When Should I Get an Oral Cancer Screening?
X-rays, fluoride treatments, sealants, oral cancer screening, and dental cleaning are all examples of preventative dental care. Although these treatments are only given once or twice a year, they effectively prevent cavities, abscesses, and other oral illnesses. Oral cancer screening is a preventative service that you may be neglecting. Continue reading to learn why this preventative treatment is beneficial, what is involved, and when to go for the screening.
The need for oral cancer screening
Oral cancer, like other cancers, is simpler to treat if discovered early on. In stage 1 and 2 oral cancers, the five-year overall survival rate is often 70-90%. But these percentages fall as cancer progresses. Cancer will not progress to the lymph nodes and other body parts in earlier stages, making treatment easier. There is a higher chance of diagnosing and treating cancer if patients undergo oral cancer screenings at their routine dental visits.
When to get oral cancer screening
Ideally, patients should be screened during the dental exam twice yearly, but people with a high risk of oral cancer should get more regular screenings. Risk factors of oral cancer include old age, past HPV diagnosis, tobacco use in any form, nutritional deficiencies, history of sun exposure, marijuana use, and immune system deficiency. Patients also need to know the symptoms of the condition, including thickened tissue or lumps in the mouth, a sore throat or the recurrent need to clear the throat, chewing or swallowing problems, halitosis, white or red patches on the lips or inside the oral cavity, weight loss, and jaw ache.
Some of these symptoms might be mistaken for other problems. Therefore, it is important to consult a dentist for a proper diagnosis and to rule out oral cancer. Jaw discomfort, for example, is not always symptomatic of oral cancer; it may be due to bruxism or a deep cavity.
What happens during an oral cancer screening?
Oral cancer screening is a non-invasive technique that takes only a few minutes. The dentist will inspect the inside of the oral cavity and beneath the tongue using gloved hands and a tongue depressor to search for spots or sores. The dentist will also feel beneath the skin for any lumps that are not visible to the naked eye.
If the dentist detects something during the first screening, they may proceed to the next stage in the diagnostic process. Although this approach does not identify all oral cancers, the dentist will swab an area of tissue with a brush to extract cells for testing.
The dental professional may also have the patient rinse their mouth with a specific mouthwash containing a dye, which will bind to aberrant cells and become blue if any are present.
The dentist may refer patients to a specialist for a biopsy. A biopsy is a process in which a doctor removes a sample of tissue for further examination. The dental professional will apply a local anesthetic, so the process is pain-free. They could use incisional biopsies or fine-needle aspiration. While you wait for biopsy results, your dentist may schedule a follow-up appointment with you in a few weeks to determine if the suspect spot has changed in color, form, or size.
It is best to catch oral cancer in its earliest stages, which is why you should always go in for regular dental checkups. For more information about oral cancer screening, contact the dental office.
Request an appointment here: https://www.highlandsdentaldallas.com or call Highlands Family Dentistry at (214) 491-5362 for an appointment in our Dallas office.
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