Oral Cancer Screening
When you visit us for routine dental cleanings you may have realized that the dentist feels areas of the mouth like the cheeks or inside the mouth. The dentist is often looking for any signs of oral cancer. Our dental team at Zenith Smiles will check for oral cancer every time you come in for a routine checkup or exam. We advise you to also ask us to screen you whenever you visit our office. Many people fail to get screened not knowing the risk they are putting themselves into. Early detection can make a big difference. With more than 11,000 people dying of the disease each year in the U.S. and more than 53,000 being diagnosed annually, according to the American Cancer Society, it makes sense to pay attention to oral cancer checks.
Importance of Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer is not a frequently talked-about disease. There are few campaigns for this disease if any. But it continues to claim many lives. Many people never get medical help early enough until cancer has progressed to critical stages. And as with all kinds of cancer, getting early detection as well as treatment is essential to increase the chances of surviving. The sooner you visit us to be screened, the earlier you know your risk and whether you have it or not. This way, you can begin treatment early, and learn how to prevent it in the first place. Early screening for oral cancer helps find the disease before you get symptoms. At this time, it is easier to treat. It also means that you spend less money on treatment and the recovery time is also less.
What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?
Screening for oral cancer is a vital component of each dental exam. The screenings are thorough and usually begin prior to your physical exam. Our dental hygienist initially updates your medical history, noting any changes you may have since the last visit to our office. The hygienist checks if there are any new conditions or diseases that have been diagnosed and if you are taking any new medicines. When checking your medical history, we also ask questions to find out if you have risk factors for mouth cancer such as excess consumption of alcohol and smoking.
Our team also checks about your current health and dental concerns. The cancer screening looks at areas inside and outside the mouth. An extra-oral exam involves the head and neck while an intra-oral exam checks the cheeks, palate, lips, tongue, mouth floor, as well as gum tissues. Our dentist will look for irregular tissue changes, lumps, sores, discoloration, and lesions. Anything doubtful should prompt a biopsy for further testing.
How Often to Be Screened
Receiving routine dental check ups helps head off issues with your teeth. However, since our dentist is also able to catch signs of cancer of the mouth, it is crucial to schedule appointments every six months. Our dentist will also let you know how often you should be screened. Sometimes, you may just need to be screened annually if, for instance, there are no risk factors. Those considered at risk of the disease can be screened twice a year.
Talk to us at Zenith Smiles to get screened and learn more about this disease. Dial (714) 838-0790 to set up an appointment.