The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

April 23, 2021 Jeffrey T. Baker, DDS PC

Oral Cancer Screenings & Your Health

There’s no surprise that a dentist checks for signs of oral cancer during an oral cancer screening. Unfortunately, there’s an average of 50,000 cases of oral or throat cancer each year, and 10,000 die from it. However, this can be prevented. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting oral/throat cancer. One step is having regular oral cancer screenings. 

Oral cancer screenings save lives by detecting mouth cancer in its early stages. The earlier your dentist is able to detect oral cancer symptoms, the better chance you’ll have of survival. There are two main types of screenings, which are clinical examination and oral examination. The type of screening done will depend on your dentist and your medical history.

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During a clinical examination, your dentist examines the inside of your mouth for patches and sores that don’t belong. They will also feel along the inside of your cheek and other parts of your mouth for bumps. A clinical exam is simple enough to be done during your regular teeth cleaning appointment. 

An oral exam, on the other hand, is more thorough because your dentist uses a special screening device to detect cancer or premalignant lesions. If cancer is detected, you’ll be able to start mouth cancer treatment as soon as possible. 

Symptoms

Oral cancer is so dangerous because patients often don’t exhibit symptoms until it’s too late. If you recognize any of the early signs of mouth cancer below, schedule an appointment with your emergency dentist as soon as possible.

Mouth cancer symptoms include:

  • Lump in throat or mouth
  • Lump on lips
  • Hoarse voice
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Numbness or pain when biting down
  • Bleeding in mouth

Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer

While there’s no way to guarantee you won’t get oral cancer, there are things you can do to lower your risk. By doing the following, you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood of getting oral cancer.

  • Stop using tobacco products.
  • Wear sun protection on your lips.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption.

If you have a history of using tobacco products or abusing alcohol, you are at higher risk for oral cancer. You are also at a higher risk for lip cancer if you didn’t use sun protection on your lips while spending long periods of time outside. 

If you recognize any of the signs of oral cancer, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for an oral cancer screening. That small step may end up saving your life.

What Does an Oral Cancer Screening Look Like?

During an oral cancer screening, our dentist will thoroughly check your mouth for signs of oral cancer. He will feel for any lumps or other abnormalities and examine the surface of your skin. If he notices any patches, sores, swelling, or other potential signs of oral cancer, he will perform a more thorough check to make sure there’s nothing serious going wrong. 

Oral cancer screenings are quick, pain-free, and can be completed as part of your regular dental checkup. Visiting our oral cancer screening dentist on a regular basis is the best way to make sure you stay cancer-free.

Ready for an Appointment?

Is it time for another appointment? If so, call our office. Both Jeffrey Baker DDS & Dr. Evan Castille DDS are experienced dentists in Shelby Township, MI who care about helping you get back to a healthier and happier smile. You can fill out our online contact form or call Smiles by Baker at (586) 992-0814.

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