will help put your mind at ease.


How often should you go for oral cancer screening? 

Experts have different opinions on how frequently people should be screened for mouth cancer. However, dentists recommend that all adults be screened every six months.

Even people who maintain a healthy lifestyle may develop oral cancer. We advise patients not to brush aside the possibility of oral cancer and be diligent about scheduling careening.

Lastly, some people need more frequent screenings. If you have risk factors for cancer, it is advisable to get screened even more frequently than twice per year. Top risk factors, as explained by the American Cancer Society, include:


  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • A history of oral cancer


Other tips for preventing oral cancer, besides dental visits


  1. Maintain proper oral hygiene – Brush your teeth twice daily
  2. Quit tobacco products – Cease using cigars, cigarettes, or chewing any tobacco products.
  3. Eat a healthy and balanced diet – Whole, nutrient-dense foods ensure your body functions optimally.
  4. Prevent HPV – Get vaccinated for HPV and practice safe sex
  5. Limit sun exposure – Wear sunscreen to protect your face


Make an appointment with your dentist today

Do you think you might be exhibiting oral cancer-like symptoms? Or do you just want to learn more about how to prevent oral cancer? Schedule an appointment with your general dentist in Palo Alto today.

How does the food we eat affect your dental health?

How Does the Food We Eat Affect Your Dental Health_Redwood City Dentists

Having a proper diet is not only crucial to your general well-being but also your dental health.

The human body is an intricate machine that works best when provided with proper nutrition, and that includes your teeth and gums!

Did you know that certain minerals and vitamins can protect your teeth from gum disease and tooth decay while some foods may cause yellowing or discoloration of the teeth?

Keep reading to find out how diet influences oral health and what type of foods you should eat to maintain a healthy smile.


Starchy carbohydrates

One of the most prevalent oral health diseases caused by diet is tooth decay. According to Mayo Clinic, tooth decay occurs due to several reasons, including bacteria in your mouth, not cleaning your teeth well, frequent snacking, and eating processed and starchy food, such as white bread, crackers, and pasta.

Starchy carbs and sugars from food combine with bacteria in your mouth to form acid. This acid erodes your tooth enamel, causing cavities or holes in your teeth. If left untreated, cavities can cause bad breath, tooth pain, tooth abscess, to mention a few.

Eating calcium and phosphorus-rich foods can help remineralize and maintain healthy tooth enamel. In addition, opt for whole grains instead of starchy carbs, as the former are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for your teeth.


Acidic and sugary foods

Acidic foods can cause cavities and other oral problems like canker sores. Foods high in acid include citrus fruits, such as lemons, grapefruit, and oranges. Though rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, they can erode the enamel of your teeth. So limit your teeth’s exposure to these foods.

In addition, foods that contain added sugar play a role in the development of cavities. Sugar interacts with the bacteria in the mouth to become acidic. Foods high in added sugar include cakes, sugary drinks, candy, and cookies.

Although raisins and other dried fruits are considered healthy, they can also contain high amounts of sugar. What’s more, dried fruits are sticky and might get stuck between your teeth and lead to build up of plaque.

Make sure you brush your teeth well and floss twice a day to keep your teeth clean and cavities away.


Snacking and dental health 

It is best to avoid frequent snacking in between meals. Snacking usually becomes an oral problem if you consume unhealthy snacks, such as sugary drinks, candy, and chips. These are foods that are rich in unnecessary sugar. As we know, bacteria in your mouth feeds on the sugars in your diet to make acids that wear down the enamel (the outermost layer of the teeth). Snacking often increases the chances of formation of acids that can wear down the enamel repeatedly.

So, if you must have snacks, go for the nutritious ones, especially the ones that are less starchy and with less added sugar.


Drinks and beverages 

The same rules apply to drinks and beverages as they do for solid foods. For example, lemonade, although a popular drink, is acidic and usually contains sugar. Another drink that is acidic and contains high amounts of sugar is soda.

So, what drinks can one classify as non-harmful? Always go for drinks that are low in added sugar and are non-acidic. Also, water with fluoride is highly recommended. Why? Water washes out food particles stuck between the teeth. Most importantly, it hydrates your mouth, producing saliva to neutralize bacteria and acids.


Foods for better dental health

Lean meats, nuts, cheese, and milk are all high in phosphorus and calcium, which are all essential for strong teeth and gums. People who cannot consume milk products due to lactose intolerance can opt for green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, also high in calcium.

Other foods good for your oral health include crunchy and firm fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, pears, and apples. Eating such foods helps to create more saliva in the mouth. This aids in washing away food particles from the crevices in your gums, teeth, and tongue.

Vegetables and fruits are also high in water content. Usually, water neutralizes any sugars that can turn into acid, which damages your teeth.

Lastly, be careful of drinks such as coffee, tea, balsamic vinegar, fruit juices, beetroot, soy sauce, dark cola, red wine, and tomato-based sauces as they can stain your teeth. They contain pigments known as chromogens. Chromogens usually attach to and stain the enamel.


Summary: Reducing the risk of oral diseases caused by an unhealthy diet 


  • Brush your teeth twice a day to remove food particles and sugars from your mouth
  • Keep added sugar in your meals to a minimum by making healthy food and beverage choices.
  • Limit between-meal snacking
  • Include dairy, water, and plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet – they all play a significant role in your dental health.


Eating a healthy diet and regularly seeing the best dentist in Palo Alto, is a recipe for success!

Everything you eat, including your favorites, affects your teeth, which is why it’s crucial to visit one of the top Palo Alto dentists near you on a regular basis. Dentists are the only medical professionals who have the knowledge to address your dental health care needs.

Following a comprehensive oral examination, your dentist can recommend dietary changes to address any concerns. Schedule an appointment with your Palo Alto dentist today, and see the difference.

Article resources:
Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including: