When Should You Get An Oral Cancer Screening?

When Should You Get An Oral Cancer Screening?

Feb 01, 2022

The absence of dental defects, infections, and diseases is key to long-lasting dental health. You can achieve this through practicing good oral hygiene habits, proper use of teeth, and, most importantly, regular dental checkups. A regular dental checkup can help detect oral diseases and infections that can be deadly early enough to treat them and stop them from causing real damage. As part of your regular checkup, your dentist might conduct an oral cancer screening exam to assess your risk of developing oral cancer.

Oral cancer screening is a dental examination performed by an oral cancer screening dentist to check for signs of cancer and precancerous conditions. Cancer is a disease in which there is an abnormal growth of some cells which divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue. Oral cancer first appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that refuses to go away. It includes cancers of the cheeks, tongue, lips, sinuses, the floor of the mouth, pharynx, and the hard and soft palate. If dentists do not diagnose and treat it early, it can be life-threatening.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

The most common early symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Numbness, loss of feeling of pain, or tenderness in some parts of the face.
  • Whitish or reddish patches on the tongue, gums, and inside the mouth.
  • Halitosis (Bad breath).
  • Unexplained drastic weight loss.
  • Sore throat.
  • Lumps, bumps, and swelling on the cheeks, lips, gums, and inside the mouth.
  • Earache and jaw pain.
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, and swallowing.

Risk Factors For Oral Cancer

While oral cancer might not have a specific cause, some factors increase your risk of developing it. These factors include:

  • Excessive alcohol intake: Alcohol drinkers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-drinkers.
  • Smoking and other forms of ingesting tobacco: While smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers, users of snuff or people who chew tobacco products are fifty times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who do not do any of these.
  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight: Excessive exposure to sunlight, especially from a young age, can lead to lip cancer.
  • Family history of cancer: You are likely to develop oral cancer if you have family members who have had it in the past.
  • Gender: Men are twice more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
  • Poor diet.
  • Weakened immune system.

Oral Cancer Screening Procedure

At Dipika T. Shah, DDS, LLC, you can have an oral cancer screening procedure during your regular dental checkup. While oral cancer screening aims to detect oral cancer signs early enough to cure it, it also assesses your risk of developing it. A comprehensive oral cancer screening takes less than five minutes to complete.

A dentist in Holmdel might perform a visual and physical examination during an oral cancer screening. During the visual inspection, your dentist will check your face, jaws, tongue, lips, oral cavity, nostrils, and neck with the aid of a light and a mirror. You may need to remove all removable dental appliances you might be wearing for easy access to your mouth. In addition, a tongue depressor will hold your tongue down. During a visual examination, your dentist looks for signs of bumps, lumps, sores, patches, and swelling that might signify cancer.

A physical examination might involve touching and feeling parts of your mouth and face. Your dentist does this to feel for unusual lumps and nodules that are not conspicuous. To determine the makeup of a suspicious-looking region, a biopsy is essential. A biopsy is the extraction of sample cells or tissues from a part of the body for examination to determine the presence of a disease. It can help to confirm your dentist’s suspicion of oral cancer.

When Should You Get An Oral Cancer Screening?

Early detection of oral cancer increases your chances of getting cured of it. That is why you need to take regular oral cancer screening very seriously. Experts recommend that as soon as you are 20 years above, you should go to a dental clinic near you for an oral cancer screening exam every three years. However, if you are over 40 years, you should have an annual oral cancer screening because you are more likely to develop oral cancer at an old age.

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