Oral cancer screenings are a quick visual examination that is tied into every dental exam. With a simple probe, we scan for anything unusual or questionable. Having a continual working relationship with our office helps us see changes when they occur, increasing your success if treatment is needed. In fact, dentists are the first person to catch the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. With information, tips, and education, our staff at Middle Creek Dental can help you achieve and maintain oral health.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer, like all cancers, is the product of cells having gone awry. In most cases, your body can fight these bad cells, but at times, the bad cells overwhelm the body. Oral cancer screenings include the inspection of your entire oral cavity, including the gum tissue inside your mouth, lips, cheeks, soft and hard palate, jaw, tongue, throat, sinus, and the floor of your mouth.
Oral cancer can be highly dangerous if it is untreated or has spread. In general, your oral cavity and throat are key to having a healthy functioning body. Your mouth helps you breathe, eat and speak, disruption to any of those functions can have a significant impact. Oral cancer can be life-threatening, but if found and treated early, patients experience high rates of success.
What are you looking for?
An oral cancer screening is performed to look for anything unusual, finding any of the below symptoms does not mean that the patient has oral cancer, it means that we may recommend further inspection. We look for symptoms that include:
Discolored Tissue: We will look for color changes in the tissue. There can be a variety of reasons for discolored tissue, including infection, but we are looking for something different. There are two types of pre-malignant skin conditions that are not characterized by any other condition. This includes red patches known as erythroplakia, and white patches are known as leukoplakia. These patches are not cancer, but if left untreated they may lead to cancer.
Thickened Patch: A thickened patch of skin is an indication of a lump below the skin. We will want to examine why a lump has grown.
Lump: A visible or tactile lump can be an indication of something problematic. We will want to further exam why a lump has grown, especially if it is making chewing, swallowing or breathing difficult. Additionally, at times a lump may not be visible, the patient may just be feeling a sore spot, or even experience unexplained hoarseness, we will want to take a further look.
Causes of Oral Cancer
There are a wide variety of causes that can induce the development of oral cancer. There are external factors, such as smoking and the large consumption of alcoholic beverages. There are also genetic factors that can predispose you to an increased likelihood of developing oral cancer. Additionally, there are environmental factors that can increase your odds. The best direction is to see your dentist at Middle Creek Dental regularly and often so that we can have a familiarity with your oral cavity and note changes when they occur.