Over 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. The good news is that discovery can help manage and treat the disease. However, the bad news is that many people do not get an oral cancer screening.
An oral cancer screening is one of the best ways to detect signs of oral cancer in the early stages. Often, people do not show signs of mouth cancer until later stages, so screenings can be the best chance of survival.
If you live in Thousand Oaks, CA, you have the opportunity to attend an oral cancer screening. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this process and its importance.
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?
Usually, you will be asked about your medical history before your oral cancer screening begins. This is to help understand what risk of oral cancer you have and how your physical health is in general. They may also do this as part of a general dental checkup.
A doctor or a dentist performs an oral cancer screening to detect signs of oral cancer, which takes around five to ten minutes. It may be a clinical screening, oral examination, or both. Your dentist will examine your mouth for abnormalities, using gloves to detect signs of different oral cancers, such as mouth cancer and throat cancer.
The dentist will usually look at the inside and outside of your mouth. They will also look at your lips, cheeks, tongue, gum, and other areas for anything suspicious.
Sometimes, additional tests are needed to be done along with the oral exam. These can include using an oral cancer screening light to detect healthy and abnormal tissue or screening dye. The dye picks up abnormal cells, which can then turn blue.
After the Oral Cancer Screening
If you do have abnormalities, the dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon or request a biopsy. A biopsy is when they remove a small sample of cells for testing, which can determine if cancer cells are present. Your dentist may do the biopsy, or you will be referred to a specialized doctor.
You may need further tests to investigate further, or you may need a follow-up visit to monitor your symptoms. They may want to check to see if symptoms have worsened or changed over time.
Signs of Oral Cancer
While signs of oral cancer can take a while to occur, there are several signs to know. Your dentist knows what to look for when carrying out an oral cancer screening; however, if you experience any of these signs of oral cancer, it is time to schedule a screening.
Common signs of oral cancer include:
- Loose teeth
- A lump or growth inside your mouth
- Lip or mouth sores that do not heal
- Red or white patches inside the mouth
- Ear pain
- Mouth pain
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Chronic sore throat
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Changes to bite
- Dramatic weight loss
Contact your healthcare professional or dentist if you experience any of these symptoms. Oral cancer can occur in a variety of different areas, including the lips, gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, and under the tongue. Because it can occur in other places, a dentist should carry out an oral cancer screening, as they have the expertise and tools to investigate.
Risk of Oral Cancer
While anyone can develop oral cancer, some risks factors can increase its likelihood. The first risk is age, with the average age being 63 to develop these cancers. However, it can also occur in younger people too.
Other risk factors include:
- Heavy alcohol use
- A previous oral cancer diagnosis
- Tobacco use
- Sun exposure
If any of these risk factors apply to you, attending a regular oral cancer screening checkup is helpful. Your dentist can monitor for abnormalities and take action fast if any changes occur. Most people have regular sun exposure in areas such as California, so oral cancer risk can be higher.
Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Do not wait until your checkup to look for signs of oral cancer. Schedule an oral cancer screening instead. Here are the main reasons why oral cancer screenings are so important.
One of the main reasons oral cancer screenings are essential is that they can help in early detection. It is a simple test that takes several minutes, but it can save lives. Early detection of oral cancer has a survival rate of around 85 percent.
If you do not have a regular oral cancer screening, signs of oral cancer can go undetected and quickly worsen. You may discover mouth cancer at its later stages, where the survival rate is lower, and treatment options are more limited.
There are many ways to prevent oral cancer, such as eating a well-balanced diet, avoiding tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption. However, good oral hygiene can also aid prevention, as you will quickly notice changes in your dental health and will be able to take action.
Oral cancer screenings ensure your oral health is at its optimum, and you will receive recommendations on how to prevent oral cancer and other dental issues.
An Effective Solution
Oral cancer screenings are one of the best ways to detect signs of oral cancer. They also do not take up too much of your time, so you can easily fit them into your schedule. It is a painless procedure that will be over before you know it but could potentially save your life.
You can plan your oral cancer screenings in advance, as your dentist will recommend how regularly you need screenings based on your risk factors.
Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening
There are many reasons why you need an oral cancer screening, whether you have a risk of oral cancer or not. It is a simple procedure to arrange and you can combine it with other dental procedures too.
Be sure to arrange your oral cancer screening with a reputable dentist who has the expertise and equipment to provide quality patient care. If you are looking for an oral cancer screening in Thousand Oaks, CA, look no further than Newbury Dental Group. We are here for all your dental needs.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.