Oral Cancer Screening
American Dental Association, or ADA, recommends scheduling a routine checkup and cleaning about twice a year, or every six months. During your routine appointments
, we here at Toomin & Bieber Aesthetic Comprehensive Dentistry may also suggest and perform an oral cancer screening.
An oral cancer screening, as you can probably guess, is an physical and visual exam we perform to look for signs of precancerous and cancerous abnormalities.
Who Needs an Oral Cancer Screening?
The simple answer: everyone. From young children to older adults, even people in excellent outstanding oral health can benefit from an oral cancer screening. The procedure is so quick, simple, and easy that there are no real downsides or risks.
While everyone could benefit from routine cancer screenings, adults over the age of 35 have the most to gain from a comprehensive examination. Those at a greater risk for oral cancer also have a lot to gain from regular screenings. In fact, we may even suggest more frequent screenings for high-risk patients.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
|Smoking or tobacco use of any kind
|Certain medication or drug abuse
|A previous diagnosis of oral cancer
|Significant sun exposure over an extended period of time
What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?
The goal of an oral cancer screening is to identify potential mouth, throat, and other cancers early, when they are easier to diagnose and treat. Your screening will be split up into two portions:
|Physical: During the physical portion of you exam, we use gloved hands to feel around your head, cheeks, jaw, chin, oral cavity, and nasal cavity. We will be feeling for unusual masses, nodules, tender areas, inflammations, and immobility of tissues that typically move. Oral cancer issues can be obvious or subtle, visible or invisible, and painful or painless, which is why a physical exam is so important.
|Visual: During the visual portion of your exam, we will check your face, lips, neck, nose, mouth, and all other major areas susceptible to cancerous growths. We typically use a light, mirror, and tongue depressor to gain a better look at certain areas of your mouth, nose, and throat. Generally, we will be looking for asymmetries, bumps, inflammation, patches of discoloration, lesions, ulcerations, and any other signs of a potential problem.
After Your Oral Cancer Screening
It is important to note that oral cancer screenings are mostly precautionary, not diagnostic. In other words, your screening is designed to give you a peace of mind. On the off chance we do discover a problem, Lawrence Toomin, DDS or Mark Bieber, DDS may recommend one of two things: a follow-up appointment or a biopsy.
A follow-up appointment allows us to check on a specific abnormality after a week or two. If the abnormality has worsen, grown in size, or changed shape, additional testing may be needed. In this case, we may order a biopsy.
A biopsy is a sampling of the abnormal tissues to determine their cause. If cancer cells are present, try not to panic. Thanks to advancements in technology and techniques, oral cancer treatments have a higher success rate than ever before.
Schedule an Appointment for You or a Loved One
Most oral cancer screenings take place during routine appointments, which should take place every six months. Call (818) 748-9998 to schedule an appointment today!