Oral Cancer Screening
Regular dental checkups often involve more than the usual teeth cleanings that maintain your oral health. Part of caring for your teeth and gums involves screening for oral cancer. For individuals over the age of 20, the American Cancer Society encourages a screening exam once every three years. Once an individual is 40 years old, he or she should have an oral cancer screening exam annually.
Screening for oral cancer on a regular basis, in addition to maintaining a regular teeth cleaning schedule, can make all the difference in early detection of cancer. As you may know, finding cancer early anywhere in the body can make it much easier to treat and increase the likelihood of successful patient outcomes.
Our professionals care about your health and are dedicated to assisting patients in preventing and treating dental and oral problems, including cancer. If you are interested in receiving an oral cancer screening, contact Southern Family Dental Care to schedule an appointment today.
The Process of Oral Cancer Screening
Our professionals will likely perform an oral cancer screening during your regularly scheduled dental visits. While screenings are generally reserved for adults and performed on an annual basis, if not more infrequently, we may decide a screening is necessary if you have certain risk factors. If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, usually spend an above-average time in the sun, drink a fair amount of alcohol, or have a previous oral cancer diagnosis, you may be at higher risk and require more frequent screenings.
During the screening exam, we check the mouth for sores and discolored patches. We also manually feel your oral tissues to ensure all is in normal condition. Finally, the throat and neck are checked for lumps that might be considered abnormal. In addition to the physical examination, we may require further testing using a special dye that colors abnormal cells a blue hue or a light that noticeably brightens abnormal cells that are potentially cancerous.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer in case they occur between the time of your normal screenings. If you are experiencing teeth that appear loose, trouble swallowing, sores in and around the mouth that will not heal, or patches within the mouth that are either red or white, you should make an appointment with one of our professionals.
Although these symptoms may just be a testament to the condition of your oral hygiene or symptoms of periodontal disease, it is important to rule out factors that are more serious. Any abnormalities should be reported as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Oral cancer screenings are a necessary part of your preventative care. All adult patients can benefit from oral cancer screenings, even if you are not currently experiencing symptoms. Regular screenings can help to ease your mind by letting you know where your oral health stands and ensure you are receiving all of the care you need to live a happy and healthy life. If you are ready to schedule your oral cancer screening or are in need of further information, call Southern Family Dental Care at 470-410-9774.