Visiting an oral surgeon or dentist can improve your oral health, but did you know it could save your life? Requesting that your dentist or oral surgeon perform a complete oral cancer screen could lead to the early detection of this disease. The earlier it is detected and diagnosed, the better it responds to treatment.
Learn more about why oral cancer screenings are important and what to expect when undergoing one.
Why Oral Cancer Screenings are Important
The visible symptoms of oral cancer are often easy to ignore. People ignore these symptoms because they often appear similar to other dental or oral health problems, such as gum disease or mouth sores. When you ignore the visible symptoms of oral cancer it results in a delay in getting a proper diagnosis which ultimately makes treating this disease difficult.
Early detection of oral cancer is important because it is not only easier to treat, but the treatment options used are often less invasive. Using less invasive treatment options your risk for experiencing post-treatment disfiguration is significantly reduced. If oral cancer is not detected until the later stages, treatment options are limited and may result in permanent disfigurement or cause other problems such as difficulty talking or eating.
Undergoing a simple oral cancer screen allows you to have a healthcare or dental professional properly check you for any visible symptoms of this disease. If oral cancer is suspected, your dentist or oral surgeon can refer you to an oncologist who can do further testing to help you get a proper diagnosis.
What to Expect During a Complete Oral Cancer Screening
Dentists and oral surgeons are always on the lookout for visible signs of oral cancer. Every time you go in for a professional teeth cleaning or have a dental procedure performed, your dentist or oral surgeon is looking for signs of oral cancer. While this is good and can result in the early detection of some cases of oral cancer, it is important to undergo a more thorough oral cancer screening.
When conducting a complete oral cancer screening, a visible examination of your mouth, tongue, and gums will be done. The dentist or oral surgeon is looking for any noticeable signs of oral cancer such as white patches, signs of sores that weren’t healing properly, or red mouth sores.
Even if there are no visible signs of oral cancer, you may still have other symptoms of it. The dentist or oral surgeon will then use a gloved hand to inspect your cheeks, tongue, and gums. This inspection involves running a gloved finger over the inside of the cheeks, around the tongue, and over the lining of the gums. Running the gloved finger over these areas allows your dentist or oral surgeon to feel for any bumps, lumps, or abnormalities that are early indicators of oral cancer.
In addition to the visual examination and feeling for lumps and bumps, your dentist or oral surgeon may perform additional oral cancer testing. A popular additional oral cancer testing that may be performed is the use of a special dye that will highlight any abnormal cells in the mouth.
You will be given a small cup of the dye and instructed to rinse your mouth with it. After you rinse your mouth, you will wait a few minutes and any abnormal cells will attract the dye. Your dentist or oral surgeon will then look in your mouth and see if any areas appear blue. If they do, it could indicate you may have oral cancer.
Another additional test is very similar to the dye. With this test instead of using a specialized dye, your dentist or oral surgeon will take a specialized light and shine it into your mouth. The light gives any healthy tissue in the mouth a dark appearance while any abnormal tissue will appear white.
Start 2019 Off Right with a Complete Oral Cancer Screening
Start the New Year off right by scheduling an appointment for a complete oral cancer screening. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sedaros for an oral cancer screening.