At Bridge Creek Dental, we care about all aspects of your smile. This includes ensuring that your whole mouth is kept healthy. During your routine checkup, we examine your mouth, teeth, and gums. We are ensuring that there are no issues that could potentially become a larger and more serious concern for you. This could include cavities, signs of early gum disease, and oral cancer. The early detection of oral cancer can increase the patient’s survival rate to 90%.
If the dentist discovers any areas of concern, complete dental cancer screening can be scheduled. Just how can a dentist detect oral cancer?
How Do Dental Cancer Screenings Detect Oral Cancer?
Prior to your dental cancer screening, it is important that you take out any removable dental appliances if you have them. This will allow your dentist to see all parts of your gums and the inside of your mouth.
The examination will include your face, neck, your lips, and soft tissues inside of your mouth. The first part of the examination will be visual, with your dentist looking for any signs of swelling, unusual bumps, or ulcerations. Any asymmetry or strange colorations and textured patches will be closely examined.
A light, mirror, and tongue depressor may be used during your examination so that your dentist can examine your gums, throat, your tongue, and the area under your tongue. The inside of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth will also be carefully examined.
Your screening will involve more than just the visual. The dentist will need to feel inside of your cheeks for any strange nodules or bumps. Feeling around your jaw and beneath your chin is also an important part of the screening.
Each of these steps involved in the dental cancer screening will give the dentist opportunity to check for those potentially worrisome abnormalities that could be pointing to a larger and more serious concern. If something is detected, whether at your six-month checkup or your oral cancer screening, the next steps can be discussed.
Can You Self Screen For Oral Cancer?
Self-screening processes are an important part of the early detection of oral cancers. A quick examination of your mouth can allow you to see any signs of pre-cancer or cancer in your mouth.
Wash your hands well and get a small flashlight that you can use in front of a mirror to examine your mouth. Carefully examine your lips, both the external and the inside surfaces of the lips. Look at your gums, both the inside and outside of your gums as is possible. Do the same for the inside of your cheeks, taking the time to gently run your fingers across the surfaces for any bumps or lesions. Your tongue and throat can be harder to examine, but it is important to take a look.
If your self-examination uncovers something, be sure to call us so that you can schedule a dental screening. Some of the concerns that you should be aware of could include any lesions that have not healed after two weeks, voice changes, pain or stiffness in your jaw, feeling like you have something stuck in your throat, a persistent sore throat, and difficulty swallowing.
Screening Tools For Oral Cancer
Specialized tools and equipment may be used during your oral cancer screening. These tools may use blue lights that can help to identify any areas of potential concern. Standard and digital intraoral X-rays are an important part of dental wellness. They can be used to detect a number of oral health concerns, including cavities and concerns within the bone. X-rays can often detect abnormalities that are not readily visible.
The tools that will be used for your oral screening may vary based upon the condition of your mouth, your risk factors, and whether a further in-depth examination is needed.
Risk Factors For Oral Cancer
If you have some of the risk factors for oral cancer, it is important that you get a dental cancer screening. Perhaps the risk factor most recognized is the use of tobacco products. This could include cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and pipe tobacco. Excessive use of alcohol can also contribute to the risk of developing oral cancer. The risks increase significantly when tobacco use is combined with alcohol abuse.
Other risk factors include a family history of oral cancer, patient age, and gender. HPV is another concerning factor that has seen significant increases in oral cancer diagnoses.
It is important to note that dental cancer screening goes beyond the routine dental examination. Call BridgeCreek dental to schedule your screening. Early detection is a key part of ensuring a positive prognosis.