Oral Cancer Screening
Early detection is key to a full recovery
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, oral cancer causes more than 8,000 deaths in the United States each year. This shocking statistic makes oral cancer seem particularly deadly, but the truth is that it causes so many deaths because it is often detected at advanced stages. Our family dentists at Smile Sonrisa Dental & Orthodontics are committed to helping you maintain excellent overall health as well as oral health, so we vigilantly screen you for oral cancer at each checkup. Regular screenings allow us to investigate any abnormalities we see at the earliest possible stages so that you have the best chances of a full recovery if oral cancer is diagnosed.
Your risk for oral cancer
Oral cancer can form on the lips or any of the soft tissues inside the mouth and throat. No one knows why healthy cells in the mouth mutate into cancer cells, but researchers have identified certain risk factors for the disease. People over 40 are at an increased risk, especially those who have a history of tobacco use and excessive alcohol use. Patients diagnosed with HPV16, which is a specific strain of the human papillomavirus, are also at risk of developing oral cancer. Those with a history of excessive sun exposure are also more vulnerable to cancer of the lips.
Oral cancer symptoms
You should contact your dentist if you experience any of the common signs of oral cancer, which include lumps, thickenings, and pain anywhere in the mouth or neck. Other symptoms include white or red patches in the soft tissues of the mouth and sores that do not heal. You may also notice difficulty chewing and swallowing, a sore throat, pain in the jaw, a loss of denture fit, or loose teeth. Generally speaking, any abnormalities in the oral cavity that do not resolve on their own within two weeks should be investigated by your dentist.
The screening process
In addition to checking your teeth and gums for common dental issues at your six-month checkups, we visually inspect the lips, throat, insides of the cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth, and roof of the mouth for abnormal lesions or swellings. We also palpate the tissues inside the mouth and on the outside of the neck to check for lumps. If we spot a suspicious area, we will refer the case to a specialist – Oral Surgeon.
Oral cancer screenings from your Houston family dentist
Early detection of oral cancer is the key to survival. That is why it is essential for you to see your Houston family dentist regularly for checkups. If it has been a while since you have had an adult dental exam and cleaning, contact Smile Sonrisa Dental & Orthodontics as soon as possible to schedule your appointment.