ORAL CANCER SCREENING

At every hygiene visit, we examine all the tissues of your mouth including gums, cheeks, lips, tongue, and jaw. Many patients are surprised at the large amount of surface area that we examine during an oral exam. It is just as important to have regular soft tissue screenings as it is to have a professional dental cleaning.

Oral cancer can afflict anyone although tobacco users put themselves at significantly higher risk than non-users. Chewing tobacco has up to 3000 different chemicals, including the same compounds used in pesticides and embalming fluid. Cellular changes below the surface aren’t always detectable until they’ve advanced to a critical stage.

Early detection and treatment of oral cancer can significantly increase your chances of a quick and complete recovery. The American Cancer Society reports that about 7,000 deaths result from oral cancer out of 30,000 cases diagnosed annually. If we suspect any unusual changes in your mouth tissue, we may suggest a biopsy and microscopic analysis by a qualified lab.

Many other non-cancerous changes can occur in your mouth’s tissue, from oral warts to autoimmune lesions. Dr. Asad Ahsan draws on He background in oral pathology to evaluate any abnormalities and determine if they should be monitored or removed.

We understand tobacco holds strong addictive powers over even the most health-conscious people. If you’re determined to quit, we want to support you in your efforts. Talk to your hygienist or Dr. Asad Ahsan about the strategies and resources we have available so you can kick the habit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is oral cancer screening?

Oral cancer screening is a thorough examination performed by a dentist to detect early signs of oral cancer. It involves checking the mouth, tongue, and surrounding tissues for any abnormalities or potential cancerous lesions.

Why is oral cancer screening important?

Early detection of oral cancer significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. Regular screenings can help identify potential issues before they become more serious, improving the prognosis and treatment outcomes.

How often should I undergo oral cancer screening?

It is recommended to undergo oral cancer screening at least once a year as part of your routine dental check-up. However, individuals with a higher risk, such as tobacco users or those with a family history of oral cancer, may need more frequent screenings.

What are the common signs and symptoms of oral cancer?

Symptoms may include persistent mouth sores, red or white patches, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and unexplained weight loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek prompt dental or medical attention.

Is oral cancer screening painful?

No, oral cancer screening is a non-invasive and painless process. The dentist will visually inspect your mouth and may use additional tools or technologies, such as a VELscope or laser, to enhance the examination.

Who is at a higher risk of developing oral cancer?

Individuals with a history of tobacco or alcohol use, prolonged sun exposure (for lip cancer), a family history of oral cancer, and those infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) are at a higher risk.

Can oral cancer be prevented?

While there’s no guaranteed prevention, adopting a healthy lifestyle, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, and practicing good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of oral cancer.

What happens if a potential issue is found during the screening?

If abnormalities are detected, further diagnostic tests may be recommended. These may include a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancer. Early diagnosis allows for more effective treatment options.

Is oral cancer screening covered by dental insurance?

Many dental insurance plans cover oral cancer screenings as part of routine dental check-ups. It’s advisable to check with your insurance provider to understand the extent of coverage.

How long does an oral cancer screening appointment take?

An oral cancer screening is a quick and efficient process, typically taking just a few minutes during a regular dental check-up.

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