Oral Cancer Screenings
An oral cancer screening can prolong your life, even if you do not have symptoms of this insidiously quiet and dangerous disease. Statistics show that nearly 10,000 people die from oral cancer on a yearly basis. A screening by highly-trained dental professionals is critical to help ensure early detection of this all too often symptom-free condition. At Ranches Family Dental, not only are we dedicated to the general care of your teeth and gums, we will also thoroughly screen your mouth for early signs of oral cancer – signs that you may not be aware of - before it is too late to get the treatment necessary to preserve the quality of your life for years to come.
An Oral Cancer Screening Consists of a Careful Assessment
Getting a routine checkup every six months isn’t just about upholding the appearance of your beautiful smile; it could also save your life. If caught early, oral cancer can be wholly treatable, but for some patients, it can progress to a more advanced stage without any indication that it was there. The five-year survival rate of oral cancer is just 60%, but with early detection, that number jumps up as high as 93%. That’s incredibly significant!
Certain demographics are at an elevated risk for developing oral cancer. These include:
It may come as a surprise to our patients, but gum disease is associated with a higher risk of getting oral cancer. The bacteria found in plaque (the gross, sticky residue that sticks to your teeth and gums) has been found inside cancerous lesions, making good oral healthcare and regular dental appointments all the more vital.
During your appointment, we will carefully check your entire mouth, not just your teeth and gums. Oral cancer can show up anywhere inside your mouth, making it hard for you to spot it at home. Places that it can appear to include your tonsils, soft palate, your cheeks, your tongue (especially in the back), and your gums. Your neck and jaw are also vulnerable, so we’ll examine those, too, and check for swelling or lumps.
Early signs of oral cancer include a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, red or white ulcers in your mouth (that may or may not bleed), masses of tissue, difficulty opening and closing your mouth, and unexplained pain, numbness, or tingling.
If we find something atypical or suspicious during your dental exam, the first thing we’ll do is take steps to rule out cancer. We may take a biopsy of your tissue and send the sample out for further laboratory testing. We may also advise that you come back in for a follow-up appointment within a couple of weeks to see if there have been any changes to the size, color, or otherwise appearance of the suspicious area in your mouth. From there, we’ll work with you to get you started on a course of treatment if it turns out that you do have oral cancer.
If you have any family history of oral cancer, or you smoke or drink or are part of the higher-risk group of people, then it’s especially important that you schedule regular dental appointments. Please give us a call here at Ranches Family Dental at (385) 374-0500 for a comprehensive and potentially life-saving appointment.