Cancer is a terrifying disease for many people because it can be difficult to detect by the average individual. Unlike other problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, the early stages of cancer do not exhibit any symptoms and can thus be hard to detect. For this reason, it is important to visit a dentist for regular oral cancer screenings.
An oral cancer screening involves visual and tactile components to check for the early signs of the disease. It needs to be completed by a professional who knows what to search for. During an oral cancer screening exam, the dentist will take a light and shine it around the mouth and gums. They are searching for red or white spots, as well as mouth sores or legions that are not healing.
Prevalence of mouth sores is a frequent problem, as the body is too busy fighting cancer to heal.
Besides the visual exam, the dentist will wear gloves and then feel around the interior of the mouth to check for lumps and bumps that could indicate cancerous growth. Complete or partial dentures will need to be removed so the dentist can check underneath as well.
Sometimes dentists will also have you swish a blue dye around your mouth, which will highlight unhealthy or cancerous cells. Sometimes a special light is used.
Anyone can develop oral cancer, but the people who are at the most risk are those with a genetic history of the disease as well as smokers, drinkers, and chewers of tobacco. Anyone who is frequently exposed to sunlight also runs the risk of getting lip cancer, which can quickly spread to the mouth. In general, dentists recommend getting checked every year once an individual turns 18 years old.
Oral cancer can affect anyone, so it’s essential to get regular screenings with a dentist who sees you regularly. Here at Scripps Poway Dental Care, we offer basic and advanced care as well as regular screenings.