Did you know that regular dental checkups can help to prevent oral cancer? Do you want to find a dentist near you who can screen for mouth cancer? If so, this post is designed for you.
As you probably know, you should visit the dentist at least twice a year to keep your mouth healthy. This allows your dentist to routinely check for gum problems and mouth cavities. But did you know these checkups can be your defense against the deadly signs of oral cancer?
Oral cancer, which usually appears as a sore or growth that does not vanish, includes cancer of the tongue, throat, cheeks, and the floor of your mouth. That’s why oral screening is a crucial part of each dental checkup.
Oral cancer screening is a checkup performed by your dentist to check for any signs of precancerous conditions or cancer in your mouth. This article will provide information about the causes, early symptoms, and why you need to perform an oral screening for cancer at a dental clinic near you.
Why Oral Screening for Cancer is Important
The main goal of oral cancer screening is to detect early symptoms of mouth cancer before they reach an advanced stage. Oral cancer screenings are crucial since oral cancer can be cured if caught early enough.
According to the National Cancer Institute, oral screening for cancer should commence even before symptoms become visible. It should be done at early stages when lesions or cancer can easily be removed and most likely to be cured.
People who are vulnerable to oral cancer are likely to benefit from these screenings. But some factors increase the risk of contracting mouth cancer, including:
- Use of tobacco, including snuff, chewing dip, and smoking
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Previous oral cancer history
- Overexposure to the sun
Consult a dentist near you to find out whether this screening is right for you. Also, discuss how you can reduce the risk of oral cancer at the early stages.
What Are the Early signs of Oral Cancer?
The early signs of mouth cancer vary, but if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, then you should visit a dentist immediately for diagnosis:
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- A sore or lump area in your mouth, lips, or on the throat
- Red or white patches in your mouth
- Difficulty in moving your jaw or tongue
- An ulcer or sore that does not heal
- Unexpected weight loss
- Tenderness, lumps, or pain anywhere in your mouth or on the lips.
However, you need to understand that these are not definitive symptoms of mouth cancer; they can occur due to an infection or some allergies.
Advanced Symptoms of Oral Cancer
If your oral cancer has reached an advanced stage, the possible symptoms can include;
- Pain when swallowing or chewing
- A change in your voice
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- A sore throat that takes very long to heal
- Pain in your ear
- A feeling that something is trapped in your throat
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- Dramatic weight loss
What are the Potential Causes of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer occurs when the cells in your mouth or lips experience a change in their DNA. These changes encourage the cells to continue increasing and dividing while the healthy cells die. The accumulating cells form a tumor in your mouth.
With time, this tumor may spread inside your mouth and to other parts of your body. It is not yet clear what causes oral cancer. But dentists have revealed the risk factors that can increase your chances of contracting this deadly disease.
There is no proven method for preventing oral cancer. However, you can minimize the risk of oral cancer if you:
Don’t start or stop using tobacco: If you are using tobacco, make efforts to quit. If you have never used it, don’t dare even to start. Using tobacco exposes the cells in your mouth to harmful chemicals.
Drink alcohol moderately, if you must drink: Excessive consumption of alcohol can irritate your mouth cells, thus increasing the risk of oral cancer.
Avoid overexposing your lips in the sun: Safeguard the skin of your lips from excess direct sunlight by staying under the shade where possible. You can also wear a hat or use a sunscreen lip balm as a defense mechanism.
Visit your Dentist Regularly: As part of routine dental checkups, your dentist should check for any symptoms of precancerous conditions or oral cancer in your mouth.
Oral Screening for Cancer: What to Expect
During an oral screening for cancer checkup, your dentist will look over your lips, neck, face, oral cavity, and inside your nose to check for any red or white sores in your mouth. Using gloved hands, he will feel your mouth tissues to investigate for abnormalities or lumps in your mouth. If you wear removable dentures, he will remove them so that can examine the underneath tissues.
If your dentist has found any precancerous cells or cancer, he may recommend the following:
- A follow-up visit within a few weeks to examine whether the abnormal tumor has changed with time or has increased its size.
- A Biopsy Procedure used to remove samples from your mouth for laboratory testing. Your dentist may refer you to an oral cancer expert for diagnosis and treatment.
A mouth cancer screening is a precautionary measure, not a diagnostic one. Even if cancerous cells have been detected, the American Dental Association (ADA), says that early detection assists to minimize health-related issues along the way.
Early oral screening for cancer may result in better treatment results and may assist keep you or your loved ones becoming one of the 10,380 victims who die annually because of this disease. You have the power to stop or prevent oral cancer by scheduling an appointment with a dentist near you.
If you are in Murfreesboro and surrounding areas, you can book an appointment with Dr. William Fitzgerald to help detect oral cancer early enough when it can be successfully treated.