Oral Cancer Screening: Why Does It Matter?

Oral Cancer Screening: Why Does It Matter?

Jul 02, 2021

Regular dental visits are a crucial part of anyone’s life. However, there are scores of people who don’t echo this sentiment. They believe that there is no need to visit the dentist regularly if they are not in any dental emergency or pressing dental issue.

Regardless, everyone needs to visit our dentist at least twice a year. Dental checkups can do so much for your smile, but it doesn’t end there. Our dentist also offers oral cancer screening services that can be done during your normal dental checkups.

It is best if you take advantage of these oral cancer screening offers since it is difficult for you to know if you have the disease or not.

Why Does Screening Matter?

Let not the name of the procedure give you jitters. It is a simple examination that our dentist performs to single out precancerous swellings or oral cancer in your mouth and surrounding tissues.

It is a visual and physical exam of your oral cavity and can help put you at ease if there are no issues. At the same time, if our dentist finds something, treatment can begin as soon as possible.

The primary objective is to catch oral cancer early when you have a better chance of beating it. At times, our dentist may recommend that you go for extra tests to ascertain whether there are any abnormal cells in your oral cavity.

What Increases Your Probability of Getting Oral Cancer?

You need to bear in mind that oral cancer screening services are available to everyone. However, some people may fall in the high-risk category that may need to come in as soon as possible for screening.

Some of those risk factors:

  • If you have been exposed to the sun for a long time, you may get lip cancer
  • If you are a heavy alcohol user
  • If you have had oral cancer prior
  • If you have been diagnosed with HPV ( human papillomavirus)
  • If you are a heavy tobacco user
  • Genetic factors

If you are worried that you may get oral cancer, see our dentist. You will be advised on what to do and which tests to take. Also, you will be advised on how to reduce the risk where possible.

How Can You Know If You Have Oral Cancer?

You can also come in for screening if you have the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing or you feel pain while swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Pain in the mouth
  • Tooth discoloration
  • A lump or growth in your mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • White or reddish patches in your mouth
  • A lip or mouth sore that’s not healing
  • Chronic sore throats
  • Pain sensation or numbness whenever you bite down

How Is Screening Done?

There’s no special preparation before you come in for screening. The examination will be carried out during your regular visit. However, there are different levels of screening, including:

Visual Examination

The screening will begin with the most basic examination, which will involve a thorough visual examination of your mouth, which will include:

  • Your gums
  • The back of your throat
  • The roof of your mouth
  • The outside and inside of your lips
  • Your tongue, from all sides
  • The inside of your cheeks

If you have any removable dental appliances or prosthetics such as dentures, our dentist will remove them to ensure that the whole area is exposed for the examination.

Our dentist will be looking for abnormalities like bumps, swellings, ulcerations, color variations, and patches in your oral cavity.

Our dentist will also be looking for something unusual about your saliva.

Physical Examination

Our dentist will also proceed to perform a physical examination by touching your cheeks and head, around the jaw, under the chin, under the tongue, and in the mouth. Physical exams are done to seek for unusual masses. This is usually a five-minute affair.

Tests

If the exams that have been performed aren’t conclusive, further tests must be carried out. These tests may involve the use of:

  • Oral cancer screening light
  • Oral cancer screening dye

How Often Should You Be Screened for Oral Cancer?

If you are above 20 years, you can come for screening once every three years. However, if you are in the risk category or above 40 years, you need to come annually or as instructed by our dentist.

You can contact our dentist at Steven F. Hinchey, DMD, if you need oral cancer screening.

860-633-6518 Book Appointment