Oral Cancer Screening
At Crosby Dentistry, we are passionate about your ongoing dental care and overall health. Part of our approach to helping you maintain a healthy smile is offering preventive treatments and services to get ahead of any problems before they can turn into more significant issues. Of course, early detection is essential, which is why we always include an oral cancer screening as part of your routine dental exam.
How Do Dentists Look for Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer commonly presents early signs in the mouth. During your routine biannual dental exam, our dentist, Dr. Crosby, will carefully inspect your gums and soft tissues in the mouth, searching for potential signs of cancer.
The screening process is usually a visual inspection, but it can sometimes include additional tests. In some cases, the dentist will collect tissue from the mouth or gums to examine under a microscope, searching for abnormal cells. Other tests to screen for oral cancer can include a dye test or using a special screening light.
What Can Increase My Chance of Developing Oral Cancer?
We all want to maintain optimal health, and making intelligent choices in our day-to-day lives is important for keeping the entire body — including the teeth and gums — healthy. Certain choices can put a person at higher risk for developing oral cancer.
The chances of developing oral cancer are heightened with:
- Any tobacco use, including chewing tobacco, pipes, snuff, cigars, and cigarettes
- Significant alcohol use
- History of an oral cancer diagnosis
- Significant sun exposure
Of course, family history and genetics can also play a large role in your oral cancer risk. Be sure to share any pertinent family history with Dr. Crosby to lend information to the oral cancer screening process.
Why Is Cancer Screening Done?
Like any health issue, we want to get ahead of the problem before it has a chance to spread. Oral cancer screening is the same way, and it is always better to detect this disease early. With early detection, treatment is much easier and is often more successful. Plus, screening for oral cancer can help detect other systemic diseases that often show the first symptoms in the mouth.
Detecting oral cancer is quick and easy, and often patients don’t even realize that the screening is part of their routine exam. Typically, just a visual inspection by a professional dentist is enough to detect the start of oral cancer. As the dentist works to examine the teeth and gums, he will also look for potential signs that could be the early indicators of disease.
What Are Early Signs of Oral Cancer?
It is important to stay ahead of your oral health and understand possible signs or symptoms that may develop.
You want to look for potential warning signs, including the following:
- Sudden loss of teeth unrelated to injury
- Lumps or bumps inside the mouth
- Mouth pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- White or red patches of skin inside the mouth
- Mouth sores or ulcers that won’t heal
By recognizing these symptoms early, you can detect possible indicators of oral cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to schedule an appointment with Dr. Crosby for further examination. Early detection is key for successful oral cancer treatment.