Oral cancer screening

If there’s one thing we know about cancer, it’s that the sooner it’s detected and treated, the better your chances for full recovery. We don’t even like thinking about the “c” word, but if we want to have long and healthy lives, ignoring the possibility could be a deadly mistake. Oral cancers are often fatal when diagnosis only happens as a result of serious symptoms, so early detection is very important, but where would you go for oral cancer screening?

Your dentist checks for signs of oral cancer as a matter of course

dental checkup

You don’t have to go to a specialist to get oral cancer screening. In fact, your local Sunnyvale dentist is doing a basic version of it as a matter of routine every time you go for a dental checkup (or should be). Dentists look at their patients’ mouths, not just the teeth, identifying any areas that may be of concern. Whitish patches or reddish spots inside the mouth may be early signs of oral cancer, and if your dentist were to spot such areas, he or she is likely to recommend further tests.

“Further tests” doesn’t mean you have cancer

If there are areas of tissue in your mouth that look suspect, your dentist may suggest that you need a biopsy to investigate the suspect area. The chances of any problem developing there being benign are pretty good, so there’s no need to panic just because your dentist suggested a biopsy. It’s a very minor procedure, and not particularly uncomfortable.

How can you help your dentist with oral cancer screening?

Examine your mouth as well as you can after brushing and flossing. If you spot an area that doesn’t look quite like the surrounding tissues, you may want to point it out to your doctor. If you have any sores or sensitive areas in your mouth that don’t seem to want to heal properly and stick around for two weeks or more, they definitely should be looked at to ensure that they are not a sign of cancer. The same goes for any signs of changes to how your mouth usually is.

Ask your dentist about oral cancer screening

Smokers and drinkers have a higher risk of developing oral cancers, as do those with a family history of mouth or throat cancers. Not all dentists do oral cancer screening at every checkup, so you should discuss it with them to determine whether they do check for cancer, and to get advice on what to look out for.

Go for your regular checkups

The Oral Cancer Foundation says that the dentist’s office is the best place to pick up the early warning signs of oral cancer. It advises the public to consider their dental checkups as highly important, even a life or death matter, as they can be when oral cancer screening picks up an abnormality.

Oral cancer screening can make the difference between an uncomfortable but passing ailment and a fatal disease. Yes, your teeth are important, but it in oral cancer screening that your dentist has the most vital role in your survival.

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