Oral Cancer Screenings
While you may be familiar with regular dental checkups, you may not know that you can request an oral cancer screening during your appointment. An oral cancer screening should be performed at least once a year, especially if you are at a high risk for the disease. This type of screening can help detect early stage cancer that may go unnoticed in a regular dental exam. This early detection could give you a higher chance of surviving the cancer. Our staff at Roth Family Dentistry provides you with accurate oral cancer screenings to help you maintain optimal health.
Who Needs an Oral Cancer Screening?
If you are concerned about whether or not you need an oral cancer screening, you should ask us when you schedule your appointment. We will help assess your overall oral cancer risk and help determine how regularly you should have screenings performed. You will likely be considered at a high risk if you use tobacco products, including chewing, smoking, or using snuff tobacco. You may also be considered at a high risk if you are genetically predisposed, which means someone else in your family has already been treated for oral cancer. While these are two well-known risks, others do exist, including chewing betel quid, having certain strains the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), regularly consuming alcohol, or spending too much time in the sun. If these apply, it is important for you to let us know so we can properly assess your oral cancer risk during your appointment.
What Is the Process of a Screening Test?
When conducting an oral screening, it takes our staff no more than five to ten minutes to perform it from start to finish. We will first perform a physical exam, checking the back of your throat, inside your cheeks, the roof of your mouth, and the outside and inside of your gum tissue, lips, and tongue. If you wear dentures, we will check underneath the dentures as well. We then check the surrounding areas, which include your chin and the tissue surrounding it, as well as feel underneath your jawline.
During this physical exam, our goal is to notice anything unusual, such as lumps or spots in those areas. We will also analyze your spit for any discrepancies that might point to cancer or another underlying disease. If an area is suspicious, we will have you rinse with a blue dye to help us further identify any unusual cells.
Are There Risks Involved?
Oral cancer screenings are deemed safe since they are noninvasive. However, there are a few complications that may arise. If we spot anything unusual during the test, you may have to undergo additional screenings and tests to help determine if there are cancerous cells in the area. The oral cancer screenings can only spot abnormalities. These additional tests are the only way to determine if a lump or sore in your mouth is considered cancerous or noncancerous.
These oral cancer screenings are also not always accurate. There may be small lumps or sores that are too small to notice even during an oral screening, and they can go undetected for years until there is a noticeable growth. This is important to remember during your oral cancer screenings.
If you feel you may need one of these screenings, our team at Roth Family Dentistry can help. Give us a call today at 406-728-2745 to let our staff members know you would like to schedule a screening for oral cancer.