Oral Cancer Screenings at every Dentist visit
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral Cancer is the most common form of head and neck cancer, and includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat.) The American Dental Association (ADA) states that oral cancer screenings (OCS) are the best way to detect oral cancer early. While not common, Oral Cancer is typically diagnosed in people between 55 and 64 years of age, and occurs more often in men than women. (“Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer — Cancer Stat Facts”)
Dentists and Dental hygienists at St. Joseph Dentistry screen for oral cancer as part of every dental hygiene appointment. During these oral exams, we look in all areas of the mouth for any abnormalities.
During an oral cancer screening, our dentists will:
- Look for signs of cancer, such as red or white patches, mouth sores, and lumps
- Feel the tissues in your mouth for lumps or other abnormalities
- Examine your throat and neck for lumps
It’s important to note, Oral Cancer screenings don’t diagnose cancer. Only a biopsy can confirm an Oral Cancer diagnosis. If one of our dentists notices something suspicious during an oral cancer screening, they might suggest additional testing, or a follow-up exam to see if any of the questionable areas have cleared up on their own. Our dental team members will always work with you to make sure you are aware of the best steps for diagnosis and treatment.
It’s also important for you to be aware of changes in your mouth, throat, tongue, or lips. Common signs of oral cancer include:
- Red or white patches on the lips or in the mouth
- Bleeding sores that do not heal
- Loose teeth
- Thickening or a lump on the cheek, gums, lips, or neck
Can I decrease my chances of getting Oral Cancer?
You can reduce your risk for Oral Cancer by limiting your consumption of alcohol, choosing not to smoke or use any tobacco product, and avoiding the combination of the two. Oral cancer can become life-threatening if not treated early.
Make sure to schedule your six month appointment at St. Joseph Dentistry for an Oral Cancer screening.