Nixa Dentist Says Early Detection is Key to Saving Lives

NIXA, MISSOURI – The dentists at Barnett-Davis Dental Group, a Nixa cosmetic dentistry practice, will be offering free oral cancer screenings during the month of April, which is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

Oral cancer is not a rare disease. According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts and Figures research, approximately 37,000 people in the U.S. alone will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day, and doctors diagnose more than 100 new individuals with it each day.

“The good news is that oral cancer screening is a simple, painless and fast. It can often be found early in its development,” says Dr. Marc Barnett, a Nixa dentist at Barnett-Davis.

What increases the risk factor?
There are two known pathways by which most people develop oral cancer. The pathway doctors have known about for the longest is tobacco and alcohol use, but the latest research indicates another cause of oral cancer: exposure to the human papilloma virus versions 16 and 18.

HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the same types of the virus that are responsible for 95 percent of cervical cancers in women, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Because of the link to this virus, the fastest growing segment of people diagnosed with oral cancer is young, otherwise healthy, non-smokers.

Who should get screened?
Every adult should be screened. It’s easiest to incorporate the screening into annual health check-ups, or have one done during a routine dental appointment. Any person who is sexually active- even someone who is “deep kissing”-could orally contract the papilloma virus, which could be the precursor to oral cancer.

“Routine screenings are effective at catching oral cancer in the pre-cancer stage, when survival rates are highest and the side-effects of treatment are lowest,” says Dr. Kelly Barnett, a Nixa implant dentist.

Early Indicators

* Red and white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth
* Mouth sores that don’t heal within 14 days
* Hoarseness lasting a prolonged period of time

Advanced Indicators

* Sensation that something is stuck in your throat
* Numbness in the oral region
* Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
* Difficulty swallowing
* Ear pain, on one side only
* Persistent sore under a denture, even after adjustment
* Lump or thickening developing in the mouth or on the neck

“If you even suspect that you might have indications of oral cancer, see a professional right away. Early detection saves lives,” says Dr. Tracy Davis, a Nixa dental expert.

The Barnett-Davis Dental Group is offering complimentary oral cancer screenings throughout the month of April, so call now to make an appointment at the Nixa dental clinic.

For more information about oral cancer, please log onto the Oral Cancer Foundation’s official website at

About the Drs. Barnett and Dr. Davis Located in the Springfield, MO area, Drs. Marc and Kelly Barnett and Dr. Tracy Davis practice a full range of cosmetic and general dentistry.

The Barnetts began practicing dentistry in the Ozarks in 1984. Kelly graduated from the University of Kansas, and Marc graduated from William Jewell College. For dental school, they both graduated in the top 10 percent of their class from the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Dentistry.

Dr. Tracy Davis also graduated in the top 10 percent of her class at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Dentistry. She associated with Drs. Barnett in 2004 and became a full partner in the practice in 2007.

All doctors at Barnett-Davis Dental have been ranked as “Top Dentists” by the local 417 Magazine and “Best of the Ozarks” by the Springfield News-Leader newspaper.

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