How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?

Sep 01, 2022

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is a tumor that develops inside your cheeks, your mouth palate, gums, lips, or the tongue’s surface. This tumor or growth does not go away, and it is important to know the early signs of this ailment.

Dental oral cancer screening is essential in detecting cancer so the dental hygienist can treat the developing tumor. Nevertheless, the question that arises with oral cancer screening is how often you should go for screening, and we will help you answer this question.

What Are the Signs of Oral Cancer?

There are signs that you should look out for to know whether or not you are developing oral cancer.

First, if you have a sore in your mouth or lips that does not heal, it would be best to look for dental offices near you in Phoenix, so the dentist can examine your mouth.

Oral cancer can also cause growth or lump inside your mouth. This lump does not reduce, and the best way to confirm if the growth is cancerous is to look for an emergency dentist near you to examine the lump or growth.

Other signs of oral cancer include ear and mouth pain and having loose teeth. These signs should not be ignored, and it is recommended to look for a dentist as soon as possible.

Unexplained, persistent numbness and an odd feeling in your mouth or lip is also a sign that you might have a cancerous tumor developing in your mouth.

What Happens During Oral Cancer Screening?

The first stage of oral cancer screening is a clinical exam. The clinical exam involves the dentist looking at the patient’s throat and mouth. Light, tongue depressor, and a mirror are used to look for any abnormalities in the mouth like ulcerations, swelling, bumps, or patches of color. The clinical exam is comprehensive as the dentist will examine all areas in your mouth, neck, cheeks, jaw, and under the chin, as you can have a tumor forming outside the mouth.

When the dentist spots an abnormality, they will use a special dye and light to scan the area for oral cancer. The laser light is used to identify abnormal tissue growth as it looks different than normal tissue.

Toluidine blue dye is applied over the suspected area, and if the dye turns blue, it might mean the growth is cancerous.

What Are the Risk Factors of Oral Cancer?

Some factors can make you susceptible to getting infected with oral cancer. First, your oral health can be at risk if you regularly smoke tobacco, whether through cigars, pipes, snuff, or chewing it.

Frequent drinking of alcohol can cause oral cancer. Alcohol is carcinogenic like tobacco, which means it has chemicals that damage your mouth cells’ DNA leading to cancer.

Prolonged exposure to the sun can also lead to oral cancer. For example, if you work in an area where you are exposed to direct sunlight for long, cancerous cells can develop on your lips.

People with a debilitated immune system are also susceptible to oral cancer. This is because your body cannot fight the cancerous cells from developing.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

There is no silver bullet for preventing oral cancer. However, there are tips that you can abide by to reduce the chances of developing oral cancer.

It is essential to stay away from smoking tobacco. This is because tobacco exposes your mouth to cancer-causing chemicals.

In addition, you should limit alcohol consumption or stop altogether.

It is imperative to protect your lips from excessive exposure to the sun. So stay in the shade or wear a broad-brimmed hat that can cover your mouth whenever possible. On top of that, use sunscreen lip to protect your lips when you have to work under the sun.

How Often Should Go for Oral Cancer Screening?

Dentists recommend that adults over 20 years should go for oral screening at On Pointe Dentistry every three years. On the other hand, people over the age of 40 should have screenings at least once every year.

If your family has a history of cancer, are a heavy drinker, or smoke frequently, it is advisable to have an annual oral cancer screening.

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