Oral cancer screening is an essential precautionary exam looking for signs of cancer in your mouth. The goal of this screening is to catch oral cancers early in order to have a greater chance to cure it.
Oral cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the oral cavity, lips, or the upper part of the throat. Excessive tobacco and alcohol use can greatly increase the risk of developing oral cancer. This does not mean that you will get cancer but it is better to be safe than sorry. Oral Cancer Screenings are used to test for various different cancers such as: mouth, gum, and tongue cancer.
Mouth cancer refers to cancer that grows in any part of the oral cavity such as the lips, gums, tongue, roof and floor of the mouth and cheeks. Some of the symptoms included are a sore mouth, white or harsh red patches on the inside of your mouth, difficulty swallowing or lumps. Mouth cancers are caused by excessive smoking or alcohol consumptions, HPV, sun exposure to the lips, or very poor oral hygiene.
Gum cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lower and upper gums when cells grow out of control and form tumors. Excessively using tobacco products severely increases your chance of getting gum disease. Some symptoms of gum disease include bleeding gums and red, white or dark patches on the gum. Gum cancer can sometimes be mistaken for gingivitis so make sure to schedule an appointment with us to do a screening.
A type of variation of mouth cancer is tongue cancer. Tongue cancer typically forms in the front of the tongue and develops in the small, flat cells that cover the very surface of your tongue. Symptoms of tongue cancer are similar to other mouth cancers including red or white patches and a constant sore feeling in the mouth.
The oral cancer screening itself is very easy, painless, and takes about as much time as it would for you to brush your teeth. Your dentist will start by looking at the inside of your mouth for an abnormal white or red patch of cells or mouth sores. Your dentist will also feel for lumps, bumps or other abnormalities in the tissues of your mouth and on your neck. Screenings may also include rinsing your mouth with a blue dye that will dye any abnormalities blue.
A screening light could also be used during the exam as light makes any abnormal tissue appear white whereas healthy tissue will stay dark. If results come back abnormal or inconclusive, you may be asked to come in for a follow-up visit where your dentist may perform a biopsy.
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