Oral Cancer ScreeningRegular care of your mouth is necessary for maintaining optimal oral health. Just as important as daily brushing and flossing are, your bi-annual visits for cleanings and exams are also important. Cleanings are designed to eliminate all buildup from the surfaces of your teeth, including from the areas that you might otherwise have a difficult time removing. Exams allow us to spot a wide variety of different issues in their earliest stages, which then enables us to provide you with the necessary treatment to prevent those issues from getting worse. Along with checking your teeth and gums for signs of damage, decay, and infection, we at Pacific Ave. Dental, also perform an oral cancer screening.
Oral CancerOral cancer, or cancer of the mouth, can affect various parts of your mouth, including your lips, tongue, palate, cheeks, gums, or entrance to the throat. Every year, over 40,000 Americans are diagnosed. Early diagnosis, and subsequent treatment, of this disease, is essential. If not treated in the early stages, oral cancer can be fatal. Detecting cancer early, and providing treatment, helps to greatly increase your chance of curing the disease and making a full recovery.
Who Is at Risk for Oral Cancer?There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Some of these risks can be controlled, while others cannot. Risk factors include:
|•||If you are, or have been, a smoker. Those who use tobacco products have a significantly higher risk of developing oral cancer. Approximately 90% of oral cancer patients have been smokers.
|•||If you are, or have been, a heavy drinker. Approximately 70% to 80% of oral cancer patients have been heavy drinkers.
|•||Certain strains of HPV. Of the many strains of HPV, only a handful have been linked to cancers. Just a few of these have been linked to oral cancer.
|•||Family history. Having family members who have had, or do have, oral cancer increases your risk.
|•||Your age. Older adults are at a greater risk than younger adults.|
Are There Symptoms of Oral Cancer?During your oral exams, we scan your mouth checking for signs of oral cancer. This oral cancer screening involves checking the soft tissues of your mouth for abnormalities as well as assessing your face and neck for swelling. Knowing the symptoms of oral cancer can help you to take action right away should you notice anything amiss. Symptoms of oral cancer include:
|•||Red or white patches in the soft tissues of your mouth.
|•||Sores that refuse to heal, particularly those that have been present for longer than two weeks.
|•||You notice difficulty with chewing, speaking or swallowing.
|•||A change in your bite, or, if you wear them, a change in the way your dentures fit.
|•||Your jaw or chin is numb.|
How Is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?Your oral cancer screening is only the beginning of the diagnosis of oral cancer. If we do notice anything unusual during your regular oral exam, we will then need to take a closer look. Along with visually inspecting the abnormality we find, we will also take digital X-rays. This will enable us to see the condition of your mouth in the hidden areas of your mouth. We will also take a soft tissue biopsy of the growth or lesion.
A biopsy, which involves inspecting the tissue sample under a microscope to check for cancerous cells, is an essential diagnostic tool that will help us to either rule out or determine the presence of cancer. If cancer is detected, we can then help you to get the appropriate treatment to eliminate it and restore the health of your mouth and your whole body.
With regular oral cancer screenings, we can help you to detect the issue before it has a chance to spread. However, symptoms of oral cancer do not conveniently wait to appear for your regular exams. They can show up at any time. Do not wait until your next appointment to address symptoms. For more information, and to schedule your appointment, call Pacific Ave. Dental today at (360) 373-3515.