Oral Cancer Screenings
Your oral health plays a large role in your overall health. Because some medical conditions, such as oral cancer, can originate in the mouth, regular exams with Lincoln Smiles are an important part of your health care regimen. Signs of early stages of oral cancer, even before any symptoms appear, can be detected through an oral examination.
Why Am I Being Screened for Oral Cancer?
It is important to know that receiving an oral cancer screening does not necessarily mean we think you have oral cancer. Patients are screened regularly, even when there aren’t any cancer symptoms present, in an attempt to detect oral cancer in its beginning stages. Like many health problems, oral cancer is easier, less costly, and less uncomfortable to treat when diagnosed early.
What Can I Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer screenings are performed as part of your regular dental checkup. We will examine your lips and inside your mouth, your gums, the insides of your cheeks, the roof and floor of your mouth, the back of your throat, and on the sides and underneath your tongue in search of red or white patches of cells, sores that bleed easily, lumps, rough or crusty areas, tenderness, or anything else unusual. We will look at your face and feel your neck, jawline, and under your chin for any asymmetries, swellings, bumps, or other abnormalities. We also monitor any changes in the way your teeth fit together when biting down, which is called your bite.
An oral cancer screening itself cannot determine if a patient has oral cancer because cancerous and noncancerous sores look identical. Rather, any unusual sores or areas of concern will require additional testing. A biopsy performed on abnormal cells determines whether or not they are harmless, precancerous, or cancerous.
We encourage you to share any questions or concerns you may have before, during, or after your oral cancer screening. We are an important part of your health care and will do our best to provide you with as much information as possible.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?
Proper oral hygiene practices are vital to your oral health. Be sure to brush with a fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly and thoroughly to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Also, visit us regularly for routine examinations and dental cleanings.
Like your overall health, oral health is affected by the things we consume. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants boosts your immune system, helping your body fight infections. Limiting foods and drinks high in sugar and acids also goes a long way in maintaining a healthy mouth and body.
Tobacco, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco, and heavy alcohol use can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Eliminate, or at the very least greatly minimize, the use of tobacco products and alcohol to reduce your risk. Another contributor to oral cancer is prolonged sun exposure to your lips. Always apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher when going outside to block out the sun’s harmful, cancer causing rays.
It is important to let us know right away if you experience any problems with chewing, swallowing, moving your tongue or jaw, or speaking. Get in the practice of examining your own mouth once a month for ulcers or red or white patches that don’t go away. Also check your tongue, gums, cheeks, lips, and roof and floor of your mouth. If you notice anything unusual, contact us to make an appointment.
Oral cancer screenings are an important and necessary aspect of dental care as well as your overall health care. To schedule a screening, call Lincoln Smiles at 916-543-8800 today.