As with any type of cancer, early detection is the key to your survival. The earlier we catch any developing signs of oral cancer, the greater your chance is for a cure. The good news is that when oral cancer is caught early, the survival rate can be very high.
At Peace Haven Family Dentistry, we routinely perform oral cancer screenings. During your regularly scheduled visit, your dentist or dental hygienist will examine your mouth for any signs of oral cancer, precancerous conditions or any other abnormalities.
How Does a Dentist Perform an Oral Cancer Screening?
Your Peace Haven dentist or dental hygienist will perform a thorough Oral cancer screening during your visit. The screening typically consists of a visual inspection of your mouth and palpation of your neck and jaw.
Oral cancer screenings take only a few minutes to complete! Please note that if you have a family history of oral cancer, you may want to schedule more frequent screenings. We suggest consulting with your Peace Haven dentist to determine your specific oral health needs.
During an Oral cancer screening, we’ll examine the following areas for any signs of abnormalities:
- Cheek lining
- Roof of mouth
- Base of mouth
- Oral tissues
Oral Cancer Screenings At Home
The most common forms of oral cancer occur within the surfaces of your mouth. We encourage you to regularly check for any changes in the lining of your cheeks, gums, and the roof and base of your mouth. You know your mouth better than anyone. So if you notice even a small change, schedule an appointment to have your Peace Haven dentist assess your oral health.
If you have a family history of hereditary oral cancer, you may want to check for any abnormalities more frequently at home.
Here are some abnormalities you should look for when performing an oral cancer screening at home:
- Persistent mouth sores
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth, lip or ear
- Red or white patches
- Chronic hoarseness
- Non-tender lump in neck
- Abnormal swallowing
- Continued sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
- Lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- Change in how your teeth fit together when your mouth is closed
What If We Find an Abnormality?
Sometimes we have found an abnormality during an oral cancer screening at a routine check-up. Other times, we have found an abnormality because the patient noticed some symptoms and brought them to our attention.
If we find any abnormalities and suspect cancer, the first thing we’ll do is to order any necessary tests to confirm or rule out the presence of any cancer cells. If the presence of cancer is confirmed, then you’ll need to seek treatment with a specialist at a hospital.
Am I At Risk for Developing Oral Cancer?
Aside from hereditary cases of oral cancer, some health issues, behaviors or habits may make a person more predisposed to developing oral cancer.
If you have any of the following habits or health issues, you’ll want to keep a close eye on any changes in your mouth:
- Smokers older than 50
- Excessive alcohol consumption over the age of 50
- HPV (human papilloma virus)