Oral Cancer Screening: Why It's Vital and What to Expect

Oral Cancer Screening: Why It's Vital and What to Expect

Did you know that your dental team at Great Lakes Dental is in a unique position to help detect and treat oral cancer? Your physician typically doesn’t look in your mouth, and you may not even notice that you have a non-healing sore or another common symptom associated with oral cancer. Fortunately, we conduct an oral screening at every preventive exam. You can relax knowing that a dentist with special training in finding oral tumors is inspecting your mouth twice a year.

Risk Factors Associated with Oral Cancer

It can be challenging for dentists to predict who will get oral cancer and who will not. However, having certain risk factors does increase the likelihood that you will get it. These include:

·       Using any type of tobacco, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco

·       Heavy use of alcohol

·       An earlier diagnosis of oral cancer

·       Excessive sun exposure because this increases the risk of cancer of the lip

The good news with oral cancer is that most of its risk factors are preventable. We encourage you to consider your habits and to quit smoking if you smoke. Also, consume alcohol in moderation and protect yourself outdoors by remaining in the shade as much as possible and wearing a wide-brimmed hat to prevent sun exposure to the face.

What Our Dentists Look for During an Oral Screening

In addition to inspecting your mouth and oral cavity, your dentist will look at your lips, face, neck and inside of your nose. The purpose of this is to see if you have any asymmetries, bumps, color patches, swellings, ulcers or any other type of abnormal growth. You can expect your dentist to use a small flashlight to see inside of your mouth and nose as well as a tongue depressor to prevent your tongue from blocking the view.

This screening also consists of a physical exam where the dentist feels under your chin and around your jaw as well as your cheeks and head since abnormal growths aren’t always visible. You may need to swallow as your dentist examines your throat.

You’re in Good Hands

Although the word cancer may make you feel uneasy, you stand an excellent chance of a full recovery with an early diagnosis. Please contact us with additional questions or to schedule your next exam.