It’s not uncommon to hear about the importance of screening for skin, colon or breast cancer. What we don’t hear much about is oral cancer. Unfortunately, this type of cancer has been on the rise in recent years. As with many diseases, screening and early detection remain one of the best ways to improve the prognosis of this devastating condition.
But how can you go about getting an oral cancer screening? It’s simple – schedule regular dental care! In this blog, your dentist in Sapulpa will explain how often screenings are recommended, what’s involved and some ways to potentially prevent this disease.
How Often Should You Be Getting Screened?
The general guideline for oral cancer screenings is twice per year, or at every bi-annual checkup. Your dentist and hygienist will be looking at all the tissues in the mouth, including the lips, cheeks, throat, palate, and under the tongue.
They’ll be checking for red or white lesions, lumps, or tissue that has become thick or callous-like. They’ll also be examining the area around the lips, as this is a common spot for a type of skin cancer called melanoma.
Dentists are well trained on what to look for and how to spot tissue changes that may be cause for concern. Keep in mind that there are many benign conditions that result in lumps or bumps, so don’t panic if you find something.
Your dentist will either be able to diagnose these changes as something benign or may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.
Generally speaking, any type of sore or lesion in your mouth should heal on its own within about 10 days. If you have something that hasn’t gone away in that timeframe, it’s a good idea to have it checked out. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health!
How Can You Prevent Oral Cancer?
The recent rise in oral cancer has been particularly alarming because it’s being detected in young people without a history of tobacco or heavy alcohol use. While more studies are being done, researchers think that HPV (humanpapilloma virus) is the reason for this increase.
But while prevention isn’t always guaranteed, there are several things you can do to lower your risk for oral cancer:
- Wear a lip balm with sunscreen and limit your sun exposure.
- Avoid tobacco products. There are many resources available to help with tobacco cessation – don’t hesitate to ask your dentist or doctor for help finding the right one for you.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use, especially in conjunction with tobacco, is a significant risk factor.
Having regular visits with your dentist is about more than just checking for cavities – it might even save your life!
About the Author
Dr. Parnam Mohanna and Dr. Dalia Georgy are general, cosmetic and restorative dentists who understand that oral cancer screenings can save lives. As part of their commitment to comprehensive care, they always take the time to thoroughly examine each patient at every one of their checkups. If you have any questions they can be reached via their website or at (918) 216-1000.