Oral Cancer Screening
In addition to regular cleanings and examinations of your mouth, you will also regularly get an oral cancer screening. These are often part of every single dental exam. There are different types of oral cancer which can affect different parts of your mouth. Oral cancer is not directly related to your teeth of course, but dentists are trained in providing oral cancer screenings. They are easy and only take a few seconds. If there are concerns, your dentist will recommend treatment and follow-up testing is needed.
Oral cancer can impact your tongue, lips, cheeks, gums, mouth floor and soft and hard palates. It is of utmost importance to ask your dental staff to check your mouth for oral cancer in addition to their regular examinations. Schedule a consultation today by contacting us at Cherry Hill Dental Smiles.
Why is it important?
Oral cancer screening is important because it is a good way to determine preliminary risks or early symptoms of oral cancer. The screenings are quick and simple and getting early examinations and determinations is crucial. This is because, depending on how severe the cancer is, the dentist will recommend different treatments. This can be surgery, targeted therapy, chemotherapy or radiation surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment will increase your chance of survival. According to the Mayo Clinic, if oral cancer is diagnosed in stage 1 or 2 your chances of survival are 70-90% higher. This is why it is so important to incorporate an oral cancer screening into your regular examination.
Anyone can develop oral cancer. It was once assumed that you had to smoke cigarettes or drink copious amounts of alcohol on a regular basis to develop oral cancer. That is not true. Although, if you use tobacco or alcohol regularly, your chances of developing oral cancer increases. Other factors that contribute to oral cancer development are other diseases, sun exposure, genetics, a family history of cancer or a poor immune system.
How does it work?
The procedure of screening for oral cancer is quite easy. We recommend that you get your mouth checked by a professional during your regular examination. It is possible that you do some preliminary screening at home. The Mayo Clinic says to check for chronic sores, loose teeth, pain or difficulty swallowing, bleeding gums or tongue or jaw pain. These issues do not automatically mean you have oral cancer but it is good to know the symptoms so you can notify your dentist.
After your dentist cleans and examines your mouth, they will check for signs of oral cancer. They will look for lesions, sores or other symptoms. If they notice any of these symptoms, they may refer you to an oral cancer specialist. Also, they may recommend a biopsy of the part of your mouth that they think is cancerous. A biopsy allows for a closer examination on a cellular and molecular level. The examiner will be able to determine the presence of cancer cells at this point.
If worse comes to worst, your dentist will recommend follow-up tests to get a more accurate diagnosis. This can be a CT scan, x-ray, endoscopy, MRI scan or PET scan. There are many different situations that would require one or multiple of these scans. Following the oral cancer screening, your dental team will explain the results and schedule further examinations or treatment if necessary. Please contact Cherry Hill Dental Smiles by calling 856-528-7177 today. We can take care of all your dental needs.