What is the Examination of Oral Cancer at the Dental Office?

Aug 01, 2023

Oral cancer is a significant health concern worldwide, affecting various parts of the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, and throat.

Oral cancer begins as a painless sore or ulcer that does not heal and can progress to cause difficulties in chewing, swallowing, or speaking. Tobacco use (both smoking and smokeless), excessive alcohol consumption, poor oral hygiene, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and a family history of the disease are common risk factors.

An oral cancer exam in Suffern, NY, is crucial for successful treatment, as it can spread to other body parts if left untreated. Regular dental check-ups and self-examination of the mouth can help identify potential signs and symptoms, such as persistent mouth sores, white or red patches, unexplained bleeding, or lumps.

If diagnosed, treatment options for oral cancer may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches, depending on the stage and extent of the disease. Awareness of the risk factors, prevention strategies, and the importance of early detection plays a vital role in reducing the impact of oral cancer on individuals and communities.

Benefits Of Getting Oral Cancer Screening

Here are three key benefits of undergoing oral cancer screening:

  • Early detection: Oral cancer screenings are designed to identify signs of oral cancer at its earliest stages. Detecting oral cancer is crucial because it allows for prompt intervention and increases the chances of successful treatment.
  • Improved treatment outcomes: When oral cancer is diagnosed in its advanced stages, it can be more challenging and require more aggressive interventions. Detecting oral cancer can enhance treatment success rates, reduce the need for extensive surgeries or reconstructive procedures, and improve patients’ overall quality of life.
  • Peace of mind: Oral cancer screenings provide peace of mind and reassurance about oral health. Even if no signs of oral cancer are found, screening can help alleviate anxiety and provide confidence in one’s oral health status.

What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening Visit at the Dentist?

During an oral cancer screening visit at the dentist near you, several steps are typically involved to thoroughly assess the oral cavity for any signs or symptoms of oral cancer.

  • The medical and dental history review

The dentist will begin by reviewing the patient’s medical and dental history. This includes discussing any symptoms, concerns, or changes you have noticed in your oral health. Additionally, the dentist will inquire about risk factors associated with oral cancer, such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, HPV infection, or a family history of oral cancer.

  • Visual examination

The dentist will visually examine the oral cavity. Using a dental mirror and adequate lighting, they will systematically examine the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, throat, and other oral tissues. They are looking for any abnormalities or suspicious signs, such as red or white patches, ulcers, lumps, swellings, or any unusual changes in texture or color.

  • Palpation

After the visual examination, the dentist may use their gloved hands to palpate the oral tissues. This involves gently feeling the inside of the mouth, including the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and the lymph nodes. Palpation helps identify any areas of tenderness, masses, or irregularities that may warrant further investigation.

  • Extraoral examination

Besides the intraoral examination, the dentist may perform an extraoral one. This involves checking the neck, jawline, and other external areas for any swelling, asymmetry, or abnormalities that could be associated with oral cancer or metastasis.

When oral cancer is detected during a dental exam, your dentist in Suffern, NY, may recommend further evaluation, like a biopsy.

Treatment Options for Oral Cancer Detected in a Dental Exam

Various treatment options are available for oral cancer. The choice of treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer. Surgery is common and may involve removing the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue. In cases where the cancer has spread or is in an advanced stage, radiation therapy may be recommended to target and kill cancer cells. Other treatment modalities may include chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, or a combination of these approaches.

Oral cancer examination is crucial as it allows for early intervention and increases the chances of successful treatment. Regular screenings, combined with education and awareness, empower you to take control of your oral health and promote overall well-being. Visit Dental Wellness of Suffern for more information about oral cancer screening.

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