Why You Need to Have Oral Cancer Screening Regularly
For most people, a visit to our dentist’s office is marred with a feeling of terror or worry because there might be a chance that you might have cavities. As bad as cavities can be, it is not the worst thing that can our dentist can find. Unfortunately, many Americans are developing or have oral cancer and they do not even have a clue.
Oral cancer is one of the dental problems that tend to sneak up on you since symptoms do not show right away. Symptoms start showing up shortly after when the disease has progressed. This is what makes oral cancer frightening since it can be developing in your body right now and you will not even be aware of it.
For this reason, we recommend that you visit our dentist regularly to get your oral cavity checked.
In a nutshell, oral cancer screening is performed by our dentist to check your oral cavity to look for signs of cancer or any precancerous conditions.
The chief goal of performing the examination is to detect the disease early when there is a higher chance of treating it. These tests are usually carried out during your regular dental visits.
Who Needs Oral Cancer Screening?
By the mere fact that cancer can develop in your mouth it is imperative that everyone sees a dentist to undergo screening. Though this matter is under contention with other schools of thought since some argue that healthy people showing no signs should not take the test.
But, there are some people who are in the high risk category and can benefit if the screening is done. Here are some of the factors that can lead to oral cancer:
- Heavy alcohol use
- Using tobacco of any kind such as, cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco
- Over exposure to sunlight which increases the chances of getting lip cancer
- Having oral cancer before
- Over exposure to some types of human papillomavirus (HPV)
Even though you are not in the higher risk category, you and our dentist may decide what kind of test will be appropriate based on your risk factors.
What Are The Early Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Typically, symptoms will may vary from person to person, but generally here are some of the symptoms associated with oral cancer:
- Difficulty moving your tongue
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing
- Swelling and pain
- Irritated or dry patches in the throat
Unfortunately, these signs will be seen after the disease has spread, but in case you notice them, make your way to our dental office and undergo oral screening.
What to Expect
Typically, oral screening has different levels and our dentist will perform a basic exam that will include thorough examination of your mouth including:
- Your gums
- Your lips both inside and outside
- Insides of your cheeks
- All sides and underneath your tongue
- The back of your throat
- The roof of your mouth
You will have to remove dentures if you wear them to create room for our dentist to look at the tissue underneath them.
The exam will take an average of five minutes. The aim is to look for spots, lumps, and anything else that is unusual about the spit that covers the pink areas of your mouth.
There are instances when our dentist can recommend special tests to be performed together with the oral exam. The special tests are:
- Oral cancer screening light – which involves shining a light in your mouth during the oral exam. The healthy tissue appear dark when exposed to the light whereas abnormal tissue appear white.
- Oral cancer screening dye – which involves using a special blue dye to rinse your mouth before an oral exam. Abnormal tissue will absorb the dye and appear blue.
If our dentist finds any signs of oral cancer or precancerous lesions, the following might be recommended:
You visit our dentist in a few weeks to check whether the abnormality is still present or whether it has grown or changed.
A biopsy to get a sample of the cells in the abnormal area for laboratory testing to ascertain whether there are cancer cells.
How Often Should You Have Oral Cancer Screening
Although there might be varied opinions when it comes to oral cancer screening, many dental professionals recommend that a patient should be screened every year. Since people are different, you will have to discuss with our dentist how often you should be screened for oral cancer. Some people will need more visits than others.
Even though you are at an increased risk or not of developing oral cancer, you will definitely benefit from oral cancer screening. You can contact our dentist at daily Dental & bracesbar if you have any questions or to book an appointment.