When and How Often Should We Get Oral Cancer Screenings?

When and How Often Should We Get Oral Cancer Screenings?

August 1, 2023

If you see your healthcare provider every year for an evaluation of your general health and your dentist at half-yearly intervals, the thought of visiting an oncologist for oral cancer screenings will likely scare and concern you. You might not want to indulge in additional expenditure visiting specialists with training to treat cancer affecting any body part.

If you are diligent with your dental hygiene practices and schedule six monthly appointments with the dentist in Cambridge, are you aware the dentist also performs oral cancer screenings during your routine visit? If you are unaware, it helps to realize you receive oral cancer screenings every six months from the Cambridge dentist, with your entire medical history and knowledge about your risks of contracting oral cancer.

Experts recommend oral cancer screenings for adults over 20 after every three years and every year for adults over 40. However, dentists are professionals you see twice yearly with training to detect oral cancer by examining your mouth and throat. The Cambridge dentist completes the oral cancer test in under five minutes with you wondering what the dentist is trying to ascertain by looking at areas of your mouth and head unrelated to your teeth and gums.

In reality, you receive an oral cancer screening test every six months whenever you schedule an appointment with your dentist to examine and clean your teeth. Dentists receive essential training to look for oral cancer in your mouth by inquiring about your lifestyle habits, such as excessive tobacco and alcohol use, family history of cancer, HPV infections, et cetera.

Why Should You Consider Oral Cancer Screening?

Your optimal chances of receiving successful treatment for oral cancer lie in early detection of the problem. Your dentist examines to identify indicators of cancer or precancerous lesions in your mouth during routine dental examinations. While most dentists perform these tests during your meeting with them by examining your mouth, some may use additional tests to help identify sites of abnormal cells in your mouth.

Oral cancer screening strives to detect mouth cancer or precancerous lesions that might lead to cancer early when the lesions are easy to remove and most likely result in a successful cure. If you are at high risk of oral cancer, you will likely benefit from the screening, although studies have not proven that the tests are beneficial.

Many people are diagnosed with oral cancer yearly, and the numbers are increasing without providing reasons. Higher numbers of oral cancer are associated with STDs like HPV infections. If you are concerned about your risks of oral cancer, discuss them with your dentist, inquiring how you can reduce your risks and with screening exams are appropriate for you.

What Is Involved in Oral Cancer Screening?

As mentioned earlier, the oral cancer screening exam starts with an evaluation of your mouth and throat, which you might think are unrelated to your teeth and gums. However, when receiving oral cancer screening in Cambridge, ON, your dentist will use lights and tongue depressors to look for signs of abnormalities from bumps, patches, ulcerations, swelling, and colour changes in the mouth. They will examine all areas of your mouth, including the mouth roof, tonsils, tongue, gums, and inner cheeks. Dentists also palpate the jaw, neck, and cheek outsides, feeling for unusual masses and firm nodules and examine under the chin.

Dentists will use a special dye to assess the area for this devastating condition further if they detect any abnormalities. The most common tests dentists use include laser lights reflecting abnormal tissues making them appear differently than normal tissue, rinsing your mouth with an acetic acid solution, using a special light to examine unusual areas, and spreading toluidine blue dye over suspicious abnormal areas, making abnormal tissue turn blue.

Dentists also recommend you self-examine yourself every month, looking for white patches, lumps and sores that do not heal and report the findings to them for further evaluation.

Dentists do not treat oral cancer but merely examine your mouth and perform biopsies. If they detect abnormal areas in your mouth, to refer you to an oncologist specializing in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Oral cancer screenings are a prophylactic measure that helps ensure you are not affected by this condition early. Therefore you do not have to schedule separate visits to cancer specialists as long as you see your dentist diligently after every six months.

Oral cancer screenings are suggested by experts annually for adults over 40 and once every three years for adults over 20. However, when you visit Floss Dental Cambridge for your routine exam and cleaning, you receive the screening without realizing it. Therefore expressing anxiousness about these exams proves futile because you receive the screenings twice yearly.

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