Oral Cancer Screenings
With so many different types of cancer in existence today, Riverstone Family Dentistry understands why you may be concerned about getting oral cancer. Instead of fearing it though, you should take some time to educate yourself about it.
What Oral Cancer Is
Several types of oral cancer exist. However, the most common type of oral cancer is what's known as "squamous cell carcinomas." These originate in the tissue that lines your mouth or lips. Once there they'll typically affect your tongue. There are sometimes when the floor of your mouth, your cheek lining, gums, or the roof of your mouth are where cancer grows.
When you Need an Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screenings are typically included in your oral health check-up when you visit our office every six months. However, if we feel that we've found something abnormal in your mouth or if you feel something isn't right when you're at home, you should have a more thorough oral cancer screening conducted.
Patients who are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer should also have an oral cancer screening. This includes people who use tobacco (e.g., cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff, pipes, cigars) and those who drink much alcohol.
How to Know you Need an Oral Cancer Screening
There are some ways you can know that you need an oral cancer screening. If you're a tobacco user or an alcoholic, you'll know it's a good idea to get this type of screening. Additionally, if you have a canker sore (a sore that looks like an ulcer with an indented part in the middle) on the inside of your mouth that tingles, burns, or stings, you'll want to bring this to our attention. This may be an abnormal cell growth.
When you have a sore in your mouth, it's important to bring it to our attention during your checkup. However, if you're not having a checkup, but you do have a sore that doesn't heal in three weeks, or that bleeds, you will want to call us to make an appointment so we can look at it for you right away. Of course, any oral health issue (e.g., loose teeth, tongue pain, jaw stiffness, painful swallowing) is something you won't want to put off seeing us for.
How Dentists Perform an Oral Cancer Screening
When you need an oral health screening, you have nothing to fear when it comes to the procedure itself. Usually, we can simply examine your lips and mouths for abnormalities, inflammation, sores, or white patches. If we find any, we may choose to remove this tissue and send it off to the lab for testing. Since you'll receive an analgesic for this, you should feel little to no pain.
Now that you have a better understanding of oral cancer and how you can get screened for it, you should contact Riverstone Family Dentistry at (360) 326-1443 to have this done. Considering it's such a simple procedure, you really shouldn't hesitate or put it off any longer.