Does Your Dentist Provide Regular Screening for Oral Cancer?
Did you know that every year, oral cancer kills more people in the US than Hodgkin’s disease, cervical cancer, or malignant melanoma? Oral cancer typically involves your lips, tongue, tonsils, throat, salivary glands and/or floor of your mouth. The people at most risk for oral cancer are those that use tobacco, alcohol and those exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time. If oral cancer goes untreated and progresses, it can cause chronic pain, loss of function, impairment and possible disfigurement. That’s why it is so important to get regular screening for oral cancer to help identify any warnings signs before they have a chance to progress.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can occur in most areas of the mouth, such as the teeth, the gums, the tongue, the lips, the cheeks, and the maxillary arch (the roof of the mouth). Though any individual can develop this type of cancer, it has a higher incidence in individuals who engage in regular practices that are damaging to oral health. Chewing tobacco, smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, inadequate nutrition and malnourishment, and the use of improperly fitting dentures (which can cause persistent irritation) can all spur the development of oncogenes, or cancer cells.
Infection from the human papillomavirus (HPV) can also contribute to various cancers, including oral cancer. The early signs of oral cancer are often difficult to detect by the average person, but a closer inspection and screening for oral cancer from a dentist can determine whether oral cancer has begun to take root.
How Is Oral Cancer Screening Performed?
Screening for oral cancer can be performed by your dentist rather quickly, as dentists are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of the earliest stages of disease. The entire process should last no more than five minutes, and your dentist will rely only on simple equipment such as gauze, gloves, and mirrors to complete the exam.
The first step involves your dentist asking you about your medical history as well as any symptoms that you may have begun to experience. A family history of certain cancers or lifestyle choices can suggest to your dentist that you are at a naturally higher risk of developing this disease.
Your dentist will then peer into your mouth and esophagus, using tools to inspect the gum line, the rear portions of your lips, the insides of your cheeks, the underside of your tongue, the roof of your mouth, and your tonsils. Your dentist may also survey the area around the root of your tongue and manually examine your neck and jaw for nodules or other worrisome indications of cancer.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today!
If you are interested in getting an oral cancer screen, please call our experienced Buffalo dentists today for a free consultation. For over 40 years, we have served Western New York and performed oral cancer screening for thousands of patients.
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