Oral Cancer Screening
Taking care of your mouth with regular brushing and flossing is essential for preventing oral health issues. In addition to your home care routine, dental cleanings and exams twice a year are crucial. Your dental exams are meant to spot oral health issues in their earliest stages, enabling action to be taken before they become more severe. We check your teeth for signs of damage and decay and look over your gum tissue for gum disease. Also, a part of your dental exams at Oregon Periodontics, P.C. is an oral cancer screening.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also commonly referred to as cancer of the mouth, is a serious disease that can affect just about any of the soft tissues in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, roof or floor of the mouth, gums, and the back of the mouth near the throat. It affects several thousands of Americans every single year. If not treated in its early stages, oral cancer can be fatal. Therefore, early detection is key to eliminating oral cancer and restoring the health of your mouth, giving you the greatest chances of making a full recovery.
What Are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?
While oral cancer can affect just about anyone, there are certain factors that can increase your risk. Some of these factors are controllable, while others are not. Common risk factors for oral cancer include:
|Lifestyle habits. Smoking, and using other types of tobacco products, greatly increase your risk. Approximately 90% of all oral cancer patients have been smokers. Excessive alcohol can also impact your risk, with approximately 70% to 80% of oral cancer patients have been heavy drinkers. Both smoking and heavy drinking exponentially increase your risk.
|HPV. While there are several strains of HPV, there are only a few that can affect your risk for oral cancer. HPV16 is the strain most commonly linked with HPV-related oral cancer.
|Family history. If a member of your family has had oral cancer, you have a higher risk.
|Your age. Older adults are at greater risk.
Symptoms to Watch for
At your regular dental exams, we look over the soft tissues of your mouth, checking for signs of abnormalities. However, oral cancer does not wait for your six-month exams to begin showing itself. It can show up at any time. It is important to recognize the symptoms so that you can take action right away. Symptoms of oral cancer include:
|Unusual growths in your mouth, including red or white patches.
|Sores that have not healed, even after two weeks.
|Trouble with chewing, swallowing or speaking.
|Changes in your bite. If you wear dentures, you might notice a change in the fit of your dentures.
|Numbness in your jaw or chin.
Diagnosing Oral Cancer
The oral cancer screening is just the initial part of diagnosing oral cancer. We look over your mouth, checking for abnormalities in your soft tissue. We also check your face and neck for swelling. If we find anything unusual, we will then conduct a more comprehensive exam. This exam includes x-rays as well as a soft tissue biopsy. A biopsy involves taking a small sample of the abnormal tissue for further examination under a microscope. This biopsy is key in diagnosing or ruling out oral cancer. If oral cancer is found, we can then recommend you for the next step in treatment.
Your regular dental exams are essential for the early detection of oral health issues, including oral cancer. If it is time to schedule your next appointment, or you suspect that something is wrong with your mouth, call Oregon Periodontics, P.C. to schedule your appointment today at (503) 575-7750.