From infancy to adulthood, oral hygiene is crucial at all stages of life. Regular brushing, flossing, rinsing and cleaning between the teeth are some of the practices that can prevent disease-causing bacteria. Oral hygiene not only prevents bad breath and tooth decay, it also prevents serious dental diseases such as oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Screening
Dedicated to Your Oral Health
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is cancer that develops in any part of the mouth. It can occur on the lining of the lips, the mouth or the upper throat. It commonly starts as a painless white patch in your mouth which thickens and develops into a red patch, and then an ulcer. On the lips, it looks like a persistent, dry ulcer. It continues to grow if left untreated.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Risk factors for the development of oral cancer are:
- Smoking: Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes puts you at higher risk of oral cancer compared to those who don’t smoke.
- Tobacco: Oral cancer is also caused by chewing tobacco, the use of dip and snuff tobacco. People who use these substances have a higher likelihood of developing cancer of the cheek, gums or lining of the lip.
- Alcohol consumption: Alcohol is another substance that can cause oral cancer.
- Other causes: Other causes include excessive sun exposure and family history of cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
- Swelling or thickening, lumps or bumps, crusts or rough spots on the lips and other areas inside the mouth.
- Development of red, white or speckled patches inside the mouth.
- Unexplained bleeding, numbness, loss of feeling, pain or tenderness in the mouth or any area of the face or neck.
- Persistent sores that bleed and do not heal, especially in the face, neck and mouth.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking.
- Chronic sore throat, hoarseness or change in voice.
- Ear pain.
- Unexplained weight loss.
You may not experience every symptom, or even any symptom. It is always safest to get regular oral cancer screenings from your dentist.
What is Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer screening is an examination done by your dentist to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The screening identifies any early signs of cancer so there can be a greater chance for a cure. Most oral cancer screening happens during your regular dental check-ups. Your dentist will look for red or white patches or sores in your mouth. Your dentist will also feel the mouth tissues for any lumps or other abnormalities.
People who are at higher risk of oral cancer will benefit from regular oral cancer screening along with their dental check-ups.
Based on your risk factor, further screening could be necessary. Your dentist may use additional tests to aid in identifying cancer cells in your mouth.
Additional tests include:
- Rinsing your mouth with a special blue dye before the oral screening, which turns abnormal cells blue.
- Using light to differentiate abnormal cells which appear darker in light.
If there are visible signs of oral cancer, your doctor will recommend a biopsy procedure to verify any condition before further treatment.
We Can Help!
At Smilebar by the Matthews Dentist, we can help you diagnose the problem early. Your dentist will help you by screening with the utmost care and full attention. Call us to learn more!