Receive an Oral Cancer Screening at Every Dental Exam
Oral cancer is a serious and aggressive form of cancer that is associated with high mortality rates. You might be in need of an oral cancer screening. There is no time to waste where oral cancer is concerned, and treating this disease vigorously in its earliest stages gives sufferers the best chance of a successful outcome. Dr. Mitul Patel and Family & Cosmetic Dental Care near Cumming, GA, are your trusted sources for oral cancer testing.
What to Know About Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screenings are conducted as part of your routine general dental checkups. If you are seeing your Suwanee dentist every six months as recommended for regular checkups, you will be screened for oral cancer at every visit. You may not even realize that your Johns Creek dentist is surveying your mouth for signs of cancer.
An oral cancer screening is painless but incredibly important. You may assume that your Johns Creek dentist is checking your teeth and gums when he is performing an oral cancer screening. Here are the most common oral cancer testing methods:
- Tongue test. Your dentist will use a piece of gauze to hold your tongue, extending the tongue as far as it can go. This gives your Johns Creek dentist an opportunity to examine the sides and underside of your tongue, looking for telltale red and white patches. The tongue is also felt for lumps. These areas are the most common places where oral cancer is found in non-smokers.
- Lip and cheek review. Rolling his or her fingers over your lips and cheeks, your dentist will look for unusual red or white areas or lumps and bumps that could signify cancer.
- Simultaneous probe. Your dentist will examine the floor of your mouth, probing it from the top and at the bottom at the same time. Again, he will be keeping an eye out for red and white patches or bumps of any kind.
- Palate evaluation. The roof of your mouth is also susceptible to developing oral cancer. Your dentist will check this area for lumps, red and white patches, or soft areas that should not be present on the hard palate.
- Tonsil test. Your tonsils are also susceptible to oral cancer. By depressing your tongue, your dentist examines your tonsils, looking for any abnormalities such as enlarged areas, redness, unusual bumps, or asymmetry.
- Neck check. By palpating your neck, your Alpharetta dentist is able to detect enlarged lymph nodes, which can signal infection or, in dire cases, oral cancer.
Are You at Risk for Developing Oral Cancer?
It’s easy to assume that you are not susceptible to oral cancer if you do not smoke or use tobacco products, but this is untrue. Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. Of course, smokers – particularly those over the age of 50 – are in a high-risk group for oral cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption also puts people at risk for oral cancer.
Throat cancers in the back of the mouth have been associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV) in non-smoking adults. These cancers are difficult to detect because they most often develop in the throat or at the base of the tongue and folds of the tonsils.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer, in its early stages, is often asymptomatic. You may simply not feel anything or recognize that anything is wrong. This fact is why it is so important to never miss your dental exam and cleaning every six months. Your dentist can recognize oral cancer symptoms that you would never be able to identify.
Some of the telltale signs that could point to oral cancer (but do not always) include:
- A sore or irritation that persists.
- Red or white patches anywhere in the mouth.
- Pain in the mouth, lips, or ear.
- Tenderness of the mouth or lips.
- Numbness of the mouth or lips.
- Difficult chewing or swallowing.
- Problems speaking or moving your jaw or tongue.
- A thick or rough spot that is eroded or crusted.
- Chronic sore throat.
- Persistent hoarseness.
- Lump in the neck that is not tender.
- A feeling like something is caught in your throat.
Of course, taken in pieces, some of these symptoms could indicate other oral health problems, like gum disease or TMJ problems. Your Johns Creek dentist will know when he is looking at something abnormal and has the expertise to recommend that you undergo further testing for oral cancer. If the symptoms are not alarming, your dentist will want to see you again in a few weeks to see whether any suspect areas have healed up on their own or if they persist.
Oral cancer is not to be taken lightly. Early detection is critical. At Family & Cosmetic Dental Care, we are proud to offer expert oral cancer screenings as part of our general dentistry services to the residents of Suwanee and the surrounding communities north of Atlanta. Dr. Patel has extensive experience in screening for oral cancer and utilizes advanced technology to detect any problem areas in your mouth that could indicate a more serious condition. Contact our Johns Creek dental practice for our Suwanee oral cancer screening experts.