Oral Cancer Screening – Bay Premier Dentistry Explains What to Expect
Oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the world, and it is often left untreated due to the lack of regular dental screening. Dental professionals are the experts that you can rely on for examining the anatomy of your mouth using special lighting and tools to look beyond your throat. Dentists recommend you get oral cancer screening every six months, especially if cancer runs in your family. An experienced dental professional can detect approximately 80% of the oral cancer cases at an early stage.
The faster you identify malignancy in your body, the earlier your intervention can begin. This may also mean that your cancer treatment may be less invasive and less expensive too. There is no specific reason as to why you may or may not have oral cancer. Therefore, cancer screenings are still crucial for any adult to keep an eye on lumps, tumors, and other abnormalities.
Look Out for Signs & Symptoms
Stay vigilant of any signs or symptoms associated with your dental health, especially if they don’t disappear after two weeks. For instance, if you notice a difficulty in chewing, speaking, swallowing, or find a difference in the way your tongue and teeth move around the jaw, then you may want to talk to your dentist about it. Soreness or irritation that doesn’t go away should also be mentioned.
Also, certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) can put you at the risk of oral cancer. Some people complain of hoarseness in their voice while others mention prolonged sore throat. Make sure that you are honest with your dentist about any symptoms that you may have noticed in the past.
What To Expect During Your Screening?
A simple oral screening is nothing to be feared. It does not require any sophisticated tools or medical procedures. A thorough oral exam can be completed within five minutes as it primarily consists of palpation and inspection. Your dentist will explain to you the exact process and will discuss your physical well-being. All you need to do is stay calm, trust your dentist, be candid, and let him/her do their job.
A screening of oral cancer is more than just a medical examination where you can educate yourself about oral cancer and talk to your dentist about your fears and concerns. Your dentist or dental hygienist will physically examine the inside and outside of your gums, tongue, lips, roof, and floor of your mouth and inspect the lymph nodes on your jaw and neck. They will look for any signs of asymmetry, swelling, deformities, tenderness, or discoloration in and around your mouth and face.
Importance of Screenings
Early signs of oral cancer can be identified by visual inspection, but only a professional will know where to look for precancerous and cancerous lesions, especially in the back of your mouth and your throat. They will also inquire about your drinking and smoking habits, lifestyle, recent weight loss/gain, anorexia, or fatigue. People aging 40 years and above are at higher risk for cancer, and an unhealthy diet can increase the risk by several folds. Men are more susceptible to oral cancer, and so are those people who stay in the sun for longer intervals. However, oral cancer can develop for no reason, and screenings are essential to prevent cancer from spreading further.
Don’t Worry About Immediate Results
Your dentist won’t be able to tell you right away if they are looking at a cancerous tissue only by visual inspection. This precautionary measure cannot provide diagnostic results. If they do find something suspicious, then they might reexamine you after a week or two to see any changes in the redness or tenderness. A rough spot or eroded area may heal in time, and you can then discuss your concerns with your dentist. Meanwhile, they may take a tissue sample to test for malignancy or refer you to another doctor for further tests.
Even if cancer is found, early diagnosis is the best way to prevent cancer. We at Bay Premier Dentistry use modern technology to perform oral screening. Our professional oral technicians and dentists provide cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dental services. Visit us for an oral screening, and watch Netflix while you are screened!