For most individuals, visiting a dentist in Red Deer isn’t the most exciting or pleasant of experiences because there may be a chance that you have cavities or gum disease. Unfortunately, as bad as these can be, these aren’t the worst things that a dentist can find. Many people are developing or have oral cancer and have no idea.
Oral cancer is one dental problem that tends to sneak up on people because it does not show symptoms right away. Symptoms of oral cancer start showing up after the disease have already progressed. This is part of what makes oral cancer so frightening because it can develop without any warning. It is for this reason that our team at Riverside Dental Centre provides oral cancer screening near you.
What Does Oral Cancer Screening Entail?
In a nutshell, oral cancer screening is performed by a dentist to check your mouth, throat, and neck for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions. The goal of oral cancer screening is to detect cancer early enough to treat it successfully. These screenings are usually performed during your regular dental checkups.
Who Requires Oral Cancer Screening?
Since anyone can develop oral cancer, everyone should visit a dentist for oral cancer screening in Red Deer. These screenings are quick and harmless, so there is no reason not to partake in them.
Certain people are in a higher risk category for oral cancer and can benefit from getting screenings more regularly. Some of the risk factors for oral cancer include:
● Heavy alcohol use
● Overexposure to sunlight
● Exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV)
● A history of oral cancer
● Tobacco use of any kind, including cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff
What Are the Early Signs of Oral Cancer?
Symptoms of oral cancer vary from person to person, but some of the more common signs of oral cancer include:
● Difficulty moving your tongue
● Challenges swallowing and chewing
● Numbness in the mouth
● Pain and swelling
● Irritated or dry patches in the throat
● Red or white lesions that don’t heal or go away
If you notice any of these signs, visit a dentist near you right away. While these can be signs of things much less sinister than oral cancer, it is important to rule out the disease.
What Happens During Oral Cancer Screening?
Most of the time, a dentist will perform a basic exam of your oral cavity and surrounding structures, looking at:
● The roof of your mouth
● Your gums
● The insides of your cheeks
● The back of your throat
● The inside and outside of your lips
● All sides and the underside of your tongue
Typically this inspection takes less than five minutes, and the dentist aims to identify any lesions, lumps, or abnormal spots in your mouth that require further diagnostics. If anything abnormal is found, the next step is a biopsy and referral to an oral surgeon or oral medicine specialist.
How Often Should You Get an Oral Cancer Screening?
It would be best if you got screened for oral cancer at least once a year. This shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve since you need to visit a dentist for a professional dental cleaning and checkup at least once every six months anyway. If it has been longer than six months since your last dental visit, it is a good time to book your next appointment. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office today!