What You Should Know About Oral Cancer Screenings

oral cancer screenings

What You Should Know About Oral Cancer Screenings

If you are at risk for oral cancer, your dentist might want to perform an oral cancer screening. The best way to prevent oral cancer is to schedule screenings before the symptoms begin to show. At Prescott Dentistry, oral cancer screenings can be included in every dental checkup, and the process is usually quicker than brushing your teeth. Read on to learn more about our oral cancer screening procedure. 

Top Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Even if your doctor does not find anything suspicious during your oral cancer screening, you should continue to get screened regularly, especially if you have any risk factors for oral cancer. The most common risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • HPV Diagnosis
  • Sun exposure
  • Gender (oral cancer is more common in men)

No matter what your dental professional finds or doesn’t find, just remember that regular screenings are key to preventing this deadly disease. 

What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening

Visual Exam

Prior to your oral cancer screening, you’ll need to make sure that your dentist can examine your entire mouth. This means removing any dentures or other dental appliances you may use. In the visual exam, your dentist will be examining your mouth for any bumps, growths, swelling, color abnormalities, or ulcerations. 

Your dentist will examine the inside of your mouth using a light and a mirror in order to get a full view of your entire mouth. They will also examine your throat, face, lips, jaw, cheeks, and the inside of your nose to check for any signs of oral cancer.

Physical Exam

While the visual exam is usually pretty good at giving your dentist an accurate snapshot of the state of your mouth and whether or not you may have oral cancer, there will also be a physical portion to the exam. Your dentist will lightly touch your face, mouth, jawline, and neck in order to feel for any unusual masses. This is an important step, as they may be able to feel something that they were unable to see in the visual exam. 

Devices Used in an Oral Cancer Screening

Tools that your oral care provider may use in an oral cancer screening include:

  • An oral biopsy brush to painlessly remove cells from your mouth for testing
  • A fluorescent light used to identify suspicious tissues
  • A mouth rinse which can help improve the visibility of any abnormalities during the visual inspection

Dentist in Prescott, Arizona

Oral cancer screenings are just one of the many ways the holistic dentists at Prescott Dentistry help you care for your overall health. While it may not seem like a big deal to miss a dental appointment every once in a while, keep in mind that your wellbeing could actually depend on it. Oral cancer screenings as part of your routine dental appointments with us are your best defense against this disease. Contact us to schedule a screening today!

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/20/21) Pexels