It has become extremely important to have regular health examinations to prevent or discover any early signs of cancer or other diseases, since modern medicine often provides many treatment options for cancers and other diseases when they are caught early. This stands true for dental health as well. Dentists find approximately 84 percent of oral cancer cases when doing screenings on patients and individuals who have either found an abnormal growth or those who might be at heightened risk due to factors such as age, family history, alcohol use, or tobacco use. It is important to ask your dentist if he or she feels you need an oral screening.
Oral Cancer Screening
Here is what you can expect when it comes to an oral cancer screening.
- There is no special preparation you need prior to an oral cancer screening, and screenings are typically performed during a regular dental visit.
- If you are wearing any sort of dentures or removable implants, your dental professional should remove those before the examination begins.
- Some dentists will ask you to rinse your mouth with a special blue dye prior to the examination. The dye will absorb into abnormal cells, making them more visible for the dentist.
- Your dentist should examine and inspect the inside and outside of your gums and cheeks throughout your entire mouth. Your lips and the floor and roof of your mouth will also be inspected for any patches or sores.
- Your lymph nodes, jaw area and around your ears will be checked.
- Expect your dentist to ask you to stick out your tongue and say “ahhh” in order to examine the back of your throat and mouth.
If your dental care provider does find anything that looks abnormal, he or she may recommend a couple of options. One is a “wait and see” approach with a simple follow-up visit to see if the irregular area is still there after a few weeks. If your dentist believes you might be at risk or that the abnormality is severe, he or she will often recommend a biopsy to remove a sample of cells to be tested for cancer.
Oral cancer screenings are very simple and practically stress-free for you; however they are extremely important for your overall health.