We do oral cancer screenings for all of our patients at LA Dental Clinic. You will receive an oral cancer screening every time you come in for your bi-annual dental cleaning appointment.
You can book an oral cancer screening on its own as well. You may want to do this if you notice any abnormal tissue or growth on your gums, tongue, lips, throat or mouth.
The key to these types of oral diseases is early detection and prevention. When caught early, oral cancer can be treated efficiently in most cases. But it is not something that you want to put off or ignore.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a form of cancer that appears specifically in and around your mouth. It can show up as far back as your esophagus, or on your lips as well as everywhere inside your mouth.
Cancer is a disease that can spread very quickly to other parts of the body. Oral cancer especially can go undetected for longer periods of time if you are not checked regularly.
This means that it has time to spread if you are not vigilant about getting check ups. Oral cancer, in progressed stages, can cause death. It is often unnoticed for years until it becomes very serious.
Who Is At Risk?
Statistically, males over the age of 50 are the most at risk for oral cancer. But anyone can get oral cancer, at any age.
It is more common in people who frequently smoke, drink or chew tobacco. It is also a hereditary disease, meaning that if a family member has had oral cancer, you may be genetically predisposed to it.
If you make unhealthy lifestyle habits or neglect visiting your dentist, you are also at risk for undetected oral cancer.
What To Expect In The Oral Cancer Screening
Your oral cancer screening at LA Dental Clinic will only take a few minutes, but it can prevent years of illness.
Your dentist will closely examine your gums, tongue, throat and teeth. They are looking for the telltale signs of this elusive disease. The screening is not painful and it doesn’t require much time.
- You will be required to extend your tongue so that your dentist can examine your throat
- They will check your gums for any abnormal tissue, textures or colors
- They will feel your lymph nodes in your neck and check for any swelling
- Your dentist will also ask about any pain or abnormalities you have noticed
- They will ask about your diet and whether or not you smoke or drink
- Your dentist will check the inside and outside of your cheeks
Your dentist may send you for tissue sampling or extract a small piece of tissue to examine if there is an area of concern.
Common Symptoms Of Oral Cancer Include:
Oral cancer is often hard to detect, mainly because people don’t know what to look for. You need to be aware of any abnormality in your mouth, especially anything that is painful or feels and looks different from the surrounding color and texture of your mouth. Some things to look out for include:
- Tissue in the mouth that doesn’t heal
- A sore in the mouth that bleeds periodically
- A growth in the lining of the mouth
- Changing skin texture within the mouth
- Rough patches of skin in your cheeks or gums
- Pain while chewing or swallowing
- Unexplained swelling in or around your mouth
- Changes to the shape of your jaw
Ways To Prevent Oral Cancer:
Do not smoke. Quit smoking if you do.
Smoking is a leading cause of oral cancer. Patients who smoke have a much higher chance of getting oral cancer, especially at an earlier age.
The concentrated amount of chemicals in cigarettes can damage your mouth so badly that it can cause changes to occur in the DNA of the cells of your mouth.
Do not chew tobacco
Like smoking, chewing tobacco contains the same high concentration of chemicals that can alter the DNA in your mouth tissue.
Chewing tobacco lines your entire mouth and gums, creating a harsh and dangerous environment for your cells. Besides yellowing your teeth and causing bad breath, smoking and chewing tobacco are both leading causes of gum cancer.
Drink less alcohol
Alcohol is carcinogenic, like smoking, it affects the cells in your mouth, as well as the rest of your body. Those who are heavy drinkers or have been drinking larger quantities of alcohol over a long period of time are more at risk for oral cancer.
Eat foods rich in antioxidants and low in artificial chemicals
The food you eat plays a major role in your oral health. Organic food is ideal, you should not be putting chemicals or artificial flavours into your body.
If you are not getting sufficient amounts of vitamins from food, consider taking supplements. Deficiencies in certain minerals and vitamins can cause your mouth to be more at risk for certain illnesses, like cancer.
Maintain proper oral health
It is paramount to visit your dentist, a minimum of every 6 months. Proper oral health is not only beneficial for your general overall health, it is also needed for monitoring any signs of change in your mouth.
A healthy mouth is less likely to become infected, infection, bacteria overgrowth and abscesses left unchecked can all cause your cells to become irritated and cancerous. A clean healthy mouth is less likely to have these problems.
Certain types of cancer can often be genetic. If a family member suffered from oral cancer, there is a possibility that it runs in your genes.
You can let your dentist know if you have a family history of oral cancer. You can also visit your doctor to test and see if this type of cancer is genetic in your family.
Even if you do not have a genetic predisposition towards oral cancer, it is worthwhile to follow preventative measures anyway.
Cancer can be both genetic and environmental. It can often appear as a result of your diet, health and exposure to toxins.
Treat Infection Immediately
Cancer can occur in cells that become irritated due to infection. If you have an abscessed tooth that has gone for a long period of time without treatment or antibiotics, the swelling and infection can damage the surrounding cells in your mouth.
This causes them to mutate and become cancerous. The best way to prevent this is to treat infection right away.
Avoid Oral Trauma
This is a less frequent cause of oral cancer, however if there has been extensive damage to the jaw gums or mouth, due to injury or surgery, you are at a higher risk for oral cancer.
The cells in your body are sensitive and blunt trauma can disrupt them and cause them to become cancerous.
How Is Oral Cancer Treated?
You will have to see your doctor to determine which treatment type is right for you. In early stages of oral cancer, chemotherapy may not even be necessary, and you can simply have the patch of cells removed and radiated.
In more serious cases of oral cancer, that have often gone unnoticed for a longer period of time, chemotherapy is needed after the cells are surgically removed. This is often the case when cancer has spread to other parts of a patient’s body.
Oral cancer can spread to the jaw, skin, face, eyes, nose, lymph nodes, esophagus, bloodstream and even the brain if left long enough.
It is absolutely vital to be screened by your dentist to ensure you have the best possible chances of keeping this disease in check.
Your dentist will not be the one treating your oral cancer, however they are trained to recognize all signs and symptoms of the disease.
Visiting your dentist every 6 months is essential in order to notice and deal with changes in your oral health.
Come On In!
Your dentist is familiar with your mouth and they will be able to notice any abnormalities that appear. Maintain your oral health and reduce your risk of oral cancer by visiting your dentist for bi-annual cleanings.
Be sure to come in or call if you notice anything unusual in your mouth, or any dramatic changes. Oral cancer screenings do not take much time.
They are easy to perform and all of our dental stall at LA Dental Clinic are trained thoroughly in what to look for.