Visiting your dentist twice a year isn’t only important for your teeth and gums; it’s also essential for your overall wellbeing. One of the most important services your dentist provides at your dental checkup is an oral cancer screening. Oral cancer is on the rise, but if caught early, it can be treated successfully.
An Oral Cancer Screening Only Takes a Few Minutes
During your oral cancer screening, your dentist visually and manually examines your neck, face, mouth, and jaw for sores, lumps, lesions, discoloration, or other abnormalities. If they detect or suspect an abnormality, they will take a sample and send it to a laboratory for testing. They will also ask you if you have a sore throat that doesn’t go away, pain inside your mouth or near your ear, or discomfort in your neck.
Your dentist may also use several different instruments during your oral cancer screening, including an oral biopsy brush to remove cells for diagnosis or an acetic acid mouth rinse for easier identification of oral lesions.
At Aurora Dental Group, we offer the VELscope Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System. This award-winning FDA-certified cancer identification system uses a wireless handheld scope that features a fluorescent light to identify abnormal tissues that may be overlooked during a manual examination.
Following your screening, your dentist can show you how to perform a self-examination and explain the symptoms to look for so that you can monitor your oral health from home between dental visits. Some of the symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Rough or deteriorated areas of soft tissue
- Velvety red or white patches inside the mouth
- Sores that don’t heal within two weeks
- Persistent bleeding
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Vocal changes
- Unexplained weight loss
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Although some patients with oral cancer don’t have any risks, it is best to get screened if you have a history of cancer in your family. Early treatment is key to being proactive and beating cancer.
- Gender (men are at higher risk)
- Excessive sun exposure
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Poor Diet
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Age (individuals over 55 are more prone to oral cancers)
- A history of cancer
Oral Cancer Screenings Save Lives
Identifying cancerous and precancerous lesions is crucial for successful treatment. The earlier oral cancer is detected, the easier the lesions are to remove. It is also more likely that chemotherapy medications and radiotherapy treatments, such as external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy, can eliminate remaining cancerous cells.
Early detection also minimizes the risk of oral cancers metastasizing to other areas of the body. The lymph nodes in the neck are at the highest risk of oral cancer metastasis, followed by lung tissue. Both these cancers are harder to treat than oral cancer and have higher mortality rates.
How Often Should You Have An Oral Cancer Screening?
Dental professionals recommend an oral cancer screening at least once per year for healthy adults. If you have several risk factors or your dentist has previously found pre-cancerous cells, you may need to have more frequent oral cancer screenings.
Visit Aurora Dental Group For Your Annual Oral Cancer Screening
A regular check-up and cancer screening at Aurora Dental Group can help you support your health and wellbeing. Book your appointment online today or call to speak with a friendly staff member to learn more about our cancer screening procedure.