According to numbers from The Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year; of those diagnosed, 57 percent will be alive after five years. Oral cancer kills an estimated 9,750 Americans every year. Generally, the death rate of oral cancer is high because the cancer is only discovered in its later stages. Early detection and proper treatment could prevent countless fatalities.
Given how serious the condition is, you can understand why regular cancer screenings are an important part of dental health treatments, and a cause for concern among dentists across the country. That’s why our Nashville, TN incorporates oral cancer screenings into regular cleanings and checkups. Let’s cover some of the basics about oral cancer and the screening process below.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
The biggest risk factors for oral cancer are as follows:
- Use of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco)
- Excessive alcohol use
- Excessive sub exposure
- Previous oral cancer diagnosis
- Family history and genetics
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Here are some common symptoms of oral cancer that you should be mindful of:
Persistent oral sores or lesions
Red or white patches on the tongue, gums, palate, etc.
- Mouth pain
- Numbness of the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Problems moving the tongue
- Thickening of the lining of the cheek
- Lump developing in the neck
- Sore throat
- Changes in your voice
- Persistent bad breath
How Often Are Oral Cancer Screenings Performed?
Since oral cancer screenings can be incorporated into a regular dental exam, they are essentially performed twice a year. That said, patients who are older and have a higher risk of developing oral cancer are likely to undergo a more rigorous oral cancer exam during their visits. This is part of making sure each visit is tailored to the needs of the patient.
Discussing Possible Oral Cancer Symptoms
As part of your dental visit, the oral cancer screening will usually begin with a general discussion of issues you are facing. This includes any potential symptoms of oral cancer, concerns about your dental health, and so forth. By telling your dentist what issues you’ve been facing, your dentist will have a better idea of what to look for.
Examining the Tissues of Your Mouth
Oral cancer exams will first involve a normal inspection of the tissues of your mouth. Any discolored tissues or precancerous growths might be spotted at first glance while your dentist is checking your teeth and gums.
Blue Dye Rinse Examination
In addition to a check on the tissues of your mouth, you might also be instructed to rinse with a blue dye. This blue dye will cling to abnormal cells in your mouth, causing them to turn blue. This will allow for additional exams and tests as needed.
What Happens If I Have Early Signs of Oral Cancer?
If potential signs of oral cancer have been detected, further visits and tests will be required. Your dentist may take a biopsy so the potential cancerous growth can be analyzed in a lab.
During your visit, we will be sure to cover all of these matters with you in greater detail, offering reassurance about the road ahead, as well as supporting you in your journey for improved health.
Contact Gulch Dental Studio
For more information about oral cancer screenings and how they can help you, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist. We will make sure you undergo a full screening and that you get the answers you need for cancer prevention and treatment.