Did you know that about 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year? It’s also estimated that about 10,000 deaths are reported every year due to mouth cancer! As scary as these statistics sound, they are true. Oral cancer is a thorn in the flesh of America’s health sector, but there is something you can do to stop the ravage.
When you are thinking of cancer, an oncologist is probably the first person that comes to your mind. However, dentists trained in oral cancer detection are crucial in saving lives.
At Huntington Dental Excellence, we offer residents in South Pasadena, California and residents in surrounding communities, oral cancer screening services to help detect oral cancer at an early stage when it’s easy to treat.
Causes and symptoms of oral cancer
Oral cancer might be life-threatening, but it’s treatable, especially when caught early. Typically, oral cancer becomes difficult to treat at an advanced stage because it spreads to other body parts. Signs of oral cancer include:
- A mouth sore that doesn’t heal
- A discolored patch inside your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain
- A lump inside your mouth
While doctors haven’t identified the exact cause of mouth cancer, certain risk factors have been linked to oral cancer. Smoking, excessive alcohol intake, family history, and too much exposure of lips to UV light increase the likelihood of mouth cancer.
What happens during oral cancer screening?
A mouth cancer screening during our exams involves a physical and visual examination of the gums, palate, tongue, throat, and neck. Before the screening, we advise our patients to remove dental appliances to have an unobstructed view of your mouth.
During the visual examination, we look out for any asymmetries. We check out for lumps, sores, swellings, rough patches, and other abnormalities that indicate the presence of oral cancer. To have a better view of your mouth, our dentists use a small light and mirror to check all angles of your mouth. In addition our dentists may also use other FDA-approved non-invasive detection devices to identify mouth changes pointing to oral cancer.
During the physical examination, the dentist will palpitate the facial bones, cheeks around the jaw, and parts inside the oral cavity. We recommend further assessments for unusual nodules or masses identified.