Oral Cancer Screening
If you are of a certain age, you remember when movie and television stars still smoked on the big screen and the little screen. You remember when it was cool to smoke. You could see the Marlboro Man peeking out at you from the billboards as you drove down the highway. Although smoking seemed cool at the time, you know it is a habit you need to break. It is a dangerous habit to have, and if you have quit, we know it is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do.
Whether you are currently a smoker, or you still smoke, you need to take care of yourself. One of the ways you can take care of yourself is by getting regular dental checkups. During those checkups, we will screen you for oral cancer. Not sure what an oral cancer screening looks like? Bryan Hill, DDS can give you information about oral cancer screening.
What Is An Oral Cancer Screening?
We give all of our patients an oral cancer screening when they come in to see us every six months. For most people, it is a quick check. For people who have previously smoked, however, our oral cancer screenings are a little more thorough. We are looking for signs of cancer or precancerous spots in your mouth. Most mouth cancers begin as bumps or lesions in your mouth.
They don’t hurt, which is a problem, because you may not know they are there. This is not a good thing. Mouth cancers don’t begin to hurt until they are more advanced, which lowers your chances of survival. To help you stay cancer-free, we want to check your mouth every time you visit.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
There are several risk factors for oral cancer. The biggest risk factor for oral cancer is using tobacco products. If you smoked or dipped, you are at a higher risk than people who have never used tobacco products. You are also at a higher risk if you drink a lot. Sunbathers who do not protect their mouths are also at a greater risk for oral cancer. If you have already had oral cancer, you have a much greater chance of getting it again.
What Does The Screening Look Like?
Unlike some cancer screenings, oral cancer screenings don’t have preparation. You just have to come in and see us for your usual dental appointment. When we check and clean your teeth, we are also looking for trouble spots on your teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, and palate. We will check your mouth for bumps or lumps with our fingers. We’ll also have you remove your partial or full dentures so we can check your gums.
We might also have to do additional testing for oral cancer. One thing we can do is to have you rinse your mouth with a blue liquid. This blue liquid will make any cancer show up as a blue spot. We can also shine a special light in your mouth to make cancer show up white. If we find something, the sooner we can get you treated, the sooner you can beat cancer. Are you worried about your oral health? Let us ease your mind with an oral cancer screening. Give Bryan Hill, DDS a call at (509)468-4040.