It’s the last thing you want on your mind. The possibility of having any kind of cancer would make anyone terrified, but it’s necessary and beneficial to check for early. Dentists are just as trained to check for signs of oral cancer as they are to clean and restore your teeth, so taking advantage of their knowledge could save your life.
The earlier your dentist in Richardson catches signs of oral cancer, the easier it will be to treat. Here’s what to expect if your dentist recommends an oral cancer screening.
What Your Dentist Will Look For
During your oral cancer screening, your dentist’s main priority is to detect mouth cancer or precancerous lesions that could manifest into mouth cancer. During this early stage, cancer is the easiest to remove and cure.
During the exam, your dentist will ask you about your dental health history or if you engage in any habits that increase your risk of mouth cancer. This could include tobacco and alcohol use, a previous oral cancer diagnosis, and your level of sun exposure, which can increase your risk of lip cancer.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Common symptoms your dentist will look for include:
- Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- Mouth sores
- Lumps or other abnormalities
- Loosening of the teeth
- Persistent pain, swelling, or numbness in the mouth
If your dentist finds these symptoms during your exam, don’t panic. It’s common for many of these issues to be related to something else, such as a toothache or cold. However, if these symptoms become severe or persist for several days or weeks at a time you should mention this to your dentist. More tests can be conducted to help your dentist understand the best course of action.
Why is Early Diagnosis Important to Your Overall Health?
The point of the oral cancer screening is to detect mouth cancer early, but it’s purpose is multi-pronged. Not only does early detection and treatment significantly enhance survival rates and reduce morbidity, catching cancer of any kind could prevent cancers in other parts of the body from developing.
For example, it was recently discovered that bacteria commonly found in gum disease can also appear in a particularly aggressive form of esophageal cancer. If a dentist discovers this bacteria during your screening, it would give them reason to focus on your esophagus as well as other parts of the body.
Your dentist in Richardson wants to provide you and your family the most advanced preventive care possible. Schedule your dental checkup today!
About the Author
While earning his undergraduate degree in Canada, Dr. Nathan Coughlin graduated top of his class and eventually went on to earn his dental degree at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. During his time there, he traveled to disadvantaged areas to provide dental care in third world countries. To learn more about his practice and schedule an oral cancer screening, you can contact him at (972) 248-9119 or visit his website.