Oral Cancer Screening
REAL People. REAL Smiles.
According to the American Cancer Society, almost 50,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed annually. Yet, most oral cancer cases don’t receive a diagnosis until the symptoms become severe. At that point, the cancer is more advanced and difficult to treat.
Oral cancer screenings play an important role in early detection and treatment. When found early, quick and effective cancer treatment improves outcomes.
Early diagnosis and consistent oral screenings offer the best defenses against oral cancer. At Atlanta Smiles, Drs. Dina Giesler and Marianna Kovitch take patient treatment to the next level by performing a screening during every regular dental checkup.
Schedule regular dental cleanings and checkups for the highest level of preventative dental care. If you experience symptoms tied to oral cancer, don’t wait. Schedule an oral cancer screening visit.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer occurs in the oral cavity, including the tongue, lips, gums, cheeks, palate, floor, sinuses, or throat. Cancer in the mouth and throat areas falls into the category of oral cancer, which dentists can typically identify in an oral cancer screening.
Oral cancer usually presents as a growth or sore that does not heal. Oral cancer is serious. If not treated, it can become life-threatening. However, with early diagnosis and care, most oral cancer is treatable.
The Importance of Early Oral Cancer Detection
Good oral health can impact more than just the teeth and gums. Dental issues, like sores or growths, signal a problem and require attention. The longer a patient waits to seek help, the greater the risk of major problems.
While oral cancer is treatable, the prognosis improves when addressed early. Patients may be able to avoid chemotherapy or the cancer spreading. Even for advanced cases, treatment can save a life.
Patients benefit from early detection. That starts with effective oral cancer screening offered by dental professionals. At Atlanta Smiles, we include cancer screening as part of our dental check-up process. If we see warning signs during other procedures, we also raise the issue and recommend more thorough cancer screening.
Your life matters! That begins with preventative medicine, like oral cancer screenings.
What Are the Signs of Oral Cancer?
At Atlanta Smiles, we have experience detecting oral cancer. So we know the signs to look for to catch both early and progressed cases.
Common warning signs of oral cancer experienced by Atlanta dental patients include:
- Recurring or unexplained pain in the mouth
- Ulcerous lesions and other mouth sores and bumps
- Difficulty moving the mouth and jaw
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing
- Soreness in the throat
- Bumps in the neck
- Ear pain
- Bleeding of the tongue, gums, and cheeks
- Numbness in the mouth or jaw
- White, red, or speckled patches in the mouth or throat
- Change in voice or consistent hoarseness
- Change in teeth or gums, including how dentures fit
If you experience any warning signs of oral cancer, schedule an appointment for a screening.
What Are the Risk Factors of Oral Cancer?
The exact cause of oral cancer is unknown. However, certain risk factors are tied to oral and mouth cancers.
- Tobacco use, including smoking and smokeless tobacco
- Excessive alcohol use
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) diagnosis
- Patients age 55 and older
- Family history of oral cancer
- Prolonged UV light exposure
- Diet low in vegetable and fruit consumption
Let your dentist know if you have any risk factors for oral cancer. Even if you do not have any risk factors, schedule a dental appointment if you experience symptoms related to oral cancer.
What to Expect in An Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screenings are quick and easy. We include screening as part of each regular dental checkup. For patients with partial or full dentures, we ask you to remove them for a complete examination of the soft tissues around the mouth.
Our dentists look for suspicious growth during the oral cancer screening, like changes in symmetry or color. In addition, we examine any changes in pigmentation, color, texture, lesions, and other abnormalities.
The examination includes:
- Face, head, neck, and jaw
- Lips and the inside lining of the lips
- Neck and area under the jaw, including the lymph nodes
- Tongue and the floor of the mouth
- Hard and soft palate
Sometimes subtle abnormalities are signs that oral cancer may be present. For example, minor swelling on the side of the face, which causes asymmetry or slurred speech, may signal cancer. Our dentists may recommend further action if we detect an abnormality, including taking a small biopsy to send to a lab for clinical diagnosis.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Oral Cancer Screening?
Every dental patient can benefit from oral cancer screenings. However, if you have risk factors for oral cancer, it’s critical to schedule regular dental checkups.
Especially for patients that use tobacco or have an HPV diagnosis, regular cancer screening can significantly improve your chances of catching oral cancer early.
How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?
Be proactive with cancer prevention. While not all cancer is preventable, practicing good habits can reduce the chance of experiencing oral cancer.
- Stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco
- Limit alcohol use
- Limit sun exposure and use sunscreen on your face and lips
- Eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables
- HPV vaccination
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings
Atlanta Smiles Cares About Your Health
Take care of your health! Stay on top of dental care to improve both your oral and overall health.
At Atlanta Smiles, we care about your health. We offer compassionate and effective dental care to patients throughout the Atlanta area. For over 20 years, we’ve diagnosed and treated oral health issues like mouth and oral cancer.
Contact us today to schedule a dental checkup or oral cancer screening.