The importance of oral cancer screening
Did you know that oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in North America? Statistics reveal that more cases of oral cancer are found each year than ovarian or cervical cancer. Surprisingly, more people die from an oral cancer than from cervical cancer or melanoma. But does this public health problem get the attention that it deserves?
Most dentists have the knowledge and skills to do a visual oral cancer screening, but not every dentist makes it part of his or her standard procedure. The good news is that most cases of oral cancer can be detected early by a dental professional.
Has your Colorado Springs dentist educated you about oral cancer?
When was the last time your dentist performed an oral cancer screening? Screening for oral cancer is quick and easy, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. During and oral screening at the Dublin Dental Center, Dr. Tara Pool will look for any lumps, red, white or gray patches, tenderness or other abnormalities in your mouth. At Dr. Tara's Colorado Springs dental office, an oral cancer screening takes less than five minutes and it does not require a special appointment.
What to expect with an oral cancer screening
- Your dentist should physically examine the inside and outside of your cheeks and gums, all the way from the front to the back, top to bottom. He or she should also inspect and examine the floor of your mouth under your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
- An oral cancer screening should also include an inspection of the lymph node in your neck and jaw, as well as your major salivary glands and the inside and outside of your lips. Even the jaw joint area around your ears should be examined.
- Your dentist will look at your face for signs of swelling or asymmetry, pull out your tongue with gauze and inspect it from every angle: top, bottom sides and back. This is when your dentist will ask you to extend your tongue and say “ahhh” so he or she can see the back of your mouth and your throat.
- Another part of any oral exam is when the dentist asks about your smoking and/or drinking habits, as well as any specific health conditions, medications and lifestyle.
How often should you get an oral cancer screening?
Dr. Tara Pool believes that an oral cancer screening should be done at every six month check-up. Most dentists will perform this exam during your routine dental visits, with the goal of identifying cancer early. As with any form of cancer, early detection is one of the best ways to eradicate oral cancer.
Dr. Pool's Colorado Springs dentist office is dedicated to screening patients on a regular basis, which is why we make this a part of every regular six-month checkup.