Expectations During Oral Cancer Screening
You visit your dentist every six months for dental exams and cleanings, expecting to hear the best from your dental professional. You don’t expect the dentist to state you have micro-cavities on your teeth or are affected by gum disease because you maintain excellent dental hygiene. However, cavities and gum disease can occur despite the best dental hygiene practices.
During your exams and cleanings, the dentist also performs oral cancer screening near you to detect abnormalities in and around your oral cavity holding out your tongue and feeling other parts of your head, neck, and chin. Here again, you can expect to hear excellent news from your dentist that you have no abnormal growths or lesions in your mouth unless the professional observe something suspicious. Oral cancer screenings are preventive measures performed by dentists during routine dental hygiene appointments. They are not an examination that diagnoses oral cancer but merely looks for symptoms of oral cancer in your mouth. Therefore expect to hear good news unless you are at risk of oral cancer and fear the worst.
What Is Involved in Oral Cancer Screenings?
A Visual Exam
The dentist in canton requests you to remove dentures or any other dental appliances before starting oral cancer screening. The screening doesn’t require much time and is completed in fewer than five minutes. The removal of dental appliances enables the dentist to examine your entire mouth. The dental professional looks for bumps, colored patches, swellings, asymmetries, ulcerations, abnormalities, et cetera. They will observe your face, neck, jaw, lips, cheeks, the inside of your oral cavity and your nose, and any other significant parts, screening them for oral cancer.
Oral cancer screening in Baltimore, MD, takes help from light and mirror to look inside your mouth. A tongue depressor also helps the dentist hold down your tongue to view the back of your mouth, similar to a regular physical. Next, the dentist requests you to push your tongue out and make sounds to expose your throat areas that are challenging to view.
After completing the visual exam, the dentist begins touching your face, neck, and mouth, trying to detect unusual nodules or growths. The dentist must use touch to identify cancer-causing abnormalities in your mouth as recommended by the oral Cancer foundation. In addition, the inspection helps the dentist to find any hard lumps of tissue. Oral cancer symptoms are usually painless in the initial stages, but the pain can assume significant proportions if they are left untreated. It is another reason why dentists regularly perform oral cancer screenings. In any case, your dental professional is a service provider you see every six months making them appropriate professionals to screen your mouth to detect signs of oral cancer.
What Happens After Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer screenings are a preventive measure and not diagnostic. Suppose your dentist doesn’t detect any abnormalities in your mouth; that’s excellent news for you. However, it should encourage you to return to your dentist every six months to receive further screenings.
It is essential that you maintain regular dental hygiene appointments, especially if you are at risk of developing oral cancer. The American cancer society notes the top risk factors for oral cancer as tobacco use, excessive use of alcohol, HPV diagnosis, age, exposure to sunlight, and gender. In addition, oral cancer is twice as prevalent in men as in women.
If the Baltimore dentist detects any oral cancer-like symptoms, they refer you for additional testing to determine what the sign indicates. The referral shouldn’t cause fear in your mind because it doesn’t mean a cancer diagnosis. On the contrary, if further testing diagnoses cancer in your mouth in its early stages, it reduces treatment-related health issues later. It is why prevention and early detection are vital.
Oral cancer screenings are not merely physical exams but also an opportunity for you to discuss your fears and concerns surrounding mouth cancer with your pediatric dentist Baltimore. You can arrive at your appointment with a list of questions and seek advice on lifestyle changes if you are exposed to the risk factors of this devastating disease. The thought of getting screened for oral cancer will undoubtedly make you nervous. However, if you participate in this quick screening, it helps to put your mind at ease knowing everything is OK with your oral cavity and your dental health.