Oral Cancer Screenings
Have you ever noticed that one of the things dentists check during a routine dental visit are the cheeks, neck, and the tissues in the mouth?
While these might seem like an excessive thing to check given that dentists typically only deal with teeth, they are an important part of the dental visit and dental exam. These are parts of the routine checkup that form part of the oral cancer screening. The team at Esthetic Smiles believes that when you have the disease identified early, you will be able to get treatment early. This means the chances of recovering from the disease are high, and the treatment process will not be as strenuous.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, is a type of cancer that begins in the mouth and spreads to other areas of the mouth such as the lips, tongue, cheeks, palate, and throat. Men are twice as likely as women to develop mouth cancer. Oral cancer is a major health concern because it is the sixth most common cancer in men. A check of your mouth and teeth is part of our examination. Your first line of defense against this deadly disease is having an oral cancer screening.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer often manifests in the form of persistent sores or growths on the oral tissues. It is possible to develop continuous sores on the neck, face, or mouth that bleed easily and take a long time to heal. Rough spots, eroded areas, and crusts on the gums, lips, and inside of the mouth can also be signs of oral cancer. For no apparent reason, your neck, mouth, and face may hurt, feel tender, or go numb. A persistent sore throat, a change in your voice, or hoarseness, are also symptoms. Another symptom is the appearance of red, white, or reddish-white patches in the mouth.
What Does the Screening Entail?
The oral cancer screening process is basically a physical examination of the mouth and the areas around the mouth to determine whether there are abnormal cells that might be cancerous. When looking for signs of mouth cancer, we look for abnormal tissue. We examine the mouth for visible symptoms such as rough patches, changes in tooth position, hardened lumps, red and white tissue masses, and other irregularities. We also feel the cheeks to see if there are any unusual tissues. Palpating the cheeks can assist in detecting irregular tissues that are difficult to detect.
Furthermore, we feel inside the mouth. We recommend further examination if we notice any unusual lumps in the tissue. A biopsy may be required to further investigate the mouth tissue. Visual examination is used in much of the screening for mouth cancer. A dentist can examine the inside of a patient's mouth using a tiny mirror, light, and tongue depressor.
Do you have any questions about oral cancer and oral cancer screenings? Reach out to Esthetic Smiles today and let our dentist answer your questions. Call 805-365-4222 to schedule an appointment.