The power of screenings, early detection of oral cancers could save your life

At West Suburban Oral Health Care in Naperville, Illinois, we are often on the front lines of detecting and promptly intervening with all sorts of conditions that affect not only your oral health but also the health of your entire “system” or body. Notably, during routine visits to our practice, Drs. Susan Mazzei, Kelsey Esposito, and Ashley Nguyen perform screenings to detect precancerous lesions and oral and oropharyngeal cancers. These evaluations complement our examination of your teeth, gums, and other oral structures. We emphasize prompt, proactive care in all that we do. And oral cancer detection is no exception to this philosophy. In fact, in this case, early detection can be a lifesaver.

The “basics”

Oral cancers affect the oral cavity or mouth. So, these cancers can arise in areas including the lips, oral mucosa lining the insides of the mouth, and the front parts of the tongue and palate. Oropharyngeal cancers develop in the oropharynx or throat. These cancers affect the back portion or the base of the tongue and the soft palate, tonsils, and throat walls.

These cancers have a reputation for being quite deadly because, as with other types of cancers, they are often detected late into the disease process after the cancer has metastasized or spread beyond its localized site. With prompt and ongoing evaluation and detection at its localized or even precancerous stage, these cancers actually have a high rate of successfully being treated. For this reason, we emphasize consistent and regular screenings and partner with our patients to minimize or eliminate risk factors.

Our approach

During your appointment, one of our doctors will discuss any changes to your health status and any concerns or symptoms that may have arisen since your last visit. For instance, oral cancers can affect how you swallow and your speech. Persistent sore throats, hoarseness, and problems swallowing should be brought up to your doctor without delay. Drs. Susan Mazzei, Kelsey Esposito, and Ashley Nguyen also visually inspect the insides of your mouth and throat and “palpate” or feel for any suspicious swelling or lumps that might warrant a biopsy and further investigation. They are also looking for potential trouble signs such as red or white patches.

Every check-up at our practice involves discussing your hygiene and lifestyle factors that can either help or hinder your oral and systemic health. We take special care to provide guidance on minimizing or addressing risk factors for these cancers. Notables include smoking, vaping, the use of tobacco products, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Time is of the essence when treating oral cavity and throat cancers. We encourage you to schedule an appointment at West Suburban Oral Health Care immediately. Call 630-393-3045 to reach our Naperville practice, which proudly serves the oral health needs of our neighbors from Wheaton, Warrenville, Glen Ellyn, North Aurora, and surrounding communities.

Dr. Susan Mazzei, West Suburban Oral Health Care
Dr. Kelsey Esposito, West Suburban Oral Health Care
Dr. Marco Fajardo, West Suburban Oral Health Care
Dr. Ashley Nguyen, West Suburban Oral Health Care

Dr. Susan Mazzei is a skilled dentist specializing in prosthodontics. A graduate of Northwestern University Dental School, she completed a Certification in Prosthodontics before joining the faculty of Northwestern University Dental School as a Clinical Assistant Professor, where she served for 12 years and became Assistant Professor Emeritus. Dr. Mazzei believes that excellent oral health begins with education and prevention and is committed to continuing her education. She is a Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach, a Charter Fellow in the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and has completed the Bale and Doneen Method Preceptorship Program.

Dr. Kelsey Esposito worked in healthcare advertising and communications before realizing that her passions were dentistry and patient care. She holds a BA in Economics and Fine Art from Kalamazoo College, a Premedicine Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from Northwestern University, and a Doctor of Dental Medicine from The University of Illinois in Chicago. She is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), Chicago Dental Society (CDS), Illinois Dental Society (IDS), Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and AAOSH.

Dr. Marco Fajardo is a graduate of Northwestern University Dental School, where he also served as a part-time Assistant Clinical Instructor. He was a member of the University Dental Associates of the University of Chicago too. In 1994, he formed the basis of West Suburban Oral Healthcare with Dr. Mazzei. He is now its Team Leader.

Dr. Ashley Nguyen studied at the University of Buffalo and Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL (dental school). She is a member of the ADA, CDS, IDS, and other local organizations. She continues her education by attending dental conferences and seminars.