Regardless of what type of cancer, no one wants to have it and it is important to detect it early on. Having regular dental checkups will help you ward off problems with your teeth. But your dentist is also looking to catch signs of oral cancer so that you can get early treatment if needed.
The early detection of precancerous tissue can minimize, even eliminate the potentially disfiguring effects of oral cancer, saving your life. When mouth cancer is found in its later stages, treatment is expensive and has a poor survival rate.
At Peter Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we use state-of-the-art technology to spot and diagnose oral cancer in its earliest stage when it is more treatable.
What Are Oral Cancer Screenings?
An oral cancer screening is an examination performed by a dentist or doctor to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The dentist will check your neck, throat, face, and mouth for signs of oral cancer to give you a thorough exam. The more in-depth a screening is the more likely to get early detection.
The goal of oral cancer screenings is to identify mouth cancer early when there are more treatment options. These tests are usually carried out during your regular dental visits.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in or around the mouth. Mouth cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, the inner lining of the cheeks, throat, sinuses, or the floor of the mouth under the tongue.
This cancer affects a lot more than just your dental health and should not be seen as a simple fix like getting a cavity filled. This is a very serious issue and should be treated by professionals, that is why oral cancer screenings are so important to keep you and your family healthy.
Why Would a Dentist Recommend an Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. Oral cancer screening helps identify early signs of cancer, and prompt treatment reduces the likelihood that precancerous cells will become malignant.
There is no danger to oral cancer screenings so it is a good idea for everyone to get one regularly. Scheduling dentist appointments every six months ensures routine oral cancer screenings.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Early signs of mouth cancer may be mistaken for other problems, such as a toothache or cold. If symptoms persist for several weeks or months, it is essential to come to see Dr. Jeffrey D. Peter so it can be diagnosed as soon as possible if oral cancer is present. Signs and symptoms of oral cancer may include:
- A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal.
- A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth.
- Loose teeth.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- A growth or lump inside your mouth.
- Mouth pain.
- Ear pain.
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
- Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.
One of the easiest ways to detect oral cancer early is by knowing the signs of it. If you notice any of these changes, contact Peter Family & Cosmetic Dentistry immediately. Take control of your health and be proactive in ensuring not only your oral health but your overall health with regular oral cancer screenings.
What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?
During the oral cancer screening, Jeffrey D. Peter, DMD, will examine the neck, head, face, and oral cavity for any type of abnormalities:
- Patches of discoloration.
All areas of the mouth will be examined, including the roof, tonsils, inner cheeks, gums, and tongue. If you wear oral appliances, such as dentures and retainers, you’ll have to take them out so we can check the tissue beneath them.
The dentist will also feel the jaw, neck, under the chin, and outside cheeks for any unusual masses or firm nodules. We’ll look for abnormalities and feel the face, glands, lips, and neck for unusual bumps. If we find any abnormality during the screening, we’ll take a sample of the cells in question and send it out to the lab to test it for cancer cells.
This process does not take very long and is not very invasive, but it could save your life. Let this simple and quick screening give you and your family peace of mind.
Oral Cancer Causes / Increased Risk Factors
According to the American Cancer Society, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men over age 50 face the most risk. Some of the factors that can increase your risk of mouth cancer include:
- Heavy alcohol use.
- Poor nutrition.
- Using tobacco of any kind, such as cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco.
- Previous cancer diagnosis.
- Excess body weight.
- Many cancers usually take many years to develop, so they’re not common in young people.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in the mouth—HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer, the fastest-growing type of head and neck cancer.
- Genetic syndromes like Fanconi anemia or dyskeratosis congenita.
- History of significant sun exposure, which increases the risk of lip cancer.
You could be doing everything right and still get oral cancer. So if these factors above do not apply to you, that does not mean you are not at risk.
Knowing the risks helps you be aware of the added possibility of getting oral cancer but does not mean either way if you will have it or not. That is why it is important to get checked regularly by a qualified dentist!
How Much Do Oral Cancer Screenings Cost?
Dental insurance plans typically cover oral cancer screenings as preventive services for 100 percent of the cost. If you do not have dental insurance, you do not need to worry. As this is part of a routine dental visit, this cost will be included in your overall visit. If you need help on a payment plan then our dental team would be happy to discuss that with you.
Oral cancer is a very serious issue, so regardless of insurance or a payment plan, you should definitely get screened for it—especially if you are more susceptible to it or have a family hisory of it. Do not put your oral health on the backburner because of additional costs when it could save your life.
Invest in yourself and health. Get screened for oral cancer with Peter Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, our dental team is experienced with early detection and can help you get on the road to recovery.
Schedule Your Oral Cancer Screening Appointment Today!
Regular oral cancer screenings can save your life! At Peter Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we provide comprehensive oral cancer screenings in Independence as a part of your routine dental exam. For more information on oral cancer screenings or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.
There is no reason to put your health in danger when there is a trained dental team ready to help you. Schedule today to give you peace of mind.