When you arrive for your routine dental appointment, one of the things that the dentist will do is check your mouth for oral cancer. This is a screening that usually only takes a few moments to complete and is painless. There are a few details that the dentist will examine pertaining to your teeth, gums, and tongue in order to determine if there is a risk of oral cancer or if further tests should be performed. If oral cancer is detected early, then there are usually more treatment options available.
One of the reasons as to why you need an oral cancer screening would be if there is a family history of cancer, especially oral cancer. If there are any small lesions detected in your mouth, then they can easily be removed before they grow and result in areas that are difficult to remove with traditional treatments and before they begin to impact the proper function of your mouth. There are a few factors that could lead to higher chances of oral cancer developing, which is why you need to let your dentist know about any of these daily habits or health issues that you have. Any type of tobacco use can increase your risk as well as other types of cancer that you’ve had. Sun exposure on your face can also lead to an increased risk of oral cancer as you could develop lesions on your lip.
There are a few limitations pertaining to the types of cancer screening that are performed depending on your medical history. You can talk to the dentist about these limitations so that the proper tests can be performed for the needs that you have in order to detect oral cancer. If you have any types of abnormal sores in your mouth, then the dentist will likely want to have those examined further to determine if they are cancerous or not. Keep in mind that every issue that you have in your mouth likely won’t be cancer. There are other issues that are easily treatable that can be detected during the screening, such as canker sores. A biopsy is usually performed as a definitive way to determine if the areas in your mouth are oral cancer or something else.
One of the things that you should keep in mind is that screening for oral cancer might not be able to detect all types of cancer in your mouth. This is why it’s important to let the dentist know of any changes that you notice so that they can be examined at your next appointment or sooner if there is a concern that something is wrong. There isn’t any kind of special preparation that is needed for the screening as the dentist will simply look at the inside of your mouth and feel the gum tissue and other areas to determine if there are any abnormalities.