An oral cancer screening performed by a trained medical professional should be a regular part of your dental care. The goal of an oral cancer screening is to detect the early symptoms of oral cancer, because early detection is the key to successful treatment.
Oral cancers are on the rise in the U.S., with increased risk to formerly low-risk populations, such as teenagers and non-smokers. A trip to the dentist shouldn’t just be about cleaning your teeth, it also should be about catching symptoms of serious health concerns early on to ensure that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
If you are at an increased risk for oral cancer, you should prioritize an oral cancer screening. Notable risk factors include:
Heavy alcohol use
Tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, or chewing tobacco. Let your dentist know if you currently use tobacco, or if you used tobacco products previously.
Significant exposure to sun over time
A prior diagnosis of oral cancer
If you have one or several of these risk factors, make sure to tell your hygienist and dentist.
Frequent screenings increase the odds of detection
If you’re wondering how often you should get an oral cancer screening, the answer is: each time you see the dentist. When you’re in the office for your regularly scheduled cleaning, part of the exam should be an oral cancer screening.
In fact, the screening should occur more than once per visit, because each person who participates in your dental care should be looking for abnormalities! If you are screened regularly, your dental team will be able to detect problems or concerns during early stages.
New testing methods offer increased screening options
In recent years the medical community has developed new technologies to help with early oral cancer detection. Dyes and lights can help to illuminate abnormal cell groupings inside your mouth. These tests are new, but they comprise one element of the aggressive prevention approach embraced by most dentists in an effort to combat oral cancers.
During your oral cancer screening, you should expect your dentist to visually inspect your mouth, including your gums, tongue, and lips. Additionally, he or she will use gloved fingers to check for abnormalities such as lumps. Of course, you should tell your dentist if you’ve experienced any abnormalities, such as sores, bumps, bleeding, discoloration, or pain.
Tribeca Dental Care
We take pride in helping our patients to maintain their long-term oral health in addition to beautiful smiles. If you’d like an oral cancer screening in New York City, book an appointment for a dental cleaning at Tribeca Dental Care. Let us help you maintain your bright, healthy smile and healthy mouth!