Why get an oral cancer screening at the dentist?
This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 53,000 people will get oral cancer—and 10,860 will lose their lives to this disease. Detecting oral cancer early gives patients the best chances of beating it. At Agave Dental, we provide oral cancer screenings to our Phoenix patients at every checkup to help make early detection possible.
Before we tell you more about oral cancer screenings, here’s what you should know about oral cancer.
Oral cancer affects both the mouth and throat. The Mayo Clinic has linked the disease to the following risk factors:
- tobacco and heavy alcohol use
- sun exposure to the lips
- A weakened immune system
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms as possible signs of oral cancer:
- A white or reddish patch inside the mouth
- A growth or lump in the mouth
- Mouth pain
- A sore in the mouth or on the lip that doesn’t heal
- Difficult/painful swallowing
- Loose teeth
- Ear pain
If you’re concerned that any of the risk factors or symptoms above may apply to you or a loved one, schedule an appointment with us today or talk to your doctor.
What’s involved in an oral cancer screening and what are the benefits?
During your routine checkup, your dentist or hygienist will look at the areas in and around your mouth using a tongue depressor (which looks and feels like a large popsicle stick) and a light. He or she will check these areas for the symptoms listed above.
Your dental professional may also gently touch the head, cheeks, jaw, chin area, and inside the mouth. This allows the dentist or hygienist to feel for lumps, swelling, or painful spots that may indicate oral cancer.
Keep in mind that oral cancer screenings are NOT for diagnosing oral cancer. What these screenings provide is a way to discuss potential health issues and next steps, including referrals for further testing.
Do your part to stop oral cancer before it causes irreparable damage. Ask your doctor for more information and keep seeing your dentist regularly. Remember, as soon as you suspect risk factors or symptoms of oral cancer, come and see us.