Oral Cancer Screening: Procedure and Benefits

Oral Cancer Screening: Procedure and Benefits

May 03, 2021

Regular visits to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings can keep your teeth strong and healthy. During your visit to the dentist, you can request that they perform additional tests such as an oral cancer screening. 

Oral cancer has become very common in recent times. Fortunately, oral cancer can be treated if detected earlier. On the other hand, late diagnosis makes treatment difficult, or in some cases, impossible. For this reason, it’s important to schedule regular oral cancer screenings.

At Wellesley Dental Arts, we offer effective oral cancer screenings near you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Is Oral Cancer Screening Necessary?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth, and it is caused by an overgrowth of cells. Like other forms of cancer, oral cancer is not always easy to diagnose. It can start out as a simple sore or bump in your mouth. So, unless a dentist notices it during the oral exam or screening, you might think it’s harmless. 

Most cases of oral cancers aren’t diagnosed until it has progressed to late stages. The good thing about an oral screening is that it’s very quick. During the screening, the dentist looks for signs of precancerous or cancerous conditions in the mouth. Oral cancer can develop on the lips, the tongue, the sinuses, the cheeks, the hard palate, the soft palate, the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth, and the throat. 

The main objective of an oral screening is to identify mouth cancer early on. Seeing your dentist twice a year can be the difference between life and death. 

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer only shows signs and symptoms once it has developed, meaning that it has already progressed to a dangerous stage. Common signs of oral cancer include:

  • Swelling, bumps, spots, and lumps around the lips or mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth 
  • Ear pain 
  • Difficulty opening the mouth 
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Velvety white patches in the mouth 
  • Unexplainable numbness in the neck or mouth 
  • Painful sores on the face, neck, or mouth 

If you have any of those symptoms, you shouldn’t panic right away. Some of these symptoms could be unrelated to oral cancer. But to be safe, it’s important to see a dentist and request an oral screening. 

Oral Cancer Screening Process

Generally, oral cancer screenings are categorized into two parts, a physical exam and a visual exam. During the exam, the dentist will examine all of your oral structures, including the face, neck, throat, nose, lips, and oral cavity. The dentist will check for signs such as swelling, bumps, patches of color, asymmetries, ulcerations, and other abnormalities.

The dentist will also look at your head, jaw, under the chin, cheeks, and oral cavities. During the exam, you should notify your dentist about any concerns or symptoms you may have. If the dentist notices that something is abnormal, you may be referred to a specialist for a more extensive diagnosis. 

If oral cancer is detected, the dentist will refer you out to get treatment. Therefore, it’s paramount that you start the treatment as soon as possible. 

Advantages of Oral Cancer Screening

If you’re still not sure why you need oral screening, here are a few reasons:

  •    Early Detection of Oral Cancer 

While no one wants to have oral cancer, it can happen to anyone. An Oral cancer screening can give you some peace of mind. If oral cancer is detected, you’ll get the necessary treatment right away. 

During the screening, the dentist may detect and offer treatment for other dental issues as well. 

  •    Saves You Money

Oral cancer treatment is both stressful and expensive. However, if detected early, the cost of treatment is less. The treatment is also more effective at the early stages. 

  •    Promotes Oral Hygiene and Health

During the oral screening, your dentist cleans your oral structures, thus promoting your oral health. Good oral health and hygiene can protect you against avoidable dental issues such as cavities and gum disease. 

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

Even with good oral health, some factors increase your risk of developing oral cancer. These include:

  • Alcohol use 
  • Sun exposure 
  • Old age 
  • Gender – men are more vulnerable than women 
  • Tobacco use 

Schedule an Appointment Today

Oral cancer is a serious dental and overall condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The good news is that it’s treatable if detected early. Please don’t wait until it’s too late, as a simple oral screening can save your life. Contact Wellesley Dental Arts today to book your appointment. 

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