Oral Cancer Screening
When it comes to maximizing the chances for successful oral cancer treatment and recovery, early detection and treatment are essential. Despite the importance of diagnosing oral cancer early, there is actually no official screening protocol in today’s healthcare system.
At Oakwood Dental, we work hard to help fill in this gap in wellness and preventive care by including routine oral cancer screenings with every dental exam.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Sometimes referred to as mouth cancer, oral cancer is defined as any type of cancer that affects any parts of the mouth or oral cavity. Oral cancers include cancers of the gums, tongue, cheeks, lips, jaw, the floor of the mouth, or the roof of the mouth.
There is also a broad category of cancers called oropharyngeal cancer. This category also includes cancers of the pharynx, throat, and neck.
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Sores that do not heal or go away on their own
- Changes in the soft tissue textures inside the mouth
- Lumps and bumps in the face, cheeks, throat, or neck
- Red, white, or red and white spots inside the mouth
- Ear, mouth, face, or throat pain
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Persistent cough
- Trouble swallowing
- The feeling of having something stuck in the throat
- Sore throat
- Loss of voice
- Swollen, often painful lymph nodes in the neck
If you have any of these symptoms or have noticed unexplained changes in your mouth, face, or neck, we encourage you to schedule an examination with one of our dentists or your general practitioner as soon as possible.
Are You at Risk? Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Anyone is susceptible to developing oral cancer, but some factors can put you at an elevated risk. These risk factors include:
- Heavy alcohol use (including regularly rinsing with mouthwash that contains alcohol)
- Tobacco use of any kind (Cigarettes, pipe, chewing, vaping, etc.)
- Excessive sun exposure and sunburn
- Having previously been diagnosed with oral cancer
If you have any of these risk factors, oral cancer screening is even more important. It’s important to talk with your doctor about oral cancer screening or to choose to visit a dentist that provides routine screening.
What To Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening has two parts: a visual examination and a physical palpation of the patient’s soft tissues in the oral cavity, cheeks, lips, neck, and lymph nodes. During this screening, the dentist looks and feels for unusual changes, lumps, bumps, growths, textures, or sores that could be signs of potentially cancerous lesions.
What Happens If the Dentist Finds Something During a Screening?
If we find anything unusual during an oral cancer screening, we bring it to the patient’s attention, and we discuss the next steps that should be taken. This typically includes scheduling an appointment with a general practitioner for a second opinion and possibly a biopsy to test a tissue sample for a definitive diagnosis.
Oral Cancer Screening With Our Dentists in Bucyrus
At Oakwood Dental, we take the health of our patients very seriously, and this means the health of the whole patient – not just their teeth and gums. If you have any questions about the oral screening process or anything abnormal you have noticed, we encourage you to talk with our dentists. We are always here to discuss your concerns with you and answer any questions you might have.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact Oakwood Dental today.